open thread – June 9-10, 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.

{ 827 comments… read them below }

  1. Ayla K*

    Has anyone successfully negotiated a mutual exit? I’m miserable at my job and it’s only been six months. Without going into big details: the culture is toxic, people are actively horrible to me, and my manager is super unsupportive, and has made it really clear she doesn’t trust me to follow through or get things done correctly. I know I’m really good at my job – I’ve only gotten praise before this, and a few individuals have repeatedly told me they’re so grateful that I’m on the team – but the environment and my manager’s attitude has me questioning that, and I feel like I need to get out before I lose my grip on reality. It’s the kind of place that’s so full of bees the people who have been here longer can’t hear the buzzing anymore.

    I’ve been applying and networking my tail off, but nothing has come of it yet. I want to quit, but part of me is also toying with the idea of going into mid-year reviews saying “this clearly isn’t working out, so how about we make a mutually beneficial exit plan for me” and ask for severance. Is that crazy? Is this a viable solution to just quitting with nothing lined up?

    1. Rex Libris*

      You’d be asking people you describe as toxic, actively horrible, and/or unsupportive to make (and stick to) a reasonable, mutually beneficial agreement. My first instinct is that it won’t go well. Given the culture you describe they’d be more likely to decide you were a problem and find a reason to fire you, rather than support you.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I agree with Rex Libris. YOU would go into this being reasonable, but you already know THEY are awful, so I think you can assume they will continue to be awful.

      2. kiki*

        Yeah, this is where I’m leaning too. If you were leaving because the role just wasn’t a fit but everyone at the company was really great, I think you could try to arrange a mutually beneficial exit. But it sounds like this would probably end up making your manager more difficult to deal with or risk being let go of on the spot.

      3. Ayla K*

        My hope is that, if they’re unhappy with my performance, they’d be glad to see me go. They do need someone in this role, so this heads up gives them a chance to look for someone new while I’m still here finishing things up. I’m planning to leave anyway, so the severance would be a nice-to-have, but otherwise I’d just give a standard two weeks notice.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Unfortunately, with untrustworthy employers, they could just fire you and save themselves money. They could say ‘thanks for the heads up,’ post your job now, say whatever they felt was best, and then fire you with no severance. You would likely have no protection with or without a signed agreement.

        2. Tio*

          They are highly unlikely to give you severance; if they would be glad to see you go, and they know you want to go, they would either fire you or set your last day, best case. I don’t think there’s any possibility of negotiating severance here. Severance is most common in layoffs, and when they want someone to agree not to sue.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yeah, if you watch Game of Thrones, imagine that your boss here is Cersei. Or if not, pick any other cartoonish villain. Would you give Cersei lots of heads up about your plans to do something she doesn’t want you to do and that isn’t good for her? Would you expect that she’s going to react well, make a fair agreement that doesn’t benefit her, and stick to it out of honor? Is that what bad guys do?

      4. Always a Corncob*

        The benefit of getting fired is that you can collect unemployment, vs quitting where you get nothing.

        1. Rex Libris*

          My understanding it that this isn’t necessarily true. I think the employer can argue that you were fired for cause and dispute the unemployment claim.

          1. Feline outerwear catalog*

            It depends on the state and the cause. In some states, “for cause” only counts in extreme situations like “You were embezzling money,” not “your boss fired you because they hate you.”

            Check with your local unemployment office to be sure.

            1. Tio*

              There’s only one state that needs cause to fire you, I believe it’s Montana (as long as they don’t fire you for an illegal reason, which doesn’t appear to be in play here). That said, you can get unemployment in most states even if fired, if not for big misconduct on your part. However… that just gives them more incentive to take you coming to them as an incentive to consider this you resigning, which means they don’t have to give you unemployment.

    2. Mid*

      Honestly, I highly doubt you’d get a severance, especially after only 6 months, with a culture and boss that aren’t supportive. Unless you’re incredibly high up the ladder, and then you’d know.

      You could tell them at your mid-year review that you’re planning on leaving, but you will likely be walked out almost immediately, so only do so if you’re financially able to be unemployed the day you tell them.

      1. Burpees are evil*

        How much severance are you wanting to ask for? Usually payouts are based on tenure, so having worked 6 months you might end up with 1 or 2 weeks pay. Is it worth the risk of being pushed out early?

        1. Tio*

          There’s no reason for them to pay severance at all. Why would they? If they want you to leave, they can fire you, for free. If you say you want to leave, they can take that as our resignation and set your last day, for free. But why would they pay you severance? What benefit is it to them to pay you? You’re leaving with or without it, so why would they choose with it when they’re a bad workplace who doesn’t care to keep you on?

          1. Aelfwynn*

            This. There’s no reason for them to agree to this. Even in the most benevolent company, I doubt they would agree to pay someone severance when they resign.

          2. BadCultureFit*

            A lot of commenters here don’t seem to realize that asking for a severance package when you’re a highly desirable employee is actually fairly common if you’re senior enough!

            1. Tio*

              But this person has been there 6 months, and says the company isn’t satisfied with their work. This doesn’t sound like a desirable senior employee at all, which is why people aren’t really factoring it in.

      1. Ayla K*

        There have been multiple rounds of layoffs, and they have paid severance for those roles. On the other hand, my role is pretty key (they’d need to hire a backfill for me) so I doubt I could convince them to eliminate my role as a layoff.

        1. RedinSC*

          If your role is key, they really can’t word it as a layoff (not sure if all states have the same rules) but in CA if someone is laid off, you can’t rehire that position for something like 1 year.

          I really don’t think there’s any way to get them to give you a severance.

          Just keep looking for a new job, and leave as soon as you’re able.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      My dad had this happen. The difference was he had been with his company for over 30 years so he had a bit more leverage than you do having only been there for six months. Not to discourage you. I think being honest might work out in your favor. But you would need to go into it with the thought that you might be leaving empty handed. You could say “I don’t think this job is a good fit and I don’t think this has been working out for either of us. I’d really like to prepare an exit plan and transition out of this role and would like to make this as mutually beneficial for both of us as possible. How can we do that?”

    4. Danish*

      I’ve had a friend do so, but it was at a job where the manager and leadership team were all very supportive and it was just clear that the job was a bad fit. I don’t know that you’re going to have much luck with people you already know to be unfair and kinda terrible unfortunately :/

    5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’ve been applying and networking my tail off, but nothing has come of it yet. I want to quit, but part of me is also toying with the idea of going into mid-year reviews saying “this clearly isn’t working out, so how about we make a mutually beneficial exit plan for me” and ask for severance. Is that crazy? Is this a viable solution to just quitting with nothing lined up?

      I’ve done it–I told my employer to replace me and we’d schedule my two weeks once they had my successor in place. I thought I was emigrating to Canada, was ready to give up on Programming as a career, and was being told I had to do ~$20M (20,000) worth of training on software I have no use for that I’d be on the hook for if I didn’t last 2 more years. Severance wasn’t on the table (I didn’t even have healthcare through that job pre-ACA).

      I had nothing lined up. My “two weeks” ended up being 6 months, my Canadien plans fell through, I was unemployed (without unemployment, the boss considered it a “resignation” and I didn’t know enough to fight it–this was before I found AAM) for 4 months. I was house-hunting, so I ended up living off part of my down-payment fund. In all, about a year of my life was completely disrupted by choosing to leave that job that way.

      (It wasn’t all bad. The 4 months provided time for much of the soul-searching, an ego check, and I came out of it with a much better sense of danger, all things I can see I needed badly in retrospect. I also landed a long-term job after it, that I’m still in today, and met my then-future spouse near the end of that year.)

      If I could go back and advise myself, I would tell myself to just put in 2 or 4 weeks and be done with it. I didn’t gain anything from being more flexible, and the business didn’t do anything with the time until the final 4 weeks, anyway.

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        I’m a little confused about you saying the boss considered it a “resignation”. It sounds like it definitely was a resignation…

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Right; today I’d be wise enough to get myself fired by refusing to resign, and file for Unemployment.

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I considered it a parting of ways; I would say a resignation is involuntary on the business’s part and a termination would be involuntary on the employee’s part. This was neither.

          The proof is the clause where I would have to pay back the training even if I were terminated during the coming two years. He wasn’t keeping me around and that wasn’t in good faith.

          That was my introduction to leaving a job being binary; it’s either termination (layoff, firing, shutting down operations) or resignation (retirement) and there is no “other” category. The boss knew more than I did, so he got to choose the category, and I didn’t know enough to even know why I would be disagreeing with him.

    6. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      It’s pretty rare to get severance for a situation like this. More common is to agree to give long notice in exchange for them not firing you before your end date (like 1-2 months away, not 6 months) and some flexibility to apply for/interview for jobs during work hours, plus the benefits of being able to use your current manager as a reference if you think they’d be a good one. The goal is usually to part on good terms and give you some job search support in exchange for avoiding a performance management situation.

      The only time I’ve ever been able to throw in severance was when we put someone on a PIP, they decided to resign instead, and we paid out their two-weeks’ notice while telling them not to come back. It was a “we’d rather pay you to leave now than manage the level of conflict you’re spawning all around you for two more weeks” situation, not fun for anyone involved.

      But your situation doesn’t sound like you could trust your manager to handle it well anyway. You’d be taking a big risk that they’d either treat you worse or push you out early, for negligible benefit.

    7. BRR*

      It seems unlikely to happen and would come off to me as a bit tone deaf to ask. There doesn’t seem to be any benefit to the company to do this. Yeah maybe your manager is unhappy with your performance and this makes it easier to end things. But this ask requires good/smart management and it doesn’t sound like this company has that. Also bad managers often dont employees but are actually generally satisfied with their performance (does your manager treat others the same?). But really, it just doesn’t sound like there’s reason for the company to do this and at being there six months, you realistically don’t have a lot of bargaining power.

    8. A Simple Narwhal*

      I have! I had been at a small company for a couple years when they were acquired by a large international conglomerate, and despite claiming they didn’t want to change anything, things changed. I could go into further detail but long story short I was absolutely miserable, and my boss was not happy. I was also going through a huge struggle in my personal life at the time with my father’s cancer diagnosis and ensuing treatment, which made everything worse.

      I was put on a semi-impossible PIP, I was crying and dry-heaving from stress every day, all while working 12-14 hour days trying to meet my boss’s ever-moving goal posts. I finally reached a point where I couldn’t take it anymore, and my (now)husband finally convinced me that I should quit with nothing lined up. So I went to my boss and asked if we could have an honest conversation, and we agreed that this wasn’t working out and we set my last day and they agreed to not fight my unemployment claim. They also said they’d provide positive references since I had had a solid couple years prior to the acquisition when things went south.

      That being said…I’m not sure if this is going to work out for you. The big deciding factor in being able to negotiate a mutual departure is if both you and your employer are unhappy. You say you’re really good at your job – if that’s the case and only you are miserable, then the company has no motivation to help you leave. I was unhappy and they were unhappy – me leaving meant they didn’t have to continue with a PIP that probably took up a lot of my bosses’ and HR’s time, and they didn’t have to deal with all that came would come with potentially letting me go.

      I had also been at the company for several years, and up til the acquisition I had been a strong employee, so there was a solid track record prior, and they were more willing to maybe do a little more for me. You’ve only been there for 6 months, you’re still a new employee so they probably won’t feel any “loyalty” to you, and/or you might not qualify for any severance since that’s typically based on years at a company. Either way I didn’t receive any real severance, they just agreed to not fight my unemployment claim.

      I could be completely off and maybe your employer is unhappy too, in which case you have a shot! But I’d temper your expectations – receiving unemployment is probably the best you can do.

      Unless you’re suuuuuuper high up in the company, I’m sure the C-suite can negotiate insane departure packages.

      TLDR: Unless both you AND your employer are miserable, you can’t really negotiate a mutual departure. And unemployment is probably the most you’ll get (especially only 6 months in)

      1. bmore pm*

        she says her manager doesn’t trust her to follow through or do things correctly, which does indicates dissatisfaction with performance, imo.

    9. BadCultureFit*

      I did.

      I was a senior-level director reporting directly to the CEO. I joined in early 2022 and was MISERABLE within a few months, when I began to see how much this role was set up to fail. It was the first time in my career I’ve ever experienced toxicity like this.

      I ended up basically rage-quitting in early 2023. But because of my role, and the fact that I supported the CEO directly with some vital work, I basically asked for a retention bonus to stay on for the next two months. They agreed. However, I did have to sign a non-disparagement agreement.

      I am still job hunting but SO much happier. I think a mutual exit package can only work when you’re in an indispensable role.

    10. All knowledge is worth having*

      If you’re ready to quit without anything lined up, you don’t have anything to lose. If your company requires “Performance Improvement Plans” before they’ll let anyone be fired, it may well be worth having a discussion. What I’ve seen work is similar to what you’re describing. You think you’re doing great. Your boss disagrees. You’re possibly blowing off any attempts to improve your performance because someone else (who doesn’t oversee your work) is telling you you’re great. You may be. This may be a bad fit for personality or other reasons that have nothing to do with your ability to actually do the work your boss expects you to do at a level of ability and accuracy you were hired for. Or it may not.

      Regardless, your boss may be so relieved to avoid going through the immense effort of managing you out that they may agree to an extended/constructive resignation. Usually that’s somewhere between 30 and 90 days notice. You agree to do whatever workload they give you (likely limited to whatever portion of your job doesn’t result in frequent corrections from your boss) and you usually end up having time to look for another job on the side.

      From your side, they aren’t hassling you about whatever they think you’re doing wrong and you pretty much have a guaranteed paycheck for the agreed-upon time. From their side they don’t have to put in all the extra effort of managing you out, they have a firm end date (and can often get permission to post the position right away), and you won’t be eligible for grievance or unemployment since you resigned.

      Note that this will likely not be a “thing” in an environment where they tell people to get out as soon as they submit notice. Make sure you’re ready to walk with nothing before you bring up this option.

    11. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I was able to negotiate a layoff once, but the company was in financial trouble. Initially, they were going to keep me and layoff two others, but I proactively asked for the layoff and a small severance because I just wanted out.

      I’m not sure how much luck you’ll have if the company isn’t already planning to downsize.

  2. Designing a workspace*

    WFH folks, how did you design your workspace? Mine was makeshift due to the lockdown, and then nothing changed due to my budget. After some decluttering and $ saving, I’m ready to actively create a permanent home office, but I’m not intuitive at this. Just saying “this is a cute desk” and clicking “buy” is about my level. How did you map your workflow, choose shapes/products that fit your needs, account for good ergonomics, and all that jazz?

    1. Rosyglasses*

      I made sure I was facing a window for good natural light (and so I wouldn’t go bonkers) and also decided whether I wanted to be sitting all the time or sit/standing. That informed choice of desk. I also chose a corner of the room I was in based on what I could have around me (a bookshelf for all my books and notebooks etc, room for charging pad, room for a plant, pens, extra monitor, etc).

    2. Ama*

      I would do some experimenting with things you already have to figure out what shape of desk you want. The “desk” I’ve been using is one of those IKEA tables that folds out and when we moved into a house (from a tiny apartment) last year I was finally able to unfold it to the bigger size and instantly felt like I finally had my monitor where it felt more natural. Turns out I like my monitor about 25 inches from my face (it’s a double wide monitor) — and most home desks are only about 24 inches deep, so a traditional desk is not an option for me.

      One other thing I’ve discovered is essential for my WFH space is a place to put away my work computer when I am on an extended break from work. In my apartment, I had a space in my closet where I could just tuck all my work computer stuff away. I’m actually still looking for a good filing cabinet with enough space for this (and to store some of my papers), but I recommend it especially if your workspace is in a room you use for other purposes during weekends/vacations (mine doubles as my craft room), it just makes it feel more like you are getting “away” from work.

      1. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

        “Turns out I like my monitor about 25 inches from my face”. You just helped me figure out how to fix the one aspect of my office that’s been bothering me! I can put a small slim table *behind* my desk to make it a little deeper and get my monitors exactly where I want them! Thank you!
        To the overall question: My spouse and I both work from home, and we’re lucky enough to have two big rooms for offices. We set them up as sort of individual dens or old-school studies. I’m almost never on camera, so I went nuts and made my dream room. It’s my favorite room in the house. All my favorite weird art, soft rugs, personal knick-knacks, so many plants. A tea cart to hold lunch dishes. A daybed for the dog (and for the occasional nap). I see lots of advice here on how to make your office look good for camera, but please don’t neglect making a space that brings you pleasure.
        I figured my layout based on how I work. I sat at my “desk” and literally mimed various actions to see where I instinctively reached or looked, and that help me determine where everything goes. It’s worked really well for me.

      2. Drago Cucina*

        The recommendation to have someplace to put your work is excellent. When I first started working from home it was very tempting to jump back on my laptop and check email. Respond to requests. In other words, destroy my work-life balance. Starting a new job on the first day of remote working didn’t help.

        Changing things so that my work is not easily accessible after hours is a life changer.

      3. Too Many Tabs Open*

        Due to space limitations, my home workspace also holds my personal computer. I’ve found it surprisingly helpful to have a very different wireless keyboard and mouse for my personal computer and my work laptop (the home is white and the work is black); I may be looking at the same monitor, but the keyboard and mouse tell me whether I’m in work mode or home mode.

    3. jef*

      I thought about the things that helped and those that hurt in my office-office experiences and translated them to home. Since I was planning on working from home, I wanted dual monitors. I also use my home office for writing and crafting, so I tried to accommodate the peripherals of those activities into the setup too. For foundational things like desks, I thought about what actually feels good for my body (lots of space). If you don’t have a lot of experience with what works for you already, think about sitting in different spaces in your home (or literally do that) and see if that gives you insight (e.g. squishy unstructured space like a couch vs the space of a kitchen table).

      1. The New Wanderer*

        When I worked at the office, I loved having two large monitors. However, for more than two years at home I was working with one large monitor and my laptop (using the laptop keyboard too). So, I decided finally to set up a second full size monitor and use an ergonomic keyboard and …

        It was a total failure. My work desk allowed more distance to the screens and the monitors were the same make/model. At home my second monitor was slightly different and the combination of the aspect ratios, the mismatched color/brightness, and the shorter viewing distance was just off enough to give me terrible headaches. The ergonomic keyboard was too loud and the keys offset enough to slow down my typing. It was definitely worth a shot but I switched back after 3 days.

        Things that have helped – getting a 4-cube bookshelf, decorating with some personal touches like a few art pieces, and investing in a good office chair and a footrest. There are dedicated places on my desk for a plant, a mug warmer, and a ring light (which incidentally I hate, it hurts my eyes no matter what settings I choose, how do people stand it! but it does make a huge difference to how I look on camera). And the window, oh I love being near a window after literal decades of interior cubes. Because I’m so close to the window, I finally bought new curtains and that bit of color helps too.

    4. Jane Bingley*

      Start by making a list of your needs! My workspace is super simple – I need my laptop, my bullet journal, and some pens and highlighters. My husband needs two computers, an extra monitor, a professional-grade microphone, and physical files. So I have a desk that’s only about a foot wide and two feet long, and he has a much larger set up with drawers and a cord-organization hole. (Both IKEA – FJALLBO and MICKE respectively).

      Don’t shop for chairs online if you can help it. Go to local stores and try them out for a while. You really want something that makes your body happy. Ours are very different – my husband has a large traditional office chair with arms and lumbar support that can be adjusted a million different ways. Mine was an IKEA clearance deal that’s made for a child but suits my very short body well. What’s important is that you can spend 8+ hours a day in it without hurting.

      Figure out your organizational system. Do you need paper at all? If you can do it all online happily, that’s easy. I keep my bullet journal to the left of my laptop on my desk because I’m lefthanded and I rely on paper notes to remember things. If you need files, a desk like MICKE can have the file storage installed on the right or left side of the desk, so figure out before you set it up whether you want to sit to the right and have stuff on the left or vice-versa.

      Lighting is also important! If you can have a window above your desk with natural light and sheer curtains to stop you from going blind, you’ll look incredible in Zoom meetings. If that’s not practical, aim for a pair of standing lamps on either side of you with warm bulbs in them to help you shine. I have a desk lamp but I don’t usually turn it on it meetings – I use it for personal light when I’m not meeting. Overhead lights can be made better by using warm bulbs but you’ll usually do better with lamps. Or consider investing in a ring light if looking amazing on camera is really important.

      What to put in your background really depends on your set-up and location. The ideal is a bookshelf with a few books and a few trinkets, not overcrowded. If you can’t swing that, less cluttered makes it easier to turn on the auto-blur feature without making things distracting. It can help to have a desk somewhere where people don’t pass behind you, but that’s not always possible. My husband wanders on screen all the time for me, and I just warn him not to for important/external meetings. Internally, my team know he’s got headphones in and they can ignore him.

      Last but not least – make it aesthetically pleasing and fun! I have a fake plant on my desk (don’t get enough light for a real one), a desk lamp, a pen holder, and a cute little ceramic green elephant a former colleague gave me. I also have a favourite framed poster hanging above and a little cross stitch from a dear friend hanging above within my line of sight. Make it your own, even if it’s pretty minimalist.

      1. what the nope*

        My wfh desk is near a NE facing window where my houseplants live during winter (we have wood heat and it gets really dry in the rest of the house) and I added a small clamp light on a timer that keeps them happy when they don’t get morning sun. I also made a teeny fountain from a ceramic dog water bowl, a $5 micro pump, and some rocks from my yard. Keeps the plants happy and helps me cope when it’s drought/wildfire season.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Ooh, I just looked at the MICKE desk and that little thing may actually fit in my teeny place.

    5. Educator*

      I thought about what I had liked (and disliked) about previous in-office setups and invested in my favorite things, figuring that I would probably like them at home just as much as I had at work. For example, my standing desk is the closest thing I could find online to one that I had in an in-person office years ago.

    6. Rook Thomas*

      I didn’t have WFH as an option until I had recent foot surgery. But because I had time to prepare, I was able to plan —- so I looked for a desk that gave me space to spread out a bit, where I could have a calendar on the desk and some paper if I needed. Having 2 monitors is really helpful, so that influences the choice of desk. I wanted to make I could have some natural light and look out a window (or close the blind if I was getting distracted . . or if it’s too sunny). A comfortable chair is a must. I like a small quiet fan – helps move the air if it’s a warm day.

      I suggest thinking about how you work and what helps you feel happy and productive. I personally like to keep my desk pretty uncluttered if I’m not actively working on something, so space for an in-bin is helpful, as are some drawers. But I think focusing on what helps you work and feel comfortable is a good guide.

    7. English Rose*

      I’m lucky enough to have a small guest bedroom so I set up in there.

      My criteria were: facing natural light, good light generally, file space within arms reach, a comfortable chair, an additional screen for my laptop and not having my back to the door.

      All while leaving room for a guest bed and small sewing desk. (I have to admit the room is fairly… full, but I have everything in light colours so it doesn’t look too cramped.)

      It was all pretty simple and reasonably inexpensive. I bought a 2 x 4 vertical stack of those white Ikea Kallax cubes and a matching Kallax Lagkaptan desk which attaches to the vertical cubes. Cheap adjustable Ikea office chair and I set it up just inside the room facing the window. Daylight supplemented by a desk light which sits right on top of the cubes.

      It’s nice, I can see out of the window watching people go past and (importantly) it’s flattering light for all those Zoom calls! I only have to reach to my left to get files, and I keep stationery there too. It all works well.

      My yucky mistake? Worrying I was going to shove my laptop off the desk as there’s no ‘lip’ to the edge. So I put a strip of double-sided sticky tape on the far edge of the desk which, of course, quickly got horribly mucky and dirty and took me ages to clean off!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Go get a birch dowel and glue it to the top of the desk near the edge. You can get a square one and stain/paint it to match, then attach it with very strong glue or construction adhesive. Voila, instant lip. :)

    8. Isben Takes Tea*

      You’ve been working from home for a while, so you can take stock of little things that may have bothered you before, or helped you work better. Lighting? Air flow? Cluttered spaces? Ability to spread out? Where do your eyes go when they need a break from the computer screen? Look at the measurements of things you think you like, than take a tape measure and block it out in your room to get a sense of how your space will be impacted.

      I have limited space and also suffer from flat surface syndrome (where any flat surface just Gathers Things That Shouldn’t Be There), so I prioritized a very shallow desk with wall-mounted monitors. I also splurged my budget on custom-framed artwork that makes me deliriously happy to look at every day. I keep my desk and monitors facing the window, and it has saved my sanity to be able to look outside periodically and see the “neighborhood” (I face a tree and get lots of bird and squirrely activity).

      I got decision fatigue when it came to office chairs, so I settled with a basic chair-backed swivel barstool-like chair a friend was getting rid of. I need to be able to fidget and wiggle, and it is height-adjustable, so I can get at least the typing ergonomics right until decide on a more expensive option.

      Good luck!

    9. Blarg*

      Ok mine is … mine … but I love it. I live in a 650 sq ft apartment, so my desk setup is in my main room not my bedroom.

      1. I have it setup so that there’s a wall right behind me so that I never have to worry about mess being seen on video. I put art on the wall. Sometimes I paint murals on it. I call it the zoom wall.

      2. I built my desk by ordering a piece of 4’ long butcher block and attached legs. So there aren’t drawers or anything.

      3. My favorite … I hate sitting in chairs. I’m always sitting on my feet, with my legs up, etc. so I found a modular banquette set that had an armless ‘loveseat” type piece that I use as my desk-couch in lieu of a desk chair. I had to special order legs that were lower than regular table legs. Did that on Etsy.

      The whole thing makes me very happy. I also got lamps so don’t have to use artificial light. And as a bonus, if I needed, I could use it as a table for eating if I had guests or something crazy like that. :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Haha, for five or six years I had a big one-and-a-half-butt armchair that I used at my desk – sometimes sideways, sometimes straight on, just depending on my layout at the time. In my case, it was partly that I always sit cross-legged everywhere and partly that I accidentally trained my elder dog from puppyhood to sit in my lap while I work, so I needed a chair that could fit both of us. I lost custody of the armchair when I got a Great Dane puppy, so now I have a standing desk with a barstool tucked underneath for occasional use and the dogs take turns in the chair over in the corner. :P

        (OP, do you need a way for your home office to accommodate your pets in some fashion? A bed on the floor for your dog, a distraction box for your cat, etc?)

    10. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      My only piece of advice to you is pay attention to cable management. Not just on the desk, but at floor level. Make sure you arrange stuff so you aren’t rolling over the cords with your chair.

      And think about where you’ll put the stuff that isn’t used every day: like the charger cable for an Apple mouse, or that monitor dongle that you need if you have to hook up your phone to a large screen for a presentation.

    11. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I happened to be home-shopping when I landed my remote job, so the dedicated home office room was an attractive feature of the home I ended up buying. I point this out for its serendipity; things rarely play out that way.

      I’ve found that, generally, I’m always wanting more desktop. In an office, you’re bound by the building, cubicle size, fairness to your peers, etc, but at home, I’d prioritize a large workspace. I find L desks naturally appealing that way.

      I hate MDF and OSB with passions. If I were buying a desk, I would look for glass tabletops. Alternatively, I’d have laminated, safety glass cut to the dimensions to lay on top of an MDF or OSB desk top to provide a harder, more sag-resilient workspace. Risers are a fantastic way to reclaim some of the space that displays, docked computers, phones, etc, can consume.

      Also freed from fairness to peers, pay attention to natural heights. My current desk is 29″ tall; I’ve had them be as low as 26″ onsite. I don’t like keyboard trays (they sit too low). I don’t like arms on work chairs. Take elements like these into account when choosing your furniture.

      An extra display, an ergonomic keyboard, an ergonomic mouse (or trackball) can create QoL impacts well beyond their costs.

      Natural light can be as important to avoid as it is to include (try working with the midday sun behind you, washing out your displays; it’s fairly frustrating).

      Finally, your workspace is a reflection of and extension of yourself. Trust your gut and instincts; they’ll lead you in the right directions.

    12. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I realised that I only use a very small workspace (two monitors, yes, but the horizontal space houses only a mug, a keyboard, a mouse, a notebook and a pencil). I chose a small, shallow desk and my monitors are mounted above the desk on a sort of pole. Minimum footprint, and minimum opportunity to collect clutter. I think the desk itself was sold as being for a child for drawing/homework.

      I also use a kneeling chair. Standard office chairs aren’t suitable for my height, so they’re incredibly uncomfortable even when expensive and bedecked in accommodations. On the other hand I’m comfortable when forced to hold good posture, which a kneeling chair does.

      So for me the key factor was to think outside the box.

      Funnily enough, a few months after I got set up, my brother needed to buy office furniture for a home office and asked my advice. I asked him the same questions I’d considered, and he ended up getting something beautiful made by an Etsy seller that was exactly the dimensions he needed. Before our conversation he had got stuck on the idea that You Must Have A Deep Corner Desk which is very corporate “desktop plus CRT”.

      1. what the nope*

        My desk is a 24″x36″ old metal/formica table from work (higher ed surplus grade) and my chair is an adjustable folding chair/stool made for traveling musicians. I am amazed that the ergonomics have worked well for 3 years, but I also move around a lot.

    13. Indigo64*

      I had a main-level office that i used for the occasional WFH day pre-2020, but when my company announced we were “remote forever”, I knew I needed a different space! I took over a corner of the guest bedroom in the basement, and I made sure I had room for a standing desk and treadmill (a game changer for me!) The treadmill fits under the bed when not in use. Having space to spread out papers is important to me, so I put my existing desk against the wall and added a standing desk to make my own L shaped desk. Since I’m in a basement, I also made sure to get a good lamp. I’m planning to add some wallpaper to my little corner to visually separate “office” and “bedroom”. I love being able to close the door on my workspace at the end of the day and leave it behind mentally- that’s been important for me setting boundaries.

    14. Yorick*

      If your desk is small, you can get monitor/laptop stands. I like this for the height of the monitors and also because it allows me to store stuff underneath.

    15. Nicki Name*

      After using a makeshift workspace for a couple months, my top items for shopping were a flat surface of the right height (I’m short, so that’s a few inches below standard desk height) and room for cats since they like to stop by and sit with me. I wound up going with an adjustable table, and it has wheels so I can move it back and forth easily when getting into and out of my work nook.

      I got a couple cat beds after being inspired by Alison’s WFH pet pictures. There was one person who had to add two boxes to their desk, one for each cat, in order to get any work done. The cat beds, being nice and comfy and defined spaces, mostly discourage my cats from lolling around on my laptop keyboard.

    16. Tio*

      First thing, I sourced a desk that was good size for what I wanted to leave on it, and decided I wanted to get a standing desk.
      Second, somewhere to hold any and all paperwork I needed.
      Third, shelving.
      Fourth, artwork and framed stuff. I have some professional licenses I like to display, and I wanted them visible if I had my background shared in zoom.
      Finally, things like plants, air filters, and things that make the room more comfortable.

    17. The Shenanigans*

      I just chose a desk that looked cute, a chair that looked comfortable, a laptop stand, and a plastic mat so the chair doesn’t get stuck in the carpet. It’s working out fine. I would say just measure the area and make sure what you want fits, but not overthink it.

    18. Quinalla*

      I started with a desk, I need a decent sized one as I have physical materials (books, calc tools, etc. along with notepads, pens, sticky notes, etc.) that I need and like to have for my job. I did get an Uplift desk so I can stand if I want to. I don’t use it a lot, but it is nice to have and the attachment to put my tower PC under my desk and my keyboard & mouse there too is great for more desk space.

      I already had a camera and headset, so was set there, but get something that works for you there. My desk is in the basement but near a small window, so had that already and lighting down here is actually already nice.

      After that, got a few holders/organizers for paper, pens, etc. File cabinet for home stuff as I use the desk for home stuff too. A few coasters for drinks. Played with the setup of where everything was until I was happy with it!

      Finally put some lovely artwork on the wall where I can see it when I’m sitting at the desk. Makes me smile every time I look at it :)

    19. LaBellaLavanderina*

      If you have room, please order the Tresanti standing/sitting adjustable desk- I got mine at Costco. It’s a miracle. You can adjust the height, which is perfect if you have dogs/cats or toddlers trying to jump all up in your business- and it has a charging station with USB. It also wasn’t that expensive, maybe $300 tops?

    20. KG*

      When I negotiated permanent WFH, I moved to the dining room table so I could spread out. I knew I didn’t need the 6′ x 6′ I have when I’m in the office (or have room for it). I noticed I just used the space in front of me and to the left. When I moved and was able to create a proper office space I got a desk with a very small L that I put on the left. I also have a 2 drawer file cabinet on wheels that houses my printer/scanner.
      I highly recommend a good chair – I resisted because of the price for too long then I realized I spend more time on my chair than I do in bed.
      Once you’ve got it laid out the way you want, add task lighting. I don’t miss the fluorescent lights at work.

    21. Jaydee*

      When WFH became a long-term reality during the pandemic, I bought an L-shaped desk both because I spread my stuff out a lot and because I have a cat who believes he belongs on the desk to properly supervise me. My office is not just my WFH office but also storage for home paperwork, and the graveyard of old hobbies, so I got two lateral file cabinets that match the desk to corral all our household paperwork and hold things like a large plant and our printer. I have a south-facing window with a wide sill so lots of room for small plants. I found that I can’t face it directly because with my ADHD I get too distracted by everything out there. But I have my desk next to the window so it’s to my side for all the benefits of the light (and so the cat can birdwatch).

      Now we are about to go fully remote again for at least a year, so I’m cleaning and reorganizing and purging the hobby graveyard. I’m adding a comfy chair so I can get away from my desk if I want to. The dog and cat each have an office bed. I might add some new wall decor for a better background on video calls, or I might just repaint.

    22. Melissa*

      I knew I wanted an L- shaped desk, so I surfed the furniture stores online for styles I liked. Then I took old wrapping paper and cut a template out and moved it around the room, until it felt right.

      I ended up with my chair in a corner, and the L shape boxing me in, with the window on my left. Who knew I would thrive in a cubicle? It keeps me from cluttering the desk, since I’d have to enter the cubicle, and makes it feel more office-like.

  3. G. Lefoux*

    Good morning, commentariat! I could use your help–I could have sworn I printed this info off, but I can’t find it anywhere and I’m bad at searching this site. I am looking for the recipe for “bribery cupcakes” which was shared in the comments section of a post a few years ago. If I recall correctly, the question to Alison was from an OP who was experiencing an issue and knew that their neighbor (due to their job, which might have been a police officer but I can’t remember for sure) would likely know how to resolve it or who to contact about resolving it, and was wondering if it would be above board to drop by with some cupcakes, chat in a neighborly fashion, and casually mention the issue to see if they offered assistance. As I recall, some in the comment section felt strongly that this constituted bribing a public servant. Anyway, OP shared the recipe for “bribery cupcakes” in the comments, and I believe they were chocolate cupcakes with different choices of fillings and/or toppings. They sounded delicious and I’d really like to add them to the menu for the Ask-A-Manager themed cookout I’m planning!

    (Other menu items will obviously include guacamole, cheap-ass rolls, something spicy for a coworker to steal, and a birthday cake so fancy the only possible explanation is I’m having an affair. Other suggestions welcome!)

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Oh, that’s an AWESOME theme.

      With all the people going free-food-crazy stories this week, I wonder if you could also print off the stories from parts 1 & 2, cut them up and put them as individual placemats – so each person has a different story, and they can chat with others about which story they got?

    2. londonedit*

      Somewhere or other there’s also a recipe for chocolate cake with some sort of cherry pie filling, which was included in one of the food-based story round-ups a while ago because a woman would make indecent noises while eating said cake…

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        The When Cherry Met Sally cake! So good. (So flexible. It’s excellent with other combinations too, my mom’s favorite is spice cake with apple pie filling.)

    3. Skeezix*

      Here’s the recipe for that cake that OP’s co-worker…. ahem…. enjoyed in very vocal fashion… in case you didn’t snag it yet.

      1 box chocolate cake mix (I prefer Pillsbury)
      1 can cherry pie filling
      3 eggs
      Combine cake mix, cherry pie filling, and three eggs. Mix until well blended. If you mix by hand, the cherries won’t get cut up.
      Bake in well greased and floured 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 40 minutes.
      Frost.
      I prefer caramel frosting, but any type will do.

