open thread – June 30-July 1, 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.

{ 922 comments… read them below }

  1. Dovasary Balitang*

    I’m going to school part time to finally get my degree and I want to make sure that the majority of my classes have a real world application. I’m currently enrolled in a general science degree, with the option to specialise eventually (biology, chemistry, physics, or computer science are the main streams). What sort of skills or courses should I generally lean toward to make myself more hireable down the road?

    1. cabbagepants*

      Anything with hands-on lab experience is a huge plus! Something outside of a directed one-day lab is especially good, like independent projects, term projects, summer research, etc. Extra curriculars with aspects of leadership are great, too, especially if it’s in a STEM area.

    2. Venus*

      I’d suggest at least stats and programming courses. The language doesn’t really matter so much as learning how to code and document well.

    3. Goddess47*

      Anything that will improve communication skills: writing, reading, speaking. You don’t have to be the best at any of them but the better you can do those, the easier it will be to function in any environment.

      So make the humanities courses writing courses, talk to your advisor about what courses can improve critical reading skills and take that public speaking class. And lean into them, don’t just do the minimums!

      Your future self will thank you.

      1. Baeolophus bicolor*

        Just to add to this- look specifically for a technical or scientific writing course! If you want to go into research, look for the scientific writing course. Most should at least briefly cover grant writing, which is super important if you want to go into research.

      2. K*

        100% especially in technical fields that are rife with people that do not communicate well. Every class you take that requires writing, topic does NOT matter, will aid you in your career far longer than anything else. Hopefully science advances and technologies change so the things you learn in school about them is less useful over time, but the need to communicate about them in many different mediums will never change.

        Also it’s nice to have a break from solely STEM courses is mentally helpful.

      3. Clisby*

        Second the suggestion of taking a public speaking class. Both of my kids did that early in their college career, and it proved to be invaluable to both of them.

    4. cabbagepants*

      Oh and I’d recommend picking a specialty eventually. You don’t want to be seen jack of all trades, master of none. Oh and take math and a little bit of coding. Linear algebra and some scripting in any language (even “just” Python or mathematica) are super transferrable and show that you’re not afraid of the quantitative stuff that underlies most STEM work.

      1. kris*

        The full Shakespeare quote is “jack of all trades, master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one”. I suggest reading the book “Range” by David Epstein– he has some great case studies on why “jack of all trades” is a positive in the workplace and world at large.

        I’ve spent a LOT of my life (before reading that book and others) feeling incredibly insecure about this myself, only to learn that it’s common for neurodivergent people and it’s really not a bad thing.

        1. cabbagepants*

          Within STEM degrees and undergraduate coursework still matter for many jobs, especially at the “entry” level (new college grad without full time professional experience). STEM is also VERY broad.

          1. A nonny mouse*

            So much of STEM is interdisciplinary now, too. Particularly the stuff has direct real world applications.

            Or become a geoscientist, and use all the sciences at once.

      2. The Shenanigans*

        Also statistics. Take humanities and social sciences, as those classes tesch you how to thinking analytically and flexibly. That will ALWAYS serve you well. They are also writing heavy which is helpful. You’ll get lots of feedback as well. Taking feedback without taking it personally is the single biggest skill I learned in undergrad. As we read on AAM all the time, it’s a skill a lot of people lack.

    5. S*

      Though they may not be something you necessarily list on a resume, “soft” skills will serve you well throughout the interview process and your entire career. That means everything about communication and dealing with people: writing!!! (OMG, I work in tech and the ability to write a complete and comprehensible sentence is so important! and so rare!) email best practices, basic graphic design, how to have “difficult” conversations, how to influence people, presentation skills, public speaking, etc. No matter what field you go into, there will be other human beings there!!! Best of luck to you!!

      1. Pippa K*

        Here to second the value of developing strong writing skills. So many benefits, no down side. Essential in many professions and at least a secondary advantage in other contexts.

        And in addition to the humanities course recs above, you might find a social science course useful. We tend to stress critical thinking and evaluation of information sources, and like strong writing skills, those are valuable in lots of contexts.

    6. Sparkle Llama*

      I took a data visualization class in grad school that has been very helpful and I would highly recommend seeing if you have something like that available.

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          More understanding what type of plot goes with what type of data and understanding how to properly note significance of data in those plots (error bars vs dots etc).

          1. Sparkle Llama*

            We covered some psychology to help design charts and tables that humans are able to interpret easily, general design skills, choosing the right tool for your data and audience (table vs bar chart va stacked bar, etc), formatting and creating those visuals in excel, tableau, and R, and generally practicing taking a dataset and figuring out how to best visualize the takeaways. I think it was a half semester.

            1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

              As regards humans communicating numbers, let me just drop a book recommendation here as well: Gerd Gigerenzer “Reckoning with Risk”.

      1. OtterB*

        Seconding this. Anything data science – collecting data, managing it, and communicating it to others – will be helpful in almost any science field or job these days. It’s related to the coding others have mentioned but not identical.

      1. Dovasary Balitang*

        I get one of these comments every time I top level and I love every single one of them.

    7. RMNPgirl*

      Any classes with writing and research components where you’re graded on both which is usually not the science classes as much. I would definitely take classes in both English and History because they will teach you how to research and how to write and how to think about things critically in a different way than science does.

      1. costello music*

        Especially if you can take a step above a 101 history—you’ll dive more into research and they’ll generally expect more from you (but not as much as a history major) which means better feedback. So, take a specialization: history of Japan, Europe Reformation, Colonialism in America—anything that sounds broad, but not too broad.

        1. cabbagepants*

          I have to ask, do you have a STEM degree and have you used that plus upper level history courses to get hired? The question is about being hireable and as someone who does hiring of new college grads at my technology company, I would not place any value in someone taking upper level history courses.

          If someone told me that history classes uniquely prepared someone for STEM work I’d laugh. You know that there is a lot of research done in STEM, right, including literature search?

          1. Stephanie*

            I doubt it would get her hired, but could distinguish her. I was a STEM major in undergrad, but took some upper level social science and history classes. I found those classes definitely have a higher bar for writing/communicating than any of my STEM classes in both undergrad and grad. I had a couple of STEM profs who really pushed good writing, but I found those classes to be the exception.

            1. Cat*

              Agreed- I’ve got a history undergrad degree and a STEM grad degree. My undergrad classes taught me a lot about research and writing. It didn’t directly get me hired in my first job, as you mentioned, but it definitely helped during that job, and it helped me get hired in my current position.

          2. The Shenanigans*

            Well, you don’t put classes on your resume lol so that’s not a problem. Transcript just proves you have a degree though I suppose you could judge people on those classes if you want. That’s short-sighted though. The point is these classes teach critical thinking and problem solving skills. They teach what to do if you are faced with a process you’ve never seen but is close to a process you have. Managers complain their direct reports can’t make these kinds of leaps. Well, you learn that in history and humanities much more than hard sciences. Every kind of class teaches some sort of valuable skill, which is why it’s just unbelievable to me that there is such a bias against everything except the quantitative process thinking that labs teach. You need quantitative data to anchor qualitiative analysis. You need qualitative analysis to make quantitative data at all meaningful. Therefore, EVERY kind of class is necessary to learn to be the best employee and person you can be.

            1. cabbagepants*

              “you learn [critical thinking] in history and humanities much more than hard sciences.” Citation needed.

    8. kiki*

      Definitely statistics, especially statistics classes focused on practical application where you use tools rather than just focus on theory. Statistics knowledge is useful in any science, but also most disciplines and careers.

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

      Do you have an academic advising center? These are all great questions to ask one of those folx. It really depends on what you’re looking to do with your degree.

      1. Dovasary Balitang*

        I do, but they keep refusing to answer my questions over email and insist on setting up a Zoom meeting – something I don’t have time for at present! So it’s been a bit discouraging to deal with them.

    10. Seahorse*

      What do you want to get hired for? Both degrees and jobs can get really specialized, and I’ve known more than a few people who accidentally made themselves miserable by going for a marketable degree rather than playing to their natural strengths and interests. The market might shift, what’s popular & recommended now might be over-saturated soon, and emerging fields might require skills you unexpectedly possess.

      I’m not saying just do it for the passion (I was passionate about my history BA, and that got me nowhere…), but having a broad sense of the kind of work you want will likely get you further than picking classes for generic “hireability.” Work backwards from the job field – what do you want to do, and what skills / knowledge do employers in those areas need?

      Also, congrats on pursuing the degree!

      1. Dovasary Balitang*

        I don’t entirely know yet. I’ve spent the last couple of years in admin-accounting, and it’s fine; but probably the happiest I ever was at a job was working in a big box retailer’s photo centre, where I mixed chemicals and performed regular large-ish machine maintenance and KPM set up. So likely something more hands-on and technical than where I am right now. Hence my dipping my toe into STEM. Right now, I’m focusing on math upgrading and non-STEM prereqs.

        1. KVN*

          In that case, I think you might be interested in a lab tech job or quality control. Either case, hands on lab experience will likely get you the furthest; look for independent research projects or volunteer positions in labs. See what types of lab work/research is most interesting to you, but it sounds like something with mass spectrometry or more microbiology might work for you

        2. Mantis shrimp*

          This is a *hugely* helpful answer, not all sciences require those skills. That means more bench scientist. As a physicist/computer programmer, I’d look to : chemistry, biology. Physics, focusing on lab work. Is it possible to jump from where you are now to engineering? Chem eng? But, like others take a stats class, maybe even one more than is required. Take a programming class. See if you can find internships/co-ops where you would get to do stuff in a lab.

        3. 30 Years in the Biz*

          If you have the time to take some additional, more specialized science courses , I’d suggest clinical laboratory science. You get to work with all types of equipment depending on department. Think automated analyzers for hematology and chemistry and MALDI-TOF, PCR for microbiology. You need a biology and chemistry background plus some additional courses. You can go the MLT route or MLS route. Some students in these programs work as phlebotomists part-time during their internship; it pays pretty well. I’ve noticed there are some distance learning opportunities, although you usually will need a 6 months- 1 year internship at a hospital lab to get your license. Search for “MLT and MLS” to find additional information. I started college as an art major; I ended up in microbiology (it’s an art too!). I’ve now been a scientist for almost 40 years and it’s been wonderful. Great pay (there’s a big shortage of lab scientists) and constant opportunities to learn new technologies. If you work in a hospital you can usually choose among 3 shifts which adds a lot of flexibility. Biotech positions are also fun and I’ve been in that industry for 30 years. All the best to you!

        4. Sandals and sneakers*

          Ha! then my suggestion of knowing how to use excel well and the value of databases is moot. Your ability to organize and handle datasets will be a huge asset. If you like outdoor things geology, hydrology or physical geography might be of interest.

    11. EMP*

      in my outsider opinion, “wet” sciences like biology and chemistry aren’t really applicable in the real world unless you enjoy lab work and/or research. You may be able to spin that degree into somewhat related work (like, your degree is in biology you might: manage a lab, get an advanced degree to become a pharmacist, work coordinating grant writing or experiment procedures – this is assuming you aren’t planning on med school) but they require a lot of lab classes which really aren’t relevant day to day in other fields. Someone is probably going to point out that you learn a lot of soft skills or organizational skills or attention to detail skills in these classes, which are useful outside of wet science, but, you can learn those skills in any college class and don’t need to suffer through 3 hour organic chemistry labs just for note taking.
      If your priority is *every* class is relevant I would focus on computer science.
      Also FWIW, all the physicists I know are either PhD researchers or are working for Google now doing programming.

      tl;dr – it really depends on what you want to do after school and if you like lab work

      1. cabbagepants*

        I know lots of physicists who went into data science, as well as plenty who are doing mechanical engineering-type stuff.

    12. Cedrus Libani*

      Agree with the many people suggesting a technical / scientific writing course. No, it won’t get you hired at the entry level, but it will help you advance. It’s not enough to do the work, you need to convince other people that you’ve done it correctly. Eventually, as you become more senior, you will also be expected to have opinions about what work should be done, and you will have to convince those above you to let you do it. That’s communication skills.

      In terms of marketability, I’d say the #1 priority is a statistics course. You don’t have to take the math major version, unless you’re into that – the applied version is fine. You should understand the basic statistics that you might see in a biology / chemistry paper and be able to write such a paper yourself.

      I would also suggest that, since you’re towards the beginning of your journey, you go for breadth early and then figure out what you’re good at. Do you have the mechanical aptitude to build a complex piece of equipment from a diagram, or to fix someone else’s questionable build when it fails? Physics lab might tell you this. Do you have the mind-like-water aptitude to spend hours moving liquids from one container to another, all the while remaining present in the moment, such that you don’t skip any steps and you notice any small changes in color, viscosity, etc. that would alert you that something is wrong? Biology lab might tell you this. Do you have the pattern-matching aptitude to spot the misplaced punctuation mark that’s causing your code to fail, hidden in hundreds of lines of text? An intro-level programming class might tell you this.

      On the subject of breadth vs depth – I’m a breadth myself, and there are definitely upsides to it, but you should be aware that you’re making your life harder in some ways too. At the entry level, you will encounter job descriptions that are tailored to what a typical “X major” knows. If you’re the interdisciplinary weirdo who majored in XYZ, you will be judged by your X skills alone, and you’ll also have to convince them that you’re willing to stay in your lane and do X all day. Of course, once you get hired, it turns out that nobody else knows how to do Z and it’s causing major operational problems, so now you’re in charge of Z, but you’re also expected to do as much X as everyone else…

      I’m in a genuinely interdisciplinary job now, but I had to go back to school and get my PhD in order to get there. It’s hard out there if you’re on the breadth strategy and don’t have at least a MS. At the BS level, most STEM jobs are about using your specialized knowledge to do a thing as specified, not about realizing there’s a smarter way to do it. If you insist on being the tech who has opinions about the wisdom of what you’ve been asked to do, a smart boss will appreciate you…but you’ll get paid the same as the techs who don’t bother, and appreciation doesn’t pay the bills. Also, not all bosses are smart. You will make enemies. Even if you’re right…heck, especially if you’re right.

      1. cabbagepants*

        Very well put. I have three degrees in three STEM fields and now work in a fourth one. “If you’re the interdisciplinary weirdo who majored in XYZ, you will be judged by your X skills alone” during hiring is spot on.

    13. The Somewhat Average Gilly Hopkins*

      I know you’re looking for real-world application, but don’t sleep on more theoretical discussions/readings on the philosophy of science. Make sure you read Karl Popper’s work at least. His theories on falsifiability are essential for developing a scientific mindset, and his perspective on the paradox of tolerance is also very relevant when considering political issues happening in America and Europe.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        It’s true. I minored in anthropology, and it shaped how I think about science in very deep ways. Talking about that stuff is a good way to make the average scientist look at you funny, and it certainly isn’t on my resume. But if you ask me what I find interesting and important and worth prioritizing in my field, you’ll hear the influence.

    14. Stephanie*

      -Programming (I’d say something like C/C++ just to understand how to learn a language, but I think just getting some exposure to how to learn a language is good)
      -Anything that will help your soft skills – technical writing, public speaking, communications, general humanities
      -Business/economics (if you think you might want to go into private sector/corporate)

    15. Back2ESchool*

      I’ve you’ve not heard of it before, check out land surveying and GIS work. The work can be a balance between field surveying (in all weather conditions, so be ready for that!) as well as computer-desk work.
      I don’t have any official statistics to back it up, but I’m seeing a lot of job postings both from municipalities who are now integrating GIS into ALL their systems as well as private engineering/architectural consulting firms. Seems to be a growing field.
      At the universities I’m familiar with, it is housed within Civil Engineering or Architecture. I don’t believe a full bachelor’s degree is required in the United States, so maybe you could do schooling at a community college for a quicker and less expensive education.

      1. Sparkle Llama*

        I work in a GIS adjacent field and am a power user of GIS for my department (so I can do reasonably complex things but have a much lower limit to my skills than an actual GIS professional). This is likely true for many fields but I expect that getting hired into GIS 3-5 years from now may be difficult. So much of what entry level people do is effectively data entry and increasingly organizations are getting caught up on digitizing old stuff and that work seems ripe for AI to change. An old coworker of mine advised one of her reports two years ago that he needed to substantially improve his skills in the next five years if he wanted to still be employable.

        Will there still be jobs – certainly, but I would expect those changes to at least even out the current growth. I think the field is also moving towards combining GIS with data management in general so planning accordingly would be advisable.

    16. Thunder kitten*

      Get some coding experience under your belt. Even if you dont end up being in IT or becoming a programmer, the skills will serve you well. The specific language is less important than the general “programming thinking” but useful languages are R, Python, Java, Visual Basic, SQL, Javascript (which has nothing to do with Java), etc.

  2. No Tribble At All*

    How to tell if a potential new boss will be good with women? I’m a female engineer, and next week, I’ll be part of panel interviews for a new department head. I report directly to this position. The current head is a woman, and she’s had my back in several crucial ways:

    (1) I’m currently pregnant, and she’s given me an extraordinary amount of flexibility to deal with the debilitating morning sickness I had in the first trimester
    (2) One of my teammates has been micromanaging and dismissive on and off for the past year. It seems to be worse when I have to take sick time. Boss held discussions with both of us and gave him a stern talking-to (after which things got better). She’s also shut him down in real-time in meetings where he kept harping on a mistake I made and freely admitted to. When I first came to her and said “I feel like he’s extra dismissive of me because I’m a woman” she heard me and took it seriously.

    Point (2) is the one I’m most worried about for a male manager. How can I know after an hour interview if someone’s going to actually walk the walk? I’m already anxious about being obsolete after maternity leave. How can I tell if someone will be all “well you have been out for a while, deal with it”?

    My best idea right now is to ask “as a manager, what have you done to further diversity and inclusion on your teams?” If the candidate laughs, mumbles, or gives some mealy-mouthed answer about treating everyone the same, I’m going to recommend against them. But I can understand how a candidate wouldn’t want to be like “I shut down a dude who was being a butthead to his female coworkers” because that’s a bit personal.

    Idk, any advice?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think your question is a little too open-ended and will be conducive to him making the right noises without any follow through.

      Better, I think, to ask him concrete questions — “Have you managed teams that had part-time workers or spread shifts – due to time zones, flex hours, 24/7 coverage requirements, family responsibilities, etc.? How did you deal with (scheduling meetings/improving asynchronous communications/etc)”

      1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

        I would love Alison’s take on this.

        My thought would be to try and ask a tell me about a time question. maybe something like, tell me about a time when you have seen/managed someone who struggled with treating some of their coworkers professionally and how you handled it?

        I don’t love it, but maybe someone else can get it to the right wording.

      2. Whomst*

        I definitely like asking about how they handle specific situations that often come up in equity issues – flexible schedules, people returning to the workforce after a break, employees who don’t integrate into the team well initially, etc. I might even ask these questions before using any buzzwords (diversity, equity, inclusion, etc.), since that can cue them to the kind of answers you’re looking for when their natural inclination is to give a hard line or something.

      3. cabbagepants*

        I agree. You really need to ask for concrete examples. My boss has great intentions but really has struggled to figure out how to manage me given that my paid family leave has been spread out over multiple chunks rather than continuous (as is allowed by my state).

    2. pally*

      I like: “How do you support your reports?”

      Those who chuckle tend to give ‘bad’ responses (“I’m the only one who is allowed to yell at you!” -an actual response I received!).

      Those who take management seriously will go on and on about how they do this (1-on-1s, providing avenues for enrichment, etc.). Suggest using follow-up questions for each item they list (“how do you conduct your 1-on-1s?”, etc.).

      Might follow this with “tell me about a time when someone you managed made a mistake.” Then follow up with clarifying questions regarding how mistakes are viewed (fix and move on, revisiting of the mistake for… [reasons]).

    3. Just Here for the Cake*

      Is it possible to give “how would you handle X scenario?” type questions? Maybe even using the dismissive coworker situation as an example (without naming names, of course)? I think digging into concrete scenarios instead of talking about EDI in general might help sus out some things.

      1. Somehow_I_Manage*

        Agreed. The main advice I’ve been trying to incorporate into my interview questions based on is to ask for real examples, keep it concise, and not lead them to your preferred answer in the question.

        In this case: “Can you give an example of how you have addressed sexism in the workplace?”

        Don’t otherwise explain it or introduce the question. Just offer it and stop talking.

        It’s blunt, to the point, requests an example, and will put them on their heels enough to be an honest answer.

        If OP were to ask her current boss (who is well qualified) this question, she would have no hesitation to answer. If this candidate doesn’t have an answer or has never experienced an issue- that would be revealing in many ways. It’s either a blind spot, or they lack the experience. Both of which may merit exclusion.

        1. Anon for this*

          A caveat on this… somebody could handle these things well and lack experience. From a diversity standpoint, we probably do not want to strictly exclude people due to lack of experience (which is why I love that you said “ may merit exclusion” (emphasis mine).

          So if the candidate says they haven’t experienced sexism in the workplace, maybe dig in a bit and ask about other isms or in other organizations. So, if they can talk to when somebody made jokes about the guy with Down Syndrome at their book club, that’s better than nothing. Also, if they haven’t dealt with it as a manager, but I had a manager who did and learned a lot from it (positive or negative), that is still better than nothing.

          E.g. I had coworkers be sexist towards me. I raised it to my manager. They did some things that were good, and some that weren’t, and I could speak to what I learned from it that I would bring to my own management.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Can you ask how they’ve kept people looped in and feeling supported either during or after maternity leave? Maybe that feels too specific to you, but that’s an important part of managing.

    5. Fiona*

      As the other commenter said, something very simple and straightforward is a good idea – I like their question: “Can you give an example of how you have addressed sexism in the workplace?”

      Also, I would stay open-minded if possible. My former boss (a man) was incredibly supportive of women, our career trajectories, mentoring, and also generally people on our team with kids or aging parents. I definitely understand your concern but unfortunately sexism/misogyny is not just limited to male bosses.

      1. River*

        “Can you give an example of how you have addressed sexism in the workplace?”

        WAY too open ended. Too many people still think sexism looks like a man saying in so many words that women are less capable than men and don’t identify things like harping on a mistake that she has already admitted to as sexism. I would go a little more specific. Maybe this won’t apply in her situation, but something like, “Can you tell me about paths to promotion, such as what was the tenure of the last few people to get promoted?” and the answer might tell her the gender and years in position of the last few people to get promoted, which she can compare to the rest of the group to see if there are any gender differentials. That’s just an example, not saying it’s a perfect question.

        1. Marzipan*

          I think the fact that not everyone clearly recognises the nuances of sexism is a positive of that question, not a negative, personally. It’s the sort of question where the candidate’s underlying knowledge, values and experience really show through in their answer, often on levels they may not be aware of. If a candidate gave fairly trite examples on their answer, you could reasonably consider than an indicator that their understanding of the issue is more shallow than a candidate who gave deeper, more nuanced examples.

          And ultimately, OP is interested in how they’d react to sexism so I think specifically asking about it gets you right to what she’s keen to know about. With your suggestion, I’d be worried that it would be less likely to yield a satisfactory answer for her, just because it’s much a more oblique way of coming at it, and could be answered in lots of ways that don’t touch upon sexism in any detail.

    6. Bitsy*

      Can you get someone else on the hiring panel to ask whatever question you come up with on this? If you’re visibly pregnant, I would think a candidate might know to spin a potentially insincere story when answering you. But if, say, some dude across the table asks the question, the candidate might be less immediately clued in to how they “should” answer the question.

      1. Momma Bear*

        And/or if the interview panel (here we have a rule of 3) is mixed genders, races, etc. note how the candidate treats each one, responds to questions from each, and presents their information to each. Does this candidate “dumb down” answers for women? Do they quickly realize that everyone in the room is a capable and functional adult and treat them professionally? IMO if you “need” a dude to ask the question to get a good answer, that in itself is problematic. The person should respond to a woman equally as respectfully as a man and I wouldn’t pass hard questions to a man – all the more reason to have a woman ask to see if she gets a half-arsed answer or not.

        1. colorguard*

          ^^^This. One time I interviewed a candidate for a job and crossed him off the list after the phone interview. A year or so later, when I was in a new role (lateral move), the person in my old role brought him in as a finalist. The other female manager in the office had the same negative reaction interviewing him that day that I had a year earlier. He’d made it through to the finalist stage that time because only men had interviewed him up to that point, so he was attentive and responsive to their questions.

        2. Employee of the Bearimy*

          This is a really good suggestion. We’re interviewing for a high-level position right now and I met with one candidate along with a male peer (both of us C-suite positions). I noticed that when my coworker asked a question, he answered my coworker. When I asked a question…he answered my coworker. In general his answers were good and he wasn’t going to have much of a team to manage, but I definitely pointed out my observation to the CEO as a concern I had.

        3. Observer*

          And/or if the interview panel (here we have a rule of 3) is mixed genders, races, etc. note how the candidate treats each one, responds to questions from each, and presents their information to each.

          Yes! This was my first thought, as well.

    7. Qwerty*

      You need them to show not tell I would find a way to work in a dog whistle – something that a jerk would let his mask slip for but a woman or decent dude would give a bland answer. Like I had a recent interview with a guy who kept nitpicking and being pedantic every time I gave an answer that was close but maybe phrased differently than he would have used.

      Offering up a soap box won’t give useful info. Tons of sexist guys like to tell me how they are great at protecting/promoting women and at first they sound believable.

      1. Katydid*

        Couldn’t ‘working in a dog whistle’ result in job candidate suspecting that you and/or your company were sexist/racist/etc., and consequently withdrawing their application because they don’t want to work for bigots?

        1. Observer*

          Absolutely. Don’t do it – you may cause the jerks to let their mask slip. But you may also lose your best candidates.

        2. Qwerty*

          I meant more like my example – something on-topic for the interview that will trigger a “well, actually”. Certainly don’t say something bigoted!

          In software it is super easy, like mentioning that we use a non-standard technology that TechBros see as inferior or implying that I, a woman, was part of deciding what tech stack or tool to use. Normal candidates take it as me informing them about the work and ask follow up questions. Sexist guys will respond with condescesion, assuring me how they will change everything, laughing at me, etc. Common jargon like “Agile” when uttered by a woman can be whistles to see if the guy will assume that the woman doesn’t know what she is talking about.

      2. OP 6 from Pettiness Post*

        “Tons of sexist guys like to tell me how they are great at protecting/promoting women”

        ^^ THIS. See The Recycle Bin from the pettiness post a few days back. That was this guy. Believes he is capital-F Feminist. Doesn’t think a woman who is doing computer programm and has a masters degree (I’m the OP for that) can put a can in a box without his personal demonstration.

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

      How does the candidate interact with others? With women who are not on the hiring team (employees in the waiting room, an assistant, etc). Talk with anyone who the candidates have interaction with, even a janitor or parking attendant. I think that will show a lot.

      Are you getting references? If so can you ask them how the candidate treated women they worked with?

      Also keep in mind that you should be doing this for all candidates, not just men. Some of the most misogynist bosses can be women themselves. So don’t think that because you have a really great boss now who is a woman that all women will be like her.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Very true. I had a woman boss that had a soft spot for single mothers. Problem was, she gave them grace she wouldn’t give married women or the men on her team. She balked at married mothers calling out to tend sick children, and after I left she denied the PTO request of a man who wanted to attend a family function (think a child’s graduation or wedding).

        If flexibility is important to you/the company, ask questions about it.

        I’ve always been told that the interview starts the moment you walk in the door/enter the property. You never know which interaction will be a tipping point or who will talk about your behavior.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        Yes. Definitely talk to other women who interact with him, especially those he may perceive as “less” – a receptionist, assistant, anyone in a role similar to that. If he is rude, dismissive, or just doesn’t listen to what they say, that’s a HUGE red flag.

        I’m currently an admin, and while he’s not my direct manager, I work with a guy who just…really seems not to hear/listen to what women say. He’s actually not a terrible guy, but getting him to actually process what I or the other admins are saying is seriously an uphill battle. And yet, at the same time, I proposed a way of handling something recently, and he was all like “I don’t want to make a lot of extra work,” when a) I’d be the one doing most of the work, and b) the work I was suggesting would need to be done at some point. But when we met (with others) about the same issue a few days later, what process was he suggesting? I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

        It’s so painfully obvious that I’ve had conversations with the other admins about it…they’ve observed/experienced the same thing and brought it up to me independently. But none of us can figure out how to address it in a constructive way, and none of us think he’s even conscious of it.

        But do pay attention to HOW he answers ANY questions you and other female-presenting people ask. Maybe even ask something like “Tell me about a time when you observed someone not paying appropriate attention to/being dismissive of a colleague’s perspective, and how did you address that?” The answer to that, I think, will tell you a lot.

      3. Cheezmouser*

        Agree with all the points above from Just Cats.

        Our CEO *always* asks the receptionist for feedback on a candidate’s behavior, because he wants to know how potential C-suite hires treat people they assume are “not important,” especially when no one is looking. Most candidates don’t realize that they’re being evaluated while they’re just waiting in the lobby before the interview even starts. The receptionist’s feedback has sunk a candidate more than once.

        Also 100% agree that these types of questions/evaluations should be done for all candidates, not just men. Not only is this a matter of fairness in the hiring process, but as many have pointed out, women can also behave in misogynistic ways. One of my friends was bullied by her female coworkers for being a nursing mom. They said nasty things about her “only wanting to breastfeed to lose weight” and complaining that she was “unreachable” if she took more than 15 minutes to pump. (Yes, they literally timed her.)

        1. Observer*

          Not only is this a matter of fairness in the hiring process, but as many have pointed out, women can also behave in misogynistic ways.

          Also, the right questions will help flush out other kids of bigotry.

      4. Chirpy*

        Yes, this. Ask the receptionist/ non interview panel staff the candidate interacts with what they’re like. One of the scariest coworkers I ever had was because the hiring manager brushed off the concerns of the woman working the front desk (and every other female coworker who spoke up during his time at the job, along with a few men.) The guy was extremely creepy, carried a knife openly at work, and was eventually fired for making death threats against the hiring manager. He was actually dangerous.

        1. Observer*

          Interesting. The bad hire is one thing. The hiring manager, on the other hand, was a sexist idiot.

          1. Chirpy*

            Oh, he was. He was also eventually fired himself. We never found out why, but it seems likely that it was the accumulation of many “smaller” things. (Knife guy was unusually bad judgment/willful ignorance/avoidance of actually managing, but the manager would often do/say things that just made you go “this would be the sort of thing a reasonable person should report a coworker to their manager/ HR for…but this IS the manager…”)

    9. learnedthehardway*

      So, this person is going to be YOUR manager? I would be VERY careful about what you ask and how you ask it. In fact, I would speak with your current manager first and clear your questions with her. It may be better for her to ask the candidates how they would deal with diversity and sexism issues, and for you to take notes. In fact, I would suggest this as a good course of action – get your manager to ask the difficult questions. You ask about how the manager supports staff career growth.

      The reason I mention this is because I and other team members were once on a panel to interview candidates for our manager’s role. Long story short, it did not turn out well. The hired candidate held it against us that our questions surfaced gaps in their experience. While they ended up getting the role anyway, they clearly did not appreciate our participation in the process. I was let go about 4 months after the new manager started, even though the departments I supported strongly protested.

    10. Annalee*

      I’m an eng manager who’s done a bunch of hiring, including interviewing folks for eng management roles.

      Leading with a general question like the one you’re thinking of is fine, but follow up with specific behavioral questions (can you tell me about a time when you… how would you handle…). You’re right that a mealy answer to the first question is likely to tell you what you need to know because it identifies people who basically haven’t thought about this at all, but specific follow-ups can help differentiate between people who are all talk vs folks who are ready and willing to do the work.

      Here are some sample follow-up questions. Depending on what your interview process looks like, it may be helpful to spread these questions out–especially if you’re the only woman in the room, it can be risky to own this whole line of questions yourself.

      “Can you tell me about a time when having a diverse team helped you build a better product?”

      Red flags:
      – no he cannot
      – he thinks of diversity only in terms of factors that are not marginalized in tech, such as eng skill level (teams with both junior and senior engineers), political beliefs (ie team being inclusive of both liberals and conservatives), or time zone (on-call is so much easier with people in California and London!)

      Green flags:
      – concrete examples of user needs that marginalized colleagues identified
      – examples of how diversity on the team had a “curb cut effect” of improving team culture and processes for everyone
      – if he can’t provide any examples, he can provide examples of times when having a more diverse team would have helped

      “Can you tell me about a time when you had to address micro-aggressions on or towards your team?” (If he’s never managed before, how has he intervened in micro-aggressions as a peer?)

      Red flags:
      – I’ve never had that problem (either he’s never worked on a diverse team, or he doesn’t notice micro-aggressions AND marginalized reports/colleagues haven’t trusted him enough to seek his support).
      – Says he’d just fire/discipline staff who don’t treat people with respect, because it indicates he doesn’t clock that behaviors that don’t rise to the level of a formal disciplinary process can still be a problem that needs to be addressed
      – Answer indicates he treats this as an interpersonal conflict (trying to mediate between the parties, thinking it’s best resolved with an apology given and accepted), because it indicates he prioritizes the absence of conflict over the presence of justice.

      Green flags:
      – Concrete examples of micro-aggressions he’s had to address
      – He checked in with the target of the micr0-aggression, but didn’t make them responsible for choosing whether/how to address it (“I saw X and wanted to check in with you. I’m planning to do Y about it. Please let me know if you’d like me to handle it differently.”)
      – He spoke directly with the person who is doing the thing, specifically named the behavior, and told them what needs to change.
      – He put in the emotional labor to help them handle their feelings about being criticized for racist/sexist/etc behavior, and made it clear to them that they’re not to process those feelings with marginalized colleagues
      – He left the target out of it when addressing it (no “Jane finds it upsetting when you do X” but “I need you to stop doing X because it reflects poorly on you and doesn’t align with our values”).

      “How many people of color of any gender, or women of any race, have you promoted (or recommended for promotion)?”
      Red flags:
      – *nervous laugh* something something pipeline problem
      – well obviously I only promote based on ability and not gender

      Green flags:
      – has promoted underrepresented people
      – has promoted underrepresented people *into leadership positions* (TL, Eng Manager)
      – talks about the folks he has promoted in terms of the skills that earned them the promotion
      – talks about sponsoring careers more broadly/as an ongoing process
      – if he’s never been in a position to meaningfully sponsor a marginalized person’s career because he hasn’t worked on diverse teams, he has insight into why his previous employers were failing to attract diverse talent

      In addition to questions specifically about managing for inclusion, you can get a lot of signal from how they answer more general questions:

      – Ask hypothetical questions (“How would you handle a situation where an engineer on your team…”) using gender-neutral language. Does he assume he/him pronouns for engineers, leadership above him, and/or candidates he’d be hiring? Does he assume she/her pronouns for questions about non-engineering colleagues, or non-tech-literate users?

      – Does he use “you mom” or “your grandma” as a stand-in for technically-inept users?

      – Ask how he’s promoted work/life balance on his teams. Red flags: work hard play hard, making the office fun, haha tech industry hours amirite. Green flags: recognizes that work/life balance is an inclusion issue; sets a good example for his team; doesn’t just make vague noises but actually takes concrete steps to ensure that folks work reasonable hours, and intervenes when someone is not doing that.

      – When I’m interviewing alongside a male interviewer, some candidates will address their answers to my colleague even though I asked the question. Sometimes they’ll do this for all questions; sometimes they’ll address me sometimes, but address my colleague when I ask a technical question (or address me when my colleague asks people skills questions). This really only works in-person because it has to do with where they’re facing.

      – Be sure to introduce yourself as an engineer. See if he answers your questions like he’s talking to another engineer (and if there are non-engineers in the room, does he address them or you when providing context they would need to understand his answer?).

      – Can he provide any former reports as references? Are any of those former reports underrepresented in tech? (If not it’s worth explicitly asking if any underrepresented people he’s managed can speak to what he’s like to work with/for).

      1. Marzipan*

        These are fantastic suggestions and I think that having considered in advance what a good/bad answer to the question might look like is particularly helpful in this context – not that it’s not always helpful! – because it would enable OP to get other members of the panel on the same page in advance and looking out for the same things she is.

      2. No Tribble At All*

        Can I hire you to be my manager?? This is fantastic advice, thank you so much!!

      3. Somehow_I_Manage*

        As someone working in engineering, your list has given me a lot to think about.

        I really adore this question:
        “Can you tell me about a time when having a diverse team helped you build a better product?”

        The fact that there are so many ways to interpret “diversity,” seeing the candidate’s response in real time can be revealing of their personal values and blind spots. It’s very clever.

    11. cabbagepants*

      “Please tell me about some of the microaggressions you’ve observed and how you have addressed them with your team.”

      “How do you evaluate the competence of your employees in a technical subject of which you are not an expert?”

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      I love everyone’s questions. I also feel that the furthering diversity and inclusion question is too broad.
      I would see how much attention the candidate gives you in the meeting compared to the men in the room. Watch how he/she (maybe it will be a she!) looks at each person, responds to them, how seriously they take each person’s questions.

