open thread – July 14-15, 2023

It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on any work-related questions that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to take your questions to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,090 comments… read them below }

  1. Peanut Hamper*

    I’m trying to figure out how to word this on my resume.

    Previously, when my boss was away, my grandboss would cover their duties. But now, my boss’s duties are flowing downward when they’re away, and I’m covering them.

    Is there good wording to use for “I cover my boss’s duties when they are on PTO”? I’m not at all sure how to word this.

    1. Dovasary Balitang*

      ‘Performs mid-level management responsibilities when management/[whatever title] is away, including X, Y, and Z’

      1. nonprofitpro*

        I think this is good if you add the attributes of why you were chosen to cover the duties, or if it’s especially unusual to be chosen to cover the duties as a subordinate in your organization. Use it to tell the story of why you are awesome. : )

      1. Miss Manager*

        This x1000. Why would a hiring manager care that you covered for your boss when they were out? The outcomes are why hiring managers should care.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        I’m wondering about what higher levels decisions Peanut Hamper is making in their absence. Scheduling, leave, coverage, budget decisions?

        Or representing the office in higher level meetings?

        What does the boss do that you’re now trusted to do in his place that you don’t wait for his return or go to your grand boss for.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      I’d use something like “Serve as Acting Chocolate Teapots Division Manager in the manager’s absence.”

      1. Annony*

        To me, that implies that they were providing long term coverage of all or most aspects of the managers job. If it is more of short term coverage of essential daily duties I would not say this. I would say “Provides coverage for manager as needed” or something like that with a list of specific tasks that are covered. It is unlikely that anyone considers the OP to be the acting manager.

      2. DataSci*

        I’d only use that if it was a long term situation like parental or medical leave. If it’s just a couple weeks while the boss is on vacation that seems overblown.

      3. Madeleine Matilda*

        Maybe this varies by field. I work in government. At both agencies where I have worked we use the term acting [position title] whether someone was acting for an afternoon, days, or months. Now if you are only covering for an afternoon or even a day, I would use Policy Wonk’s line. If you are covering for longer periods of time I would add more about outcomes achieved when you were acting.

    3. Constance Lloyd*

      Would it be an overstatement to say you serve as acting llama braiding manager when boss is away from the office? If that feels like too much of a stretch you could also say you provide coverage for llama braiding manager duties when they are OOO. Then maybe include a quick blurb along the lines of, “Duties include but are not limited to X, Y, and Z.” This would show that while these tasks are not routine aspects of your job, you are trusted to carry them out independently with minimal to no supervision.

      1. Dragonfly7*

        I like this approach. I have used the line “Provided Level 2 support in the X Manager’s absence” and “oversaw the center in the manager’s absence” on my resume in the past but didn’t explicitly state what tasks and outcomes were different.

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Selected to serve as [Manager’s Role] in manager’s absence for a total of xxx weeks/months.

      1. Haven’t picked a username yet*

        Honestly, I think the question is – what did you really execute when covering. Was it a list of tasks? It was it answering a question if it came up. I know a lot of people are saying that it would be normal to say “acting manager” or something similar, but that doesn’t really reflect what OOO backup looks like in my career (risk/controls).

        So reflect on what you are actually doing, tasks/outcomes vs. managing a department for 3 weeks a year, in random increments of days. But if you are in an industry someone else mentioned where it is a norm then go with that, but in corporate America (finance specifically) it feels wildly out of sync with norms in my experience.

  2. College instruction suggestions?*

    I’m about to start my second semester as a university instructor. I learned a ton last year, and I think my classes will be much improved.
    A lot of my decisions on how to structure the assignments & expectations are based on a combination of general best practices and things I appreciated as student though. I want a few more perspectives – what was something a professor did (or didn’t do) that you found helpful? Policies, teaching style, etc.
    These are graduate level courses for remote / online students. Thanks!

      1. College instruction suggestions?*

        The students are all pursuing information science degrees. I know some of my coworkers read AAM, so I’d rather not get any more specific than that!

    1. LuckyClover*

      Maybe anonymously poll your students at various points throughout the semester and see if that gives you any ideas for adjustments. The one’s experiencing your class and assignment expectations are the ones best suited to offer insightful feedback on what might enhance their (and future students in your course’s) experience.

      I’m in hire Ed as well, and I found transparent teaching and learning (TILT) as a valuable tool for assessing how expectations and assignments were communicated to students.

    2. Another professor*

      I teach grad students online as well. I’ve found it helpful to provide students with information in multiple ways: readings, (short) recorded lectures, presentations, discussion threads. Different students learn differently, especially out of a traditional classroom, so I think it’s kind and beneficial to offer different approaches.

      My other trick is to be very, very visible in the discussion boards. I comment at least twice a day on something–because I do it frequently, it only takes 10 minutes, so it’s not a huge time-suck for me. But it looks like I’m super engaged with the students and they report really appreciating it. It helps to make the discussion boards more conversational, engaging for all of us, and a valuable learning tool.

    3. Anon Grumpy Grad Student*

      I’m in a remote graduate program and there are two things that make me crazy…

      1. The group projects. The assignments have all been achievable by a single person in a reasonable amount of time. The structure of the assignments and the groups doesn’t mimic how work gets done in the real world. No one has time to work in close collaboration – we split up the elements of the assignment and one person gets tasked with synthesizing the input. Lots of needless aggravation.

      2. Discussion Boards. For most of the classes in the program, we’ve been required to contribute to a weekly “discussion” board. It’s not a discussion. Everyone posts a wordy response to the prompt, demonstrating that they read the week’s material and that they can Google. But there’s no discussion to speak of. It seems like a relatively pointless exercise.

      1. College instruction suggestions?*

        Ha, I incorporated both of those based on my own experiences. Group projects are hell, and discussion boards are hugely tedious. I don’t know of any job / non-academic scenarios that call for skills learned from discussion board posts where you have to write 200 word responses to someone else’s grudging proof they did the reading.

        “Yes, I agree with this post. It is an excellent insight to note that 2+2=4. It is something we could all think about more.” LOL

        1. deesse877*

          I agree that the is the norm, across fields, for discussion boards, and that it blows. But there are both academic fields and employment fields where asynchronous, in-depth engagement is vital. A rubric that rewards new ideas and authentic engagement is a good short-term way to address the issue (though you often have to spell out “you lost points because you said something basic and uninteresting” to people used to the norm. Longer-term, notice that bullshit-style discussion boards are “instructor-centered”–that is, a hoop for people to jump through, premised on the idea that the instructor has the only important opinion. And of course everyone hates that! It’s awful. A student-centeted discussion board isn’t about pleasing the teacher, but about discovery. Those terms, “instructor-centered” and “student-centered” will probably help you search for more info online, both on the public web and in academic journals.

          1. negligent apparitions*

            Yeah, my grad program was online, and we had requirements to respond to X number of discussion posts with something that added a new thought to the discussion or asked a question of the poster.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I do hate discussion boards. In my graduate classes they were more of a discussion, and my ire was more on the micro-managing of them, a la “You are required to post one top-level response and then three responses to other students, but you must post on at least three different days throughout the week, not all on the same day.” (So I guess, don’t do that?)

        But in undergrad, yeah, a lot of them felt kind of like my classmates were just banging away at their keyboards with oven mittens on and hadn’t read the prompt or the material, and trying to find a comment to make a well-thought-out response to was frequently painful.

        1. Justin*

          I use discussion boards but I told people what I’m looking for isn’t regurgitation but analysis related to their own identity/positionality (it makes sense in context). Seems to be going over well each time I run the course.

      3. JustaTech*

        Oh the group projects!
        When I was in remote grad school it was a program for “working professionals” so we’re trying to coordinate meetings around everyone’s work schedule, home schedule (a lot of folks had kids) and oh yeah, time zones that could include half the planet!
        Every time a new class had a group project everyone would say “we’re all working already, could we *not* with the group projects?” – but the syllabus was already set.

      4. NDevee*

        I’m thinking about doing a grad program remotely starting end of this year or early next year through WGU. Is that where you’re attending currently?

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As a remote/online (and also full-time working) student through two bachelor degrees and two masters degrees — my favorite instructors were the ones who provided a course calendar in the syllabus including exams/quizzes, due dates, assignments, etc up front so I could plan way in advance.