    4. ICodeForFood*

      I love the idea of ‘Ask a Manager’-themed food at a party… You probably should have some sort of llamas as decorations … Maybe a llama pinata…

        1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

          Chocolate teapots! When I started reading this site I didn’t realise that people used that term for anonymity and I was amazed how many Americans were involved in this industry that I’d never heard of!

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      Usurper Cranberry Sauce! It’d go nicely on top of grilled chicken or pork, or as part of a cheese tray.

    6. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      Wait, I don’t remember the birthday cake affair story! Where can I find it?

    7. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Pepperoni pizza with all the pepperoni picked off.

      Sandwiches (labelled “not for everyone”).

    8. A Girl Named Fred*

      Sugar cookies with royal icing decorated in the shape of chocolate teapots? (Suggesting cookies because actual chocolate teapots might be a specialized skill but PLEASE make actual chocolate teapots if you have that skill!)

      The “special recipe salsa” that was just three store bought salsas mixed together – remember to fold for best flavor!

      Get a big tub of Wendy’s (or other restaurant) chili and slap a shoddy “definitely homemade” label over the store logo.

      OH, and the hot dog sushi!!

      I think I’m having too much fun with this so I’ll stop. I hope you have a wonderful party, it sounds amazing!

    9. Mimmy*

      Okay, I want to know where you work so that I can get hired and attend the festivities!

      (Just kidding, please do not disclose where you work!)

  4. Purely Allegorical*

    How can I break into a tight duo at my new job without being sassy about it?

    I’m in a new job and was hired as a SME to provide very particular guidance about Thing X to a team that hasn’t had someone doing *just* that before. The team has historically been on the smaller side (around 6 people) but has recently doubled in size. Because of that smaller size, there’s one person on the team–Jane– who has been doing a little bit of X, a little bit of Y, and a little bit of Z. She has been on the team nearly 3 years and has the most experience with the client. Now that our team has grown, she is supposed to be doing just Z, I am doing X and someone else is doing Y.

    There is also a senior exec, Margaret, who used to be involved with this project as the day-to-day lead. As she has risen up the ranks and had more added to her plate, she’s no longer involved w the project officially. Unofficially, it’s still her baby. Jane and Margaret do a weekly call ostensibly to talk about the project. They’re really good friends, live down the street from each other in another town, and spend easily 80% of the call talking about their personal lives.

    They are both very chatty yet steamroll-y people, so it’s hard to be involved in this call. It’s also incredibly annoying to have a lot of work to do and be stuck on the call while they discuss Margaret’s husband’s golf habits. So far I’ve managed by letting them chat on for a while, and then jump in occasionally when I can to redirect the conversation to work stuff. 

    This feels incredibly awkward! Any tips for how to handle? 

    The other annoying thing is that my manager Dave is running the project now, but Margaret still clearly has a lot of internal power over it. Lines btwn her and Dave are very blurry (and Dave wasn’t the most helpful when I asked him how to negotiate the dynamic with her). 

    I want Margaret to know I care about the project and am an expert in my field, but it feels like that is directly tied to how well I can break into the friendship dynamic btwn her and Jane.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Maybe set up a couple of mentorship calls with each of them (together and separately? I’m not sure) to ask for a download of their knowledge about the project, how would they see aspect Z going in this context, etc? Only do that if you feel like it’s not going to make it seem like you don’t have confidence or aren’t taking the lead/ownership of your portion of the assignment. I can see it potentially helping shift the dynamic from “this is our baby and this rando is taking it away” to “I can trust this person to take care of something I really care about”

      1. Purely Allegorical*

        I like this a lot! It would also maybe help them feel like they still have an oar in, which I can over time try to gently phase out.

    2. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      A lot of this depends on the dynamics of your particular company, but one thing I might try if this were happening at my company would be:

      1. Make a slide deck with points I want to talk about.

      2. Give Margaret a heads-up that I have some important points to cover and would like to run through a slide deck (assuming neither she nor Jane have been presenting off a slide deck of their own), if that’s okay.

      3. As quickly as possible at the start of the meeting, start going through the slide deck.

      4. Come prepared with a polite one-liner to redirect attention to the slide deck as needed. AAM probably has good examples, sth that conveys “I want to make sure we have time to cover everything, so getting back to [point 3 on the slide]…”

      5. Once I’m through the slide deck, if the conversation reverts to golf habits, ask, “Am I still needed here for [project] discussion, or is it okay if I drop off?”

      Tone matters a lot here: friendly, detached, professional. No hint of frustration. Practice beforehand as needed.

      I find slide decks a very useful tool for keeping meetings on track, but you do have to be prepared to lead the meeting, and patiently herd the cats back on to the slide deck as needed. The good news is that having something in writing that everyone can see helps a lot, for the same reason that they tell us software engineers when doing code review to refer to documented standards as much as possible: then the dynamic becomes not “person A vs. person B”, but instead there’s an objective truth everyone’s agreed on together.

      1. Purely Allegorical*

        Man I would love to be able to do that, but I can tell that a deck with a formal agenda will not fly on these calls. They have a very informal tone and Margaret typically takes them while she’s doing something else in her house (cleaning, taking care of a sick kid, etc) and is not at her desk. I think they kind of used to be 1:1 mentorship calls for the two of them, and they are both struggling to transition to the fact that the team dynamic isn’t that anymore.

        But I can def have a think on whether I can come with some more concrete things to discuss, that could help it from getting so easily derailed.

        1. Try this.....*

          You can politely stress that Margaret can’t take these calls while she’s doing something else. Schedule accordingly.

          Don’t forget your goal, you’re trying to create a new habit, not reinforce an old one. The new habit is the call with slide decks with you, the old habit is Margaret on the call with Jane while doing something else.

          1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

            I agree about creating a new habit, but if Margaret is a senior exec, stressing what she can and cannot do might not fly.

        2. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

          Pity! Seems like the obstacle here isn’t the slide deck per se; as long as it just contains talking points that *you’re* running through, and is just an agenda and not visual things Margaret needs to look at (charts and stuff), I’m capable of attending meetings with slide decks while I’m not at my desk. I do it all the time.

          But if you don’t feel you can get buy-in for an agenda, that’s a bigger obstacle. I’m personally fond of the foot-in-door approach: getting permission to do something once, then building on it once I’ve demonstrated success with it. Could you treat this new approach as a one-off and see how it goes?

          If not, your idea of coming with more concrete things to discuss could do the trick!

        3. Elly*

          I can’t imagine doing things around the house while on a call like this. I felt bad earlier today when I was on a call and my cat came up next to me, tapping my arm for pets. Of course I pet her, but I made sure to stay focused on the meeting.

    3. Sloanicota*

      This is weird. I think I’d try to set a new expectation before the call. Maybe you can schedule it right before something else. “I only have fifteen minutes today before I need to drop off, so can we get an update on X and Y and make a decision for Z and then I’ll let you two catch up after I jump off?”

    4. Lasuna*

      Do you actually need to break into the friendship dynamic or would it work to redirect it when it is getting in the way of being productive? It depends a lot on company culture and on how reasonable these two people are, but you may be able to address it directly at the start of the call, which may make it easier to break in when the steam rolling happens. Could you start the call acknowledging that the calls typically turn into social calls between the two people, and you would like them to hold social conversation for the end of the call so that you can drop off the call at that point? It can help to lean into how busy you are, so that it doesn’t seem personal. The hard part is you then have to interrupt when the social talk starts (“I think we are getting off topic – let’s table this until we get through A, B, and C!”). It can definitely be awkward, but should be well received by reasonable people and should improve over time as they get used to focusing on business first.

      It doesn’t sound like you actually want to break into the friendship/engage in the social talk, so I think addressing it directly is the way to go if possible. You could also address it one on one with each of them if that would be easier. If the calls are truly unproductive and too difficult to redirect, you can also make the choice to drop off the call when it becomes social. “Well, it sounds like this has become a social call. I really need to get the XYZ done so I’m going to drop off now! Jane, I will call you later so that we can finish discussing ABC.” Keep the tone friendly and collaborative.

  5. Bait-And-Switch*

    Today from the tales of disastrous return-to-office plans:
    My office scheduled everyone for an in-person meeting from 9:30-10:30 (no agenda). We have been 100% remote, with a few people being assigned to come in because their job duties require it or because of performance issues, but occasionally we have had in-person meetings. We get an update that the meeting time has changed to 9-10 with a reminder to bring our laptops. I assume we have some training or review or IT thing we have to do. We get to the office for the meeting, and I ask which room they want us to use. They start directing us to individual desks. Hmm… ok, well, I was a little early, so whatever. Then they tell us to meet in a conference room. I bring my laptop and set it up. We proceed to have a generic meeting with no need for laptops. Then before wrapping up, we are all told that we have to stay the whole day and no one is allowed to leave early and that we are to come in 2 times a week starting immediately. Bonkers. No one has brought lunch and there isn’t really a lot to choose from at the office except a couple of vending machines, and to leave for lunch would take 40+ minutes, not including time to eat (our allotted lunch time is 30 minutes). The place was filthy; the desk I was at actually had a drawer full of peanut shells. The desk also had a poorly placed standing desk attachment that made the whole workstation difficult to use, and I ended up in terrible pain in my shoulder and wrist by the time I left. They weren’t prepared for us to be there, and I personally spent about an hour trying to set up people’s monitors and looking for power and HDMI cables, only to find none. The wifi wouldn’t let us connect to the sites and apps we need. I also typically pick up my kids from school during my lunches, so I told them I was leaving regardless. Some other folks had to scramble to make various arrangements for pets and kids. One woman was nursing and did not come prepared to pump since she was expecting to be there for only an hour.

    The whole thing was incredibly deceitful and intentionally misleading. I’ve started looking for a new job because of it. I don’t feel like I can trust anything now.

    1. Rosyglasses*

      That is terrible! I would also be looking for a new job – but man, the mishandling of that makes me cringe.

      1. Bait-And-Switch*

        I feel so uneasy about everything now. Like they could change the rules at any time and say it’s effective immediately.

        1. Rosyglasses*

          Which, to be honest, they can (most of the time). That’s the thing about companies – they will do what is in their best interest and we can hope, as employees, that we are at companies that also try to balance what will also help support their employees and make them successful. If there is a history of poor communication at the company, I would 100% not trust them to not make another poor decision like this that affects my life in such an extreme way.

    2. Gyne*

      That is outrageous and I am so angry on your behalf!!! Sorry, no advice, just commiseration.

      1. Rex Libris*

        Yeah, the sheer mismanagement (non-management?) evident here. Wtf was the management thinking? We’ll call everyone in for a meeting and then what? They’re trapped? Maybe they won’t notice? “You’re in the office now! No takebacks!” Seriously, it’s like a children’s game.

        1. Bait-And-Switch*

          I agree. I think it was intentioned to be a trap the whole time. They’ve gotten some pushback about RTO — I personally have explained the many reasons why I this job no longer fits with my life if we are required to work in person. I was hired remote and that’s what I agreed to.

          1. Bait-And-Switch*

            Those issues include a significant commute, family obligations, and chronic health problems that are easier to manage at home — did I mention I left in PAIN?! None of that suddenly went away because they wanted to play games. They weren’t even prepared to have us there!

            1. New Mom*

              Did anyone call out management about this? How did they defend this? So many questions! I feel like this should be a main question next week for AAM or a contender for worst boss/worst employee because man this is so bad. I can’t believe multiple people talked this out and decided it was a good idea.

          2. may spring rain*

            But what would be behind an intentional trap? I mean, yeah, the planning here was really bad. But a purposeful trap? To what end? That’s sort of a rhetorical question, because can’t it just be a case of terrible, incompetent planning and…that’s it? Maybe wires got crossed on who does what in preparation, and…that’s it?

            1. RVA Cat*

              The only rational (though unethical) purpose is to make people quit so you don’t have to do layoffs with severance.

            2. goddessoftransitory*

              It’s like they were hunting ferrets or something! Are they aware that they hired humans? And aren’t legally allowed to actually hold them prisoner??

      1. Bait-And-Switch*

        I said the same thing! I had to leave. I told them and left. But I don’t think everyone had the same attitude I did.

    3. Biotech guy*

      Is the company usually like this – springing stuff on you at the last moment – or is this a new kind of craziness?

      1. Bait-And-Switch*

        I honestly can’t really say. Every few months they will say something about return-to-office plans or possibly relocating or new policies or whatever, but then they never mention it again.

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        I was going to say, this is not a “return to office” story. This is a “someone screwed up” story. Just from skimming I see:

        forgot to order cleaning service
        can’t pick a time
        don’t know what equipment is needed
        didn’t test wifi (the worst one on the list!)
        didn’t check our furniture needs

        so basically nothing that has to do with “return to office”

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          It sounds like management thought everything in the actual physical office froze in place like Sleeping Beauty and would simply spring magically to life again without a hitch.

    4. K8T*

      I imagine many of your coworkers are feeling the same way. Are you on good enough terms with enough people to get their honest opinion about it? If so AND the job is worth it to you – I’d try to push back as a group while still looking for a new opportunity.

      I’m sure many people are about to jump ship – I certainly would!

      1. Bait-And-Switch*

        It’s not really worth it. My trust is so broken that I’ve made up my mind to leave. Other people are very close to retiring or lack other options. I’m new so I don’t really have a vested interest in putting up with BS. Asking people to come into the office is one thing, being deceitful is another.

        When I told them I had to leave — after school pickup is always going to be a thing I have to do. I can’t leave and come back because it’s too far away. The school does not have bus transport to my house. So I’ll have to leave midway through the day, which seems silly considering I come in to sit in a room by myself to answer emails all day. But if that’s what they want fine. Like I said, I’m looking for another job so I don’t plan to be there long.

        1. K8T*

          Ugh yeah in that case try and get out of there. I’m of course not sure of your office but if a lot of you do the same/similar job, I’d really get a jump on applying for jobs now.

    5. Ama*

      That is, by far, the worst handling of return to office that I’ve heard yet. When you find a new job, please tell your manager that the way this was handled was what started you looking, they need to know this is a terrible way to treat people.

    6. Jujyfruits*

      Wow. That whole situation is horrible. I can’t get over a drawer full of peanut shells??? That’s disgusting.

        1. Bait-And-Switch*

          That’s exactly what I thought about! (Well, after I wondered why on earth it was there… no one has been in the office for 3+ years so… mice?)

    7. ICodeForFood*

      Oh my… that really, REALLY sucks. The company will lose people over this, but they’ve already lost people’s trust and engagement. Incredible.

    8. Sam I Am*

      I’m gobsmacked at this whole thing, and as a BF/pumping mom, wincing in sympathy for the nursing woman. I hope she promptly left. Pumping schedules are not something to be cavalier about!

      1. JustaTech*

        Seriously! No pumping space and no food? It’s not like I drag my pump and all its parts everywhere just in case.
        That’s a recipe for pain and rampaging hangry!

      2. ScruffyInternHerder*

        I haven’t nursed or pumped in a decade and not going to lie, my chest twinged at that. I know what happened whenever I attempted to ignore my body’s schedule there at work (mastitis) and my bosses basically told me to knock it off as nursing was temporary, so don’t break my body over work schedule changes!

    9. IrishGirl*

      oh my, the poor women who is nursing. I feel bad for her and my guess is your company probably doesnt have the proper set up for her to nurse in office if they do make her come in every day.

      1. Bait-And-Switch*

        I think there are some available rooms. I don’t know if they have a designated space. But dear lord, the whole place is dingy… Kind of depressing. I was hired remotely and have never really been in, aside from onboarding and picking up stuff. I was told by someone else that the building we are in is actually the nicest one. Oof.

        I’m actually shocked at how many places don’t have pumping space. I worked at a gyno office once, and a pumping person had to find an empty office to use while the occupant was out.

    10. Quinalla*

      WTF? RTO can be done companies though don’t expect people to be thrilled about it, this is NOT how to do it. Give people ample notice! Don’t trick them into coming to an in person meeting and tell them they have to stay the entire day, WTF?

      I’m glad you are looking for a new job, that would 100% be my reaction to this chaos especially since the office clearly wasn’t cleaned and setup for anyone to return to work. Management is obviously a train wreck with this BS and the few people who probably are reasonable in management are being overruled by the unreasonable folks.

    11. Overeducated*

      Wow that’s so disrespectful. It’s not treating you like adults. I’m sorry!

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      If they want people back in the office, they can damn well A) make sure the office is fit for use and B) NOT spring it like the world’s absolute worst surprise party.

    13. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      That is terrible! Like, let’s trick people into a RTO.
      What a bait and switch. Which clueless executive thought that would be a good move?

  6. data is cool*

    Piggybacking on the WFH letter from yesterday, how can I build relationships when my team doesn’t do that kind of thing and I’ve already been here 2 years? There’s no Slack, no social Teams channels, no coffee chat, no small talk before meetings, and cameras off is the norm. People are generally willing to turn their cameras on if I do, but I don’t have many meetings and I avoid them when possible due to a learning disability that makes it hard to be effective at technical work in that format. I’m fine with meetings or calls they’re not technical, that just isn’t something my team does aside from intros for new team members. So my question is how to try the suggestions in yesterday’s letter in a way that wouldn’t make me out of step with the culture?

    1. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      Are there 1-2 people you think might be interested in something like that, and you could just…start doing it with them?

      You may not be able to change the culture, and some folks may prefer to have none of this virtual social stuff, but there’s probably a set of folks who want the same things you do. You don’t need it to be a sweeping change to the culture to set up your own small coffee chat with a couple other people who enjoy that sort of thing.

      If you’re not sure who might be interested, I’d suggest approaching folks bilaterally. (And ask as a genuine question – like, don’t pressure anyone who this just isn’t their thing. It’ll be more enjoyable if everyone actually wants to be there.)

      1. data is cool*

        Not on my team. I’m starting to look outside my team, but I think I’ll have to start with the phone call/small talk approach first since the current dynamic is so entrenched.

    2. Mid*

      There probably isn’t much you can do, without a shift in company culture. It also depends on company size, team size, how many new hires there are, how many people are remote vs in-person, etc.

      Are there affinity groups at your company? Is it big enough for people to potentially be interested in them?

      Otherwise, would management be open to sponsoring optional team-building activities, like a virtual trivia night, scheduled for the last half hour of the workday (like 4:30pm, not 8:30pm), possibly with a small prize available (winning team gets a $10 Starbucks gift card for example.) This would likely be an easier sell if there are a decent number of new hires, so people can get to know each other better.

      Also, if a significant number of people are fully remote, or even partially remote, it might make sense for the company to invest in something like Slack and encouraging social channels. But that’s something that would probably need to come from higher up. And even then, some people truly don’t want social time at work. If you’re someone who wants a more social workplace, being fully remote might not be the best fit, at least at this company.

      1. data is cool*

        There are affinity groups, but they don’t have a platform for online interaction and most events are just interviews with relevant speakers.

    3. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      Could you start a social teams channel? We had a new starter a couple of months ago, and I honestly forget I’ve never met her in person. We do have cameras on in team meetings which helps, but also we have a team chat that we can use for fun or serious stuff. You could set it up as a central place to pop little queries and see if it’s used, and if so move to more social chat?

      1. data is cool*

        I’ll ask my boss about that. I wouldn’t have the standing to do it myself, but he might.

        1. Face Made for Email*

          We started a Discord for staff so we could chat more freely than on the company Slack. If you can’t technically set something up in-house yourself, something separate like that might an option. There’s still the chance that you’re going to be throwing a party that no one wants to attend, but it’s worth a try?

    4. loneposter*

      I’m always wondering about the companies that have social slack/teams channels… They just aren’t done at my company. To start one you’d have to get IT approval to do it and who really wants to be known as the owner of a social team?

      I created one in my group team channel, but besides me posting there’s not any activity (I’m the boss so I had hoped that would help people get over the fear of looking like a slacker thing). I was happy to see that there are some group chats going on so I guess there is that.

      Can you not avoid the technical calls just to get yourself out there? Understand they don’t bring much to the party work wise, but they can be valuable for the relationship building aspect.

      Other than that, just randomly pick some opportunities to call people. So instead of sending an email or chat ask if they have a few minutes to go over that thing you were going to ask about. Spend the first 1-2 minutes chatting. “Plans for the weekend?” “How’s your weather?” “Did you see that weird email that HR sent yesterday?”.

      Honestly, it can be as simple as that.

  7. WorkplaceSurvivor*

    I’d love tips on recovering from a bullying, micromanaging boss. I was part of a classic case of “Set-up-to-Fail Syndrome”.

    I’m having the worst time letting go of the unfairness of my treatment, and my own part in slowly becoming a not-so-great employee because of that. I still (a couple of years later) notice myself doing habits like over-taking notes, documenting my every step, and being so scared of making mistakes that I freeze up.

    So, anyone who has successfully recovered from (or is recovering from) that sort of treatment, I’d love to hear your story!

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Oh my, yes!

      I do Internal Family Systems therapy. So I went back in time mentally to that time in my life. I found and wrote down how I felt in my body and emotions, what images and phrases and beliefs I had. I was able to connect to a lot of compassion and warmth (and if you aren’t (for example if you feel judgment or fear) see what that part of you is afraid of happening if you did allow yourself to connect to warmth, and see if you can negotiate with that feeling to let you just try this experiment in a safe place.

      Then I did a re-do of past incidences that were particularly impactful. I imagined something different happening, things like me standing up for myself or my boss never being assigned to that position in the first place. Then I did what’s called a retrieval – I took the part of me that was stuck in the past and acting as if it was still happening, and with warmth and compassion asked it if it wanted to come join me in the present moment or to go to a made up world or anything it wanted. Then, I did an unburdening – what burden does that part carry and where? If it wants to give it up, does it want to give it to an element like water/fire/etc or to an ancestor or something else? Then the final step is reclaiming a gift – what would this part like to have? Maybe a quality that it had to cast aside in a time of anguish, or maybe something that doesn’t make clear sense to you now, like wings or a blanket or something like that.

      I’ll post a link in a follow up comment for a site that consolidates all these steps.

        1. WorkplaceSurvivor*

          Thank you so much! I so so appreciate the actionable (and with steps) advice. This also sounds really similar to my experience with how meditation has taught me to look at thoughts and let them pass.

          You’ve given me a lot to look through- thank you again!!

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I am so sorry that happened to you! I had something similar happen, but when others became targets, it became weirdly easier for me (trauma-bonding with coworkers, I guess). One thing that helped me was to look back over previous jobs & see them as proof that I was not the problem. Getting a new job where people were kind & supportive really helped.

      I still do some of the survival-type stuff I did during that time in modified form. But only if I can continue to see the benefit to me. (My organizational skills definitely vastly improved during that time, & I am keeping such a hard-won skill.)

      I also have tried harder to stand up for people I see who can’t stand up for themselves in the workplace.

      I frame it in my mind that fire tempers steel, & I have gone through fire.

      1. WorkplaceSurvivor*

        Thank you for sharing this, and I’m sorry you had to deal with something similar! Anything that warps your perspective is just so… frustrating to move past.

        I’m very glad you got a new job with good people. I’m somewhere like that now (with kind good people and bosses), and I can tell that it’s helping. I think you and others commenting are so right- it’s going to take time and experience to start trusting that I won’t let this happen again to myself or others. Time to see that I’ve got a lot more “steel” in me now.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      Therapy and time.

      It took me 2.5/3 years to fully recover.

      A therapy nugget that might help. A lot of times when we have negative thoughts or catch ourselves doing old habits, our instinct is to fight it, and we get stuck in a loop of anxiety and negativity. The “dont think of a pink elephant” conundrum. Instead, acknowledge kindly, and let go. it can look like “ope look at me overdocumenting. wow its nice i dont have to do that any more.” and maybe you keep doing what you were doing and thats okay. with time and the change in how it feels – you may find yourself able to pivot and document less, or put it away and go back to it at another time, or put it away completely because you dont have to do it.

      you are unlearning behavior that is tied to emotions and thats really powerful hard stuff to undo. so cut yourself some slack – there’s no deadline here. progress is good and progress is not always linear.

      1. WorkplaceSurvivor*

        Appreciate you sharing, and I’m sorry you also had this experience.

        That’s a really good therapy nugget, and I needed that reminder to cut myself slack. You’re so right that progress isn’t always linear… I have very unfair expectations for myself, and that probably got me here in the first place.

        Time and self-compassion. And yeahhhh I probably do need to get back on the therapy train too. Thank you again.

    4. Shirley Keeldar*

      I say to myself a lot, “They are bad managers. That doesn’t make me a bad employee.”

    5. New Mom*

      Hi! Sadly I can relate BUT I’m on the other side of it. I had a manager for 18 months when I first started my career that was, looking back, borderline abus*ve. He isolated me from others and would belittle me, scold me (like a child) over small mistakes, there was a thinly veiled threat of me being fired for doing anything that displeased him but the WORST was he would regularly hold me hostage in a conversation until I admitted I was wrong and he was right, it was really humiliating.
      One example, I was invited to a client dinner and I asked him if I could expense the dinner before heading out. I saw a flash of anger on his face and then he belittled, scolded and wouldn’t excuse me from the conversation until I said I was wrong for asking. I was on the verge on tears by the end and saying I just wanted to end the conversation and would pay out of pocket but he kept insisting that I say out loud that I was a bad person for asking. Ugh. I still seethe when I think about it, but on the bright side I don’t shake with fear at the thought!
      I know I was a lot younger then and out up with stuff I would never put up with now. That boss was let go and he has foundered a bit through his career because he has pulled the same stuff at other organizations and his other direct reports did not put up with it as long as I did.
      It took a while but I can say that almost seven years later it doesn’t impact me anymore. I’ve luckily had much nicer managers since then that helped me anchor what appropriate and inappropriate behavior was with a boss.
      I’m really sorry you had to deal with such an awful manager and my two cents is eventually time will heal this wound. Virtual hugs.

      1. WorkplaceSurvivor*

        Ugh, I’m sorry that you went through that! Thank you, it’s good to hear from people on the other side of healing. I was also in my early-mid 20s going through this, so your comment about being young hits home.

        That’s awful how he treated you. I sadly relate so much to that story about your yelling boss, and him treating you like a child. Towards the end, we’d gone remote for COVID, and I actually hung up on my ex-boss in the middle of a particularly mean tirade where she told me that “some people with (insert my disclosed and ADA-covered condition here) need to go make arts and crafts for a living” cause that was “clearly” all I was capable of.

        Frankly, I was right to hang up on her, and I’m still oddly grateful sometimes for that comment. It was so below the belt, nasty, and utterly wrong about *any* person, that it woke me right up to how cruel she’d been towards me. And that, honestly, I had been ignoring a lot of red flags. On a happier note, I documented that, and it’s also probably part of why I got a nice severance package when I got laid off soon after… (along with the aforementioned ex-boss and most of our messed-up department).

        Time seems to be the universal healer- but I have to be kind and patient with myself. I so appreciate everyone’s reminders about that. Virtual hugs to you as well, and I hope you’re thriving (& congrats on being a New Mom)!

        1. Feline outerwear catalog*

          Sending solidarity, I had my one year anniversary of being fired this year and it triggered a bunch of stuff for me. I’m mostly doing ok with time/therapy but ugh it’s still hard some days.

          Thanks again to Filthy Vulgar Mercenary for the link, I’m going to check that out, too.

          1. WorkplaceSurvivor*

            Thank you- it’s rough out there. Wishing you the best on your healing also!

  8. Pencil and Ink*

    I have a great employee who has been in her position for two years. (We work in a large university.) She is the first person I have even managed and I’m a bit at a loss for what I need to evaluate her on and how I coach her to grow in her role.

    She manages from the bottom well, she writes well enough for the position she is in (I’m trying to coach her to be a better writer), and she gets her work done quickly and accurately. It’s the less concrete skills that I need help managing her on. So far I’m coaching her on judgment as to when it speak in meetings and she’s gotten better at that. Is there a checklist somewhere of skills needed to be successful in a job? If it makes a difference, she’s toward the beginning of her career (possibly in her late 20s-early 30s).

    Thanks for any advice!

    1. Angstrom*

      1) What skills would she need to add or improve to be GREAT at her current job?
      2) Where would she like to be in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? Ask her. What skills would she need to develop to get there?

      You can never be too good at communicating — everything from writing and formal presentations to hallway pitches to reading a room and knowing what styles will work with different team members.

    2. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      A few thoughts:
      – If she’s at “writes well enough,” do you realistically think you can get her to “exceptional writer ready for higher level work?” Are there other essentials for her current role that she’s just-ok at — even small things — or things she’d need to move up that she doesn’t have exposure to yet?
      – Why are you looking to do this kind of coaching? Maybe because you want to retain her, or because she wants it, or because you need her to do certain things better in her current job, or you need someone in a higher level role and you’d like it to be her? Or is this more out of the (very common, but often misguided) managerial instinct that all our people should be growing all the time because we find it satisfying to develop people? Start with the “why ” and build the plan from there. If there is no compelling “why,” I’d reconsider your plan.
      – There’s a risk with high performers that you push them too far too soon, and end up needing to give a LOT of critical feedback when they don’t immediately meet the new bar. Like if she needs coaching on her writing, AND coaching on speaking up in meetings, and then you introduce additional coaching on XYZ new skill, suddenly she’s going from “I thought I was good at my job” to “nothing seems good enough for my manager.”
      – Nothing works better at building judgement than explaining how you approached a complicated problem, why you did what you did, and asking her if she sees any ways you could have done it better. This guards her from accountability — she’s not actually making any higher-level decisions — but it helps give her insight into pressures you face that she might not even know exist. Ex. I might have her sit in on a meeting with a difficult colleague where we’re trying to negotiate a hard decision, then debrief with her afterwards. Or I might share a draft of a memo I’ve written for leadership and ask for her feedback/edits (while being clear that I’ll make the final decision about what edits I incorporate).

    3. Firecat*

      Sounds like she’s solid on hard skills but struggling on soft skills.

      Some things managers did that helped me improve soft skills were:

      Prep me before a meeting. This will be an active listening meeting where you shouldn’t speak up unless asked specifically since Sr. Leadership is there.

      Mini meetings directly after high EQ meeting where we would dissect how people felt during certain times, discuss how the speaker managed the emotions well (or didn’t) etc.

      Mini meetings after I was a speaker to dissect how I thought it went and bring any blind spots to my attention.

      This helped a ton. A know a lot of people balk that “This is so much work” but most people don’t bat an eye at spending the same amount of time or more coaching hard skills. Why should soft skills be any different?

    4. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Networking is important, and service opportunities can be a great way to pick up that (and other) skills – if she’s interested! Any university is going to have a ton of opportunities for service, so it would be a matter of asking around a bit to find a few opportunities that might be of interest to her.
      Also, is there anything she can do to start developing her own leadership/management skills? (Once again, if that track is potentially of interest to her.)

    5. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Depends what kind of job it is. Career advice will definitely vary. I manage people in this age range and have zero care about writing ability, in fact, no one reads the eloquent emails, so writing well is actually a hindrance. So knowing what this person’s job is would be helpful

    6. Tio*

      For soft skills, can you have her practice a pitch or presentation with you directly before you have her present it at the meeting and then give her feedback? If she’s breaking in on meetings, can you ask her before she goes in what important points she wants to address in it, and then help her filter right then what ones are either important or relevant to this meeting, and what ones might need to be tabled until later?

    7. The Shenanigans*

      Ask yourself the magic question: what differentiates a great person in the role from merely good? Then coach the employee on the skills you’ve come up with.

  9. It’s friday*

    Was talking with a small business acquaintance l. I am curious to AAM opinions on this topic which for me and my acquaintance turned into a friendly debate.

    Does anyone have a small retail business where you have sourced inventory to sell in your shop(and done properly on your end) from eBay, Etsy, Ali express, Amazon, etc?

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      like drop shipping? I don’t prefer that since I wouldn’t trust the quality but I used to sell jewelry I made myself on Etsy

    2. K8T*

      What’s the debate?
      Personally I think dropshipping is a scam/unethical if that’s the topic

    3. It’s friday*

      No dropshipping. Acquaintance was looking to add some variety to their inventory. They wanted some unique items they could only locate on these type websites.

      1. Mid*

        I’m honestly not sure how unique items are that can be bought on Amazon/eBay/Ali Express. Sadly a lot of stores on Etsy are now largely reselling of generic products from the other sites, pretending to be a small business.

        I’m know plenty of small businesses do reselling like that, it’s fairly normal. I strongly dislike it when a business is claiming to be local/handmade and is primarily selling non-local/handmade products because they sell a few local/handmade items with a ton of reselling generic goods.

        I’m not sure what the debate is. Plenty of businesses do it. Depending on how you market it, it can be fine or it can be unethical.

        1. It’s friday*

          You figured out the debate. My acquaintance is not doing this maliciously just looking to source unique items for a non-Etsy art supply store.

          1. Hillary*

            The other way to do it is use Etsy to find makers and contact them directly. A few conversations can make it clear pretty quickly if they make pottery in their garage or buy from Aliexpress. Most of the makers I know who bother selling online also do wholesale or consignment if the price is right.

          2. I have RBF*

            For supplies she can source a lot of places and it’s not unethical. Some stuff you can’t buy except in wholesale lots to resell at stores.

            In my small business I sell consumable supplies that are bought wholesale, and presented for the convenience of my customers. They aren’t my main business.

            If I had a storefront I would stock a lot more.

        2. HBJ*

          This, especially the first paragraph. Sourcing from these places is basically as opposite of “unique” as you can possibly get.

          I have some experience from the consumer side. I do a craft where there are lots of small indie supply shops. Pretty much all of them claim to be unique and special. But if you follow it for any length of time, you see that the same selection rotates among the shops. They’re all sourcing from Aliexpress and then marking it up by approximately 2x and reselling. I just go directly to Aliexpress now for my supplies.

          1. I have RBF*

            That’s great if you can get consumer quantities.

            But if the Ali-Express seller only sells in lots of 1000 or more, some business has to shell out for the 1000 in order to sell you one to ten.

            1. HBJ*

              The stuff I’m looking for and the particular stuff I’m seeing resold absolutely sell in consumer-size lots. A few months ago, I literally bought an item and then less than two weeks later saw it pop up in an online shop for twice the price.

        3. Quinalla*

          Yes, we ran into this where someone claimed to have handmade furniture, but we found out it was just marked up bought from somewhere else – super shady. If you aren’t lying about the products, I don’t have a huge issue with it, but it sucks how much etsy has been diluted by this BS.

    4. The Shenanigans*

      Oh, as a consumer, I don’t like that practice at ALL. The fact this is so widespread makes me hesitate to buy from small businesses unless I know the person or someone I trust knows the business.

  10. I'm a mess*

    I’m not sure if I should tell my grandboss that I have anxiety and depression.

    For context, I’m currently using FMLA to only work part time because of the physical symptoms of anxiety/depression (insomnia, nausea, exhaustion). Getting the FMLA was something I did through my grandboss instead of my boss because it was my grandboss who expressed concern and suggested the part time schedule. But, also, I avoid interacting with my boss as much as possible because they’re the source of my anxiety.

    I haven’t told my grandboss about my anxiety/depression, because I’m scared he might ask what I’m anxious about. My boss has been at this company for 20 years and everyone loves them (except the few people who they’ve managed, who have only stayed a year or two). So I don’t think anyone would believe anything negative I said about my boss, and my boss would deny everything.

    I have to “renew” my FMLA every month though. After the first month, I said I needed more time to try another medication for the insomnia. Which is true, but I’m also seeing a therapist for the anxiety/depression and don’t know that I’ll ever be able to get that under control until I leave this job.

    What should I do next month if my grandboss wants to know why I can’t come back to work full time yet? I feel like he’ll want more and more details the longer I’m using FMLA.

    Or what do I say if he even just asks if the new medication is helping with my insomnia? Even if I start getting more sleep, I would still have the anxiety/depression to deal with. (I’m too anxious read books anymore because I dread work so much, and I’m on the verge of tears with increasing frequency, so I don’t think I could go back to full time work.)

    1. Jujyfruits*

      Keep it vague: My doctor and I are still working together and I need to use more FMLA.

      That is your protected time. The paperwork is a headache but it’s worth it to have the space and help you need.

    2. Educator*

      You are not a mess—you are a human being experiencing a medical challenge. Sorry it is happening.