    13. Observer*

      Some great feedback here.

      Also, ask how he handles interpersonal stuff.

      You want to see
      What kind of language he uses

      How he differentiates between personal / personality clashes vs other types of interpersonal issues

      How he actually deals with both “personality clashes” (However he defines that) and misbehavior that he deems is “professional”.

    14. The Shenanigans*

      I think this is where specific behaviorial “tell me about a time when…” questions are helpful. “Tell me about a time you had to support employees dealing with a medical condition such as pregnancy or a short term disability?”* or “Tell me about experiences with employees using programs such as the ADA or FMLA?”

      No they aren’t the same and give him points if he points that out. But legally they are treated very similarly. And this way you aren’t running afoul of potential landmines in how you ask the question.

    15. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      If you have a front-desk person, ask their opinion of all candidates. Find out who was polite, who was rude, etc.

  3. flattening the organization*

    I have “always a bridesmaid” syndrome regarding promotion as an individual contributor/subject matter expert (SME). Looking for tips from people who have been promoted in this sort of structure (meaning senior/staff/lead/principal, rather than manager/director/VP).

    Over 20 years, my job trajectory has been SME for Industry A –> SME for Industry B –> Senior SME for Industry A. This is an infuriatingly slow progression, but the problem is that I’ve only leveled up by jumping to a new company. The extended time frame is due to waffling around with two stagnant roles, both of which promised promotions that never materialized. In both companies, the lack of promotion was not a matter of someone being promoted instead of me, but rather of circumstance: the companies both reorganized into a simpler structure that made the higher-level role evaporate. Current employees were either laid off, or generalized into less descriptive titles.

    I’ve been in my current Senior SME role for 3 years, gunning for a principal SME role in 2-ish years, when the company just announced a reorganization for 2024 that will push our current Principal SMEs into manager roles, then flatten the departments to eliminate the SME hierarchy. AGAIN. I am so tired of this. I thought joining a bigger company would give me more opportunities to move up, but this “flattening the organization” process just keeps following me from job to job like a stalker.

    Do I just jump again and hope for the best? Any ideas on how to better vet a new company, so I can discern empty promises from real opportunity to move up?

    1. Parenthesis Guy*

      I’m confused. Do you not want to be a manager?

      I’ve worked at a number of companies where managers don’t actually manage people. Are you sure you’ll be forced to manage at this place?

      1. flattening the organization*

        No, I don’t want to manage people, I want to stay on the individual contributor track. When the IC track is gutted, instead of SME/Senior SME/Staff SME/Principal SME, the options then become “a giant pool of generic SMEs” and “one manager of those SMEs.” By nature this creates fewer opportunities to move up, and moving up forces you to manage people.

        1. Parenthesis Guy*

          I’d have a chat with your manager and ask about career progression with an eye towards remaining an individual contributor. I would also consider asking about promotion potential as a SME while remaining an individual contributor and whether large raises are a possibility while keeping the same technical title.

          The places I’ve been at have technically given people titles that indicate that they manage people, but have given certain SMEs no reports. Like, I’m used to people being managers without reports. They have the same rank as a team lead, but they don’t manage anyone just projects.

          Leveling up by jumping to new companies is a common way of getting a promotion. That may be what you need to do in this case.

        2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

          Where I’m stuck is understanding if you are looking for an organization that has SME/Senior SME/Principal SME (in which case you likely do have to look to another company with that structure) or if you want advice for finding a way to work within a flatter structure, and/or gain recognition in a flatter structure (which is a “maybe” on looking elsewhere).

          My second toxic workplace was likewise pretty into a flat structure, so though I was seen as a more senior IC by others at the organization it wasn’t borne out in terms of money or hierarchy. In that case, I did have to leave in order to level up (though I ended up skipping over a more “medium” level I would have been happy with for a senior role).

          On the other hand, if you are in a flat structure and can negotiate a better salary and find some supportive managers who can find creative ways to signal your expertise within the organization, that can sometimes be a satisfying way to exist within an organization bent on that kind of structure.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Maybe jump to another adjacent industry if possible? This hurts to read, I just lost a peer at an adjacent company who was an SME and wanted more. She was so good. But they never promoted her and she was probably underpaid (just a guess based on others there). I wish they were more direct with us and raised our rates to cover staff, or something like that instead of pretending everything was fine.

    3. Susan Calvin*

      Based on my experience, you shouldn’t be too torn up about this – I know it *feels* crappy to basically keep the same title for ages, but since exact wording of titles can vary so much between companies anyways, nobody is going to look at a resume with (if I’m reading that right) 8ish years of experience as a [teapot consultant] and think “wow, this guy is clearly a dud” – especially since collapsing the formal hierarchy almost certainly doesn’t mean ‘giving the former juniors the exact same tasks and responsibilities as the former principals’, so you can still talk about work at your advanced level in an interview when it comes to that.

      Now if the last bit is wrong, and they DO treat everyone as fungible, then gtfo like, yesterday, because wow, no.

    4. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      I work for a company that also has zero career path for an individual contributors. You can move laterally (which was fun for a while) but your title and pay range don’t change. Financially the only way to get ahead in the company is to manage people. Or you hit the top of the salary scale and no longer get cost of living raises. Plus it impacts company culture and how various levels are treated. Which means a lot of people go the management route who shouldn’t be in charge of a pet rock. The other option is to end up forgotten, one of those SMEs who are told they are essential but never treated that way.

      My sister worked for a tech company that did have a completely viable IC career path. Companies with that do exist, probably more in the tech realm. You should probably ask about the job progression for IC roles (and how it impacts title and pay ranges). If they don’t have distinct title progression, then the company may really just be calling it “career progression” when it’s really just lateral moves.

  4. Mrs Fi'ty Percent*

    I think I may have misstepped with my direct report. She texted me one day telling me she was under the weather, that she ‘felt okay but sounded terrible’ and asked if I preferred for her to WFH or come into the office. I advised her to come in. She did and her voice was almost completely gone. She explained that, in her view, feeling okay generally means being at 50%. I admit I misunderstood the situation and I laughed and told her that neither I nor my boss care what she sounds like, as long as she’s fit to work. Since then, it has been very difficult to get her to stay home when sick. How do I fix this?

    1. Rainy*

      Oh man. I think you have to have a conversation with her and tell her that you don’t want her coming in unless she feels at least 85% or whatever your personal metric is, and maybe not even then if it’s going to make her sicker. Acknowledge that you handled her previous illness incorrectly and you would have preferred her to stay home and get better than to drag herself in and try to work when she was ill.

      I think laughing at her while ill, even though that’s not what you meant, has probably made her assume some things about your workplace’s attitude to health. It’s going to take some super direct communication to even begin to solve that.

    2. justanobody*

      Talk with her about it. Unless there’s a compelling reason for her to be in the office, tell her it’s OK to work from home when she’s feeling under the weather. Let her make the decision.

    3. Aelfwynn*

      It sounds like she was passively telling you that she wanted to WFH while sick, but you indicated that you preferred for her to come in. It’s important to remember that, as the manager, what you say can be interpreted as essentially an order. I would talk to her directly and say something along the lines of “the other day when you lost your voice and asked if you should WFH or come in, I misunderstood the situation and told you to come in. I want to clarify that you know your own health better than I do, so if you need to stay home for the day, please do so (whether that’s a sick day or a WFH day).”

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, after that I would have assumed you wanted me to come in unless I was at deaths door. I’m really surprised you told her to come in.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I’m guessing Mrs. Fi’ty Percent thought the report meant “I don’t feel sick at all but I’ve lost my voice. Would you prefer I work from home for optics reasons or is it OK for me to come to the office?” whereas the report meant “is it OK for me to work from home?”

          I agree with those who’ve said that Mrs. Fi’ty Percent should be very clear. “I’m sorry. When you asked about work from home and said you were feeling OK, I assumed you meant you were feeling 100% and just wanted to know if it would look bad to clients if you sounded hoarse while in the office. If I had known you were feeling unwell, I would have told you to stay home and in future, if you were feeling unwell that is what I would prefer you do. I am really sorry for giving you the wrong impression. I definitely do not want you coming to work if you are only feeling at 50%.”

    4. londonedit*

      I think you can absolutely just have a brief conversation with her and say that you want her to know that if she’s ever feeling under the weather, she always has the option to WFH, and if she’s feeling ill then she should stay at home and take a sick day if she needs one.

      In her shoes, I’d absolutely interpret ‘come to the office’ and ‘we don’t care what you sound like as long as you’re fit to work’ as ‘we want you in the office unless you’re at death’s door’. So if that’s not the case, definitely spell that out to her!

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Yeah, I would interpret that the same way! I would say something like “I think I gave you the wrong impression about working while sick. I want you to feel free to use your sick time when you aren’t feeling well enough to do productive work for a whole work day, no matter where you are. If you feel like you can do productive work for a whole work day without wearing yourself out, but still aren’t feeling great, feel free to work from home. Come into the office only if you’re really feeling well and are able to work productively here all day. In that last case, it’s OK if you sound awful–I know sometimes that takes a while to get better even when you’re no longer sick. The important thing is really feeling well. But don’t feel like you need to come in if you DON’T feel well.”

        1. *kalypso*

          That’s a really good description of ‘fit to work’. That’s where the calibration issue is that needs to be defined.

          “The way you described your health made me think you were fit to work, and when we sid we don’t care about your symptoms if you’re fit to work, we really meant that if you’re 100% capable of working it doesn’t matter to us if you’re still having lingering symptoms or need a bit of latitude. When you’re not actually fit to work we need you to WFH or take a sick day, and we need to trust that you’re able to judge that and communicate it to us.’

          1. Random Dice*

            This phrasing is actually worse – it makes it clear that the manager doesn’t give a damm about the human involved, only their work output. Put the person before the work! Good people don’t stay where they’re treated like a cog in a machine.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I would, too, and I’m not a newcomer to the work world.

        I think you should just say that you misunderstood and that you wouldn’t have asked her to come in, and that in the future she can WFH.

    5. Don't Push Through*

      I think you need to have a direct conversation with her about your expectations when she feels under the weather before she is sick again. I will say that if I had been in your position, I would not have had her come in if she were calling to say she was under the weather. Mostly, I believe that if my staff called me about it, it was bad enough to feel the need to call. Maybe during your next one-on-one, you could say something along the lines of, “Hey, I’ve noticed you’ve been pushing yourself to come in when you’re feeling under the weather, so I want to take some time to explain our expectations around coming in when you’re sick.” Then the next time she is sick and calls you, be direct in telling her not to come in. Right now the precedent set is that you should push through, no matter how sick you feel, when that’s not really true.

    6. Zzzzzz*

      Why did you advise a sick person to come into an office and possible get others sick?
      Go back to her, admit your error, and let her know it is best to work from home.

      1. Gyne*

        Because “feeling under the weather” is not specific to contagious illnesses – allergies, migraines, IBS, etc all might cause someone to not be 100% but none of those can be passed to coworkers. So can “lost my voice from cheering at a sporting event that ran late.” and I definitely don’t want to set the precedent that it’s the manager’s role to ask follow up questions to determine the type of illness their reports have and then determine whether or not they should or should not be working. OP should go back to the report to clarify the misunderstanding and set the expectation going forward that they are free to use sick time *whenever* they feel like they need it.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          But people are allowed to rest and take care of their bodies even if their illness won’t affect anyone else.

          1. Gyne*

            Exactly! Which is why OP needs to clarify that with their report. It doesn’t matter if the report is contagious/migrainous/all partied out, that’s Report’s call to make and all they should have to say to OP is “I’m sick today, won’t be in until tomorrow.” The over-explaining/asking for guidance on whether or not to work led to a miscommunication that needs to be corrected.

    7. Leah K*

      Why would you tell someone who is sick to come into the office if they can work from home in the first place, no matter if they are at 50% or 75%? Sick people need to stay away from healthy people and not spread their germs.

      1. Morgan Proctor*

        Yeah, this is the takeaway here. Incredible how quickly post-pandemic we collectively forgot what germs are.

        1. Gyne*

          This comment and Morgan Powers’ above are unnecessarily cruel and unhelpful to the OP – they are saying they don’t want their report working while sick and asking advice for how to correct the misperception. The ongoing pile-on / strawman about being contagious in public when we don’t even know the report was contagious in the first place is mean and off topic.

          1. Joron Twiner*

            It’s not cruel to ask why OP wanted their worker to come into the office when WFH was an option and the worker wasn’t feeling well. It doesn’t matter if it was contagious or not, the worker shouldn’t have to put on proper clothes and schlep to the office if they were sick.

      2. Kay*

        This. Why, if a person isn’t 100%, do they need to come in to the office when they can work from home? I think the policy of having people coming in when they aren’t feeling great is terrible for so many reasons – as a manager you are so much better off being flexible with your employees and letting them work from home. Please please remedy this OP because right now I guarantee your employee isn’t happy about this.

    8. GingerJ1*

      I guess you start with apologizing for the misunderstanding (or if it is more appropriate, just acknowledge that the choices you two made didn’t work).

      Then give her your interpretation of “feeling okay,” make sure the two of you agree on the definition/determination of what is too sick to come in. Let her know that you do NOT want her working in the office when she’s ill.

      Since WFH is apparently a good option, perhaps you should decide that WFH is the default when it’s a close decision. Let her know she can check with you and you will help with the decision.

      Good luck!

    9. Rex Libris*

      Just be direct and own it. “I’ve realized that when I said that I’d prefer you come in, I didn’t have an accurate picture of how sick you were. When you’re legitimately ill, I’d prefer you stay home.”

    10. A Poster Has No Name*

      Why did you advise her to come in when WFH was an option? I’m guessing she was using that as gauge to see what your threshold is for coming in vs. staying home when sick, and you indicated to her that you want her to come in if at all possible. Maybe you didn’t mean to, but I can see that’s how she interprets it, and I’d probably interpret it the same way.

    11. Dark Macadamia*

      “I laughed and told her that neither I nor my boss care what she sounds like, as long as she’s fit to work.” – This absolutely sends the message that you expect her to come into the office when sick unless she’s physically incapable of working at all.

      You need to apologize and explicitly state that you made a bad call that gave her the wrong impression (and then be extra diligent about not acting frustrated, making it seem like an inconvenience, etc when people are out sick in the future)

      1. londonedit*

        I can see how she might have meant it as ‘As long as you’re feeling OK, don’t be embarrassed about how your voice sounds’, but yeah, I said above that I’d have assumed it meant ‘we want you here no matter what’. Definitely apologise for misunderstanding and clarify that she can WFH or take a sick day if she’s feeling under par.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        It potentially sends an even stronger message than that: I don’t care if you are ill, as long as you get the job done.

    12. Ellis Bell*

      “I’m concerned that you feel pressured to come in when you’re clearly sick, and that’s not the expectation here at all. What’s behind this?” I’m guessing it’s a former job where giving way to illness = being a slacker, hence why she very timidly texted you for permission to WFH (not even asking for a real sick day!) when ill. You, being a reasonable person, assumed that she was asking about something you were in charge of judging (optics) rather than something she was in charge of judging (her health). So, I think there’s going to be more future miscommunications unless you really spell out and drive home to her that it isn’t one of those workplaces were sick people are expected to drag themselves in. If she still seems dubious, take even a hint of sickness talk from her much more seriously than you would from others: “If you’re at all unwell, stay home and consider if you need the day off” type of response.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        “What’s behind this?” ?

        OP knows what’s behind it, very likely the report knows that OP knows as well. This is going to come off as a trap.

          1. Employee of the Bearimy*

            A number of commenters already answered this very well – OP needs to spell out that they realize they gave the wrong impression before and want to correct the record. It’s not going to make things better if they start out by blaming the employee for misunderstanding.

    13. linger*

      1. Could your condition be spread to others? If yes, stay home, period.
      2. Will your condition cause significant discomfort or exhaustion while commuting or performing your normal duties? If yes, stay home. Employees get to assess this for themselves.
      3. Come in only if no to both of the above.

      Giving Mrs 50% the benefit of the doubt, it sounds like she interpreted the employee’s description as not meeting either of the first two criteria (not contagious, and employee doesn’t have to speak at work, and was otherwise fit). So the main corrections would be to make these conditions explicit, and emphasize that the employee is trusted to make their own assessment of likely work impact in #2.

    14. Momma Bear*

      I think this is a go back and level set conversation. Point out that you misunderstood and did not mean for it to sound like she should come to work when sick. I’d also be more lenient if you can re: WFH when she’s iffy. So clarify what you intended and let her know that WFH or PTO is OK when she’s really too sick to be in the office.

      We have that policy, which got more robust during the pandemic. The upshot is now it’s corporate culture and fewer people come in with their ills. That means we don’t spread colds and flus and more people are able to stay healthy/continue to work. Win-win, in my view.

    15. Random Academic Cog*

      Just had a similar conversation with a new employee this week. She texted very early in the morning saying she wasn’t feeling great and asking for guidance on in-office or WFH for the day. I didn’t see her message until I was getting in my car and immediately called to tell her to stay home. She was literally walking out of her front door to head to work. WFH is not ideal right now because she’s still training, but it’s functional.

      The next time we were both in the office, I bluntly told her that if there’s any question, she should just let me know she needs to work from home that day. If she needs to take leave instead of working, she’s a grown-up and can make a decision about how much she’s up for (or not) on any given day. We have a reasonable sick leave policy, and it’s in place to be used as needed.

      I thought she was going to start crying. Apparently at her last job they weren’t permitted to WFH (many of the roles wouldn’t have worked remotely, but hers would have) and they didn’t get paid if they didn’t go in. Even when they wanted to stay home, they were pushed to show up (and often made everyone else sick).

      Given the wide array of environments, being clear and direct about your own expectations is critical, especially on contentious topics.

      1. GythaOgden*

        As a tangent, this is why at my public sector org we need to have spoken to someone about not being able to come in. It avoids ambiguity and someone not picking up messages until it is too late. (And because we’re coverage-based in person, there’s no WFH option — you’re either in or not, and managers need to know with reasonable notice to let the others know, although in practice Teams and mobile phones even for us peons have been a godsend because it’s far easier to pick up Teams messages and calls than it is to get either my line manager or supervisor on their actual phone number.)

        Along with all the policies on sick leave etc I have been very conservative with when I call out, but if it’s not really contagious and easily fixed with a paracetamol etc I go in. I’m lucky now that my anti-anxiety meds have helped me be able to relieve migraines with just ibuprofen or paracetamol, but unfortunately because of the need for us to be on the front desk (and since the org is responsible for maintenance and other aspects of running busy clinics and hospitals, they need to be able to schedule staff with some reliability) it’s often a toss-up :-/.

        Basically the test for me (a) is it potentially contagious and (b) can I stand upright and walk to the bathroom (except to, you know, drive the porcelain bus)? That’s when I go in. Sucks (I’m actually quietly redundant as it is, which is also why hiring another person would be complete lunacy in itself) but money is money.

    16. Meep*

      Why didn’t you send her home after? Your second comment makes it seem like you absolutely need her in the office regardless of if she is a sick and reinforces the first. The appropriate thing would’ve been to have apologize for dragging her in and send her home. Instead you doubled down. So stop doubling down.

      1. The Shenanigans*

        Yeah I’d take those conversations to mean “I need to be in the office unless I’m actually dead”. I’d go back and tell her explicitly that sick days are part of her compensation and she can freely use them when she chooses. If that’s not the case in the company, yall have bigger problems.

    17. Pluto*

      I wonder what about your work culture even made it possible for this misunderstanding to occur. Employees should stay home if they’re sick, and work from home if they’re not taking a sick day. This isn’t 2019 – we have the capacity to work from home. Stop being nasty and getting other people sick because you’re feeling 85% and want to be seen in the office.

    18. Random Dice*

      Why would you tell someone to bring in germs to the office? That’s incredibly disrespectful to everyone who’s stuck in that air-space, and frankly pretty crappy to the sick person.

      It’s not directly the question you asked, but I think you need to back up another several steps.

      “I don’t want you coming in to the office when you feel unwell, or can make others sick.”

  5. R*

    hi! I have been given a mentee that is hoping for a career in technical writing. Unfortunately my career is more in the stats and math lines so I’m not sure how best to help. They currently have an internship, so are there any technical writers here that can best advise him? Is a technical writing portfolio a thing? Are there any good online resources I can take a look at? All and any help appreciated, thank you!

    1. JustMyImagination*

      Do you have technical writers at your current company? I’ve just been assigned an intern to mentor and they indicated that part of our mentoring could be helping them to network and build connections in other areas of our business.

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      A tech writing portfolio is definitely a thing. They can also check out the Society for Technical Communication’s resources and courses.

      1. R*

        thanks! I’ll take a look. Are new/expectant grads expected to have a portfolio assembled before applying for jobs?

        1. Pie Fight*

          I’m not a hiring manager, but I am a technical writer and having a portfolio of writing samples may not be *required* for new grads, but it can never hurt. If the student took any professional or technical writing classes, they should come out of those classes with portfolio pieces (a procedure, a report, etc). Including academic papers in a portfolio is probably not useful unless the topic is technical. Has the student ever done any editing? Before/after samples are something to potentially include in a portfolio.

          The “how can I get experience without any experience?” issue applies to portfolios as well. It is possible to do writing on your own or contribute to open source projects to gain experience and portfolio pieces. They don’t need 10 samples – if they have 2 or 3 solid pieces and can speak to your writing process, the software tools they used, and what they enjoyed or had challenges with on the project, they will be a great candidate!

    3. Baeolophus bicolor*

      Technical writer here! Assuming your mentee isn’t interested in an English degree or anything, and assuming they are also in the math and stats realm:
      -Yes, a portfolio is needed before they apply.
      -Point them at topic based writing, the IBM style guide, and DITA and learning how to use that. Lots of good free resources out there.
      -If you work with any kind of open source or freeware programming, have them get involved documenting that. That’s a great way for them to get practical experience documenting software that tech companies really like.

    4. Momma Bear*

      It is, but the intern may find as they progress that materials they produce are proprietary and it may be more difficult to use them for samples. They may have better luck with a datasheet vs a user guide. That said, they should ask for copies of anything reasonable to keep to show multiple types of writing/documentation.

      One thing the mentee should consider is not all Tech Writing (like so many careers) is the same. The duties of each TW can vary widely by company type, size, and industry. Encourage them to intern at different places to see what kinds of writing are expected, what kind of tools and collaboration, and what kinds of teams they have. There is a big difference between writing reports and requirements and writing a training manual. Learning what they do not like will help them narrow down to what they do.

      TW is a lot of communication as well as instruction. Be curious and always willing to learn. All within reason of course, but encourage the mentee to get their hands dirty talking to the SMEs. Ask Mechanical Engineers to describe their designs. Sit in on training classes or customer service calls if appropriate/possible. Learn how to talk to everyone from the junior dev to the Program Manager. Learn about the customer base to tailor work to the audience as required. Get their hands on existing documentation to learn the corporate formatting and “voice.”

      I’m not sure what department you are in, but see if you can loop the mentee in with an existing TW team or just a group in need of documentation, even if it’s internal. Does Person A need to give instructions to Person B? Might be a good opportunity to craft an SOP, walk it through the review process, and produce a final product that anyone can pick up and use.

      The SW used will vary widely on the company. Having familiarity with things like Sharepoint, Jira, some kind of authoring tool such as MadCap Flare (they can download a demo version to play with), Visio, Illustrator, and PhotoShop can help boost their hireability.

    5. Junebug*

      Ideas for corporate client gifts at Thanksgiving? Criteria: $40-$50 price range including shipping, can handle bulk orders (need ~400), and be able to include a letter from our team. Bonus if our logo can be incorporated in the packaging somehow too. We used to do a tray of nice cookies from a well-known local bakery but looking to switch it up. So far I’ve looked into My Grandmas Coffee Cake (in the lead right now), Baked by Melissa (bite size cupcakes), and a few local chocolate places.

    6. Random Dice*

      My current intern is likely not really looking to go into my area, so in addition to learning about my area / helping us, we’re introducing her systematically to folks across the org according to her interests.

  6. Not really a project manager*

    So I’m in healthcare….and my job title is a project manager….but I’m not really a typical “project manager”. I help move along documents and projects between internal departments (Legal, research) and external partners. But this doesn’t involve a lot of traditional project planning…as the timelines are open? Like a document only moves ahead when the Legal office completes their review. But that timeframe is variable as they short staffed.

    I’ve tried sitting in on PM courses, but none of those items they teach, like Gantt charts apply to my industry. And it’s awfully boring. And very common sense. It was like they commoditized common sense!

    My colleague completed her PM, she acknowledged a lot of it doesn’t apply, and it was very difficult and costly….but she just completed it for the sake of the designation.

    If I want to move around to another organization, do I have to sick it up and do the certification? I really hate undertaking an expensive and time intensive endeavor I’m not interested in for the “sake of it”. But is that the new normal in the career landscape?

    1. Rainy*

      The PMP will help if you want to move into more traditional project management, but your role sounds more like a project coordinator to me, and you might find that continuing ed in research administration or compliance would be more useful (and likely more interesting because more useful).

      1. Random Dice*

        The PMP went through a giant rework a couple years ago. Even under the old PMP, it was so worth doing. PMP is a globally recognized and respected cert. But it’s so much more reasonable and useful now.

        I got my PMP 15 years ago, and it was everything your manager said – laborious, Gamtt chart heavy, brute memory, horrible, and not very applicable to real life.

        But my direct report’s recent experience was so radically different. It’s agile based instead of waterfall (the old way) and it just seems so much more useful and reasonable.

    2. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      My own experience only, as an adjacent role: hasn’t been relevant. Which means there’s some subset of organizations that don’t care.

      …and I would think those would be the better organizations to work for, anyway. You’re right, the PM certification is *weird*.

    3. Honor Harrington*

      Having the PMP (or the Prince II in Europe) opens a lot of doors. Often it is enough to get you an interview.

      Many PMs just manage part of the SDLC. What you are doing (and experiencing) is typical.

    4. theletter*

      I’m sorry you find the PMP courses so boring! I took the PMP course at Northwestern U. in IL and loved every minute of it. The teacher was great and the projects were kinda fun.

      It ended up not being particularly useful to what I do, but looks great on my resume.

    5. TPS Reporter*

      If I were hiring a Project Manager, I personally would want to see the real world results that you have under your belt in work scenarios. Classes you have taken or certifications you achieved would not be relevant to me unless you actually demonstrated how you have worked through challenging scenarios with multiple parties and processes overlapping.

    6. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Understanding you don’t want to be too specific, are you able to expand on what you’d like to be more effective at within your job, and whether you’re using any tracking and management tools already?

      Based on what you’ve shared so far, it sounds like a task tracking software solution may offer you a lot of help. Something to help monitor the progress of documents as it moves between departments, tracks deadlines, and automatically notifies the next party to act. This would take the pressure off of you to be the center of information and person who follows up. (Forgive me if you’ve already got something like this up and running- I don’t mean to assume). Depending on what software you use- you may already have access to something that fits your situation (for example MS Planner).

      /To answer your question- if you’re not managing schedule/budget/scope/risk, the PMP has a lot of training different from what you need (leadership/task tracking).

    7. EMP*

      If you’re looking to move on you could also try an adjacent title. It sounds like you’d be qualified for things like operations manager or logistics.

    8. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I just completed my PMP and I work in marketing, where we don’t even call them projects (they’re campaigns) and they are anything but traditional project management with the exception of trade shows. As long as you manage projects, you can apply.

      If you’re not sure, there is a wonderful sub on Reddit called r/pmp and many people have kindly laid out the path towards getting project management certified.

    9. Earlk*

      It sounds like your job has been mistitled. I manage someone in healthcare who has a very similar role and we call that a coordinator, any more responsibility might be programme manager.

      HOWEVER, most project management courses can help hugely with both those types of roles so I would stick it out. Also, Gantt charts don’t only need to be used while working on projects, I have found them useful for working out teams working capacities and my own work loads too.

      I think if you stuck with the course you might find more ways you can use the skills/ techniques taught on it within your current role as well as future opportunities.

  7. Let's dish about job hunting*

    Weekly Job Commiseration

    I applied for a job I saw on a company’s job website. It was 3 weeks old but still posted so I took the time to apply…..but then I go to LinkedIn a few minutes after applying to look for more jobs, and see that same job posting on LinkedIn and it’s “No longer accepting applications.” So basically….no one was removing the older, expired, jobs on that company’s careers website….

    Any other stories we want to share?

    1. Tired*

      Ugh, that is frustrating!

      I applied for a remote job several weeks ago. They emailed me thanking me for my application and said I had to register with a third party survey site and take a particular survey on it to be considered. I took the survey but it was not job related.

      I reached out to the third party site through their actual website, but they said I was not registered for them and someone was posing as them. They then proceeded to reject my “membership application.”

      Am guessing some sketchy company ripped me off to get my information. I reported the job posting and fake survey site to the FCC and FBI, but know not to hold my breath. I should have been more cautious about applying for this “job” and taking the “survey.” I guess I just wanted it to be real.

    2. Tio*

      I don’t think 3 weeks is that old, for them to do two interviews and give a candidate an offer and decide to close a job posting. But I have definitely applied to a job or been about to apply for a job and it immediately disappears, and I want to slam my head against a wall.

    3. persimmon*

      I applied for a job once with a posting date of two years previous… I assumed they either had really bad luck with applicants or it was one of those ‘always hiring’ kind of deals. Within an hour of applying I got a very brief (but polite!) rejection and the ad had been taking down. I guess I reminded them it was still up!

    4. Rosemary*

      Honestly… this sounds like my company. It is a small company, and I handle a lot of our recruiting. We post jobs on both the company website as well as LinkedIn, with LinkedIn being both the easiest and also the source that generates the most resumes. It is easy for me to post/update/remove jobs, and I tend to do so in a relatively timely manner. Posting on our company website requires that I contact our (part time) website guy and get him to update the website. Then when it is time for it to come down, I have to contact him again. Given that it is a pain…I typically don’t do that until the position is 100% certainly filled, whereas with LinkedIn I can easily open/close/reopen job postings.

    5. Kayem*

      I had a similar thing. A job was posted on LinkedIn by the employer 6 days ago. It had a timeline of application deadlines up to when offers were expected to be made, but they were all for last year. I thought maybe someone didn’t check it before they posted. There was an application link in the description, so I click on it. Takes me to the posting page which also has the timeline dates from last year, a disabled application link, and a notice that the position is no longer accepting applications. But their website also has a posting date of 6 days ago, so I dunno. I tossed that result in the mental bin and moved on.

    6. Kayem*

      Also, I would like to say how absolutely frustrated I am searching for fully remote jobs on job boards. Tons of options pop up, only after reading the long description do I find some mention that they mean hybrid or “option for telework days after probationary period.” I’ve wasted so much time reading postings like that. Even on some company websites, they’ll offer “remote” as a filter option, but all the results are hybrid rather than fully remote.

      I would dearly love to not restrict the search to remote, but I’m in a job desert for people in my field. Moving is not an option for quite a while and none of these jobs pay well enough to pay for travel for the 2-4 required in-office days.

    7. Mantis shrimp*

      I spent a week redoing my letter/resume for a job. I had left the webpage with the ad open. Ad *clearly* said: submit letter/resume as a single document. When I clicked the button to apply, it said the job was now closed. Looked at the company’s website again, found the job, now it wants letter/resume/transcript as single document. Click button to apply, and you’re meant to submit resume and letter in different sections. No place for transcript. They really haven’t figured this out.

    8. Stephanie*

      I saw a job on my internal board (I work at a MegaCorp) that was posted on Friday morning and closed Monday morning. I saw that like “Ok, you most definitely already have someone in mind and are just putting this up because HR told you to…”

  8. Lilith*

    I’m currently in a bit of a situation – I’m unemployed, after a new job fell through literally 30 minutes before I was due to start. I’m having so many feelings about this, and part of it is that it feels like it has set me back 10 years in my career and means that any new job I manage to get will be an enormous pay cut – there just aren’t that many of the specific role that I do, and I can’t afford to wait around until a new ‘perfect’ job turns up. I am / was at the point where I was very happy with what I was earning and could have happily stayed at that salary for the rest of my working life, I only moved companies to get to somewhere that I thought better aligned with my values and for a more interesting job. I am not looking forward to having to start all this again.

    I’m not asking for advice on my situation, as it’s very specific and I’m working with my union on what I can do (but it’s looking likely that while what the company did is massively unethical and unfair, it’s not actually illegal), but has anything similar happened to anyone here? How did you pick yourself up? Did it work out for you?

    1. Stuart Foote*

      Unfortunately I don’t have any advice, but I’m so sorry that happened to you. That is literally my worst nightmare.

    2. Nea*

      Reach back to your old company. The worst they can do is say “no” and you’re in the same situation. The best they can do is say “yes” and you’re rescued. You literally have nothing to lose.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      How awful. Even if they turned around and took you on at this point, I’d feel very distrusting of them. This did happen to a friend of mine, and it was an industry were roles were very thin on the ground and spread out geographically. She actually started to cast a wider net and look at everything with transferable skills. It worked out pretty well for her; similar salary, new field to explore and a much better work life balance than our old industry.

    4. Vegas*

      Yes, reach back out to your old company! You might get lucky and find out that they’re in a pickle too. If they are concerned that you’ll “just leave again,” you can offer to sign a contract for a period of several years (they likely won’t take you up on the contract part, but it can reassure them of your priorities).

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        My browser ate my reply and it ended up as a new post, scroll down or search for my username or “Lilith”.

        I’d repost it, but I’m not sure if it would get flagged as a duplicate.

  9. Expired job posts*

    I’ve noted in job ads, that their ideal candidate should know the posting companies’ internal processes and policies ahead of time, does this mean that they’re specifically hiring internally (without stating so explicitly while still posting the job publicly). I want to know if that’s a signal, to help me avoid applying for a job that’s already earmarked for someone internal.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Not necessarily.

      They could be saying “we want internal candidates, former employees, outsourced workers, and people who work for companies (like longterm partners, suppliers, etc) that are integrated into our processes.” There are industries that are incestuous like that, where people hop around and there aren’t clear boundaries.

      Not to mention they said “ideal” – not required, but ideal. From the strict dictionary definition, an ideal candidate would know those things. But maybe those policies and processes are largely mandated by the law, and anybody who works in the executive suite of a Fortune 500 company would already know Sarbanes-Oxley policies. Or maybe there are only 2 industry-specific process management software providers, and they are looking for people who are already familiar with them.

      And ‘sending a signal’ isn’t something that most organizations take the time to bother to do. If they only want to hire internal candidates, they can just throw external resumes away without bothering to embed codewords into the description.

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      I assume they haven’t thought about how it reads to someone outside their system. Or maybe they even copied a previous internal job posting and didn’t update it. You have nothing to lose by applying.

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

      I’m wondering how an outside candidate is supposed to know a company’s internal process and policies.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      It often means “we posted it internally first but didn’t find someone so now we’re looking externally but are too lazy to rework it to remove all the jargon”. My first “career” job was like this, advertised externally through an agency and had as desirable experience with a bunch of internally developed proprietary systems that were only used within that company.

    5. Random Dice*

      Yes that’s how I’d read it. It allows them to make the case to HR that yes, this internal candidate is a better option than the other resumes, because this company knowledge is important.

    6. Stephanie*

      Could be that someone just didn’t edit the internal posting.

      Another thought is they’re looking for candidates with industry experience. In my industry, there are internal processes that are industry standard that someone going from a supplier to an OEM (or vice versa) would be familiar with.

    7. Earlk*

      If I included knows x system (as in software) in a JD I’d be hopeful that they had used it before, or, had the thought to google the system and could maybe describe something similar they’d worked with.

  10. Bo Peep*

    I started earlier this month at a new job as a “shoe designer”. Overall it’s been a positive experience; I’ve been dipping my toes into the “shoes” and meeting everyone, including Jack (product director) and Jill (product specialist). I met with them to introduce myself and I met with Jack separately to work on a shoe designing project. The weird thing that is also happening, is that they both are looping me in and asking me about things relating to our company’s “hat designing”, which I don’t handle.

    Both of them have created group messages (via our instant messaging system), which include my boss (Cole), asking about “hat designing”. Last Friday Cole was on vacation, and when I didn’t respond to Jack’s hat designing question, I replied “I’m not sure”. When Jack came back he responded to the chats. Then this week Jill created a meeting to go over “designing” data with her, Cole and me. The meeting ended up being around questions for hat designing, and I didn’t even need to be on the meeting. I didn’t say anything to Cole because I wanted to see if he would address it with me or tell Jack and Jill I don’t handle hat designing. I guess Cole didn’t correct Jack because later on Jack sent both Cole and I a link to a hat designing report.
    Clearly there is a disconnect, and Jack and Jill either think I also handle hats or they think shoe and hat designing are the same. What makes it extra strange is that we have someone on the team who is the hat designer and has been at the company for more than 1 year. I don’t understand why they are looping me on this instead of him and that Cole isn’t directing them towards the actual hat designer. I’m joining existing shoe and hat designs, so it’s not like these are new products or processes.