      (My least favorite were the ones who were like “yeah, this week is a campus break, but y’all are remote so whatever,” and the midterm exam opened on the first day of spring/fall break and closed on the last day. :P )

      1. College instruction suggestions?*

        Ooh, I had a professor schedule a significant project in the middle of spring break one year. I was so angry!

    5. Turingtested*

      If you have strict rules about email formats follow them yourself. I had a professor who wouldn’t answer emails unless they were written like a business letter and then would respond in text speak. Felt like a power move not a teaching technique.

      I always liked a solid syllabus and plan for the semester on the first day helped me plan.

      1. College instruction suggestions?*

        Being clear about email expectations is a good one. I’ll add that into the welcome video. My unofficial policy is that I am a terrible proofreader and therefore have no business judging anyone else for minor errors in informal writing. If you’re not rude and I can understand what you want, that’s quite sufficient. Guess I should make that my official policy.

        Emailing professors was always a stressor for me. Do they have a PhD? Should I call them Dr., Professor, something else? Will they even answer if I have a typo? Will they judge me for emailing at a weird time?

        1. fueled by coffee*

          I tell my students verbally on the first day of class how they should refer to me, and I put my email policy in my syllabus! A paraphrased version is:

          1. I teach multiple large classes, so please put the name of the class in the email somewhere
          2. I treat my job like a 9-5. I’m not usually checking emails outside those hours, so if you email me at night or on the weekend, keep in mind that you might not get a response until the next business day. (For undergrads, I also stress that this means they should look at their homework assignments more than a few minutes before they are due so they can ask their questions in time)
          3. If you don’t hear back from me in a day or two, please email me again! I get lots of emails and things sometimes fall through the cracks

    6. deesse877*

      You may know this already, but the 2 main things are to establish reliable, consistent workflows, and build in accountability for both students and yourself. People need to be able to anticipate their commitment accurately, to know that it matters that they meet responsibilities, and to feel that you’ll be flexible within reason and approachable at all times. In an online course, all of those demand a fairly high degree of redundancy– so, for example, BOTH post a full session schedule, AND email a weekly breakdown on Sunday or Monday. The suggestion for a midterm poll is also good. And if your class size and assignment structure permit, try to Zoom each student at least once, individually, perhaps as prep for a final project. Good luck! With a lot of front-loaded effort and committed students, such courses can go really well.

    7. debbietrash*

      A general philosophy I apply to my teaching style is welcoming questions from the beginning: “If at any time you have questions, please let me know” or “If you need me to repeat or rephrase something, please ask”. My courses are largely tactile/studio-based, so I’ll prompt for questions after I finish demonstrating a step. Similarly, when lecturing I’ll prompt for questions after I’ve explained a topic/concept.

      Consider different learning styles in how you present your materials: audio, visual and tactile (where applicable). And be clear about office hours, and what kind of turnaround students can expect on responses to emails and marks.

    8. Yorick*

      When I was a freshman, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. One professor told me I didn’t have to turn in an essay on time. She didn’t specify how much extra time I could have. I didn’t ask either, which I should have, just didn’t do it for a long time. Eventually she scolded me because I should have already turned it in. She said that I could still turn it in and there would be a penalty but it wouldn’t be a failing grade. I ended up with a C in the class.

      Now when I teach university classes, I give a date along with an extension. I’ll say, “let me know if you need more time than that,” if that seems appropriate, but I don’t want students to feel there may be a secret deadline.

      1. Momma Bear*

        This is also good business practice. If something moves to the right, you can generally predict how far to make a new deadline. “Unlimited” time is too often “never.”

    9. awing*

      When I was an online grad student, I needed to have a clearly written syllabus with assignments and due dates for the entire semester. I was working, homeschooling a teen, taking care of same teen with chronic illnesses, and going to school. I needed to know when things would be happening as far in advance as possible.

      I had one professor who never responded to either my emails or my messages through the course’s system. He was also extremely late one week in posting our discussion questions for us to respond to, but he never apologized or explained why, and I don’t remember if we even got an extension on it.

    10. Minimal Pear*

      One of the best-organized classes I ever took did that reverse thing where we read the lectures at home, then worked on the problem sets together in class.

    11. LIS adjunct professor*

      That’s the exact learner audience that I’ve been teaching for 5+ years. I survey my students mid-semester and at the end of the course for feedback, and things they’ve found especially helpful:

      1. I use an OER textbook.
      2. I assign an additional mix of readings, videos, and podcasts. They like the variety.
      3. We work in weekly modules. When I release each module, I include a video recording of me talking through the week.
      4. I’m required to offer a live office hour each week. Attendance can be anemic, so I often have guest speakers in the field stop by for informal Q&A, or offer students credit for completing an asynchronous assignment by attending the office house for a live discussion.

      It could be our field (library science) but my students have actually requested group projects. Some have found the online/remote experience to be very isolating. I used to teach group work in person so I follow best practices I learned then: make sure the project benefits from multiple people; everyone is accountable for their own grade; all process parts are transparent so I can see who has done what; scaffold scaffold scaffold.

      1. deesse877*

        cosign on multimedia for curricula. And I have also had students actively request group work, especially since the pandemic.

        1. College instruction suggestions?*

          I’ve built in interactions where students talk and collaborate without relying on someone else for part of their grade.

          Two of my degrees were online. One was all text based and relied heavily on the dreaded Discussion Board. The other had a lot more opportunity for informal discussion, video / audio interaction, and sharing our own experiences or insights rather than just regurgitating the professors or textbooks. The second experience was far less isolating, and I’m modeling heavily off of that. Based on the suggestions here, I seem to be doing well in my set up. There are several good ideas to incorporate though!

    12. Hermione*

      For me, long-term group projects were always a terrible experience (especially remote), but carefully designed group assignments during breakout sessions in remote classes were so helpful for my learning (and usually broke up the course nicely)

      I was in an instructional design course once that did these especially well (which makes sense), where breakouts had clear questions + outcomes, and were usually accompanied by a PDF on our course site so that everyone was totally clear on what to do during the time we had. Whenever we had to discuss a topic (rather than produce something) in these groups, the accompanying PDFs would ask us to have ready 3 reasons for our majority opinion, and at least one dissenting, which was a great way to make sure all the voices were heard without explicitly enforcing us to round-robin around the group, and often resulted in a more even pros/cons list, rather than a forced majority.

    13. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      I’m not sure whether that’s possible for you, but some of my professors (I studied physics) allowed to bring a “cheat sheet”, a DIN A4 sized handwritten sheet of paper we could write on anything we’d want/need. Usually it was required to be directly handwritten by yourself (not printed etc), and some profs would put restrictions (“you can write formulas but you can’t write any text” for example). It’d be collected with the exam, and usually they’d at least spot-check whether it passed the requirements (so, a printed one would get you in trouble for example).

      In case that applies (if you’re teaching maths or so for example), don’t just ask your students to write down the answer in an exam, but give part of the points for “did the right thing but by accident typed the wrong thing into the calculator” too. Don’t do it like one of my maths professors who said “do the calculations on some scrap paper, and write the final results on the exam paper, and by the way if you’re wrong in part a) of the task you’ll also get no points on parts b) through e) since those rely on the correct results in a)”.

      What I loved as a student were the various “if you get 100% of your homework sheet correct in at least 80% of the sheets, you’ll get a small bonus on your grade in the final exam” rules, but those were because homework was completely voluntary and they wanted us to do the homework, I am aware it’s probably not possible for you.

      Last, what I found really helpful was (when the professor did it) to be able to see the lessons in recorded whenever I’d want. Some professors put a camera/microphone in the classroom, and made the recording available to students, and it helped a lot. That was probably one of the most useful things for learning something.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        There’s evidence that allowing a “cheat sheet” for exams also helps students learn better, because it forces them to focus their studying and consolidate information ahead of the exam. I also like this system because I think it helps reduce some students’ test anxiety if they know they don’t need to memorize absolutely everything

        1. David*

          Yeah, that has always helped me quite a bit. I remember one class (also a physics class, not that it matters) where I was allowed to bring as large of a “cheat sheet” as I wanted to into the exams, the only restriction being that it had to be something I wrote myself. (No textbook, no copies of another student’s notes, etc.) By the time of the final exam, my “cheat sheet” had grown to 49 pages and had a table of contents, index, and symbol reference… and I barely had to use it, precisely because (as you said) in the process of writing all that out I learned it well enough to remember it.