      Do you have any HR people? If so, I would try to manage all the FMLA stuff through them and keep it a little more separate from your direct reporting line. As a manager, I don’t want to know (and would certainly never presume to have an opinion about!) the medical situations my team members are experiencing. The only exception would be something like an allergy where I needed to take direct action to help keep the team member safe. But your mental health? Not their buisness. I would just describe it as an “ongoing medical situation that I am working to resolve,” ask your doctors for documentation that focus on what you need from your employer rather than your diagnoses, and remember that you are entitled to your privacy.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Could you talk to your grandboss about the issues you’re having with your boss? Seems like he might be able to offer you some help in that respect, without knowing about your boss. If others have quit because of said boss, grandboss might already know that boss is problematic as a manager and that you’re probably on your way out as well due to this boss. Good luck!

    4. One HR Opinion*

      As for work itself, I have the 2 following suggestions:
      1. Tell grandboss that you don’t work well with boss and were like to know if there is someone else that could be your direct supervisor.
      2. Decide if it’s even worth staying there. I’ve had a family member who ended up having trouble working because she didn’t get out of a situation like this for years and her anxiety soared and her confidence plummeted. If things are unlikely to improve after doing #1, seriously consider the long term impacts of staying

      As for FMLA
      Make sure you understand your FMLA rights. I would suggest asking if the medical provider will write the FMLA paperwork for a longer period of time. For instance, if the certification is written such that you need a reduced work schedule for two months, they cannot have you recertify until that time has expired.

      1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. The company who handles my FMLA leave certifies the leave for a year, but my employer requires us to “re-up” every six months, to make sure we really still need it, I guess. It’s a pain, but worth it for the peace of mind.

    5. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. Just keep in mind that you don’t have to answer anyone’s nosy, intrusive questions with full detail. Even your boss. It’s perfectly fine and professional to respond with vague statements like “I appreciate your concern, but I prefer not to go into detail about my medical condition. I’m working with a doctor that I trust, and I feel good about my progress.”

      I sincerely hope you get to feeling better very soon. I have struggled with episodes of severe anxiety since childhood, and I know how debilitating it is.

    6. The Shenanigans*

      I went through this with a friend. There’s no way this gets better unless you get a new job. Seriously, look for anything – even part-time retail would be better than what it sounds like you are dealing with.

    7. Hillary*

      Hang in there, it will get better. You’re where I was last year, the anxiety and depression did start to improve once I was sleeping (also with therapy and meds, sleep alone wasn’t enough).

      You can always tell your grandboss you’re working with your doctor and things are slowly getting better, but you’re not back to yourself yet. It sounds like your your grandboss cares about you – maybe talk to your therapist about why you don’t want to tell them your boss is making you anxious.

      Hugs

  11. Former Retail Lifer*

    This is a weird question, but where do middle-aged people who do not work in tech, healthcare, or outside sales work? I worked retail and now I’m in property management, and, in both fields, on-site staff were in their 20s and 30s, and upper field management was in their 30s to 40s. Progression to the corporate office is/was rare. People leave both fields, but I legitimately don’t know where they take their skills to. I’m in my upper 40s, older than my peers, and I don’t want to do this forever. All of my friends my own age work in tech, healthcare, or sell real estate, none of which are things I’ve got a good head for. Is there some field that everyone else my age is flocking to?

    1. Elle*

      You most likely have a lot of skills that can be applied to other fields. Break down what you do day to day and you’ll find a lot of companies are looking for those skills. It might help to see if there’s a community center in your area that offers job coaching and resume building. That might point you in the right direction.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I’m not quite sure how to answer this question. Are you asking for fields where former retail workers are flocking to, or just generally, where do people in their 40s work? The latter won’t give you much insight: we work in the fields that we’ve been working in since our 20s, or we’ve changed fields throughout our careers due to a variety of reasons. Some of us are lawyers, or accountants, or marketing managers, or researchers, or any other number of things.

      It might be better to think about what skills you have and wish to apply to a future role. Are you super organized and like to juggle schedules and projects? Maybe a office manager role is right for you. Are you really into numbers and have a good head for budgeting? Maybe an accounting role is the right fit.

    3. I watered your plants while you had covid*

      Government? I work for state government and while there are all ages a lot of the admin type staff are mid career and 40+

    4. Rex Libris*

      A lot of us get out of the private sector in favor of civil service, non-profit or academic jobs. I realized the other day that I don’t know anyone in my age bracket (late 40s, early 50s) who isn’t either self employed, in civil service or academia, or some sort of professional career (doctor, lawyer, professor, etc.)

      1. allathian*

        Yup, me too, although granted I’m not in the US. Early 50s here and I have coworkers of all ages between mid-20s (the vast majority of IC jobs in my field require a college degree, some require a postgraduate degree (Master’s, or in some cases PhD).

    5. 40something Employee*

      There are plenty of people who work in “tech” but who don’t write code or program computers. Customer Support and Customer Success (sometimes called Client Success) are two fields that you could look into. Orders Management and Project Management might also be search terms you could look into. The main thing, though, is that you might have to start in a role that seems lower level than you think it should be in order to break into a new industry.

      I’ve personally worked in local government, a university, a software company, and now I work at a financial services company.

    6. Whomst*

      This may just be a cultural thing, but where I’m from the middle-aged workers also can be teachers, tradesman (mostly plumbing and construction in my experience, those approaching 50s do tend to be field/project management though), or they work in a manufacturing plant. Less common options that I have seen include farms, home-run daycares, USPS, and working in law.

      Probably not the answers you wanted to hear, but that’s my experience.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’m 43. I work at a university, in the prospect research field. I identify potential donors to the university, and find information about people that I can then analyze to help fundraisers build relationships with them and solicit them for gifts. I’ve known other people to come into this field later in life than I did, after experience in other areas of back-office academia, libraries work, and even investment banking. I find it really rewarding: I think this university is something really special, and I like helping to support it. I love seeking out information and analyzing it. I especially love the curious, intelligent, and downright geeky folks I work with.

    8. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Trades, warehouses, being a social worker ( is that healthcare?) , and that’s all I got ..there’s a lot of places tho

    9. Can't Sit Still*

      My career progression was heavy industrial – manufacturing – accounting – biotech. I was in various administrative roles, i.e. file clerk, training coordinator, project coordinator, and so on. I’ve never wanted to be in a managerial role, so I passed on those opportunities, but I did have them.

      How about commercial real estate ? Environmental health & safety? Facilities? Any of those can be at any level with jobs like coordinator, assistant, etc. and often have a career path to manager and up to executive level, if that’s what you want. The reason I bring those up in particular is that you have extensive customer service experience combined with property management skills, which would be very useful in those roles. The downside is that they are often physical jobs with a certain amount of being on call for emergencies.

    10. mggumby*

      I’m around your age and I work for the federal government doing program administration with a side of technical editing.

    11. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think that depends on what industries are in your area. But I will say that a lot of call centers like hiring people with retail experience. They can train you on the informational aspect, but customer service soft skills are golden.

      If healthcare is big in your area, look for jobs as an appointment scheduler, too.

      Like others have said, look less at the industry & more at a skills match.

    12. Chutney Jitney*

      I have a former retail friend who is a bookkeeper for small businesses. He was at a bakery for a while and now he’s a a real estate office. But he was already doing bookkeeping at retail HQ.

      He says it’s great because it’s low stress and you leave work at work. I’ve been considering a bookkeeping course. Every business needs a bookkeeper, so there’s always openings.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m technically in health care, but not patient facing or clinical — I’m a manager of medical coders in the finance department.

    14. OrdinaryJoe*

      I’d third (at least) non-profits! There is so much project management, customer/client interfacing, admin support work to get you experience in multiple areas …

      For example, you’re not going to jump in as a Development (fundraising) Officer but I’m sure you have the skills to be a great Development Assistant/Coordinator, learn the jobs while working, and move up.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        And if it’s an arts/humanities not-for-profit, there’s visitor services, gift shop, admin in all kinds of departments, events, scheduling, volunteer coordinator, just to name the ones I remember off the top of my head.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          Adding: Purchasing, facilities admin, and support roles in development and finance.

    15. GreenShoes*

      I think most companies have some type of customer support that isn’t necessarily being on the phones getting yelled at. Try to look for something about order management/order entry, customer success, etc (Someone else posted a pretty good list of descriptions to look for). From there you can look around to see other opportunities within the company.

      Project Management – which can also be more of a client support role
      Supply Chain
      Purchasing/Strategic Sourcing
      Technical adjacent roles
      Admin
      Product Management
      Non-Tech Helpdesk/Tiered support
      AP/AR
      Logistics
      MFG Support (Production Scheduling, quality, inspection, etc)
      Sales/Sales Support
      Software/Hardware Development
      MFG engineering
      Safety
      Training

      All of these roles + a lot more are available at my company, but you’d just never know about my company or all the things that we do if you weren’t either already looking for a position or came in as something not specialized (i.e. Customer support).

      My company is nothing special, and there are thousands of similar ones out there. So my suggestion is to start looking at openings for somewhat entry level positions at big companies in your area and read the descriptions and start to get a feel for what is out there.

    16. David's Skirt-Pants*

      Not knowing whether you’re in commercial or multi-family (my answer would be different for one vs the other), I agree that you likely have skills transferrable to other sectors. Start with business-adjacent–like with vendors!–and also talk to people at industry events like IREM or BOMA (again, depending on CRE vs MF) to see whether they do stuff you’d enjoy.

      Retail = customer service = skills you need no matter what industry you choose = success

    17. The Shenanigans*

      Why don’t think you think you have a head for it? Tech and healthcare are huge fields. Just because a company specializes in healthcare doesn’t mean ALL the jobs are healthcare or math or any of the other things you think you can’t do.

      1. AnonRN*

        I (40s) work in healthcare and I second the idea that it is not all patient-care or even remotely clinical. My large hospital is the biggest employer in the region (Okay, it’s not a huge region). We have security and HR and training and marketing and an entire physical plant (with supporting clericaltoffice staff) and janitorial and food services (both for inpatient meals and several cafeteria locations) and IT (both clinical and non-clinical) and a whole clerical department who just supports the employee health department and clerical people who support most of the medical teams and of course medical billing and coding….and of course there are also the clerks who greet people and get them registered (slightly clinical). I’d also speculate that any large employer near you has most of these jobs (manufacturing plants and giant law firms still need clerks and janitors and landscapers and HR).

        Some jobs do require previous experience but if, say, you have worked retail you might do well in the supply/distribution/inventory side of any large business even if the supplies are new for you. If you have clerical/front desk experience you can translate those skills to similar positions even if you need to learn the employer’s software or procedures.

    18. RedinSC*

      County/city government jobs
      Non profit jobs
      university jobs

      Those are the popular ones in my area

    19. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      I used to work in insurance. The (massive) underwriting team was overwhelmingly middle-aged folks who had started their careers in other industries. All training was through the company’s specific tool, so prior experience in the field wasn’t necessary – just decent computer skills. Everyone at junior levels had to learn from scratch.

      It was boring, but — I started entry-level around $80k a year with good benefits, the company was relatively stable, there was upward mobility, my colleagues were lovely people, management was good, and I went home at 5 every day with no stress.

    20. Data/Lore*

      I am late 30s, and five or six years ago I shifted from customer service/customer facing retail to supply chain, and now work as an analyst. There’s quite a range in the office/white collar side of supply chain that translates well from other fields, and depending on where you are, it can have a good bit of mobility.

    21. DistantAudacity*

      I’m in IT/Tech (coding at the start of my career), most of the time in regular high-end consulting; it changed to project/program management.

      And now I’m building an airport! Well, I’m part of the team managing all IT/Tech related needs for a new (smallish) airport.

      So this was a bit of a lateral move, from «regular» IT to IT for highly complex construction projects (hospitals, public safety, airports – public sector type stuff). The entire team is in fact highly experienced.

    22. carcinization*

      Life expectancy is still in the 70s, right, so even people in their late 30s are technically middle-aged… anyhow, there are plenty of 40+ folks in education for sure! I’m only familiar with public education but I’d assume that’s also the case for private.

    23. Two Dog Night*

      I mean… everywhere? I work for a consulting company in the travel industry, and 2/3 of our employees are over 40. There are plenty of older employees working for banks, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, non-profits, manufacturing companies… just about every industry is going to have employees of all ages.

      I’d say think about what your skills are, then search for job descriptions that include those skills. You might not find the perfect job right away, but it might give you an idea what industries are looking for people with your talents.

  12. Intern Manager*

    I host interns every summer who are part of my nonprofits client population, so its a learning experience and they can’t be fired/let go. I usually get interns who are 21-23 but this summer I was assigned a high school senior which I’m concerned about because I’ve never managed someone so young and I’m pretty busy during intern season. I’ve emailed this intern twice during the past two months asking for her updated resume and she’s never responded, I reached out to her case manager who said they would tell her to respond, and I found out she’s been responsive with one of our HR members.
    I have red flags blaring about this in my head but I’m wondering what I should do at this point. I had assumed that she was dropping out of the summer intern program because she just has not responded to me but she confirmed with others that she will be attending and I cannot fire her (and also, I want her to learn not fire her).
    I want to address this with her because it will not be okay for her to be unresponsive during her internship but all the other parties I’ve spoken too don’t seem to think it’s a big deal. Should I call her before her first day or say something her first day about this? I’ve never had this happen in my previous summers.

    1. Spearmint*

      I’d sit down with her on the first day and go through the basics of professional norms and expectations. It sounds like she’s from a vulnerable population, so she may well have never been exposed to those ideas before.

      1. Angstrom*

        Agree. Many teens are used to ignoring emails & texts from people they don’t know.

      2. Pine Tree*

        I agree with this. I have a very similar situation this summer. I met with the intern and let him know that we usually communicate over email if the issue is not urgent, but that they should check email at least once per day and respond within a day or 2 (they aren’t sitting at a desk all day in their position so I felt that was an ok timeframe). And urgent things were usually text (e.g., need to talk today) or phone call (need to talk pretty much right now!).

        This seemed to help just explaining to them what might seem to be super normal things to us, but was a pretty new concept for my intern.

      3. connie*

        Or it’s just a person in high school? Whose parents of any background may not have explained professional norms in detail because they have a lot of other things to talk to their kid about? As a former college professor let me assure you that plenty of white middle-class kids have gaps in their knowledge about professionalism.

    2. Ama*

      It is entirely possible that she doesn’t understand your internal structure and thinks either the person she’s responding to is looping you in, or thinks the person she’s responding to is actually the person in charge of the program. It’s really easy for inexperienced interns to get confused about hierarchy (I used to work in academic admin and supervised many undergrad student workers so I’ve seen a lot of rookie mistakes along these lines). I’d also not be surprised if she turns out to know your HR person through a family/personal connection (or maybe that’s the person her case manager initially had her contact) and maybe feels more comfortable talking to her.

      I would say the best thing to do is sit her down the first day and say something like “I noticed that you often didn’t respond to my messages the last few weeks but you did respond to Jane. I just want to make clear that I’m actually the person in charge of the internship program so it’s really important you respond to messages I send directly or email me if you have questions, as Jane doesn’t always have time to pass on your messages to me.”

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Especially since she is coming directly from school, which often has a more straight-forward hierarchy than college or the workplace or perhaps there is just less responsibility placed on the students. If a student tells me something, it generally becomes my responsibility to ensure the person who needs to know does. If she’s assuming it works like school, she may be thinking that if she tells anybody in a position of responsibility, they will pass the message on.

        There’s a significantly higher chance that a high school senior has never had a job before than there is with a 21 or 22 year old so it’s very likely she will make mistakes.

        I will add that as a teacher, people really would be surprised what my younger students – the 13 to 15 year olds – expect me to know. They will come up to me in the corridor and ask “is Mr. X in the staffroom?” when I am clearly coming from the opposite direction and could not possibly know who is in the staffroom or come into my classroom and ask “what room am I supposed to be in now?” or “what teacher do I have now?” Yeah, I don’t usually get those questions from my 6th years (equivalent of high school seniors), though there are a few exceptions, but I regularly get them from students only 2-3 years younger.

        I would definitely talk to her on the first day, but I wouldn’t make too many assumptions yet. It’s quite likely she’s just young and confused about the rules of the workplace or used to adults organising things for her and not to having to make contact herself.

      2. Mid*

        I think in general, it’s best to clearly outline the reporting structure to new hires and interns. Make a chart pointing out who is the boss (or bosses), who to talk to about what issues (eg insurance and payroll questions should be directed to the Benefits team, new hire paperwork should go to HR, computer issues and password issues should be directed to IT, boss should be asked questions about scheduling and deadlines and vacation time, and so on.) Being as clear as possible helps everyone, even when it seems super obvious. Especially if there are also caseworkers, or internship supervision outside the company (like for class credit.) If you regularly work with the same agency, it might be helpful to have the caseworkers have a copy of the chart so they can be sure to direct their clients to the right place as well.

        When starting at my new job, it took a while to figure out when I needed to talk to the HR team vs the Benefits team, because it wasn’t clearly differentiated. I needed HR to submit the initial paperwork for my HSA and health insurance, but had to contact the Benefits team to change or update the paperwork. HR approves things like schedule changes, Benefits approves FMLA or medical leave. (Actually now that I type it all out, I’m still not certain when to contact each, so I usually just email both at the same time.)

    3. Always a Corncob*

      If you know she is responding to someone at your company, use that as your in before assuming she is deliberately ignoring you. Ask the HR person to email her with you copied in, explain that you’ll be her supervisor for the summer, and provide a deadline for sending the requested materials. Maybe your emails are getting caught in her spam filter or there’s some other innocent explanation.

      Also, is HR contacting her via email, or is it phone/text? In my experience, teenagers are basically allergic to email, so that may also be a learning curve for this intern. I think a phone call before her first day would be a nice gesture regardless, to welcome her and build a little familiarity before she starts.

      1. kiki*

        I feel like there are a lot of innocent explanations here, especially for a high school student, and would likely consider this a yellow flag. The email may be getting marked as spam, maybe it’s their school email and it blocks external senders, or maybe they don’t actually look at their personal email very often because until now they haven’t had to.

        I do share Intern Manager’s concern that managing an intern just out of high school may be significantly more involved than managing a college student, though. You may have to have conversations about some pretty basic things, like, “you will need to check your email every day while you’re working here. The expected turnaround time for emails is generally 2 hours during your shifts unless you’re in meetings or otherwise occupied.”

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Assume it’s a combo of confusion and awkwardness and just make sure your first day includes stuff about email/communication expectations. You don’t even need to mention what’s already happened, just be like “at our org we respond to emails within 48 hours” or whatever

    5. Jessica*

      Seems to me there’s a lot of implicit expectations here about the work she’ll do before the internship actually starts. It’s not clear to me whether this is a paid internship or not, but either way, she doesn’t work for you yet! I can understand your concern to some degree; I admit it’d be a yellow flag to me if somebody didn’t reply to email, but it’s still a bit of a leap to thinking she’ll be “unresponsive during her internship.”

      Sure, most jobs have some degree of onboarding/planning contact before the actual first day, but that’s exactly what she has no experience of yet. Maybe she’s wilderness camping. Maybe she’s sick. Maybe she’s on a meditation retreat. Maybe her [device she uses to check email] is broken or the wifi is down. Maybe she’s traveling. Maybe she’s just occupied with her personal life right now and doesn’t realize there’s an expectation to promptly reply to people about the job she doesn’t work at yet.

    6. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      What kind of resume are you expecting from someone in high school? If I were the high-schooler and recieved an email asking for my resume, I’d think it was a mistake.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Holy cow, autofill/correct can’t spell! It’s RECEIVED, you silly bot.

      2. Time for Tea*

        On that theme, how many teenagers know how to produce a resume without assistance from someone else? Given the client group, does she have someone who can help her write one? She may be worried about all ready not knowing how to do something for this internship and mentally putting the requests in to a doom box.

      3. Intern Manager*

        Luckily we have a lot of supports so this intern has access to lots of templates and actually already had a resume, I just asked if she could list what experience she had with x, y, and z (all things that there is about a 50% chance a high schooler would have experience with) so that I didn’t make her work plan too difficult. But she has never responded, and I know that she has spoken to other people at the org that told her to respond, she said she would, and hasn’t.

        I’m probably more grumpy than usual because my company acts like they are providing actual support for my team with interns, when really, it’s a lot of work on my end. And I was really taken aback when I was told I was getting someone so young, since even some college students struggle with the work. The actual work is not hard, but they have to manage their time and are held accountable in new ways like needing to be communicative and punctual etc. I’m worried it’s going to be a situation where I’ll have to handhold a lot for projects and I simply don’t have the time to do that.

  13. jef*

    I am an SME in a very niche field. In order to change jobs, I’d have to move, which I’m not really interested in. While the job can be fully remote, most places are barely interested in a hybrid situation. I need to leave my current position though. I’ve been here too long and the work is no longer interesting. However, I may have an offer in the next 6-9 months for a fully remote position, functioning as a consultant to other locations, which would be wonderful. Of course, until that offer comes through, it’s just as theoretical as winning the lottery.
    My question: How do I choose between holding out for a potential offer that might never come and leaving my job now with the expectation I will be changing fields and starting all over again in terms of expertise? Any advice? I am seriously burned out and things can’t stay like this forever.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Do not hold out for the offer. It will come or not no matter what you do in the meantime.

      What I am curious is, it it necessary to leave your current job right this second? Are there avenues for finding a new job and working on whatever new skills you are going for while staying employed?

      1. jef*

        Not necessary right this second. But soon(ish). I just can’t stay. Unfortunately a big part of my burnout was kicked off because of a medical issue that leaves me with little to no spoons after my workday is done.
        Looking for something local will probably come with a pay cut. I have tons of transferable skills, so I thankfully don’t need to worry about acquiring more. Basically think of it as giving up a career and transitioning to a job. It’s hard to let go of the career but other than my magical potential future offer, my hard nos mean leaving it.

    2. New Mom*

      I’m in a very similar situation (very niche role, burned out at current job, I know I want to leave, looking at a potential career change and wanting remote). What I decided to do is wait it out while looking for roles, and I’m going to be very picky. I have the confidence to be picky because I’m currently employed and have money coming in. I’m waiting to hear back from a role I applied to, and the process is taking much longer than they stated, which would have caused me a lot of stress if I wasn’t working.

      For you, you can “hold out” for that job you want but still apply to other ones. I was in a bit of a despair when I mucked up a job application a few months ago, and my husband reminded me that if a job that good came along, another would too. I didn’t believe him at the time because my role is so niche, but sure enough every few weeks/months another one pops up and I apply. I hope you get that one you want! Fingers crossed.

  14. Tired*

    Can someone with a bachelor’s in journalism with 8 years of supervision experience pivot to the entry level HR field? I am also 2 classes away from completing a masters in Student Affairs which includes classes on HR, budgeting, and law.

    Would companies consider experience managing a team of 30 college student workers relevant? This involves: writing job postings, interviewing, following up on legal hiring paperwork, hiring, checking time cards, onboarding, training, team meetings and separation paperwork.

    I am currently working at an academic library but desperately ready for a change and a raise. Doing the HR related duties is my favorite part of my current job. Not sure I want to stay in Higher Ed due to too many job rejections so looking at other fields (will complete the degree anyways since I am so close).

    1. Former Retail Lifer*

      HR is really hard to get into. I have a degree in it but was never to able to land an interview for a permanent position. Employers are either hiring for entry-level HR admin positions at very low pay (admins in almost all fields are so undervalued) or they want a certification, which you can only get after actually working in the field.

    2. Veryanon*

      HR professional here. HR is hard to break into at a new employer without any previous experience, so what I would recommend is looking at opportunities at your current employer to move into the HR department – maybe they have openings for an entry level admin, someone to work in HR records management, payroll, or staffing/recruiting? Don’t be afraid to reach out to the HR Director there and ask them if they ever consider bringing in people from other parts of the organization to work in their department to gain HR experience.

      Another suggestion is to try to understand what exactly you enjoy about the “HR related” duties – is it people management? Interviewing? Dealing with employee issues? If you work at an academic institution, they may make career coaching services available to you as part of your employment benefits. Take advantage of this and do a career assessment to see not only what you enjoy, but what you might be best suited for.

      Best of luck to you.

    3. Tired*

      Thank you very much for both your comments! Based on your feedback, I have reached out to the career services department of my university for guidance. Hopefully they can help me get out of my rut. I hope you both have a good weekend!

  15. Peanut Hamper*

    Y’all, a colleague just sent me a draft of a document on how to foster neurodiversity at work, asking for input as a neurodivergent person.

    Friends, I feel SEEN. Seen and understood. So many parts of this document describe me and my situation and to have it laid out for neurotypical people is just beyond delightful.

    OMFSM this was just the best thing I could ever have received from a colleague on a Friday morning. My entire weekend is made!!!

    1. Bluebonnet*

      That is great! I am glad to hear your employer is making positive steps on fostering neurodiversity so everyone on the team can thrive.

    2. DataSci*

      People who are back in the office (this is something I’ve only noticed since return to office, so either it wasn’t a problem before or I’m just spoiled from the quiet environment of WFH), what are reasonable expectations for talking in an open-plan office where people are doing work requiring focused concentration?

      I’m not talking about quick conversations between people in person, but someone taking a scheduled call or meeting from their desk, so that I hear them talking for half an hour or more at a time. I always find a room for this (the office has plenty of single-person “talk rooms” for just this purpose) and resent it when people don’t, but it’s so common that I’m starting to wonder if I’m the one who’s out of touch. What’s the norm where you are?
      I’m

      1. I have RBF*

        So, I’m fully remote now, and I will cling to it with my last dying breath. Why? The very conundrum you are asking about!

        Open plans are supposed to “foster collaboration”. But collaborating is noisy! People talking disrupt others, so even those little “drop by” conversations don’t happen because of noise.

        The rudest thing in an open plan is taking calls on speaker at your desk. Yet there have been people in every open plan I’ve worked in who do exactly that – even when there are open phone booths and conference rooms fitted out with Zoom connectivity.

        You aren’t out of touch. The norms are made up then violated by hypocrites and clueless management.

        Ideally, anything longer than a couple minutes should be taken to a phone booth or conference room so as not to disturb your coworkers. But that apparently is hard for people to remember to do, so most open plans are very noisy.

  16. Anastasia*

    Hi, I have a question to ask. Recently at my retail job, there was a case where an inappropriate conversation took place between three people, which made two people uncomfortable. They went to management and spoke to the person to make sure that the topic won’t be spoken up ever again.
    Then management went to each person, including me, and said that if anyone says anything inappropriate to someone, they have to go management right away and report the incident. It doesn’t matter if the inappropriate conversation was a first time offense or happening multiple times. Management even wants us to go to them when we say to the person, “I don’t like this conversation. Let’s discuss something else.” If that person comprehends, reflects, learns, realizes the conversation is inappropriate, sticks it in their LTM to never say it again, apologizes, and starts talking about something else, we have to go to management right away.
    I feel this is a bit excessive, or am I in the wrong?

    1. Former Retail Lifer*

      It’s excessive, but it’s a CYA move on management’s part to make sure they don’t look like they’re sweeping anything under the rug. I’ve seen a lot of managers blow off complaints like these, so at least they’re acknowledging it and giving you some instruction on how to handle it, even if it’s a bit much.

    2. Rex Libris*

      Speaking as a manager, I’d want to know so I could keep track of whether it’s a pattern with an employee, and whether they’re complying with my instructions to knock it off.

      1. Anastasia*

        Thanks for your reply. The person got written up for an inappropriate conversation that only happened once and didn’t occur again. I’m concerned because if someone has an issue with me, then I might be written up to for a one-time offense.

    3. JR*

      They want the reports, so they can spot patterns. Maybe it’s the first time your coworker said something inappropriate to you, but it might be the 4th time they’ve said something inappropriate to someone else at work. Now it’s time to take stronger action (demotion, put them on a PIP, firing, etc).

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Absolutely this. We have all sorts of examples of the harm that inappropriate conversation can have in the workplace, as well as tons of examples of management intentionally or unintentionally (we didn’t know!) letting it go unchecked. Quite frankly, if knowing that they can be reported causes ppl to think twice before saying something that might be borderline, that’s a good thing. Of course it requires management to use good judgment in how they address the report, but that applies to all potential disciplinary issues.

    4. The Shenanigans*

      It’s excessive. I’d feel infantilized, like I’m not trusted to reasonably address the behavior. It’s also very, well, “report your neighbor,” which just creates an even more uncomfortable work situation. Also, it can open up the company to liability, given that people are more willing to report behavior when it comes from someone unlike themselves, which can very quickly create an EEO mess. So CYA doesn’t make much sense as a reason for it. I’d just address it in the moment and let others report it. And search for a new job.

      1. Fish*

        Or context isn’t taken into account. I know of a POC who was reported and written up for mentioning a racial slur on the job.

        The employee wasn’t using the term. He was telling a colleague about an incident at his child’s school, where a classmate directed the slur at the child. A third employee heard the conversation and reported the speaker.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          If I were the manager this incident was reported to, I would document the context and say that I found nothing inappropriate about the conversation.

          That would allow for comparison with the way actually inappropriate conversations are handled.

          Of course, no matter how things are handled, there is a risk that a bad manager will mishandle it.

          I think the policy may be overzealous, but this is how I would try to make it work if it were the policy in my workplace.

  17. Boolie*

    Two weeks ago promoted to team lead/manager, and my boss and grandboss have acknowledged it in team meetings. However, this is still not the case on paper, and I am wondering about (a) when/how I should ask when the new title/pay will be official, and (b) how I can justify my authority over the team when I’m still on record as my old title, even though my tasks have been shifted from individual contributor to managerial ones.

    1. New Mom*

      I’d be most concerned about the pay piece, did they tell you what the new amount is and when it would be reflected in your paycheck?

        1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

          HR is who you need to follow up with here. Just ask what date the change will be effective. Congrats on the promotion!

          1. Boolie*

            Thank you, and thank you! I was thinking of having an informal chat with my boss first to soften the demand for info, but given the timeframe and upcoming pay period, HR is a good next step.

    2. Pam Adams*

      Also, if the pay will be retroactive- if you were approved on Mayn1, but the paperwork wasn’t done until June 1, will you be getting back pay for May.

      If the team knows you were promoted, such as by the boss announcing it, your current title not being correct shouldn’t be a problem. (If it is, it’s a much bigger problem)

      1. Boolie*

        Thank you, the team does know about my promotion from the boss’s announcement and generally respects my directive as I’ve gotten us out of sticky situations before – but now I’m wading into performance issues territory that needs to be addressed sooner than later, and I don’t feel comfortable issuing that while I’m still a peer on paper.

  18. New Mom*

    Looking for wording. I applied for a job weeks ago and was told at the interview that they would be moving very quickly. Then I heard nothing for almost two weeks and I assumed I was being ghosted, then Monday the 30th the hiring manager reached out saying that interviews were still ongoing and that the timeline was not ideal but she would get back to me by the 2nd and didn’t. I want to reach out today but what exactly do I say? I’m still interested in the role and want to check in but it seems like they don’t have an update. I’m worried if I don’t reach out it might appear like I’m not interested. Any wording advice for a check-in email?

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      “Hi [name],
      I remember from our last conversation that you expected there might be an update on the llama groomer position by this time. I wanted to check in to see if that’s the case. I’m still very interested in the position, and am looking forward to hearing about next steps. Thank you!”

    2. Educator*

      Hiring always takes significantly longer than everyone expects! I would give it at least another week, maybe two. One week past when they said they would follow up is nothing in hiring manager time. They know you are interested. You submitted an application and gave an interview. There is nothing to be gained by trying to rush them. Wait it out.

      1. New Mom*

        In case this changes your answer:
        Phone Interview was second week of May, second in-person interview was May 17th and they said that they wanted to move quickly because the only person who can train for the role is retiring on June 30th (and confirmed unavailable to stay on longer). So I was expecting to hear back within the next few business days, but I didn’t hear back until the 30th where the hiring manager said she would give me an update by June 2nd.
        I definitely don’t want to be pushy or annoying but would also like to know if I’m no longer being considered.

        1. BRR*

          Ghosting is unfortunately common and things always take longer when hiring. Between those two things I’d just assume you didn’t get the job and if you hear anything you can be pleasantly surprised

    3. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      You already know they overpromise on their hiring timeline, and they’ve acknowledged the timeline is not ideal, so I wouldn’t read too much into a delay of an additional week. It happens; ideally they’d tell you but hiring managers are busy people who aren’t always great at this kind of thing. They know you’re still interested by virtue of the fact that you haven’t withdrawn.

      If you have a concrete reason you need to know – like “I have another offer but this one is my first choice” – I think you could email them today and ask. Otherwise I’d give it at least another week, since they were two weeks behind the first time they informed you of a delay.

  19. DataSci*

    People who are back in the office (this is something I’ve only noticed since return to office, so either it wasn’t a problem before or I’m just spoiled from the quiet environment of WFH), what are reasonable expectations for talking in an open-plan office where people are doing work requiring focused concentration?

    I’m not talking about quick conversations between people in person, but someone taking a scheduled call or meeting from their desk, so that I hear them talking for half an hour or more at a time. I always find a room for this (the office has plenty of single-person “talk rooms” for just this purpose) and resent it when people don’t, but it’s so common that I’m starting to wonder if I’m the one who’s out of touch. What’s the norm where you are?
    I’m

    1. Nebula*

      Our office is never particularly full – at least on the days my team is in – so it’s not usually a big problem to find a spare meeting room. If someone wants to stay at their desk, usually they’ll give everyone nearby a heads up/ask if it’s OK for them to take a call. Generally people only have calls/meetings at their desk when it’s a big meeting where they’re not actually required to speak much, so it’s not very disruptive. None of this was ever particularly hashed out though, these are just the norms that have emerged – I imagine that’s the same in a lot of places, and the etiquette is very variable.

      Are you generally sitting near the same people? Do you generally have a good relationship with them? If so, you might be able to ask people if they wouldn’t mind using the talk rooms, since that’s what they’re for. Otherwise noise cancelling headphones might be your best option.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        yes I hide in the meeting rooms in the unused bottom of my office… people probably think it’s weird but I don’t want to be like SO ABOUT THAT CHILD ABUSE in public

    2. dot*

      I’m in an open office with a couple dozen people or so, and yeah people just take calls at their desks unless it’s a larger meeting with numerous people involved, in which case it moves to a conference room. We have a couple other smaller conference rooms, but we don’t really have other dedicated spaces for people to take calls in like that. We also do pretty technical work, so typically most people need their multiple screens, which doesn’t make it easy to just pick up and move if you have a quick call.

      In general, everyone has headsets, so we at least aren’t hearing both sides of the calls. Most of the time there’s a pretty constant buzz of talking/activity, and we all pretty much just cope with noise cancelling headphones when needed. But it’s very much the norm here for people to do calls at their desks because it’s too inconvenient otherwise.

    3. Honor Harrington*

      At VeryLargeCo, the expectation is that you take those calls at your desk and everyone else can just deal with it – exactly like when we had cubes. If your conversation is something that requires privacy, like a customer with a special NDA or an HR issue, you go find one of the few privacy cubes and talk there.

    4. New Mom*

      I’m trying to learn this myself! I go in about once a week and I’m a pretty friendly person with good relationships with a lot of people I work with. I find people coming up to me constantly to talk about work but also just chat. I was sitting near to other women who were working and I was starting to worry that they were getting annoyed with people constantly coming over to my desk but I wasn’t sure what to do. I was happy to talk with the people but it might have come across brusk if I ended the conversation or suggested we go to an office, if there was even one available. I apologize on behalf of chatty people in the dreaded open plan.

    5. ThatGirl*

      I sometimes take meetings from my desk if I don’t think I’ll be talking a lot and it’s not sensitive. If it’s more sensitive, I need to talk more, or there are a lot of people around I’ll try to find a small room.

    6. new year, new name*

      Most of us are remote now, but before covid our open office areas were always deathly silent and I actually hated it! I felt like I couldn’t answer my desk phone or stop by someone’s desk to ask a quick question because I’d be disturbing everyone.

    7. Journalism anon*

      I think this probably varies to some extent by work environment and general office vibe. I work in newsrooms, so both pre-pandemic and now it’s been the norm to have people loudly conducting interviews a few open plan desks down from other people who are writing or doing other focused work. When I’m in the latter group I usually just bring headphones.

      1. Is it Friday yet?*

        I’m in an open concept office and everybody takes calls at their desk. It can be hard to get a conference room and sitting for hours in one or the small phone booth room is challenging, if you have a packed meeting schedule. The big negative being that not only can people hear you, I’ve had colleagues come by after to comment on what they heard.