    I’ve been taking a passive approach here because in past jobs I’ve had to do extra emotional work for people who mess up. But I think it’s time I say something. I’m thinking of saying to John, “I notice I’m being looped in on hat designing from Jack and Jill”, and not elaborating to see how he addresses it. Or do I email or chat Jack and Jill “hey – I don’t handle the hat account” next time they send me an email or chat about hats?

    Any suggestions on how to approach this?

    1. Sin Eater*

      Just speak up, be direct, and say “that’s not something I work on”. That’s not doing emotional labour. You haven’t pointed out the error so far, so it’s hardly surprising they keep repeating it!

      1. Random Dice*

        Yeah, correcting folks on what your job is is definitely NOT emotional labor. Not even on the same planet as emotional labor.

        It’s a kind of bizarre misuse of a loaded term related to patriarchy and classism.

        It’s 100% your job to delineate your job responsibilities. It would be the case for a cisman or a rich person. It’s just an everybody thing to do.

    2. theletter*

      I think you just have to clarify with Cole as to whether there was a misunderstanding regarding your job or a change in the specifications.

      How different are the hats from the shoes? Would you be able to do hat designing if Cole said it’s now a part of your job? Would the salary requirements changed if you were both shoe and hat designing?

      It could be a case where the person in charge of hats is either too busy or not qualified to do the work, and they want to see you’ll just agree to do it. OR They don’t realize there’s a clear difference. I have a similar problem in my niche skill set where I tell people I design shoes, they hear ‘accessories’, and then ask me about hats. And these hats are very different from my shoes.

    3. Parcae*

      I think you need to be much more active here!

      I would talk to your boss immediately and say something along the lines of “I notice I’m being looped in on hat designing. My understanding is that my role is limited to shoe designing. How do you want me to approach this with Jack and Jill? I was planning on explaining that I don’t work on hats and directing them to Hat Designer, but I wasn’t sure if that message should come from you instead.”

      Ideally you would have said that immediately after the meeting with Jill and Cole, but it’s not too late. You just want to act quickly because the longer you stay quiet, the harder it will be to break the habit with Jack and Jill.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > how do you want me to approach this with Jack and Jill

        I think the real question here should be how do I approach this with (or around) “someone on the team who is the hat designer and has been at the company for more than 1 year”! What is their involvement in all this?

    4. Margaret Cavendish*

      I think you’re overthinking this! And I agree with Parcae that you need to be less passive about it – clearly that approach hasn’t worked, so it’s time to try something else.

      Start with your boss – ask him if you should be involved in hat designing or if the messages are just fyi. Sometimes there’s value in being included in stuff like that, even if you’re not directly working on it.

      Assuming he says you should stick with shoe designing, you can ignore the hat designing messages. Unless someone says “Hey, Bo Peep, I have a question specifically about hats,” in which case you say “sorry, I only work on shoes, but Mary Lamb can help you with the hat questions.”

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        Also, a tip: “I’m not sure” on its own is pretty blunt – a lot of people would interpret that to mean you don’t care.

        Better answers would be “Boss is away, but Mary Lamb is our hat designer, she should be able to help you with this,” or some version of “I don’t know, but I’ll find out and get back to you.”

        I get what you’re saying about not wanting to do emotional labour for other people, but think of this as emotional labour for yourself – it’s about creating a professional image as someone who is engaged and responsive, even if you don’t know the answer.

    5. ecnaseener*

      I do think you’re being too passive here with waiting to see who will address it, who will correct who…just copy John in and say “John is our hat designer so I’m copying him in to help you with this. Let me know if any shoe questions come up!”
      Maybe the previous person in your role knew about both.

    6. kiki*

      I’ve been taking a passive approach here because in past jobs I’ve had to do extra emotional work for people who mess up.

      I completely understand this, but I think you might have let your past experiences color your perception of the current situation a bit too much. Without clarifying, you don’t really know fore sure if anyone has messed up– they might have been asked to pull you into more meetings for exposure. Or maybe your boss does feel like you should be in those meetings for some reason. And even if it turns out there has been a misunderstanding and you shouldn’t be in these meetings and getting these questions, it’s probably a simple misunderstanding and not really messing something up and clarifying isn’t really undue emotional labor– it’s a pretty standard expectation in most jobs.

    7. Tio*

      Honestly, I would just shoot an email back next time you get a hat question, and say something like “Hey, I don’t handle hats, I think that (hat designer) may be able to help you though.” That’s not really emotional labor, and should hopefully stop it.

    8. MigraineMonth*

      The solutions you’ve tried so far (and the ones you’re suggesting) are quite passive. I think you can be much more direct about it.

      First, with Cole: “I noticed that I’ve been invited to a number of meetings about hat design. Is there a reason you would want me to attend, or should I pass those invitations on to [hat designer]?” Note that you’re suggesting a particular solution to the problem, rather than leaving it to Cole to figure out.

      Then, with Jack and Jill: “Oh, I’m not actually a hat designer. I’ll forward this to our team’s expert, [hat designer].”

      1. RagingADHD*

        I like this wording, because there may be a reason you need to know what’s going on with hats. For example, if the company wants to sell shoes and hats that “coordinate,” so to speak.

    9. Some words*

      Are you sure your boss doesn’t plan to incorporate some aspects of hat design into your position in the future? Start with your boss and clarify. Then just be professional and direct in that hat design isn’t your gig.

      It almost sounds like this was a conversation he’s had with Jack and Jill before you started.

  11. LinkedIn Learning*

    My company just got LinkedIn Learning, and I’m looking for any tips on discerning worthwhile courses from filler. Particularly interested in UX, programming for beginners, and data for beginners.

    1. Morgan Proctor*

      I’ve been overall disappointed in the quality of LinkedIn Learning courses. But if it’s free for you, there’s no harm in checking any of these out. Google has a fairly comprehensive UX certificate route that is totally free. I’ve heard good things.

    2. lemon*

      I’ve liked Ray Villalobos’ courses for front-end development (since you mentioned UX and programming).

    3. Vegas*

      I’m pretty new at navigating LinkedIn Learning as well (I use it to select courses for professional development for employees across the org )but here’s what I do:

      1. Search by keywords and then filter by the length of the course you are looking for
      2. Look at when the training was released – for certain evergreen content, it doesn’t matter if it’s old, but I won’t choose anything later than 2017 for not-super-high-tech topics and nothing later than 2021 for higher-tech topics where the content is going to change.
      3. Look for courses with lots of high ratings, and then scroll through the reviews – does it seem like people who are in a specific field and actually benefited, or mostly people saying “Cool course, thanks”?
      4. Look up the trainer’s background – you want someone who actually works in the industry they are training about or has a significant history in it, not someone who makes webinars for a living.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        FYI, you do NOT have to link your personal Linkedin to Linkedin Learning if you don’t want to, despite the million times a day it nags you to do that.

        I keep mine separate because I don’t want to give Linkedin more data, and I don’t need to share every Linkedin course I’ve ever taken. Ugh… especially ones like conflict management or more sensitive topics.

  12. Aspire to retire*

    I plan on retiring in about a year and a half, any suggestions how to work through burnout and BEC the remaining time I am here? I’ve been on the same team since I started 19 years ago, and with a couple of the same team members and new ones who replaced others a few years ago. I have been asked a few times to become manager of the team, but declined because I really don’t like two of my teammates. One is a slacker who should have been fired years ago who has been on FMLA for months on and off, so we have to take up their slack constantly. The other is someone who has issues with authority and thinks his way is the only way. Even when he asks me a question about how to do something, and I tell him, he will bring up a different way of doing it, so why even ask me? I always tell him do it how you want, but it’s like he needs to have sign-off that his way is the best way. I earn a good salary, and have a pension and 401K so want to stay until at least I get my 20 years in so don’t want to leave at this point. Just need some perspective, I guess?

    1. Lilac*

      I don’t have advice on work itself, but can you set up a bunch of mini vacations through the rest of your time to give you small, fun breaks and make the countdown seem less onerous?

      1. Aspire to retire*

        Yes! I am actually doing this, just have to make them more prominent on my calendar to remind myself of those breaks.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          And do things to connect to them each day! Like, look up a fun fact about the location, or wear an item/color related to the event, or Google how far of a drive or flight it is to get there. That builds happy anticipation.

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I would find some small object that symbolizes your retirement and the things you plan to do with it. A tiny palm tree, a beach rock, a golf ball, a Jane Austen action figure, whatever. Put it on your desk and look at it every time someone does something annoying. Smile and remind yourself that you are on your way out. It won’t fix their failures, but it will help you find them much less aggravating.

      1. Aspire to retire*

        I really like this, I have things on my desk now that I’ve had for years, but nothing related to my impending retirement and all the good stuff that comes with that.

    3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Do as little work outside of your own as possible. Don’t pick up the slack. Expect that the question asker doesn’t really want your answer, so don’t put any effort into it.

      A lot of this is the frustration of wanting someone to behave differently and feeling it every time they don’t. If you can bring yourself to truly accept that this is always going to happen, and expect it to go that way, it will paradoxically be less frustrating.

      Also, DO NOT complain outside of work. Leave work at work. Bringing it into your personal life just makes you unhappy there as well. Let not-work be your sanctuary from work stuff.

      Finally, I’ve heard from others on the same track that if you can focus on leaving a legacy that can help deal with last year-itis. See if you can mentor people. Or use your DGAF and experience to push more vocally for changes. Use up all your capital before you go. Make the leaving process worthwhile.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        “Or use your DGAF and experience to push more vocally for changes. Use up all your capital before you go. Make the leaving process worthwhile.”

        Absolutely this. Speak up against workplace injustices, even if they don’t affect you personally. The young woman who is being patronized and constantly spoken over in meetings? The small company that doesn’t offer maternity leave because the law doesn’t require it? Business practices that are legal but reinforce social inequity (looking at you, soap dispensers that recognize only white skin and furniture, medication, and well, life, designed for the male body)?

        Now’s your chance to do something.

        Your co-workers can’t push back too hard because they have to have this job. You are close to not needing it and, I am guessing, are maybe fireproof. If so, use your power for good and say all the things that need to be said.

        As the Queen says – leave it all on the field.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yes, second this! My company used to have pensions and a lot of the pensioners retired end of last year. I knew a couple of those folks who would be vocal because they were close to not needing the job.

    4. Tex*

      Are there people you do like on the team that you can informally mentor? Even if it just means introducing your outside connections to them, advising on future growth opportunities in the industry, etc.

    5. Katydid*

      Best way I’ve found to shift my mind out of a negative focus (in both ordinary and very difficult circumstances) is to put more effort into my mindfulness and gratitude practices. When I consistently start my day off with them, after a certain number of days, my happiness increases, and I stop involuntarily focusing on the irritants (like your annoying coworkers), and find myself focused on the good experiences instead. I can feel joy again, even though I live in constant pain.

      It doesn’t work for everyone, but it might work for you if you stick with it awhile.

      What are your plans for after you retire? Hope you’re have fun planning!

    6. OtterB*

      I’d wonder if you were me, except I don’t have a team. Just me. I like my organization and the project I have worked on for 19 years and want it to continue to be successful, but overall I’m tired and ready to retire and having a major procrastination problem. Will reach my social security retirement age come February or March and would like to last that long. Thinking about a legacy helps sometimes.

  13. Help A Girl Out*

    Crowdsourcing suggestions:
    I have an employee who is dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. They’ve started seeking professional help. They’ve also asked for suggestions and ideas of things that others have done and worked for them in the meantime. I would like to offer them some suggestions if anyone has any?

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Are they able to get FMLA in the meantime for when they are having a day that they feel bad enough to not come into the office? I know that would have helped significantly in my current job.

      Anything thing that has helped out a lot is listening to Lofi music while I work. It helps me focus and block out the noise. And some studies have shown it to be helpful to an extent.

      1. Help A Girl Out*

        Before I could even offer it, they explicitly told me they don’t want to utilize FMLA or their accrued leave. I explained how it would in no way impact their position at the company, etc. etc. They were still adamant. We are very employee friendly when it comes to needing leave for any reason.

        For the moment, we’re looking for a few things to try and then will continue trying others as she works through it with her medical professional. Thank you for the suggestion on music. I’ll pass it on.

      1. Help A Girl Out*

        Yes, thank you. I’ve provided them links to the specific page there with a summary of ideas. I’ve also reminded them of our free HeadSpace subscription for everyone on staff and provided EAP info along with reminders of other mental health resources we provide everyone. Freedom from Fear was another good resource I found.

    2. Zennish*

      I found mindfulness meditation worked for me. You reach a point where you realize your thoughts are just thoughts, not reality, and then it’s much easier to step back mentally and assess whether the situation at hand warrants the reaction you’re having to it, and talk yourself down.

    3. Lilac*

      I always recommend seeing a doctor about anxiety meds. I’ve been on mine for 15 years now, and I can wholeheartedly say they changed my life for the better.

      1. Help A Girl Out*

        Yes, they started with their GP and have now been referred to a psychiatrist for continued care. I told them how glad I was that they’re seeking help and how brave it is to come forward about it. I know it isn’t easy.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      Are there communication preferences they have that can help reduce anxiety and panic attacks? For instance, do they prefer most communication to be via email or other written format so that they can take some time to process and react on their own before responding? Is it important to them to know the topic of a meeting and the agenda before the meeting? I know some people get very anxious about requests like “hey, do you have ten minutes to meet this afternoon?” unless they’re followed by “I just got a client request for XYZ and want to talk to you about taking that on.” Any preferences for receiving feedback? I think part of the issue is what tends to trigger their anxiety. If it’s not necessarily stuff that’s happening AT work but it can AFFECT their work, that might be harder to accommodate from the workplace except in ways like giving time off, which you’ve said they don’t want.

      1. Vegas*

        I would be cautious with this approach. It is certainly reasonable for managers/coworkers to be sensitive about how they communicate with an anxious employee and make simple changes to avoid problems, but it’s a really slippery slope and you are basically taking on responsibility for managing the employee’s emotions through how perfectly you communicate the message, and that’s not really healthy or fair to the anxious employee.

        Sometimes there is no way to soothe an employee’s anxiety around a call or meeting request. Sometimes it is negative feedback. Sometimes they are in trouble. Sometimes I can’t preview them on exactly what I want to talk about, because that would require having the whole conversation right then, which I don’t have time for until the time I’ve scheduled.

        What worked best for me (as an employee with severe anxiety a few years back, and as a manager now who has worked with anxious employees) is being clear about what the company can/can’t do and what the expectations are. I have even said to someone, “It is not possible for me to never have a conversation with you that will stress you out, because then I won’t be able to give you honest feedback and that won’t be fair to you. If you have requests for how I can communicate to mitigate the anxiety you feel, I’m interested in hearing them. Beyond that though, the expectation is that you should manage your own feelings around my request for a conversation.”

        1. There You Are*

          I agree it can be taken to an extreme (like anything) but I wish more managers would adopt the style of saying upfront what they want to talk to their employees about.

          “Have you got a minute?” or “Please come see me in my office when you’re free,” will never not sound ominous to a huge portion of workers. It takes next to no effort to add a sentence about *why* you want to see the person.

          And giving them that tiny heads-up will probably make for a more productive conversation as they will already be in the right brain space, regardless of whether they’re prone to anxiety or not.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I even try to do this with coworkers. Instead of “Do you have a minute?”, I try to send “Do you have a minute to look at the llama spreadsheet with me? It keeps trying to schedule me for alpaca maintenance.”

            That way, they can more accurately guess how long it will take and the subject matter.

      2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        I like it when my boss presents me a problem and gives me time offline to come up with solutions. That way I can channel the anxiety of my energy into solving the problem rather than managing my emotional reaction.

    5. 30-50 Feral Hogs*

      I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks as well. Aside from seeking some anxiety meds for when she is having a panic attack, and speaking with a therapist (you didn’t mention what she is doing so not making any assumptions), here are some things that help me:
      – regular exercise, even just going for a simple walk or bike ride
      – eating nourishing foods
      – limiting caffeine and alcohol
      – getting plenty of sleep
      – actively avoiding unnecessary stressors
      – placing boundaries around work (e.g. every weekend I turn off my work email, and I proactively tell people I will not respond on vacation, over weekends, or outside of 9-5)
      – generally taking care of my nervous system
      …the last one sounds kind of vague, but the way my therapist described it to me was that if I have a couple of big things happen – say, a scary commute one morning, and the next day I intervened on a domestic violence situation happening outside my house, and/or maybe I’m chronically stressed at work (these are all real things that have happened to me) – then my nervous system is going to be all strung out. I’m going to remain in a state of hypervigilance because my lizard brain is searching for the next “thing”. So of course removing chronic stress is one step, but also if you can encourage your employee to take time when she needs it to decompress and experience a few moments where there isn’t a crisis and she can enjoy just being, that is really good for lowering the anxiety and panic frequency.

      It can take a long time to recover from high anxiety, but building a short- and long-term plan for caring for herself and meeting her needs can provide a backbone to return to if things start to feel out of control. Good luck!!

      1. Help A Girl Out*

        Thank you so much! All very helpful and I will pass on.

        They are seeing a therapist starting next week. Up to now they were working through their GP. We are trying to help them through the first stages until they can get a better handle on things, especially since they’re adamant about not taking time off.

        1. Morgan Proctor*

          Hey, this is all good advice, but it’s really not your job to pass any of this on, unless your employee specifically asked for it. You REALLY cannot tell your employee to “avoid unnecessary stressors,” because their job is probably one of them. I think telling your employee to eat “nourishing” foods and exercise regularly would be an inappropriate violation of the work/home boundary. This type of advice needs to come from their doctor, not you.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Yes if your employee isn’t exercising or eating nourishing foods they already know they are supposed to. The only thing a job can do about this is have her schedule so that she has the opportunity to do this and pay her enough to buy food and OP probably doesn’t even handle that part

        2. River*

          I agree with Morgan Proctor. That kind of advice should come from their care provider, not their boss. The best thing you can do for her and yourself is to set that boundary. Tell her you are happy to help with workplace accommodations, but if she is asking for anxiety management strategies, you will have to defer to her care providers and re-offer the EAP. Sometimes they will have a person that the caller can talk to right away.

          1. Tio*

            Agree with everyone. This is entangling yourself with their health and lifestyle to a degree that isn’t healthy. This is literally what EAP/therapists are for, and there’s a reason bosses don’t do either job

    6. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      My husband has anxiety and has just started a thing that has been working amazingly for him. He “checks in” with himself 4 times a day.

      So after getting up, after lunch, at the end of the work day, and right before bed, he takes 5 minutes to sit and think about any lingering thoughts/concerns/issues he has. Is there anything unresolved that his brain is still working over in the background? Is there anything resolved it hasn’t let go of? He’s only been doing it about a month, but just being more aware of the background anxiety seems to have reduced it. I think before, the anxiety would build through the day.

      He also meditates and practices cognitive behavioral therapy. A great book for that is called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. This is where he learned how to visualize letting go or setting aside persistent thoughts and negative assumptions that are part of anxiety brain.

    7. nope*

      Is there a quiet private place your employee can go when she’s feeling an attack coming on? My workplace has a “quiet room” with a door that closes, a couch with a very soft cozy blanket, and a white noise machine to block out crying (if that’s happening). All of us have used it at some point in time and it’s super helpful for me as an employee with mental health stuff going on. I can pop in there for 10 minutes, listen to my calming app, recenter and then go back to work.

      1. Sparkle Llama*

        100% this. I was lucky enough to have an office near the lactation room and no pumping coworkers when my anxiety was the worst so when I needed privacy I could have it. Consider making your lactation room available to all with pumping employees getting priority for reserving it. Note that this is what we are doing in a workplace that is generally rather old and therefore we have never had more than one person needing the lactation room for pumping at a time. May not work for a place with more people who are pumping.

        I would also say that forcing yourself to not eat at your desk for lunch, and ideally going outside, is helpful for me.

    8. *kalypso*

      Can they customise their space at all? If so, letting them know that comfort objects, fidgets etc. won’t be viewed negatively can be a relief, but you also need to be super clear to everyone that everyone else’s things are theirs and not to be touched if that’s likely to be an issue or has been in the past. If they are in a shared space, making sure everyone has access to a quiet and separate workspace if needed (meeting room etc.) or keeping an active eye on how that space can be adjusted to allow for individual accommodations might also be good – music vs no music, can people curate desks, can people use the same areas consistently, that kind of thing. Routine and reliability can be hugely significant influences on managing anxiety and reducing panic attacks so allowing everyone to have that can be helpful but also means they’re not being singled out.

      You may also want to have a plan in place for what happens if they have a panic attack in the office – can they go to a break room, go for a walk etc. Do they want people to ignore it or intervene? Who are they comfortable having know and clued in on breaking them out of a spiral?

      I managed panic attacks in a cube farm by having a comfort object and listening to music through headphones (instead of the general office radio), and when I had a manager who was aware of the general situation, he had an open door policy for me and I could just go knock on his door and if he was there and not in a meeting he let me vent to him. When he left and the new manager bought into my supervisor’s gaslighting instead of understanding she caused the anxiety things spiralled for me badly because all I had was my little teddy and people would come up and play with him so his utility was greatly reduced. My coworkers who watched the whole situation go down fell into amplifying and helpful – the helpful ones would come and chat and check in for five minutes and remind me I was doing good, and let me be the rest of the time.

    9. Fives*

      If I’m in office and having an anxiety attack (but not a debilitating one), I have a bottle of bubbles and I go outside for 10-15 min and blow bubbles. It’s a breathing exercise plus the bubbles are relaxing.

      Being able to work remotely when needed has also helped.

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

      There are a lot of apps that can help. At my job we recommend Calm and Headspace. I personally like Insight Timer, its a great mindfulness app and they have many things to help, like meditation and other things to help.

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

      Oh shoot, I hit submit too soon!

      I’d also like to add that there’s a ton of things you can do for them.

      Be supportive if they need to flex their time or need to leave unexpectedly
      Let them know that they can take a break or leave for a bit if they feel like they are going to have a panic attack
      Ask if there is any tasks that could be resigned to someone else.
      Don’t force them to do something that might cause them anxiety, like participating in team bonding or give speeches.
      If they don’t have their own space, is there someplace where they can go if they need to? When I had anxiety and panic attacks I felt really self conscious and didn’t want anyone to be around me, so I ended up going into the bathroom. If the employee doesn’t have their own office where they can have privacy (i.e. a door that closes and no windows/blinds) then can you somehow give them a place to go to?

      1. *kalypso*

        Yeah, no, taking someone’s work away because they’ve confessed a mental health condition is not going to help.

    12. Educator*

      No, no, no. Anxiety is a medical condition, and you should not be giving your employee medical advice. Tell her that you are happy to help her action any accommodations that her doctor suggests, but that should be the extent of your involvement here. Imagine if she were asking you for advice on how to treat another medical condition, like diabetes. You would not be crowdsourcing advice or making suggestions about insulin management. It is equally wrong to do that here. Set some boundaries with her about your role.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, it’s really best for your report to come to you with the work-related accommodations they would like and to negotiate from there. You’ve already seen that the options you’ve given (taking PTO or FMLA) doesn’t meet your employee’s needs, and that’s not going to get better if you keep suggesting things that have worked for some internet strangers.

        Let your employee know about some possible work accommodations (such as moving to a different office, flexible time if they need to leave in the middle of work, EAP and health apps offered by your company), then leave things in their court. Do not give them advice about how they spend time outside of work, what they eat, etc. Otherwise you risk overstepping in a way that really harms your working relationship.

    13. Madame Arcati*

      I’m ssuming you’re in the US as most are, but there is nothing to stop you (or your colleague) from consulting the UK’s national health service website. It’s often a port of call for me because it has loads of advice on health stuff you can do for yourself – good advice from proper professionals not unscientific bollocks that some randomer has made up and is unhelpful or even dangerous. Also it is clear on when you really do need to see the doctor. Of course there will be things not available to you but there might be techniques, habits, ideas.
      I’ll put a link in a reply to this.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        Btw I am suggesting you simply signpost this to your colleague in the way you would signpost any other resource like your company EAP, not select and deliver advice from it.

    14. Anon parent*

      Parent of a kid with anxiety here.

      Things that can help….

      1 )Clear expectations (the meeting is at 3, but I’m asking everyone to arrive by 2:45 to ensure we’re ready to go when the client arrives; we’ll all meet in the lobby before going up to the meeting; we use this template for this sort of report; etc.) or anything that removes uncertainty around something (what is their role in a meeting, etc.) to the extent that it is reasonable to provide this information.

      2.) The Calm App (or similar) for deep breathing, soothing background sounds, meditations, etc.

      3.) Pressure points (Google will help with them)

      4.) A place to go that is low-stimulating (quiet out of the way space), even if it’s just for lunch or for before high-stress meetings/projects.

      Some of these are more do-able than others, but that’s been my experience. Other things that are less in your control are: availability of green space/plants, exercise, good sleep (but maybe they come up in some way that you can help with, such as work ours adjustment, adding plants to the space, etc.)

  14. Bunny Girl*

    So I wanted to give an update to a question I had asked here a couple weeks ago. I was having a lot of medical problems because of how stressful and abusive my job was. Well I ended up putting a week of notice in this week. I don’t have a job lined up but I have a lot of opportunities so I am not worried. I started throwing up blood and having chest pains so I decided it was time to go. Our job basically “resets” every week so there isn’t really anything to transfer over.

    I was so disappointed with the talk I had with my boss regarding my notice. She just told me “this job isn’t for everyone” when I pointed out the toxic and abusive environment and the unrealistic workload. But it showed me that I made the right decision. I don’t feel bad about only giving them a week notice and in fact I think I should have quit on the spot. I know for a fact I will never run into anyone from this job again. I am going into a completely different field that requires at least a B.S. degree to even get a toe in the door and no one in my office has a college degree and a lot of them look down on it. I’m excited to have a couple weeks to myself. Thanks everyone!

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I’m not sure either. I understand that education is complicated subject in the United States because of the outrageous cost and there’s a little too much emphasis on going to college versus going into a trade, but some fields you are genuinely expected to have a degree and obtain higher education and I decided to go into one of those and I know that’s expected.

      2. Bird Lady*

        I’m confused over this as well. About 20 years ago I applied to a position I was already filling in as a temp. Was encouraged to apply by both temp agency and the business! The job education requirements were an associates degree required, bachelor’s degree preferred. So in the education part of my resume, I indicated my degree, year of completion, and institution.

        When I walked into the interview with the department manager, a person who had told me to apply for the position, he became screaming at me that I must think so well of myself for having a bachelor’s degree and that he knew I was a snob for having one. We had worked together for six months! He knew my work ethic, worksona, and quality of work. Suffice to say I did not get the job. The interview was about 15 minutes of him ranting about what a horrible person I was for including my education on my resume… for a position that had an education requirement!

        1. Birthday Scrooge*

          I can’t even. Really. I hope if you ever encounter this kind of thing again that you will get up and walk out!!!!

          1. Bird Lady*

            I was fresh out of college and just so confounded that I kept trying to swing the interview back on track to talk about all the things I had learned doing the job. But I did ask my agency to move me as soon as they could.

        2. RVA Cat*

          What an insecure ass. That’s the sort of person who’d have the “my kid beat up your honor student” bumper sticker but not as a joke.

      3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > I will never understand why people look down on having a degree.

        Insecurity, mainly.

      4. Stephanie*

        Insecurity or jealousy. Higher ed has also become more inaccessible due to cost, so some people might voice their feelings around that with the attitude of “well hmph, I can learn plenty without a degree.”

        Not quite the same, but I have two masters degrees and many of my colleagues have a bachelors. One masters degree was sponsored by my current employer. My then manager was doing my approvals and was like “Well, I was too busy working to do a masters.” I just said “ok”, but was thinking “I mean, you’re still the one managing me and making more money with a BS, so we could argue I’m the one getting the short of the end stick here…”

        Additionally, my employer will sponsor MBAs at a few schools in the area — there’s one that is at a Top 10ish (sometimes falls out depending on the year) program, Top 50 program, and Top 100 (?) (it’s the local commuter school) that many people tend to choose. I attended the Top 10 one mostly because I thought it’d have the most portability outside the industry and area, but it did cost more and made the risk of violating the clawback a much more expensive proposition. But pretty much people choose where to go based on their career goals. Anyway, I told a coworker I was going to that program (just in casual conversation) and he was like “Oh you’re going to the fancy school” and I was like “I mean, I’m not doing anything that isn’t available to everyone…”

    1. Elsewise*

      “This job isn’t for everyone” is code for “this job isn’t for anyone” these days, huh? Congratulations on getting out of there!

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Thank you! It hasn’t quite hit me yet. The relief isn’t there. I’m sure it will be next week.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Haha unfortunately I have had issues with stomach ulcers and acid indigestion caused from stress. When you add that on top of just having a sensitive stomach and several food intolerances and I tend to throw up a lot. But it’s gotten worse because of the stomach issues from stress and I’ve irritated my throat to the point that there is definitely some blood. Cheers to time off.

        1. Somehow_I_Manage*

          I’m really glad you followed up. Nobody wants to give unsolicited advice, but a small part of me was like- I really hope someone mentions that throwing up blood is never something to ignore without looping in a professional!

          1. Bunny Girl*

            Yes thank you! I have been working with my doctors for the past year regarding my stomach issues so I know what’s going on. But I appreciate the concern. Unfortunately stress + stomach issues + allergies is just a terrible combination.

  15. VP of Monitoring Employees' LinkedIn Profiles*

    How ethical is it to omit a credential and/or a past job from one’s resume? Could a future employer punish me for that? (“If we had known about your second Masters degree, we would have rejected you for being overqualified. You lied to us, so you’re fired.”)

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I don’t think so. Your resume is supposed to be a highlight reel, not a detailed account of every single thing you’ve done and every place you’ve worked. In fact multiple times it’s been recommended on this blog to take off various degrees for one reason or another.

      1. Camellia*

        I see this response all the time, that your resume is a marketing document and doesn’t/shouldn’t list every last job/degree. But what I don’t see is…do the folks who vet resumes and do hiring agree with this viewpoint?

        I have the fear that they do not, and may hold it against you (you lied on your resume!), or may think, huh, is that all the work experience they’ve had in their entire life????

        1. Bunny Girl*

          I think they probably have a bigger problem with people lying on job applications, since many have you sign that all the information is true and accurate. I feel like most hiring professionals are rational and know you can’t fit every single detail of your professional career onto a 1-2 page document.

        2. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

          I’ve hired people. There is a world of difference between leaving something off and making something up. But if you leave one of your degrees off your resume, keep your mouth shut about it at work. Just as you wouldn’t go telling stories about the job you held for 6 days and ran for the hills.

        3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

          Alison literally does this, but also “you don’t see this” because you haven’t looked, you’re just speculating. If you want to find out, do some research instead of letting anxiety brain eat you alive.

          Also, don’t copy/paste this response over and over.

        4. Tio*

          I hire. Your most recent experience is what’s most valuable. I don’t care what you did five years ago in an irrelevant field, or ten years ago in this field if you’ve been employed the whole time. I’m looking to see that you have a decent work history and whether your skills look like they’d be current. I also leave my unrelated past jobs off my resume. I assume people know I worked more than 10 years ago, but its irrelevant to my position and won’t help. I don’t care about every step of your working life.

          If you left a degree off, I wouldn’t think you’re a liar if you found out. My bigger concern would be “Don’t they want to do something in that area? They went and got a whole degree for it.” But if you had been at our place for a while, I’d assume you just made your choice. I didn’t even list my college degree on my last resume that got me this job, even though it was fairly relevant.

        5. CheeryO*

          Of course. We have a limited amount of time to review resumes and only want to see the highlights, and we understand that a resume isn’t a comprehensive list of everything you’ve ever done. Would I have concerns if I found out after the fact that a hire was actually overqualified? Maybe, but it’s always a risk that people will leave before you’d like them to.

        6. Decidedly Me*

          I once had someone omit their most relevant job and only put their most recent roles (one relevant, the rest not) as we mentioned a preference for 1-page resumes (this is a reasonable ask given the career stage of the role to be clear). During the interview, they kept mentioning a role I couldn’t see on their resume, which is how I found out what happened. I found it odd that that was their takeaway from our ask, but “they lied!” never crossed my mind.

        7. But Not the Hippopotamus*

          I’ve done hiring. I don’t care if you don’t list your retail job in high school, the half-finished degree in an unrelated area, or whatever. I DO care that what you list is accurate (so, if you inflate your GPA, list employment or accomplishments you don’t have, degrees as complete that are in progress, THAT I will care about a lot).

          I will ask questions about things that don’t make sense, and things that don’t make sense might get you off the table for interviews if I have lots of better resumes. For example: I was hiring for a statistician and got a resume that had decades of something like HVAC work. It did include some examples of numerical work (think product improvement), but I saw nothing indicating wanting to go into that full time or a strong background/interest. If I’d had a pool of weak candidates, they might have gotten called in and asked about it (it was for a junior position), but since I had better resumes that didn’t leave me puzzled, I went with those.

          FWIW, that company did not do cover letters, which is where I would otherwise look for that information. There was at least one case similar to this where somebody helped themselves by covering a job pivot desire in a brief summary/objective statement thing. I generally dislike those, but it served for lack of a better place to get that info across.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      A resume is an advertising document. Not a user’s manual or warranty card.

      People omit things from their resume all the time.

      1. Camellia*

        I see this response all the time, that your resume is a marketing document and doesn’t/shouldn’t list every last job/degree. But what I don’t see is…do the folks who vet resumes and do hiring agree with this viewpoint?

        I have the fear that they do not, and may hold it against you (you lied on your resume!), or may think, huh, is that all the work experience you’ve had in their entire life????

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          I review resumes and hire people.

          If you’ve got 30+ years of work experience, I may not be interested in what you were doing in 1992. And I don’t certainly don’t need to know the details of all 4 projects you worked on in 2005.

          Now if you graduated in 2016, list a job from 2016-2018, then radio silence for 3 years, followed by a job from 2021-2023, I’m going to ask about it in an interview. And if you lie during the interview, that’s going to be the problem, not the empty spot on the resume.

          “I had enough money to travel, had some friends living overseas that I could crash with for a month at a time, and I got a gig teaching English as a second language in Malaysia for a year” is a perfectly fine answer, if your nominal career is something completely different, and it’s OK to not list that on your resume.

          But if you tell me that story, when in reality you were at a terrorist training camp, then if and when I find out the truth you’ll be gone in a second.

          Similarly, if you have a BS and MS in Teapot Analytics, and work in the Teapot industry, but also got a divinity degree because you’re really involved in your church, then I don’t care if you don’t list that degree on your resume. But if you got a BA and MA in French poetry, while claiming that you have the Teapot Analytics diplomas, then that’s where the problem is.

          1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

            If you have bounced around quite a bit career-wise before settling into something, and have been in the work force for over a decade, you might want to have a catch-all line on your resume under work experience.

            2002-2009 Various
            * Telephone customer support
            * Retail sales in clothing and home decor

            But if you got an MA in 2002 and don’t list anything until 2009, I’m going to assume you weren’t unemployed that entire time, unless something else seems really off.

        2. Red Lines with Whine*

          I’m a hiring manager AND a resume writer so I get both seats at the table in this discussion. I agree with Alton Brown’s Evil Twin and everyone else with a resounding YES.

          As a hiring manager I do NOT want to read 3-4 pages of irrelevant information. Give me the highlights and enough to data to make the decision: Interview – Yes or No? I make a go/no-go decision within 15 minutes of the interview.

          So yes, please edit your resume to just the relevant stuff. You are not lying by omission on a resume.

        3. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

          Ultimately it will depend on a number of factors, such as how much you’re leaving off, how relevant it is, and whether the omitted job brings up issues that need to be addressed. If you have 30 years experience as a llama groomer and 3 as as a basket weaver, you might consolidate your llama grooming skills and highlight those parts that are relevant to basket weaving, but not omit the llama grooming altogether. That’s to your benefit. If you took time off to pursue a passion degree in the portrayal of dolphins in classical literature, you don’t need to specifically mention it, although you might to explain the gap.

          It could be more fraught if there is a significant experience that would raise questions. If a recent grad applied as a deep sea safety engineer and omitted a two week stint with a company that caused the first civilian tragedies in several decades, I might have some concerns and would want to talk to them, but would likely go in giving them the benefit of the doubt. If I hired someone as a senior engineer and found out they omitted two years as chief safety engineer for the same company, I would be much more concerned, because that experience is concerning and I need to be able to drill into it and understand whether they really have the level of safety consciousness I want. But even in that case it would not be as far into the danger zone as if they claimed they spent those two years at NASA.

          This also may be country dependent. The US is more free form in general than many other places and I could see this kind of omission making a vary different impression if the culture demanded full disclosure.