          So, yeah, it’s great if you (OP of this comment thread) can allow students to bring their self-prepared references. That being said, I get how enforcing it might be difficult, which might force some tradeoffs. In my case I think it was on the honor system, which probably wouldn’t be effective for you, but maybe you could require all notes/references to be turned in along with the exam like Jen said.

          1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

            I’m pretty sure my profs mostly said “cheating on that one will be treated the same as cheating otherwise, if you get caught” which pretty much means “cheating might, depending on the situation, get you prevented from finishing the studying course in (almost) any university in the country”, so we’ve certainly been careful. Though I’ve also heard (friend of mine worked in correcting homework and exams a while later) that the prof told the correctors not to look too closely.

    14. deesse877*

      one more and then I’ll stop professoring at you: be proactive about soliciting info for disability accommodations. The norm, at least where I teach, is aggressive, abusive ignorance and foot-dragging from instructors, so students who need accommodation often find it hard to trust instructors.

      1. College instruction suggestions?*

        That’s a really good idea! The generic disability services info is in the syllabus, but I could make a bigger point of letting students know I’ll actively support / work with any accommodations.
        I appreciate your professoring :)

      2. Momma Bear*

        Some accommodations are just good general teaching, even if they are aimed at students with disabilities. Everyone benefits from clear instructions or electronic submission options, for example.

    15. fueled by coffee*

      Having a clear policy for late work. (Long explanation below)

      I’ve noticed that in classes where the policy is “No late work ever, you’ll get a zero if I don’t have it on time,” the rates of suspected cheating go up (because students panic before the deadline) and I get lots of emails requesting extensions, but only from students who I suspect come from more privileged backgrounds where they know that they can try to ask anyway. I think most professors who set these policies assume that *of course* students will let you know if, say, they need emergency surgery and can’t submit their work on time, but in reality I think a lot of first-generation college students (and other students who are less familiar with the system) are scared to ask and then are penalized for what would be a legit excuse.

      Meanwhile, total flexibility on deadlines can also backfire, since a lot of students struggle with time management and then run into trouble as assignments start to pile up. This can also cause problems on the grading end, especially if you’re in the type of field where you need to, say, release answer keys once assignments are graded or where assignments build on one another.

      I’ve found that for me, at least, having a clearly stated policy for late work (I usually go with a nominal ~10% deduction per day late) and a clear policy for requesting exceptions to the rule in the case of an actual emergency (like, “please email me if something beyond your control is preventing you from completing the assignment on time and we can discuss accommodations”). This makes it a lot easier for me to navigate extension requests (“That’s great that you have tickets to the Eras tour! Per the syllabus, late work is 10% off per day late” vs. “I’m very sorry to hear about your loss. Yes, you can have a no-penalty extension; can you propose a new deadline that would work for you?”).

      I’ve also experimented with other policies that may or may not work depending on the structure of assignments in your class. For example, I like to state that I’ll drop the lowest homework assignment or quiz grade, no questions asked. This system also has the advantage of not requiring students to tell me what’s going on in their personal lives. Sometimes, “my grandparent passed away” means “my grandparent passed,” sometimes it means “I’m too hungover to do this assignment,” and sometimes it means “I have a stigmatized medical condition that I don’t want to disclose,” and I don’t think students should be obligated to disclose personal information to get a little bit of leniency.

      The key is to be very clear in the syllabus (and I also share this with them verbally).

      1. College instruction suggestions?*

        This is where I’m most unsure. Last semester, I was too lenient about grades and late work, and I ended up a lot more invested in some students’ grades than they were.

        Now, I have extensive policies in the syllabus about late work, redoing assignments, and using AI. They’re still pretty lenient, frankly. I don’t think the Montessori method of correcting your work instead of getting a poor grade applies to grad school, but I care a lot more that students learn something rather than stress over grades, pass, and never think about the class again. My favorite professors gave a lot of feedback but graded pretty easily, which made me more willing to take risks and try new things. That may not work for everyone though.

        I’m trying to strike a balance that demands effort and thought without being too rigid, and to communicate very clearly either way.

        1. linger*

          When setting up your guidelines, don’t forget to plan your own time management (across all courses you teach) so as to let yourself submit final grades on schedule without undue stress. (Because that’s the ultimate benchmark for what counts as “too lenient”!) It can even help to be explicit to students about where hard deadlines are for you as a result. So an assignment schedule for a course should include due dates, but could also include expected return dates (beyond which no extensions for that assignment will be possible, unless you’ve also prepared some parallel tasks for emergencies).

          Montessori do-overs / self-corrections can work even at grad school level for skill development (e.g. proper formatting of references; critical thinking;…) though maybe less so for understanding specific content. And (especially at grad level) the instructor should be facilitating student peer review processes, rather than supplying all of the feedback. Essentially, if your course objectives are phrased “By the end of the course, the student should be able to accomplish X” then it’s not so important how the student gets there, as long as they do get there and are able to accomplish X independently by the end.

    16. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I stopped at a bachelor’s so I have no idea if this applies to grad students, but I was the first person in my family to go to college at all and it would have been very helpful to me for anyone to explain the value of the things you do. Define the potential rewards/desired outcomes of what you do in class and the work you do outside. And be especially clear about things that aren’t strictly class attendance/work.

      For example, everyone always said to go to office hours but I never had trouble understanding the work so I had no idea what I would talk about if I went and felt like I would be wasting the professor’s time.

      I don’t know if there’s a direct comparison to online grad school, but if there’s an opportunity to be explicit about the value of something you’re offering or requiring, please consider doing that.

      1. lemon*

        Re: office hours…. I agree as a first-gen student that they were so mystifying and intimidating to me! What the heck was I supposed to talk about?

        The most helpful thing I’ve seen a professor do was to make it required for students to attend at least one of his office hour sessions to consult with him on our chosen topic for a semester-long research project. During the session, he was able to offer guidance on the topic such as recommended sources to consult, pitfalls we might run into, if the topic was too broad or too narrow, suggestions on how to make the topic more interesting or approachable, etc.

        It was incredibly helpful because it showed how even if I think I’m understanding the material, there’s value to hearing a different perspective and ways to engage more deeply. It also helped set expectations for what to talk about during office hours with other professors. I was a lot less intimidated by office hours with other professors after this and found myself attending more often.

        This might be helpful for the OP, especially if working with students who may be first-gen students or international students who come from cultures where students aren’t encouraged to self-advocate as much as students in the US/Western cultures are.

    17. Educator*

      Everyone who teaches anything should read a book or two about backwards design, or Understanding by Design specifically. Maybe you already have, and that is what you mean by general best practices, but if not—it’s the key to structuring assignments and expectations in a way that facilitates authentic student learning. And it applies to both online and in-person instruction.

      1. College instruction suggestions?*

        I have not, so I’ll check into it. Thanks for the suggestion! I found Learner-Centered Pedagogy by Kevin Michael Klipfel and Dani Brecher Cook to be quite useful.

    18. Lee*

      I’m an adjunct professor and I’ve been working to implement more “Ungrading” practices. Jesse Stommel has resources on her website, and I’ve found that it creates a more equitable environment that actually contributes to learning, not to just getting good grades.

      As a student I was great at getting good grades, but often that was at the expense of actually learning and having a meaningful experience.

      I also think ungrading is more applicable to what things are like in the “real world.” (i.e. If I write a program proposal and my boss doesn’t like it, she doesn’t just say it’s bad and move on. Instead, we talk through what changes she would want to see and then I make those changes and send it back to her.)

    19. Irish Teacher*

      This will probably go without saying outside Ireland, but give all the instructions for an assignment before students are to start it. I often had lecturers tell us additional instructions or give us advice on how to structure an essay or tell us something else they wanted included a few days before it was due, days after I had finished it. It was very annoying, especially if I had deliberately done it early so I could then focus on an essay for another class or because I wanted free time that week, because say there were activities on I wanted to take part in.

      Also if you are changing due dates or whatever, let students know. A few times, I had to go to lecturers and ask them “is that still due in on Friday, even after x delay?” and they’d be like “oh no, of course not. I’ll let you know later when it’s due now.”