        My biggest issue is the constant daily interruptions from people looking to chat, or including those with actual offices who come out to disrupt us as part of their break. I’ve even had people start talking to me when I’m clearly on a call, including standing in my eye line till I make contact, or continuously popping their head up behind me (where I can see them on my screen), till I stop mid- call and ask what they need. It’s pretty unbelievable!

        I need focus the next few weeks, huge deadlines and the constant chatting has put me so behind, so my strategy is to hide in unused offices as they’re available. Best decision!

    8. JustaTech*

      At my office it varies. We’re in an open office with some “enclosed” offices that have glass walls that you can pretty much hear everything through even when someone closes the door.

      For me, I tend to just stay at my desk (with headphones, because my laptop microphone has never worked) if I’m just listening to the meeting and am only going to say a few words. If it’s a meeting where people will care if my camera is on and I need a bigger screen I’ll go to the one empty office that’s compatible with my laptop. There are plenty of empty offices upstairs, but few people bother (and it’s not always clear if those offices really are empty).

      The people in the open area that take calls all wear headphones (but you can still hear when they talk), but for some reason almost everyone with an office takes their calls on speakerphone (again, terrible laptop microphones, so if you don’t have a headset you brought from home the desk phone is the only way for you to be heard). This can be really funny for me because there will be 3 people behind me, each in their own office, on a call (with people in other states) and I’ll get this weird echo up and down the row.

      It’s not a perfect solution, but since the high ups are demanding butts-in-seats and the conference rooms are not well set up for shared calls (no microphones!) then it’s kind of what we’ve got.

      1. Jinni*

        Can I just say that as a client of businesses like these, it’s REALLY hard to have technical conversations.

        I had two like it this week where we were talking about specific numbers and procedures and with all the cross-talk in their background, I can hardly hear the person. (I work at home alone in silence). It really makes me reconsider dealing with some of these businesses – where I have a choice. First, I hate having to ask them to repeat themselves, but I really don’t want mistakes. Second, I feel like I have little privacy from those around them.

    9. Llama Llama*

      I worked in open office even pre pandemic and was on calls all day at my desk. I would honestly resent being shoved into a tiny room so I could do my work.

      That being said, my office was loud and that was often really annoying and distracting. They gave us noise cancelling headsets but that only helps if I am on a call too…

  20. SQR*

    So, I received an email with an update to a job that I applied to that said the company reevaluated and decided that they no longer have an immediate need to hire for the position.

    My question is: what is the likelihood of this just being code for “none of the applicants were good enough so we’re just not going to hire anyone”, or code for a very passive “/you/ were not good enough” rejection (to be fair, I trust this company enough that I think this is unlikely), or is it an actual “we’ve reevaluated and don’t need to hire”?

    I’ve just never had this response to a job app before, haha

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I found at my last job that when we had a gap to fill that had to stay filled while we were in the hiring process, we would sometimes reorganized duties and responsibilities and found that the new situation actually worked out better, although it resulted in an open position somewhere else in the company. It’s possible it could be something like that: they really just don’t need to fill that position at all, or as soon as they thought.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Probably no way to ever really know unless you’re in the decision process! They could have lied. But I think it’s most likely that they are telling the truth. Mainly because if you trust them that the message isn’t YOU weren’t good enough, then they aren’t going to be like ‘no one’ was good enough either. Plus, they’d probably re-advertise the position instead of just not hiring anyone at all. Maybe they found a way to redistribute the duties or had some organizational changes that made the position no longer that helpful. Maybe the previous person didn’t really do anything all day and they figured that out halfway through interviewing.

    3. Former Retail Lifer*

      I’d believe them. I’m sure they have a canned rejection response ready if they hired someone else.

    4. I watered your plants while you had covid*

      Could also be “we rebudgeted and can’t actually afford to fill this position”

      1. This Old House*

        That’s what it was the last time I interviewed for a position that they didn’t end up filling. (I was an internal candidate so I know some of the ins and outs, but the actual message that went out through the system to all the candidates was very vague about the position being “on hold” for now.)

    5. Rex Libris*

      I’d translate it as “We dumped the workload on several other people, and they don’t seem to be drowning yet, so meh.”

    6. Ama*

      I was involved in a hiring process once that we canceled because the hiring manager (my supervisor at the time) had a medical crisis and had to go on leave unexpectedly. The position we were hiring for was a new one and she was really the driving force advocating for it so no one else was really able to evaluate candidates or train them if we had hired someone without her, and it was a serious crisis where we couldn’t get any kind of timetable for her return.

      I think we sent a fairly similarly worded message out to applicants because we didn’t want to disclose any of her health information and we couldn’t offer any timetable as to when/if we might reopen the position (and actually we never did end up reopening it).

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      It could be “we need to take the budget for this position and apply it elsewhere,” or “some restructuring is going on and it makes sense to wait until the dust settles to see if we actually need this role or something different, or no new staffing.” Or it could be “we aren’t getting the kinds of applicants we want for this role, so we are going to rewrite the job description for something slightly different and then post that.” I know a team that did that last thing, when they weren’t getting good candidates for a more senior-level position and then they decided to make it a junior-level position and train the person up over time.

    8. Dr. Hyphem*

      If they needed someone for the role and none of the candidates were a good fit, they would just send rejections and keep on interviewing. It is possible that it’s niche enough that if no one was a good fit, they’d realize they’d never fill it, they might just cancel the position, but that wouldn’t be just a “spare your feelings” kind of thing.

      While the idea of being on the sender side of rejection might seem so uncomfortable that you might imagine someone coming up with an excuse like this to spare feelings, a lot of companies either automate rejection or just ghost, so I would take it at face value.

    9. New Mom*

      Based on my experience on hiring committees over the years it really could be anything. Sometimes it is truthful, sometimes it’s not truthful but easy to deduce, and other times something completely weird is going on behind the scenes that stops the process. I’m sorry, it’s so hard during that process especially with little insight.

    10. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I don’t think they need a code for that, it very much might be true! I think more jobs right now require more minute technical skills that may not be popular, you might only get resumes from more or less generalists, not see any compelling materials, transferable skills, or cover letters, and just decide not to proceed.

      They could also be (poorly) reacting to macro conditions. There is a mix of really bad and really good macro data out there, so it’s possible that different people analyzed the same data and decided the next year may not be good economically, and pulled the position.
      Or it could be just super-specific, like realizing new products won’t work, the person in charge of the department unexpectedly quit, a new law came out banning a preservative you use in 2026, so you need to reformulate, a current employee stepped up their game and filled the role.

    11. TechWorker*

      Could also be ‘corporate is cutting back and we have a hiring freeze’. This happens regularly at my org as an alternative to layoffs.

      1. amoeba*

        Yup, that would be 100% my interpretation. Have seen it happen many times on both sides, so would never assume they’re lying (as somebody said upthread, I’m sure they also have a generic rejection ready for those cases!)

    12. Policy Wonk*

      If it’s government, it probably means the budget was cut or resources were directed to a higher priority. It’s definitely not about you.

      1. Jane*

        My old governmental job used to say that when
        a) they had an internal candidate they wanted to hire but had to fake a competitive process and then it turned out that external candidates were better than the internal one they had in mind. They would retract the position, rewrite the ad to fit the internal candidate better and then relaunch the position 2 months later.

        Or
        b) HR had given the green light for starting the recruitment process but the HR director had not checked in with the finance director and there was actually no budget allocated, or the final sign off from the board was missing, or it was scheduled for the next fiscal year, or similar.

    13. may spring rain*

      I doubt seriously they would use that as cover for not moving forward with you. They very likely would just say “We’re moving forward with other candidates.” I wouldn’t read anything into it other than what they’ve said: “…no longer have an immediate need to hire for the position.” Happens all the time.

    14. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      1. If they’re being that specific, it’s probably real. On the hiring manager side, I wouldn’t go through the trouble of word-smithing something that specific just to mislead folks. It’s easier to say “we won’t be moving forward with your application” and leave it at that.
      2. They’re almost definitely copy-pasting that email to everyone who applied, so I wouldn’t read anything into it specifically about you.
      3. Does it actually matter either way, if the end result is you didn’t get the job? You might as well take them at their word for your own peace of mind.

  21. Bagworm*

    I’m not really sure how to ask this or if it’s the right forum because it probably relates to some childhood issues or something but I am wondering how people deal with feeling jealous of a coworker.

    We have a relatively new staff member who has been doing a really great job. He’s been getting a lot of (well-deserved) praise and I am finding myself increasingly annoyed with him. I will get upset about things like his not working as many extra hours as me and my having to take on some tasks that are really in his job description so that he can do extra, high profile assignments.

    I think this all aggravated by the fact that I am accustomed to being the teacher’s pet and I am slowing down as I am getting older and that is frustrating me.

    So, any suggestions on how to be a grown up in this situation?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Well, you’re taking the first step here in recognizing this is probably more about you than him! I often find that my irrational feelings (although, are you sure not wanting to do more hours and more work for less praise is totally irrational?) are signs that I need to dig deeper and resolve other issues in my life. If work is not fulfilling you right now, is there another area of your life that could fill your need to be valued, necessary, or “the best”?

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      So it doesn’t sound like the things that are upsetting you are just basic jealousy. You’re working a lot of extra hours and he’s not? Well, maybe the problem isn’t so much that he’s NOT, it’s that you ARE. Are you understaffed for the workload? That’s not your coworker’s fault, it’s your management’s. If your speed at doing your work is comparable to most other people, and EVERYONE is working extra hours, that’s a problem. But if your speed is slower than others, and you’re working more extra hours than others as a result, it might be that you could use some extra training/coaching on the processes that are slowing you down. That’s something to bring up with your manager. Or, are you working extra hours to create an appearance of loyalty and dedication, whereas others don’t feel the need to do that? (You don’t need to do that.)

      As far as having to take on extra tasks that he’s supposed to do so he can do high-profile assignments, that’s not cool. I think you need to push back on that. If you’re already working extra hours, it makes sense to say you don’t have the bandwidth to take those things on.

    3. Whomst*

      When I’ve had to work with people who rub me the wrong way, I try to put myself in the mindset of finding it “anthropologically interesting” – meaning I try to look at it from outside the situation and from many different angles to find the most interesting explanation. NOT the most emotionally validating explanation, just whichever one amuses me the most at the moment and buffers some of my annoyance.

    4. CheeryO*

      I’d probably start by working fewer extra hours, to be honest. It makes sense that you feel resentful, but if you’re not getting back what you’re putting in, then why not take a small step back? It would also be reasonable to check in with your supervisor to see what you can do to get a share of the more interesting assignments.

    5. Jinni*

      Are you getting similarly high-profile assignments? I think your feelings wouldn’t be misplaced *if* for instance, you have to fill Excel spreadsheets while he doesn’t and instead is doing C-Suite presentations.

      Do you want fewer hours, more high-profile assignments, more praise? Think about what you feel is missing or unfair and what you want. I think your answers may lie there.

  22. External Drive*

    Hello! Any suggestions on formatting/writing a federal resume? I have one from a few years ago, didn’t get in that time (although I did get interviewed, so at least the resume checked enough boxes to land me on the list?) but plan to apply again soon. I don’t think I have any specific questions, but if you have favorite tips or resources, hit me up. :) Happy Friday everybody.

    1. new year, new name*

      When I asked a similar question, someone here recommended Kathryn Troutman’s books/website. I was able to get her Federal Resume Guidebook from my local public library.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Every federal resume I’ve ever reviewed (and I’ve looked at hundreds and hundreds) has been like 16 pages. People just put their whole CV in there with all the buzzwords.

      1. External Drive*

        Thanks! Wow, knew it was OK if they were long/multi-page (I think mine is currently at 4 pages) but man, that’s more like an e-book! :)

        Speaking of the buzzwords – there is not a vacancy right now, but I heard one is coming in the next month or two. My plan is to update my resume using the language in an vacancy ad from the last time I applied. Then when a vacancy does open, I would double-check it against my resume and adjust if needed. The role is the same, so I would think most of those buzzwords/phrases would be pretty much the same, but I thought I would at least check just in case before applying. Does that sound reasonable?

    3. Bunny Girl*

      There is a whole subreddit for USAjobs that has a lot of great tips and tricks about applying for federal positions.

    4. Grits McGee*

      In addition to the resume, the KSA*s are really critical- rate yourself as high as you believably can, and make sure that skills and qualifications that are listed in the job add are also addressed in the KSAs and your resume.

      And echoing other commenters’ feedback on long resumes. I was actually in a federal hiring manager Q&A panel last week, and they recommended putting pretty much every job and every job duty you’ve had on the resume, even if it was 10+ years old. Having everything that was even potentially relevant documented was really critical, especially for getting through the initial HR screening.

      *Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities questions

  23. dot*

    I have an interpersonal/work-related issue. My husband has a friend that he plays games with, and we hang out with him and his girlfriend occasionally. He’s a crew leader for a conservation non-profit and over time has revealed himself more and more to be a terrible manager. The most recent example is, we learned that whenever someone on his team breaks one than one pair of work-provided safety glasses, he makes them physically show him the broken pair and I guess just generally power-plays the whole thing? This is doing work in the woods with like chainsaws and stuff, I imagine safety glasses are pretty disposable and prone to getting broken.

    His workers are people like college students/recent grads, ex military people, etc., generally people new to the workforce or who might not otherwise have much work experience. They get paid a pretty measly stipend, and when the $15/hr minimum wage stuff was all starting, he was incredibly offended that people would dare ask for a living wage and made a lot of negative comments about his employees, that they didn’t deserve more money, while he mostly works from home with a very flexible schedule (like, can play games in the middle of the day when they’re slow).

    Idk I guess I don’t necessarily have much of a question, just wondering if other people have had an experience like this? My husband and I are both very for workers rights, people getting treated fairly and like adults, and people getting paid more than a living wage. It’s just annoying to have my opinion of this person soured so much over time. I’m getting more and more tempted to call him out on stuff every time I see him, and my husband has taken to just laughing at him whenever he shares his latest power-trip.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I would call him out. You don’t have to be very direct about it but you can make it clear that this isn’t landing with you the way he thinks it is. I often use humor too.

      Him: “I made them all show me their broken glasses”

      You (raised eyebrow): “you made grown adults show you their broken safety equipment? Is there a huge black market for stolen safety goggles that I need to get in on?”

      Him: “no one wants to work anymore”

      You: “ha! Yeah I don’t blame them, for $15 I would find another job too. + Subject change” (so then it’s him harping on it if he wants to bring it back up)

    2. kiki*

      This is hard because it sounds like this guy is more your husband’s friend. It would probably have the most impact if your husband called out his friend’s outlandish behavior when he hears about it.

      If you otherwise like this guy, I would start by being politely surprised and disagreeing when he says something wild about being a manager. “Oh wow, where I’ve worked that wouldn’t fly as a management strategy!” “Oh, aren’t safety glasses a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment?” “Hmm, I’m surprised you feel that way– $15 an hour is barely a living wage in our area, so it seems like reasonable pay.”

    3. Not A Manager*

      I’d make a short comment in a flat tone. “Wow, that’s really mean.” “Huh, I guess I’d just expect safety glasses to break sometimes. That’s why people wear safety glasses.” “I think most of us would have trouble living on that salary.” When he starts to turn it into a debate, just do a half shrug and say, “yeah, I disagree.”

      I think the key here is to say this like it’s all sort of boring and obvious. Don’t get heated.

    4. Stuart Foote*

      I would not get involved. He might be a great manager who just has an odd sense of humor/way of talking about stuff, or he might be a terrible manager, but criticizing him is not going to help anything. I don’t think he’s going to reexamine his whole work life because his friend’s wife made a comment

      1. K8T*

        Or he may realize he may need to revaluate and stop making those comments. I think it’s important to appropriately push back to people when you can if they’re being jerks – otherwise they assume you agree with them.

        1. dot*

          Yeah, this is how I feel. Like we’ve gotten to know enough about his management style that my husband has very strongly changed his mind about working with him in the future (they’d discussed during covid launching their own business together in a few years or so). I feel bad for his employees and even if something my husband or I could change his views slightly, I’d call that a win. I think the organization is just built to encourage that style of thinking.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Have your husband tell him exactly that. “I have actually reassessed the idea of starting our own business; unfortunately, it’s because I really don’t like how you treat employees. From your stories I don’t think a joint venture would be wise.”

        2. kiki*

          I agree K8T. It’s also possible he’s always worked for jerks and doesn’t even realize what he’s doing is abnormal/bad management.

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      I agree with the comments & would add that you might point out that $15 is pretty low for a potentially dangerous job. He should be glad his employees aren’t leaving for more money at a safer job.

      1. dot*

        I wanna point out too that I think most of these position get around ~$600 a week stipend and work 8-10 hour days, so most likely they average out to less than $15 an hour.

    6. The Crowening*

      For whatever it’s worth, my two go-to statements when faced by someone who is in a position where I can’t just ream them, but they’re spouting some crap, are:

      – I am not a good audience for this.
      – That has not been my experience.

      Granted, these are better suited to when someone is saying something bigoted or making ridiculous claims, but in case it is helpful…

    7. Irish Teacher*

      Sometimes it’s possible to call this stuff out subtly. Somebody below mentioned “that hasn’t been my experience”. Another would be something like “oh, I think everybody deserves more than $15. I don’t think I could live on that. Yikes, it wouldn’t even cover my rent/mortgage.”

      And yeah, I’ve had a few experiences, mostly with colleagues who seem oblivious to what students are dealing with. Whether I say anything or not usually depends on whether I think the person is just oblivious or if they are truly prejudiced. In the latter case, I often don’t bother, but in the former, I’ll often say something casually. Like “gosh, I can’t believe student living in a homeless shelter turns up without their homework done so often,” “yeah, I suppose it can’t be easy to concentrate there. I wonder how much privacy they have and how easy it is to find a place to work.”

    8. Jessica*

      Yeah, it can be weird when you get to see a personal friend from the professional side and realize they’re not great. (Seems like there was a letter to AAM during pandemic from someone who was forced to WFH with her spouse and learned that he was a jerk at work, does anyone remember this?) But I think this goes beyond “friend has poor management skills/weak work ethic/is bad at his job” and into the realm of values and character (especially with the living wage stuff). I’d want to speak up to it in some way (always easier said than done, but think of some scripts in advance and then just go for it), and I’d also wonder about my husband and what he really thinks.

      1. dot*

        Oh my husband and I have had a lot of conversations about it whenever the guy makes some new comment. My husband has a much stronger moral code than I do and he’s not pleased at all (this is in addition to some other personal stuff like the guy lying to his girlfriend about smoking pot). Their interactions at this point are pretty much limited to playing games once a week or so, I think he’s mostly written him off as any more of a friend than that. But yeah you hit it on the head, it feels much deeper than just a simple difference of opinion.

  24. Anon pour ce poste*

    My multinational workplace launched a diversity and inclusion workshop for all employees. The main exercise felt somewhat problematic. Can someone weigh in on whether I’m right/wrong/in a shade of gray?

    We were given a list of 20 statements (e.g. I am never misgendered, I feel safe to use the restroom of my choice, people can correctly pronounce my name, etc.). We were broken into small groups, and each group was given money to “buy” privileges (but of course, we weren’t given enough money to buy all the privileges). There were a couple of statements I’d love to “spend money on” but I’m not out about my sexual identity at work, and I don’t WANT to discuss it with my coworkers. (There are others on my team who are out and proud, and that’s terrific for them. But I fall under an obscure, less known part of the LGBT spectrum that I don’t want to talk about at work.)

    Am I wrong that this felt somewhat icky? My group ended up having a great conversation about what we’d like to “buy” on behalf of others… But not necessarily on behalf of ourselves. A few coworkers came out of the sessions saying they had their eyes opened, so I guess it was good in that way.

    How would you recommend a better way to lead a diversity & inclusion workshop?

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Oh man. Yeah, I’d be tempted to email the organizer and ask them how they recommend navigating this exercise with employees who are not out to their coworkers about various categories. You don’t have to tell them it’s you. I bet you at least one other person was also worried. What if someone was trans but hadn’t transitioned or come out to anyone? They have to lie about the misgendering and bathroom comments completely. Ugh.

    2. kiki*

      Ooo, I agree with you that it’s problematic. I’ve been part of exercises like this before and while I have seen that some people do come out of the exercise having learned something, it ends up being risky and fraught for anyone who is marginalized, especially in ways they may not be comfortable revealing.

      I would talk to the organizer because while I think stuff like this is generally well-intended, it definitely does not prioritize the wellbeing of marginalized participants which is a huge oversight.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Seriously.

        This is no help for Anon here, but I wonder if people would get something out of being assigned a “persona.” For myself, I think I “get it” but I bet I have all of the privileges that would have been included in this exercise, so I might learn something from more directly putting myself in someone else’s shoes.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          That was my thought too, that people might be more comfortable talking from the point of view of a hypothetical person.

          And I definitely agree that there were problematic elements to the activity.

    3. ecnaseener*

      It’s also just…an odd choice to present these as limited resources and make you decide how to divvy up the anti-bigotry coins. Not exactly a great message for fostering solidarity.

    4. quicksilver*

      That sounds incredibly uncomfortable. And FWIW, “out” doesn’t equate to “wants to talk about their identity in the workplace all the time (or at all).” I’m out in the sense that I just do not read as cis/het, which I’m perfectly happy about, but I would loathe being forced into this kind of activity. Like, no, I don’t want to talk to my coworkers about my experiences of transphobia just because we all know I’m trans! Wish I could buy the privilege of existing visibly without my life being treated as fodder for others’ edification…

      I remember doing a similar-but-very-different exercise in an undergrad sociology class. There was a checklist of “privileges” along similar lines, and we got a few minutes to individually reflect and check off what we did/didn’t have. Then there was a group discussion about how these examples pertained to larger social power structures, people could suggest examples that weren’t on the list or bring up nuances, etc. It got the class to consider how inequalities manifest in both individual and systemic ways, without forcing any kind of disclosure. Something like that could be nicely adapted for a workplace setting.

      1. anonymous closeted cis-ish-resenting nonbinary gray ace*

        Yeah, that’s super awkward! A lot of these activities seem designed to help normative people (white/cis/hetero/upper middle class+ etc.) examine their privilege. That can be a noble undertaking but not in a mixed group. I’ve been in activities that weren’t quite that awkward but still icky.

        I agree that maybe assigning a persona might be helpful, or not asking people to disclose their answers. I’d be lying my omission but it still sucks to be forced into an awkward situation.

    5. Friday night chocolate*

      This is interesting to hear because that exercise was designed by the Safe Zone Project as part of a larger training program on lgbtq+ awareness. Mostly used in colleges, but also offered by some non-profits and community groups. It’s meant to be used along with three other hours of training and only when people consent to the training beforehand. (I’ve done the training at several colleges and was trained to lead the program at a nonprofit). The purpose is that everyone agrees that the training group is a “safe place” to ask questions and learn. No one is judged for their lack of knowledge or mislabeling. Participants must also agree to keep anything said or shared in the session confidential. Participants can then receive a sign so if they work with the public (like students, healthcare, etc) people know who they can trust if they need to find a “safe person.”

      That particular exercise (Buying Privileges) is not meant to be personal reflections. But about how to discuss privileges in a group. And the training is updated every couple of years to reflect more modern ideas about diversity and inclusion training.

      So….someone dropped the ball on how this was handled out of context.

    6. GetUpOuttaThat*

      This kind of thing is why I advocate for equity/diversity training being delivered by trainers who are themselves from a marginalised community. (And if it’s a more specific topic, the trainer should be from that specific community, Eg LGBTQ+ Discrimination Awareness Training should be delivered by someone who is LGBTQ+.) They have the insight to know that there are likely to be people from marginalised communities IN the group of people receiving the training.

      Otherwise, many trainers make the assumption, “Everyone here is ‘normal’ and we’re learning how not to discriminate against Those Other People”

      Reminds me of every time I see one of those vivid, sensory training videos explaining what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Difficulties… The video makers deliberately ramp up the sensory discomfort for the viewers in order to show them what SPD is like, but there’s never a content warning in advance for folks like me who already have SPD and going to find the video very uncomfortable indeed! That’s because they assume the whole group are ‘standard/average/normal’. Eye roll!

  25. CookieMomster*

    A family member is beginning a job search and has an urgent need to find a 100% remote position. They have a JD and extensive experience in the automotive insurance industry. Extensive trial experience. If you have a minute to help brainstorm remote positions where a JD would be a bonus, I would be so appreciative. Trying to think outside of the box a little. Thanks so much!

    1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Online professor for pre-law type of courses? How about things like insurance risk analyst, risk analyst for auto claims, or other safety/risk jobs that would value an understanding of how a similar company would be put at risk and what they could do to prevent similar issues?

      1. BK*

        I know someone who does remote document review, and she says it’s been a fantastic (and flexible) fit.

    2. Mid*

      There are a bunch of law-adjacent careers. Thompson Reuters is one that is always hiring and a lot of their positions are fully remote. Government isn’t a quick hiring process, but there is consulting work where a JD would be a benefit and could be a quicker hiring process. Document review is almost always remote, and some are temp positions (which isn’t always long term but does tend to mean quicker hiring and start dates.) Insurance companies would also probably love the JD + automotive combo. Some Mediation roles are also remote, but you usually need a certificate in mediation, if not a license. EDiscovery is also usually fully remote. Some places will also hire paralegals remotely, sometimes as a temp for trial prep.

      It also kind of depends on why he specifically needs a fully remote job so quickly. If he’s moving states/countries, that changes the metrics (he’ll likely need to look at larger companies that can handle an employee in multiple states, or look for a temp/contractor position.) If he needs a lot of scheduling flexibility, trial prep or EDiscovery might not work, as they usually need really long hours for a period of time.

      1. CookieMomster*

        Mid, I really appreciate the detailed reply and the great ideas. Super grateful for your input.

    3. The Rain in Spain*

      Contracts negotiations- there are many companies with remote positions for these types of roles, and even if they don’t ask for a JD, many will be thrilled to have one (and may bump up the salary).

      I keep seeing people post about axiom and remote opportunities through them.

      Compliance/privacy roles might be an easy transition as well.

    4. Unkempt Flatware*

      State departments of transportation, state regulatory agencies, state lobby groups, etc. In my state, these are often remote at least right now

    5. IHaveKittens*

      Tell them to investigate eDiscovery companies.
      Lighthouse – fully remote
      Epiq
      Consillio
      Cimplifi

      JDs have had great careers in this field. I’ve been in it for over 20 years and I have seen a lot of attorneys do really well here.

      1. CookieMomster*

        IHaveKittens, thanks for this. So grateful for the specific recommendations and the valuable personal perspective. Thank you so much for sharing.

    6. Bird*

      Some compliance positions (finance, healthcare, insurance, environmental, etc. – basically any industry) like to have JD-holders because of the utilization of complex regulations, and a fair few can be done remotely.

    7. Jinni*

      I have a friend that hires temp (long-term) work all the time from lawclerk.legal. There are tons of places like it that hire remote attorneys for document review, project completion, etc., with flexible hours and pay from $30/hr to $150/hr (received by the attorney – not paid by the client). They’re always looking.

  26. Camellia*

    I live and work in, let’s call it State A, in the USA. I have a permanent disability that requires an ADA accommodation to work from home, and my company readily accommodated this when it occurred seven years ago. When the pandemic hit, they quickly pivoted to allow everyone to WFH. As it continued, they decided to allow WFH for everyone for the foreseeable future, with the requirement that the employee must still live (and, presumably, work) in State A. I will note, though, that when people travel out of state, whether for work or for approved vacation time, they are still expected to bring their laptops and be available for work if necessary.

    My family lives in State Z, and its tax laws allow a person to work up to 20 days in a calendar year without filing for or paying taxes. Now my family is urging me to visit for three or four weeks this summer and work from there, without telling my employer, because I don’t have enough vacation time to cover it.

    I know of people in my company, and even in my own team, that travel on the DL (in other words, not for work nor for approved vacations), and they just work from wherever they are, with no one the wiser (wink wink). But if anyone is going to get caught and punished for doing this, it would be me, and that makes me very nervous to try it. My family is telling me to ‘just get over it’ and do it anyway. What do you think?

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I personally would not do it, because the consequences are so high. I can just see me getting into a car accident or something and blowing my entire cover story out of the water.

      I try to avoid scenarios like these, where the risk is high/catastrophic and the success of my plan depends in large part to factors completely outside of my control (you not getting into an accident or being asked to travel or some weird thing that never happened before but now the consequences are so much starker).

      1. speak21*

        Could you ask your supervisor if there is an option for working a few weeks and at alternative location? My work allows this, with prior approval.

    2. NYorkerwhomoved*

      I would not do it, but I follow rules. There is also a risk that IT can tell where you are.

        1. The Shenanigans*

          The fact other people have done it without consequences says that even if IT can tell, they don’t check or care. I’d risk it because, well, unless a company has a pattern of being uptight about this, there’s just really not that high a risk. That said, that’s me.

          The OP should do what they feel comfortable doing. They can tell their relatives, “I’m sorry, I can’t swing that due to company policy. But I can visit for X amount of time.” If the relatives argue, that just means they are making the right decision not to visit.

    3. Whomst*

      With the limited information you’ve provided, I’m not sure what path I’d take. If you have evidence that traveling and working from wherever is an open secret that a lot of people on the team practice, and that they would only crack down on you doing it, that’s discrimination and illegal. If it’s that you get extra scrutiny than other workers and they would specifically notice you when they wouldn’t notice everyone else, but then they crack down on all working from different places, that’s when I would definitely avoid doing it. But I do wonder why you specifically would get in trouble for it when no one else has.

      1. Camellia*

        “…wonder why you specifically would get in trouble for it when no one else has.”

        Simply because that seems to be my fate in this lifetime! Years ago, I actually had a person say to me, “Everyone else seems to get away with anything, but you put one little toe over the line and you get your entire leg chopped off!”. And that just seems to be the way it is, lol, so I’m a bit careful about what I try to get away with.

    4. Ama*

      I wouldn’t do it. But I also refuse to take my work laptop on a personal trip or answer any work emails/texts on vacation unless it is an absolute emergency (which has literally never happened in the ten years I’ve been here), and my workplace is fine with that. I might make a different calculus if I knew I’d be expected to work on my vacation anyway.

    5. Educator*

      Could you just ask your manager if a working trip would be possible? I definitely need to live in a particular state and work there most of the time for tax and legal reasons. But my employer does not care at all if I take short-term visits elsewhere. I just need to keep them in the loop so that IT does not think my laptop has been stolen.

      But your family sounds like they are being a little pushy here. Is this something you want to do? Would they be respectful of your work time? One of the best things about being adults is that we get to set the terms of when and how we see our families.

    6. Ginger Baker*

      I would just ask if you can work remotely for [limited number of days] in State X! The “must live here” requirement is related to the tax nexus issue, and there is generally a certain number of days that are allotted as reasonable for business travel etc. without triggering that nexus (as you note also re income taxes). I would not conflate the “must live in State A” requirement as a “can never work remotely from State Z, even for only 10 days” requirement! These things are apples and oranges. And worst case, it sounds like you do not want to risk bending any rules so it therefore is unlikely you will go anyway if AFTER asking, they say no…and they might say yes! No downside to asking in my book. :-)

      1. Alex*

        ^^This. Temporarily working from another location is totally different from a permanent situation, tax wise. Just ask them if you can do this. The likely answer is yes.

      2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        Yes, I would just ask; that is if you want to actually do it, and are not trying to use this rule as a way to get out of visiting family.

        I’ve seen people approach this in a few ways like:
        1. Working early in the morning, i.e. 0400-1200 every day, late at night, or a combination of early morning and late nights to meet the required hours
        2. Documenting that you are visiting people that have their own jobs during the day so you can work during normal hours and spend time with family after working hours
        3. Working 10 hours a day 4 days a week and taking Fridays off
        4. Mix of working hours and vacations hours (I knew a guy who would get up at 0330 every day regardless, so he actually teleworked from Disney from 0400 until the parks opened up).

        I’d recommending pointing out whatever way you plan to handle working so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to just do three weeks of vacation. I think you will find it is in fact more common than you think to do something like this in the more WFH friendly world.

      3. Camellia*

        Thanks for all of these replies! It didn’t occur to me to ask about working vacation/short term work. I will definitely explore that idea!

      4. OP4*

        Yeah, members of my team do this all the time.

        One manager spent 3 weeks in a state 1600 miles away visiting his wife’s family and just worked from a spare bedroom. Another manager goes to a state 1000 miles away, a week at a time, 3-4 times a year to visit family. She usually ends up working 2 full days and 3 half days, to save on her PTO.

        Staff do it, too. One of our then-new hires worked for almost a month in late 2021 while staying on her grandfather’s peach farm, several states away.

    7. BellyButton*

      They are requiring you to work in State A because of tax purposes. However, legally if the other state lets you work there for 20 days with no tax implications then it should be ok. I just did research to allow an employee to work in another country for a few weeks, it is perfectly acceptable in my company for people do to this.

      My suggestion would be to talk to HR and give them a link to the laws in the state you want to visit.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This isn’t as uncommon– or as hush-hush– as you might think. Yes, three to four weeks is a lot, but I know a bunch of people (including myself) who work remote full-time and will, say, work from the beach for a week. I do it every year and it’s a complete non-issue– I don’t keep it quiet. My workplace handbook outlines the maximum number of days we can do this without giving anyone an extra heads-up.

      Talk to your manager and ask about working from another state for a few weeks. You can also discuss splitting the difference, like taking PTO for a week and working from State Z for two more.

    9. Dragonfly7*

      I’m also on team check with your manager / HR. My industry is very regulated, but we can definitely work from other locations for several days during “vacation” as long as IT and the other correct parties know in advance. (I wouldn’t because I’d rather have a proper vacation, but several colleagues do their regular workday while the rest of the family is out doing fun things.)

    10. Tio*

      I’ve worked from another state while on “vacation” before, but it was for shorter time and my job was aware. (It was about one week over the holidays while I was visiting my mother.)

      Can you push back on the time? For example, instead of doing 3-4 weeks, work from there for two weeks? That’s a compromise that should be minimal risk to you while still letting you go see your family.

    11. Llama Llama*

      I work in payroll and I have so many rants of why legally this is not a good idea.

      But realistically, no one will notice.

  27. Just a teacher*

    I work on a team where we each have very specific jobs but we often have to work together with our clients (who are parents of very very young children with a disability). Wednesday night a member of the other team confirmed that they would come into my meeting with a family because their appointment for that time was not confirmed and they expected to be free. Great.

    So, at 5 after the hour that my appointment started, I called down to the receptionist and ask if her appointment had arrived. She said no, but that they give 30 minutes grace period (since when, but I digress). So, I wait until 9:36 and call the team member directly and ask if she is ready to come down for her part of the meeting. She says she is going to wait a few more minutes and then head down. So, she finally rolls in at 9:45 for my one hour scheduled meeting. She asks me to continue to stay because she can’t do her job without my support. I have another family scheduled at 10!

    My next family arrives and I put them in a waiting room but I have to keep returning back to the first family to help. So, in the end, I don’t finish with my first family until almost 10:20. The only reason is because the other team member chose not to start her portion until so late in the hour.

    If I had disrespected her time in the way that she did, my entire team would be chastised for a year! But because I am “just a teacher” and she is a support team member (think speech therapist, health coordinator, etc) her time is more “valuable”.

    My husband thinks I should raise the issue, at least with the team member because it was so disrespectful to me. I think it was pointless. Nothing will change and it will just make things awkward and why bother.

    Thoughts?

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Raise the issue! You have to start somewhere and if it doesn’t work it won’t be due to you knowing someone is having this impact on families but not taking action. Let someone else be the one to drop the ball.

      Can you refuse to wait for her in the future? “Sure you’re welcome to join me but I have a packed schedule today and will plan to start right on time (and if you’re late I won’t have time to catch you up)”.

    2. Ranon*

      Raise the issue, frame it as disrespect for the time of the first family and the other family. I bet you’ll get more traction if you make it about the clients.

      1. Angstrom*

        Would it help to make the discussion more about process and less personal? Not “You were the problem” but “That was hard on the families. How can we keep that from happening again?”

      2. Mid*

        I would also avoid starting with the word “disrespect” because it can feel very loaded and personal, and can cause people to be very defensive. I’d instead frame it as “we provided bad service to two families simultaneously because of this. How should we handle scheduling time moving forward? My team needs to stay strictly within the hour long appointment blocks, or every client’s schedule will be disrupted.”