        4. WantonSeedStitch*

          Someone who looks at resumes and hires people, here. Personally, for me, it depends on where the person is in their career. If they are just coming out of higher ed and have no work experience, I want them to put as much as they can about their academic experience so I know what they’ve been doing and what kind of background they have. Finding out they’d left something off wouldn’t make me distrust them, but it would seem weird and indicate less-than-stellar judgment.
          If the person is early career, I would like them to list the most recent position or two they’ve had even if they aren’t fully relevant to the position, again because I kind of want to know where their focus has been and if there might be transferrable skills.
          If the person is late career, I just want to know the relevant stuff.

          Omitting something from your resume isn’t lying on it, IMO, but you want to be careful about what you omit and whether you might be leaving something out that could HELP you. But even if something isn’t on your resume, don’t hesitate to bring it up in an interview if it comes out that it IS relevant. If someone did that, I wouldn’t be upset that they left it off their resume, I’d be glad they told me!

    3. pally*

      Unless you are specifically asked to cite all of your education, there should be no issue.

      As Bunny Girl said, the resume is a “highlight reel” (I like that!).

    4. Anthology*

      It’s not about ethics, it’s about relevancy. Listing skills that have nothing to do with the job make it appear that you don’t understand the role or the requirements to fulfill it.

      If the issue is wanting to avoid gaps, that’s valid, and you can genericize the jobs in ways that emphasize any relevant skills. So if you are a laid-off marketing major who waited tables to get by, list that as a service industry role where you fulfilled customer needs based on X and Y, and explain that you used your marketing skills to help tweak the seasonal menu based on their Google reviews. Stuff like that.

    5. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Completely ethical. Or really, outside of the realm of ethics entirely.

      My husband has a chemistry degree, a law degree, and a data science certificate. Those are not all going to be relevant at the same time to any job.

      In the same way you would highlight your say, Excel-fu for a data crunching job, but leave off your meeting-organizing skills, you can leave off credentials that don’t matter. You are presumably already omitting some lesser job duties in your bulleted resume, right? It’s the same with credentials.

      Nobody wants a resume that lists literally every piece of knowledge you’ve ever gained in your life.

    6. saskia*

      People definitely disagree about this topic. Alison shares the ‘resume = marketing document, not an exhaustive list’ viewpoint, as shown in her past post “ethics and your resume.” But as you can see at the top of the post, the NYT ethicist thought leaving out info like you’ve stated was dishonest. I personally think it’s fine to leave things out (unless it’s a U.S. federal resume). It’s not like the job listing states every single responsibility of that position.

      1. nnn*

        But the NYT ethicist doesn’t hire or have any expertise in what people who hire want to see? They’re answering it a vacuum outside of a real world context Which was Alison’s point.

        1. saskia*

          Definitely, and I agree with Alison (and you, it sounds like). I was just trying to answer the original person’s question about ‘ethics,’ perhaps too literally.

    7. Sherm*

      Well, there’s no law that says that they can’t fire you for finding out. There’s also no law that says they must fire you if they find out.

      It would take a particularly dysfunctional employer to, say, fire a technical writer because it was discovered that the person left out an old dance degree on the resume. On the other hand, I have heard that someone could get in trouble if they, for example, left out their PhD in biochemistry and claimed that their last degree was a bachelor’s.

      In the case of the dance degree, I see zero ethical issue for leaving it out — it’s just not relevant. If you’re hiding some little certificate — not a big deal to me. If you’re hiding years of relevant experience — I’m a little torn, to be honest. I can’t say it’s not a misrepresentation. Would I fire anyone over this? No, but I would have preferred to hear “Although I may have more education than the job requires, I believe it is the right move because of XYZ”.

    8. Zephy*

      The reason a person would be turned down for having a master’s degree that wasn’t required usually comes down to “this person probably expects to be paid $X because of their MA, but we’re only willing to pay them $Y.” If you agreed to work for $Y, that’s your problem, and unless you answered “no” when directly asked “do you have a master’s degree,” you haven’t lied about anything.

    9. Stoppin' by to chat*

      Completely ethical. In fact, Allison has even discussed this on this blog. You shouldn’t include non relevant info on a resume, since it takes up real estate from credentials and experience that IS relevant to the job you’re applying to.

      What would be unethical is saying you have a degree that you don’t actually have, especially if it’s required for the job, etc.

    10. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      If for some reason it’s actually a requirement to only have a certain level (e.g no more than 1 masters degree) they need to ask that explicitly- a resume is more of a “highlight reel” of your relevant experience. If they explicitly ask for a complete list of previous jobs and qualifications then that’s different.

    11. RagingADHD*

      It’s totally ethical and normal. Particularly when you get to a certain point in your career, it’s advisable to drop early non-career or subsistence jobs, or anything that that doesn’t relate to your career track (as long as it doesn’t create problematic gaps).

      Your resume is a marketing document that shows your fit for the position. It isn’t a background check or a deposition.

    12. Educator*

      I have done a lot of hiring in the public and private sectors. Totally fine to leave whatever you want off your resume. But if I give you an application that explicitly tells you to list everything, I do need you to do that because it can impact the salary formula. For some jobs—think public sector, union, or organizations with strong equity policies—I would calculate your starting salary based on your years of experience and degrees. So if you left one out and I found out about it later, had to adjust your salary, and it messed up my budget, I would not be pleased. But as long as you follow the instructions, you will be fine.

    13. The Shenanigans*

      Completely ethical. A resume is a marketing document tweaked to highlight only relevant information for the job. It’s not a legal document by any means.

      Now, if you keave something off an application that asks you certify that what you wrote is a complete and accurate work history, that’s different.

  16. New Manager*


    I’ve been in a management position for about a year. I just had my review, which was a 360 so my team was consulted, and one comment was that someone on my team would like more team building to learn what others are working on and share ideas. I have team lunches, but they have sort of failed. Everyone has the option to WFH and I have 2 team members who are full time remote. The full time remotes are out of state, the other employees come in between 1-3 days a week, by choice, and can pick their schedule. I cannot (and won’t) require in office days if some team members are full time remote. Usually on the day of the lunch not everyone comes in (which is fine policy wise), but does make me feel like most do not like the idea. We also have monthly team meetings.

    Does anyone have any ideas? I don’t want to do anything to leave out the full time remote employees out. I also kind of hate team building, so this is difficult for me personality wise. The work is pretty insular – they have assigned work which does not overlap with each other. The company as a whole has occasional events.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think “team building” isn’t exactly what this person is looking for. If you were doing an Agile process, this would be covered in daily standups.

      Have you tried a lunch & learn format? And the lunch part is completely optional, btw.

      Every two weeks or whatever, somebody presents something about what they are working on, or an interesting topic in the industry, or a new thing that they learned about that might be applicable to the team. 10-15 slides, 1 hour max. People take turns so everybody presents something over the course of the year.

      You can even do mini versions of this – 10 or 15 minute show-and-tell presentations of work in progress or recently completed.

      1. Hawk*

        My husband does this and calls them “brown bags” (for the idea of bringing lunch), and it sounds like they have been fulfilling the need like OP’s staff member wants. Honestly, I’d love to see more of these in the work I do…. Hmm.

      2. Elle*

        In addition to that invite people to share challenges and ask the group for feedback. If you have something like Teams you can continue this informally. Post successes and challenges for feedback on a regular basis.

      3. A Person*

        This has worked well for my team (we also call them brown bags).

        Optional social lunch = nearly no attendance
        Optional brown bag lunch = at least 50% attendance

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I was on one team that had monthly team meetings. The general format was:

      – Company updates (changing org structures, changing procedures, etc.)
      – Team updates (if we were looking to hire a new full-time employee, introducing a new intern, updated processes and file storage locations, etc.)
      – Presentation from one team member about the project(s) they were currently working on. Typically 5-10 min presentation and 5 min of discussion (other team members asking questions, throwing out ideas, etc.)
      – Presentation from another team member about the project(s) they were currently working on (same format as above).

      This was on a team of 8 people, so everyone gave an update roughly every 4 months. It was a good way to know what my teammates were working on, especially when projects did not overlap.

      1. Tio*

        Yeah, my team really appreciated it. You can also add in as applicable:
        -New customer updates
        -Current customer changes
        -Team shout outs/appreciations
        -Any updates team members would like to share (wedding news, buying a house, family updates) but key is that they have to WANT to share these things and it’s fine if you skip this section sometimes

    3. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

      If you have Slack or Teams or similar, set up a dedicated channel as a sort of helpline. You can make it granular if you like (e.g., one channel for technical help, one for looking for information/answers, one for problem solving) or all in one. This obviously works best if you have a team that prefers written/electronic communication. Supplement it with a “business as usual” segment in your team meetings (consider changing to weekly if that makes sense with your project cycles/timelines). Encourage the more outgoing and/or senior members of the team to raise any sticking points in their projects during that time to get thoughts from the rest of the team on potential approaches/solutions. Use those people to help set an example and drive a culture of collaboration.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      I vote for building time for this into virtual team meetings. Put it on the agenda, and instruct your team to come prepared to discuss projects they’re working on, anything neat they’ve learned recently that they find useful in their work, and anything that has them stumped. The first topic ensures that people are informed about others’ work. The second is a great way to do peer-led learning. The third is a good opportunity for brainstorming solutions together.

    5. Maotseduck*

      My teams weekly meeting starts with the director going over anything big, and then we go around the table and all talk a little about what we’re doing. Weekly may be overkill for your team, but the format sounds like it would work for what your person wants.

    6. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      My team is fully remote, and pretty much everyone is working on non-overlapping or barely-overlapping work.

      We used to do daily group standups as part of Agile, then the frequency of those got reduced over time until I pointed out that a meeting in which everyone gives a status update on the details of a project that no one else, except the boss, knows anything about, is pointless, and the meeting was canceled altogether.

      I replaced it with a suggestion that individuals set up recurring 15-minute one-on-one meetings with each other to talk about what they’re working on. This allows people to be exposed to tools and projects they otherwise wouldn’t know about (or would overhear discussion of in a group meeting but not have the context to understand what was being talked about), allows people to pitch their explanation to their listener’s level, and allows people to ask questions. I’ve also been told by my reports that they find it has social benefits by allowing people to interact when they wouldn’t normally.

      I asked the team to try this process out for two weeks and see if they wanted to continue. They elected to continue. After several months, I did a check-in to ask if the meetings were valuable or if people wanted to cancel them. Two people said they really had nothing to talk about with each other, and I invited those two people to discontinue having standups with each other. But otherwise, everyone agreed they wanted to keep standups. They agreed standups are short enough that even if not every single meeting is useful (“I’m still working on the same thing we talked about last time” “Yep, same”), there’s enough value *overall* that canceling or decreasing the frequency would risk losing all the value.

      I have found that this one-on-one setup provides certain kinds of value that attending a one-size-fits-all lecture (brown bag lunches, etc.) doesn’t, though those also have their own value.

    7. Anna Badger*

      when you say your team’s work doesn’t overlap, do you mean their projects or their skills? because if they have overlapping skills but separate projects, you could ask people in advance of your team meeting to bring a summary of their current biggest problem or issue they’re unsure about and talk through them as a team – that gets you a two for one of skill sharing and awareness of each other’s work

  17. The Tortoise and the Hare*

    I’ve been with my company for over 10 years. Recently, my manager has expressed some displeasure regarding legitimate medical appointments that I have had, as well as pending surgery my spouse must have. He’s told me I should make all my appointments for my days off, made a thinly veiled threat (“I need someone in this position that I can rely on”, WTF?) and did not believe me when I said my spouse’s procedure was at the mercy of the surgical team/doctor (we were told we could be notified of cancellation or scheduling as soon as the very day before the procedure). This was never an issue before, but the company doesn’t have adequate backup for my position. I don’t see this as my problem–it’s the company’s problem, because stuff does happen like medical issues and deaths, etc. Is my boss out of line saying these things? We’re allowed to use PTO for situations like this. The surgery is about to be scheduled. How should I handle this?

    1. Nea*

      Your boss is well out of line and after 10 years you probably have a track record that lets you say “I have never blown a deadline even now” and other “here is a verifiable fact that I am reliable” statements.

      If your boss is just going to be unreasonable, would HR respond to the words “discriminate due to medical issue”?

    2. DannyG*

      If in US file for FMLA, it can be for a block of time or intermittent. The Dr’s office will need to fill out a form, too. Communicate with HR, but make sure everything is in writing (and fwd copies of everything you a private email).

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      Your boss is a jerk. I think the only thing you can do is to give as much notice as you can and ask about the best way to minimize impact on the company. Saying “they’ve told us it’s going to happen sometime in the next two weeks, but I can’t guarantee I will know the exact day until it happens” is better than no heads up at all, for instance. And offering to have certain things finished before the surgery is likely to take place, or to have someone else ready to step in and take the reins if you need it, can help as well.

      1. The Tortoise and the Hare*

        Thank you all for your help and suggestions. I am in the U.S. so I’ll consider FMLA.

        1. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

          You shouldn’t have to use FLMA. If you have the PTO and PTO is allowed to be used for all the situations you have described, then use the PTO. FMLA is usually unpaid. You need to go to HR and tell them what your boss said!

          1. Pocket Mouse*

            FMLA is for job protection; it doesn’t require or provide pay, but it’s not uncommon for employers to require an employee using FMLA to use up accrued time on those days before taking time unpaid.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            They can be concurrent. The benefit of using FMLA here is the job protection, as the boss seems to basically be saying they’re about to retaliate.

        2. Hiphopanonymous*

          Definitely look into FMLA. I would also offer to train somebody to back up your position and create as much documentation as you can so that people can pick up your workload in your absence (if you haven’t already). That would just show you are doing your due diligence for your time off, and is best practice anyway.

          But really, your boss is way out of line. Particularly for a 10 year employee with a track record of reliability! If you were my employee I’d be bending over backward to accommodate your requests… no way would I want to lose a loyal employee who was in a mission-critical (with no backup!) position over making them fear for their job over some temporary health concerns.

  18. Permanent job blues*

    I am starting as a tt professor at an R1 this fall, and I’m starting to regret my decision/thinking about leaving academia?

    It’s crazy to even say this, I know. I was the only woman hired in North America in my field this year. There were 9 jobs total. The fact that I got this job should be a dream come true.

    But also, like, this awful job market means… I’m starting to feel trapped as heck. A bad job market isn’t just some final hurdle… it means I have no bargaining power. Admin can treat me as badly as they want, and if I want to leave I’m facing the same truly awful job market (better because I’m taken seriously as faculty, worse bc it’s hard to keep up publication numbers that compete with the superstar postdocs who don’t have to teach).

    My admin took back hella promises they made to me when I signed the offer letter. They’ve taken advantage of literally everything I’ve done to try and be a team player and be nice (I volunteered for a higher teaching load this fall to help out with a shortage — they rejected my request fo flexible teaching to better accommodate my two-body problem). I’m teaching MWF when they know I have an unsolved two-body problem. I require two flights to see my partner, so weekends are basically impossible. And they’re not giving me the same accommodation I know someone else in the department has to go visit his wife every year. And they are taking away/rejecting other opportunities I won on my own, inexplicably. Every chance they’ve had to make my life worse, even worse than the other new hires, they’ve taken with glee. It’s so deflating, and I haven’t even started yet.

    I’m feeling like I should just leave academia. Any advice?

    1. Nea*

      If they are treating you differently than a man, not fulfilling items written in a signed contract, and interfering with your personal opportunities outside their control, it’s time to lawyer up.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I’m going to preface this by saying I’m not in academia.

      You don’t need to decide between “stay in academia/this job forever” and “commit to leaving academia forever.” That’s a big decision, and probably feels impossible. Instead, I think you should start applying to other jobs, both in and out of academia.

      For jobs outside of academia: is there an industry associated with your field (ex. chemical engineering professor looking for chemical engineering jobs in industry)? Did you have a “fallback” plan for non-academia jobs at any point in your academic career? Are there any industries/fields/jobs that are of interest to you? Just some questions to give you a starting point for jobs to apply to.

      Jos search at your own pace. You have a job, so you can take breaks whenever your workload is high, or you need to focus on your partner, etc. When you do get interviews and then job offers, you no longer have to make the big “stay in academia forever or leave forever?” decision. The decision you’ll be making will be “do I want to stay in my current job (for now) or take this offer?” That’s usually an easier decision to make because you know a bit more about the potential new job than you do at this point of just “wondering if I should leave academia.”

      1. Pescadero*

        “You don’t need to decide between “stay in academia/this job forever” and “commit to leaving academia forever.””

        Yeah, you sort of do.

        It’s why PhD graduates take post doc jobs making 1/3 of what they’d make in industry… because leaving academia for industry largely mean leaving academia for industry forever – or at least until you’re important enough in industry to become a “professor of practice”.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Ah, yeah, I worded that poorly. I meant that you don’t need to decide right now. You can job search first, to get an idea of what is out there in the non-academic world, then make the “stay forever/leave forever” choice when you have a job offer in hand.

    3. Tio*

      Hm. I’m not in academia at all, so take this as the word of an outsider

      Can you push back on the two body problem by saying something along the lines of “If I don’t have X, I won’t be able to continue my volunteering with the teaching load”?

      Sometimes you just have to develop a stonewall attitude. Just a very unhelpful, “I can’t do that” sort of pushback. What’s the worst that could happen? Are you afraid of being fired? Because it sounds like they are already taking a bunch away from you anyway, what else can they take?

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Geeze, 35 years later and it’s the same ish as when my husband started his TT position. He stuck it out until he got tenure and then realized he was still miserable. He had also felt trapped by the ridiculous job market and then he started looking at his skill set instead of his job title. He realized that he had skills that were very very marketable outside of academia, took the leap, and never looked back. He’s mentored several people since who had also fled the ivory tower.

      You finished a PhD so you have a track record of being able to successfully complete a long-term, complex project and work with a team (you had a committee, even if you didn’t have collaborators). You can probably write far better than the average bear. And you have the skills that are specific to your field. You can leave if that’s right for you.

      And that’s the crux of the issue – is this right? You’ve been on this track for a long time, you’ve actually gotten to the goal, and it’s incredibly difficult to think you might not want it. You’re allowed to not want it. You’re allowed to think it sucks and to walk away. So if you stay you are choosing to stay – and that may be the right decision as well.

      You might start the semester and see how it goes. If you leave academia it won’t really matter if you burn the bridge with this institution by leaving mid-year. Or you can take the summer to look around and see what else is out there.

      One more thing: my husband (and every other academic I know well) benefited greatly from therapy, as would anyone dealing with an abusive relationship, which is what academia is. Good luck.

    5. Dr. Doll*

      I’m so very sorry. You certainly CAN pull out even now with ZERO feeling like you are letting “them” down. I had a situation where a new faculty member actually came to orientation, then quit, not because of bad treatment but because he really didn’t want to be a faculty member and came to his senses just in time. Of course it was inconvenient for his department but they should have been more careful in their hiring. Your department should have been more careful in their treatment of you!

      If you do decide to stay and hack it for a semester or a year, immediately stop being nice, stop volunteering. You don’t WANT tenure at this place – you want tenure somewhere else. Get selfish and focus solely on your OWN career; use the place for a stepping stone and don’t look back.

      Also I agree with the advice if you’re being treated differently than men in your department, consult an employment lawyer, and the advice to immediately look around at what’s outside academia.

      I know — when you’re in academia it feels like that’s the only world that is “good enough.” The few, the proud, the tenured? Is bullshit.

    6. D'Euly*

      I left. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I don’t regret my time in academia, but wow, the world outside it is a lot better than the world inside. I do some teaching on my own time and interact with students regularly.

      It’s *not crazy* to say you’re thinking about leaving. You’re in an insanely pressured and closed environment. Academia depends on convincing you to believe that you are about to ‘succeed’ and that every sacrifice, before and after, is worth it–but actually you’re the one who gets to decide that for yourself.

        1. linger*

          You wouldn’t be the first to think that. Grad school, in particular, has been called a cult.
          And Pratchett had a line comparing (higher) education to an STD: “once you’ve got it, you have this uncontrollable urge to pass it on”.

    7. vombatus ursinus*

      Oh I’m so sorry to hear about your situation, that sounds really tough!!

      You can try to improve things at your current job, or hang on in the hope that they will do so by themselves, but it doesn’t seem too likely based on what you’ve described. It would be one thing if it was normal academic bureaucracy and burnout, but an administration that seems to be actively trying to sabotage you?? I would be setting a firm timeline for how long I was willing to hang around before getting out.

      Either way, I would say there’s absolutely no harm in seeing what else is out there now. You are so, so far from alone in wondering about leaving academia after spending several years working extremely hard to get some semblance of stability.

      It can be a bit bumpy and scary to leave, but there ARE other organisations out there that will see and value the skills and capabilities you’ve developed through your academic career, and will treat you much better than what you’ve described here.

      Do you have a pretty clear idea of what you could/would do for work if you weren’t a professor? Some fields have very clear industry/non-ac analogues, while for others you might need to do a bit more brainstorming.

      If you have any mentors, or maybe peers who also studied in your program, who are now working outside academia, a coffee meeting and conversation with them could be really helpful. There are also quite a few “alt-ac career advice” websites and even coaching services out there, which could be worth looking into. Good luck!!!

    8. Pippa K*

      H, I’m am academic, and you have my sympathy. Our profession has a lot of down sides, and you’re right that the job market has empowered institutions at serious cost to faculty members. You’re also right that you don’t have to do this particular job and you don’t have to stay in this particular profession. This can be helpful to remind yourself of periodically, so you don’t feel more trapped than you really are.

      But it sounds to me like a big part of your worry is about what will or could happen, not just what has already happened and taken the shine off this new job. It’s probably worth going ahead with the first year to see how it goes. So far you’ve dealt with administration and (it sounds like) with your department chair or similar, and while how they treat you is hugely important, it’s also not going to be the whole story of what it’s like to work in that department and institution. Once you’re there, as an actual department member rather than the abstract new hire, you might find that the experience is significantly different.

      Also, you got this position in a highly competitive context. The department clearly values you, and it’s not in their interest to have you leave the first year, so except in truly horrendous departments they’re probably going to be trying to keep you, not drive you away. Lots of your colleagues will be kindly disposed toward a new junior colleague and want to help you settle in well. Sure, there could be assholes, but that’s true everywhere. You’ll be much better able to judge whether this is the right place for you once you’ve seen how the first year goes, what the asshole-to-good colleague ratio is, etc.

      Which is not to say you’re obliged to go on with this if you don’t want to, just that there’s reason to do so if you have doubts but don’t know what to do about them. I wish you a good first year and good colleagues!

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Yeah, that was my thought. Give it a year first and see if you like the actual work.

        Gotta say, I have no idea about the rest of it, but a MWF teaching schedule sounds absolutely normal.

        1. Permanent job blues*

          So, basically, I agree that it’s normal, but it’s basically zero effort to accommodate my two-body problem. They made a lot of hopeful hints early on that they’d work with me if they couldn’t make the partner hire. I was hoping for double teaching one semester, no teaching the next semester (an arrangement other faculty with unsolved two-body problems have, and advertised to me during the interview). They promised they’d try for double teaching, and if it didn’t work out they’d give me flexible teaching (T-Th). I volunteered for an *even* heavier load to make the double teaching easier to accommodate.

          Now they’ve said I’ll never get double teaching + the next semester off, I’m stuck with the heavier load I volunteered for, and my teaching is MWF. They’re make vague hints about Tu-Th next spring, but why should I believe them at this point?

          1. Feral Humanist*

            Yeah, this is total BS. And “normal” doesn’t mean you have to accept something that will ruin your life.

            Academia has become, in many if not most cases, a terrible place to work. They are banking on you feeling trapped and grateful to be so. The best way to subvert this is to have a sense of your options, so that the choice to stay or go becomes one over which you can exercise agency.

            You are allowed to want to live near your partner. You are allowed to want to make money and live comfortably. You are allowed to want to have boundaries around your work.

            You have options. Without knowing more about your skills and interests I can’t tell you exactly what they are, but I know that they exist in every field. And if you decide to do something else, you will STILL be a scholar and a teacher. No one will ever take that away from you. But you will probably need to spend some time figuring out what YOU want out of your career. It may be very, very different from what you imagined or what your advisor imagined for you. And remember that TT life can leave very little room for research –– you might have more time and energy for it (albeit no ticking clock) outside of academia.

            I’ll leave a link in a different comment to ImaginePhD, which is a website that might help you get started if you’re in the humanities and social sciences, which I suspect you are from your post. I recommend a therapist, if you can find one, and a career counselor, if you can afford one. And I recommend finding people who have gone before you and talking to them about their transitions. There are so many of us out here, doing so many different things. But whatever you decide, make sure that it’s YOUR decision. It’s your life, after all.

          2. Pippa K*

            I’m imagining this scenario in my own department, and I can totally see it happening. Partly because we have some bad actors who seem able to abuse their power without consequence, so the special arrangement available to one person isn’t available to another.

            But it could also happen because someone knows Rob has a special teaching arrangement and doesn’t see why Kendra can’t have it too, so they mention it in the interviews as a possibility. Then it turns out that Kendra’s request is denied because she’s teaching something that is offered in a two-semester series and Rob isn’t, or because so many people will be on leave in the spring that they can’t do without Kendra too, or something like that.

            If it turns out they’re acting in bad faith and you don’t want to be there, I agree with everyone else in this thread that you should fly, be free, and never consider alt ac careers as accepting a lesser path.

    9. Justin*

      I mean, I briefly went on the TT market, didn’t get anywhere, and moved on. I would say, just keep an eye out? Nothing will stop you from leaving in a couple years if they treat you poorly, and see what other work would suit you best.

    10. Ranon*

      Speaking as someone who with their spouse has a whole “why no one should ever get a PhD” song and dance we unload onto any unsuspecting young’ins, leaving academia sounds nothing but sane to me.

      As far as jobs go the pro-con list has to work out, no matter how hard the job is to land.

    11. The Somewhat Average Gilly Hopkins*

      I never got to the point of actually having a TT job, but as someone who spent 7 years on a PhD to realize in the last year that my mental health was not conducive to academia, I highly recommend getting out.

      The caveat is what your research is in. You mentioned being one of only a few women in your field (it sounds like). Do you feel like you would be doing a disservice to your field and your students if you left academia and applied your expertise to the public or private sector? Are you one of the only women who can act as a mentor to students in your department? If so, and if you think there is hope you can make changes in the next few years (like if you have someone in the department who is on your side and you can develop a coalition with them) then maybe consider staying.

      But if not… please, for the sake of your health and your relationship, gtfo (or bring an ultimatum to your chair) and let them deal with the consequences of your absence. It is entirely their loss. I can’t tell you how much my health has improved when I started being able to define myself by a standard other than how many pubs I had or my average teaching score, and was able to enjoy my weekends and evenings because I could put work away. My current employer offers paid parental leave, great healthcare and annual leave, and remote work. IMO, academia is a toxic cult and you don’t realize how cancerous and exploitative it can be until you get out. You deserve better!!!!

      1. Permanent job blues*

        Yes, so, this is a big thing that’s keeping me around. I don’t want to give away too much about my field, but we have one of the biggest gender problems. I also don’t come from any ivy league background. I did all my education at big public schools, and my PhD institution has never put anyone in a faculty job in my subfield before. I built up my success & internationally recognized research program as a postdoc. I’ve worked my *ss off to get here, to be taken seriously when I walk into a room, and I have fought for underrepresented groups at every stage. I know I could do a lot for the students here who aren’t on the “glide into an academic job” path. I also know I could be very productive with these students because I understand the types of things they are dealing with, and I’m well-positioned to mentor them into strong researchers.

        This really was my dream job, but if I can only see my partner a few times a year (especially at my age after doing postdocs, wanting to have kids soon, etc), I don’t know if I can live this life. I also won an amazing opportunity (another dream of mine) that would really help my career, I was told they would allow me to go when I signed the offer letter, and now they are putting so many limitations on it that it will barely help me at all . They are doing the bare minimum to not be absolutely liars and it’s just… super painful.

    12. Feral Humanist*

      There is a reason that tenure is sometims referred to as “golden handcuffs.”

      The ideas that there are no other options and you would be crazy to give this up are what traps people. It’s a toxic combination of scarcity mindset + cult-like thinking. And it is the only thing that academia has going for it at this point, because many universities have become horrible places to work, as you’ve already discovered. They are banking on candidates being willing to forego every other part of their well-being for “the life of the mind” (bleh). And they are also banking on candidates not knowing enough about life beyond the academy to know that it’s not like this everywhere. The exploitation that happens inside higher ed is just as egregious, if not worse, than anything in the private sector, but it continues to lie to itself about it.

      You have other options. No matter what field you are in, you have other options. Without knowing your skills and interests, I can’t tell you exactly what they are, but I will leave a link in another comment that is a good place to begin. Some of these options might even leave you with more time and energy for research, albeit without the ticking tenure clock. You might need to let go of some ideas about prestige that you’ve assimilated from the academy, and you’re almost certainly going to have to spend some time figuring out what is actually important to you and your partner. Grad school and the academic job market tends to teach people to subsume all their own wants and needs.

      I recommend a therapist, if you can find one, and a career counselor, if you can afford one. Believe it or not, after all of that, I’m not recommending that you leave –– but I AM recommending that you get a sense of your options, so that if you decide to stay, it’s because you want to and not because you feel trapped.

    13. Feral Humanist*

      Okay, this is my THIRD attempt to post this comment…

      I am a PhD who helps other PhDs leave the academy. And here is what I recommend: Do your research on other options so that if, at the end of the day, you decide to stay, it’s a decision that you can exercise agency over. Academia banks on people feeling trapped and grateful to be so. It expects that people will take any amount of BS, including living hundreds of miles from their loved ones, because of prestige- and scarcity-based thinking and a devotion to “the life of the mind.” But no one is a purely intellectual being. We are social and emotional and physical beings, too, and our lives should feed all of those.

      You have options. It doesn’t matter what your field is. I know without knowing ANYTHING else about you that you have options. I’ll post a link to ImaginePhD, which is a website that might help. But you are going to have to do a lot of soul searching and self reflection to figure out what you really want, without the influence of external forces. And you might have to accept “disappointing” some people who think that you got the golden ticket and should therefore be happy. A friend of mine described it as “job market survivor’s guilt.”

      None of us can really tell you what to do, but the thing to avoid is feeling trapped. You need to feel able to walk away, even if you choose to stay.

      1. Feral Humanist*

        Here is the link to ImaginePhD:

        I’ll just add: I recommend both a therapist and a career counselor, if you can. And if research is what is keeping you there, think realistically about how much time you are going to have for research in a given week during the semester. A job outside of academia might actually leave you with more time and energy for it.

        1. Feral Humanist*

          I’m so sorry for the multiple posts –– they kept not showing up and I thought they got eaten. *headdesk* I’ll just… be over here.

          1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

            Academic here to say I thought this comment was so good it was worth posting three times (and I also saw the repeat posting as a kind of adorable marker of HOW MUCH you needed OP to hear this!)

          2. Permanent job blues*

            Thank you so much, for your insight and for taking the time to write everything out multiple times! Your comments were exactly what I needed to hear.

    14. cyanotype*

      I’m an assistant professor in the humanities in Canada (going up for tenure soon). Where I am, it would be highly unusual to group all teaching in one semester to allow so much time away – that seems like a big ask. It also seems unusual, though, that your teaching schedule isn’t yet arranged for the full year. I’ve had my schedule for next year for nearly two months. Is it possible that they are stringing you along?

      If at all possible, I would see if you could get the extra teaching that you volunteered for removed, even if you have to go beyond the departmental level to do so. In fact, I would advise you to speak with your union or someone in upper admin sooner rather than later about all of this, especially as there seems to be a gender issue at play. Pre-tenure faculty, especially at R1s, should not be doing extra teaching when there are such high research expectations. I volunteered to do extra teaching and was asked to do extra service, and it counted for exactly no goodwill or credit. Try not to help out above the basic expectations or be too accommodating.

      With all of this said, I genuinely love my teaching and my research. Just not my colleagues! I suggest that you give it a go and keep in mind that great research and good course evaluations are most likely to give you a shot at job mobility.

    15. Ex-stats prof*

      ex-ac here. check out karen kelsky’s website, she also hosts a FB group for faculty who consider leaving academia. very hopeful.

  19. Age of the Geek, Baby*

    Hey all. I’m returning to the office after maternity leave – first child. Did a stint of part time in earlier June and it went….poorly….based on hearing my crying baby as my partner took care of her, trying to speak to adults while sleep deprived, to leaking breast milk because I had back to back interviews.

    The baby is calming down (and sleeping through the night) but looking for tips as I make the jump to full time.

    1. Aelfwynn*

      Do regular check-ins with yourself. What is working? What is not? That will help you keep some semblance of balance.
      Have regular check-ins with your partner as well to make sure you’re sharing equitable duties. Having a partner who shares the load makes everything so much easier. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
      If you’re able to make something easier, do it. Make sure your needs are being met as well as the baby/work/your partner. You’re important too.
      At some points, you’re going to feel like you’re failing in both your jobs (parenthood and work). Everyone feels this way sometimes. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can in a world that does not support parents the way that it should.
      Good luck!

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      I so understand this! I think scheduling time to pump and blocking it off on your calendar in advance can be helpful, so people don’t book meetings with you at times when you’ll need to pump. Also, are you going to be working at home, or in the office? If the former, don’t be afraid to invest in some noise-canceling headphones. It’s hard to disengage from childcare while someone else cares for your baby in the same house. Not hearing what’s going on can help.

    3. Working mom of 2*

      First of all, CONGRATS!

      If you’re working from home, make sure you have clear boundaries about what’s expected of you for the baby if someone else is caring for them. For example, are you going to be breastfeeding or pumping since you’re home? Consider headphones if hearing the baby is going to be hard and distracting for you!

      If you’re going back to the office, pack your pump bag a couple days before and do all of your pumping sessions from it as though you’re at work so you know for sure you have what you need. Make sure you know where you’re going to be storing your milk (some places are weird about communal fridges and breastmilk, some couldn’t care less).
      Keep pictures around! Sometimes on hard days I do just stop and stare at my kids’ smiling faces and it makes me happy. I know I’m doing this for them too!

      Hang in there! The adjustment WILL take time, and that’s ok. Give yourself a lot of grace.

    4. Thunder kitten*

      expect it to suck – it isnt just you. it will be an adjustment.
      block out times in your schedule to pump / take care of yourself.
      what is your plan for childcare ? are you plannong to work from home ? will your baby be in daycare ? nanny ? spouse ?

    5. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      this was me last August! yes to what everyone has said. if you are pumping block off that time and don’t be apologetic!
      it sucks at first but it does get better!

    6. EMP*

      Knowing babies, they’ll probably have a sleep regression as soon as you go back to work – remind yourself as much as you need to that it’s not BECAUSE you went back to work, it’s just what babies do

  20. Lasuna*

    I am hoping people can help me with a script. I will be training a new employee for my four person team soon, and need a respectful, non-dramatic way to say, “Jane has really harmed the culture of our team, please don’t model your behavior on Jane.” Jane is also a poor performer with a poor understanding of the work we do, but I can handle that part of it by telling the new employee to rely on me and the longest term team member for information to ensure they are getting accurate information.

    The difficulty with the cultural issues Jane creates is that they are things that would be normal in many work environments. My team does intake for a small healthcare company. It’s not a doctor’s office where anyone can show up and “intake” consists of taking their billing information. We offer a service that has stringent guidelines for the patient to be eligible, we need specific medical documentation in order to be paid by insurance, and the patient needs a doctor who is going to continue to sign off on care. As a result, intake of a single patient can take over an hour. That said, we have some “easy” referrals that can take 5 to 10 minutes. Our culture is that we fail or succeed as a team. We try to balance the type of referrals people are getting, so that no one is working only on easy or hard referrals.

    Jane comes from a cutthroat sales background where people are competing for leads and only the top performer gets a bonus. She has been unable to adjust to a team environment where people work together to ensure a balanced workload. She also has a poor work ethic, so makes an effort to only take easy referrals so that she can maintain good numbers while working as little as possible. The issues with Jane are being addressed to the extent that they can be, but I don’t have a lot of real authority (i.e. firing). Unfortunately, I don’t currently have the authority to take referrals away from her when she takes all the easy referrals, so it has created a competitive scramble for referrals that was never part of the culture until Jane.

    I am looking for a script that explains to new staff that we want everyone to have a balanced workload and it’s not a competitive environment, when the reality is that Jane is singlehandedly making it competitive. The other three team members do work together to balance work among themselves, such as claiming easy referrals for other people in order to prevent Jane taking them. It is likely Jane will be fired sooner or later, and I’d like the new staff to understand that the culture will change when Jane leaves. I want to make sure the competitive culture is not adopted and perpetuated by the new employee. I’m stuck on how to explain this without it being inappropriate or making our team seem drama filled because outside of this one issue it’s not.

    1. happybat*

      How about citing the good work of the people you are happy with? For example, “When planning X, speak to Mary because she has really good insight into… ” or “Terence is a great model for how to handle Y, especially…” This will achieve two things – your new employee will have some ideas of what you consider ‘good’, and how to find models for ‘good’. And also, if they are wide awake, they will notice you never ever suggest Jane as a good model for anything.