    20. Person from the Resume*

      I would say teach me something I cannot learn on my own.

      Somewhere around 15 years ago (wow) I completed an online masters in IT. Of note: no video lecture, recorded or real-time. The problem was instructors didn’t teach anything. We read textbooks, taught ourselves. The instructor posted a text lecture. We had a discussion board where you had to post and respond to two other classmates.

      Also virtual group projects Duck even more than in-person. And they’re not in anyway realistic with division of labor and appropriate skill sets on the team.

      1. College instruction suggestions?*

        That’s a good thing to keep in mind. Make sure everything has a purpose and offers something they can’t just Google – especially when students are paying obscene tuition costs.
        One of the things I’m fairly proud of is bringing in several industry professionals for video interviews. They all talk about the skills they use, how they got into their jobs, their predictions and recommendations for their sub-fields, and suggestions for students that want to work or get promoted into those areas. It makes the academic side seem more relevant when I can say “X assignment helps to build Y skill that this week’s guest talked about.”

    21. The Shenanigans*

      One thing I’ve found really helpful is when profs make due dates suggestions, not hard deadlines. When profs accept assignments until the last day of class it really takes a weight off. I have chronic issues that I have struggled to get accommodations for. I only have them now because I have the time, knowledge and inclination to fight for them. But there are definitely students who need flexible dates who can’t get the official accomodation. The process is just horrible, humiliating, classist, ableist BS. Also nondisabled students have emergencies and urgencies creep up and I bet they’d appreciate being treated like adults here too. My partner is a veteran college prof who’s done this since his first year. He’s never had a problem.

      Basically take any opportunity you can to treat your students as reasonably honest adults with decent work ethics unless you get absolute proof to the contrary.

      Other things in no particular order: Allow any device the student wants. Don’t use TURNITIN or any other AI to catch plagarism. Don’t make them sign anti-AI pledges etc. Don’t use spyware for exams online. Icebreakers are a humiliating waste of time. Make your syllabus clear and easy to read. Don’t make attendance part of the grade.

      But the flexible due dates are the biggest one.

    22. squeakrad*

      This is a fascinating thread. I teach upper division students in business communication — most of our students are from information, systems, finance, accounting, and other related business degrees. It’s a large state university with a large population of students who are the first or only members of their family to attend college at all.
      I also went to grad school as a much older student at the same University. So some of my thoughts are from being a student, and Sam are from my experience teaching.

      As a graduate student, I found it very helpful that it was assumed we could do the work. Deadlines were relatively strict, but if someone needed an extension or an accommodation, it was freely given. And I only know of one person who washed out of our program, I would say overall, the instruction was kind rather than strict. And that worked for me.

      However, as an instructor, I find even with upper division undergrads, it’s really crucial to have clear deadlines and expectations. I hammer out all the due dates at the first week of the semester so students know they can pretty much take the deadlines on major assignments to the bank. I think I’ve had to alter one due date in several years online teaching.

      I disagree with the warning about group projects. Most of my students do not have much experience, collaborating, working, or even socializing with people outside of their ethnic background. So for us, group projects with lots of lead time, encourages them to hear other voices that may disagree with him. The work is almost secondary to the process of getting to know people who are very different from you and tomorrow, and might have valid perspectives on the problem you are evaluating.

      I also use discussion boards for specific purposes. It’s usually for students to report on an in class activity, such as meeting with their group in a breakout room, and talking about the research topic. I don’t make them report on reading or anything else as others have mentioned, that’s quite tedious. But I do often use examples from 8 AM for students to read and then comments on as to whether they agree or disagree with Alison’s response.

      One comment I have heard over and over from my students which is some thing I continue to work on even after some years of teaching is that I can sometimes be a little current with students if I feel they are slacking off. It’s important at least in my role, teaching in a state university with many students with incredible challenges that most of my students are working at their capacity. Some of them have full-time jobs in addition to a full-time class load, or support other family member
      or have other challenges that prevent them from being 100% attuned to what we’re doing. So I’ve learned to nurture in public and offer negative feedback if needed only in private.

      I have more, but that’s all I can think of right now

    23. College instruction suggestions?*

      Thanks to everyone who chimed in! Lots of helpful suggestions

  3. Geriatric Millennial*

    -Serve as backup person for duties X, Y, and Z when the primary person for these functions is out of the office. (Can include approximate frequency/number of weeks/year here)

  4. Miette*

    Help me with my script for a former grand boss?

    Brief background: I worked at a firm until they relocated to another city 4 years ago. I didn’t want to move, so I was laid off. I’ve been consulting for them off and on ever since on a project basis. In the interim, my ex-boss also left; they are not being replaced as far as I can tell. In addition, I don’t think the living-in-new-city mandate is still a requirement, since there is a new CEO.

    I have recently heard the current team is a mess and not managed well, and that it’s been like this since my ex-boss left a year ago. This was a job I adored, and losing it felt awful. I still very much believe in this organization’s mission and work and believe I can turn things around. I am experienced and senior enough to take on my old boss’s job.

    What I am struggling with is how to broach this with the former grand boss, with whom I have a cordial but not close relationship. Here’s my “script” for either an email or personal outreach:

    “Hi, GB, I wanted to talk with you about my return to Org. I don’t know if there’s a plan to replace OldBoss, but I see that the team has been growing. With Several New Projects in the works, I think the time to consider leadership for the team and the company is now. I am interested in this opportunity and know I can make it a success, as I have so much experience with you. Can we meet to talk about this?”

    Thoughts? Advice?

    1. Miette*

      Should have noted that the reason current team is not managed well is that GB is acting in that capacity, and cannot give it enough attention

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I would go for a softer opening–something along the lines of:

      “Hi, GB, I hope you’re doing well. It’s been great to follow the team’s success since I left and I’ve been excited to hear about the new projects you have coming up! I’ve remained passionate about Org’s mission and work and would love to catch up and talk to you about the possibility of returning. Do you have some time to meet in the next couple of weeks?” (Name some dates/times that would work for you to make it easy for him.)

      1. Trotwood*

        This is good! You could say something about how you’ve been glad to stay engaged with the organization on the consulting basis over the past few years but that you’re very interested in the potential to return to the org full-time and would like to meet to discuss it.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      This script feels a little, I don’t know.. presumptuous? to me. I would be a bit put off by the salesy-ness of it. But that’s just me! I’d rather receive a message more along the lines of “Hi GB, I know ex-boss recently left the organization and I’d love to speak with you about opportunities for me to return. I still very much believe in the organization’s mission and would love to be a part of its advancement. Would you have a few minutes next week to catch up?”

      I’d save the pitch itself for a live conversation.

    4. Hanani*

      You know your field better than I do, but this reads rather “hard sales” to me. If that’s desirable/typical, go for it. My instinct would be to word it more like:

      “Dear GB, I wanted to explore a potential return to Company. i enjoyed my time as an employee, accomplished x and y, was disappointed when the move to City meant I couldn’t continue working with you.

      I don’t know what the plans are to replace OldBoss, but I would be very interested in that kind of role. I bring x,y, and z accomplishments/skills, which would be particularly useful for Big New Projects”

      More curious and “I can help you with this” in tone.

      1. Storm in a teacup*

        I agree with the above comments re: tone sounding a bit presumptuous and I think the others have all given great scripts you could use

      2. DistractedDeveloper*

        This is my favourite by far out of the suggestions that have been posted. The intention is clear, but the tone is one of appreciation and collaboration. I wouldn’t push the sales pitch any further in an initial outreach — just highlight your interest, bring up 1-2 reasons you think you’d be a good fit and offer to go more into detail at a later point.

        1. Tio*

          I also think this is the best. I think what’s putting me off about the initial wording OP had was that it implies the team is not being managed well – which may be true, but especially considering the management is under the person you’re appealing to, could put them on the defensive. The above wording is much better and less likely to put the boss off.

    5. MsM*

      Unless you know grandboss responds well to a hard sell, I don’t think you can acknowledge you’re not sure what kind of plans might be in the works (or that the remote policies have changed), and then spend the rest of the message talking like there’s definitely a position here to discuss. I’d go with something more along the lines of, “Hi, GB. I’ve been hearing exciting things about where the team is headed. I don’t know what your hiring plans are or if my remote status would still be an obstacle. But if there’s a leadership opening, I’d be very interested, and think my experience would allow me to step in and make an immediate impact. Would it make sense for us to set up a time to talk?”