    3. ?*

      I’m also a teacher who works with special populations—a few thoughts:

      Next time, leave for your next appointment and don’t come back. Yes, that affects the first family, but if you are going back and forth, it affects the second one. Make it clear with the other person that you have a hard out at 10.

      I probably wouldn’t bother saying anything now unless I had a good relationship with the other person; I would focus on future appointments, making my own boundaries and schedule clear. Let them know ahead of the next appointment that you are on a tight schedule, don’t waver, and see if that helps.

      If you have a meeting with your supervisor coming up, loop them in. Don’t criticize so much as let them know that other people’s availability is affecting your ability to support families. Not passive aggressively, but in my experience school administrators spend a lot of time managing stuff like this and that’s their job when dealing with a bunch of trained specialists (which includes you!). If their policy is that people in certain roles are so valuable they must be accommodated at all costs, at least get they said aloud, and emphasize that you being delayed has a negative impact on kids and families, who are should be the priority.

  28. Meh*

    I am very over my current job. Lot of reasons — the work, the leadership. But I also just cannot get motivated to actually apply for anything else. I can’t figure out what I want to do next. I can kinda coast at my current job and its remote which means I don’t physically see the people who infuriate me day to day. But it’s unfulfilling and I feel like I’m wasting my time. I’m not overworked or burned out. Just … over it? Any advice on pushing through this? I’m in my mid-40s and work in non profit healthcare adjacent areas.

    1. Aelfwynn*

      I think the best thing to do at this point would be to think about what exactly it is that you don’t like at your current job so that you can make a list of what you want to be different at a new job, then you can start thinking about what you want your next steps to look like. Having a clearer idea of what you DO want (as opposed to just sitting in the ‘I hate this’ mindset) may help motivate you to start searching.

    2. recently searching*

      I was in a space very similar to you about three months ago. There were some things going on at work that had us all talking about applying, but I couldn’t muster the energy to even **look** for jobs and I didn’t feel like I knew where to start. When I was lamenting this to a friend (in the same field, higher ed.), he literally went home that evening and sent me a list of five jobs he thought I was qualified for and encouraged me to apply. I applied for 2/5 of those, and then it was like I was over the activation energy– I started cruising LinkedIn and just applying for **anything** that sounded remotely interesting. I sent a relatively honest but generic resume, and fine-tuned my cover letter to each application but honestly didn’t spend more than 10-15 minutes getting it ready (from the original draft, which took longer). My thought was that I could do more research if I made it on to the next stage of the interview process for any individual application. Ultimately, I had 12 interviews out of about 24 applications, and accepted an offer a few weeks ago that starts in July (not one of the original five my friend sent, by the way)!

      So I guess my advice would be to either (a) find a trusted friend in the same/similar field and ask them to find some jobs, any jobs really, and hold you accountable for applying; (b) just… apply for anything. Don’t stress over whether it’s exactly what you want next– put your feelers out in lots of ways. Then, when you start to have decisions to make (taking interviews, etc.) based on what folks have found you’re qualified for / what’s gotten a first read on your resume, you can do more research and make more informed decisions. (I realize this is almost the exact opposite of the other commenter but it was what worked for me!)

      1. recently searching*

        I would like to clarify that I mean honest but relatively generic (as in not tailored to each application), not relatively honest and generic (as in I lied on my resume) LOL

  29. RachelByTheBay*

    I’m looking to re-start my job hunt after less than a year (10 months to be exact) and am worried about how to word it to interviewers. I haven’t had any job-hopping on my resume. 2 short-term internships but they’re internships so thats okay and 3 years at a job in my industry. What do I say if they ask why I’m leaving my current job after less than a year? It’s a bad long-term fit but not a toxic workplace so I’m worried about seeming flakey.

    1. londonedit*

      I don’t think you’ll look flaky. There’s no hard and fast rule that says you have to stay at a job for at least a year – the point is the pattern, and you don’t have a pattern of job-hopping. The best way to approach it is just to be honest and say ‘I was excited about [current job] because I thought it would allow me to [move into more technical llama grooming], but over the last few months I’ve realised it just isn’t the right job for me. I’m looking to move into [technical llama grooming] and that’s why [position you’re interviewing for] really appeals to me – I like the fact that your team is focused on [analysing trends in llama grooming and applying them in practice]’. I’ve done a version of that before (several years ago I jumped out of a frying pan into a very ill-advised job fire and only ended up staying a few months) and if you say it with sincerity, and relate it to something positive that you’ve learned from the experience, interviewers are really impressed that you have the self-awareness to know when something isn’t right, learn from it, and look to move on.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “It’s a great workplace and I’ve learned a lot, but ultimately it’s not aligned with my long term goals, which are to carve little intricate patterns on chocolate teapots, and that’s why I’m so interested in working at Teapots, Ltd., as a Little Intricate Teapot Patterns Carver.”

    3. No Tribble At All*

      Agree with londonedit, something like “it’s a good workplace but they focus on X, and I want to do Y and Z longterm, so I’m looking for a place that will let me focus on Y and Z” is a totally normal and mature thing to say. Better to realize it now than three years down the line.

  30. Luna*

    My contract finished and I am listed as unemployed. I am not getting unemployment money right now, though, as it took my old job a while to finally get me the form I needed them to fill out. Which it took two days, and two employees to talk to to figure out what the hold-up was *now*, and it turns out it wasn’t filled in properly. So, now I am, once again, waiting for my old job to get off its butt and send me an email, so I can send the form and hopefully it’ll finally allow me to get unemployment money, as well as giving me the government-based health insurance! Good lord, the back-and-forth and incompetence and lack of information is infuriating…

    I just needed to get that off my chest before asking my question.
    Among the places I’m looking, one has offered me a floater position for reception. The upside is that, if I said yes, I could start next week because floater positions and contracts for that are faster to do than a ‘permanent’ position. The thing is, that the floater also involves situations (as the interviewer has told me) of being called at 5AM and told that instead of working at Spot A that day, I would have to be at Spot B at a different time.
    In itself not bad, but I don’t have a car and the usual public transport is good enough… but not perfect, if it involves my having to be somewhere by 6:30AM and the spot is further away from home. The other downside being that this is still a very ‘be flexible’ position, which is one reason why I did not renew my contract in retail — I want a set, ‘rigid’ schedule.

    But my main question for this is: is it a good idea to commit to something on such a short notice?
    I know I’d be in my probationary period and I could always continue looking, and leave with a 2 week notice if I found something better, but that might not look good (“job hopping”) and I recall Alison overall suggesting to not immediately jump at the first thing you can get your hands on.

    1. Not Australian*

      IMHO you’re not in a position to commit to any post that requires you to relocate suddenly and without advance notice if you don’t have your own transport unless your employers are prepared to underwrite Ubers or whatever. Hold your nerve, and tell them that position won’t work for you because you don’t have access to appropriate transport but you’d be very interested in something with a more predictable schedule.

    2. Ama*

      This is a tricky one. If you really need the money it might be worth it just because you don’t know how long it might take to find something else. But if you have a financial cushion and are looking for a more set schedule it may be better if you wait for that set schedule job to come along.

      I will say that a floater position would not work for me personally — I like to know my work schedule week by week at least so even the prospect of getting called at 5:30 and being told my whole day has changed would cause me so much anxiety related insomnia that it would not be worth it to me to take that kind of job.

  31. WhatDoYouMean*

    New manager here. Well, I manage only one person, John, and it’s not going too well. One issue is communication. Part if the issue comes from the fact that English is not John’s first language (nor it’s mine), partly from cultural differences, but there may be more. Sometimes we have discussions on Teams that make no sense to me (‘this is ready’ then you dig a bit more and nothing new is actually ready at all, who knows what he meant cause he doesn’t explain himself in any way). He also seems to forget entire discussions we had- while in part this can be accommodated writing task down, these things are proper issues, as we would not put him in front of clients any time soon. While we had more general discussions about improving communication, saying ‘this convo makes no sense’ ‘I already explained this and yet you don’t seem to remember it at all’ seems aggressive to me. We are on the fence about keeping John, but effective way to communicate these feedbacks may help. Thanks!

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Are you communicating any feedback to John at all?

      “You said ‘this is ready’ but when I looked, it wasn’t ready. Can you clarify what you meant?”

      “When you tell me the chocolate teapot is ready, I’m expecting to see a finished smooth spout, a hazelnut handle, and a design already carved into the side. This one that you told me was ready, was just a pile of raw cocoa beans that hadn’t been started yet. We’ve talked about this a couple times before but I haven’t seen any change. What’s going on?”

      1. WhatDoYouMean*

        If you point out nothing new is ready, you get no spontaneous response. I have insisted sometimes, and got really short answers after some grilling, which becomes grating frankly. This may be cultural, I never realised how much I give for granted that people explain themselves eg ‘Oh with ready I meant X not Y, sorry for the misunderstanding’

        1. Quiet Observer*

          It could be cultural or personal (I tend to freeze up from anxiety due to trauma when being “grilled” aggressively/pointedly).
          Does John respond better when it’s presented as a question instead like: “I don’t understand, which part is ready?” or something similar? If he does, then you could build on that and let him know that you would like to know what part is ready in the future.

    2. Aelfwynn*

      When you deliver the feedback to him, be sure you also put it in writing. When something isn’t done the way you had communicated or when he forgets things you’ve already explained, point back to the written documentation (email, preferably) and say “We discussed this previously (see this email). Is there something that is unclear that we need to go over again?”

      You say the feedback seems aggressive, but remember that candor is kind. You have to clearly tell him what the expectations are, let him know that he is not meeting them, and tell him what he needs to do to meet them.

      1. WhatDoYouMean*

        I think we’ll start to document everything in writing if we move towards a PIP. I do think he needs to be able to understand oral explanations/ instructions, not only written ones, to be successful in the role, but than it gets trickier. I know I need a mental shift in regards to feedbacks – it’s harder than I thought!

    3. Educator*

      I would enlist John’s help in solving this. Name the issue, give some examples, and ask what you can do (and what he can do) to make things clearer.

      I’ve been in similar situations because I come from a really low-context culture (I say what I mean very directly!) and have team members from high-context cultures (tone and context have a huge impact on what their words mean). It’s particularly tricky on chat programs that strip away all of that context I need to better understand what they are saying. So we meet live a lot more for quick updates, and I ask a lot more questions to make sure I understand what they really mean. Sometimes I also say things like “sorry, John, I am going to be super direct for a second. It looks like we are missing x for this project. Do I have that right?” to make sure we are on the same page. And sometimes we remember conversations really differently, so I often wrap up with something like “my takeaway from this conversation is x. What about you?”

    4. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      First, stop using Teams for discussions if they aren’t making sense. Chat is especially bad for fixing the “talking past each other” issue – shift to email or a verbal conversation. (One example – if you consistently feel he isn’t delivering truly “ready” work, hop on a screenshare with him and ask him to show you what he changed, or ask him to start using tracked changes. If it’s not what you expected, go back and show him specific examples of what you were looking for, and ask him to take another shot at it. Follow up with a recap email documenting the examples and next steps.)

      If he’s not absorbing information verbally, start doing verbal repeat-backs at the end of conversations. (Like have him list out his takeaways from the conversation.) Then, in the moment, right after he did the repeat-back and you confirmed you’re on the same page – ask him to write it down. (Of course, explain you’re going to do this and why.)

      When you feel like his communication doesn’t make sense, try doing repeat-backs yourself (verbally or over email) – like “what I’m hearing is X, but I’m still unsure what you mean by [[piece of X]]. Can you elaborate on that?”

      You could also ask him to send you written repeat-backs of everything you agree to. It’s AMAZING how often I think I’m on the same page as someone, they send me a written recap and I’m like “oh, crap, we’re totally misaligned.” And that’s without the language and cultural differences you’re describing! Bonus, if you do end up needing to go the PIP route, this serves as documentation.

      Sometimes new managers are hesitant to give explicit instructions, even when they know exactly what they’re looking for, out of a concern for being micromanage-y. You haven’t said anything to indicate that’s the case here, but if there’s anything in your brain about what you want him to do that you haven’t said out loud or in writing, definitely fix that! (Like “when you said this is ready, you updated ABC. I need you to also update XYZ, with [[specific instructions about how to do so]]. Do you want to do that together this time so you can see what I mean, or do you want to take a shot at it yourself?) This is even more true if he’s very junior.

      I also really like “I do — we do — you do” training. Like if he’s not getting something, do it with him on a screenshare with you in the lead. Then have him do it, but with you on a screenshare so you can watch him/correct him if he’s got a detail or two wrong. Then have him do it on his own, but send it to you to review. You can do this for nearly everything – editing or writing documents, client meetings, technical work, project management, etc.

      1. WhatDoYouMean*

        Thanks for the feedback – we do talk quite a bit (once or twice a day ) but for quicker check up Teams is useful. The position is not junior at all, and i think we were expecting a much more independent person, so it becomes tricky – I should not tell him how to do every little bit of work, nor explain three times basic concepts. But I suppose it’s on us to define clearly what’s really needed – it’s a small company so finding an agreed standard it’s tough, we just had not hired for this position in a long time.

    5. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      At LastJob I was supervising project teams remotely in other countries including teams with ESL.
      It’s very important not to be verbose, not to use slang or flowery language, not to only hint what you want. State very clearly and succintly what is required.

      I always kept my language simple and as a followup to phone calls I EMailed tasks as bullet points.
      With newer people, I phoned to check that they understood the tasks & timeline, but if I was doubtful, got them to explain to me what they were going to do, before they started the work. Then regular checkin points when they had to present to me their work to date.
      Most improved rapidly to need little day-to-day supervision

      If a task was not completed correctly/on time, then they had to state precisely why, or if they couldn’t I’d explain the errors. We’d agree the corrections and a new date and I would wrote an EM summarising this, as bullet points.

      However, if he has to deal with clients on his own and in English …. doesn’t sound like he’s ready.
      Is there more training available for him ? (maybe not by you, if you have your own work to do)

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        As engineers & scientists, despite considerable cultural differences, we communicated much better with everything defined and succint

  32. Robert Smith's Hair*

    I have a new COO who seems great. I’ve been here for 13 years but only in senior management for 6 months, which is relevant because that means I wasn’t the approver for payments or signee for agreements. My leadership role is one I never expected to take on a there are a couple of areas I’m not super familiar with, but the overall area is one I’ve worked in my entire career so it’s just a matter of learning and not a huge deal. However, I’m just feeling like I’m coming off really stupid in front of new boss. They have asked me questions in some of the areas I’m not familiar with and I’ve had to say I don’t know, which I hate. And then I’m just not as familiar with certain things because I wasn’t involved that way…

    Is this normal? Any advice?

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “Great question! That one was outside my scope at the time the decision was made, but [lucinda will know][i can find out for you].”

      Basically just take the question on cheerfully and don’t dwell on the fact that it was not your role. I was always told “it’s not your fault but it’s now your responsibility” and I’ve taken that to mean “you’re not expected to already know but now that you are, figure it out”. Take notes, and say “I can find that out for you!”

      1. Robert Smith's Hair*

        Genius. Thank you! I get hung up on not knowing. Which is the damn problem; I’m CAPABLE of finding out.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I worked at Disney years ago. They taught us that the proper answer to a question when you don’t know is, “I can find out for you.”

          I have used this so much over the years. (Now modified to “Let’s ask BLANK” if I know someone who probably knows.)

        2. Angstrom*

          Also, if you’ve got a good rapport with newboss, it’s perfectly reasonable to sit down with them and say something like: “You’ve asked me some questions about areas I’m not yet familiar with. Can you help me understand your expectations for this role? I want to be sure we’re aligned and that I’m focussing on the areas that are important to you.”

    2. Ranon*

      It’s okay to not know things! Even/ especially at a leadership level knowing who does know is more useful/ efficient/ totally normal.

      You’re six months into a new role- high level roles often take longer to fully get into because the scope of your understanding is by nature so much broader.

      As long as you present a path forward for getting the requested information I see no concerns.

  33. Legol*

    Where are yall finding remote/hybrid jobs these days? I’m in the techy design field and use Linkedin and Indeed but am wondering if there are more options. Is Flexjobs legit?

    1. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Maybe try Dice (dice.com)? It leans a bit more towards the techy side vs. the design side, but does have postings for UI/UX jobs.

    2. The Shenanigans*

      I just used Google’s job search feature. It scrapes every legit job site for whatever combination of keywords you like. You can set as many as you want. I also find I see far fewer spam/scam jobs this way.

  34. Impatient Grinch*

    I finally took the jump to look for new jobs and am interviewing now! How can I keep it together at my current job while suffering through the interviewing and waiting gauntlet? I am so un-engaged and OVER IT but I don’t want them to get suspicious…

    1. Glazed Donut*

      One thing a wise person told me years ago: When talking to people, smile and think “I’m so glad I get to leave here” and it will feel more genuine :)

  35. No Tribble At All*

    How do you get back into the “work mode” after taking some time off for illness? I’m very lucky that my boss is fine with letting me work from home & take sick leave as I need. (It’s something where I can go from fine to not-fine very quickly, and once I’m not-fine I need to lay down and rest for a while). But dang, you know what’s better than working? Not working. Lounging. Petting cats and playing video games.

    I do have a legit bonafide vacation coming up next week, so maybe after that I’ll be back in Work Mode TM.

    1. Alexis Rose*

      I just recently took a three week unexpected medical leave. The first week back was weird, but I gave myself permission to ease back into it. I didn’t beat myself up for not being as productive as I was pre-leave, got done what I could do, took my breaks, and otherwise was as patient with myself as I could be. My mojo came back after a week or two.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      I find that after time off (whether holidays or sick leave), I generally don’t get back into work mode until I’m actually in work and then I settle back in very quickly.

    3. Ampersand*

      I feel you on this—I took a couple weeks off in between jobs and could have gotten very used to not working. I was excited about new job, but wow was not having to work (even for a short period of time) nice.

      I think it just takes time to get back into the swing of things after vacations, illness, or extended periods of not-work time. It usually takes me about a week to readjust, though I could see it being harder to get back into the work mindset if you still have some intermittent periods of time off to rest/recuperate. It sounds like actual vacation could be a good thing in this case! Hopefully it’ll help you reset.

  36. Looking for a change is scene*

    I’d like to move departments to get to do more analysis, collaboration, and have some more variety in my day to day. I have an information gathering meeting with a supervisor there next week. What sorts of questions should I ask? What should I think about when brainstorming questions?

  37. Emma*

    I interviewed a few weeks ago and didn’t hear anything back for 3 weeks. Got a generic HR rejection email, but thought I would be nice and send a thank you email to the hiring manager. He replied that they had indeed selected another candidate, but that he lacked my experience and network and couldn’t I please have lunch with their new hire to teach him about the field and make intros.

    Wow. Verdict?

    1. Aelfwynn*

      That’s… absolutely insane. He’s asking you to do unpaid work for his company when they rejected you. No way. If they wanted you to work for them, they should have hired you.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Oh I think I’d just politely decline on that one. “So busy right now” etc. On the other hand I guess someone wiser than me might say it’s a potential networking opportunity that would keep you on their radar and you never know if another job will open up … but while my feelings are stinging, I’m gonna be “so busy.”

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      The snarky answer would involve consulting rates and the mature is a polite decline of his request.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Holy crap, no way! I was expecting, “… he lacked my experience and network, so they want him to leave and me to take the role.” Not this lunch nonsense.

      I might just do it, though. Tell them it’s $150/hour with a 3 hour minimum and they pay for lunch and you get to choose the restaurant.

    5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I was in a kind of similar situation some years ago and I said yes. I would recommend that you say no, as pleasantly as you can.

    6. Indolent Libertine*

      LOL WUT
      “Sure! My fee for professional coaching is $500/hr, with a 20-hour minimum, payable in advance and non-refundable. Shall I draw up the contract and send it over today?”

    7. Veryanon*

      Nope nope nope. Also this sounds suspiciously like some kind of discrimination – if you indeed had more experience and a wider network, why didn’t they hire you instead of the male candidate?

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Businesses make bad decisions often, some even more often than not.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        My guess is because it would be cheaper to hire him (less experience etc).

    8. Emma*

      My initial thought was “LOL sure”.
      I don’t want to burn any bridges but will say that I am very busy at the moment.

      But it’s pretty ballsy from the manager’s side isn’t it?

      The candidate they picked is a man in his 50s. The hiring manager and the other colleague on the team are also men in their 50s. I am a woman in my late 30s, with more subject matter expertise but with 10 years less in the workforce. It is definitely a case of picking a candidate that resembles yourself. I am sure they will be happy in their little boys club :)

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Ah, that cracks me up. The nerve! I definitely like the consulting rates replies, but simpler just to say, sorry no, I’m busy (using my experience, knowledge, and connections to progress my own career).

      2. Fish*

        I wonder if the man is a friend of theirs who needed a job, and they had a vacancy. Never mind whether his own experience and skill set matched the job duties.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      “Can you work for free and train up the person we hired instead of you? Oh, and bring all your connections’ contact info, okay?”

      Uh, ha ha ha ha NO. If you respond at all mention a consulting fee of 800 dollars an hour.

  38. urguncle*

    Yet another Maternity Leave question:
    My due date is exactly 12 weeks before the end of the year. We didn’t exactly plan this, but I’m certainly not complaining. We have no rollover of vacation days, and limited rollover of sick days.
    I will be taking 2 weeks of accrued vacation. I also have 5 days of accrued sick days. We get 6 a year, but can rollover up to 3, up to 2 years in a row. Since I rolled over 3 sick days into this year (giving me 9 total sick days), I cannot roll over any time into next year.

    Is it shitty/unprofessional of me to take an additional 5 days of leave, therefore leaving 3 weeks before my due date, as sick time? I know babies don’t come on due dates, and although I would much rather have more time AFTER the first of the year, that just won’t be an option. I know my doctor would have no problem writing me a note if required, and I would say that at 39 weeks, I’m not in great form for working, although I am fully remote.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      It’s your time. If they won’t let you roll it over, then it’s on them to handle you taking it.

    2. 1234anon*

      I’m a big fan of taking as much time as you possibly can. The system is set up to screw you over, no need to feel bad about inconveniencing them by trying to make it suck less for you.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Amen. Plus, my doctor told me the due dates are +/- 3 weeks. So t-3 weeks is a great time to stop working because you’ll officially be in the Baby At Any Time zone. Wrapping things up before then means there’s less chance you’ll be halfway through a project and suddenly vanish.

        Also, you should take as much time off as you can, because you deserve it. Best of luck!! S

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yeah a) you may need the time because the baby could be early or you could be on bed rest or whatever else b) a lot of people don’t actually want to be commuting / sitting in a desk all day when they are heavily pregnant, even if they can do it – you may be dealing with back pain, swollen feet, etc c) even if you just spend that time getting ready for the baby – setting up the nursery, buying the last few things, having family join you to help out – that also sounds good! Take the time. Remember in Europe they get like a year.

    3. Not that Leia*

      In case this is a useful comparison, eligibility for CA short term disability for pregnancy kicks in at 4 weeks prior to the due date. So I think you are WELL within bounds of common sense to take off 3 weeks before. You don’t know when the baby will come OR how you’ll actually feel. Take the time if you have it!

    4. Gyne*

      If you start your leave early, do you get a net total of 12 weeks off? or is any early time separate from time after baby? I mean, either way I think it’s reasonable to start your leave when you want to or need to (and I say this as someone who worked 80 hour work weeks until my due date with baby #1), but if that cuts into your time off afterward, like you would have to go back to work when baby is 9 weeks old instead of 12, that’s something to consider.

      1. urguncle*

        Nope, this would be in addition to the 12 weeks. My due date is 10/7; exactly 12 weeks before the end of the year, which puts my coming back to work date as 1/2. I have 2 extra weeks of vacation that I can’t rollover, but I’ve never taken my entire sick time, so I’d like to tack that onto the 2 weeks for a 3 week lead time before the due date.

    5. JustaTech*

      If the time doesn’t roll over, take it!
      Also, you can end up with a ton of appointments right at the end – I had basically no complications and I felt like I had moved in to my doctor’s office, so if you have to do stuff like the big glucose test you might want to take the whole day off. A couple of those will eat up those 5 days quickly.

      Congrats and good luck!

  39. Help!*

    I am having a challenging time with one of my colleagues. I head up our public policy/advocacy department and she leads our marketing/communications department, so we are both members of the leadership team as department heads. She has been with the organization for a few more years than me. I have been with the organization for a little under a year now. Working with her is… challenging.

    My predecessor still works for the organization, but for our home office overseeing my position, and she will regularly report to him on all of my activities. Even going so far as pointing out that there was a typo (literally an extra period) in one of my print materials. On top of that, she is upset and feels that she has been left out of decision making and what is going on for an event I am hosting next week. She has been out of the office for the last two weeks? I am unsure how she expects to be fully up to date when she is out on PTO. She keeps saying that she doesn’t want to be involved and doesn’t have the capacity, but then will throw a fit the moment that we move forward with something and she doesn’t have input.

    I just don’t know how to best approach and continue to work with her. Obviously I am sure she has her own feelings on our relationship and this is all “my side” but I am happy to be amenable and do things differently to improve our relationship. So, this is all to say, does anyone have any feedback on how to improve?

    1. Ranon*

      Talk with your predecessor/ boss about his perspective on this- he presumably worked with her before and would have some insights on the politics and how to play them

    2. ferrina*

      From the outside, I can’t tell how unreasonable her expectations are (and/or how she is). What you describe could be reasonable actions in some situations.

      -For a typo in external facing documents: that’s never a good look, and it is in her wheelhouse. Do you have a process for copy-editing external-facing documents? As head of Marketing/Com, anything that goes external impacts her job.

      -For the event: Is this something she’s been involved in the past? Is it external facing? What elements does she want to be involved in? Again, anything external facing will impact her job. I also can’t tell if she just wanted to be CCed on emails for transparency, or if her involvement would have created a bottleneck. Those are two very different scenarios.

      For MarCom heads, it makes sense for them to be a bit paranoid. Literally anything external-facing (even basic networking) ties back to the reputation of the company and could potentially impact their job. One practice that helps is scheduling a 30-min kick-off with them whenever you are planning anything external. Talk to them about best practices and what you need to be cognizant of. Take their concerns seriously. Involve them when you can (best is when they are good copyeditors- I LOVED when I had a copyeditor who would clean up my work before it went external). This will 1) help protect and bolster the reputation and image of the company, as you will be reinforcing the messages coming from MarCom/careful when you step in to perilous ground 2) help reassure the MarCom team that you take this seriously and respect their expertise and 3) possibly make your life easier, if they are happy to take over marketing materials, slide formatting, whatever they tend to do.

      Of course, all this advice goes out the window if there is a head that is overly possessive and unreasonable. But MarCom generally has a reason to be a little more possessive than other departments (like how Accounting gets to be nit-picky when it comes to money)

      1. Help!*

        Hello! Thank you so much for the thoughtful reply. I really appreciate it. The external facing document was a 16 page event guide (policy priorities, how to advocate, etc.) which had been reviewed both by my department and her department about three times prior to printing. It just seemed unnecessary to point out something as simple as a duplicate period in that long of a document, and after it had already been printed, but I digress.

        So that is part of the rub, we have never held this event in the past. It came down as a requirement from our home office in the last couple months and we had a very tight turnaround on getting things in order. It is external facing. I have found her involvement to create a bottleneck just given the tight turnaround given her recent time off (I am not faulting her for taking time off, we are all entitled to it, but when we have a month to plan before the event and she has been out for half of it, it is challenging).

        I did recently write an article for a trade publication and asked for her approval before I agreed to it and asked for her feedback on the draft before I sent it. That seemed to work pretty well, just needed to plan ahead for timing purposes.

        Anyways, I greatly appreciate the feedback. I think it has given me a lot to go off of.

        1. ferrina*

          Ah! Yes, the typo reaction was overkill- especially since (I’m assuming) the last person to edit was in her department. I wonder if she’s stressed from the changes (you in your new role + new event). Hopefully she mellows out once she gets to know you and your work quality.
          Good luck!

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      My parents had pet llamas while I was growing up. They got them to guard the pet sheep. From what, I have no idea because we lived IN TOWN on MAIN STREET.

      I dont know how I had any friends growing up.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Probably from dogs and other canines. I’ve seen coyotes walking in the suburbs before.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Nah, my mother is just…odd. It was an excuse to get them.

          We had sheep for years before the llamas with zero issues and we don’t have coyotes.

      2. There You Are*

        Because you had pet llamas and pet sheep? I would have befriended you just to pet the animals. :-)

  40. Sloanicota*

    I could use some advice on how to navigate my current weird situation; I work for an extremely small nonprofit that is going through a lot of turmoil. To be honest, I’m not sure they’ll be around in six months / that they *should* be around in six months. However, my personal benefits in this job are great (four day workweek with a good paycheck) so I am here until the bitter end. They’re gonna have to fire me or close up shop because I ain’t leaving. However, if the place goes under, I have savings for a few months only. How should I be “job searching” to best prepare for the possible end when a) it MIGHT not come and b) I won’t leave before time? I’m not willing to take a five-day-job now just because my current org might fold.

    1. Whomst*

      I’d probably just start with a Very Picky casual job hunt, only applying for/pursing positions that are as good or better than your current one. Jump ship if you get one, and if you don’t then you’ll have an up-to-date resume and a better idea of what the job market looks like if your current employer does fold.

      1. ferrina*

        Seconding Whomst. This is exactly what I’d do- casually start looking (just a few hours/wk) and only applying for dream jobs. Stepping out of the interview process if I’m not excited by the job. There’s no harm in looking when you know you’ll likely be leaving, and best case scenario, you find something that you are truly excited about moving to.

    2. OrdinaryJoe*

      Also working for a nonprofit and in a similar situation … one thing I did was meet with a recruiter/career councilor that specialized in nonprofits to see if they saw any obvious holes in my skill set that I might want to fill. I was leaving a longtime job and it was a planned separation with a great parachute so I had the ability to go down a rung to pick up needed experience. They suggested two areas, I picked one of those areas for a short term (18 month) job to get some experience in the area and bounced back up to my normal and higher level at a great job. With 6 months (maybe) to go … you might be able to take on some additional tasks or even a certification to fill in any missing ‘holes’.

  41. Gavin*

    My job is interesting but fully remote (which I dislike), in a startup that is trying to find its footing, and as a parent in a team of childless workaholics, I feel a bit overworked.

    I have an offer from a larger company which is also mostly remote but has some in office time, slightly better work life balance, better cultural fit, but less interesting work.

    Both companies had layoffs this year, but the bigger company has had multiple rounds while mine has kept it to one.

    The salary is about the same.

    Should I stay or should I go now?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, I think I would hold out for an offer I was more excited about, but this will vary by person I suppose. It just sounds like not enough positives, and it’s so hard to judge culture/worklife balance from the outside, and starting a new job is so stressful than I want at least more money AND more interesting work, or at least two out of three.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      Can you survive a layoff?

      If so, it sounds like the offer on the table is more appealing to you.

      Here’s the deal with the layoffs – if they’ve been doing layoffs but are hiring for certain positions, they have already deemed those positions as necessary. It is the easiest lowest hanging fruit in the world to “freeze” vacant positions.

      If you’re comfortable with the manager, can you ask? Something along the lines of “I’m very interested, but concerned about potential layoffs given the past year.” Sure maybe you wont get much of an answer, but you might just hear – this position has been deemed mission essential.

    3. ferrina*

      How overworked are you, and how old are your kids?

      It really depends on your needs. If you have an infant and you feel like you’re drowning in work, the move would be a good idea. Babies and toddlers are a lot of work. As the kids get older, they usually get a little less intense and the amount of time you need to spend with them changes (instead of having to watch your 2yo all the time, a 10 yo can go play in the yard by themself).

      Also depends on the commute to the new office (factor this time in), whether they really will have less work, whether you are looking for a new challenge or a time for your brain to rest (I think it’s pretty normal to want different things at different points in your career/life)

      Also think about what roles were targeted in the layoffs and how critical/hard-to-fill your role is. That will all play in to the odds of getting laid off. And if your didn’t ask in the interviews, you should ask- “I know your company had several rounds of layoffs. Can you give me a sense of the current financial position of the compay?”
      You can and should ask directly- if they balk at answering, well, that’s important information.

  42. Lay Off Aftermath*

    My organization (nonprofit) just went through a big round of layoffs. About 9% of our workforce nationwide. I am a member of the leadership team of one of the chapters of the nonprofit. The bulk of the layoffs were in another department that I worked with some, but not wildly often. I am wondering what is the best way to approach folks who were laid off? If you were in that position, what would you want someone to say?

    1. Sloanicota*

      I’ve lost coworkers before and I usually reach out on LinkedIn right away to ensure the connection isn’t lost, and then followup with an email to their “old” email if it’s still active with a short message like, “Tom, I was so sorry to hear. I’ve really enjoyed working with you (if you have specifics share them) and I’d love to stay in touch.” Hopefully they’ll share a personal email if they don’t have LinkedIn so you can stay connected. A lot of people avoid those who have just been laid off and it does sting and make it feel more shameful.

  43. CPA*

    I have a reasonable accomodation question. We have a person in our group with terrible hearing. Somehow HR agreed that this person could you a device that in essence transcribes calls. The problem is many people do not like calls being recorded (in effect) and it limits ability to deal with clients. This pushes work on other team members and people are complaining.

    Does anyone have any thoughts, appreciate

    1. Aelfwynn*

      What are the ways in which it limits your ability to deal with clients/pushes work on other team members?

        1. IrishGirl*

          How would you handle this if the person was deaf vs hard of hearing? There have been special phones for the deaf for years that have transcribed phone calls for that population of people. It seems like a reasonable legal accommodation and maybe you should question why your clients dont want to be recorded.

          1. CPA*

            I think many people do not want personal financial or medical data recorded. I think appropriate. I do not question.

            1. Fluffy Fish*

              The thing is you need to question. Your employee has an accommodation.

              People not wanting something has to be weighed against discriminating against someone with a disability. Because you can’t discriminate.

              Talk to HR and talk to your legal dept.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      People not liking something doesn’t trump someone’s right to a reasonable accommodation, so that part is just a non starter for employees.

      The client issue is another thing. Without more info, some suggestions are look for redistribution of work – can direct client dealings be handled by Jane, while your ADA person handles non direct work on the client? Can you explain to new clients this person uses this as an accommodation, and assign them clients that are okay with it?

    3. K8T*

      It sounds like you and your coworkers aren’t being very kind to the individual who has ADA needs. I’m sure they would love to be able to hear like you and I and not need an auxiliary device to do their job.

      My questions: is your state a two-party consent state? If not, you /technically/ don’t have to disclose it. Depending on your work that may be ethically grey, but legally you’re in the clear.
      Otherwise I feel like you need to frame it to clients as matter-of-fact – that the call will be transcribed for internal use. If your coworker is okay with disclosing it as an ADA need, I’d add that as well if you get pushback.

      1. CPA*

        Our clients are in a variety of states, several big ones are two party states. I think we would feel very uncomfortable not disclosing, even in other states. The problem is you can say, for internal use only, and everyone I know just rolls their eyes, in effect thinking that once recorded it never goes away.

    4. Educator*

      I assume the employee in question is not storing the transcripts or sharing them with anyone else, so why does it matter if they are listening with their eyes rather than their ears? I think the complaining employees need to reframe this. They are not being recorded, they are being listened to. Which is not unreasonable at all—this type of device is actually a really standard accommodation. Anyone who is refusing to work with this employee because of their reasonable accommodation and causing more work for others needs to get shut down immediately—that’s really what is unacceptable.

      1. CPA*

        Maybe you have different systems, but there is a written record of conversation. So client conversations are limited. Many will not want recorded.

        Are you saying that causing more work for others should not be a concern? Not taking about deminimis here either.

      2. Llellayena*

        I love the phrase “listening with their eyes” for this. This is not a “recording device” it’s a communication tool. This is the format that allows your employee to understand the needs of your clients. It’s no different in its intended use as a hearing aid or cochlear implant. The “record” of the conversation is no different than if your employee took detailed minutes of every meeting. I would stop presenting it as an option to your clients. “The meeting will be transcribed as we go so Wakeen can participate/understand. We are happy to either provide you with a copy of the transcript afterwards or erase the transcript entirely.” Those should be the only two options presented to the clients. If they choose erase, remember to take notes so you’re not relying on the transcript afterwords.