      You might also explicitly mention that “this is very much not a competitive culture, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to pursue ‘good numbers’ but instead focus on ‘actually desirable metric for success'”

      1. Elsewise*

        I absolutely agree, especially with your first paragraph! Instead of focusing on what they shouldn’t do (listen to Jane), focus on what they SHOULD do (help others, follow Fergus’s example, make sure they’re getting a balance of easy and hard referrals). Then, check in with them regularly, make sure they feel like they’re getting a balance, and proactively coach any issues you’re seeing.

        1. Lasuna*

          I like this approach as well. It is how I was planning to handle the issues with the work itself. I also like focusing on how the *new person* should contribute to the culture, as opposed to talking about the team because I would be lying if I framed it in terms of the (current) team culture.

    2. Whomst*

      Have you explicitly told Jane that you aren’t looking at her numbers, and are instead concerned about how she is supporting her coworkers? There’s not much you can do to enforce this if you have no real authority, but you could start passive-aggressively micromanaging and point out to her regularly how she’s taking all the easy referrals and making things more difficult for . It’s probably not a good suggestion, but the actual appropriate course of action is to have official work channels chastising her and enforcing consequences for her actions.

      1. Lasuna*

        The problem is that both the director above me and the owner of the company are looking at the numbers, which Jane knows. They don’t *care* the way she thinks they do, and she refuses to believe that. Also it is mostly driven by work avoidance. If she can average the same number of referrals as others in 15% of the time, she will and then spends the rest of the time pretending to work. I’ve addressed it as much as I can without micromanaging (I honestly don’t have time to micromanage this), but without the possibility of real consequences she just… doesn’t care.

    3. Pescadero*

      Have you guaranteed that the “numbers” have no effect at all on Jane’s compensation or performance review and let her know that?

    4. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, this is a tough one. I agree with others that you probably need to focus on what you *do* want to see, and also try to actively manage Jane within the best of your ability. I just don’t see how you could say anything negative about Jane without it coming across badly. If I started a new job, I’d be weirded out if my supervisor, who I assume is also Jane’s supervisor (?) indicated that they aren’t happy with Jane’s performance but they couldn’t do anything about it. Honestly, I’d worry this would hurt the respect the new employee might have for you, if you apparently can’t do anything about Jane.

    5. Joielle*

      I once worked on a team with a couple of long-time employees who were… eccentric. Good at the work but you wouldn’t want new hires to emulate their interpersonal skills. When I started, my manager said something like “I just want to mention that Scott and Jamie have both been here a long time and they’re great at what they do, but I don’t think you should necessarily use either of them as an example of how to interact with folks in the office.” I immediately understood what she meant and I thought it was direct and helpful without being mean.

    6. Pocket Mouse*

      Others have good suggestions for training… but do you have the power to change processes, particularly the process for claiming, assigning, or assuring balance of intakes? You may be able to demonstrate the culture you want by stating it explicitly, in a group setting, and discussing how to get there and what that means for each team member’s next steps.

  21. Exme*

    Does anyone have suggestions for products or methods to manage this better? A lot of people in my org use their outlook calendars to set reminders for things their role needs to manage monthly or annually. When they leave that role their successor doesn’t have those reminders on their calendar so might not know about tasks that need done annually.
    We try to have these tasks documented also, but it actually would be really handy to have more of a calendar/reminder set up for each role that a person inherits when they start the role and they just start getting reminders at the right time.
    Any suggestions for a role-owned calendar with task reminders that can move to a new person? Ideally something that can work in Outlook.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Can you set up a shared calendar for your department, that everyone on the team has access to? We’ve always had this in my current and former roles, and we use it to track all sorts of things (team PTO, internal company-wide or department-wide events, major deadlines, etc.).

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        This is my recommendation as well. My dept. has a shared mailbox and calendar that everyone has access to.

    2. Pivot!!!*

      My department has a team Outlook calendar as well as individual calendars. Perhaps you could set up a similar one with weekly or monthly coded colors and tasks for specific roles? That way, you could incorporate those as part of your onboarding for new employees?

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

      Have you looked at project management tools like Asana. Some have options to connect to outlook so you could just add the new person to the project and have them connect their outlook.

    4. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Outlook has a built-in task list that sends you reminders just like calendar events, and you can even export it and import it to someone else’s Outlook. I did that at the job I just left so that the next person will have all the right tasks at the right time. You can set up a recurring schedule too. I prefer using the tasks function to calendar reminders for tasks since the calendar is then kept clear for actual events and you’re not appearing “busy”, etc.

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      If the Outlook-based suggestions other suggested won’t work, explore Planner, which us also part of the Microsoft Office suite. Pretty simple to setup and can send reminders.

  22. Rose*

    Does anyone have any tips for one-way video interviews?

    I’m currently in my first post-college job search and an organization asked me to record video responses to each of five questions. I have literally no idea how long my responses should be or any other best practices — any/all help would be appreciated!

    1. Honor Harrington*

      It’s possible this is a type of AI inerview. For jobs that are hired in large numbers, some companies do this sort of video interview. The computer on the back end will assess your responses by looking at things like pupil size, as well as words you use, and use it as input into whether you should get an two-way interview. These one-way interviews can lessen the likelihood of diverse hires getting a two-way interview, though the companies try to prevent that.

      Just take it seriously and answer honestly. Make sure you have a good resume tailored to the job opening so that the algorhythm picks up the right key words. That will also help you get a two-way interview.

    2. Sweet*

      No more than two minutes. Don’t ramble. Dress professionally in a place with good lighting. No background noise.

    3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Use Glassdoor and Reddit to see if the typical questions are listed. You can google the bot company to see what the parameters are. My husband just did one of these last month through HireVue and they have a website telling you about what the experience will be like.

    4. pally*

      Usually these types of interviews provide the question, allow you a couple of minutes to prep and then turn on the camera to record your response to the question. Then repeat for each question they ask.

      Some allow you to redo your recorded response; some do not.

      Obviously these will be open-ended questions. Ahead of time, work on a format -that works for you- for answering such questions (i.e., intro, three main points, summary of points, quick conclusion). Maybe have ready a list of three or four “conclusion-like” sentences to be used to wrap-up your responses.
      Also (this will sound strange), sit in front of your computer and talk to the camera. Make up a few open-ended questions and answer them by talking to the camera. This gets you used to talking about something without having a listener to provide feedback. I found it awkward just talking without having a listener nod, or smile, or look bored, or ask a clarifying question.

      Have available, but out of view of the camera: your resume, the job description, a pen and paper, some info on the company (gleaned from their website: what do they do/make, any company philosophy type stuff, etc.), format work from above.

      During prep time, use the pen and paper to jot down an outline of your response. Jot down key words you want to include in your response. Think a bit about what all your response should include. And, how you will conclude your response (don’t prattle on! maybe do a brief summary of the main points). Use the entirety of the prep time.

      When recording the response, if there’s lots of time left, don’t prattle on! Conclude and end the recording.

    5. Zephy*

      My best tip for one-way video interviews is don’t do them. This company does not know how to hire and you don’t want to work for them.

    6. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      This may sound silly, but tape up the questions in your eyeline so you’re not looking down. And it sounds silly, but stick up some photo of a person there too and imagine you’re speaking with them and they’re looking at you.

  23. Freelance Blues*

    What kind of metrics would you like to see on a resume to indicate my freelancing/consulting business was “real” and not the kind of freelancing people say they did when they were actually unemployed? I’m not keen to say “brought in X dollars of client work” because that feels very crude and not really their business – right now I have a bullet that says “clients including ..” and then list 7-8 respected client names. I don’t really have great knowledge of how my products were used once I delivered them so it’s not I have obvious metrics on the results of my work (like “my video increased social media activity by X per cent” or something).

    1. LuckySophia*

      Some useful metrics might relate to either:
      — repeat business/longevity of relationship (if they kept hiring you repeatedly, obviously they must have been happy with your quality/service/price. If you worked with a person or company for multiple years, that also indicates successful relationship-building.)
      — referrals: did you start working with John at Teapots, Inc., and he was so pleased with your work that he referred you to several of his colleagues, so now yuo have multiple clients within the same company/industry?

      1. Tio*

        Also possibly number of customers? might vary by industry, but something like “managed 4 clients with daily projects” might help.

    2. North Wind*

      I just went back to regular employment from about 5 years of freelancing this year, and had a lot of positive feedback on my resume.

      I put the number of projects I completed (50+), and included descriptions of 3 projects for 3 different clients. I chose projects that demonstrated particular skill, were for clients that I had worked with longer and were happy to be references, and clients big enough to be recognizable or had a website that verifies they’re a valid business.

      I then also listed different industries I had worked in, with 4-5 clients per industry I had worked with.

      While I had some longer-term clients, I did prefer short-term projects, so I had a lot of projects to choose from. I wasn’t sure if that would be in my favor or not, but it didn’t seem to raise any red flags; at least no one mentioned it or expressed concern.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Quantity/speed of work? How efficiently you were able to create videos, whether recording them yourself or editing footage?

      Volume/capacity delivered per week or per month to meet deadlines?

      Were you responsible for managing complex shoots or teams of people?

      Did you have input on content strategy or developing series of related videos?

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

      If you are worried that you might come across as not being a real freelancer, besides listing some of your clients, could you use a few folx from those companies as references?

  24. Drago Cucina*

    Recommendations on sources for good “black tie” work dresses.
    I don’t want it to look like mother of the bride or a prom dress.
    I’m 60+, but finding the sweet spot between sexy and dowdy is tough.
    It does need to be floor length.

      1. Drago Cucina*

        Love their dresses (Pockets! Sleeves!) and tagged a couple to come back to. Thanks for the confirmation.
        On a related note, I was thinking of ordering some suit separates from eShakti. Have you purchased any?

    1. scandi*

      Dresses advertised as concert/orchestra attire often hits the sweet spot for me. They’re often only available in black, but for work dresses I personally consider that a plus.

      Another option is separates. A good ball skirt in a solid colour you like, paired with a “party” top of some kind, can look great. It’s also much cheaper and easier to vary by changing out the top depending on the season/fashion/personal preferences.

  25. Bluebonnet*

    Would there be any tips to how a woman likely on the Autism spectrum can show that they are a good fit in an interview setting? I am able to live a full life and have a career, but sometimes miss social cues and come across as quirky, especially in high stress situations like job interviews. Also, note that I have chosen not to be “out” at this time and am content with this decision.

    I had a first round virtual interview for a job I am interested in with my potential supervisor. If I make it to the second and final round, I will be meeting virtually with potential co-workers. They will decide based on fit. Any tips on coming across as an agreeable good fit would be most appreciated.

    In interview settings, I definitely do my best to look in people’s eyes, limit my arm movement, and use a professional vocal tone (my natural voice is very expressive), but am open to other tips as well.

    1. happybat*

      Where possible, express sincere interest in your new colleagues views and experiences. Eye contact is good, as is expressing interest while listening – discreet head nods, affirming noises etc. Try not to over-do it – some people will find it annoying if they notice you are doing that, so keep it low key!

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      This isn’t really a tip, but remember that “good fit” goes both ways. If an interviewer only thinks you’d be a good fit because you are masking to a degree that will be unsustainable and unpleasant for you in the long run, that job might not be the one you want. Maybe try to let your natural expressiveness work FOR you: enthusiasm is something that I LIKE to see candidates express. Someone who gets really animated talking about what they like about the work is someone who might well be a good choice for a role where they’ll be doing those things!

      1. CheeryO*

        I said this below, but you said it better than me! Totally agree, and as someone who has done hiring (at a quirk-friendly workplace, admittedly), I LOVE to see an animated and expressive interviewee! It’s so much fun to bounce off their energy and get excited with them.

      2. Dell*

        oh yes, this!! I’m also an autistic female and I have had great success being hired onto teams that have a high percentage of us precisely because we clicked so well in the interviews.

    3. dyna*

      Seconding happybat – express interest and ask lots of questions! If you really can’t think of anything to say then variations of “That’s interesting/Can you tell me more about [blank]?” (if appropriate) are a lifesaver. If you’re prone to hyperfocus or infodumping give yourself a cut-off point ahead of time for when to stop talking about a certain subject. I usually give myself three or four conversational turns with new people/people I know don’t wanna hear me ramble. If your camera/setting allows it, carry a notepad. It’ll look good to be writing things down and you can use it as an excuse for a quick eye contact break. If you’re on camera make sure it’s visible though, or else it’ll look like your leaning over for no reason.

      Eye contact is easier virtually (in my opinion) but looking at someone’s forehead or nose is a great way to cheat. Remember pleases and thank yous, repeat people’s names if appropriate (also helps memory), ALWAYS acknowledge what someone has just said (even if just with a nod or an “that’s interesting!” and remember that everyone’s first impression is a little awkward and you’ll be way more conscious of your own mistakes than anyone else.

      If you can put your hands in your pockets/under the screen and get a good quiet fidget that’s helpful as well – if I can’t get my hands on a “real” fidget paper clips or tupperware lids are nice in a pinch (bend the clip, run your fingers around the lid rim). Anything that won’t jingle or snap unexpectedly. If you have to show your hands, wear a bracelet or watch that you can fiddle with. A watch with a heavy timepiece/thin band you have to “adjust” often is wonderful if you can get it. I know you said you want to limit arm movement but a little bit of subtle stimming is the best thing for focus/emotions.

      If all else fails, a little “haha sorry, I’m a little awkward with first impressions” can work wonders. Use your judgement obviously, it won’t fly in every situation, but if people are friendly a little self-deprecation will not hurt.

      Source: I am autistic woman as well. You’ve got this, good luck!

    4. Goddess47*

      If you you need to, rephrase the question aloud as you’re answering it.

      “You’re asking what I do to prepare a llama for grooming! I do this…”

      That gives you that second to think and it alerts your questioner if you did misunderstand the question.

      Good luck!

    5. CheeryO*

      Just remember to make some “eye contact” through the camera since it’s virtual! Otherwise, I would just let yourself be yourself. An interview is a two-way street, and you want to make sure you’ll be able to bring your whole self to work and be comfortable. There’s absolutely nothing wrong or inherently unprofessional about being quirky!

    6. Bluebonnet*

      Thanks for your tips, everyone! I really appreciate it!

      On a side note, I can really relate to Elsa from Frozen (“conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know”)

  26. Argh!*

    I’m a new manager in the education sector, and my team (including me!) is understandably upset by this week’s Supreme Court decisions on college admissions and debt relief, among others. (I would rather not get into those decisions themselves here, but do want to know how I can be supportive of my team.) Any advice for how to manage a team, and acknowledge upsetting events/a hit to morale, when it impacts your staff and their work? I tend to compartmentalize but I don’t know how much that would be ethical or productive.

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      When George Floyd was killed, I was leading a mostly white team with two Black women. We were virtual, of course, because pandemic. At our first meeting after it happened, I talked about it and said I was sure we were all affected in different ways. I asked in the meeting what people needed or wanted for support and also told everyone they could come to me privately, and then I checked in directly with the two Black women. One wanted to talk about it and we did. The other said she came to work to escape and didn’t want to discuss it any further.

      I’m always in favor of naming the thing. It doesn’t have a be a long drawn-out inappropriately emotional deal. This happened, I know I’m struggling with it, I’m sure I’m not the only one who is struggling, and I want to support you as best I can. Offer what resources you have, give everyone some grace if their performance slips a bit in the next week or so, and keep going. If you’ve established a healthy team culture, that will be enough.

    2. WellRed*

      A year ago, when women were suddenly deemed lesser beings, we chatted about it on the company slack (small team, wfh) right after the decision was announced. It’s good to acknowledge it or that people will be upset, just don’t dwell on it.

    3. girlie_pop*

      At the company I work for, when there is a big event that they know a lot of us will be concerned about, someone in leadership (usually the HR person) will make a post about it, saying they understand how it effects some of us and that we might be struggling with it. They give us space to talk about it if we want to and remind us of resources available (e.g., mental health support through our benefits, etc.).

      Separately, there is a culture here where people are very understanding of colleagues who are struggling. It’s pretty normal for someone to say something like, I lost my pet this weekend so I’m going to be off-camera and minimizing meetings this week. They’re still doing their work well, but they’re able to structure their days so that it’s a little easier for them to not feel like they have to be 100% “On” all the time. So, to whatever extent you can, being understanding when they’re a little off or need something extra they might not at other times.

    4. Vegas*

      As a manager, don’t assume that everyone feels the same way about news events that are highly political. It’s not really appropriate to assume there is a consensus, even if you’re in a really specific field. This is in general, because I’m trying not to get into the decisions themselves as you requested. Official communication should really be limited to “We are assessing how this will affect our company policies and will update everyone when we know.”

    5. Chicago Anon*

      It might depend on what sort of institution you work at. Many, many colleges and universities are at least de facto pretty much open admission, so the affirmative action decision really only effects the most elite. So while I would acknowledge that people might have feelings about the decision, and that that’s fine, on the ground it might not affect what your team is doing. If there’s discussion, possibly it could pivot to “how can we support our minority students here?” or “how can we assist our minority students to be more competitive when they transfer to more elite schools?” But if you *are* at an elite school, that might not work so well. Focus on improving outreach efforts to middle and high school students, so they’re as prepared as possible?

      The debt relief thing is harder, sorry, no ideas there. :-(

    6. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      I work in an environment where it’s safe to assume general consensus about tough news moments like this (i.e. I don’t have to risk that someone actually agrees with SCOTUS). My playbook:
      – Acknowledge that something big happened, people may have ~feelings~ about it, and it may affect people on my team in different ways. (Like, “You may have seen the news about X, or I’m sure you’ve all seen the news about X. I want to acknowledge that this is a big deal … etc. etc.”
      – IF and only if I can authentically speak to my experience, I might say something about that. Just need to be extra-careful not to center your experience unless that would actually help the situation or provide important context. (For example, one of my close childhood friends’ daughters was killed at Sandy Hook, so when mass shootings happen sometimes I say something about that to contextualize why I’m upset and that it’s ok to be upset. I don’t do this on issues where I don’t have such a direct personal experience, or where my experience isn’t the one that should be centered. In your case, keep in mind the power/salary differential and how references to your own experience with debt relief may be different from that of your team and the community you serve.)
      – Name that people may need support at work, and offer ways to support. Things like “if you need to skip X meeting to process the news,’ or PTO options, or counseling resources, or flex hours, or time off to go to a protest or engage in activism, etc. Also name that it’s ok for people to keep working if that’s what’s best for them.
      – Offer people a sounding board if they want to talk or share publicly, but I don’t mandate it. If I want to create space in a team meeting to discuss, I give folks a head’s up and the option to skip the meeting if they don’t want to talk about it.
      – Point to resources like the EAP that my organization offers to help cope with tough situations.
      – I usually check in with folks one on one as well, especially if/when I know someone is directly affected or they’ve expressed that they’re upset. My goal is mainly to listen and reiterate the support options that are available.
      – If the org as a whole doesn’t say anything, I might nudge our HR person to let them know folks are having a hard time, take or leave what to do with that information. Sometimes that leads to a CEO statement about it or some staff meeting space to discuss, sometimes nothing comes of it.
      – I give a lot of grace on work quality and deadlines where I can, and help folks aggressively prioritize (aka decide not to do things we would normally consider important) if needed.

    7. The shadow*

      You should start by not assuming that all your reports agree with you. They may be pretending to agree with you because they fear that there will be repercussions from disagreeing.

  27. Hopeful Perm*

    I’ve posted in the last two open threads about my current job situation. The short version is that I’m temping, really like my current assignment and want to go permanent, and was asking for advice on how to express interest. Recently my senior manager sent me an email praising my performance and I took that as an opportunity to reply and express my interest in continuing past my soft end-date in later July.

    Question 1: It’s been about a week and I haven’t gotten a reply from the senior manager. While I know this could mean anything from “they’re working on an offer” to “the senior manager missed my reply in a busy inbox” it’s honestly giving me a lot of anxiety and stress. When is it appropriate to follow-up if I don’t get a reply? Note that I work onsite on a different schedule than the senior manager who often works from home, so trying to stop by her office for a face to face follow-up chat may not be an option.

    Question 2: This is probably getting ahead of myself, but if they are interested in me and I go through an interview process, how acceptable is it to mention “lifestyle” concerns? While I find the work interesting, am really getting along with my temp coworkers, and appreciate the supportive environment, two big pluses for this job for me are the schedule (3 x 12s, which is uncommon for roles of this type) and the commute (15 minutes from my apartment). I’m in healthcare and temped for years doing covid-19 response and commuted all over my area on all kinds of different schedules and I am both exhausted and know what kind of schedule/commute would keep me happy and settled into a role long-term. I don’t know if that’s something that’s helpful to hear for a hiring manager?

    1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      I’ve been hired temp-to-perm and also hired temps as permanent employees. That senior manager may not be the person who would make the decision, or, might be the last person in the chain of making that decision. The company HR department often has a contract with a temp agency that covers hiring. In my experience, there is always a big fee to the temp agency (which has the bad effect of making the pay they can offer to a temp coming on lower than it might be if you came in without an agency). Do you have a contact in HR, maybe the person who got you set up on Day 1? I’d forward that email to them and say, “Hey, I’d love to work here permanently. Is this job even available after my end date? Is there a process for me applying to go temp-to-perm?” That’s it: simple start.

    2. Morgan Proctor*

      The correct way to have gone about this conversation is in person. You should ask your manager for a 1:1 to discuss, doesn’t matter that you already emailed expressing your interest.

      The perks you’re describing are usually reserved for freelancers. That kind of schedule is why people freelance. Do any of the FTE people at this company have that kind of schedule? If not, it’s not really realistic to expect them to make an exception for you. The stability, salary, and benefits should be enough to balance out that adjustment for you. If they’re not, then maybe this job isn’t a good fit for you.

      I’m not sure I understand your concern about the commute. You’re already making this 15 min commute? Why would that change if they hire you full time?

      1. Hopeful Perm*

        I’m sorry, I must have worded my post poorly because you misunderstood me. The schedule and the 15 minute commute are part of the reasons I like this job! I currently as a temp work 3 x 12s and so do most of the permanent employees in that department, including all others in the same role as me. It’s not a special perk I’m asking for, but I am acknowledging that this schedule is atypical for my role category (healthcare admin support) compared to other healthcare roles like nursing where it’s more standard.

        What I wanted to know if mentioning things like “I know this schedule is atypical but it’s one I really like” or “it’s so nice this location is a short commute away” would be positive things to hear for someone considering hiring me.

        1. LadyByTheLake*

          They don’t really need to hear why you find the job convenient — they want to hear that you like the WORK (and have been praised for doing it well) and would like to continue.

        2. Joielle*

          Personally, I’d find it helpful to know that you actually like the slightly odd things about the job rather than merely tolerating them. I’d probably wait to bring it up until later in the process, but whenever I hire for a role that’s unusual in some way I’m glad to hear that someone likes that aspect and wouldn’t leave over it in 6 months for a more typical position.

          1. Tio*

            Yeah, telling me something like that wouldn’t change whether I was willing to hire you if I was on the fence, but if I was considering hiring you and I heard that you also liked the quirks, it might be a positive.

    3. RagingADHD*

      1) Follow up with your temp coordinator now to let them know you put your hat in the ring. They would need to negotiate a payout.

      2) Follow up with your senior manager the second week in July if you haven’t heard anything. If you aren’t in the US, then do it next week.

      3) Only bring up the lifestyle considerations if an interviewer asks why you are happy here, if you see yourself staying long-term, future plans, things like that. When I have been hired on perm from a temp contract, I never had to do an additional interview because they already knew me. YMMV.

  28. Newly Hatched*

    I just got my first full time permanent academic job (in the UK). Teaching and scholarship rather than full on research. I’m overjoyed, but also crazy nervous.

    What can I do to be a good colleague? What should I avoid doing?

    Will they give me time to go to the dentist?

    If you work at a university, what do you wish someone had told you?

    How much of a big deal is it that I didn’t 100% finish my PhD yet? I know the interview panel didn’t care, but will my colleagues?

    1. Little Bunny Foo Foo*

      As a staff person at a US university I highly suggest you treat staff members as colleagues, and treat them with respect! It may seem obvious, but a little kindness goes a long way with people who support you in your role, especially the administrative staff members. Its very easy to overlook those who work “in the background” so to speak, so try and be aware of what is handled on your behalf even if it is part of someone’s responsibility. I’m not sure if you would be considered faculty? But make sure you know about what benefits are open to you as faculty and use them! Good Luck!

      1. Newly Hatched*

        My mother taught me to speak as I liked to the head of the school, but always be respectful to admin staff, janitors and cleaners… I assume that goes double for uni!

        I *think* I would be faculty, but I wonder if this is one of those occasions where the US/UK don’t quite track. I know that professor means something different – it always delighted me as a grad student when I got that particular promotion from well meaning students used to the US system.

        1. The faculty lounge*

          Undergraduates in the US do not refer to graduate students as “professor.” I have no idea what was happening in your case.

          1. Newly Hatched*

            I wonder if it was because I was teaching a class? It was adorable in any case.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      You need to finish your PhD. Prioritize that.

      But, to be a good colleague? Do what you say you’re going to do, in a timely fashion. That means *don’t take on too much*. Academia is a very independent place, you will likely have a LOT of autonomy, and that comes with the flip side of having to CHOOSE how you spend your time. Choose wisely, which I realize is unhelpfully vague. You must balance your own growth with service to the department.

      And yes, be respectful, kind, and thankful to the staff, and to well-meaning administrators — they do keep the lights and the internet on, they do not exist to make faculty miserable.

      1. Newly Hatched*

        Thank you so much! I ought to have finished already, but sudden family illness means there will be two weeks of new job before my final submission date (I interviewed the day after my parent had a big operation for cancer, it was a stressful time!).

        I am one conclusion, half an introduction and a few thousand edits away from submitting, and just starting to realise that all my planned re-writes may not be 100% possible…. *terror*

        1. Bon Voyage*

          The best dissertation is a done dissertation. Plus you got the job already; do *whatever* level of work will let you keep it!

    3. AFac*

      What I wish someone had told me: Keep track of metrics as they happen. Because you will forget something when it comes time for evaluation/promotion, and it will be so hard to remember what you did and when you did it.

      Also, if you can, try to get a consistent teaching schedule for at least the first few years. I know academics works differently in the UK than the US, but it seems like the teaching faculty are often called upon to teach any random class that the TT faculty doesn’t want to take. Which means they teach a lot of one-off classes and never get the chance to iterate and improve any particular class. The more experience you have for what works in the classroom setting, the better you’ll be able to set up other new classes in the future.

      I agree with the ‘finish the PhD quickly’ advice, too. Whether you need it or not, right now it’s just hanging over your head, unfinished. Get it done and then you don’t have to worry about it anymore.

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

        seconding this! I used to work in the teaching & learning center at my university. We handled a lot of the professional development workshops for professors (Think things like how to have more inclusive syllabi, better teaching pedagogy, stuff like that). You would be so surprised how many professors would email me asking us to find out what programs they attended, dates for X project they worked on, etc. So my recommendation is to create some sort of document, like an excel file or word document, that lists the workshop or whatever you did, dates, hours, description. Not only will this help you but this way you don’t have to bug some admin to go through 5 years of files to find the info.

        1. AFac*

          Been there, done that, and hopefully expressed my gratefulness and apologies sufficiently.

        2. Call me wheels (uk)*

          Oh hey, I just got a summer intenship in what sounds like that sort of department? I think its going to helping with the designing projects to help staff support the studrnts they said. Do you have any tips or good resources/books I could check out to get a headstart in the month before I start? I’d appreciate any advice :)

        3. Newly Hatched*

          I am terrible for relying on my email for this – and it’s not that reliable! Thank you so much for the advice for a checkable record – it would be dead cheeky of me to assume that admin are there to remember what I did, I think!

      2. Newly Hatched*

        That keeping track advice is just so wise! I really struggle with that, so will do my best to keep a really good record. Thank you so much!

        1. AFac*

          I guess this is “What I wish someone told me, extended director’s cut edition with commentary”: A surprising amount of being faculty is documentation.

          Even if you discount any documentation you need to do as part of your research/scholarship, there’s so much that needs to be kept track of. Did I request/sign/purchase/receive/approve/send/attend the thing? If something went pear-shaped, who did I touch base to un-pear it and when?

          Then there’s all the documentation for students and classes. Who didn’t turn in an assignment, did I notify them the assignment is late, who requested an extended due date, where did I leave off in the previous lecture, how many points did I decide to deduct if they made purple smurfs instead of blue, this student wants a letter of recommendation so when were they in my class and how did they do….

          It’s so much work! But it’s even more work to try to reconstruct these things later by memory. I can remember where I put the frobs three office moves ago but not where they are in my office now, because all the years just run together.

          And while you can have a perfectly good career if you don’t document things (and everyone forgets to at some point), I’ve found that many of those who consistently decide not bother end up looking, from the outside, like the stereotypical absent-minded professor who expects everyone else to pick up their slack.

          1. Newly Hatched*

            I am terribly guilty of (on the classes I currently teach) setting up a careful spreadsheet system and then not really maintaining it… I think that will be a great target for the future – to set it up and use it! I work with fairly small groups of students (generally fewer than 30 in a group) so there is no excuse not to know what’s going on with them. I suspect one real shift I should be preparing from is from grad student, where people are delighted and amazing that I get things right, to actual staff member, where people may justifiably be annoyed when I get things wrong…

          2. Newly Hatched*

            I wrote an appreciative comment that disappeared, so rather than duplicate something that may yet appear I’m just going to say another thank you – I think that record keeping is definitely somewhere I can stand to improve.

        2. MommaCat*

          I use my old to-do lists to help me keep track of what I’ve done. It helps if your to-do lists are all in one place. Then, at review time, I dump the important parts into a word doc (which I later email to myself for resume purposes), then use that doc to figure out my metrics.

          1. Newly Hatched*

            These are all such great ideas! I am not particularly a check list person yet – but it sounds like I might need to become one.

  29. BrunchBunch*

    I just started a new job reporting to the COO of a small company, and I see a LOT of opportunity for process improvement/efficiencies. Like, the way we work now is chaotic and not sustainable. I have my first 1:1 with her in the next week (even though I’ve been here three months…).

    Should I mention this to her diplomatically? I have ideas on how to streamline things and would be happy to suggest ways to do it, but I don’t want to come across like a know-it-all. Weirdly, I’m the only one on staff that has worked in this particular industry before, so I’m positioned to know exactly how other companies do this. Do I say something? Or should I just assume nothing will change and I either get on board or bail?

    1. Turingtested*

      I’d approach it by starting with improvements to your own work. “I spent roughly 2 hours on my paper calendar last week. may I migrate to Teams which won’t take me more than 1 hour a week to maintain?” If they’re receptive branch out.

      1. Random Dice*

        Exactly. Remember the letter about the hotel laundry cleaner who pissed everyone off by immediately suggesting ideas for how things could be improved?

        Settle into the role, learn your COO, learn the company, before suggesting changes to how other people do things.

    2. justanothervoiceontheinternet*

      Do you get the sense your COO is also frustrated by those inefficiencies? I think if she is also feeling the pain from those, it could be helpful to say “I’ve worked at places that had XYZ processes that improved this issue. Would it be worth a try to implement them here?”.

      As this is a small company, it would be worthwhile to socialize those ideas with others once you get your manager’s support. Everyone likes to feel as though they have a voice; not as though they are being ordered to do certain things.

    3. t-vex*

      It’s worth bringing up, just be prepared that if COO likes your suggestions, you’ll probably be the one responsible for implementing them.

    4. ecnaseener*

      I would start small, with 1 or 2 things that you can implement on your own without disrupting others – if she’s receptive, you can build up from there.

    5. Mollie*

      I think it’s worth bringing up, but be mindful in how you do it. I would start with one or two things you’ve noticed and see how the COO reacts. Try to keep it neutral and not complaining. Perhaps something like, “I noticed xyz, and I wonder if abc might help us streamline.” It’s hard being new because you likely have good perspective from the outside, but it can be hard navigating whatever culture/politics that may already be there. If the COO is receptive, feel it out for how far to go and how fast.

    6. Tio*

      I would take it one bite at a time, and only after being there for a few week (you don’t say how new). So there may be things and reasons you can’t see yet. But Bring up one small but solid process change and see how it gets accepted, and then work up from there depending on how its received.

    7. EMP*

      You could also just ask her if the company has struggled with this in the past! If she’s already noticed and considers it a (sorry for the jargon) pain point, offering solutions will probably be more welcome than if she thinks everything is going swimmingly.

    8. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      Some of this depends on the seniority of your role. But in general, I think asking questions and making sure you understand why they do things the way they do is the first step. The more junior you are, the more important to be curious first.

      So like:
      – “When I was working on [project], I noticed it took a lot of back and forth to get to an answer on [topic]. Could you help me understand where [other stakeholder] was coming from?”
      – When I was working on [project], I followed these 15 steps – what went into creating that process?”

      A lot of it may be genuine chaos and unsustainable. Some of it might have real reasons that you’ll understand once you’ve been there a month or six. There’s a high risk as coming off as naïve when you’re only a week in and don’t have enough context to distinguish.

      I’d look at 2 or 3 things that would make a big difference in your efficiency that you could start asking for context about.

      If you’re in a senior role and are very confident that finding efficiencies is an expectation of your role, you could be more assertive about suggesting improvements.

      You could also ask big-picture – like “I understand in my first few weeks here, it’s important to learn how we do things, and I’m trying to absorb as much as possible. I’ve also noticed a few things that strike me as low hanging fruit to improve efficiency. Do you want to hear those ideas now, or do you think I need more context/time to refine those ideas before we discuss them?”

    9. Qwerty*

      I come at things from an assumption that there is a very good reason why we have the existing set up. That does not mean we should keep doing it that way, but it helps to unravel the source of the problem and coming at it from a collaborative point of view reduces the risk of making people defensive.

      Since it is your first meeting, I would bring it up as a general topic rather than start naming specifics, probably when talking about your previous experience in that industry. Then ask who you should work with if you observe processes that could be improved or brought closer to industry standard.

      When you start making changes/suggestions, start small. Pick things that won’t increase the effort for others, even temporarily. Easy wins build up your credibility for when you start suggesting changes that are a little more bumpy.

    10. Random Academic Cog*

      Some good comments already about focusing on one or two specific changes/processes that would be easy wins and minimal/no effort on anyone else’s part as a good starting point. Also be cautious about openly stating that another company does things better. That tends to raise hackles pretty quickly. If things were so much better at the other company, why did you leave? Keep it general – “this process might be smoother if we do X, Y, Z” rather than “Better Company did it this way and the projects came in on deadline and under budget.”

  30. Burning Out At Both Ends*

    what language do y’all use to tell a boss that you need to move back to your skillset right now?
    I got moved to a new team in Teapot Finance Estimation “temporarily” and I’m usually a Teacup Designer and I have tried so hard but I’m not getting any training on what I’m supposed to do. I’m actively crying at my desk because the people I’m supposed to ask for help won’t, I’m being left off important email lists and meeting invites…
    I’m at the point where I am reaching out to the other leaders of different types of Teacup Design Teams asking if they have space because my actual boss isn’t helping because “I’m smart, I can figure it out.”

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

      Clients/companies kept trying to hire me as a manager (in your case, finance) when I only want to be a individual contributor. They would sort of switch things around thinking I’ve done this long enough/am smart enough to manage. I typed up a list of the tasks I’m willing to do and have proven I’m good at. I would hand this to the boss or hiring manager telling them these are my skills and strengths and if they needed a manager that’s not me. I had to be willing to walk out or walk away. I used fairly assertive language that I. Cannot. Manage. The list of what I’m good at really helped the discussion, gave us both a tangible thing as a discussion aid, and made it easier to circle the discussion back to my point.

    2. Mollie*

      I’m so sorry this is happening. I was recently in a management position that I was asked to take and not prepared for with not sufficient enough support to be competent, and it was miserable. I waited for an open position and willingly took a demotion. At the time, I had a supervisor who was really supportive and open to hearing that I didn’t want the role anymore, so that was extremely helpful. In your scenario, do you think your boss or anyone else is willing to listen to your concerns? Hopefully (in theory!) it shouldn’t be all that difficult if it’s just moving teams. I think you’re on point with asking other teacup design teams if they have space. It could possibly be time to look at other teacup design jobs at other companies just in case? I’m sorry you’re going through this, and I hope something positive changes soon.

      1. Burning Out At Both Ends*

        our current clients are having industry issues so it’s temporary but there’s nowhere else to go. My boss is supportive as best he can be, so we are both keeping an eye out for other ways for me to jump.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Boss, my understanding was that this was a temporary shift in job responsibilities, I am unwilling and unable to permanently switch to this role B. I have been in role B for X weeks now. What does the timeline look like for getting me back to role A?

      And listen to what they say, if they have indefinite timeline then yes go apply to other teams for internal transfer back to role A

  31. Angstrom*

    I’m part of a group that has team members on three continents. Most work from home. We have a mandatory weekly Zoom call where everyone gives a brief update: either a problem or two they need help with, or a progress update on one of their customers.
    There is also an optional(and it really is optional!) weekly Zoom call that’s more social — it can include anything from non-critical work issues to photos of someone’s last trip.