      1. Annony*

        I like this. I think they can even me more specific and instead of “a leadership position” say “But if you are looking to fill Old Boss’s position, I’d be very interested”.

        1. MsM*

          I lean toward just focusing on the seniority level because it’s possible part of the holdup on filling the position is that it isn’t going to look exactly like OldBoss’s position. Or the conversation with GB could result in an idea for how to evolve the role that Miette might like even better if they don’t let themselves get locked into how it’s been done in the past.

    6. Miette*

      Thank you all so VERY much!! You’ve given me so much to think about, especially on tone. I know for a fact GB hates a hard sell. I was more focused on being direct and didn’t realize how else it could come across.

      FWIW this script would be used in person, as we are in a meeting together on another project in a couple of weeks.

      Such excellent suggestions—I appreciate all of it!

  5. Dovasary Balitang*

    The other day, I learned about Outlook email reminders and it has changed my life for the better. What’s your favourite work software/hardware/whatever life hack?

      1. debbietrash*

        I live by conditional formatting for contract end dates and payroll. It’s much easier to pull the contracts that are ending soon, or see who was on vacation, when it’s auto-highlighted than trying to sift through hundreds of staff manually.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          In case this is helpful to anyone: you can sort on cell color after applying conditional formatting!

            1. Jessica*

              SAME. Thank you, Pocket Mouse!!! I no longer feel guilty about the break I thought I was taking to read this because it just became the most useful and productive 5 minutes of my day.

              Really, I should learn to just google anytime I have a vague wish. Like, “can Excel clean my house and bake me a peach-rhubarb pie”… probably!!!

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Also great for identifying duplicates – I have a report that is run daily and I have to review 2-3 times a week, and my process for pulling forward comments from previous reviews involves the “highlight duplicates” feature in conditional formatting.

    1. Rayray*

      I really like Microsoft To Do. I’m always surprised how few people seem to know about it

      1. JustaTech*

        I really like To Do, though I only use it on my home computer/phone, so I don’t get nearly the functionality out of it because it’s not always there on my screen to remind me (I have to remember to open the app).
        But it’s great for my husband and I to keep track of longer-term stuff, especially since we can assign stuff to ourselves or each other.

    2. Student*

      Project management 101 principals. Learning the basics, like the concept of a critical path, helped me identify problems on my projects faster.

      Being able to use the right terms and vocab to describe what’s going wrong on a project helps me communicate the issues to management in a way they understand.

      Learning about some basic risk register / risk tracking techniques and communication helps me convey problems to management, and make sure subsequent blame for issues lands where it belongs (…but boss, we informed you of the risk that this course of action would delay the schedule, and you decided to accepted the risk at this update meeting, per this handy powerpoint slide).

      1. BeepBoop*

        Do you have any resources for project management 101 that you used? This sounds so helpful!

        1. adminanon*

          Project Management by Adrienne Watt is available for free from the B.C. Open Collection. It’s a free, online textbook, that has a good overview.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I created an Outlook rule with no specific conditions, so it applies to all mail: “Apply this rule after I send the message; defer delivery by 1 minute”. So many times I hit “Send” and then go back and fix something…usually small, but still. And the only time that rule has created even small problems for me are when I 1) send an email at the end of the day and immediately log off, and 2) try to reply ASAP, it adds a short delay. But I find I can live with those issues (now that I’m used to them) in exchange for being able to “rewind” when I clicked Send too soon!

      Another one: I create Outlook appointments for tasks, like you, but I document the steps in the appointment/event, so I can invite someone else to it if I need them to cover for me.

      1. Formerly in HR*

        I created the same rule, years ago, as I’d catch myself finding a missed typo after hitting Send. Now I check before hitting Send, but for some emails also open them again from the queue to check again. And in those 2 minutes of wait time, I also had occasions when I further edited the original email (add content, remove content, reformat), or just cancel sending alltogether.
        With regards to sending email and then trying to log off (while the message it’s still in its wait time), I usually see a pop-up alert from Outlook that Outlook is trying to close but there’s something not finished yet and it allows me to confirm if I want to exit or wait. I usually cancel closing Outlook, wait until the email moves from Outgoing to Sent, then close Outlook and log off.

        1. OuttaHere*

          I have a similar rule, except there will be no delay if I include the term “nodelay” in the message so I can send an immediate response if necessary. I usually put that term in the smallest size possible so the receiver shouldn’t see it.

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        I have never heard of this, but it is brilliant! I am going to share it with my team on Monday morning.

        Thank you!!!

    4. El Camino*

      Apparently this has been around a while but I just learned about it this week. When your inbox is getting flooded with Reply All nonsense (retirement announcements, accidental mass email with lots of “I think I received this by mistake” replies), there’s an “Ignore” option in Outlook to have all the responses automatically go into your Deleted folder. Right click in the latest message in the thread and click “Ignore” and adios it goes.

      Changed. My. Life.

      1. kbeers0su*

        Oh my gosh- this is awesome! My department (of 50ish) is notoriously bad about using reply all unnecessarily. I can’t wait to use this!

    5. Rick Tq*

      Outlooks rules to move messages around and even auto-delete them. I get a TON of process messages (status of quotes being created, pricing updates) and partner messages that get auto-filed and the junk mail deleted. It keeps my Inbox down to just messages I need to respond to.

      1. Student*

        Have you ever considered revising the process and tech to just not send you the process messages that you are mostly ignoring? The process is clearly not actually working as intended, so changing it to support what you actually need would probably be good for everyone involved.

        1. Rick Tq*

          The responses are sent to distribution lists, so some of them I need to see but most I don’t. Not a hill I want to charge with our IT department.

        2. Mill Miker*

          I have some systems that send me ton of email, and I actually do need to see most of it, if only briefly.

          I have outlook set to auto-sort all that email into a dedicated folder, with another rule set up to auto-delete anything more than a month old, and that’s been great.

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

        Same. There are project update and training/webinar emails that I want to keep for reference or just “keep on eye on,” and setting up rules and folders saves so much time finding those emails later while getting them out of my inbox immediately. It’s also good for pulling together emails that are respond immediately type of emails — anything from my Grand Boss or top leadership.

        I also use flags in Outlook — those become my To Do list.

    6. Rick Tq*

      And, Excel’s Subtotal function so totals, averages, etc. update correctly when you filter a bunch of information out of a table.

    7. The Prettiest Curse*

      I often email reminders or notes to myself, but the high volume of email I get during event prep times meant that I needed an alternative. So during those times, I message myself in Teams instead. I’ve pinned the chat with myself to the top of the chat list, as it’s harder to miss that way.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I do this, and in most cases I can go in and delete the message when I’ve done the thing to keep it a relatively tidy to-do list.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          It’s so satisfying to delete the message when you’ve done the task, too!

    8. nanscatsmama*

      Its not a hack, but a feature in Outlook. I love that if you use the word attached or attachment in the body of the email, it will remind you
      if you haven’t actually attached the file. Saved many oops.

      1. Other Alice*

        Yes! I also was taught a long time ago that whenever I type “attach/attachment” in an email I should stop writing the email and attach the file there and then. That’s useful when using email software that doesn’t have that functionality, it’s not foolproof but if you get into the habit of doing it every time it really reduces the amount of oopsies and follow-up emails inquiring about forgotten attachments.

    9. Jane Bingley*

      The Office suite’s “recently opened” feature has greatly improved in the past year or so and is now my number-one way to find most documents/spreadsheets/presentations. I still try to keep things organized, but others don’t, and I can often find what I need there even if someone else is disorganized.

    10. Hannah Lee*

      In MS Excel

      Data > Filter for when I need to quickly find something in a large data set. It’s very useful when “find” won’t work, such as when I’m fuzzy on the specifics.
      eg “I know there was a return of some llama grooming tool late last year, but don’t remember the customer” A quick Filter of “only show October to December, only tools, only llama grooming accounts’ and I can pick out the thing I’m looking for

      Formulas > Trace Dependents, Trace Precedents when working with complex workbooks

    11. DrSalty*

      I turned off the Outlook feature that makes emails unread when you click on them. I track open items/things to do in my email by whether it’s read or not, so this was huge for me. I can read a message and then still leave it unread as a reminder to come back to it. Also setting up automatic sorting rules and subfolders for incoming mail in Outlook are hugely helpful for me.