        1. CPA*

          I do not know how your world works, but in mine, clients can say nope. Do you ever call someone and get notified it is a recorded line? some clients will just hang up

    5. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      If this causes more work for you and your team members, then that is a workload issue for your boss to address. You as a group should take this to your boss – not to complain about the accommodation, but to ask your boss to address the additional workload you now all face. Try to be as dispassionate as possible about the accommodation – treat this as if there was a new software or new process that created additional work.

    6. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “Somehow HR agreed that this person could you a device that in essence transcribes calls”

      If the accommodation is just to transcribe calls, unless I have misunderstood, her workflow is equivalent to someone writing full minutes very quickly and then deleting them as soon as she has finished her action items – so why does it need to be mentioned to customers?
      Do US states have laws against temporary written minutes , or just sound/vision recording?

      You could inform clients that any coworker may take detailled notes to consult until the requested tasks have been completed.

      Transcription is a standard accommodation for deaf/hard of hearing and probably the only one that would let her keep her job.
      Are you asking if it’s OK to get her fired?
      If written records genuinely increase your workload or disturb clients, then address how to tackle this with your manager – and try to stay inclusive.

      1. CPA*

        I think there is a VAST difference between recording calls and taking notes. Which is why in most places in the states, there may be a warning that calls are being recoded.

        The issue is she kills team productivity, and no one wants her on their team.

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          “no one wants her on their team”
          Sounds a very disableist, toxic environment.

          Transcription is necessary for her to keep her job and is a very standard accommodation for deaf/hard of hearing.
          Your employer has deemed it appropriate.

          I would think very badly of anyone who requested that a disabled coworker lose the accommodation that enables her to do her job. Your manager and HR may likewise have a lower opinion of you if you request this.
          Instead, if you want any extra workload reduced or workflow reorganised, ask your manager to address that.

          1. CPA*

            I realize transcription is pretty standard in schools, I am not familiar with it in private conversations with clients. No one is suggesting she lose her accommodation, just pushing back that teams need an extra person if she is on team.

            1. GythaOgden*

              Disclaimer — not HoH/deaf, but neurodivergent, and with a grandfather denied pilot training in the RAF because he was colourblind. My husband had to leave his job when he got cancer, but since the owner kept him on payroll for an informal ‘holiday pay’ and he communicated with the office right up until he died, he knew what was going on. His replacement was deaf and she had a similar problem. It’s not nice and it seems ableist, but this is where things conflict. In hubby’s replacement’s case, the problem was that she’d been hired on the basis of needing to take phone calls, they got all the equipment…and she blew them off by not doing part of her job and leaving the phone to other people, despite having got all the equipment she needed to do the job as hard of hearing.

              And me: I had bad personal problems in one job, and eventually my boss had to sit me down and say ‘I’m sorry about what you’re going through, but I need someone who can do the job.’ That was after my then-undiagnosed autism caused me to have a fit of frustrated rage which ended in me dropping and breaking the audio-typing machine. And it was the last straw after a year of rollercoaster emotions that were damaging the reputation of our satellite office because there was something wrong with my mental health that I was only beginning to understand properly.

              The fault here is not as bad as that situation, but the clients’ requests are also legitimate, particularly when there’s sensitive data being handled, and thus what might be a reasonable accommodation in less formal situations turns into something that’s hamstringing the team and causing more work for others. Sadly, we can’t be there to argue with a nervous client that the transcription software isn’t being used to store their data (I’m thinking this is something more like providing support to vulnerable individuals in the community or coming under HIPAA etc rather than just selling widgets). Much as we would like to argue one way or another based on semantics, these things aren’t decided on this forum — they’d be decided ultimately in court.

              It’s not ableism if it’s drastically affecting your workload and your ability to work with your clients. The other people being affected aren’t an amorphous blob either; they may have their own stresses and strains and needs that are being forgotten about in the need to pacify both the employee and the clients. Our instinct is to sympathise with the deaf employee, but there may well be people with less noticeable disabilities or other personal issues that feel like they’re being ignored in favour of the person whose ADA accommodations are skewing the work that she can do because of other legitimate factors such as privacy and recording laws.

              That would probably end up exceeding what was considered a reasonable accommodation, particularly if it’s encroaching on vulnerable clients’ personal data. The world is certainly becoming more understanding of disability, but when that disability has a knock on effect on other people you do have to start looking for where reasonable accommodation ends.

    7. WellRed*

      My thought is you and your coworkers are rather unkind, your manager is not handling this correctly and the whole mess is an ADA lawsuit waiting to happen.

    8. RagingADHD*

      So, how does the queue system work? Are *all* clients being asked whether they are okay with transcription, or only the ones originally routed to this coworker?

      If the coworker’s assigned clients are refusing transcription, they roll over to the other team members, creating a very unequal workload. But it seems like there would be a number of clients who would be fine with it, that could be routed back to the HOH person.

      Does management have data on what percentage of clients are refusing to be transcribed? It just seems like there is an issue with client relations and assignment, which management could address if they looked at it comprehensively.

    9. Mid*

      Frankly, it sounds like you’re part of the problem. It doesn’t seem like you’re “okay” with the accommodation, along with many other team members, and you’re all focusing on the wrong parts of things.

      The calls aren’t being recorded for record keeping, they’re being transcribed. That is absolutely different. Just like if there was an interpreter on the line. How do you think Deaf people who need medical care or a mortgage deal with these things? They have an interpreter. That doesn’t violate anyone’s privacy.

      Unless these transcriptions are being stored somewhere, this is actually just like taking down notes, which plenty of people are likely doing during these calls.

      So, to be a little harsh here, you and everyone else needs to get over it. Resenting someone for their legal right to get support is not okay, period. Your company and managers need to shut that kind of talk down. People do not get to be bullied off of teams because of their accommodations.

      Your company also needs to get it’s messaging fixed. The calls aren’t being recorded, they’re being transcribed and the resulting transcription is likely not being stored. Therefore, they truly might not need to be informing people of a “recording” because they wouldn’t need to inform someone that a call was being interpreted to Spanish or French either. The framing of this transcribing needs to be as if the person is getting a translation, because they are. This coworker is getting a translation from spoken to written English. If your company hasn’t actually talked with a lawyer who knows these laws well, and if there isn’t a clear plan for record disposal of the transcripts, that needs to happen.

      This coworker is also not creating extra work for people. If the coworker was Black and clients were refusing to work with her because of that, would you blame the coworker or the clients for the “extra” work? (I sincerely hope you wouldn’t blame the person being discriminated against.) Your coworker has no choice in their hearing ability, just like they would have no choice in their race, gender, or orientation. Clients refusing to work with her are the issue, not your coworker. You and everyone else in your workplace need to understand that, and be very consistent in that messaging internally or externally, or you’re going to end up in legal trouble for discrimination.

  44. Restorative Justice Judy*

    Anyone have a positive experience in a Restorative Conversation?

    I was on the receiving end of an extended horror this year where I was repeatedly called into Big Boss’ office and told that I was failing in my duties. The accusations were always super vague “to protect the confidentiality of the accusers” but also super broad, like “we don’t think you have good judgment.” Finally, at the meeting where I was sure I was getting fired, the Big Bosses gave me a raise and told me I was one of the most effective employees in the company.
    WTF?
    Eventually, my supervisor told me the whole sordid story that the colleague I was co-leading a massive project with over 50 people involved was trying to get me fired the whole time. I genuinely thought this woman was a work-friend! She was so nice to my face! Apparently behind my back she was writing dozens of pages of emails listing everything I said and did (including inventions and embellishments to make me look worse), and she even threw down an ultimatum of “it’s her or it’s me.” My direct supervisor told the big bosses to keep me. However, they kept us both, and now, apparently, it’s time to restore and heal.

    I believe that co-workers should talk to each other face to face, but I am still so angry and unsettled by the ordeal that I’m not ready yet. I try to behave like an adult at work, but I cannot trust this woman at all, and I do not want to work with her again. I worry that I will look cold and unwilling to compromise in the meeting while she weeps and apologizes. I’m pretty sure that I will be asked to forgive her and agree to work with her on the annual collaborative project. Should I just take the high road and accept that I have to work with this person in order to keep this job which I otherwise love? Am I allowed to express concern over how the situation was handled? Will it count against me that I haven’t had enough time yet to be on board for the healing process?

    1. Sloanicota*

      My goodness. They are really mis-handling this. They should have talked to her sooner and told her to knock this off. I would not let them make it an interpersonal issue between her and I where “we were both wrong” when this is really an issue of work culture and the whole team. The managers screwed the pooch on this IMO and you can’t fix it yourself. Also, I don’t understand her motivations here so of course we can’t trust her, we don’t know where she’s coming from.

      1. Restorative Justice Judy*

        They initially believed her because she has been in her job for 18 years. I have the same amount of experience but used to work elsewhere, which matters in our industry, although it is dumb.
        She was going through a very hard divorce, so they didn’t want to pile on, otherwise I think they may have said something sooner. I think because I’m quiet, they assume I’m stronger than I am.

        1. Generic Name*

          Or she SAID she’s going through a really hard divorce. I wouldn’t trust a single thing this person says.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            It’s also possible she is going through a really hard divorce because she treated her partner like this or she’s finding it hard because he is denying her version of events because she is lying about him too.

            Doesn’t make much difference to the situation, of course, but just, even if she is telling the truth about a messy divorce, I wouldn’t necessarily assume she is the innocent party.

        2. nope*

          “going through a very hard divorce, so they didn’t want to pile on”????!!!!!!!!!!!! Speaking as someone who went through a hard divorce where I thought I might lose custody of my sweet peeps to a connected, abusive alcoholic whose daddy was footing his legal bills, trust me, people can get through it without pointlessly hurting other people, AND I would like to ask — if she was suffering so horribly, where did she get the energy to do all that underhanded garbage to an innocent party??? Frankly, now I am wondering whether the “hard divorce” wasn’t earned.

    2. ferrina*

      I’d got to the boss and say “I don’t feel comfortable with that. Honestly, I’d rather just move on and focus on the future rather than rehash the past. You and she have assured me that this won’t happen again, and that’s all I really want. More than that would be too much.”
      Then I’d ramp up my job search.

      Restorative justice doesn’t belong at the workplace. There are too many power dynamics in play. And effective restorative justice comes with appropriate consequences, either through the justice system or through the perpetrators own actions (ideally, the perpetrator would initiate the process and respect the wishes of the wronged party if they don’t want to participate. Part of taking responsibility for bad acts is acknowledging that you are not entitled to forgiveness, and the wronged is well within their rights to refuse to forgive).

      So your boss is already doing this 100% wrong. The coworker’s actions are so egregious that she should be fired. She was duplicitous in the extreme- you are right never to trust her! The “restorative justice” is self-serving for the big boss- they don’t have to worry about re-hiring and you are expected to ‘be the bigger person’. Basically they get to pretend like they don’t have a problem. And then there’s the whole other issue where you did nothing wrong but got called in to a meeting to….berate you and attack your professionalism and personality? WTF?!

      That big boss is clearly toxic, and that coworker almost certainly will behave badly again. And big boss will allow it again. Start planning your exit.

      1. Restorative Justice Judy*

        Thank you. I know that they asked the colleague if she wanted to talk to me while it was going on, but she said “no,” and they allowed her to get away with that. So I know she did not initiate this process, and I’m not sure that it has ever been explained to her that what she did was wrong. She was going through a painful divorce at the same time, so they didn’t want to be too harsh with her.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yes, this demonstrates why you can’t fix this unilaterally – and even if she pretended to participate you couldn’t trust that it was meaningful! She needs to be managed from above and made to understand that the company has your back and has expectations of her behavior that will be enforced. And if that’s not actually true, nothing you do will make a difference.

        2. ferrina*

          I’m not sure that it has ever been explained to her that what she did was wrong.

          Um….say what? They are doing zero discipline for lying and a targeted smear campaign?! No, get out. That’s bonkers.
          I get that they are trying to be sympathetic, but there are no life circumstances that justify that behavior (okay, maybe if you had a health condition that caused a 180 in your personality….but until the neurologist weighs in, we can assume that’s not the case here). Divorce (no matter how painful) does not cause a character assassination on colleagues.

          Reiterating what I said earlier- restorative justice requires justice, and there is clearly none to be found here.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          I don’t care, honestly, if she was kidnapped by the Wicked Witch’s flying monkeys! She started this locomotive of lying, she can take the whole damn ride.

      2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        The minimum for “restorative justice” would be that she apologises – before witnesses, on the record – for her smear campaign, admits she lied, promises never to do this to you or anyone else again – and is removed immediately from your joint project.

        You can’t trust someone who has been harming you behind you back for a prolonged period.
        You shouldn’t be expected to work with someone who has demonstrated she can’t be trusted.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I reported to someone like your coworker. She would do anything to make herself look good & throw others under the bus.

      I would go in with the attitude that I could forgive this one instance if steps have been taken to ensure it never happens again. But I don’t think you should agree to forget it ever happened, & I would make a strong case to never work one-on-one with her again.

      There’s a difference between being a bigger person & being a doormat.

      1. Restorative Justice Judy*

        I think the steps need to be that we don’t work together again. I know she loves the project and doesn’t want to be removed. I definitely have doormat tendencies I need to keep an eye on–thanks for calling it like it is.

        1. Jinni*

          In what world does the perpetrator decide her punishment? 18 years and divorce, and, and are no excuse. I’m very pushy/assertive/persistent, so I’d make it harder to keep her than me. I think, though, maybe you’ll need to think about what would make you feel whole/comfortable and pick the top thing on the list – none of which are this so-called restorative justice – which feels like putting the lipstick of buzzwords on the pig of everyone steading the boat instead of evicting the boat rocker.

    4. Generic Name*

      Woah, that’s super messed up. Of course you don’t trust her. I had something similar happen at my job, and I’m looking for another job. I would spend some time thinking where your boundary lies and what you will do if it’s crossed. No one would blame you for job hunting.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Are they kidding? I have a whole bunch of creative suggestions with accompanying hand gestures that they can try “healing” if they’re so inclined.

      The fact that they want to keep this woman around at all, let alone go “let’s all hold hands and pretend nothing happened” is outrageous. You actually have some power here–they gave you a raise and said you were one of their best workers, so they clearly don’t want to lose you despite this pig-pile of mishandling. I would make and appointment with your grandboss, lay out what happened and why you are totally not down with this suggestion.

    6. WellRed*

      Don’t agree to this, do tell the company you’re unhappy with how this was handled and say you don’t want to work with her. None of this is unreasonable for you to say. I’d also start job hunting but in the meantime you need to protect yourself.

  45. Jess R.*

    I asked something similar last week, but I’m really curious and would love to get some more answers!

    The short version: What tasks do you do at work that feel *substantive*? When people talk about “deep work,” what does that look like in your job? What’s the stuff you do that actually makes your brain gears turn?

    The reason: I’m bored at work (finally properly medicated for ADHD is, it turns out, a blessing and a curse), but I’m asking less about a short term filling-the-boredom solution and more about a longer view where I rethink my needs in a job. I just have no idea what substance might look like, so I want to know what it looks like for you.

    1. Sloanicota*

      To me, and this may be highly individual, it’s something that has a product and can actually be DONE. I did a lot of grant writing and when it’s finished and it’s due, that’s it, it’s done. That gives me the chance to both dig deep and focus. Most of my previous job and increasing amount of my current job (wahh) are tasks that are never done – maintenance-type kick-the-can-down-the-road management things, like responding to emails, handing annual things that start again almost as soon as they finish, or ‘managing’ projects (in this case, those grants I like to write) collaboratively, that have no end date. This work always stays surface level to me. I really need to figure out how to build a career with more of the latter and less of the former.

      1. Jess R.*

        This is really interesting! I do love things that function on a cycle (annual, quarterly, whatever) but that surface-level maintenance-type work is also really frustrating to me. Thank you!

    2. Irish Teacher*

      What tasks do you do at work that feel *substantive*?
      I’m a teacher, so the stuff that feels most *substantive* is when I feel I get something through to a student or students or when I make them think. Finding or creating resources that really engage a class or make them think.

      I also love coming up with creative tasks.

      What’s the stuff you do that actually makes your brain gears turn?
      Planning curricular stuff is what really makes my brain gears turn. A number of short courses have been added to the Junior cycle curriculum (for 12-15 year olds) and they are tested by project work which is assessed by the teacher rather than an external exam, so there is more freedom in what is taught. I’ve taught Philosophy and Digital Media Literacy and CSI and developing a course is so interesting. As is seeing what projects they decide on.

      I’m also working on introducing what are called the L2s to our school, which is basically a curriculum for students with mild to moderate learning difficulties. It’s currently a bit of an administrative nightmare, trying to get everything together, but also really interesting.

      1. Jess R.*

        I love this! I spent some time in elementary ed and only had a couple instances where I could really count my work as substantial — usually it just felt like surface-level work with bone-deep frustration, which is why I got out of the field — but I love hearing how others find their substance and joy there.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      Event planning, which is what I do, is very satisfying from this perspective. Organising a large annual conference is frequently like herding cats (or academics, in my case) and comes with an extremely long task list and long hours / high email volume in the 10 weeks or so before the event.

      But WOW, it is great when you’ve delivered the event! And the fun thing is that it’s slightly different each year, because we always want to make sure it stays fresh and to keep improving the event each time you do it.

      I really recommend event planning to anyone who needs a lot of variety in their work. I imagine that working at an event venue would be similarly varied as well.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        Proving how subjective this can be, I would put event planning on the “many tasks, very few substantive” side! Variety, yes. Heads-down deep work…not in my experience at least. :-)

    4. ferrina*

      I answered last week to talk about my job, so not doing that here. But since you’re still looking for answers, here’s my advice: ask yourself what feels substantive in the work you are currently doing/previously did.

      What you are looking for will look different to everyone. Some people find it in their work; some people find it in their personal life; some have a combo of the two. It can change over time. So observe what it is that gives you energy and excitement. Is it problem solving? Helping people? Creating prototypes? Getting a project done? Starting a project? Big picture? Details? Once you know where your spark is, you’ll be better positioned to know where to look.

      1. Jess R.*

        That’s really helpful as a framework, thank you! (And so were your answers last week!)

        And to be transparent, I’m asking this as much out of curiosity about others’ experiences as I am for figuring out my own situation. I always feel like I have a “Kindergarten Career Day” sense of what jobs exist (teacher, librarian, firefighter, lawyer) and I want to understand the broader working world better!

        1. ferrina*

          Ah! That makes sense- the Kindergarten Career Day was definitely my only frame work when I went into the professional world! (love that description, btw).

          One thing to keep in mind is jobs are constantly being created. Once you know what you are interested in and become really good at that thing, you’ll better be able to identify opportunities (and hopefully people will look for opportunities for you). That’s why it’s so important for you to figure out what drives you.

          My current role was custom designed for me. It literally didn’t exist when I joined the company, and I’ve never heard of a similar role at other companies. They had a need that they had no idea how to solve. I had a certain skill that they hadn’t seen before. My role was created to fill that business need. Since I had the skills to know where to look to solve the need, I’ve been able to tell them what needed to be done and how (and of course, my boss tells me yes or no based on business strategies and priorities- I don’t have complete carte blanche). Being really, really good at something can sometimes create its own role or add responsibilities that others wouldn’t have.

        2. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

          Aha! I was curious if my comments last week on how I approach my own team lead role had any applicability to your situation, but if you’re asking for curiosity’s sake–well, that’s how one person gets depth and substance out of being a team lead!

          1. Jess R.*

            Oh my goodness, I’ve read through your comments almost every day this week. They really have me thinking about what I can do here! I definitely felt a lot of resistance in my own head when I first read them — “oh, I can’t do that here, they’d never let me” — which is partly because we’re on a grant-funded project, but also just… lack of experience even trying these things, which leads to lack of confidence, etc. Thank you so much!

            1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

              Oh, good, I’m glad my comments were thought-provoking at least! It’s definitely a quantum leap from assigned tasks to leadership, and a lot of people struggle with confidence when making that leap. You’re far from the only one. Even just my engineers are sometimes inclined to wait for tasks, and I have to tell them that we hired them as smart people to tell *us* what to do.

              And obviously the unmet needs of your team/company are going to be different from the specific unmet needs of mine, but I’m sure there are unmet needs. So if you have “lead” in your title, it might be worth trying to identify what some unmet needs are that you feel passionate about or have ideas about what to do, and trying to get buy-in for implementing those ideas. And sometimes buy-in means getting approval up-front, and sometimes it means knowing how much autonomy you have in your role and what you can just try out on your own and illustrate what it would look like in practice.

              And I’ve been a team lead for 2 years and working here for 6 years, so I started the role already with a long list of things I wanted to change, and I’ve had 2 years to gradually add more (that’s where being team lead and not manager is great: I can add responsibilities when I’m ready, I’m not just suddenly responsible for the whole show), so it’s not the case that what I put in my comments reflects the number and scope of responsibilities I took on right after getting promoted, and therefore you should take on that much all at once too! It’s more exactly what you’re doing: start thinking about what opportunities there might be, and shift your mindset a little.

              Good luck! Give us an update if anything comes of it (and if you have time, of course). :)

    5. Angstrom*

      Something that makes a tangible positive difference for others, either colleagues or customers.
      An example might be finding a solution to a chronic problem, documenting it, and implementing a process change so that it never happens again. It doesn’t have to be a BIG problem — getting rid of a small aggravation feels like a win.

    6. ecnaseener*

      Problem-solving. Figuring out a difficult question, finding ways to make a process work better, etc.

    7. Friday night chocolate*

      I am very skilled at organizing and assistant type tasks-I know I could do very well in EA type work if I wanted to. But I knew, even in high school, that wouldn’t be fulfilling to me. I went to college and on to masters in an arts field and did training in using this art in medical field. (I am purposely being vague). And now I own my own business. I teach this art to kids and adults; and I contract with medical facilities to use this art in a medical setting. Because I run my own business I do all the organizing and executing skills I’m naturally good at…but…I connect with people and can see the impact of what I do immediately while I’m doing it. It’s important to me to see my work has meaning in other people’s lives and to know (at least for kids) I’m creating a wonderful memory or experience-when many adults did not have great experiences learning this art.

      But it only works and I am only effective, because I balance work with other sides of my personality outside of work. I’m very introverted and prefer quiet, alone hobbies and that’s what I have. Which enhances the work I do because I’m not overwhelming myself.

  46. rayray*

    What is a normal amount of communication when starting a new job? I got the offer last Thursday and completed the paperwork and background check last Friday, Workday shows the paperwork tasks as complete and background check says it was complete. I haven’t heard from them, and we discussed having me start on June 20. I did reach out to talent acquisition. I realize I don’t need to panic yet, but it feels off to have no communication really.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I don’t think this would concern me, if your start date is set. They may think you’re going on vacation or winding up with your current role, or just don’t want to bug you until you start. I wouldn’t expect more than an email for the day before, personally – but this may vary by field, and I’ve tended to work for small nonprofits that aren’t the most organized HR wise.

      1. rayray*

        Thanks. I know I am an overthinker and worrier, I just keep going to the worst scenario that they’ll rescind the offer or something. I’ve been waiting a long time to find something new and it’s a company I’m excited about.

        1. Sloanicota*

          If you’re concerned and you haven’t already done so, I don’t think it would hurt to send a final email expressing your enthusiasm and commitment. “I see that the X process is handled and Y paperwork was received this week. I’m so glad it all worked out and I’m looking forward to seeing you all for my first day on the 21st. Can’t wait!” – just to ensure it’s final-final-final. I don’t think it’s necessary but could help you feel better.

    2. Educator*

      I never bother my new hires beyond the basic paperwork you describe during what I assume to be their notice period at their old job, or during their life reconfiguration time if they are going from not working to working. I’m not paying them yet, so it does not feel fair. These details make it sound like you have a reasonable and organized new employer.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      I assume you are in the US, and the Tuesday start date is because Monday 6/19 is a holiday? In your situation I would expect to get instructions on Monday or Tuesday of next week – where to report, who will meet you, etc. If you don’t have that by Wed, then it’s time to panic. Good luck with the new job!

  47. Vix*

    Does anyone work with a sales team that needs to share contacts on their personal phones? Our sales team is very collaborative and often on the road and needing to access shared company contacts on their personal cell phones (for a variety of reasons, they don’t want to juggle a personal and a work phone). We’re having the hardest time setting up a good system where they can access the same list of contacts or getting those contacts entered into the shared system when they get a new phone number in the field. They generally are using iPhones and it seems that a lot of them are saving directly to their personal iCloud. Has anyone had any success figuring this out or know of a good software for it? We’re currently using Google Contacts and it’s leaving a lot to be desired.

    1. ferrina*

      I’m going to suggest using a sledgehammer for brad nail.
      Are you using a CRM? That is really helpful in keeping all the contacts aligned. If your team doesn’t have time to update a CRM, do you have budget to create a junior position to do the admin of updating a CRM? One company I worked at actually had a junior sales position for each senior and the junior was responsible for verifying leads and updating the CRM. That way the senior could just send them an email or IM from the field. You may find it helpful to have one person whose job is to serve as homebase- updating the CRM, finding numbers, updating on status, etc. I realize I just told you to buy a new software and FTE, so this may be completely unfeasible.

      1. Vix*

        It’s less getting a CRM updated as much as them being able to type a name into their phone the way they would for a personal contact and have it pull up the correct phone number for that person. Or for the person’s name to show up on caller ID if they were calling their personal cell phones (particularly given the amount of spam calls these days, they don’t want to have to pick up every single call in case it’s a client.)

        1. Llellayena*

          My iPhone (repeatedly) would ask if I wanted to sync my work contacts from outlook (that might have been just mail but I remember it affecting phone contacts the first time it tried to do it). I believe there’s a “lists” category in the iPhone contacts that lets you separate work contacts from personal? I’m not sure because I keep telling it NO when it wants to sync…

  48. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    Accidentally said I wanted to visit “Desert Valley” instead of “Death Valley” in idle chitchat before an all-staff Zoom meeting. What minor errors have your brains decided to blow out of proportion this week?

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      If you said that to me I honestly would not notice.

      When I joined ROTC more than a couple decades ago, I wanted to tell someone I was going to be an ‘MS3’ (Military Science level 3 person, abbreviation for grade) but instead I said I was going to be an MP3 and they just nodded and went with it. I still think about that. Lol

    2. Fish*

      A colleague flubbed an email offering some sports tickets for sale. The home team was the Mighty Ducks.

    3. CreepyPaper*

      I was working on a document written in Czech and I sent it to my manager asking if she would ‘czech’ it for any errors. I was on autopilot and the document was called something like ‘czech llama export’ so I’d typed that word a LOT.

      I realised my mistake when I heard her laughing in her office and then re-read what I sent. Hard facepalm. I blame the fact I’m leaving at the end of the month and my head is already in ‘gtfo’ mode.

  49. MoreThanJustAnnoyed*

    Payroll Error Questions

    How does an organization (legally/ethically) have overpayments of salary returned?

    What would be best procedures and if we need to get outside help, who would we ask (CPA or lawyer)?

    Is there anyway payroll errors could be covered by insurance? ( by either the organizations or the payroll company)

    I’ll explain the situation. I belong and am on the board of a non-profit. We have one full-time employee, one very part time employee and some people who are 1099 workers. The full-time employee is by far the largest expense for both the “Salary” budget line items as well as the entire organization.

    Our volunteer Treasurer pays all the bills and we have a payroll company to pay out the employees. There was a miscommunication at the beginning of the year where the treasurer was supposed to give the full-time employee a 3.5% raise. The result was the payroll company giving the full-time employee approximately an 80% raise. The new amount has been paid out to the employee for the first 5 months of 2023 and is over $17,000. I am not sure about the best procedures to get those funds returned. Making this more difficult, if we simply tried to reduce her salary for the remainder of the year to make this up, she will not have enough to live on. She also cannot simply pay it back.

    (Yes, we are addressing how the mistake got made and continued for so long. I am looking for guidance on the best way to get the money returned. The full-time employee is hoping that insurance will cover the loss which seems completely unlikely to me. How the full-time employee didn’t notice that her bank deposits were way out of line to what they should have been is a complete mystery. I may make a post tomorrow on the open thread about all of my FEELINGS about this.)

    1. Sloanicota*

      Wow yes I’m just not sure how it’s possible to not notice an 80% pay raise. I’m just really stuck on that. And I’m someone who isn’t good at all about logging on to check my pay stubs like people say to do. That really defrays my sympathy for her otherwise, as it’s hard to understand how she didn’t see this coming or understand that she’d have to pay it back; I’d be much more generous with the employee usually. Then again, as you say, the company is also greatly at fault for apparently not monitoring their budget at all. And I’ve worked for many crappy tiny nonprofits.

    2. kiki*

      You definitely need to consult a lawyer on this one. If you weren’t a non-profit and it wasn’t so much, I would lean towards seeing if you can eat the cost, but $17,000 of overpayment is a really big deal for a non-profit, especially a small one.

    3. Ranon*

      Full time employee is just..
      hoping they get to keep an extra $17,000? Sounds like you all need to do the math on how long of a repayment you can work out with your employee/ how much of a “bonus” you’re willing to absorb. Your employee has already gotten the time value of the extra money even with full repayment so the path forward is really a question of morale, owning mistakes, budget realities, etc

      1. Ranon*

        I will say I’ve been overpaid before (to a much much smaller extent) and yes the company expected me to pay it back.

    4. IrishGirl*

      I can’t think of any insurance that would cover an error of that type. Legally you may be able to claw it back but you would need to review what the state laws are. I know you cant reduce her pay so she makes less than min wage for that pay period. You should also check and see what would happen if you did claw it back and she left before you finished. Could you take her to court and get it back?

    5. Formerly in HR*

      At our (large, Canadian) company, if an employee got overpayed the HR works out a schedule with the employee (so both parties agree) to have the overpaid amount either deducted from future pay (e.g. $17,000 split over the remaining pay periods of this calendar year, or over next 12 months’ pay) or refunded through personal cheques. This needs to be fair for both parties so employee doesn’t end up not receiving any pay in a month (or less than their previous amount, which presumably allowed them to make ends meet) and employer doesn’t end up having to wait 10 years to recover amount. So come up with some plans and negotiate with the impacted employee.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I would also factor in what you will do if the employee leaves. If you can do 70/30 repayment plan for this year vs next year, that is better than 50/50. People don’t stay in jobs forever and you don’t want to be thinking about court. Maybe check state laws on paying out vacation leave too.

    6. Lifelong student*

      Just out of curiosity- does the board see monthly financials? Why didn’t anyone notice the huge increase in salaries? With that small of a staff- someone should have noticed!

      1. MoreThanJustAnnoyed*

        Yes the board sees the financials (but only a line item for salaries not broken out.) We have been asking about specifics since February when we reviewed January’s budget vs actual. It has been a stream of excuses/promises to provide the information/only providing partial information/assurances that all the information provided was rights/asking for details of all expenses/only getting some details/finally received a report from the payroll company listed out all the transactions yesterday. So the board knew there was a problem with salaries but due to the treasurer never completely answering the questions and a the board being all volunteers who trust the organization, we ended up here. We have been trying to address the financial problems from multiple aspects but when the head of your organization has no financial abilities and your treasurer is way past the age where she should have retired, it is a very slow process.

    7. MoreThanJustAnnoyed*

      I want to note that this is a small church and the full time employee is the pastor. There is a certain amount of deference given in these situations that do not apply in the real world.

      1. kiki*

        Ahhh, that definitely complicates things. If it’s likely that the pastor will be staying with your church for many years, can you work out a payment plan over the course of multiple years so he’s not seeing such a large cut to his income going forward?

        I am curious how somebody could come into a $17,000 surplus over the course of a few months and simultaneously not notice and have spent most of it. That’s $3.4k per month– that’s nearly rent on an entire NYC apartment!

        1. Gyne*

          Your 2nd paragraph is exactly what I was thinking.

          Also. Interesting that a pastor (in particular) would have kept mum about the overpayment for several months. I get that it’s not exactly a position you post on the regular job boards, but this would really give me pause about their fitness for the role.

      2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        …I would be seriously questioning the pastor’s integrity with this. There is no way they didn’t notice. Any ethically-minded person would see it an bring it up after a second paycheck being insanely large, and I would *especially* expect a church’s pastor to flag it–and certainly not to spend it to the point where it couldn’t easily be paid back!

        1. BB*

          I wouldn’t notice extra being deposited. My family income fluctuates a bit, and I don’t always check direct deposit (I actually check very rarely)—just how much I have so that I can cover bills without transferring money.

          There were times in my life when I definitely would have noticed the discrepancy, and that is because my budget was much tighter then so I kept a much closer eye on my family’s finances.

        2. Sloanicota*

          I guess I can believe she didn’t notice, but I’m having a hard time believing it’s all spent and she still didn’t notice. Didn’t she wonder where the $17K suddenly appeared to go towards that credit card bill, or whatever? I go through phases of being extremely inattentive, but in that case the money would still be sitting in my account.

      3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Your pastor is dishonest. She needs pointed questioning, not deference.
        Preferably firing after such a breach of trust – you can still legally get the money back.

        If this money is a hardship to return, then that means she has already spent most/all of it. She must have deliberately decided to suddenly spend that 80% extra for months.
        Has she been asked why she did not notice this extra spending?

        Have you asked how much of the extra is left? She should immediately return at least that amount.
        Or has she spent all/almost all of it already? That would support her noticing the extra and deciding to use it, to make it more difficult to reclaim.

        Have you asked what she spent it on, if her previous salary was a living one? Or was she deeply in debt? (which does not excuse dishonesty)

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          I’m reluctant to comment, for fear of sounding “holier than she,” but I recently noticed that I had been paid for a day that I called in sick, and found that the colleague who covered the shift wasn’t paid for it.

          I apologized for not noticing immediately, but insisted that the error be addressed.

          Ironically, I also contend that the company owes me for some smaller errors, but I told them that what they owe me is less than the overpayment here.

          Both employers and employees have a responsibility to ensure that pay is correct.

          Whatever benefit of doubt may be extended about how it happened, integrity demands correcting the error.

      4. Sloanicota*

        Ahh, okay, this makes more sense then. I’ve worked in very small nonprofits but churches are a different kettle of fish (a kettle that doesn’t run out during the sermon! – but I kid).

    8. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Wow. I know you’re just asking about the mechanics of overpayment but this would honestly raise a lot of questions about the integrity and judgement of your sole employee (who I assume functions as the ED?). If you can’t trust her to be honest about something so glaringly obvious and impossible to conceal, how do you know she’s being honest and doing the right thing in her day to day job?

    9. Decidedly Me*

      There are likely state laws on this, so talking to a lawyer would be a good idea. In my state, you can only recoup if caught within 90 days, for example. If the money is already spent (basing this on your comment of her not being able to just pay back the overpayment) then she definitely noticed and just hoped that you wouldn’t, which is frustrating.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        More than frustrating.
        In any normal organisation such deliberate and prolonged dishonesty would result in firing.

        If your lawyer says this theft – which is what it really is – cannot legally be recouped, then you could require a written payment plan as a condition of keeping her job. If indeed you want to keep a crooked pastor.

    10. MoreThanJustAnnoyed*

      To address the comments about integrity, I can totally believe that she did not realize the overpayments were occurring. I don’t know how someone can be so bad with numbers but she really is.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        I’m sorry, but just — no. Being bad with numbers is irrelevant to whether the pastor was watching her bank account and seeing paychecks being deposited that were suddenly, without explanation, larger than previous paychecks. “Bad with numbers” notwithstanding, she has a duty to the church and congregation, which an ordinary employee of an ordinary for-profit company doesn’t necessarily have, to be mindful of fiscal matters. But just because she might not be able to read a balance sheet or profit-loss statement doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t have noticed this.

        1. kiki*

          I feel like a lot of people don’t actively monitor their bank accounts as closely as you’d think they would. Especially with automated deposits, it’s easy to get used to the correct amount being deposited on set days each month and never think about it again. I could see someone who doesn’t look at their bank account often not realizing that there was an extra $17k in there, but then they’d also be able to return all or most of that money right away.