  32. Z*

    My hours got cut from eight hours a day to three a day one week after being told that I was a valuable member of the team and was in strong consideration for being brought on to a salaried position after busting my ass for eight months as a temp. My boss is a good guy, he had no idea this was going to happen (orders from the CEO and his right-hand woman, my boss had nothing to do with it), but I’m still so angry and frustrated.
    I’m considering applying for new work because I need money, especially now that student debt relief is off the table. I feel so hopeless. I applied for sixty jobs (including retail and food service) before getting this one and I only got this one because of a personal connection. What do you do when you are apparently unhireable despite having ten years in the workforce and no negative marks of any kind?
    I don’t know if I need reassurance or actual advice, I’m just feeling so low.

      1. Z*

        I’ve actually applied for unemployment and was told I made too little to qualify. I didn’t even know that was a possibility, but apparently it is?
        Either way, thank you for the suggestion, I appreciate it.

        1. pally*

          “too little”? Never heard that one before!
          You are losing income through no fault of your own (you didn’t quit, get fired for cause). Hence you are entitled to unemployment.

          1. WellRed*

            You have to earn a certain amount within a certain timeframe (like 4 quarters) so since she has only worked 8 months, yeah, doesn’t qualify, assuming she was unemployed prior to this gig.

            1. Z*

              WellRed is correct. I was unemployed prior to this job because I got laid off previously. I’ve had great luck with jobs, I know.

            2. Zzzzzz*

              That is not the case in every state so pls check w your local unemployment office vs our random voices here.

              1. Z*

                Hi, I did, and the office said essentially that. I am apparently not entitled to unemployment because of my length of time at the current company.

            3. Kayem*

              Can concur. Partner was denied unemployment benefits because they were $5 too short within the allotted time frame. Utterly maddening.

    1. Mollie*

      If you’ve been in the workforce 10 years and especially working really hard at this job, you have marketable skills! Revisit your resume and perhaps some of the ways your job history is described. I have no doubt that this site has good pointers to help with this.

      Also, it sounds like you’ve already talked with your boss , but is it possible to inquire more about what happened, if there’s any likelihood of things changing, and if there’s anything you can do that will help you get closer to a salaried position? This may sound dumb, but what if you just applied for one of the salaried positions? Talk to your boss or other people in the know first, but I think it may be worth trying if you can get some feedback on what’s possible and what, perhaps, you can do better. Best of luck.

      1. Z*

        Hi Mollie.

        Those are really great suggestions, but the company is essentially not profitable. There’s no hiring, period. They’re cutting costs wherever they can and cutting pay for non-salaried positions is the current solution. My only options are to wait this out and see if there’s some relief on the other side or leave for a higher paying job (if that even exists for me).

        I’m going to try to work my network in the coming week since that seems to be the only way to get hired nowadays. We’ll see what happens.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Talk to your temp agency! They get a cut of every paycheck. If you were a good placement, they will be looking for somewhere to put you that they can make more money.

      1. Z*

        Hi, yet another wrinkle in this situation:
        The temp agency I work for also isn’t doing well! They’ve struggled to pay us on time for the last five months and several temps have left already. I think I’ve held on because of the promise of a full time salaried position, but I really just need to look into a position with a company that isn’t a sinking ship.

    3. The Shenanigans*

      Student loan relief is coming, and on better terms. Biden just announced he’s using the 1965 Higher Education Act, which gives the Education Secretary Cardona to “compromise, waive or release loans under certain circumstances.” Ad currently loans are in forebearance for another year.

  33. Lyna*

    Y’all, I had the BEST “furry coworker” experience this week. I was on a video call with three other people, and one of my colleagues had a ceiling fan lon low behind her.

    The cat. The cat who usually sleeps on my desk, and frequently shows up on camera.

    The cat woke up, spotted that fan, and spent about five min trying to catch it through the computer screen. Fortunately it was near the end of the meeting – all four of us cracked up laughing and couldn’t get our minds back to agenda development after that!

    What have your office-mates done this week that made you smile?

    1. Bluebonnet*

      Yesterday, my co-workers I finished a difficult jigsaw puzzle we have been working on of and on for the month!

      Having a community puzzle in progress in our office has been nice for small screen time breaks and interpersonal connection. It is also nice for my co-workers who love doing puzzles but have small kids and/or pets at home.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I had a meeting heavy day this week, but my boss bought everyone breakfast as a little treat. The meetings were all productive, well-timed, and a good balance of silly jokes thrown in without getting distracting. I’m grateful for colleagues that make the tedious parts of my job a little less tedious!

    3. Kayem*

      This morning, I was training my team on our new project documents. One of my cats discovered where I had (poorly) hidden the electronic mouse toy. So my lectures went something like this:

      “”We consider this a level” SQUEAKSQUEAK “zero based on the lack of” SQUEAKSQUEAK “supporting evidence from the associated” SQUEAKSQUEAKITYSQUEAK “reference material” SQUEAK

      Which was then made worse by the battery dying, so then it turned into:

      “No, that wouldn’t be considered a” SQUEAKSQUOOoo “valid statement to support their” squEARRrrKKsssQUAkkk “findings.”

      Fortunately, they thought it was hilarious and the cat wore herself out fairly quickly.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I’m hearing this as the Death of Rats from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, lol.

        If you aren’t familiar with his work, Death talks in ALL CAPS, and the Death of Rats is like a tiny grim reaper that says SQUEAK and comes for rodents when they die.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Gotta love a Death of Rats reference! (And I’m still chortling over the image of that meeting punctuated by the fading mouse-toy; I have one of those and the unexpected squeaks have enlivened many an evening!)

  34. D.*

    Not too much to add here, but I’m just feeling really discouraged by my job search lately. I’ve withdrawn my candidacy from a few opportunities this year, came really close to one I would’ve said “yes” to in a heartbeat, and was rejected by one I thought I would at least get an interview for but didn’t. I’m proud of myself for knowing what I want and don’t want in my next job, but I really wanted to be in a new situation by now, and I feel like it’s going to take a while more.

    1. Bluebonnet*

      I feel you. I am also applying for a lot of jobs and long for a new opportunity. I have been trying off and on for several years. I struggle with feeling stuck and taken for granted in my current role.

      Most of my applications are ignored (it seems like they go in the ethos). Last Spring, I was a finalist for one position but did not get it. It is hard to have so many long waits, disappointments, and preparation that leads to no tangible results.

      All I can say is that I relate to you and am rooting for you! Hopefully we both get what we are looking for sooner rather than later.

      1. Past Lurker*

        Ditto. I have valuable skills, but either nobody needs them or they make me overqualified. Not sure which :(

    2. Dell*

      I’m in a similar boat. Being really picky about my next steps can drag the process out a lot, but I hope it will be worth it in the end.

  35. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Thanks everyone for advice on my situation about possibly being put on a PIP last week.  

    I put a meeting on my boss’s calendar for 2 months from now to revisit my performance and possible raise. During my evaluation, my boss had said he would meet with the other partners to come up with a plan to help me. 

    I spoke to him yesterday and asked if he had gotten together with them, and he seemed confused as to why. When I reminded him, he said that he and I would continue to have our meetings, which would just be a little more detailed to help me get to a point where we’re both satisfied but confirmed that the increase would be addressed in our meeting. 

    For some reason I thought it would be a written, detailed plan, similar to a PIP? rather than our regular check-ins. Tbh I thought about asking if that’d be enough but the office is empty today and it doesn’t seem appropriate to email. A huge problem I have is that I often think of things to ask later on like the next day; it’s really hard for me to come up with the best response in the moment or even think of the right questions to ask. In the meantime, I did get some really good advice on being proactive and how to approach these meetings to make them more productive 

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Don’t ask about anything until your next check-in with your boss. Being proactive is good, but your one-on-ones with your boss are his time to focus on you, so save all of your questions for that time. For your meetings, write things down as they come to you. Go into these meetings with your questions, including those around how your boss would like to handle things moving forward.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Agreed. This is not how you do “proactive.” As a Director with 100 things going on, someone wanting a development plan usually will take more than a few weeks anyway. And more importantly, if you are on a PIP, the plan will be “do your basic job correctly” and would actually be awkward to bring up with my peers. They’d ask, why do we need to meet to discuss getting your employees up to speed?

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Well it sounds like you asked him that because HE said he was going to. So it makes it less peculiar than if you’d come up with it out of thin air.

    2. Tio*

      Start keeping a list of questions or topics for your 1:1s so that you can approach them with your boss and won’t forget. Work snags, directional advice, progress updates, and questions. Keeping an agenda will help make sure you don’t forget anything and also show you’re prepared. How often are your check ins? Can you ask for them to be weekly or increased if hey are not frequent?

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        This won’t work for all cultures/relationships but something that has worked for me in the past was having a shared Google doc for me and my boss to put our weekly list of questions/topics in. It worked as an standard, easy place to stash things plus it auto-created an agenda for our 1:1s. Often it was just me adding the items (and sometimes neither of us), which is fine. It was a running doc, and I took the lead populating the new week.

        1. RagingADHD*

          My office uses Outlook, and I keep a running list of my agenda items /questions right in the meeting invitation for the 1:1.

            1. Jamie Starr*

              I keep a separate/shadow outlook meeting for each of my 1:1s with a running list of things to discuss, and then I make notes of what was discussed during each meeting after it’s over. It’s not shared with the other attendee so I can make notes about concerns, things to follow up with, etc. Then I just move that shadow meeting from week to week.

      2. Potatoes gonna Potate*

        So throughout the year they were every few days where I’d give him a quick update/ask relevant questions about assignments. They were very casual 5 minutes or so and he’d either tell me if there was a mistake or if I did something well. I feel like my questions got better over the year as I got a feel for things but clearly not good enough

    3. GythaOgden*

      Focus on meeting the PIP goals first. The raise is going to be dependent on meeting it and exceeding it, so you can’t fixate on that right now.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That’s what my boss said – the meeting would be to revisit the salary increase. They said (or made it seem like) they’d come up with a plan to help me get there. I thought that would be a PIP…

  36. weird clothing habits*

    I have some quirks when it comes to work wardrobes, and I’m wondering if they’re neurodivergent things or if neurotypicals do them too.
    The first one is that I have a smallish work wardrobe (I also dress masc, pants and button ups or polos), so I will keep track of which shirts came out of which batch of laundry to avoid wearing the same shirt too often. (I assume if I were dressing more femme, with skirts or more “unique” pants, I’d have to keep track of those too.)
    The second is that I have a “lucky shirt”, though I know I used to do this with other clothing items too, so it’s less of a work-exclusive thing. Basically when I have to meet my client that I don’t like, or I have a big scary meeting, I will wear my favorite work shirt for luck.
    Does anyone else do stuff like this or am I the only one? I figure the first is more “normal” and practical, while the second is definitely more of a quirk.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I was going to say I do some stuff kinda like this, but I’m on the autism spectrum. Two isn’t a representative sample, though, so I suppose it could still be just a mood quirk and not really an ND thing. Some (I’m mostly a dress person) dresses are sort of stealth blankies–there is this one blue plaid one I wear when I need to feel a little better about the day.

      (I never wore the new dress I wore for a particularly ill-fated election day again.)

    2. Employee of the Bearimy*

      I actually think the 2nd is also very normal – most people I know have one or two outfits that they think of as their “public speaking” or “best foot forward” outfits. These can be a little dressier but are most often the outfits that are the best combination of comfortable and making you look very put-together.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’ve known plenty of people who have lucky shirts or outfits, it’s definitely not unusual! Back when I was in the office more (I currently work a hybrid schedule), I also rotated through outfits as much as possible – though since I rarely pay attention to what my colleagues wear, I don’t know why I thought they’d pay so much attention to (or even remember) what I wear.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This is all normal.

      When my shirts come upstairs from the laundry room, I always hang them on the clothes rod on the left of the others. So eventually they get sorted so that the least-worn shirts are on the right. Great way to identify the stuff that doesn’t fit anymore, or is too tattered to wear to work.

      When I wore suits every day, I had a couple of lucky ties. And a few of us got nearly all the guys in my work group to wear pink shirts on Thursday (insert Mean Girls quote) as camaraderie.

      1. Longtime Lurker*

        This is my exact method (with the quirk that casual clothes – on a separate rod – go the opposite direction)!

    5. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      I certainly have a “luck clothes” shirt, that I’ll wear for interviews or other similarly scary stuff. It is one that looks more official (or less casual than most others).
      Can’t say much about the clothes rotation as so far I haven’t run into problems with repeat clothes. Though I do mix clothes just by putting the new laundry batch under the old one in the wardrobe.

    6. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I don’t think of it as “lucky” clothing but I definitely have outfits I choose to wear on days when I know I’m facing something challenging. Always something that makes me feel like I look sharp and pulled together. Boosts my confidence and makes me feel good when I walk out the door. I also keep track of what I’ve worn when so I don’t repeat things too frequently.

    7. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I think both are “normal!” (usual? common?) I have a quirk similar to your second one but more of the opposite/reverse in that if something “bad” happens when I’m wearing something I can’t wear it anymore so I get rid of it. Not always but happens enough.

      Personally – and this may speak to my own ND issues – but I have to plan out exactly what I’ll be wearing throughout the week and that includes accessories + makeup. Thanks to my atrocious shopping habits (yay ND and other things) I have a big enough wardrobe that I could wear something different every single day for a few weeks.

    8. Anon because underwear*

      I definitely have stuff I wear on “an important day” when I want things to go well or when I need to feel extra confident!

      I also rotate my underwear through the drawer–move the clean stuff in the drawer to the front when I put fresh laundry away–and always put things I’ve just washed on one side of my closet so I know that stuff on the other side is stuff I haven’t worn recently.

      So I don’t know if it is something everyone does or if it is just you and me but either way you aren’t alone :)

      1. weird clothing habits*

        Oh I also rotate my underwear by pushing it to the front of the drawer! Just to make sure I don’t wear/launder the same items over and over and wear them out.

      2. Jessica*

        I think it’s completely reasonable to FIFO your underwear! Although sometimes I do the opposite on purpose, because I don’t want to have a whole collection of underwear (or whatever) with the same degree of wear, and have it all disintegrate simultaneously like the one-hoss shay, leaving me with nothing! I’d rather have them wear out in stages, so when I need to add some replacements it’s not an all at one go thing.
        In the same spirit, I have a pair of pants that I have four copies of (because unlike how it usually goes, I realized I loved them in time to buy more). Three are in current rotation, and one is on the back burner so it’ll stay “newer” than the others, and when the other three are worn out I’ll still have one good pair.

    9. girlie_pop*

      I and a lot of folks I know also have small work wardrobes! Even when I had an office job, I didn’t worry too much about repeating; lots of people have a “uniform” and just wear the same or similar things over and over again! I think that’s pretty normal.

      And I also have pieces that I wear when I have a big meeting or something I’m nervous about! I don’t necessarily think of them as lucky, but it’s more like, I feel really, really good when I wear this. Also pretty normal I think : )

      1. allathian*

        I’m NT, but I’m not very clothes-conscious. I still mostly WFH, and as such I’ve worn the same top for a week straight. With cameras on in most meetings. I don’t generally remember what my coworkers wear day to day, and I assume that most people ignore what I’m wearing just as much. Even if someone notices, as long as they don’t say anything I’m fine with them judging me however they may in their heads. I work for the government in Finland and there’s no way something like that would affect my employment.

        (My skin can’t tolerate daily showers, unless there’s a heatwave on, in which case I’ll pick the lesser of two evils and shower more frequently than I normally would.)

        I currently have one nicer top that I’ll wear for events that make me more anxious than usual, and that’s also the one I’d wear for an interview.

    10. Ranon*

      Totally common. Heck, in the summer I wear the same darn shirt in different prints almost every day because it’s super comfy and is exactly as dressy as I need to be.

      And I totally have a go-to client look- it’s one I feel good in that I don’t have to think about that’s a good level of dressy for what I need.

      My Neuro spice level is mild so I’d file these under being a person things mostly.

    11. EMP*

      These both seem normal to me but I’m also ND. I know a lot of people have a “lucky __”, even if they don’t put it into those words. Favorite suit, best shoes, lucky necklace…whatever it is, it’s really normal to have something you feel good in. I will only add, if you’ve had this lucky shirt for a long time, make sure it’s still in good shape! If it’s starting to look worn maybe downsize it to a handkerchief or something else you can keep with you without wearing it.

    12. Too Many Tabs Open*

      I group my shirts by type (t-shirt, buttoned shirt, turtleneck). Clean shirts are hung up on the left end of the grou, and when grabbing clothes in the morning I take whatever shirt is on the end at the right. That way I cycle through all my shirts regularly. I don’t have to decide what I’m wearing beyond “what’s the temperature and formality?”, and if I’m tempted to skip a shirt it’s a sign to drop it into the donation box on my closet floor.

  37. RMNPgirl*

    How do I correct a perception that I can’t keep things quiet or gossip?

    I’m really close with a couple coworkers and when we’re all in the office together we like to catch up. We do share information with each other on things but I can keep stuff quiet when I have to, yet there’s a perception that I will share information I shouldn’t. I found out that it’s potentially limiting my ability to move into higher leadership at my company. (I do like to know things but not so I can gossip or share them around, I just want everyone else to tell me stuff so I know everything that’s happening. I hate not knowning things).

    How can I still be able to catch up with coworkers and correct this perception that I’m a gossip or can’t keep things quiet?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Do you need to know it for your job, or do you just like to know it?

      You might have to dial back the wanting to know stuff if it’s not really necessary for the job, if it’s creating the impression you’re always grubbing for intel. I have to confess that if a coworker kept after me for information that wasn’t directly job-related I would have misgivings about telling them anything out of concern for what they wanted to do with it.

      Also, make sure you actually are not repeating it, or else it’s actually is gossip and not just the appearance of gossip.

      1. Random Dice*


        “I just want everyone else to tell me stuff so I know everything that’s happening. I hate not knowning things.”

        That sounds a lot like gossip.

    2. Little Bunny Foo Foo*

      It may be that the problem is not that people think you’re a gossip, but that they think you feel entitled to know everything that is going on in the insitution. That may not translate well to being in a leadership position. Being part of higher leadership doesnt mean always having access to all the information- sometimes you have to make decisions knowing you dont have all the info. How did you find out that being considered a gossip is potentially limiting your upward mobility?

      1. RMNPgirl*

        My boss told me it’s something I need to work on after I didn’t get a new leadership role that I applied for. It wasn’t the only reason I didn’t get it (there were people with more years of managing experience that I was up against), but she said it’s something to work on.

        1. Little Bunny Foo Foo*

          You could follow up with her and ask her in the nicest of ways how you should work on it? What steps would she like to see you take? If you’re still interested in leadership positions I would say that and tell her you’ll be working on the things she suggested, but that this one has you stumped, since you hadnt previously disclosed anything you werent supposed to. If it is just a perception then the only suggestion I can think of is to stop chatting with your coworkers in the office.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            Agreed. I would ask “what specifically has given people that perception, so that I can work on it?”

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I guess I’m wondering what’s caused the perception. Have you actually shared info you shouldn’t in the past? Is the whole group seen like this or just you? If just you, are you in a different demographic than the others?

      1. RMNPgirl*

        I haven’t shared information that I shouldn’t, but I’ve speculated on things with people in the past. When there was a major restructure a few years ago, everyone was speculating on who would apply for what roles and who did we think would actually get them.
        I think the others in the group are somewhat perceived this way, but me moreso than they are. In terms of demographics we’re all the same.

        1. Tio*

          One of the issues with being the one who’s “always in the know” is that you’re suspect number one when things start leaking, even if it’s not you. You need to dial back on the tell-me-everything behavior, so that you’re not the one “in the know”, and not the one any info could have come from. I’ve seen this before – people become known as the one who knows all the news, and that seems to automatically translate as the one who can/will tell you everything. Especially if you’re sharing a lot of things you hear even if they are ok to share.

    4. ferrina*

      Don’t ask about things you don’t need to know. Or ask in a way that makes it clear that you trust the person telling you to tell you the necessary things.
      “Anything I should know that will impact my work?”

      I’m an information hoarder, and I have to stop myself from trying to gather ALL TEH INFO. But when you are able to constrain yourself in asking, people know you’re able to constrain in telling.

      It also helps to be open with everyone about what you can share (i.e., stuff you are doing or working on) and being transparent when you can’t or you aren’t the right person to share (especially for something with sensitive messaging). “[PERSON] is the one to ask about that”
      It will take time though

    5. Thandie*

      Stop gossiping (“catching up”). Stop trying to find out everything that’s going on – it looks gossipy whether you then share it or not. Stop worrying about knowing everything and accept that you don’t need to know it. Get therapy to help with your difficulty accepting that if necessary. Be very careful not to share anything you shouldn’t, don’t engage in speculation or idle chatter about things that don’t involve you, and be scrupulous in avoiding even the appearance of gossip – do NOT get drawn into those conversations.

      It will take a fair amount of time of maintaining this to have a chance of restoring your reputation, but if you are rigorous and determined it is possible. But be aware that any backsliding will be likely to undo all that hard work quickly. If you want to overcome this, you need to be willing to change how you approach this whole situation.

      1. RMNPgirl*

        I’m not sure why you put catching up in quotes because that is literally what we’re doing – catching up on each other’s lives.
        I’m asking how to fix this perception while still being able to maintain relationships and friendships with coworkers. I would like to be able to talk with them at work and not have people think we’re gossiping.
        Also, my wanting to know things does not rise to the level of needing therapy.

    6. RagingADHD*

      1) Be aware of how much time you and your coworkers spend catching up, and where, and at what volume. If higher-ups in the company perceive you as overly chatty or gossipy, then they are hearing/seeing you talk a lot.

      2) When you catch up, don’t ask questions about sensitive matters that aren’t offered. Keep your questions general, like “what’s up with you” or “how are things going?” Or ask friendly/personal questions to follow up if someone previously told you personal news, like “how’s your mom recovering?”

      3) Do not carry news between people. You share your own stuff. Let other people share what they want to. No discussing third parties (in terms of coworkers), or telling stories that aren’t yours. If you have a problem (or a compliment) with someone, tell them directly. If someone tells you a problem with someone else, tell them to talk to that person directly and leave you out of it.

      4) Don’t speculate. Or at least, not in the office or on office devices.

      5) Work on resetting your internal agenda from “I hate not knowing things” to “I hate appearing untrustworthy or indiscreet.”

    7. Mill Miker*

      The problem with wanting to know everything, is that you can’t know if the information asking for is something that’s supposed to be shared or not. And I don’t mean information you shouldn’t share, I mean information they shouldn’t share.

      When you ask people to tell you more than they think they should, your actions are saying that you think there are exceptions to confidentiality. The question they’re going to ask themselves is:

      if someone came up to RMNPgirl and asked about this, and promised not to tell anyone else, they just need to know, would RMNPgirl tell them?

      And honestly, neither answer looks good on you. If they decide the answer is “No, RMNPgirl would not”, they’d have to conclude you’re being hypocritical. If the answer is “Yes, RMNPgirl would”, then they’d have to conclude you’d share things you shouldn’t.

      (By extension, trying to get a colleague to tell you something they shouldn’t is forcing them to put themselves into either the “hypocritical” or “gossipy” buckets)

      1. RMNPgirl*

        I think people are misunderstanding my question. I’m not asking people for information. I am talking to coworkers and the perception is that we’re gossiping or speculating about things. I’m not asking anyone to give me information or pestering them for it.
        I want to know things and that’s why I might ask someone if they heard something but if they tell me they haven’t or they can’t share it – I don’t continue to ask.

        1. Mill Miker*

          I think we’re all just trying to fill in the blanks. You’re saying you’ve done nothing to earn the reputation, and yet you’re being consistently told that you have the reputation. Either something’s coming off more gossipy than you think (which you could correct), or your office just assigns random stereotypes to people (which you probably can’t do anything about).

          Are you the only one in your group of close coworkers being perceived this way, or has the whole group managed to pick up the label of “Office gossips”? Did one of your close coworkers share something the shouldn’t, and now you’re all guilty by association?

          If it’s just you, are you asking more questions than the others? More specific questions? Just asking in a louder voice so it seems like it’s just you driving the conversation?

          You’re not being perceived the way you expect to be perceived, which unfortunately means that at least one of your assumptions about what your doing isn’t 100% correct.

        2. ferrina*

          “I want to know things and that’s why I might ask someone if they heard something…..I’ve speculated on things with people in the past”
          (second part pulled from your reply to Dark Macademia)

          I think I see where you’ve gotten a reputation as a gossip. No shade – I’m def a gossip! But you need to be able to use that power for good. Not pestering people when they say no isn’t enough- it’s only bare minimum.

          -Don’t ask things you don’t need to know. It’s important that you demonstrate that you know the difference between what you want to know and what you need to know, and the way you demonstrate that is only asking what you need to know.
          -Think “opt in” instead of “opt out”. Don’t put people in a position where they need to say “I can’t tell you that”. At that point you’ve already gone too far. You don’t camp at the edge of the boundary and wait for someone to tell you that the boundary is there- you wait to approach until you’re invited. If they want to tell you, they’ll tell you without you asking. Think about the managers that ask how sick a direct report is when they only need to know that the person is sick. Sure, they may have good intentions yada yada, but it’s still awkward af for a direct report to say “no, I’m not going to tell you how sick I am”. Before you get into a role with a lot of authority, you need to understand that a request doesn’t sound like a request to people you have power over- and that includes requests for information.
          -Don’t speculate. That’s how rumors start.
          -Don’t ask if someone’s heard something unless you want them to hear that thing. If you’re asking them to verify a rumor, that’s gossiping. If the rumor has nothing to do with you, that’s not using your powers for good.

          Once you can follow these rules, there are ways to use your gossip powers for good. A core part of my job is being able to learn information and disseminate information. But in order to do that, I need people to trust that I’m not going to put them in an awkward position- best way to do that, don’t put them in an awkward position by asking questions I don’t need to ask! I often say “what do I need to know about X?” – let them be the judge of what I do/don’t need to know*. I need people to know that what I say is true- best way to do that, don’t even speculate on things I’m not sure about! People won’t remember that caveats (“oh, I’m not sure”, “it’s just a rumor”); they’ll remember that I said the thing.
          But before you start trying to use the gossip powers for good, you must learn to control the gossip powers by knowing how to withhold them. That will also repair your reputation, and a gossip is only as good as their reputation.
          (*this will differ if you’re dealing with someone who is antagonistic or withholds information, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here)

        3. Gilded Lily*

          You say you aren’t asking people for info, then turn around and say you ask people “if they heard something”. These two things can’t both be true. You clearly like to tell yourself you don’t ask, but you do, and that’s why you have this reputation. Because you ARE asking. You just don’t want to accept that.

          Until you can acknowledge the behaviour and resolve to change it, rather than pretending you don’t do it, you will continue to have a well-earned reputation for gossip. And you’ll keep feeling like that’s not fair, because you are refusing to see how you are causing this.

    8. Joielle*

      “I can keep stuff quiet when I have to” really stuck out to me – that sounds like you sometimes DON’T keep stuff quiet. Even if information isn’t particularly sensitive or malicious, you can still get a reputation as a gossip if it seems like you’re spreading information around too widely or that it’s just for the sake of chatter and not any useful purpose. And the tone and manner of the conversations also really matter, even if the content is innocuous. I wonder if that’s where the disconnect is between how you perceive the situation and how your boss and others perceive it.

      I actually relate to this question quite a bit because I’ve done a lot of work in sensitive political environments and right now it’s essentially my job to know everything that’s going on. So I do end up with a lot of information that may be sensitive, non-work-related, and/or very personal. But people trust me because I don’t spread information around, and they can see that if they tell me things, I’ll use that information to help them (whether that’s getting an outcome, or smoothing something over, or making connections, or whatever). I communicate specific things to specific people with the appropriate level of discretion, for a specific purpose. There’s a lot of nuance to it! Unfortunately, it’s hard to get away from a bad reputation in this area because you have to build trust all the way back up.

    9. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      Oooo, yeah, this can be a real barrier and is hard to fix once you’ve earned the reputation. A few things to consider:
      – If you’re perceived as highly social with a small group of coworkers, it can cause people to question your impartiality or you can be perceived as clique-ish — not good if you’re trying to advance into leadership. (Even if that wouldn’t include overseeing anyone you’re social with.) One easy way to fix this is to stop the socializing AT work, or socialize with a broader diversity of folks at work – move those closer relationships outside visibility of leadership. It’s fine to be widely social in a general sense with all of your coworkers, less fine to have a group of BFF’s with whom you’re visibly discussing work issues that you don’t collaborate on. (It’s also fine to have closer relationships with some coworkers! But when you’re in leadership, you reallyyyyy cannot discuss work stuff with your work friends, no matter how close those relationships are.)
      – When folks gossip/share info with you that isn’t relevant to your role, assertively shut it down. Like, “Actually I really don’t think we should be talking about that. But how’s your puppy doing?” (Having good judgement about what’s in this category is a pretty essential skill if you want to move into leadership anyway.)
      – When people share their opinions on things, act bored/neutral. Like “Oh, Fred missed the deadline on [project]? Huh, wonder what was going on with him that day. But how’s your new puppy doing?”
      – When folks bring you information that’s not relevant to your role, point them in a direction to solve the issue. Like “I’m sorry Joe hasn’t gotten back to you after five emails. That sounds like a great thing to discuss with your manager, if it’s impacting your ability to meet deadlines.” Or, “of course I’m happy to role-play a feedback conversation with him if that would be helpful — but I need to shift my role away from venting about coworkers together.” This has the bonus of shifting your reputation from gossip to coach/problem solver.

      Will this mean people learn not to share stuff with you? Yes. It won’t be very satisfying to share information with you if it seems like you don’t care about the information. That’s probably a good thing if you’re trying to change your reputation.

      The reality is leadership can be pretty lonely when it comes to social interaction at work. Is that ok with you? Or are these friendships more important to you? Either answer is totally valid, but I think it’s important to be clear-eyed about what the social dynamic is costing you and pull back from the friendships if you decide it’s not worth the tradeoffs.

      (Coming from the standpoint of watching two coworkers in a similar situation fail epically once they were promoted into middle management roles, because no one more senior than them trusted them, so they were shut out of all the big strategy conversations. The reputation that they couldn’t keep their mouths shut wasn’t entirely true, but they had messed up enough times — not by revealing anything sensitive, just by being too quick to chat about things that weren’t their business — by the time they got their promotions the damage was done. No one wants to take the risk that you might accidentally let something slip about layoffs or restructuring or other big things.)

    10. Anon. Scientist*

      Being a leader means that you’re above other people and highly visible. It’s actually a lonely position. In order to be effective as a leader, you need to be trusted, not just “not untrustworthy”.

      I’m nosy and I like to vent, but I am also very discreet. Now that I’m a director, I have basically 4 people I can complain to about higher level stuff and if I want to complain about my own staff I have to think long and hard about consequences to them. There is no room for idle gossip.

      I have a coworker who is supposed to be my successor but he will not be accepted for my role because he has no discretion and he fancies himself one of the little people.

    11. *kalypso*

      Another thing is to consciously limit the time you spend talking about non-work stuff and stuff that’s not your job at work. People see you talking a lot, overhear a few bits that aren’t about your job (or what they think of as your job, which may be a different thing to what you actually do) and they think you’re gossiping, chatty, unfocused, regardless of whether you actually are – and the other comments have covered how you can tone down the content of what you talk about fairly well. But for people who aren’t in the conversation at all, they’re getting the perception from you visually as well as from what people say about you, and you can control the former.

      My GM told me off for gossiping with my friends and everyone was confused because I was the religious mind your own business person to everyone else. In reality? My boss was terrible with her accounts and I had to spend an hour every morning with the accounting team fixing them. The accounting team were on the same floor as the GM, the GM rolled in after 50 minutes of ‘I think that says RES? Yeah, we’ll write that line off. I think we have to get it down to $3.5k? I have to get permission for that and come back later’ and heard the two minutes of ‘yeah I’m just getting my breakfast now! Let’s meet up again at lunch?’, I was the only person who had to spend that much time sorting out billing, so he thought I was gossiping. 100% a perception issue – and a few weeks later he was calling me into his office daily to fix it with him instead so he could figure out WTF was going on, and gave accounts a standing order to not itemise her bills unless requested so nobody had to spend the time fixing them for no reason and we just kept the messed up ones on file in case we were audited, so in that case a resolution. But in your case that aspect may need to be a longer term rehabilitation. If you need to know – discuss it off the clock, outside the office.

  38. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Performance reviews drive me nuts. I wish my boss had told me in our individual that it was coming and what the sections were going to be. I’m like ‘ meets expectations ‘ in self care? I do plenty of self care!

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      You don’t do drafts before it becomes official and goes to HR? I mean, there is stuff I don’t have time to tell people (or it’s low priority), it comes up in a draft, then we delete it or word it better for the final draft that goes to HR

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        they just were like sign your review! and I have special circumstances that make me want to know more about what’s coming ( it’s called anxiety)

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          that’s a shame! That’s the exact time of year you have “rainy day” conversations. Yeah, I know you’re not supposed to table stuff, but I deal with so much training and project and change management on regular days that I usually save the extra small stuff for periods like this. And then we handle them behind closed doors first. NO surprises.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, the idea of a boss evaluating one’s self-care seems a little odd to me. I guess it may depend on the role but it just seems like something you should know better than your boss. And self-care looks so different for different people that it seems like it would be difficult to evaluate.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That’s why I need to know what things are beforehand. Then I’d remember to say I do yoga.

    3. ecnaseener*

      That is bonkers, self-care on a performance evaluation?! What are the other categories, personal finances and relationship with in-laws?

      1. ferrina*

        Right?! This is not a job requirement. It’s invasive, presumptive, and quite frankly, bizarre. My boss shouldn’t be required to know about my self-care routines that I do on my own time. You could also argue an ADA or discrimination case- if someone has a depressive episode and don’t shower and barely function but still do great work for a week, are they going to downgrade them? What if someone has a health condition that the boss assumes is poor self-care? What if the boss is using a symptom of a health condition to evaluate self care (like brain fog, tics or stimming, etc)? Will the boss hold male employees and female employees to different expectations of self-care? Yeah, this isn’t going anywhere good.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Could be gone into moderation. If there are any links in it or if it includes certain words, it automatically goes to moderation and sometimes things just go to moderation for no discernable reason. Alison will release it as soon as she sees it, most likely.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      There are three main reasons a post doesn’t appear right away:

      (1) if the post includes a link, it will go to moderation

      (2) if the post includes words/phrases that are on the moderation list, the post will go to moderation

      (3) sometimes the moderation filter makes decisions all on it’s own and gobble up random posts

      Wait about an hour or so to see if your post appears (it should after it’s released from moderation).

  39. River*

    Wanted to share an amusing (to me) story:
    The update letter and subsequent debate a couple weeks ago coincided with my starting to work with a particular co-worker who I have never worked with before. It’s a team of 3–me, a woman, and two men, including the lead. Outlook is standard in our sector, and even if it’s not, we’re engineers. We should be able to figure it out.
    Well, the lead refuses. I don’t know if refuses is the right word, though. It’s more like it never even crosses his mind that there is a tool that will allow him to see whether other people are free and schedule things according to our availability. The way he schedules meetings is he sends an email asking if we are available at a certain time that same day. So I send an email back asking him to send a meeting invite. Which he will, but he doesn’t check when he creates the invite to see whether the time is available! He sent a meeting invite for a time which the other two, myself and the other person, had blocked off as unavailable. He was away from his desk when he did this, and when he got back, I brought it up. He actually said that he doesn’t look at the availability when he sends invites. He said it with this little chuckle, too, “heh heh, oh I never look at that.” I mentally facepalmed and said I’d like him to look at our calendars and make sure we are available when scheduling.
    He doesn’t. He continues to send emails asking us if we are free at a certain time that same day. I continue to reply to his emails asking him to send a calendar invite.
    He’s very touchy-feely, meetings-are-for-team-connection, and I am very meetings-have-a-definite-purpose-and-that-purpose-is-not-socializing. It’s very hard for me to work with him, and I’m at eating crackers for some other stuff that came up a while ago. I’m trying to disengage with my feelings toward him and just be mildly amused, like he’s that adorable stray cat who is so cute when he washes his face in the yard but you wish he would stop sh!tting in the garden bed.

    1. Employee of the Bearimy*

      I hate it when people can’t be bothered to use the scheduling assistant in Outlook, but also I would stop asking him to send a meeting invite and instead start telling him “I’m unavailable then but my calendar is up to date if you want to cross-check the team’s availability.” That way you’re still not doing the work of finding a mutually-agreeable time and also reminding him in the moment of how things are supposed to work.