      1. Mimmy*

        I could never do that – marking things as unread would make me think I have new messages when I don’t lol. I usually flag messages when I want to come back to them.

    12. Anonymask*

      Delay Delivery in Outlook. The best feature to manage replies when you’re sending out a lot of (similar) emails to multiple groups.

    13. MmeJennyfair*

      I just learned to insert emojis into MS docs – ideal for emails! – by pressing the Microsoft key and tapping the semicolon key.
      Maybe not life-changing, but definitely life-enhancing!

    14. ecnaseener*

      Autotext / quick parts in outlook and word! (As far as I can tell there’s no difference between them, just two different folders for the same thing).

      Also macros. If you need to do the same thing to similar documents over and over again it’s such a nice time-saver.

    15. DistractedDeveloper*

      Similarly to the Outlook reminders, Slack recently revamped their system for reminders and bookmarks and I love it. Most of my to-dos or valuable snippets of information are coming through Slack in one way or another, so it’s much more present for me than any other notes or task list application. Plus, when I snooze a reminder it’s still visible in case I have a bit of free time but later I still get an unmissable notification.

    16. Warrior Princess Xena*

      You can open up multiple views of the same word doc/pdf/excel workbook. I use this frequently when I need information on two different tabs of an excel workbook and don’t want to keep tabbing back and forth. Usually you can find this somewhere under “view->New window”.

    17. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      windows key+v. It’s like Ctrl+v, but you can choose from a list of previous things you’ve copied.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Omg that’s amazing, thank you. The number of times I’m multitasking across documents and forget to paste something before copying the next thing…

    18. WheresMyPen*

      Simple one but I use outlook rules to field invoices I have to approve into a separate folder to stop clogging up my inbox

    19. House On The Rock*

      Being able to create a meeting invite or reminder by directly dragging an email into your calendar.

    20. Elizabeth West*

      Macros. They saved me SO much time when I was job hunting and did cut-and-paste cover letters.

      Also there’s this little file rename program called Bulk Rename Utility, which you can download free for personal use or buy a license for your company. It renames a butt-ton of files at once, like if you have to add a date or something, and it’s so great. Whoever thought it up is a genius.

    21. Chevsapher*

      “Windows key” + “.” brings up the emoji selector. I never use emojis in formal communications, but they come in handy for Teams/Slack/Zoom.

      “Windows key” + “D” minimizes all windows to show the desktop.

      “Windows key” + “L” will lock your profile—your programs are all still active, but you need to re-enter your password to access them. This is handy if your workstation is publicly located and you need to step away briefly.

      If you are as nerdy as I am about these little productivity hacks, I would recommend buying a Stream Deck! It’s basically like a keyboard, but all the buttons are programmable. For example, I have some of them programmed to open commonly used file folders, and one of them “pastes” my email address. The one I use the most resets my windows to where I want them (camera feed on left screen, Outlook in the center, Teams on the right).

    22. Always Science-ing*

      Conditional formatting in the Outlook inbox – so emails from my boss, or whomever I specify, appear in a different colour. Makes it easy to see the most important emails immediately if you regularly receive a high volume of email.

      1. Brrr*

        Oh wow, I almost wish I was still at work so I can try this immediately! Will have to wait until Monday to see if it is as great as it sounds.

    23. Pajamas on Bananas*

      Index/match in excel and over/partition by in sql.

      At work I use index/match more than any other function.

      At home I use it in my budget workbook. One table shows all my bills and their due dates. My other table shows pay date, amount, and a column for each bill. In the first table I use index match to find the first pay date on or before the bill due date. In the other table I use index match to show the correct amount in the bill column for each pay date.

      Over partition by essentially allows you to do aggregate functions without using pivot or group by.

      If you are easily distracted, try setting custom home pages in your browser. Life changing.

      1. Pajamas on Bananas*

        Forgot to add that you can use multiple criteria to a match function.
        Match(1, (column=criteria)*(column=criteria),0)

  6. Liz*

    Is there a graceful way to duck out of a meeting because you have to go to the bathroom? I work 100% remote and so far all my solutions are, well, lying – I’ve pretended the doorbell is ringing, that my doctor is calling, or even that my internet glitched out.

    All of this works well enough to bail for a few minutes on a Zoom call, but I wonder if there’s a better way (and how you cope with it if you’re NOT remote and your colleagues can see no one’s calling you!)

    1. Corrigan*

      If it’s a small meeting with my co-workers I just tell them. Or I just type in the chat “brb” and no one asks any questions.

      1. Rayray*

        Same. No need to worry about excuses. Simply turn off the camera, mute yourself, and type brb in the chat.

      2. A Poster Has No Name*

        Yup, ‘brb’ and ‘back’ are totally the convention at my office when you need to step away for a few minutes.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        Same. It’s very common for people to type “brb” in the chat, or “I need to step away for a minute”, and then type back when they’re back. NBD.

    2. londonedit*

      In both online and in-person meetings I usually just say something as simple as ‘Please excuse me for a moment’. There’s no need to explain precisely where you’re going. If at all possible I try to wait until there’s a suitable pause in the meeting/discussion, but sometimes you just need to say ‘Really sorry, please excuse me for just a second’ and duck out of the room, whether it’s virtual or real-life.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Hmm….at my work, we always just say that we have to use the bathroom for a few minutes. Or we just say “I need a break, back in a couple of minutes.”

      People do need to use the bathroom after all. It’s a perfectly normal thing.

    4. OrdinaryJoe*

      I just wait until we’re in an area I’m not expected to talk or add to the conversation and quietly say “excuse me” and slip out. As long as I’m not on the other side of the room and making a production out of it, it’s never caused an issue or even comment.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I work 100% remote and so far all my solutions are, well, lying – I’ve pretended the doorbell is ringing, that my doctor is calling, or even that my internet glitched out.

      I’m not sure what the culture of your team or org is, but I’ve just put into the Zoom chat “brb” or, if there’s a break in the conversation, I just say “I’m popping to the restroom. Be right back,” and then I mute my mic and turn off my video. When I come back, I turn my video back on.

      All of this works well enough to bail for a few minutes on a Zoom call, but I wonder if there’s a better way (and how you cope with it if you’re NOT remote and your colleagues can see no one’s calling you!)

      I think this works fine even if you’re not remote. I’ve been in in-person meetings and have just said “Have to go to the bathroom. Be right back.” If it’s rude to interrupt the meeting, I’ve honestly just snuck out without saying anything. If you come back within 5 minutes or so, people usually just assume you’ve gone to the bathroom, or at least that’s been my experience.

    6. Miette*

      I work from home and have dragged my laptop to the bathroom with camera and mic off (triple checked!) or else stayed on my wireless headset if it was an emergency.

      If it’s been a long meeting, I’d interrupt when the time is conducive and say, “Hey I need a bio-break I’ll be right back.”

      If it’s an emergency, just get up and leave as unobtrusively as you can.

      These work if you’re just an attendee. If you’re an active presenter/heading the meeting, I’d say something like, “Does anyone need a break?” and segue to it when you can.

      1. Student*

        I too will cop to triple-checking my mute button and going to the restroom mid-meeting, if I’m interested in the meeting topics.

        If I’m not interested, I’m more likely to arrive late or leave the meeting early if it’s 1 hour or less. That’s mainly to avoid people trying to talk to me while I’m not actually there. Meetings over 1 hour, I leave as needed, with a text brb if I think I’m likely to be addressed.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Depends on the size of the meeting. Huge and cameras are off, I just go (and listen through headphones). Smaller meeting among teammates? “I need a second, I will be right back.” With clients? Unless it’s a multi-hour meeting I just wait, but if it’s very long: “Let’s pause here for a quick break, be back in 5 minutes.”

      There’s generally nothing wrong with saying you need a quick break.

    8. Bright Green Leaf*

      Why give any reason? I type brb, turn off my camera so they don’t need to see my getting up and down and do whatever I need to do. With closer friends/colleagues we sometimes say why, esp if we are holding up the start of a meeting when everyone is back to back. Use the bathroom, get a soda, open a window, stretch are all things we do – and just tell each other. Also: time meetings accordingly (25 and 50 min defaults) we don’t always stick to it but it’s made a big difference.