          What concerns me more is that she was dramatically overpaid AND seems to have spent all or most of that money. Unless she frequently goes into tremendous amounts of debt, before she spent an extra $10k-17k, I would imagine she would need to be aware that there was an extra $10-17k to spend. Spending $3k more per month than normal is a huge change in financial behavior. Unless you are quite wealthy, I don’t think it’s something most people could do on accident or without realizing. That is what makes me raise my eyebrows.

          This still falls on the treasurer and LW’s organization’s financial systems– this huge of a mistake shouldn’t have been made in the first place and/or really should have been caught within a couple pay cycles.

    11. WellRed*

      I’m unclear: is the payroll company at fault or the treasurer? And yeah, get a lawyer.

      1. MoreThanJustAnnoyed*

        The treasurer blames the payroll company but 1. she should have caught the error and 2. she makes a lot of mistakes so I am assuming that she told them the incorrect amount.

        1. MoreThanJustAnnoyed*

          Also, she communicates with the payroll company via phone so no record of what was asked for or anything. She didn’t/doesn’t use their online system so never ran a report to verify what the payroll company was doing.

          The pastor in the last meeting said she has never received a paystub (after 5 years of employment!) The payroll company does everything online so you need to create an account and login to see your W2.

      2. Interesting…*

        Me too. How does 3.5% get mistaken for 80%?
        The issues with the pastor not noticing $17,000 over 5 months notwithstanding, how did the payroll company get this so wrong? Would their insurance cover it if the mistake was on their part
        Or did the treasurer screw up THAT badly communicating the raise to the payroll company?

    12. Llama Llama*

      Working in payroll who had a two hour long conversation (and one of many that I have had!!) about dealing with overpayments, I would honestly give people the benefit of the doubt that they didn’t notice. Especially since they don’t even get pay stubs!! People can talk all day long about how people should be responsible for monitoring their pay but alas people are not responsible with their money and don’t pay attention. Unfortunately, it even goes both ways.

      That being said, set up payment plans. Focus on the pastor one and see what you can get back. I honestly wouldn’t go after the others. However this is coming from a person who is extremely burnt out from it.

    13. Glomarization, Esq.*

      First, I would talk to a lawyer to see what your state’s laws say about time limitations for recouping overpaid salaries and your legal rights regarding interest, your possible right to sue for conversion since the employee did not bring the error to your attention, and any other legal rights you may have in this scenario. I’d also ask about your duty to report the problem to your membership and stakeholders.

      Then I would talk to a CPA to see about options for structuring the employee’s future pay and/or recouping any amount of the overpayments that you can legally get back. I’d also discuss the impacts on your tax reporting and any documents you have to file with the government that will be subject to public disclosure.

      Then I would talk to leadership about what option they would like to pursue with the employee, and then take that option to the employee. I would also discuss how the organization will let this treasurer go and find a new one immediately.

      Then I would make an announcement to the congregation about the problem, the issues that led to it, the steps taken to address it, the choices made by the employee who continued to draw the outsized salary without bringing it to anyone’s attention, and the path going forward, including how you will find a new treasurer.

    14. linger*

      It being a pastor definitely complicates things. If the pastor spent the excess on donations back to the parish or parishioner charities (which is actually the most likely explanation for (i) not noticing the extent of the error and (ii) already having spent the extra money), then it really may not even be ethical to recover the excess from the pastor.

  50. EAM*

    I have a review coming up that I need advice on. I have been working full time at my job for 10 years, I also went back to school for an unrelated career path. I won’t graduate until July 2024 and even then could still work part-time.
    My bosses are very supportive and flexible with my schedule (within reason). It is likely in the fall that I may need to reduce to 32 hours instead of 40. I feel like preparing them for this, or just asking questions, would be appropriate at my review. I would love to maintain my current salary, but do not know how to ask for that. Or what percentage cut would be reasonable?

    Or should I wait til August to address it?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I had a team member drop from 40 hours to 32 per week, her salary was reduced accordingly to 80% of what it had been at full time.

      1. EAM*

        I’m struggling with what if I don’t get a raise because they know I’m leaving, but also that we haven’t gotten raises in a few years. And if I should wait to bring it all up? I’m leaning towards waiting to see what happens in the review and approaching the hours talk in August.
        80% of a higher salary would be doable. At current salary would be difficult.

        1. Sloanicota*

          This being the case, I’d fight like hell for the raise now and not mention cutting back hours until this has been achieved.

      2. ferrina*

        I think this is pretty common- this was the policy at the last couple companies I’ve been with

    2. One HR Opinion*

      Wait until you actually need/want to make a change. Many things can happen in the meantime.

  51. kiki*

    Does anyone have tips for getting over a fear of asking for help at work? I know that for me in the long-run holding off on asking for help ends up causing more issues than it prevents, but I always feel so anxious about it and avoid it! It doesn’t help that everyone at my company is SO busy. I always tell myself that I’ll just figure it out on my own, but a lot of the time what takes me a day of researching probably could have been solved with half an hour of someone else’s time.

    1. Junior Dev*

      Is your workplace remote or in person?

      I deal with this by asking really thorough questions. This is my exact problem. I know it’s a problem because I expect xyz but I see abc, as illustrated in this screenshot. I have already tried these things. Can you help me with specific aspect of question?

      This only really works in a text medium, though I think it’s a good idea to write out the same info before starting a verbal conversation for your own reference.

      1. kiki*

        I’m remote. I do tend to ask really thorough questions, but I know sometimes my coworkers see the wall of text and feel like it’s overwhelming. I always try to do a TLDR or ask up top, but I think sometimes my coworkers just really don’t want to sort through all the extra info.

        1. K8T*

          Can you pare down the wall of text or use bullet points? The TLDR is a good move. I also always try to mention I’ve checked XYZ and was unable to find the solution

          Another thing I’d recommend is to try to spread out your questions to different people if you can so one person doesn’t feel bogged down

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            If you don’t already have a list of SMEs on topics, create one for yourself. Then your questions can go to the right people.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      As the person who often gets asked questions, the main thing I want to know is that you spent more than a couple minutes trying to get the answer. (“I tried looking at X, Y, & Z, but couldn’t find it.” not “Well, I just figured you’d know.” – unless it’s something only I would know, like where something is in a system I’m the only one with access to.)

      On the other hand, I would feel terrible if it turned out a coworker were spending so much time trying to find an answer that I might be able to help with more quickly or at least point them in the right direction.

      I think you just need to find your balance. Asking questions at the right time can help everyone’s workload. (Said as a stubborn person who likes to figure things out for myself. Probably why I get all the questions.)

    3. Ranon*

      Since you’re remote, can you frame it for yourself as an opportunity to build relationships with folks, and ask for calls rather than emailing walls of text? Talking can often shake loose extra info anyways. And be faster. Plus folks very often like sharing knowledge and expertise!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        If everyone is busy, I think that can depend on the type of question. Quick questions are best in whatever chat system you use. My role deals with a lot of documents, & those often require an email. If you have a lot of related questions, schedule a call. (This is helpful for time management & if the person you schedule with thinks others might have helpful info – or need answers on the same topic.)

      2. Angstrom*

        What works well for me as an “question answerer” is when someone starts with a brief written communication that gives me a rough idea of the subject, and then we move to a video chat. So “Struggling with the llama shampoo budget spreadsheet. Do you have a few minutes to help me understand the formulas?” Then when we go live we can screenshare and it feels very collegial and collaborative.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      What helps me more than anything is to think of myself on the other side of the scenario. How would I feel if someone asked me for help, especially if it’s something like an answer to a question or guidance with a process? I would feel like I want to help them! Especially if they said, “I’ve been trying X, Y and Z but I’m getting nowhere– could you please help me figure out how this works?”

      If you have Slack or Teams and there’s a channel you can ask, even better– that way anyone who has bandwidth can jump in.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      There is actually a lot of research showing that asking questions makes you look smarter – so keep that in mind ;) People tend to be busy because they makes themselves available for others and that includes you! Personally, if someone said they spent a day trying to figure something out that I could have answered quickly, I would worry about their time management. It’s good for people to try and figure things out on their side first, but only for so long.

    6. There You Are*

      In addition to what everyone else has said, I’ll add that the Answerers are fully-formed adults who can say, “I don’t have time right now but would Tuesday afternoon work?” or “I don’t have time right now; you can ask Lucinda, though, because that’s who taught me.” Yeah, they may legitimately be busy, but they ought to be able to manage their own time. And answering questions from co-workers should be a portion of their job role.

      I am an Answerer and I have no problem telling someone I can’t help them immediately (unless it’s urgent).

      I read quickly, so, if it’s formatted correctly (literally not a wall of text without sensible paragraph breaks), I’d love the TLDR and then the detail below. But that’s me. I have coworkers and friends who can’t absorb written info and need videos or someone explaining the info verbally with props.

  52. Junior Dev*

    When switching from a contractor to a permanent position, who typically handles salary negotiations and how does it go? My coworker says he told the contracting agency his desired salary and they just agreed to it. I think I’m in a pretty strong position to negotiate since they’re understaffed and I will have a year of experience there at that point, but I’m still nervous. I’ve done the “do you think you could bump that up by a couple thousand” type of negotiation but never actually done a real back and forth. It doesn’t help that my boss really intimidates me.

    1. Lifelong student*

      If you are a contractor through an agency, the company has been paying the agency more than the agency paid you. Keep that in mind when negotiating.

      1. Junior Dev*

        How do I translate that into my negotiations, like how much more would they be paying the contracting agency and how do I think about my own salary given that? I am making 86k right now and my coworker I talked to who is doing similar work says he’s making 106k. Should I tell them I want 110k so if I get negotiated down it’s still close to what he’s making?

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

    Any suggestions for content creators or blogs about setting up a side hustle. I think it was last week that I am in the planning stages of starting an etsy for planner and journaling pages that folx can print themselves. I’m thinking that maybe I should have some sort of business plan or something. Any suggestions would be helpful.

    1. Jinni*

      If you’re willing to create PODs, you can sell them at Amazon, etc., as low-content titles. My friend makes a killing at the end of the year with these. I’m not sure the Etsy percentage, but I think the e-tailers may be lower.

  54. DeeDee*

    Welp they officially announced that we’re all expected to go into the office 2x a week. The reason being cited is “culture.”

    I’m not surprised but annoyed. It seems so needless to impose a rule like that on everyone. Yes, there are people whose work benefits from being in the office. Yes, there are meetings where it is valuable to get in the same room with others. Does that mean 2x a week is some kind of magic number? I can’t imagine so. Not to mention added parking costs, the lack of a door I can close, the time I will lose to commuting that I’ve spent the last three years doing things like exercising and hanging out with my family… Plus more cars on the road, et cetera.

    And of course, as someone who caught COVID a couple of months back, it’s still out there and I don’t particularly want to get it again, thanks.

    They also sorta said the quiet part loud and implied that it will be harder for people who work remotely to advance (and we did hire people in cities where we do not maintain offices). Also that if you moved during the pandemic because of remote work that you “may need to have a conversation with your leader.” (Yeah, I thought people doing that were being a bit unrealistic, but still—are they going to make them move back?)

    (I did a look through my calendar. I could count on one hand the number of meetings in which everyone was actually located in the same city.)

    People asked about the costs of parking, which we don’t provide. They were told “Well, you used to have to pay for 5 days of parking. Now you have to pay for just two.” Right. Let’s ignore that we got through three years of working just fine without having to pay for any parking.

    (A question not answered: if we’re coming back to the office, will you restore the coffee machines?)

    I’m sure it is because we are a large company that owns a lot of property and we’re trying to set the tone for other large companies with downtown offices so that we can fill empty spaces. Either that or it’s just a factor of our generally low-trust environment.

    “Culture” is the reason they’re citing. It’s funny. I am old enough to remember pre-Internet days, but also young enough to know that there are a lots of vibrant, online-only communities that have much stronger cultures than my office.

    I’m feeling pretty cynical about my work in general, and this just sort of topped it off for me.

    1. Stuart Foote*

      I would be there with you. Although I guess I shouldn’t complain since my company moved me across the country, to a much more desirable area, where many more companies in my industry are located, so that I can go to the office twice a week to log into Teams calls. There are some benefits to seeing people in person, but if my commute was more than 20-25 minutes I would not be happy.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I am also very cynical about this “culture” stuff when they typically say you can choose which two days.

      If they said llama team will be Tues/Wed this week so you can actively collaborate that would be another matter, but that doesn’t seem to be how most places are shaking down.

      There’s an awful lot of people commuting into offices to join Zoom/Teams calls on separate devices, or work on solo projects.

    3. JustaTech*

      The return to work stuff is all so weird.
      My company finally decided on some hard-and-fast rules: if you’re not a “permanent remote”, directors and up must be in 4 days a week and everyone else must be in at least 3 days a week (for people who can do their work remotely, obviously the manufacturing staff is in whenever they’re on shift).
      My department? Director says “you must be in every day”.
      The department on the floor above us? They seem to still be only coming in 1 day a week.

      And here’s the thing: I’m totally fine coming in to work every day/almost every day (I can’t take the lab home, and I work better in the office), but I’m also totally fine with that other group continuing their WHF.
      What I’m not fine with is 1) my director being a super hardass about everyone being in – we lost a lot of people to that policy and 2) my department getting chastised or lectured for other departments not being on-site.

      (OK, and it still chafes a bit that our building was renovated with the needs of the now-remote group in mind so they got all the nice stuff and a layout that fits their needs, and we got their layout that does not fit our needs, but we’re the ones here now with no dishwasher or lunch room on our floor while theirs sits unused. But that’s not that group’s fault, they didn’t ask for the renovation to be centered on them.)

  55. Justin*

    This hasn’t quite happened yet, but I wanted to share that I’ve never been this professionally excited for a long-term project. (Unless you count, like, graduating from school.)

    Short version, I’m in charge of creating a curriculum structure for a professional development program, and if we succeed, it’ll make all my teammates’ jobs easier and be better for the participants. It’ll go a long way towards our team’s goals, and it’s going this well not in spite of but BECAUSE of the ND way my brain works, because my “over” thinking has helped me plan very far ahead and ask questions others might not have.

    So that’s a big professional win (not fully yet, but by the end of the summer and throughout the next year).

    To make this a question, have you ever had something that had been a “flaw” at one job show up as a huge asset at another job, letting you realize you’d been in the wrong place/are in the right place? This has been a bit of a revelation for me and is likely to completely reshape my career trajectory.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      This is such a small thing, but over the years, I have gotten the feedback several times that I “lack a sense of urgency,” despite my meeting every deadline. I just don’t run around screaming leading up to deadlines. In my current job, basically every year my review includes praise for my calm and steadiness. THANK YOU! That’s what I’ve been doing the whole time!

  56. Jellyman Kelly*

    I’ve been looking for a new job for about a year. Basically, I’m looking to leave NYC and find a quieter lifestyle. Specifically, I’d like to move upstate (think: Albany, Buffalo), make at least 60K,
    and I don’t want to manage people.

    My career has been mostly administrative (think Marketing) and mostly non-profit, service-based / educational industry. I don’t think this is out of the realm of possibility, but it’s been a year and wondering if I’m being unrealistic?

    1. Michelle Smith*

      How much research have you done? Have you looked at Glassdoor, Indeed, and Salary.com to see if titles/positions you’re interested in have the salary you’re looking for? I worked in NYC government for years and my salary was always public record. I don’t know if that’s limited to NYC, but it’s worth seeing what state government roles (education dept) pay for the types of education positions you might be interested in within the public sector. Have you reached out to people on LinkedIn who have worked in the kinds of roles you’re interested in in the cities you’re interested in moving to to ask for informational interviews? You approach the salary conversation in those conversations like: “May I ask if you know what the starting salary is for X position today?” or “May I ask what the starting salary was for X position when you started in 2018?” or “I’m looking for a salary in the range of $60-70k. Based on what you know about your company and my background, is this expectation reasonable?” You don’t have to ask “How much do you make” to get useful info from those conversations.

      You also might have better luck in a couple of months once the pay transparency law goes into effect. I’m not up to date with the current details of the statute, but you may find that once it goes into effect, you’ll be able to get a better since of what is reasonable for the positions and locations you’re looking for by reading job descriptions posted on job boards and company websites.

    2. CheeryO*

      I’m in Buffalo! $60K is very doable here. Just make sure you take a hard look at the state of both rent and the housing market since both have exploded in the last 1-2 years. I know that’s not unique to this area by any means, but just know that a small house that was $120K in 2019 is now easily $200K or more, and 1-bed apartments in decent areas are going for $1K+ a month. Still low to medium COL, but not as easy to get by as a single person making average money as it used to be.

      We have tons of colleges and universities, and also a pretty robust state government workforce outside of academia. I would look into NYS civil service jobs (cs dot ny dot gov). A lot of the state agencies are bleeding staff to the private sector, so there should be plenty of opportunities if you’re willing to be flexible.

      Another thing to note is that we generally don’t get a lot of transplants (crappy weather, middling job market, etc.). Most people here have deep roots in the area, so there may be some distrust that you’ll actually stick around. If you can address that in a thoughtful way in your cover letters, that may help.

      1. Jellyman Kelly*

        Thanks, good to know! I have some family in the area, so I’ve been noting that in my cover letters.

      2. WellRed*

        Houses in Buffalo are $200k? Dear lord, they are over $600k in southern Maine. I need a raise.

    3. ROC*

      Have you looked at jobs in Rochester? University of Rochester and the affiliated hospital system is one of the biggest employers, and there are a number of other local private universities, plus two SUNY schools not too far away. There are also a number of museums and other cultural orgs but I’m not sure the turnover is very high at those.

      Friends who have worked at UR in administrative-type roles have not quite crossed $60K so it depends on how what level you are qualified for. Old pay scales for UR can sometimes be found linked on Reddit and elsewhere, to get a sense of what level jobs are worth applying to, and I’ve heard (never tried) that you can call HR and ask about the pay range for a particular job.

      I work remotely for an org located in a higher cost area, which I highly recommend if you can do it. Housing here is much cheaper at least for now (think paying about what I did in NYC a decade ago that was clearly under market then, for twice the amount of space now). But keep in mind that for most upstate cities you will want a car, if you don’t have one already.

      It is definitely a quieter lifestyle, and I think it can be tough for folks without existing connections to build community at first, but there is still so much to do if you look for it! And being near Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes, and having so many great parks, is definitely worth it.

      Happy to answer questions if it’s helpful! Good luck with your search!

  57. IrishGirl*

    Just here to complain about hiring processes and how long they take. Its not for me but my husband. A new remote job for his company was posted and 3 seperate director/VP people reached out to him to apply as they practically created the role to remove responsibility of some things from my husband’s direct manager and moves those to a reporting team. The things they moved are items his boss wouldnt do and left to 4 of his underlying (my husband being one). So he applied, interviewed and all he is hearing during those talks are that he is the one the hiring committee wants and they want someone in the role yesterday. But, they need to go through all the HR stuff since its a new position. One of the guys even said the pay scale for the role was too low. This whole thing is bonkers and we are just left waiting to see if this takes a few weeks or a few months. I’m leaning towards a few months based on what i know of their messed up HR process.

    Also his current boss is horrible and it seems like they are slowly taking away his responsibilities instead of firing him and replacing him. He must have dirt on someone. 2 of the people who have a different role than my husband quit and no one wants their jobs so all the work those 2 did is being dropped on my husband and his 3 counter parts who know on top of their responsibilities of running the ship, they know have to do all the back office work. Did I mention that my husband is a captain of a cruise ship and all the stuff his boss doesnt do right gets the ship in trouble at ever port with the Canadian, Mexican and American governments?

  58. Dr. Hyphem*

    I have been in my current role for awhile, and have applied internally for different roles at my company twice in my time here. For context, I am in a small independent function of ~40 in a much bigger org, and both roles were on different teams but within my small function.

    The first time was a lateral move. It was pretty early in my time at the organization, and I would not have applied had they not identified me as a strong candidate for the role. I did not get the role, because between my application and the decision, leadership decided our teams were going to be shuffled slightly and they wanted me to stay where I was for consistency with all of the changes that were happening.

    The second time was a promotion, and they selected an external candidate who had different experience from the team at the time.

    Both times, the rejection has come in the form of a virtual (on camera) call, with no context given beyond “I want to discuss the decision on the role,” making it uncertain if they were going to offer the job or not. Both times, I have struggled to react neutrally, because it’s hard to be rejected on camera. I own that my sensitivity to rejection is my own issue, but I also don’t think it is fair that I should have to manage that reaction while someone watches, and I worry that if they picked up on the fact that I was trying not to cry that they would think I was unprofessional or that I would not work well with the coworker who is in the role.

    Now, there is an opportunity for a role that would be an even bigger promotion than the last one. Even though it would be a much bigger step up, my background does make me uniquely qualified, and I don’t think anyone in our organization would be surprised that I’m interested. However, is there a way to say “please don’t make me sit through another rejection call?” When the time comes for a decision, can I diplomatically say “Can you tell me the decision in email and then I can follow up with questions?”

    1. Michelle Smith*

      I think asking that in advance would make you seem like you expect to be rejected, but I could be off base here. I wonder if it’s possible instead to ask to be camera off or to just show up, not put your camera on, and give an excuse as to why you can’t turn it on (e.g. slow internet connection today). Another way to approach it might be to have a conversation after this process concludes and explain that you find the rejection video calls uncomfortable and ask how the company would feel about voice calls instead. It’s unlikely they want to go as impersonal with internal staff as an email, which is probably why you’re having to do video calls.

    2. ferrina*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. I don’t know if you can. If you know the HR team, you might be able to give feedback to them based on your previous experience. But be prepared for them to be unwilling to make a change- they may have had people complain that they weren’t told in person.

      When it comes time, I think you should go in mentally prepared for the worst. If you shed a few tears, that’s okay. “Obviously I’m disappointed not to get the role. Looking to the future, is there any feedback you can give me on my candidacy that would make me stronger in the future?”
      They may feel nervous initially, but your professional demeanor outside that meeting will speak to your professionalism more than a few (very normal) tears. Honestly, even if you don’t cry they may worry about your reaction to a colleague- again, that will take care of itself pretty quickly when you continue to be your wonderful professional self.

    3. Bunny Watson*

      I think you could say something when they schedule the meeting to “discuss the decision on the role” if you get to that point again. Or now that you know that they do this, hopefully you can be better prepared. Maybe prepare a quick exit strategy as well if it comes to that. Best of luck though!

  59. Casey*

    It’s my Friday good news! Posted a couple weeks ago about my friend and I interviewing for the same lead role and how I was feeling awkward. We had a really nice conversation about how we admire each other’s strengths and will be happy for whoever gets it. Then this morning I found out…I got the job! And my current manager said that my friend was a very close second and they’d actively try to open up another lead position that is more tailored to her strengths.

  60. kris dreemurr*

    How do you deal with realizing a job has very different politics than you?

    For context, I’m a very left-wing person, plus a lesbian. I’m living in a very liberal area, too, so this came as a surprise. But over first three weeks, I’ve been dealing with:

    -Coworker who’s a former cop loudly talking about all the ways that cops aren’t sufficiently respected (this verges on triggering);
    -Boss making jokes about the labor laws in our state being too restrictive and child labor;
    -At least one comment about “Oh, all the genders? He, she, it, whatever…”

    I wanted to get a little Pride flag for my desk for the month, but now I’m feeling much less sure. Maybe it’s just a slight difference and I’m overexaggerating it because I’m nervous? I don’t know, but I’m not… feeling the best about things.

    (Not helping is that I was also in the running for another job that would have matched my goals and ideas perfectly… It just wouldn’t have paid enough. And I find myself half-wondering if I should have just tried and made it work…)

    1. Michelle Smith*

      Taking a job that doesn’t meet your financial needs is not a solution. You rejected that job for a reason. If you don’t feel safe on your team and don’t feel safe speaking up about it, it’s probably a good idea to start job searching again. I know how bad that sucks, but I think you are unlikely to change other people’s opinions. If it rises to the level of something you can report to HR, you might consider that, but I’d still suggest looking for new work as it can be really hard to feel comfortable in an environment when people are likely to know it was the new person who raised a fuss about comments and behavior that have been ongoing for a long time. If you’re able to find something within a few months, you can leave this job behind you entirely (including on resumes).

      1. kris dreemurr*

        Unfortunately, HR is one person who’s on leave for the foreseeable future. But yeah, I may put out some applications at least and give it a try. Thank you.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        If you don’t feel safe on your team and don’t feel safe speaking up about it, it’s probably a good idea to start job searching again. I know how bad that sucks, but I think you are unlikely to change other people’s opinions.

        I agree that, sadly, job searching again is probably the way to go, but I don’t think it’s really a matter of people’s opinions changing or not changing—it’s more about the culture very unlikely changing. The culture that allows that sort of stuff to come out of people’s mouths is probably very deeply rooted at that workplace.

      3. ferrina*

        Seconding (thirding?). It sounds like neither job was a perfect option. Keep looking, find a place that works for you.
        In the meantime, do what is right for your situation. If it makes sense to keep your head down until you leave, do that. If you feel comfortable speaking up, great. You know your situation best. If you’re not sure and want to bide your time until you can assess what is safe to do, then do that.

        I’m so sorry. Good luck!

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I think it helps to differentiate what is getting you mad from what doesn’t, and what is political, and what isn’t. I work with people I technically disagree with their laser focus on certain topics, but it never causes an issue and I find we agree on more than I think we would. Because the real world is not as polarized as the online world. I’d also challenge your examples, if I may. For example, someone complaining about a law. You didn’t saw particularly which law, but there are absolutely ridiculous laws on the books, and many of them are news and even being scrutinized behind closed doors by people who you’d think support them, and they may just not be in your state or county or city. I have seen consumer protection laws that absolutely hurt customers because they cause companies to focus on the wrong things at the expense of competitive prices and quality. It is definitely a thing that laws get written by people who spent two hours studying an industry, and pretend they are experts in. So I would question whether your ire is warranted or not. And I mean that to jog your thinking, not call you out. If they made a comment on safety laws, they probably meant it as “why do we need laws for stuff that should be common sense” and not “I hate safety.” So look for the message behind the comment. If you’ve ever worked a blue collar job, you’ve definitely encountered some rules that are meant to CYA and prevent lawsuits and don’t actually increase safety. But again, hard to discuss without specifics

      1. BlackCatOwner*

        I also would not feel safe working with someone who thinks it’s ok to call people “it.” Feeling unsafe, even at a low level, in a place where you spend so much of your time can really wear on your mental health.

        kris dreemurr – best of luck.

        Know that you you can just say “Could we talk change the subject please?” You don’t have to try to get involved in changing people’s minds or hearts but you CAN say “this isn’t something I want to discuss at work, so how about…(work thing, sports, the weather, their kids…have some easy changes of topic ready!)

        Or “This isn’t something I want to discuss at work, so I’m heading back to my desk / going to get a cup of coffee…” and just exit the conversation.

        I think the key here is there is a middle ground here about “say and do nothing” and “try to change people’s hearts and minds.” That middle ground is NOT trying to change what people think or feel, but recognizing you don’t have to listen to them talk about it. Not always easy to do at work when power dynamics are in play, but simply shutting the conversation down with “can we not talk about this?” and a change of subject is remarkably effective.

        Don’t let folks drag you into a debate. You’re not asking them to defend themselves, either, nor do you need to defend yourself.

        If they get defensive, “I just want to change to the subject. (insert new topic).”

        If they come at you for “why don’t you want to talk about this?” try “Oh, I don’t want to talk about myself, I’d much rather talk about (insert change of subject).”

      2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        Ehhh, I think by trying to find a way to say its not that deep, you went too deep. A person joking about child labor laws as kris dreemurr said in their post, probably isn’t doing it to make an actual statement about an issue but rather to just joke about how they were working at age 12, so therefore, the law shouldn’t prohibit them from hiring 12 year olds. Is it ‘political’? Maybe not, there are people on both sides of the aisle that make comments like this, but it still isn’t really creating a good work environment. The people in the office are making ‘jokes’ that aren’t funny and can isolate people.

      3. kris dreemurr*

        The joke was part of ongoing banter and so hard to word exactly, but think something like a joke about putting kids in the office to work (mostly fine and very unserious) followed by a half-joke half-bitter-comment about safety laws in [state] not letting you do anything. It wasn’t the worst thing ever, more part of my ever-growing “what’s going on here…?”

        BlackCatOwner, thank you. I am just avoiding joining in those conversations or responding, just I feel like I struggle with bonding with people at work as is, and now I’m having to choose a) what can I talk about in conversations (can I bring up my girlfriend, for example) and b) when to disengage from attempts to bond with me. Both leave me sitting at my desk in awkward silence. Not the worst ever, just not exactly my ideal work experience!

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          Well you seem to have perspective, which is great, because too many people want to label things and act like everything is the worst thing ever.

          TBH now you stumped me. I think you get that it’s not a black/white political issue but that it’s messy, which was my original point. But now I realize I am in the same position but maybe a bit different way! I have one at my doctors office and even if I agree with them on some stuff (like our local govt wasting money on pet causes just to appear progressive) I also don’t want someone following me and talking at me about it, with no exit!

          We can defer to BlackCatOwner and hope you find non-abrasive conversation topics to share with this guy!

  61. Awkward Penguin*

    I wanted to transfer divisions (still same company, but internal transfer). Someone informed my boss, and now they know (about me/others interested in transferring), and it might or might not happen this summer or at all. They seem nice, but it’s really kind of awkward. It would be a slight pay bump and work in an area I’m interested in that the current role doesn’t offer despite my having asked numerous times (politely). Anyone else navigate this?

    1. Jellyman Kelly*

      At my org, you have to notify your manager if you want to transfer to another department. A job came up that was very much outside the work I do, but one that I have a degree in. Now, my boss was pretty awesome. But I phrased it to her as, I like my job, please know that this is not about wanting to leave what I’m doing now, but an opportunity to try something I’ve always had an interest in.

      I did not get the job. (That’s another story, nothing like being an internal candidate rejected by form letter from my own HR department). I worked with my boss for another 3 years. She’s a great reference for me. I did my job, I did it well and that’s really what the focus should be.

    2. ferrina*

      How is your manager generally?
      It may feel awkward, but it’s fine. A good manager will understand that you won’t be in that role forever, and will be interested in seeing you grow and succeed (especially when it means that your strong skills stay at the company). Is it inconvenient for them to lose a person? Yes, but that’s business. And a reasonable manager knows that.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      Ugh I recently worked in a state agency and if you applied for a job anywhere in the state in any agency, your boss was informed. It was awful and forces people to either not apply or be dishonest.

  62. Prospect Gone Bad*

    Does anyone else in management or above have a “favorite” myth that drives them nuts, or they are confused about where it originated?

    I’ve been scratching my head about the idea I see online that companies nefariously post jobs online to give current employees a false hope that the company is going to hire, when they are overstaffed, but have zero intention of hiring. I’ve been seeing this idea gain momentum and now see it almost every day. I am sure it has happened, but I feel like the more likely scenario is the one I’ve, you know, seen at every company. Perhaps expectations are too high, or resumes all look the same, but you don’t get the type of candidates you want, so just keep the job up, hoping. I’d figure that is much more logical than posting a fake job and getting barrages of applications and people sending you referrals and following up on their application. I just saw this idea gain steam in a “yeah this outrageous thing happens, let’s get mad” but haven’t actually seen anyone say their own company did it.

      1. Anon for this*

        Yeah, I can’t speak to the actual prevalence of ghost jobs, but the conversation definitely sparked off around this survey, and as someone who works with surveys, their methodology statement gives me zero reason to believe their numbers are an accurate reflection of anything.

    1. cat in a hat*

      I work in a technical field, and advertising a job for > 3 months seems fair. There aren’t that many people that can fill the role, and the idea that they “happen” to find the job within the first month or so of being advertised seems a little optimistic. And, while I wish companies would hire people with a touch less experience and train them, that doesn’t seem to happen. They’d rather have a job open for awhile, or wait for unicorn candidates. That seems normal to me.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I don’t think it’s a myth. I have personally seen it both in my company and in my daughter’s company. They’re both going with the “no one wants to work any more” excuse but at my comany they are also not bringing in any of the applicants for interviews. And there have been qualified applicants, I’ve referred a few who were ghosted.
      At my daughter’s company, they do bring in people for interviews every few months, but tell them at the interview a pay rate about half what they usually pay and so no one wants the job after that.

  63. goddessoftransitory*

    Has anyone heard about this?

    https://www.seattletimes.com/business/top-law-firm-outs-ex-partners-racist-sexist-emails-sinks-competing-firm/

    Basically, two attorneys left a big law firm to start their own business and poached a ton of clients. In retaliation, the original firm released 15 years of emails by those two attorneys that even by post 2016 standards were vile and horrifying in every possible respect: misogynist, racist towards every group imaginable, transphobic, homophobic, you name it. The new business collapsed, naturally, but plenty of people pointed out that the original firm apparently didn’t care about any of this for the decade and a half the two were working for them!

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I question if any of their partners’ emails would stand up to scrutiny.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Right? Sure, it was just those two lawyers who were problematic, especially *since* it wasn’t a problem for the original firm until this other firm was established.

    2. Em*

      omg! It’s crazy the rhetoric people could get away with back then — and many still are in some places, even today. I’m so glad I don’t work in a workplace like that.

    3. IHaveKittens*

      My company works with that firm – they are a big client. It’s pretty awful over there right now. This is not going away any time soon.

  64. Llama Groomer Coordinator*

    Hi all! Any insight on how to ask for a title change/promotion less than a year into the position? My circumstances are slightly unusual in that I work in a high visibility office that just underwent a huge leadership transition, and the new leadership showed a lot of trust in me by creating a new position for me that was also sorely needed. Since then, we’ve started officially building out a team for that area (we’ll call it Llama and Alpaca Groomers). Right now, my title is Llama Groomer Coordinator, and we just hired a Director of Alpaca Grooming, while our boss is the Vice President of Llama and Alpaca Grooming. When I look at the Director of Alpaca Grooming position, I do essentially all of that work, just for Llamas instead of Alpacas. I’ve been promised a conversation in July regarding reporting lines and titles.

    Is it too much for me to ask for a title change and raise to become Director of Llama Grooming as that’s the work I’m already doing, even though I’ve been in this newly created position for less than a year? If so, how should I frame that conversation? My current thought is to take the Director of Alpaca Grooming job description and show that I’m doing all the same work, just for llamas, and I deserve the same compensation, but the new leadership has already done a lot for me, and I don’t want to seem greedy…

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      They did none of it out of the goodness of their hearts, though, right? They did it for business reasons either because of your specific competence or to retain you more generally.

      You should absolutely feel confident to ask. Best of luck.

    2. BlackCatOwner*

      YOU ARE NOT GREEDY

      “My current thought is to take the Director of Alpaca Grooming job description and show that I’m doing all the same work, just for llamas, and I deserve the same compensation….”

      That is not greed that is just truth. Doing the same work under a different title and compensation is the definition of structural inequality!

      It’s how employers justify all kinds of work place abuses and from your other comments, it sounds like you work for a business that in general is willing to look at and address issues (leadership change, creating a new position, etc). So this is a GREAT time to ask….”hey, now that we’ve settled into this new reorganization under new leadership, it has brought to light the fact that what I do is Director Level work, so my role should be titled and compensated as such,” This conversation is already promised to happen so you already have their time and attention so you need to use that!

      Even if they won’t bend on compensation, push for the title change. It will help you down the road to be able to say Director instead of Coordinator.

  65. WorkerBee*

    A senior-level position is about to open up at my company, and I have been thinking about applying. It’s a bit of a stretch in terms of experience, but I’m generally qualified and would be interested in it. I just found out that a close friend is also planning to apply. She has years more experience than me in this field, but knowing the people doing the hiring (they definitely want the job done a certain way), I think they might actually prefer someone with less experience who they can “train” in their style. I expect my friend would be pretty hurt to lose the position to someone with less experience, though. (Not that either of us would necessarily get the job – I’m sure there are other candidates. Just trying to be prepared…)

    How do you navigate something like this while maintaining a friendship?

    1. ferrina*

      Depends on your friend and your priorities.

      A reasonable person knows that there is no guarantee they will get a job. They will understand that you get to look out for your own career interests and simply applying for a job isn’t an act against the friendship. They know that if you get the job, that’s no indictment on them and even if you hadn’t gotten the job that doesn’t mean they would have. They may be disappointed, but they will handle that on their own and not take it out on you.