      1. River*

        I don’t want to do the work of looking at my calendar to tell him whether I am available or unavailable. I already did up my email reply game from “Please send a calendar invite” to “Please send a calendar invite for a time when we are all available.” That’s all I am going to do.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I agree with Employee of the Bearimy. Two small changes (on your end) that may help change your mindset:

      (1) Instead of just “send me a meeting invite,” respond to his scheduling emails with “My Outlook calendar is up-to-date. Send a meeting invite for a time when I’m free.”

      (2) When he inevitably sends an invite for a time when you’re busy, decline in whichever way makes you feel best (I’m thinking: decline with no additional response, decline and type “I’m busy at this time”, or decline and type “I’m busy at this time. My Outlook calendar is up-to-date, please reschedule when I’m free.”

      Bonus: Set up both of these responses as a signature in Outlook, so you don’t have to type it out each time. You can just shake your head, think “silly Fergus” and then hit the email signature button.

    3. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      I used to work with a guy who refused to use the new plastic file clips and insisted on continuing to use the finger-slashing metal clips that meant you had to take all of the file contents off the clip to insert new pages; his files were never organised and always had loose papers in them. He was a total pain about it. One day it crossed my mind that maybe he didn’t know how to use them. So I put some of my file notes away, in front of him, while talking about something else entirely. And like magic after that he used the new clips.
      So, hard though it is to believe, maybe your colleague doesn’t know how to use Outlook, and certainly isn’t going to ask. It might be worth saying ‘Oh, I wonder if yours is set up differently or something, let’s have a look’ and then accessing his outlook with him watching your every move. Maybe he needs computer glasses. Who knows. But my money is on the ‘doesn’t know how to use it’ reason. My sympathies to you!

  40. Twon*

    Any subject librarians with tenure here? What is your workload like? I’m someone who’s an academic librarian for a job, not some higher calling as a vacation. I like to put in my 40 hours a week, log off, and not think about work because I have other things of interest in my life. Is it foolish for me to consider a job opening requiring a 6-year tenure clock, 12-month contract? Or is it pretty sweet and cushy once you jump through the hoops?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I’m a 12-month tenure-track librarian, although I haven’t earned it yet. I think it hugely depends on the state, type of institution, and individual university expectations. I’m currently at a masters-granting institution, so my teaching and librarianship responsibilities are considered far more important than my scholarship. My boss and senior leadership is also supportive in terms of flexibility to complete scholarship. For example, we’re allowed to WFH if we’re writing and we can flex our hours a bit if we end up with a few long days. I’m also relatively well-paid for a librarian and earn regular raises. So to me, it’s worth it. I’m able to do a job I enjoy while still leading a life I love outside of work.

    2. N7 Librarian*

      It depends a lot on the institution and what their culture and tenure requirements are, tbh. I’m on the tenure-track as a librarian at an R1 and I’m absolutely a put in my 40 hours and otherwise log off sort of person. For me, the level of flexibility I have in managing my time and the boundaries I’ve drawn around what I can/cannot take on or how long it will take to get things done during those hours works well. There’s also a decent amount of flexibility in how the tenure requirements can be met where I am. For example, I don’t have to solo-publish a ton of research articles AND present posters AND present at conferences – I can choose the mix of scholarship outputs that works for me and they’re flexible about format.

      So I’d say go for it, but as you go through the interview process ask questions about the tenure process and see what you can glean about the culture as you go. If ultimately it doesn’t match what you’re looking for, don’t worry about passing it by and looking for something else. Each place is a little different.

    3. BurntOrange*

      Agree with: depends on the type of institution and ask during the interview process.

      I am tenured in a small university library and unionized. I work my 35 hours per week and am completely unavailable during other hours, unless I promised a specific student that I would be available (very rare). My contract year is 9 months (yay) but I have no flexibility in either my work day hours or days off, other than sick time. During breaks I keep up with email, but I only really forward info/requests to those on contract or file away for the next semester.

      When I graduated with my MLIS a few decades ago, I was very nervous about applying for TT jobs, specifically the research/writing requirement. I found that my smaller, teaching-focused university had a fairly low bar with publication and I was successful.

      I tackled the research/writing portion of tenure and promotion mostly during my breaks so I can focus. Additionally, a second masters was required for promotion, but my director forbid us from doing coursework/homework during our contracted 35 hours/week. I probably could have taken this to my union, but it was easier for me to do that work when at home (again, focus). If you are in a 12 month position, you would want to make sure that you clearly understood the requirements for tenure and that you would be allowed to have that time to do that work. Or at least clarify that from the other librarians what the expectation/practice is. Some questions to ask of multiple folks when interviewing: “What is the publication (and service if they have it) requirement for tenure look like?” “Do you have time for research and writing during the work day, or do people do that outside of work?” “Are additional courses/degrees required for tenure or promotion?” “What would I need to do for you to ‘highly recommend’ me for tenure?” “How does the tenure process work here?”

      As for “pretty sweet and cushy”: you will not be immune to the nonsensical nature of academia. It can be very frustrating and it is often hard to leave the frustration at work. But the librarian job does allow me to mostly be unavailable when I’m not at work. I do occasionally receive some push back by peers about this, but when I ask them what isn’t getting done as a result, they have no answer. Now that I’ve a few decades under my belt, I tend to respond with something a little snarkier, that I’m modeling good work-life balance for my younger colleagues.

      Apply for the job. 6 year clock seems pretty normal, not foolish at all. But you might find you need/want to keep up the publication after that time so you can get promoted – but applying for promotion is usually optional, whereas tenure is not. See what the place is like and what support you would get. Good luck!

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      Ask for a copy of the tenure requirements and if you’ll get research time. That’ll help you decide. The vaguer the requirements, the more you should maybe be concerned. As for the “pretty sweet and cushy”, don’t forget that if you don’t make tenure, you will be let go and that some places require promotion and some do not. If promotion is required, then you will still be on the publishing grind for a while. I can’t speak for other tenure track folks, but I’ve seen a lot of people crash and burn pretty hard on the tenure-track. Also, some places don’t offer raises for faculty except through the promotion process, so that can be a big ask. Honestly, if you don’t love research, writing, and publishing, I’d steer clear of most tenure jobs.

    5. Bunny Watson*

      As with others, it depends on the institution. I know of some where the expectations are pretty brutal, and others where it’s not. In my own experience, I will say that generally over time I have worked my 40 hours (or less) the vast majority of the time with occasional periods that have been or more, and one specific project that was far more. As to the six-year tenure timeline, that usually means you submit your materials in year five as it takes a year to go through the process. Many folks get through it knowing that it is time limited to five years even if it’s more hours than you would have hoped at some points. Also many folks do more than is required so make sure you understand the expectations and do your best to meet them without going crazy over them.

    6. TT Subject Librarian*

      IMO, librarianship is more supportive and lower pressure than many other areas of academia. Obviously people have different experiences, but I don’t think you’re foolish.

      It’s a job that takes what you give. I hold my boundaries pretty hard and still get plenty of positive feedback, but a person could easily get sucked in. I work my 37.5 hours at an R1, and still have hobbies, family, outside responsibilities, friends, etc. I think the majority of my coworkers do the same. Ask about culture and expectations in the interviews.

  41. New Senior Mgr*

    I’m heading to Israel at the beginning of 2023 for a 30-day work assignment. Very excited! Any recommendations or tips while there? I’ll be stationed in Tel Aviv but plan to visit a lot of the old cities and towns too.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      If I were going, I’d make sure that you get to Masada. I’d also see about old churches, they have some fantastic mosaics.

    2. Roland*

      Practical tip: download the Moovit app to pay for public transit. For just one month it’s the easiest way to pay (assuming you will have mobile data). You scan the qr code on the bus when you get on and it’ll charge you once per month after applying whatever discounts you end up eligible for (eg if you’ve taken enough trips on some day that a daily pass would have been cheaper, it’ll charge you for a day pass and not by trip, etc). Transfers are free but you do need to scan again on the bus you switched to.

      For a fun self-guided history tour, Tel Aviv has the Independence Trail (like Boston’s Freedom Trail).

      If you have a day with beach weather (it’s possible!), it can be worth it to just pay inflated beach café prices for a cup of coffee, since it gets you a chair/table/umbrella for free, which would otherwise cost money to rent.

      1. Roland*

        Oh, and if there’s still weekly protests by then, expect road closures and delays around protest areas every Saturday evening. Ask your Israeli contacts when you get there what the situation is.

    3. Medical Librarian*

      I second Masada. I enjoyed walking around in the Old City in Jerusalem. The Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Dead Sea were highlights for me. Lots of nice beaches if you like looking for seashells. Have a wonderful time!

  42. shaky business*

    What are the unwritten rules of talking about negative business changes while remote? My company is generally a good place to work and doesn’t have dysfunction that would make this company-specific, but I get a sense of danger when I bring up things like the clients we’ve lost this year or legislative changes that negatively impacted our business. Nobody has reacted badly to my questions, but I’m wondering doing something that’s “not done”. Thoughts? The information I’ve gotten has been really helpful, but I don’t want to put myself on a potential layoff list by talking about taboo topics!

    1. shaky business*

      Oh, and the reason being remote is relevant is because we can’t have off-the-record conversations in person and I haven’t been able to build the kind of relationships where we talk on the phone instead of doing teams calls (we don’t have business phones).

    2. kiki*

      I think the biggest thing to look out for is to not throw anyone under the bus unexpectedly in a large group meeting without addressing the concern with them in person first. So it’s one thing to bring up a general, “we’ve lost more clients than usual this year– how should we address this?” vs. “Why did we lose client X? Jaimie, what is your team doing wrong?”

  43. Whomst*

    Some good news to share!

    I’m the only woman on a software development team, a very junior developer, the only one with a chronic illness, the only one who works from home with any regularity, and I recently announced that I’m pregnant with my first child. So as you can imagine, I’ve been feeling some imposter syndrome, feeling out of place, etc. But I just got a glowing performance review and a ten percent raise!

    Before I fell pregnant I was talking with another coworker of a similar level on a different team about how we should apply for a promotion, even though we’re a couple years less than they list as required for promotion because we do everything else under the responsibilities list. Once I found out I was pregnant, I figured that dream was dead for this year, because of the time off and the inevitable performance hit from dealing with the symptoms, etc. But now I’m feeling hopeful again and wondering if I should apply for the promotion anyway. (It’s government-funded and they’re pretty regimented about doing raises and promotions on a schedule, so they wouldn’t consider for promotion until next year, but you gotta do the paperwork and collect the documentation proving you deserve it, so it’s a fair amount of work in advance, hence why I’m thinking about it now.)

    1. CheeryO*

      I’m in a similar position and am not planning to wait to put myself in the running for promotions! It’s totally fine if you decide that you don’t want to devote the energy to it right now, but you shouldn’t hold yourself back just because you’ll be out for a while. Your employer will just need to work around it as they would for any other long absence.

    2. Mollie*

      Congrats on all fronts! I’m no help on the promotion question, but in theory, could applying hurt anything? If not and you want it, why not? You never know, and they’ll certainly know you’re interested.

      I’m not doing a good job right now of thinking of ways to say this without sounding patronizing, but I’m so excited every time someone does well that maybe doesn’t look perfect on paper because it shows that you don’t have to be all those “perfect” things to be both good AND appreciated at your job. We’re all messy humans for crying out loud. I hope my sentiment gets across.

  44. Dumpster Fire*

    I’m trying to decide if this is too passive, too aggressive, or way too passive-aggressive. Thoughts?
    My boss rarely comes in to our location. He usually stops to use the facilities when he’s driving past. This is almost always after business hours or at the very end of the work day.
    He does not put the seat back down / close the lid. Ever.
    I’m of the “put it back the way you found it” camp, and the rest of the staff — all women — put the lid down. We see it as we’re all being equally inconvenienced by having to put the lid/seat up and down.
    We have asked him to do the same, but he doesn’t. We put up a sign on the wall behind the toilet, at his eye level. (The women don’t face that wall, and he’s 8-10 inches taller than we are, so the sign is obviously for him or any man who uses our restroom.) And the seat is still left up.
    There is a lock and key on our conference room door, but the restroom door only locks from the inside. How out of line would it be to switch the knob sets so the restroom door has a key lock that we could use to lock the door when we leave for the day?
    Obviously this is only the pocket square of the banana suit that is this job, but staff are basically stuck here for the next few months/years due to retirement vesting.
    So, is this ok, or are we simply dumping gas on the dumpster fire?

    1. Employee of the Bearimy*

      Considering he’s the boss, this seems like the type of thing to just suck up. It happens once a day at most, and if there’s no other “mess” (in which case my answer would change, because EWWWWWW), then try to put it out of your mind.

      It sounds like you have a lot of sources of frustration in this office, and maybe this is the one that’s easiest to focus on?

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This is absolutely something to let go. And locking the door to the restroom? He works there too. Maybe not all day and not at your location, but he’s an employee (or the owner) and he’s entitled to access the restroom. If he’s stopping to use it on his way home than I would assume he has a legitimate need to use facilities before continuing his drive.

      Putting the lid down is a good habit, certainly. But while it’s annoying, is it really worth all of this energy to prevent him from leaving it up?

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      This is not worth being upset about. I think it’s super gross when people don’t close the lid before flushing but some people just don’t, and it’s a shared bathroom. It sounds like you’re leaving it open some of the time too, are you sure your coworkers aren’t also bothered by that?

      1. Dumpster Fire*

        The staff all put the lid down. Just not him. We had the cable guy in the other day and he asked to use the restroom and put the lid down.
        And yes, we know it’s stupid.

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      The bigger fish to fry here is that he stops by late so he avoids the staff!

      Always felt the toilet seat thing was a meme of sorts and no one actually cared. Like, the cleaning lady leaves it up, IMO as a sign she cleaned or something. It’s not just guys!

      Not refilling toilet paper is the real sin!

    5. Tio*

      This feels like a real BEC thing going wild. You can’t lock an employee out of the employee restrooms. This is not a big deal and you need to let it go.

    6. Workerbee*

      I sympathize!
      It also sounds like, because you are all stuck there and you indicated the rest of the job/org is nuts, you are focusing on this (annoying) minutia as something you could possibly control. I do wish you could! Visions of the toilet seat lid on a timer <> may have crossed my mind.

    7. Mollie*

      It’s probably not what you want to hear, but let the toilet seat issue go. Sounds like there are plenty of others to care more about. Hang in there.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Well, if you are looking to get fired, taking it upon yourself to tamper with the door locks at your place of work and deliberately lock your boss out of any room (much less an employee bathroom he’s entitled to use) is a fantastic way to quickly become unemployed.

      And you usually can’t get unemployment if you’re fired for cause. Which this would be.

    9. Morning reader*

      Install a lid that automatically closes, a few minutes after last use?

      At home, my flusher handle is hard to see unless you lower the lid, so that you almost have to lower it before you flush. Maybe a design like that would help? Or maybe he wouldn’t flush either.

      Surely we have the technology to solve this problem. (I will note, most toilets at places I’ve worked do not have lids.)

    10. Qwerty*

      I think I’m misreading this? It sounds like you want to lock your boss out of the bathroom, therefore preventing him from using the toilet when he stops by the office?

      A subset of OSHA’s rules on what employers must do:
      – Avoid imposing unreasonable restrictions on restroom use.
      – Ensure restrictions, such as locking doors or requiring workers to sign out a key, do not cause extended delays

      Between the OSHA violation, the gender-based issue (since the only male employee is being locked out), and unsanctioned changes to building, this would be grounds for termination.

      He is rarely there. Let it go.

  45. Employee of the Bearimy*

    I’m looking to institute a years-of-service reward for our company and am looking for a 3rd-party vendor that people like for this sort of thing. Any suggestions?

    I think this has been discussed in other open threads, but I have no idea where to find it, so please feel free to point me there if needed. Thanks!

    1. Goddess47*

      Anything I’ve seen on AAM says people like money. I understand the impulse to give something else but, well, cash is king.

      Go with a reasonably small company branded trinket and something like Amazon gift cards.

      That will likely get you the best response…

      1. Employee of the Bearimy*

        This is a good idea, although using a 3rd-party vendor is easier to track from a finance/auditing standpoint. We’re also not in a position to offer substantial bonuses as a nonprofit, so I had the idea that people would rather get a physical gift than the (relatively insignificant) cash equivalent. But maybe I’m wrong about that.

        1. GythaOgden*

          It’s going to depend on your company culture. The culture here is cash only or PTO, but honestly I personally wouldn’t mind a gift or gift-card at all.

          In the UK public sector, swag is actually well-liked, and the wholesale cost per item would make for a derisory at best cash gift. We are getting a hefty bonus this summer, but things like thermal mugs and water bottles that we’ve received a few times over the past few years are fairly expensive to buy but very useful for the recipient. And my uniform cardigan is wool-mix and quite warm, so I’m even considering offering to buy it from them when I move to a job that doesn’t have one, so I’m not even averse to cardigans or fleeces or bomber jackets or things like that.

  46. Emmers*

    An update on our union grievance:
    My 5 person team filled a union grievance against our manager in early April and didn’t hear anything from anyone until this week. The union, HR and our grand boss met with each of us individually Monday to verify and discuss the specifics of the joint complaint. We each wrote in separately but also sent in a joint compliant and all signed it together because the union advised us to do both. Yesterday we were told that today would be our managers last day with the company because their position was changing from remote to on site and our manager wasn’t willing to make a 3 states over move. No clue about the suspect timing or what really went down between our grand boss and our manager but our grand boss also spoke with the team and mentioned that they had recently been subjected to similar behavior that was mentioned in our joint complaint.

    I was offered their job this morning and I’m in such a state of whiplash that I’m glad we are closed til the 5th. Going to take the weekend to talk to my partner and make a choice but I know there is going to be a healing process for our team and I’m not sure I am ready to guide everyone through that. Has anyone taken over for a toxic boss and lead former coworkers?

    1. Elsewise*

      I took over a team that had their trust really severely damaged by a previous manager. (I worked on an adjacent team at the time, so they were coworkers but we weren’t managed by the same person, and I had been in a slightly higher position than them before.)

      Things I did that helped:
      -Met with each team member individually to ask what they needed at work (with a keep, start, stop framework)
      -Implemented changes that limited powers the previous manager had abused (he had used call monitoring to listen in on conversations they had while they weren’t on calls, I had our tech team turn off the ability to do that and showed everyone that it was off.)
      -Specifically called out things that had been done in the past and committed publicly to changing them. (Several team members asked me in private, very nervously, if I could maybe not yell at them as much as their last boss had, so I started a team meeting by acknowledging that and promising that, unless they were running into traffic or standing next to a speaker, I would never raise my voice at them.) Only do this with promises about your behavior and ones that you know you can keep, of course! I didn’t promise raises or policy change, only things I had control over.

      Ongoing problems I had:
      -Several interpersonal problems had been left unchecked for years and started to boil over due to the transition. It was hard to get certain members of the team to agree to treat each other professionally when they’d had unprofessional behavior modeled to them for so long. I wound up having to fire one person and coach another out due to performance and unprofessionalism.
      -In a lot of ways, the team was on a trauma feedback loop. For the first six months of my tenure, there was a lot of “well, we used to do X, but that was [Old Manager]’s way of doing things,” and I had to sift through whether X was actually bad or if people were just resisting it because it reminded them of old manager. Some Xs could go because they weren’t as important as people feeling comfortable, but some did have to stay.
      -There was a lot of tension between the team and one former member who’d been promoted off the team, missed most of the worst behavior by Old Manager, and was still friendly with him.
      -There was a lot of mistrust between the team and senior leadership. They trusted me, but not my bosses. My direct supervisor had me work around it by pretending that I was making a lot more decisions (including unpopular ones) than I actually was, which of course backfired.

      There’s a lot of things I wish I’d done differently (I was only 24 and the workplace as a whole was very dysfunctional in a lot of ways I didn’t realize until I had experienced something else), but overall I’m glad I took the job. It gave me a chance to work closely with people who’d been treated really poorly and help them set better expectations for their next workplaces.

      1. ShinyPenny*

        Thanks for sharing the details. You had an impressively comprehensive approach– especially being only 24.

    2. Mollie*

      It’s an honor to be asked and considered like that, so kudos to you. First and foremost, do you want to be a manager? Don’t take it out of obligation, especially since it’s starting off a little messier than that role might otherwise. I don’t have any other advice, and it looks like Elsewise has some good experience to think about. Best of luck to you as your considering this role and going forward.

  47. cinnamon*

    Is there a way to tell whether a comment has gone to moderation or simply failed to post? I’ll occasionally have comments just not show up and if they’re just being moderated I don’t want to keep reposting and reposting and clogging up the queue, but on the other hand if it’s just an internet blip I’d like to figure out a way to let it through.

    1. ferrina*

      Give it 10 minutes. Alison is usually really fast on getting through the moderation queue

    2. ecnaseener*

      Usually when you hit “post” you see your post with a little moderation message above it. If you refresh the page it might go away, but idk why it wouldn’t be showing up at all unless you have some weird cookie-dumping settings happening.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I never get a message like that! If I go into moderation, everything disappears and I get bounced to the top of the page.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Huh, apparently it’s not something that weird! But I’m on Firefox, which you would think blocks *more* cookies than anything else, so idk why it should work for me and not for multiple other people.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I’ve never seen that message I use Firefox. However, I don’t provide my email, just a username, and so I’m not linked to a Gravatar account (which I assume you are because you have a userpic). Maybe that’s the difference?

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        You only get the message if you fill out the email field. (That and having a Gravatar appear are the only benefits of filling out the email field.)

  48. cardigarden*

    I don’t even know, guys.

    I feel like the universe took a look at all the recent petty coworkers threads and decided I needed a little bit of that in my life because someone has been FLUSHING HANDFULS OF BAMBOO COFFEE STIRRERS IN THE ONLY TOILET IN THE WORK AREA THAT I OVERSEE.


    1. D'Euly*

      I regret that I am now wondering this, but what happens when you flush handfuls of bamboo coffee stirrers?

    2. Dell*

      oh noooo, reminds me of the recurring bit in It’s Always Sunny where Frank flushes his shoes down the toilet every time he has anxiety.

  49. Open Office*

    Give me all your tips/tricks/etiquette for working in an open office!

    I just started a new hybrid role after working fully remote for 1.5 years. I’ve worked in an office for most of my career, but always had my own office with a closeable door.

    My new role is a fully open office floor plan, but we have our own assigned seats. Folks are taking Zoom and phone calls all over the place, so it’s not exactly a quiet space. There are conference rooms available if you need to close a door.

    I already know I’ll need some good noise blocking headphones — anything else ya’ll have learned from working in open offices?

    1. OfficeHedgehog*

      I worked in an open office pre-covid, and one issue I had was getting sick frequently compared to past jobs, and illness spread easily across the office. Didn’t matter how often I washed my hands. Anyway my etiquette suggestion based on that experience is it is more important to stay home or practice good hygiene (eg masks) while sick in an open office.

    2. ferrina*

      Walk your chair over to someone when you need to chat. If someone has headphones in, either IM them when you’re heading over (if that’s the norm in your company), or stand to the side- that way they can see you but they have some privacy for their screen. If you’re on a webinar or meeting where you are listening, consider putting up a sign so folks know you aren’t just listening to music.

      Be cognizant of your habits and how distracting they might be. If you have highly distracting habits (like me), try to minimize them or find less distracting alternatives. When I was having a very fidgety day (I’m ADHD), I would sometimes grab a conference room for an hour or two.

      Don’t look at someone else when you’re talking on the phone. Look at your screen, or out the window. It can also help to wear headphones instead of ear buds- stronger visual cue for the people near you (so they know you aren’t talking to them).
      Good luck!

    3. Anonish*

      I just got over ear noise blocking headphones. They are wonderful for focus and virtual meeting.
      Sometimes I put on “music to read by” on my headphones. I found it on YouTube.
      My neighbor has a screen blocker so you can only see the screen looking straight on.

    4. Qwerty*

      Headsets that only cover one ear and have a directional microphone are great for being aware of your volume and surroundings during phone calls. Folks with too good of headsets can often end up being super loud during calls because they can’t hear themselves. I get the ones where the mic has 180 degree rotation so I can switch which side of my head I wear it on.

      Whispering is worse than speaking in a low voice when having in-person conversations. Feels counterintuitive.

      If the conversation turns fun and social, be aware if others are on calls and maybe move the chatting to the kitchen or a conference room.

      Eventually you’ll learn to tune out everyone else into background noise. I find it is easy to blame distraction on the background noise, but often I was probably already annoyed or distracted to begin with and just gave the background noise a foothold.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Most offices in the UK are open and it’s actually harder when fewer people are in than many. Many people in turns the hubbub into white noise. Fewer people (like post-covid; when people were allowed back, I almost thought I was going selectively deaf until I realised I’d been sat in an empty office so long that any chatter was distracting) means you don’t get that blending effect.

        On reception we have headsets now and I wear mine all the time I’m sat down so I don’t miss a call. It’s still really hard to focus when someone is right in your face but reception is where people come to ask after things in person so I can’t ask them to be too quiet.

        It is, though, something you will get used to. I’m biased — there just aren’t many offices left over here which aren’t open plan; for me I think having a private office would feel lonely and claustrophobic — but it’s not the end of the world.

  50. Anon (and on and on)*

    I’m trying to add a bullet to my resume where I describe the fact that I took on a project after two leaders more senior to me weren’t able to do it. I basically asked if I could give it a try, they said yes, and I was able to accomplish it. How can I describe that I took this initiative without pointing out that others had failed before me or making it seem like I was stepping on toes?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “Volunteered to take on a troubled project” describes the facts of the situation without apportioning blame or casting aspersions at the other people.

      1. pally*

        Plus- as an interviewer, I’d be asking about the details regarding “troubled”. Gives you another chance to shine!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Maybe something along the lines of “took over leadership of project [two years] after it started and accomplished [goals XYZ] in [six months].” Insert whatever time frames and goals fit with your project.

      1. ferrina*

        I’d do this on my resume, then on my cover letter turn this into a story about how my senior leadership was at their wits end, but I took XYZ approach because [reason why this was intentional and not accidental], and that was the difference between success and failure. This will read much better as an anecdote (which are for cover letters and interviews)

        Congrats on the project success! Sounds like you did amazingly!

    3. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      Stepped in on troubled/stalled/blocked project 2 years after inception and brought it to a successful conclusion in 6 months.

  51. SBK*

    I have an employee who’s struggling with mental health issues. Myself and the company have embraced accommodations for this employee, Jane. (Not her real name.)

    However Jane is not producing work at anywhere near acceptable levels. (Jane denies needing more training or a different mode of communication.) What work she does is very good I just need 10x more of it.

    When I discuss this with her, she states that I am causing her distress. In the 20 years I’ve worked I’ve always gotten praise for being kind, calm and good with people. I state issues plainly and with respect. She picks on particular words I use (for example, she didn’t like that I said “behind on work”). She consistently asks me how to do better and my response is always “Fill out the 3 documents per project within one week.” (We’ve also discussed organizational methods etc.)

    I suspect she’s having some fairly severe issues and might literally not perceive what I say the way most people would. She keeps asking how to keep her job and I keep stating the above.

    I don’t want to come off as an asshole but I can’t keep her employed at this level of output. There’s no secret thing I’m keeping from her.

    On a personal level I feel terrible. She obviously needs income and health insurance. But how else can I explain that to keep a job you’ve got to do the job?

    I’m just kind of venting into the void but advice is welcome.

      1. SBK*

        Both have been done. We’re at the end of things. It’s the right thing to do but my perception is that she’s too unwell to work and I wish she’d try STD or something. I can’t legally recommend medical treatment and on a human level I wish I could.

    1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      Can you try to figure out what it is that’s stopping Jane from filling out the three weekly documents? There might be underlying issues that you could change or that would be a very good explanation, such as her needing to input data that a colleague sends her, but each document takes an hour to fill and she gets the data only half an hour before the deadline, or things like that. If that’s the case, you’d need to solve those issues instead of firing her, or you might get an idea for accommodations that would help.
      Also, I’m not sure if you know that already, but from experience I’d do much better if my manager came and said “Jen, I need you to send me three documents per week. Currently you send me only two. Why?” and not something like “Jen, I know you want to do well at your job and that you are trying very hard but currently you unfortunately aren’t quite as fast as I hoped you’d be. I had thought you’d be able to send me three documents per week but it seems like my expectations were too high for that as you send two so far and I have been wondering about the reasons a bit. Though I have to say that the ones you send are very good.”
      Good luck!

      1. SBK*

        Thank you. We went through the first recommendation months ago when problems first cropped up. She’s good about letting me know when it’s not possible to complete her work and of course I don’t count it as late; bug colleagues on her behalf that sort of thing.

        I have been very direct. No compliment sandwich or other things that could be misunderstood. When I say polite and respectful I mean things like “Jane, I need 3 documents for every project within 10 business days. You say you have all information to complete. I need projects 1, 2 &3. Please let me know if you find you’re missing information or have any questions.”

        1. Mill Miker*

          As someone who’s fallen into really cynical “this job is out to get me” mindsets in the past, maybe I can do some translating. Not to suggest you need to change anything, but just to maybe help? Please read the following in the tone of negative self-talk, and not as corrections to what you’re saying:

          – “I don’t count it as late” and “you’re behind on work” are mutually exclusive statements. If I’m behind then obviously everything I haven’t submitted is already counted as late. I’ve already failed and I’m in trouble. The “not counting it as late” is just trying to spare my feelings because my boss doesn’t think I can handle the truth, which is that I’m a disappointment.
          – “You say you have all information to complete … Please let me know if you find you’re missing information or have any questions.” = There is no excuse for me to not complete this task on time, other than my own miserable shortcomings.

          Again, I don’t think you mean these things, just trying to give an angle on why she could be finding it distressing, maybe?

          1. SBK*

            You know that makes a lot of sense and is what I meant by not perceiving things the way most people would. I do think she takes normal work requests as me being out to get her.

            I just wish it didn’t come to this.

            1. Mill Miker*

              I don’t know if I’d even summarize what I wrote as “Boss is out to get me.” The “boss” in my translations is drifting between “matter of fact (and the fact is I’m not good enough)” and “trying to spare my feelings”.

    2. Tio*

      Sometimes people perceive things differently, and sometimes they are trying to find reasons not to hear what you’re telling them by deflecting. But honestly, the cause doesn’t matter: IF you are speaking to her respectfully, she will need to hear this, and there isn’t anything wrong with what you’re saying.

      But if it’s at the point where you and she are both concerned about her keeping her job, you should formalize it with a PIP. Then you have very specific expectations, and you can confirm with Jane when you lay it out that she understands this is what is expected and what she needs to maintain her job. Make sure HR is aware of the situation as well.

    3. Morgan Proctor*

      You need to carefully document all her job-related shortcomings and failures, so that when you need to fire her, she can’t clap back with a disability-related lawsuit.

      It’s good that you’re working with her on accommodations, but bad employees make life miserable for your good employees. Don’t risk losing them.

    4. ecnaseener*

      Agree on the PIP and all that, and definitely email her your meeting notes if these are verbal conversations so she can at least have the opportunity to look at them later with a clear head.

      As for the complaints about your word choices, I think you just have to reiterate the key point as blandly as you can, don’t get sucked into a debate about the wording – so “this is so distressing!” –> “I’m sorry to hear that, but this is the reality. You need to complete the documents within 1 week.” “It’s so mean to say that I’m behind!” –> “I hear you, but in any case you need to complete the documents within 1 week and it’s not happening.”

    5. River*

      You aren’t causing her distress. Her anxiety is causing her distress. She won’t see the difference, and it won’t help her to point it out. I think keeping that in the back of your mind might help you keep some clarity during the discussions.

      When somebody is having distress over these kinds of conversations, it’s reasonable to want some time to manage their distress, just as long as you don’t stop having the conversations (btw, this is true for all relationships, personal and professional. People deserve self care. They do not deserve to shut down the conversation.). If she brings up feeling distressed, respond with something like, “I hear you that this is distressing. Take a little time when we are done to compose yourself. I do need to be able to have these discussions with you, so we’ll continue.” If she’s really upset, then maybe stop and continue later using a similar script.

      1. SBK*

        Thank you. I know it’s not me. Unfortunately I have personal experience with severe mental illness and can guess in a ballpark sense what’s going on.

        I already give her space and pick it up later but she’s not in a place to hear it.

        One of those wish I could do something situations.

    6. Mill Miker*

      Are there any milestones between where Jane is now, and 10x where Jane is now? Or is it more of an all-or-nothing kind of thing?

      If Jane came to you next week and said “I did 30% more this week then last” is there any reward for that (even a simple “Good job. I look forward to more improvement next week”) or is it always going to be “You’re behind” until she hits that 10x level?

      If Jane feels she can’t hit 10x, and everything less than 10x gets her “in trouble*”, it makes sense she’d be focusing on quality or other things she feels she actually has control over. Can you set achievable goals for increases in output, so that she can get to 10x with a series of wins, instead of constantly being told she’s a failure*

      I personally have to assume the “What can I do better?” question has an implied “Given I don’t think I increase my output by 100%” tacked on the end.

      *”In trouble” and “told she’s a failure” being the anxious perception, not necessarily the reality

      1. SBK*

        Unfortunately at this point there’s no room for gradual improvement. At one time she was performing very well without overtime. It’s one of those short project based jobs so it’s pretty binary.

  52. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

    Hello everyone!
    There’s something I’ve been wondering about, that I personally think should be no issue but I wanted to double check if I missed something.
    Would you be bothered by a colleague getting short hair in a different colour if it used to be very long? There aren’t any dresscode issues, I just wondered whether it would be some kind of “well the dresscode allows it, but it’s still weird”.

    1. Rainy*

      People get haircuts all the time; people will comment on it because they comment on anything different (frequently long after you did it) but I doubt the comments will critical.

      I went from waist-length hair in my natural ginger to a short asymmetrical bob in pale blonde to purple hair with an undercut, to a blue shag and I literally had people who see me regularly take a year to notice my hair was navy blue.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Re. long to short hair:

      I went from long to short hair (did not change the color). Two of my coworkers complimented the new haircut, no one else made any comment.

      A coworker also went from long to short hair. I have overheard one person complimenting the change, and one person joking in a meeting “I didn’t notice you there now that your hair’s different.”

      Personally, if I saw someone go from long hair to short and change the color, I would think to myself “good for them!” And if I worked closely with them, I would compliment the change.

      1. Too Many Tabs Open*

        Same here — went to very short hair after ten years of long. People commented and complimented the first time they saw it, and that was it.

    3. Little Bunny Foo Foo*

      I wouldnt be bothered at all if a cowoker did this. But if I was the one who cut and colored my hair and had to hear all the “oh my gosshhhh your long hair is goneee!!” comments I probably would be bothered lol

    4. Paris Geller*

      As long as it’s not on fire, I don’t see how anyone else’s hair is any of my business.

    5. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I wouldn’t care. People change their hair all the time especially if it’s a wig

    6. Decidedly Me*

      Not weird! I might think a person looks “weird” for a bit, but the act of doing it isn’t weird at all.

      And by looking “weird”, I mean that I’ll notice something is different. Anytime my partner gets a hair cut, it takes me a bit to get used to it being short again.

    7. Morgan Proctor*

      What the heck? No, I wouldn’t be “bothered” by that. Why would you think that? Is your workplace weird about small, personal things like this? Is there an office bully you’re not mentioning here? Is this anxiety-related? This should not be something that you should feel the need to ask about!

      1. ecnaseener*

        I know you mean this in a helpful way, but the whole point of this thread is to ask questions, even questions we’re pretty sure are silly!

      2. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

        Bothered is probably the wrong term, but I know sometimes small things make people seem less professional even though they don’t have any impact on my work. For example, in some industries one has to wear a suit even though the job is not “suit company model” or something else where the look matters. Or that tattoos or piercings can be bad if you want to be seen as professional, which I don’t think would necessarily written in a dresscode. I’d prefer to not unknowingly run into this kind of thing.
        (For the record, I don’t expect my workplace to say something about it.)

        1. RagingADHD*

          Oh, well there are some haircuts / styles that might read very casual or counter-cultural (shaved, a mohawk, etc.) But the lines on that are very fuzzy and quite dependent on the company culture where you are.

          Just being short isn’t unprofessional.

    8. ecnaseener*

      A different natural color? Nothing to worry about. (Unnatural colors would also be fine in plenty of offices, but going from blond to brown is seriously a non-issue.)

    9. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      Thank you everyone! Glad to see it seems to be not an issue.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Bothered? Why would I be bothered? It’s literally and completely none of my business.

      And it’s none of your coworkers’ business what length or color your hair is, either.

    11. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Good lord no. I’d see that as totally normal. I suppose some very conservative industries might not want “unnatural” hair, but if they cared it should be in the dress code.

    12. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hi Jen,
      I mention this because it’s been talked about a few times here – that some people have prosopagnosia (face blindness) to a greater or lesser degree, and rely more on other cues to recognise people. So on the off chance you have an experience where someone who was previously friendly is suddenly being less friendly- say hello to them first – just in case they don’t realise it’s you!