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      If it’s a big meeting, I would just type “be right back” into the chat and turn video off and stay on mute until you return. If it’s a small meeting, I would just say “excuse me for a moment, I’ll be back” and do the same thing.

    10. Sassy SAAS*

      No need to tell them why! I do a ton of zoom calls both with clients and coworkers, and we often have to mute/shut off the camera briefly to reply to a spouse, let our dog out of the room, check to see why someone is parked in your driveway, grab the package that amazon dropped, get a drink of water, etc etc. “I have to step away for one moment, I’ll be right back” with no further explanation is more that acceptable. And if someone asks why, “I had to take care of something quickly, thanks for understanding. Now, you were saying something about the new llama groomers?” It’s certainly a little less ideal if you’re HOSTING the meeting, but we’re all people and you should be able to pop to the bathroom without explaining yourself!

    11. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      “the lease on my coffee has expired.”

      (An allusion on the joke that you don’t buy wine, beer, spirits, etc; you rent them.)

      1. Golden Turnip*

        I don’t want to derail the thread, but I’ve never heard of this joke and I’m curious to know more!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          it’s a common quip among my friends too: “Coffee* is never truly purchased; it’s rented.”
          *Or other beverage

        2. ThatGirl*

          The idea is that any liquid you drink, you’ll eventually pee out. It’s a little silly because you still get nutrients, or caffeine, or alcohol, or just hydration as it moves through your system. But that’s the idea.

    12. Unkempt Flatware*

      I do what most here are suggesting–I just say “pardon me, brb” when in a Zoom meeting with more than one person. When I’m one on one or for some reason need to audibly announce my break, I say, “Excuse me one second. I just need a quick comfort break” and run off. Same as I’d do if I were in my office with a co worker doing something together.

    13. Visiting My Aunt*

      I’m taking a new medication so this has happened to me a lot in in-person meetings recently. If it’s quick, I just step out without saying anything. In a meeting this week, I knew it…wasn’t going to be quick, so I just packed up my stuff and said I had to go to a different meeting! I got a few surprised looks, but I wouldn’t have been comfortable with more info. Then, in a one-on-one, I started it by saying I might have to dash out for an emergency and my colleague said, “oh, is it something I can help you with?” which was (unintentionally) hilarious.

    14. Donkey Hotey*

      my partner keeps an audio recording of a doorbell on her phone so it’s loud enough to hear over the zoom call. unless you are actively presenting, no one will fault you for bodily functions.

    15. Yep*

      We are in person, but I typically say, “Excuse me, I have to go to the restroom. I’ll be right back.”

    16. WheresMyPen*

      I’ve said ‘can we take a quick 5 minute break so I can grab a drink/go to the loo’ and that’s always been fine. We all have to pee!

    17. CheesePlease*

      I mean I try to always use the bathroom before a meeting. But it’s easy to just say “Hey Steve I need to run to the restroom real quick” if it’s a small meeting where I need to be present fully and they may want to wait for me to get back etc.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        yeah or just “I’ll be 2 minutes late, please start without me” or leave with 2 minutes until the end of the meeting.

    18. The Shenanigans*

      I just say “Excuse me for one second please” and walk out as I say it. Most people figure that it’s something pressing/personal…which it is!

    19. Llama Llama*

      I either just put in a chat ‘BRB’. If I am actively participating ‘I have to step away for a moment’

      My manager had a ‘meet with Toni’.

    20. Madame Arcati*

      In my office/wfh scenario, after an hour it is perfectly fair game for anyone to suggest “five minutes for a quick comfort break”. You’d be doing people a favour imho.

    21. Quinalla*

      Yeah, brb or hitting the restroom are what I usually say and yeah typically in chat though if a small meeting I’ll just say it, turn off camera and go. And yeah, I’ll say back or just turn the camera back on to indicated I’m back.

    22. Rie and more*

      I use the term “health break”. My coworkers know it means I need to use the restroom, refill water, sometimes even let my dog outside (for their own relief). But it’s a polite term for needing to handle business and I’ll be back quickly. Good luck with whatever you choose.

  7. Jujyfruits*

    Any tips for interviewing for a first-time manager role? There are only a few people to manage and they’re looking for industry expertise so it could be a good transition for me. I’m not sure how to answer behavioral interview questions about management without past experience.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Have you ever had to collaborate with others and provide them direction and/or feedback, whether positive or negative?

      I think you can answer a lot of these based on how you have worked with peers in the past. If you are comfortable doing these sorts of things with people on the same level as you, and have shown some skill/diplomacy while doing so, then managing people who report to you shouldn’t be too much of a reach.

      1. pally*

        Thank you for this.

        And Jujyfruits, thanks for posting a most timely question.

        See, there’s a job that a number of external recruiters are trying to fill. It’s been running since April. I was contacted by one of these recruiters. One requirement is management of a team. Well, formally I’ve managed one person. That wasn’t ‘good enough’ for this recruiter.

        However, it occurs to me that the projects I manage from time to time include many members (a team, by any other name). I have to provide direction, work with the team to create and execute plans and realize a result (usually the solution to a problem). And mollify a few “difficult and special” personalities while doing so.

        That job is being reposted- they keep hiking the salary and there’s a new external recruiter posting it. Peanut Hamper, from what you wrote, I’m tempted to apply!

      2. Jujyfruits*

        Yes, I have, just never in an official capacity. I’m probably overthinking it. Getting so many rejections for applications I really want to make this count.

    2. Jen from Dead to Me*

      Think of examples where you have performed “manager” duties
      -managing or leading a project, how did you break down the project and assign to different stakeholders, how did you keep project on track, how did you inform stakeholders of project status
      -giving feedback to a colleague
      -navigating tricky conversations
      -experience mentoring colleagues

    3. Leia Oregano*

      Bring in past experience overseeing/working with peers or entry-level folks/interns if possible, but I also think theoretical answers are fine when you don’t have experience in something specific!! I’ve been on search committees and I always appreciate when applicants are candid about what they don’t have experience in, but do their best to frame their answer theoretically. “I’ve never had the opportunity to formally manage, but in [the scenario they give], my response would likely be XYZ…” with enough detail that I can see your thought process is 1000% better than just saying, “I don’t have that experience, so I’m not sure.” I’m actually on a search committee now and we interviewed some candidates a few days ago — one applicant had little relevant experience and would just say they didn’t know to all our field-specific questions, but wouldn’t make an effort to think through what/why we were asking to even attempt an actual answer beyond, “sorry, I don’t have experience with that”. None of the questions were so advanced/involved that they couldn’t have taken a couple extra seconds to think through a theoretical example and explain their thinking to us. Even if they’d gotten the context of the field-specific parts wrong, an attempt at an answer could have given us valuable info about that candidate. So I say spend some time thinking about how you might react to different managerial questions they could answer, and formulate some theoretical answers you can keep in your back pocket — even if they aren’t quite on the money, they’ll show valuable insight to your people skills, how you could manage a team, and your ability to think critically about the question and form a possible answer, even in the face of uncertainty. At least in my field, that’s enough for me to make an educate guess about how well you work with others, how you’d deal with having authority, etc.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Answer about a comparable situation (e.g. when you had to coordinate people to carry out project x even though you weren’t actually their manager – NB influencing when you don’t have the manager role can actually be harder!) or theoretical/hypothetical answers like you haven’t encountered that yet but what you would do is…

      They will know you don’t have direct management experience from your resume etc, so surely any decent interviewer should adapt their approach and realise that questions about “a time when you had to give bad news about a project to a direct report” etc aren’t easily answerable.