      Does this describe both you and your friend? Good. Apply for the job and let your friend know you are in the running.
      If this doesn’t describe your friend and/or you, weigh the risks and whether a) you think your friendship will eventually survive and b) whether that’s worth it. And it’s just fine if it is- I’m skeptical a friendship where you can’t be in the running for the same job is a strong friendship

    2. Em*

      Have a conversation with your friend about it and tell her “may the right person for the job get it.” Tell her you both want the job but there’s only one opening, and you hope that this won’t affect your friendship no matter who gets the offer. It’s not always about qualifications, like you said. Sometimes it’s simply about the right fit. Good luck!

  66. Do I have to give details to my boss about my attendance to A&E*

    I had to attend A&E on a work day. It was nearly the end of my working day so I missed 2 hours of work. My manager wants to know what problem I had and which treatment I received. I am in the UK. Have I any legal obligation to provide this information? I provided a certificate of attendance from A&E but I have to fill a self-certification form which ask details of the sickness. I just want to write that I attended A&E.

    1. BlackCatOwner*

      I can’t comment on the legal obligation here but you could just be very generic and say “accident” or “illness; not contagious” and not get into specifics.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’m also in the UK.

      I think they may be asking in case of liability, so eg if you attended because you fell in the workplace and were injured, or eg if the doctor said you should not return to work for a week. So boss may be asking for genuine reasons.

      I’d say you should be as vague as possible whilst giving enough info to get you paid and keep you safe at work.

      1. Empress Ki*

        I already said it wasn’t an accident and that the doctor said I could return to work. I said I was okay. I WFH behind a laptop so an accident would be unlikely, and I don’t think they would be liable if I had an accident while WFH (as WFH isn’t requested by the employer, only allowed).

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Yeah, that’s time to be vague.

          When I had a hospital visit I didn’t want to talk about, the manager was being really shitty and nosey about it and said it would be SSP only (not enhanced sick pay) unless I filled in their stupid form. So I put something incredibly vague (equivalent to “A&E visit”) and was fully prepared to take the financial hit. She backed down.

    3. GythaOgden*

      UK legality requires employers to ask. It’s for ensuring your safety at work when you come back and ensuring you have the means to do your job.

      There is absolutely a place on our forms for self-certifying after we come back from sick leave. It’s part of the trade-off for better statutory protection and sick leave benefits.

      One boyfriend of mine kept dislocating his shoulder and having to take weeks off at a time. Eventually the company asked him to have it pinned: they said they couldn’t keep accommodating lengthy time off and the liability if it happened at work (I believe one time when it happened he was reaching his briefcase down from the luggage rack on the train he commuted on) would be theirs to shoulder.

      In some places management have the ability to soft-pedal at their discretion. We had a very relaxed policy until a national organisation wanted to take us back, and we’re much stricter (because we’re facilities and maintenance so things can’t happen without us). But that flexibility was always granted because I was honest with my line manager about what was going on and why I needed the time off (it was often down to personal stress, and I did get to the point where we had to have the conversation about whether I should take a LOA for a while, so they weren’t infinitely flexible) and so it’s a quid pro quo — if you’re open with them, they have more reason to be flexible with you.

      It’s a very different situation to the US but you are expected to let your manager know why you were out, yes.

  67. Lizard*

    I am in one heck of a spot and looking for guidance. After a few months of underperforming and increasing pressure (verbal and written) an employee filed for ADA accommodations. I was relieved, thinking it would improve their performance.

    However their performance has not improved. All issues prior to request. When I give job based feedback they invoke the ADA, raise their voice, use pseudo legalese and promise concrete things they don’t deliver. We are 100% compliant on their accomodation requests.

    Well I have PTSD from an abusive relationship that involved all of the above. I’m constantly triggered. I’ve never needed accomodations because standards of professional behavior are the accomodation.

    What in the heck do I do? I’ve tried and tried to keep it professional and work with this person. I’m concerned I’m biased because of my triggers. What in the hell would I even ask for? “my accommodations request is that my employee not raise his voice, lie or legally threaten me?”

    I’m documenting all behavior but it’ll be awhile before HR will let me do anything for fear of retaliation.

    Anyone been there? Any advice?

    1. ferrina*

      I’m so sorry.
      Do you have access to a therapist? First thing is to take care of your health, so if you can get a therapist, do that while this situation at work continues.

      Next, go back to HR. It’s not okay that this person is yelling at you. Ideally HR will help you navigate this situation, but if you think they’ll refuse out of fear, then try the conflicting medical conditions.
      Talk to a doctor to get your ducks in a row. Get paperwork for ADA accomodations for your PTSD. Tell HR that this person’s actions are triggering a stress-induced condition for you. Explain that you can’t be yelled at every day without adverse health effects. Offer paperwork. Offer HR some alternatives- maybe someone else can supervise this employee or HR can have a representative mediating when you talk to this employee. Don’t leave without your accommodations.

      Unfortunately, sometimes conflict-avoidant people will side with the person who makes the most drama. It would be nice if you could talk to people calmly and reasonably, but sometimes it works to make it uncomfortable for them. Don’t fold. Will they be happy about it? No- they were counting on you to take the brunt of the behavior. Will it be effective? Possibly. I’ve certainly gotten things pushed through by being loud when necessary (as a last-case scenario- I prefer collaboration or logic)

      1. Lizard*

        Thank you. Therapy is a great idea.

        It just seems so silly to need accommodations for this because it shouldn’t be happening.

    2. Educator*

      When an employee is behaving unprofessionally, it can help to have a witness in the room—and it might make you feel safer too. Is there a third party, ideally HR, but maybe your boss or a fellow manager, who could just be present and listening during the next check in you have with this employee? I would frame it to them as “Joe was threatening the last time we spoke, and I would appreciate having you there to serve as an objective witness in case it happens again. You can just do work at the other end of the table.” And I would frame it to the employee as “It is unacceptable to raise your voice at work. We both want you to be successful in this job, and that requires a collaborative, not adversarial approach. I have asked Linda to be present with us so that we have an objective witness in case there are any further conflicts.”

      1. Educator*

        Also, you never have to just sit there and be yelled at by a client or an employee. When someone gets upset to the point where it is triggering or unproductive, it is totally reasonable to say “you cannot raise your voice like that. Let’s continue this conversation later when you have calmed down.” And then end the call or leave the room. I know that can be hard to do in the moment with PTSD, but getting yourself out of the situation can be really empowering too. Possible therapy topic.

        1. Lizard*

          I tried telling them not to yell and got the whole “that’s what you think happened, I didn’t yell, and I’m asking to end this conversation as an accommodation.”

          Generally it’s just loud and aggressive not screaming.

          But excellent advice about having a witness. Thank you!

    3. One HR Opinion*

      One thing I can think of is to do as much communication in writing as is reasonable. That way they don’t have the opportunity to raise their voice, there is proof if they become irate or unprofessional in writing, etc.

      Also, not sure of your company structure, but you could potentially ask for him to be transferred as a reasonable accommodation to you if you’re willing to do so.

    4. M2*

      An ADA accommodation doesn’t mean the person is allowed to be abusive and not do their work.

      Document document document. Have someone else in the room or Zoom whenever you deal with this employee.

      My partner worked at an organization and it took a year of crazy documentation before the person “left.” They can’t say fired it even let go.

    5. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Can you tell HR/your manager that you need a witness, to protect your organisation and yourself, whenever you meet him in person to give instructions or discuss his work?

      He might be less loud & aggressive before a witness, or at least the witness can report what you are subject to.

  68. BlackCatOwner*

    I am the office farter!

    The past 3 years working from home have been such a relief, but now we’re back in the office.
    :( I’ve had to go back on medication to control the smell, especially as my current job involves a lot of meetings in small conference rooms.

    Please have empathy – it’s terribly embarrassing for us and until I discovered there was medication, there was really nothing I could. My doctor said I was normal and healthy, just odiferous.

    And if you’re an officer farter, check out the internal deodorant Devrom (and please check with your own doctor!) – but for me it’s been a life-changing medication.

    1. RemoteisBest*

      Thanks for posting this. I have IBS-D and some other gastro disruptions and I too have been the office farter. It is horribly embarrassing! One company I worked at a few years ago had my department sitting in a huge room – over 100 people – sitting in rows and rows of desks. My desk was all the way in the back of the room and every time I need to go to the bathroom, I had to walk the gauntlet past all of the giggling 20 somethings. Several times my body provided a sound track and it was SO awful. I hated going in there every day (this was pre-pandemic).

  69. Anxious Volunteer*

    This is about a volunteer role rather than paid work but the dynamics are work related so I hope it qualifies for a Friday post. Apologies if I’ve missed the mark.

    I volunteer for a community non profit once a week. I am fully committed to the mission and have good working relationships with most of the other volunteers and the members of the public we serve. I would say my work is valued and I’m well liked there (to the extent that one can tell).

    But there’s this one other volunteer I just can’t cope with. She doesn’t even really do much work – half the session is preparation, which she doesn’t do, then the other half is public-facing where she is friendly and charming. Some days she undoes work I have done. Most days she breaches important policies and procedures (where breaches can put us at risk of closure or even litigation). I have spoken to the team lead multiple times including reporting all breaches. They have spoken to her multiple times and she just nods and smiles and persists. TL doesn’t have the authority to “fire” her and there are some sensitivity issues because she is well liked – she is a warm and generous person.

    Today I realised I’m at my wits’ end. I *cannot* continue to work with her while she is like this. I pretty much had a two-hour panic attack today during the session.

    So, as I see it my options are as follows:

    1. resign

    2. ask to redeploy to a different weekly session

    3. major heart to heart with team leader

    None of these feels comfortable. Which would you go for?

    1. MoreThanJustAnnoyed*

      I definitely would either deploy to a different session or resign. You should not feel obligated to continue to do something that does not bring you joy. I love how I feel when I volunteer in a good environment. It is not worth the stress of staying in a bad place.

      1. Anxious Volunteer*

        Thanks, that’s helpful.

        Usually I do really enjoy it – but usually there’s someone physically between me and her so I don’t notice so much. Today that person was absent (incidentally, that person is also at BEC with her) so I got the full brunt.

    2. LuckySophia*

      A wise friend once told me: Don’t make the “irreversible choice” for first option.

      So for the options you listed:
      first: heart to heart with TL and give her one more chance to change things if she cares about breaches that could put the org at risk of closure or litigation!!!
      second: Ask to redeploy.
      third (the “irreversible” option): Get out of there!!

      1. Ashley*

        And if the team lead hasn’t helped before is there someone else in the organization you have a positive relationship with that might be more open to your concerns?

        1. Anxious Volunteer*

          I think I’ve misrepresented the TL slightly – she absolutely sympathises and has done everything within her authority.

          I do have a good working relationship with a couple of people with greater authority / decision-making BUT I’m a bit cautious of the dynamics because this volunteer is well liked and well connected. I don’t want to find I’m complaining to her nephew or best friend.

          1. Ginger Cat Lady*

            But has she brought in someone higher than her? That’s the next step. If she’s not willing to take it up higher, then you should.

        2. Loreli*

          Agree. Take this up the chain of management. Especiif the things this person is saying puts the organization at legal risk.

          I also question how directly the “offender” has been spoken to, especially if the team lead has no authority to “fire” them. That conversation needs to be at the level of “you absolutely cannot say things like (example) or (example), the organization can be sued. We’ve talked before about this but you continue. If this goes on you will no longer be allowed to volunteer”.

    3. ferrina*

      I’d have a schedule conflict with my current weekly session and move to different weekly session.

      My conflict? I’m scheduled to not be stressed out by this person.
      Ideally you’d have a volunteer coordinator who would address issues like this–any decent coordinator would want to know about breaches. They should be addressing this (if that role exists)

      1. Anxious Volunteer*

        That’s a good conflict. Everyone knows I have a paid job (lots of other volunteers are retired) so “I can’t do Fridays any more” would be unremarkable as a public reason. I definitely wouldn’t want “I can’t work with Tangerina one second longer” known any further than it needed to be.

    4. Cordelia*

      I would do all 3, in reverse order. Meet with team leader and explain the problem, and ask to move to a different session. Say that if you are not able to do this you will have to resign.

      1. Anxious Volunteer*

        I think you’re right. I’m seeing TL tomorrow socially so there may well be an opportunity.

        1. Anxious Volunteer*

          (opportunity to ask for a time to chat, not to unload on her there and then)

      2. Angstrom*

        Agree. Also have for the team leader a written list of the actions you’ve witnessed that could cause legal trouble for the organization.
        This is not a personality conflict. She is endangering the mission of the organization.

    5. Anxious Volunteer*

      update: I’ve spoken to TL tonight. She was already planning to redeploy Tangerina, it just couldn’t happen this week. I will not be working with her next week. She was interested to hear about some new problems.

      Thanks for giving me the confidence to speak openly!

  70. Choggy*

    I have been having dreams containing my ex-managers who I still work with. Neither were good managers, and I always felt like they used my strong work ethic to dump more work on me. In these dreams I was being bullied by them; I was called into a meeting with both so they could yell at me for sharing some information, in the other, one of my managers kept stepping in front of me while I was doing something or speaking over me. In both I actually spoke up for myself or moved back into the spot I was working in. I am hoping these are signs that I have stopped caring as much about what they say/think, and in reality, will hopefully stand up for myself should they say/do something. I am 2 years from retirement, and I am just so done with this place. If there was any way for me to leave earlier, I would. One benefit is I can work from home more days of the week, and when I do come in, neither of them are here. I do hope any work-related dreams go away once I’m fully retired.

    Do any of you have work-related dreams/nightmares?

    1. BlackCatOwner*

      Yes, and it’s always a bad sign for me, personally. You have a set end point so I hope you can hang on until retirement, but I also hope these dreams are you practicing scenarios for your waking life!

      The bad dreams for me always stopped when I got out of the situation creating the underlying anxiety / emotions. I hope the same is true for you and you are set up to enjoy a wonderful retirement.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I seem to process big emotional things in my dreams, so when I was having significant work issues I had the disruptive dreams to go with them.

        It’s kind of a blessing and a curse. The curse part is when it just wrecks the little bit of sleep I was barely able to get. That part is awful, but temporary. The blessing is when it helped me figure out how I really felt about the situation, and having the emotional scene/catharsis occur in my own head instead of play out in real life.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I mostly avoid work-related dreams by being really strict about not letting myself think about work in the evenings. They get 40 hours of my brainpower, they don’t get my off-hours and certainly not my sleeping hours. When I catch myself I tell myself to stop (some people visualize a stop sign, whatever works) and distract myself with a podcast or something.

      I do still get the occasional dream but they’re rare.

      1. Choggy*

        I absolutely disconnect when I’m off the clock but having been at the same place for 19 years, with many of the same people, can have an effect on you. It’s the subconscious that is taking over in my sleep, believe me, I wish it did not!

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I have them all the time, about my current job and about past jobs. Usually they’re nightmares, and they suck. Had one last night, actually; there’s been a lot of stress at work lately, and that’s usually when I have more of them about my current job. I really hate it, but there doesn’t seem to be much I can do. If only I could claim those as hours worked!

    4. Lexi Vipond*

      Occasionally, but they’re usually a bit odd. I once dreamt that I was invigilating an exam for a student with special arrangements, and had to give them 53 seconds of additional time.

  71. H.C.*

    Mildly sympathetic but mostly annoyed that my soon-to-be ex-boss (who was denied a promotion and may have been encouraged to move on) gave 2 weeks’ notice while on an extended vacay, with first day back being official last day, so my colleagues and I are left holding the bag with a lot of extra projects & work and mostly transitioning in the dark until new boss (external candidate who was selected for that promotional role) onboards.

  72. Invisible fish*

    Moving from a regular job into politics – any resources I could look into? I’m one of those people in Texas telling folks with a uterus not to come here, and I keep thinking I need to consider how to improve things. I know my energy levels – I can’t keep my job and volunteer on the side. Anything I do would need to be my full time job and pay at least the same amount. This is just me brainstorming. Thoughts, ideas, resources?

    1. Ashley*

      Maybe look into community organizing. The hours are terrible because you are working with volunteers but then organizing with politicians during regular hours. The pay varies greatly depending on the organization, but non-profit work typically pays less across the board compared to traditional jobs.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Honestly, jobs in politics are hard to get. It’s a good idea to volunteer first to make yourself known to those on your side of the political divide. Can you carve out a small time commitment to start while keeping your job?

      Talk to the offices of elected representatives who agree with you – are they hiring or do they know of someone who is? (If there are none, look to opposition candidates.) Again, it might help to start as a volunteer. National or statewide organizations that share your views are another place to look – see if they are hiring or have leads or connections to others who might be. As we are approaching an election cycle there should be opportunities, but I caution that the pay is often not very good.

      Good luck to you.

      1. Interesting…*

        The work is also often short-term, although at this point you’re looking at 16+ months until the next major election, so it’s not that short.
        There’s a reason that many of the people who work in these roles don’t have big personal responsibilities. The pay is often poor, if any, although there may be an opportunity for full-time work if your candidate wins or if a candidate who appreciates the work you put in on *issue* and wants to hire you.
        But it’s hard, unless you’re a campaign manager or very, very visible.

    3. Subtle Sexuality*

      Look into Run for Something and Emerge! They have the resources to help get you started.

    4. DefinitiveAnn*

      I used to do a lot of free political work. I was amazed at how little money those people make.

  73. Femme Cassidy*

    There’s a background check on me going right now for a new job, and they’re asking for more information on two of my previous employers since they couldn’t verify my time there.

    Problem is, one of them is permanently closed, the other I only have so much information I could offer about it, and since it’s been four years and two moves since I worked at either job I just tossed my old paystubs.

    I’ve interned with my future team before (it’s spiritual care at a hospital) and they’ve treated my being hired as a done deal, but will not being able to verify two <1 year-long part-time jobs from 2019 on a background check hurt me?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Did you fill out taxes? My tax return had the information I was missing about my former employer. Might be worth trying to find it there. You could also try linkedIn or similar to track down contact info for people who worked with you there.

      1. Femme Cassidy*

        Unfortunately I only have my 1040 from that year, which doesn’t seem to show my employers. I was a W2 employee with both jobs though, so I know the government could verify that I was there are one point.

        I ended up sending them what information I could about both jobs: one place seems to have several different names for itself even on its own website so I listed all the names I could, and for the closed place I knew that they had a registered name and a DBA name, so I gave both. I figure that’s the best I can do. I have solid references from the last four years that I hope will tell a clearer story than these weird old jobs.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Usually the background check company will be satisfied with a W2 or an offer letter. Whether lack of information will hurt you depends on how rigid the hospital gets about job verification, but in my experience, questions like these are easily cleared up.

    3. kiki*

      Nah, they just want some proof you worked there. This sort of thing is common and they understand most people don’t keep old paystub for very long. Do you have old W2s or access to them online? I think they also have other ways of verifying on their end that they could use, they’re just a bit more involved, so it’s easier to ask you first.

      Also, it sounds like the jobs weren’t your most recent. Unless those jobs were your most relevant for the role, even if they couldn’t verify them the company would likely still move forward with you.

      1. Femme Cassidy*

        Yeah, I don’t have W2s anymore either, but they’re both pretty irrelevant to what I’m going to do now. (One was a retail job and the other was tutoring, and I’m going into chaplaincy.) Like I said to DisneyChannelThis, I just kind of hope that the fact that I have nearly four years of references between my professors and managers at the job I’ve had since I started school will make up for it.

    4. Me*

      I was able to get a tax transcript from the IRS in a similar situation. Was able to download it from there website after some identity verification hoops.

  74. Patina*

    When do you start worrying about lack of work/hours at your job? What do you do then? I make teapots for a small business and we recently lost our biggest teapot client. They were absolutely horrible to work with so I can’t say I miss them, but it left a huge hole in our teapot orders that hasn’t been filled by anyone. I was previously working regular 36-40 hour weeks, but lately I’ve been leaving by noon or 1. I have decent savings so I’m not in a bind yet, but if it keeps up, I will be. My bosses are also worried about the lack of teapots to work on, and I know they’ve been talking to teapot buyers in the area to try to drum up some business, but so far there doesn’t seem to be much of an increase. I spent several hours (on the clock!) this week taking product photos and putting together an advertising brochure for them to mail out, which I don’t at all mind doing (it was kind of fun, actually)–but it’s not even remotely what I was hired for.

    I really like where I work, and even if I didn’t, there’s only one or two other companies in town that make teapots. There are a few other cities in this state that I wouldn’t mind moving to, but I rarely see teapot jobs in those locations, and they pay less. It’s not a job that can be done remotely. I’m not married to making teapots, but it’s all I’ve ever done and I have no degree or experience in anything else, so a career change would be difficult. I would love to get into web development, and have been self-teaching and building a website for my employer on the side, but it seems like an impossible field to break into right now, especially with no degree, and I’m finding the learning going very slow.

    My natural inclination is to just keep on keeping on and hope things pick up, but what if they don’t? When should I start really worrying? How do I put together an emergency exit plan when I feel so stuck?

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Can you talk to your boss about picking up extra duties to round out your hours a little more? Mention that you’ve really been enjoying doing some teapot advertising and marketing and ask if you can spend your afternoons doing that. Putting an ending date on it and phrasing it as a “try before you buy” might make it more appealing for your boss if he is hesitant.

      You could sit down with them and voice your concern about your hours and offer to take on some marketing tasks for X amount of time (something that would make sense, like 3 months) to see if you can recoup some business and then revisit after X amount of months. That might give you some time too to make a plan or have backup options to see if it makes sense for you to stay and take your next steps if needed.

      1. Patina*

        Thanks for the ideas! Unfortunately, I’ve already been asking every day before I leave if there are other things I can do, and there just isn’t much. I’ve done a few odd things here and there for my boss but all the other work is well handled by other employees, or is outside of my skillset (say, porcelain teacups instead of my chocolate teapots). Part of the problem is that it’s very much a mom and pop shop, and the owners have said numerous times that they’ve just never needed to advertise themselves before, so they don’t know where to start or what they even want to do. Buuut I think they do have a Facebook page, so maybe I could ask to start doing some social media? My boss likes Instagram for his personal stuff, so maybe we could start a business Instagram too. I don’t use any of those things personally so I’d have to learn it, but I’m pretty sure it’s something I could handle.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          There are classes and certifications out there for Google SEO and Adsence that are really helpful to use for social media marketing. Maybe you could bring those to your boss and see if they will pay for your certifications (if needed, some of them are free) or if you could at least do them on company time. Framing them as a benefit for the business might be helpful, especially if your boss is already semi-active on social media. And her comment about not needing advertising before could actually be a helpful thing to work into selling the “try it” phase. Like “I know we haven’t needed this before but with the loss of Big Client, it might be worth trying.” If you offer to take the advertising off their plates, with the help of those available classes, that might be something you can take over. Good luck either way!

  75. Just Need A Name*

    Over the last couple of weeks, my boss has become way more pedantic and nitpicky over my work. We’ve worked together for >3 years, and up until very recently we’ve had a very strong relationship. I’ve gotten multiple promotions, only ever positive reviews, really everything has been fine. Obviously, favoritism is allowed at work and that’s not even my concern. My concern is that there’s some sort of unspoken expectation which I am not meeting, and I can’t really be reasonably be expected to meet since I don’t know what it is. We also didn’t get raises this year due to economic conditions, and I clearly said to him that while I understand the situation upper management is in here, they can’t expect anyone at the organization to be happy about it. So, one of my questions is if they want more from me but because they can’t (or don’t want to expend the political capital/departmental willpower/whatever to push it through) this is their way of nudging me to do more.

    I voiced my confusion about this a couple weeks back, and my boss said that no, I’m doing fine, or even better than fine. But afterwards, this pattern of excessive criticism persisted, so I again brought it up today: “I feel like I’m getting a lot of extra criticism and scrutiny on my work compared to our colleagues . I’m not bringing this up again to imply that I shouldn’t get any criticism, but actually the opposite. I’m worried there’s something I’m doing wrong that hasn’t been made clear to me. Is that the case?”. And all I got back was “we’ll have a meeting about this on Monday! Enjoy your weekend!”

    Trying to manage my irritation about this, which I am doing alright with, but I’m certainly not happy about it.

    So, what the heck do I do from here?

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      It is hard to answer without specifics, but despite popular beliefs, most managers do not enjoy criticizing people just for fun or for a power play. You need to truly dig into what you’re missing. Often times it’s difficult because the answer is is what you don’t do, not in what you do do. Multiple promotions may have also put you in a position where they expect more or different things than when you used to get a lot of praise.

      When I’ve seen “unspoken expectations” it is usually the person not doing something that is under the person’s general umbrella, but they’re not picking up on the cue. For example, we tell them “you are responsible for all training” but they only plan agendas when we say they should and with what we want to include. But the whole point of putting them in charge of the training is for THEM to initiate trainings, for them to make curricula, for them to seek out opportunities to teach. But they check the boxes on their basic tasks and think they’re doing fine.

      One related scenario I often coach out of if people getting stuck on the basic admin parts of their job but not doing the core. For example, pretend we are talking about training again. They’ll do the weekly report we asked for and spent 8 hours researching fields on it few people read. And then don’t plan any new trainings. So I need to coach them that the report works for us, we don’t work for the report, it’s OK to leave that part blank or incomplete after let’s say 2 hours, and move on to bigger picture stuff.

      As per raises, I commiserate. I don’t know your situation, but we have to raise prices to give raises across the board. I’ve had employees speak as if we have some huge pool of money sitting somewhere that we are nefariously hiding from them. Not the way it works IME. Money comes in, goes out, some has to sit in accounts as a sort of reserve requirement and collateral for various loans, but most is already going to expenses. There aren’t hidden millions somewhere.

    2. JustaTech*

      Is it possible that your boss is upset/stressed about something else she can’t control (like upper management) and is responding by getting nitpicky at you?
      I ask because I’ve seen people do this in all kinds of situations where their frustration ends up going sideways for lack of a better description.
      It’s not professional or kind, but if it is the case then at least you can say “this is a them thing not a me thing” and try to let it roll off your back.

      Also “we’ll meet about this Monday enjoy your weekend” is just mean.

      1. Just Need A Name*

        Is it possible that your boss is upset/stressed about something else she can’t control (like upper management) and is responding by getting nitpicky at you?

        Very possible. I have worked with this guy for several years now–I actually have more seniority than he does at this company in terms of my tenure and the length of my relationship with some upper management, though I absolutely don’t want to go around him to them. My concern is that this is new behavior, and also that it’s impeding me from getting stuff done as fast as I can, without commensurate improvements in work output.

        Could be home stuff, could be upper management stuff, could be that he’s concerned that I’m a flight risk and replacing me will be a huge headache (which became much more likely today). I could think of half a dozen plausible possibilities. But, I want to enter this discussion without any preconceptions of what’s going on that might turn out to be wrong. I wanna talk with the guy as he is, understand what’s going on, and see if it’s salvageable, rather than address some conception of the situation that only exists in my head.

        Also “we’ll meet about this Monday enjoy your weekend” is just mean.

        Yeah, I agree. I was hoping for at least something like “hey I’m sorry you feel this way, there’s a lot here, so let’s talk more at X date/time.” I am not expecting anyone to grovel at my feet or anything remotely like that! Just something that implied the awareness of the possibility that he might’ve messed up.

  76. Lizy*

    What’s the best word or term for a set of marketing documents? Pre-electronic stuff, this would be like 1/3-page flyers or handouts or something. For whatever reason, I’m drawing a blank on what to call them now… quick reference guides? Handouts? Flyers?

    If you have a bunch of similar-product things together, it would create a “sales packet” but what the heck are the individual files/docs called????

    (I’m literally just creating a folder for these files/docs. I just need to name the folder… ha!)

  77. Overeducated*

    Anybody else waiting for a shoe to drop in terms of return to office? I’m on a hybrid schedule I’m very happy with right now,
    and getting to focus on some interesting projects and bringing on new people this summer. I feel like I still have a lot to contribute where I am so I don’t want to job hunt, especially since the remote jobs I could apply for sound way less interesting.

    But…there are rumblings the in person expectations are going to increase, and my commute is 3 hours round trip, so I just can’t do that 5 days a week. I mean literally can’t, we share a car in my household so we’d have to spend five figures for a second one if I needed it every day. Plus we’d need to pay for extended childcare on my pickup days, which would be several thousand a year as well. Aaargh, I’m so nervous. Should I be applying for those remote jobs anyway, just in case?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m in a similar boat! My commute is also 3 hours round trip and involves different legs of public transportation and a pickup/dropoff from my fully remote husband, so I reallly don’t like doing that. My job is fully doable remote, but they wanted us back in 50% of the time last year. Between pregnancy accommodations and then the needs that come with having a baby and nursing, I’ve been able to come in maybe once a week. And on days that I do come in I start and end my day remotely from the train during my commute, which essentially grants my commuting time back to me.

      So it’s not awful now, I go in every week or so, especially on meeting-heavy days, and I make sure I’m always there for the occasional important in-person meetings that run after-hours. But I have to wonder how long this will last. Sure they’re letting me do it now, but this accommodation can’t last forever as the baby grows up, right? I think this also only works because my manager is a good guy and HR mostly has official edicts but lets managers handle their own team, so if they started enforcing the rule, I might be SOL.

      So one giant wall of text later, I can summarize by saying I’m in a similar boat – things are fine now, but I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of disaster. The smart person in me says I should start applying elsewhere, but…things are fine now, and I’d hate to give up the flexibility and I understanding I have now as a long-term employee with a good track record.

      For some actual advice – how long do you think it would take you to find a new job? Do you think if you didn’t immediately comply with the return to office, would they fire you? And how would your household do without your income? Essentially, if you don’t think you’d be fired immediately and you would be in immediate financial peril, and it wouldn’t take you forever to find a new job, I don’t think you need to jump ship yet until you find out more about these murmurings.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Oh and what’s your relationship like with your boss? It might be worth having a conversation with them to see if A) there’s any truth to the rumors and B) be upfront about your (in)ability to stay in this job if you had to come in the office full time. Assuming they’re not actually just a bunch of bees in a trench coat, of course.

        1. Overeducated*

          My boss is fine and not very interested in being at the office more than we are currently either, but if it’s a higher level mandate, we’re both stuck. My only hope, if that happens, is negotiating to work any additional days from a smaller site in my city. It’s on a different team, so they’d have to be willing to provide space, and my management would have to consider it legit, so I’m not sure if it would be possible.

          But I can’t quit without another job, my family depends on my income and benefits, and it could take me 6-12 months to find a new job. so…should I just apply to the ones I’m less interested in given that timeliness? I don’t want to jump *before* I have to.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Were you brought on as fully remote, or with this hybrid schedule, or did you move?
      That probably makes a difference in how much flexibility you’d get and how much you can resist coming in more.

      1. Overeducated*

        I was brought on hybrid but I don’t have a written contract with X days per week, that’s not really how my job works. WFH arrangements have to be reviewed by supervisors annually and would be overruled by a higher level policy change.

  78. A Simple Narwhal*

    My company has decided that everyone is going to be getting a company iphone. It’s to do with compliance and regulation reasons around communication, not a desire to have people be reachable at all hours, so I’m not tooo worried about its implications. Regardless I don’t put anything work-related on my phone as it is so I guess I just have one more thing to carry with me when I go into the office. I’m definitely not going to start checking email or doing work outside of normal business hours, that sucker is getting turned off the second I log out. Hopefully that has the double benefit of avoiding any listening software they may have on it.

    I guess the one benefit to me is that on slow wfh days I don’t need to be tethered to my computer and can just keep an eye on things with the phone?

    1. ILoveLlamas*

      Don’t put anything personal on the company phone. Sorry but keep them very separate in terms of what you put on them. I keep two phones — personal and work for good reason. When I left previous companies, all the information on the company phone goes with them. Plus remember, they have the right to look at anything on their phone. I even set up a separate apple account for the company phone to make sure there is a clear boundary. Good luck with it!

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Thanks! And 1000%, nothing is going on that phone that isn’t work-related, it’s essentially going to be an expensive Teams and Outlook device.

    2. Friday Person*

      If it makes you feel any better: while it’s entirely possible that your company will be monitoring your phone usage to some extent (and in fact it’s almost guaranteed that they have the ability to do so), it seems pretty unlikely that they are planning to actively use the phones as listening devices to eavesdrop on your surroundings.

      1. David*

        Yeah, using phones to eavesdrop on all employees’ surroundings would be difficult to set up, would incur an enormous cost for bandwidth, and would be completely illegal in many places, if done without your permission. It’s hard to imagine that a company would go to the trouble of setting something like that up unless they were cooperating with a government investigation targeting the employee or something like that (and then it would probably be the investigating agency who does the eavesdropping, not the company).

        If a company or agency did go to the trouble of setting this up, though, I wouldn’t put it past them to do it in such a way that the phone can record sound even if it is (or appears to be) turned off. I’ve seen rumors going around the internet that phone manufacturers actually build this capability into phones and it can be accessed remotely by the NSA and select other intelligence agencies, but I don’t know if that’s true. (It’s exactly the kind of conspiracy theory that people would love to spread without regard for whether it’s true, but it’s also technically possible.) If not that, then it would probably take some kind of custom hardware modification to the phone to enable that sort of eavesdropping.

  79. I would need this*

    I made a typo in a timekeeping code, so the item involved has not gotten approved by everyone who needs to approve it. Lucky for me, someone in admin reached out via email (EIGHT MONTHS LATER) to highlight the error to me and my supervisor. I was out of town as this happened; my supervisor supplied the correct code and asked if she should resubmit the item in my absence. The admin person responded: “I would need to confirm that is the correct code.”

    That was on Monday. Radio silence since then. My questions, not that I’m back and seeing this:
    1. Do I pick up the conversation with everyone on the email thread, or with my supervisor only, or go ahead and resubmit with the correct code myself?
    2. Can anyone please help me understand the thought process behind sending an email like that, in which a person says they need/“would need” to do what appears to be a simple thing but did not just do it before replying, and does not indicate they plan to do it at any point in the future?

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Just guessing:

      – I have worked with people who subconsciously overcomplicate simple things either because they don’t get enough work, or they want to avoid bigger problems
      – They may genuinely need to check the code. Part of my job has codes that all sort of look the same but do slightly different things, no reason to rush it in and make another error
      – to their defense, they just found the error. The “eight months later” isn’t really their fault, few people actively search out mistakes
      – however, if they knew the code was wrong – they should know what the correction is. “you are wrong but IDK what the right answer is” is weird

      1. I would need this*

        The typo was the part of the code indicating the fiscal year, so the fact that that part was incorrect is readily apparent, but the rest of the code would need to be checked. I imagine it would have been in their queue to approve since, y’know, October, and typically they get fully approved within a week or so—it is timekeeping, after all. So someone knew in October it couldn’t be approved due to an incorrect code. And I get that they’d want to check it, but a) one of us could just resubmit with the correct code and they would review the new submission per their typical approval schedule, and b) why did they not just check it before responding, especially since my supervisor asked about taking action to resolve it, and c) do they plan to check it? I genuinely do not know from the wording.

  80. Manfred Longshanks*

    I posted a question in a Friday open thread a few months ago about how to cope with interviewing when you’re a terrible oversharer – pleased to announce that I’m starting my first graduate level job soon (not in the field I was originally looking for) and it’s a 150% increase in pay on what I’m currently earning!

    Massive thanks also for the Magic Question – I asked it at every stage of the interview process, and it must have worked because I got hired!

  81. Back after unexpected absence*

    Trigger warning: violence.

    I have just started back at work (2 hours a day) after an unexpected 6 weeks leave of absence due to injuries after a mugging. I work fully remotely (cameras never turned on by anyone) and for my first 3 days I haven’t had calls with anyone. I have just been catching up with compliance training and emails. Any advice about how to handle talking to people at work again and transitioning fully back to work? My manager knows I was injured in a mugging but doesn’t know what the injuries were (I have a pretty bad concussion from head injuries) I don’t think that anyone else at work knows what happened. I think that I will just refer to “medical reasons” and I am now improving and healing. Anything else that I should be thinking about practically so that I can get back to being a part of the team? The whole thing has been pretty horrible – but I was also incredibly lucky that my injuries weren’t worse, and I have short term disability and my friends are very supportive. But I am exhausted just after 3 days of 2 hours each. And getting back to work after this feels very different than after vacation – I usually leave myself a “to do” for when I come back so I can orient myself. It’s feels weird to come back having had no time to plan.