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

        Thank you, that’s something I hadn’t thought about much. I’ll try to make sure to stay as recognisable as I can (wearing my name tag, making sure my picture on the messaging software is updated, making sure to greet my coworkers in the morning, etc).

      2. GythaOgden*

        Agreed. I don’t have full-blown face-blindness but I am autistic/dyspraxic, meaning every so often I will mix people up or forget names. It might take me a few minutes to recognise them as COVID has meant that I haven’t seen some people in a long while. It happened just before I went off on holiday last week — with a middle aged woman who left us with straight short blond hair and came back with curly short grey hair.

        But we know there’s a bit of distance here and it’s up to us to make the leap, not OP to keep her hair the same.

        It’s really nothing that should be anyone’s business, or faze them beyond a brief rummage in the attic of their brains at all. I mean, probably best not to behave like Michelle who chopped and changed between panels at a seminar she was leading and distracted people from what she was saying, but that’s an outlier situation, not the norm. Most people who know they have cognitive issues are able to manage them well enough and that’s decidedly not other people’s lookout.

  53. Fake McCoy*

    Guys, I’m in a summer class (for a Master’s degree) and I’ve never been so upset with or angry at a professor in my long life. He is curt, dismissive, defensive, micromanaging, and just plain unkind. Give me some wisdom about a) getting through the class and b) talking to a dean after summer is over (I don’t believe this man should be allowed within a mile of a classroom for the rest of his life).

    1. Glazed Donut*

      Not sure I have any advice for B, but for A: Usually college and grad school professors are hired because of their scholarship/research/networks — see what you can learn or what makes this man excited in the related field, and maybe he will be a little bit more bearable. Sorry you’re in that position (been there–luckily most interactions with bad professors are limited to one semester!).

    2. YNWA*

      It’s incredibly hard to get a professor removed unless they engage in egregious bigoted behavior. You might also want to make sure you know the correct path to leveling a complaint. Going straight to the Dean is not necessarily in your best interest. You can start with the Department Chair (make sure you have documentation with specific dates, things said, etc just going in with a laundry list of complaints won’t get you anywhere). The Department Chair can decide whether the issue needs to be escalated to the Dean or Faculty Representative. Maybe someone else has complained about this faculty member and there will be actions taken, but more than likely not much will happen other than a note will be made.

      I don’t really have survival tips because that varies so much from faculty to faculty. And you don’t give specifics. Is he curt on feedback? Answering emails? How is he defensive? Have you challenged grading and he was unwilling to acquiesce? In what way is he dismissive? Does he not answer questions or tell you to figure it out on your own? How is he unkind? Is he kicking puppies in the classroom? (that’s a joke)

      One universal is if you’re reaching out via email, respect the evenings and weekends. Don’t expect a response at 9pm on a Wednesday or noon on a Saturday. If you’re a student who asks a ton of questions and requires a ton of clarification, you might be annoying him (as unfair as that is since part of teaching is answering questions). In that case, pick and choose carefully when and how you approach him. If you’re a grade lawyer (asking for points after the fact, demanding explanations beyond what the rubric and comments already say) then all I can say is that as a faculty member myself, nothing is more irritating than grade lawyers and yeah, we get a bit salty having to deal with that.

      1. Fake McCoy*

        Representative sample of his behavior: he publicly and in writing called a pretty anodyne idea of mine “a whole lot of crazy,” and accused me of calling him “stupid not in so many words” for disagreeing with something he’d said. Again, I’m not exactly a young student, and I have had many teachers, professors, and instructors through the years, and none has so openly disrespected me as a student.

        1. YNWA*

          Yeah, it’s poor behavior on his part but it doesn’t sound worthy of escalating the way you want.

          1. YNWA*

            For example: I worked with an engineering faculty member who would routinely staple McDonald’s applications to failed quizzes when he handed them back. He also made incredibly misogynistic, homophobic, and racist comments. It took 10 years for him to be fired. I worked with a nursing faculty member who called students stupid publicly and often and told them they would only kill their patients due to incompetence. She lasted 12 years before being removed. Adjuncts are much easier to replace, but his behavior isn’t all that terrible.

    3. Morgan Proctor*

      Unless he’s discriminating against you or someone else who is part of a protected class, I’d let it go. You’re describing the behavior of many, many, many tenured professors. And if this man is tenured, you have little to no chance of bringing any kind of disciplinary action against him. I know that’s unfair, but it’s simply the way academia works. I’ve been there, unfortunately, and often the best course of action for your mental health is to ignore as much of it as you can, get the best grade possible, and move on. It almost certainly won’t hurt to write an email to your dean, but temper your expectations there.

        1. Chicago Anon*

          That pretty much explains everything. He’s insecure, and since you’re older/more experienced, to him you feel like a threat to his authority, so he needs to assert that he’s top dog. This is totally obnoxious. Good profs are able to make teaching a collaborative process, drawing on the skills and backgrounds their students bring to the table. It’s only the bad/weak/anxious ones who have to make a big deal about people respecting their authoritaa. The simplest solution is probably to keep your head down, as others have suggested.

          IF and only if you feel like it *might* make some difference, you could go to office hours and say something like “I feel like we’ve got off on the wrong foot. Maybe to you it’s a joke when you call my ideas ‘a whole lot of crazy,’ but it didn’t hit that way to me. Is there something I’m doing that is not in line with your expectations of classroom behavior? If so, I’d like to know, so that we can have a better relationship going forward.” But you’re the one “on the ground,” so if you think this would make things worse, forget I said it.

          Definitely keep a list of all the crud he comes up with, with dates, times, and witnesses, and screenshots as appropriate. Send it to the chair of the department when the class is over. Adjuncts are easy to terminate if there are a lot of student complaints.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Summer adjuncts can be…pretty odd ducks, since it’s often someone trying to pick up extra money for one reason or other, and possibly teaching at an institution they don’t regularly work with, and a lot of the people involved in hiring and evaluating may be less present over the summer to keep an eye on things. Definitely try to figure out who is in charge of hiring adjuncts and let them know, particularly since you have written examples of him being rude to you in public. It almost certainly won’t get him removed from the course, but it may move him down or off the list for next year.

          (My weirdest summer adjunct story was when I was taking a low-level undergraduate math class over the summer and the adjunct looked at the class, turned around, wrote “I was a math major, just like the unabomber” on the board, did not address it, and then started class, back around 2000 when this was a recent thing. No idea what was going on in that dude’s head, and it didn’t occur to me to try and find a way to report it at the time.)

    4. ferrina*

      You will survive this guy, and he will be stuck with himself forever. For you, this class will be a stepping stone to greater things; for him, it’s an endless cycle of misery. Other students will come in and hate him and leave, and he will relive this reality over and over again.

      You can definitely write notes on your course eval or provide feedback to the school. I think talking to the dean is great. Be factual and straightforward. Don’t get emotional- too many people like to dismiss emotion as “drama” (rather than the reasonable response to a bad situation). Be specific. I’d keep notes on what he had done and when and to whom (you can include things that you’ve seen but weren’t direct recipient of, but only if it supports your other points in a significant way). Feel free to have a long list. Since this is a professor, you can go all-in and don’t have to worry about burning bridges. The dean may or may not do anything (okay, probably not). But you’ll have done your part.

      Just be careful if you’ll need to take this prof again or will be remaining on campus. I had one terrible prof find me after a different class and berate me about the anonymous course eval I had left. He tried to convince me that he was open-minded by systematically refuting every single comment I had left (his lack of self-awareness was amazing). It was an uncomfortable few minutes, but that was it.

      1. Fake McCoy*

        Happily I am 100% confident that I’ll never have another class with him, and the program is mostly remote now in the post-Covid era, so I feel free to blow up his spot. :)

    5. Ranon*

      At least ten percent of professors in any program kind of or totally suck, in my experience. Just get through it, know that it is normal.

    6. Mollie*

      There should be evaluations at the end of the course, and if there aren’t, I’d write a letter essentially giving your evaluation to the head of the department or something of the sort. We had to do evaluations at the end of every class at my university, and when I had a horrible professor for a summer class at a local college, I was shocked that we never had the chance to evaluate them. I wrote a letter because the school needed to know. I think the feedback matters.

    7. There You Are*

      I had incompetent (but not bullying) adjunct professors when I went back to school in my 40’s. My method of dealing was to concentrate on getting the grade I wanted and nothing more. Sometimes, I’d mentally pretend that my lips were sewn together so I wouldn’t react to anything they said.

      I wrote emails and even visited the boss of one of the professors after class was over and grades were in. I know the one professor whose boss I talked to got a talking-to herself because she stopped me in the hallway the next semester to ask if I was the one who complained. I was never going to have a class with her again, so I said Yes and told her why. She harumphed that I should have gone to her first and I asked her if she really expected any student to do that when a needed grade is on the line. That kind of shut her up.

      I got my Master’s in 2019 and I cannot for the life of me remember any of those professors’ names.

      So get the grade you need and send an email / schedule a meeting as soon as grades are finalized. And then block him from your mind forever.

    8. KathyG*

      Having taken a summer class from an awful prof, I can empathize with your plight. I have no useful advice to offer, just solidarity.

    9. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Hey, I’m sorry you’re having such a terrible experience. I’m the person who deals with student complaints in my School (a division of the uni somewhere between a department and a Faculty). I’m in Australia, where we don’t have a tenure system, so policies and processes will be different, but I think I can give some useful advice.

      Firstly, it’s worth complaining – yes, it is very hard to get someone sacked (even in Australia – we don’t have tenure here but we do have labour protection laws, lol) but at least for us, there’s an explicit provision in our Code of Conduct that repeat offences immediately go to “serious misconduct” (even if the offence itself is not “serious” – so if you get a written warning for calling students “crazy” and “stupid” one year, then you do it again the next year, it is immediately escalated to the “maybe losing your job” process). So maybe your complaint will be the second one recorded and it will be automatically escalated; or maybe it will be the first and it will look to you like nothing happened, but then next year the second complaint will be easier to escalate because you put this one in.

      (I should also say that the goal is to stop the behaviour, not to get the dude sacked necessarily – the point is that no student has to go through this in future, and if he can get there through changing his behaviour, that’s great.)

      Secondly, one of the reasons why it sucks to be a complaint handler is that the most typical result is that the complainant feels like nothing has happened and the complaints process is useless, while the respondent has had a really stressful experience, feared for their job, and feels like the complaints process is horrendous overkill. So even if you don’t see an obvious outcome, be aware that your professor has quite possibly had the worst experience of his career. And/or, in an ideal scenario – he may not be formally disciplined, but he may be helped to understand why his behaviour is unacceptable and that he cannot do it again for fear of worse consequences.

      Okay, the practical stuff. Does your institution have a student advocacy office or a designated complaints centre? If so, go and see them and they will talk you through the process of putting in a formal complaint. (A couple of people have mentioned student evaluations, but at least here, these are useless for your purposes – I can see student evals for my staff, but they don’t give me any grounds for addressing performance or behaviour.)

      From my side as a complaint handler this is what I *love* in a student complaint:

      * Behaviour + impact, neutrally stated, with minimal interpretation: “on [x] date he called me [y] and on [a] date he said [b]. I found this [dismissive/humiliating] and it made it harder to engage with the subject material/ it affected my ability to show up to class/ it exacerbated an underlying mental health condition”.

      * Lots and lots of examples, showing a pattern of behaviour (many policies have wording around “repeated” or “pattern”).

      * This one is a bit subtler, but if you use the language from the policy without actually citing the policy, that makes my job SO EASY. So for example our anti-bullying policy talks about belittling, demeaning, etc – don’t say “he breached Clause 5b of the Anti-Bullying Policy”, because it’s my/HR’s job to determine which policies he’s breached, but do say “This felt belittling” or “He used belittling language such as ‘crazy'”. That makes it super easy for me to explain which policy the person has breached, which is often the tricky part in terms of me saying “the complainant says you were unkind” and the respondent saying “that’s their interpretation, I was super kind”. In general looking to policy language helps you see how your institution frames this kind of behaviour (eg where I am, “unkind” isn’t a thing in policy, but “dismissive” might be.)

      * Clear outcomes omg this is the best. I personally love a student who goes both specific and structural: “The ideal outcome would be that this behaviour was addressed with Dr Evil and that he did not treat any other students like this in future. Additionally, the institution should ensure that standards of behaviour are clearly communicated to adjunct teachers and that a process is put in place for monitoring them.” This gives us lots of leverage for getting things done, because if there’s one thing my institution hates, it’s student complaints, and being able to say “[x] number of students have complained about summer adjuncts being rude” is the kind of thing that enables me to change policies and practices.

      Good luck and I’m sorry, there is literally no need for academics to be d*cks. I hope you get a good resolution and we can shift the average a little bit for the better.

  54. Junior Dev*

    Resources/articles with good advice for people who have been laid off? Here or elsewhere. I want to pass things on to people who were laid off recently from my old company (tech).

    1. Graciosa*

      My first thought is that if you need a recommendation, I would recommend this site.

      That said however, are you planning to send information to people generally? I would be really cautious about doing that before someone asks you for assistance.

      Being laid off can be traumatic, and having someone – unasked – send you information telling you how to get a job can be perceived through a lens of trauma as a message that the recipient is incompetent and couldn’t do this without guidance. Even sending notices of job openings can be upsetting if they’re publicly available. If they’re not well targeted to the recipient, it can be perceived as a message that they are valuing themselves incorrectly in the market; if they are well targeted, it can be perceived as a message that they’re too incompetent to find them without help.

      On the job front, what I appreciated after a lay off were offers to serve as a reference and advance information – not published yet – about job openings to come.

      Where I had friendships, I appreciated people willing to talk about anything other than my job search – movies, current events – just essentially treating me as a person rather than solely as someone who needed a job.

      But please be thoughtful about sending information that no one requested. I’m sure your heart is in the right place, but it may not have the impact you’re hoping for.

      1. Junior Dev*

        I agree with you in general but this is in the context of an online career group I’m in, people have expressed interest, and I’m compiling it in such a way that it’s available but not targeted at any one person.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yeah, also in a lot of those situations every bit of help is appreciated anyway. Even if it’s not a viable option (like recently where there’s a busier reception job going at a sister site but (a) I’m trying to get off the front desk and (b) it’s even further away from home than my current job) it’s the thought that counts. My BIL is looking for work and I’m passing along anything I can find — the big local employer in his area is hiring a lot of positions at the moment and although I can’t get there easily enough, it’s literally right up his street. I’d be a fool if I didn’t make him aware of the opportunities there.

  55. Meghan*

    The university where I work wants us to fill “goal” worksheets. I’m 99% sure nobody looks at these and to make it even worse, staff typically all get the same raise, regardless. The scuttlebutt is that its 2% this year (yay academia, am I right?) so I’m incredibly tempted to just copy and past my “goals” from last year into my “goals” for this year.

        1. Leaving Academia*

          I third this idea. Just put your goals from last year into ChatGPT and say reword these. Done and done.

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

      I’m also in higher ed, copy and past my “goals” from last year into my “goals” for this year is mostly what I did with my old boss who retired in 2021; he didn’t hold us to any goals and there was never any promotions or changes in the department. I have a new-er boss that now takes these seriously and honestly I prefer her method. She cares that we stay up-to-date on our skills/knowledge and is open to creating opportunities for promotion, so goals tend to be “attend 3 professional development webinars in the next 12 months”. If we have a desire to move our jobs in a particular direction, she’ll put that in our goals: “become the social media liaison in the Llama Department” It all depends heavily on your boss though.

    2. Back away banana breath what the hell did you just eat? A banana?*

      Thankfully they eased up on goals for us at my university during the pandemic, what with the goal being just to keep our heads above water, but it’s still an overly burdensome system. In my 9 years here raises have definitely not correlated with more thorough self-reviews.

    3. Newly minted*

      FWIW, that’s been the practice at my university. then a completely unexpected email came out the other day that said for the first time in many years someone looked at them and determined merit raises (also the first time we’ve had those since I started here) and only people who’d filled out the goal and evaluation forms were eligible. so…..sometimes they matter. None of us were expecting leadership to read them.

      I also wouldn’t spend a huge amount of time working on it though. I like the ChatGPT suggestion, just edit what it gives you…if faculty looks at them, we are starting to get assignments written by AI and they have a certain…tone. also so the goals are specific to your role, would be my advice.

      1. Mollie*

        I don’t work for a university, but I’ve worked for a place where the goals mattered for raises but were not taken super seriously. Meaning that they were often some version of what we were supposed to be doing anyway as part of our job.

    4. Bluebonnet*

      I generally add a new goal or two that is specific to my current situation, and then recycle some goals from last year that are still relevant (example: continue to hire, train, and supervise a full student worker team for the front desk).

      I think the chat GPT idea could be helpful too. I will consider that for next year.

  56. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    I’ve just moved to the new MS Teams and it’s even more annoying… keeps playing hide and seek with notifications and collapses the message side bar.

    1. ferrina*

      I actually like is slightly better. I’m not getting the same notification errors, and i like that clicking on a notification opens a new window. The new Outlook is a different story.

      It’s weird how MS products seem to work really differently on different people’s devices.

    2. Bluebonnet*

      I’m not a fan of the collapsing messaging side bars either. I especially dislike it when the toolbars top collapse. I kind of need those….

    3. lin*

      woah collapsing side bars? this is obviously an update my org hasn’t gotten yet… we’re government, so features roll out at a different pace than the regular business environment. I don’t think I’m gonna like that one!

      1. Longtime Lurker*

        also government – sometimes the rollout is lagged enough that when a PITA feature is deployed and then reversed, we miss the whole thing. Yay!

  57. Justin*

    I am in a good enough place professionally – finally – that I can start to plan longterm more effectively where I want my career to go. There has always been that nagging part of me that thinks “starting something” would be cool, but I don’t have the stomach for that risk. I write books and have a podcast and I teach on the side, all of which is mostly for fun and fulfillment, but I still have that entrepreneurial itch.

    But basically, if you have reached a solid professional place – whatever that means to you – when did you find you felt you were in a good place with a trajectory that felt less volatile? What made your career feel less anxious? (Aside from salary, which is sort of implied, but those can go away if your job isn’t secure.)

    1. Junior Dev*

      Where does the anxiety come from? For me I am currently working towards having enough in savings to live on for 6 months, and I think I’ll feel a lot better about my career at that point because I can afford to give up a steady paycheck to go work at a startup or something if I want. But it sounds like maybe something else is bothering you?

  58. Cut and Run*

    I have wanted to leave my job for a year. I’ve been here a while, it’s gone downhill, and I’m not interested in being a part of this anymore. We were hoping to have a second kid, and I have way too much accrued PTO and flexibility to leave before that, so I’ve stayed. I’m now pregnant and planning for my exit ASAP after I come back from maternity leave. (The final straw is that they’ve raised employee health insurance costs 60%. Family coverage is now $1100/month and with 2 kids in daycare, I won’t be able to afford to work here. My husband’s insurance is not a better option right now.) I’m planning to go from non-profit to hospital work. I’ve been looking at postings and working on my resume so I’m more or less ready to submit applications while I’m out. I have enough experience that I anticipate at least getting interviews.

    The following questions will not matter if hiring processes take longer than the 6-8 week time frame that I’m planning to use for putting in applications before my leave ends. I’m not familiar with how quickly or not hospitals work (I’m in a city, so there are going to be large systems), but from postings, it certainly looks like they’re trying to fill vacancies.

    1) How do I explain my situation if maternity leave comes up in some indirect way (Ie, current projects, anticipated start date, etc)? Does it look bad if I’m trying to get out while on leave? They will find out on some level if I get an offer and have to let them know I will need pumping breaks. I’m not sure if my current HR can tell them I’m on leave if they check employment. I don’t want to be cagey, but I’m not sure what the right thing to say is that doesn’t cause concern.

    2) While enough has happened that I don’t feel like I owe my current employer much, is it a completely jerk move to come back from leave and turn in notice? I’ve already stepped down from a lot of responsibilities, so on a day to day basis, I don’t think it’ll matter much, but I carry a lot of institutional knowledge. Is there a proper way to handle this scenario or timing if I get an offer that could start soon after my leave ends? I plan to still give them 2 weeks notice after my leave. I can’t find a family leave policy at my work beyond general FMLA. I’ve been pondering what makes this any different from if I decided to stay home with kids and not come back, and perhaps this just feels more aggressive on my part.

    3) Any other considerations I should think about or be aware of?

    1. ferrina*

      1) You can usually diplomatically speak around it. “Current projects” can be the ones that you typically work on, or you can side step it with “I recently worked on a project that…” If it comes up, just be direct. LOTS of people have been on maternity leave/parental leave at some point, so it’s not something that really needs to be explained. I don’t know if HR would mention it or not. Yes, they’ll find out when you tell them while accepting the offer. (“I accept! BTW, I’ll need pumping breaks- who is the right person to work that out with?”)

      2) Meh, they won’t like it, but that’s how business sometimes goes. You aren’t obligated to put your life on hold just because you’re on maternity leave (and companies that expect that you do expect you to put your life on hold are ones you can feel free to disregard opinions of).

      3) Sounds like you know what you want to do, which is awesome! When you’re interviewing with a young infant, try to have someone watching said infant when you’re interviewing (even if they’re napping). They often wake up and make noise at inconvenient times :)

      Hope all goes well with the new baby and the job search!

      1. Cut and Run*

        Thank you for this! For #3, I’ve been imagining in-person interviews for some reason, but I am definitely paranoid enough about any reason to discriminate against me as a woman that little one and I will not be in the same place at all during job interviews if I can help it. My first was in no way a reliable napper, so not depending on that for sure.

    2. EMP*

      1) agree with ferrina – speak around it, don’t mention that you’re currently on leave. Take “current projects” to mean “projects I worked on right before I went on leave” and base your start date on your 2-week notice after your leave period as you mentioned here. And re: pumping, parents need pumping breaks up to and over a year after giving birth, so I wouldn’t overthink that. It’s not a 1-1, “I need pumping breaks” -> “I’m currently right now on parental leave”

      Basically, interview as if you weren’t on leave but base your timeline on your current leave.

      2) I’m kind of loathe to suggest someone work for a soon-to-be-ex employer on leave, but if you’re looking for a way to soften the impact of your departure, can you prepare some transition documents in advance/while you’re on leave, so if you do come back with minimal notice, you can show you’re not leaving them high and dry? Otherwise, I think yeah it’s a consequence of doing business and they’ll survive.

      1. MsM*

        Or if you’re not on leave yet, maybe just make your coverage memos a bit more robust than you maybe would if you were coming back/planned to be minimally available to answer questions.

    3. Dell*

      Some managers might not love that you’re on leave and job-searching, but those managers are probably not going to be good supporters of working parents anyway and if you can afford to avoid them, good. I think it’s common knowledge (assuming this is true where you are) that once you’re pregnant you usually can’t afford to start a new job because you won’t get the same benefits if you have only a short stint at the new employer. On top of that, pregnancies themselves are obviously not entirely predictable. Reasonable people should be understanding of your situation.

  59. Leaving Academia*

    I’m finishing up my PhD in English, and I’m thinking it’s time to leave academia. The job market is awful. I get hired for adjunct jobs in a heartbeat but tenure track jobs are 1) few and far between, 2) not in my area, and 3) nearly impossible to land when you’re new to the market (tons of tenure track long term faculty, lecturers, and adjuncts from other states are fleeing to my state, California, where I’d like to stay).

    I’ve read through a few blogs and blog posts directing English PhDs to apply to jobs like librarian, corporate trainer, copywriter, etc. but each of those jobs require either specialized skillsets or additional degrees. I’ve had plenty of side work as admin, grant coordinator, tutor, freelance writer and editor, workshop facilitator, mentoring, and advising both inside and outside of academia. I think my goal is to just have, for maybe the first time in my life, just one full-time job that I could support myself with.

    For those who left academia or are about to leave academia, what do you recommend as far as leaving academia and the kind of work an English PhD is prepared for? How did you leave academia? What industries did you start to look into? What roles did you feel prepared for? ‘ve checked out things like The Professor is Out and Teacher Career Coach but those sites seem a bit outdated/not really directed at someone outside of K-12 teaching. If there are other resources out there, I’d love to be directed to them.

    1. ferrina*

      Not an academic, but as a hiring manager, I’m hesitant about PhDs because they tend to have very different work experience than what my for-profit company is looking for (no, we do not want to dive into every. single. datacut). The fact that you have real world experience would be a total game changer for me. In an interview, I’d be listening for ways your PhD experience will make you stand out as a candidate (and also looking for red flags if you didn’t understand how the business world works). But if you are one of those rare PhDs that have a strong business understanding and a strong academic understanding and the key skills I’m looking for, I would be ecstatic.

    2. I don’t have a username*

      I spent a chunk of my career in nonprofit development (in Boston and NYC), and there is historically a decent amount of respect for academic credentials in that world. Working in institutional giving at a nonprofit (private and government grant writing, coordination, etc.) or in grant-making on the foundation/government side might interest you and would be a good match for your skillset. University development jobs could also be a way to stay in the sphere of academia without staying an academic.

  60. FridayFunDay*

    Anyone else experiencing jobs being canceled more frequently? In the five positions I have applied to so far three of them have been canceled.

    1. pally*

      I’m seeing a sudden reversal of many job-related aspects:

      More contract or temp jobs with very short time frame (2-6 months instead of 12 months)

      Very few direct-hire positions (it’s like everything changed from direct hire to contract overnight)

      Recruiters are reaching out to me (a job seeker) with a list of clients they want to find jobs for (sorry, I’m no help with this- I’m not an employer!)

      I know I’ve applied and never heard from the employer again-for several positions. Not even a rejection email. Can’t say if the job was cancelled or what.

      1. Anonymask*

        I was noticing that everything is temp (to maybe hire) or contract! It’s so baffling! My guess (in the US) is that the employer doesn’t have to have health insurance/benefits if the worker is a contractor and that’s why they’re doing it. Wondering if that strategy will really pay off for them long-term though…

        1. linger*

          It may, depending on the true cost of the inevitable increase in turnover. It still works for them if (i) the cost of training replacements is less than the savings in healthcare contributions/benefit payments, and (ii) the business is not highly dependent on retaining institutional knowledge. Though the latter problem may not become apparent until after losing some critical mass of existing full timers.

        2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          Benefits are certainly part of the calculation but it’s often related to how the financials look. The costs of regular FTE salaries and benefits are on the balance sheet as liabilities / overhead, long-term costs baked into forecasts about future company profitability. By making more people temporary, those costs can be reclassified as a short-term expense which boosts the numbers and appearance of profitability. It may not truly be cheaper in the short run, it could actually be more expensive, but it helps them get the work done now while making the long-term financial picture appear healthier. It’s a bit of a shell game.

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            Oh, and the other less icky reason is that they are genuinely concerned about their profitability, and shifting hiring to temp / contract means you can drop staff without layoffs. They avoid making long-term commitments they aren’t sure they can keep.

        3. fhqwhgads*

          No idea if this is the case elsewhere but at my company, we have a very specific need right now – basically to go through a backlog that got intentionally deprioritized due to covid. For various reasons, we need the thing done more quickly than is possible with our current team, but once we get through that, there will not be an ongoing need for the extra people. So yeah, basically tailor made for temp or contract. We’re probably going to hire 2-3 people to do nothing but This Thing for 6 months. That’s on top of the team of people whose job has always been to do This Thing And Another Thing. Once the backlog is caught up, the team will have manageable workloads for This Thing And Another Thing, but if we didn’t have the temps coming on for those six months, it would be impossible to ever catch up.

  61. Pine Tree*

    I need suggestions for how to deal with a coworker who HATES to be interrupted but also will never stop talking in meetings. She’ll take a microsecond pause sometimes, and just when I think she’s done speaking and I try to jump in, she’ll start in again.

    It’s gone from annoying to making meetings with her pointless and we can’t accomplish what we need to. For example, I was supposed to be handing off a project to her recently, except she wouldn’t actually let me give her the background or status because she WOULD NOT STOP TALKING. She even asked questions, which I could have answered, but she WOULD NOT LISTEN to the answer.

    Also, often we’ll have a packed agenda and only get to 1 or 2 items because she’ll eat up most of the time just TALKING and getting irritated if anyone tries to move things along.

    Is it time to chat with my boss about this? Or any other suggestions for getting her to recognize that she’s doing this without pissing her off?

    1. Nicki Name*

      If she’s keeping work from getting done in meetings, absolutely it’s time to talk to your boss.

      One thing that can help with moving meetings along in general, but should not replace talking to your boss, and may not help at all with this particular situation, is assigning times to agenda items. “We have 5 minutes for updates on the new llama barn setup, and then we need to move along to the grooming protocol updates”, followed by enforcing that 5-minute limit, can do a lot for keeping the meeting going. But if your coworker is already irritated by gentler limits I wouldn’t bet on this getting the message across to her at all.

    2. ferrina*

      That’s awful! Unfortunately, you can’t both get her to stop and avoid making her mad. Sounds like she gets mad any time she needs to stop talking.

      Here’s what you can do:
      -Limit 1:1 meetings to email. Blame your packed schedule, or say it’s easier for you to organize your thoughts in written form. Maybe schedule 30 minutes to make her happy, but mentally don’t plan on communicating anything during that time.
      -In group meetings, make some rules. Start by saying “we have really limited time, so we won’t really have time for questions or items not on the agenda. If things come up, I’ll keep a list so we can revisit them, but we’ll need to keep things moving this meeting.”
      -Interrupt her. Tell her what you are doing. “I hate to interrupt you, but we need to keep going to hit all the agenda items. I’m going to make a note of that and circle back with you. Okay, for the next item….” Will she be mad? Maybe. But everyone else will appreciate that you didn’t waste their time.
      -Circle back with her as promised. I’d do this in email to avoid a monologue.
      -Do this every time.
      -With some people, it helps to set aside time during your week to let them monologue. Sometimes they’ll take the group-meeting cut-offs less personally if you let them monologue privately. But with some people, they will use this as an opportunity to tell you how terrible you are for interrupting, or they’ll see it as a reason why they should also get to monologue in group settings. So this will just depend on her personality.

      If you have regular meetings with your boss, I’d flag it. Just as a “Hey, we haven’t been getting through our agenda, so I’m going to need a little stricter on interruptions to [Specific Meetings]. Of course, I’ll make sure to take notes and follow up with people on side issues. Just wanted to give you a heads up in case someone mentions the new meeting format.” You can also phrase this in the form of a question. “What do you think? Does this sound good?” If you trust your boss, you can name Talker as the problem. If you don’t or aren’t sure, you can keep it vague.
      Good luck!

    3. River*

      Let her be irritated. Don’t be unkind about it, but stock some phrases like, “Jane, I need to close the discussion on point 2 and move on to point 3 now,” or, “Jane, let’s have a more complete discussion that detail at another time, I need to move on to point 3 on the agenda now.”

  62. Eldritch Office Worker*

    Anyone else have this experience this morning?

    Fine, no student loan forgiveness, let’s see what I can milk out of PSLF.
    PSLF: make 120 eligible payments and we’ll forgive the rest every repayment plan you’re eligible for will disperse your total debt over 118 payments.

    I can’t describe the unimpressed look on my face.

    1. The Somewhat Average Gilly Hopkins*

      Yeah, same here… were you able to work with a qualifying employer during the pause? Each month should count as an eligible payment toward PSLF.

  63. What's in a title?*

    Wondering whether I should be concerned about, or embrace, a potential new job having an inaccurate title.

    My career has been as a technical editor, most recently a Senior Technical Editor. As you might expect, my duties have been almost entirely editing material that others wrote. I’m now interviewing for a role titled Senior Technical Writer, but in reality the duties are those of an editor. On the one hand, it could be helpful to have a “writer” job on my resume if I decide to move in that direction in the future, but it would become obvious pretty quickly in interviews that I wasn’t really writing anything.

    If I get offered this role and decide to take it, should I ask for a title change to Senior Technical Editor? Embrace the wrong title and put “(editor)” on my resume? Embrace the title and try to get writing experience while I’m there? What options am I missing?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Mm, I don’t think you should get wrapped around the axle too much.

      Rolling Stone magazine used to (maybe still does?) list 2 bylines for a story – “reported by” and “written by”. In theory, the writer is doing a lot of heavy lifting, but isn’t generating any new actual information beyond what was sent in by the reporter. Which, one could argue, is what an editor does.

      I am always a fan of listing the actual title as the first line (unless it’s something so idiosyncratic that nobody else would get it), and then giving the details in bullet points underneath.
      2023-current: Senior Technical Writer, Amalgamated Llamatronics.
      * assigns stories to other Technical Writers
      * reviews and edits work
      * assembles content from line engineering staff

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Could you ask them about it? “This job is primarily editing, is there a reason it’s called a writer?” That might give you some information about why it’s called that, and potentially open the door for a conversation about changing it to editor.

      Depending on the size of the company or how strictly things are structured, you might not be able to change it, and if they do, I think you’d be good to go the “(editor)” route.

    3. Educator*

      I have definitely negotiated my title after receiving an offer. It never hurts to ask if they can change it to what you want. And you might learn a lot from their response about how they perceive the role!

  64. TrackingOverload*

    Can anyone tell me if I’m off for thinking this situation at my work is right to be upset about.

    What I used to love about my job was the independence. We are fully remote and as long as we showed up to meetings and got our work done, we could work as we pleased. Generally within a 10-6 schedule, but with some flexibility.

    Recently, our boss introduced a tracker for the entire team, where we have to track what we do every 15 minutes. We work completely internally (no external clients/billable hours), and do not rely on any kind of grant funding. This is weird and unnecessary right? The idea is that it will help “see where the needs are” and who is free for projects (can’t they just ask people??), but I can’t see how this isn’t micromanaging. And our boss said that no one will be looking or judging to see how long we spend on tasks, but I don’t see how folks could have that information available and not eventually use it.

    Personally I hate it, it’s made my anxiety shoot up, I constantly think of the day in increments, stress about what I’m doing, and feel like I can’t even take time to breathe and be a human. After using this and having non-stop work, I’m exhausted. I’m more a “work really focused for 2 hours and then chill for a bit” kind of person.

    I know this isn’t the environment for me to thrive in, but I’m curious to know what others think. Am I being too “sensitive”?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You’re not being too sensitive. That is extremely intrusive and probably counterproductive. Yikes!

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I don’t think you’re in the wrong.

      Your boss probably suspects that there are slackers, or feels like he has insufficient information to determine anyone’s job performance, and he’s trying to find a way to get a handle on that. Or maybe he’s been told by upper management to figure out how to increase productivity, lay off the least-productive employee, etc.

      There are much better ways to do this kind of thing that don’t hearken back to industrial engineering techniques from the 1920s that were developed for manual-labor-heavy assembly lines.

      It sounds like Agile or a similar methodology that works on full-day or half-day increments would be better for your situation. A 10-minute standup at 10:00 to review what everybody got done the day before, what everyone is planning to do today, and if there are any pinch points that need helping or available labor that can be applied to anything.

    3. My Friday Self*

      I would totally hate this! This is one of those strange situations where there could be an ADA type of accommodation for this. I’ve seen this done very short term – like a couple weeks – for task analysis, but on an ongoing basis, I’d try the accommodation tactic and/or be polishing up my resume.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      Recently, our boss introduced a tracker for the entire team, where we have to track what we do every 15 minutes.

      I can think of a few different ways this looks in practice, and they are varying levels of reasonable.

      Does this mean that at 9:15 you have to log what you worked on in the past 15 minutes, then again at 9:30, then again at 9:45, and so on throughout the day? That is micromanager-y and unreasonable.

      Does this mean that at the end of the day, you have to create a log of what you were working on at the time to the nearest 15 min (ex. 9am – 11:15am groomed llamas, 11:15am to 12 wrote TPS reports, 1pm – 2:30pm updated spreadsheets, etc.)? This is meh. Wanting to know how long you spent on a given task is reasonable, but I don’t see how knowing you updated the spreadsheet at 2:30pm vs any other time helps anyone.

      Does this mean that at the end of the day, you have to log how many hours you spent on various tasks to the nearest 15 min (ex. 2:15 grooming llamas, 45min writing TPS reports, 1:30 updating spreadsheets, etc.). I have had to do this for every full-time, salaried position I’ve worked in and it seems reasonable to me. Of course, the way it has always worked at my jobs is that bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, chatting with me coworkers about the weekend for 10 min all get recorded as work time. Generally, if I go get coffee right before I start work on the TPS reports, time spent getting coffee gets rolled into the TPS report time. If I pause llama grooming for 10 min to chat with my coworker, I’ll just record that as part of the llama grooming time.

      1. ferrina*

        I can think of a few different ways this looks in practice, and they are varying levels of reasonable.

        Exactly. There’s good ways to do this and bad ways to do this. There’s good reasons to do this and bad reasons to do this. Not enough info in your post to tell which it is.

        If you are a worker who works in sprints and takes breaks, you can sometimes approximate how long the task took between the sprint and the rest. So if I spent 5 minutes writing and 5 minutes resting, it took 10 minutes This is how my brain works- I a lot done in 10 minutes, but then I rest for 10 minutes. So I actually take 20 minutes on the task.