    5. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      I hire first-time managers a lot. here are some of the things I’m looking for:
      – Can you articulate your top priorities in a past role, explain what outcomes you were looking for, and tell me how you assessed the outcomes? Can you talk about this at the 5,000 foot level, or is your answer really in the weeds on specific tasks? (90% of candidates answer this question either super-in the weeds, or focus on process over outcomes. I’m looking for a strong outcome-orientation in potential managers.)
      – Can you speak to a time you had to give difficult feedback or negotiate a fraught conflict with a colleague?
      – Can you give an example of a time you asked someone else for help on a project you were leading? What did your delegation process look like, and how did you assess whether it was on track? Did you meet the goals of the project?
      – Do you have experience making medium-stakes decisions that impact other people? (Or for more senior roles, I want to see examples of high-stakes decisions.) What did your decision-making process look like? How did you seek input, and how did you decide what input to incorporate?
      – Do you show strong critical thinking and judgement in assessing the work of others, regardless of whether you were overseeing that work as a manager or a peer?
      – Can you speak to how you prioritize when you have to balance multiple business interests and there’s no clear answer? Do you have experience allocating resources when every option is going to make someone unhappy? How have you handled the decisions and how have you communicated the results?
      – Do you have a realistic sense of the challenges of management? Do you know your growth edges and have a plan to work on them? What do you think might come easily to you, and what do you think you’ll have a bigger learning curve for?
      – How have you handled disagreements with your boss? What have you learned from those experiences that you might take into your own approach disagreeing with your direct reports?

      Most of those are probably things you’ve done in other contexts as a peer/project manager/upward-managing your own boss. It’s fine if you didn’t have formal authority; these prompts speak to the skills you’d need as a manager more than your experience in that role.

      1. pally*

        Wow! Oh, Wow!
        Thank you for this!

        You just crystallized **for me** what I’ve been doing all along. I really AM a manager!

        I should apply for that job.

    6. NDevee*

      Best of luck! If you can always try to empathize with what front line employees are going through, it’ll go far!

  8. The Cat's Ass*

    Weird question: my part of the practice has been bought and is not relocating. Management is in another building. Beginning dates are not firm. When do i give notice when my current employer knows we are all decamping anyway, especially when start/end dates are hazy? Thanks. I’ve never been in this situation before.

    1. Rick Tq*

      Give notice to whom? Are you leaving the company/practice or are you referring to your piece changing hands?

      I’d give normal notice to your current supervisor if you are leaving the practice entirely, otherwise not if you aren’t in control of the timeline.

      1. The Cat's Ass*

        thank you! It’s just hard to say, “Thanks for everything and bye….around this date, sorta.”

    2. Shirley Keeldar*

      It’s a bit unclear if they are laying you off or if you are resigning. If they’re laying you off, you don’t have to communicate a date at all—they’re supposed to tell you, not the other way around. If you’re resigning, you get to decide when—2 weeks from X date, usually.

      Either way, it sounds stressful and difficult—sorry you’re in that position!

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Are you sure you have to give notice? Could this not be a severance situation if you are being “bought out” and you aren’t going with them?

      1. The Cat's Ass*

        I’m going to the new spot with the whole department to those who bought us out but am trying to be a professional as possible with the transition-sorry i wasn’t clear.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Wouldn’t management already know this info, then? I’d assume they have more information than you do about the specifics of the deal, since presumably they are a primary party to the deal. Do you have reason to think you have (or will have) more information than the person you would notify if you were leaving voluntarily?

        2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          In that case “notice” individually won’t be needed (unless you are told that it is). This will be handled at the management level of the two companies.

          1. The Cat’s Ass*

            Thanks for that insight! I’ve always written a resignation letter but in this particular circumstance it’s definitely?huh? I’d also like to thank my soon to be former manager because she never micromanaged me, generally had my back, and was basically decent. Aside from being criminally underpaid ( but compensated otherwise with lots of PTO and okay benefits) I’m a little sad about how it’s unfolding and want to let her know that.

            1. Jaydee*

              In that case, a resignation would be completely inappropriate. You’re not resigning! You’re being moved to a different department/unit. I’d send your boss an email on your last day or the day before that says how much you enjoyed working for her, that you appreciated her management style, and that you’ll miss working for/with her. You could also tell her in person, but she might appreciate having it in writing to be able to share with her boss at review time or even just to re-read on a day when she needs a little pick-me-up.

  9. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

    People who are contract workers in support roles like bookkeeping and IT, how do you get started?

    Also, what other types of jobs like this are there that you can do as a contract worker, or to become more specialized in with less education than a bachelor’s degree?

    Some of my friends and I have been working general admin type jobs after getting more general degrees with the idea that we can do anything (which we can and have), but we are now at a point where we would like to get more specialized. We are more concerned about industry than job duties, as we are very adaptable, so we are looking to explore some options.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Industry recruiters, if they exist. If you’ve been working admin, I’m surprised you haven’t run into any of these firms already.

      I just randomly checked Randstad and they have lots of bookkeeping listings. Robert Half also has IT contract jobs. Just google “industry name recruiting agency” and see what comes up. Aerotek, Kelly, Manpower, TEKsystems, are the more generic ones I know.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        I personally am actually more of an outlier, as I have been working in schools.

        What kind of experience do people look for when hiring contract workers? I think of the hurdle as higher, like you’re expected to be an expert.

        1. Hillary*

          There are two kinds of contracting that we might be conflating. One is consulting, where they’re looking for an expert to advise, run a program, solve a problem, or whatever. A lot of times those folks either run their own business or work through a specialist firm. Years ago I worked for a consulting house that supplied engineering talent, at $25/hr I was the lowest paid person on their payroll.

          The other one is temping. A lot of the roles they’re looking for a body to fill in and not mess things up. Familiarity with their tools is nice but not necessary. Managers know they’re not going to find an AP person who already knows your ERP from 2002.

          How to start depends on the end goal. If someone is looking for a stable career (and I wouldn’t suggest bookkeeping as an employee, it’s automating so fast) pick a business function they like and start learning/shadowing as much as possible so they’re the best candidate. Tell that manager you’re interested and ask them for help learning. Accounts payable and accounts receivable are always in demand, although they do include some dealings with upset customers or vendors. Sales support and customer service are changing rapidly but the core function is going to stick around. The downside is none of the things I mentioned are particularly well paid, most pink collar office work isn’t.

          Higher paid but steeper learning curve: buyer, planner, supply chain analyst. In general the closer you are to a profit center (something that brings in revenue) the better the pay is.

          If someone wants to start a business bookkeeping for multiple customers, start volunteering for somewhere learning/doing their quickbooks and start building a network. It’s super important to distinguish bookkeeping with tax etc. One of my friends could easily get a finance job based on her church treasurer experience. Getting clients is about networking, you’re always selling. That part is hard.

    2. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      If you’re in the US, the federal government has a lot of contractors working for it, in all sorts of fields (IT, admin, logistics, science, analysis, etc.). How it generally works is: the government contract will go to a company, who will hire people to work on the contract (if they don’t already have available employees who meet the contract requirements). You are an employee of the company, with pay, benefits, PTO, etc., all provided by the company.

      There is an issue with job security, because the government could decide it no longer needs the contract, or could award it to a different company upon renewal. But for many services such as IT, it’s not like that work is going away, so the odds of those contracts going away is pretty slim.

      Some jobs require a clearance, and those are typically harder to get hired into if you don’t already have the clearance. Also, geographic location plays a factor. There are a lot of contracting jobs in DC and surrounding states. Other places where you might find these positions are cities with military bases or government offices.

  10. Manders*

    Our University just released the results of a comprehensive Compensation Study, and the results are… not good. I don’t know a single staff member that didn’t get a demotion in their job title. It is very bad for morale across the board. I can only think that they are justifying not having to give anyone raises this way (“hey, I know you went from a Tech Senior to a Tech 1, which is 2 levels down and where you started your career 7 years ago, but you are paid a lot for a Tech 1!). I can only imagine how many people are getting their resumes ready…

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Ooof. I’ve been through two universities that did compensation studies, but the rule at both was you could only move up in position/title/pay, not down.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Haven’t done it for universities specifically, but I feel that’s such an important rule when you do these studies (mine have all been nonprofit).

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          I know very little about universities as well, but more generally (in companies) it seems to me that the purpose of this type of exercise is to ensure that roles/people get to the “right” level – whether that is up or down from where they are now. It genuinely is the case in companies for all sorts of reasons (historic, inconsistency due to mergers and acquisitions, etc etc) that some people or roles are in too high a grade relative to what the role actually is.

          It sounds from OPs example that they are only reducing the titles but the pay isn’t changing (?) although I can also see an argument (in the abstract, not necessarily for OP) for pay to be reduced in some cases.

          1. Lexi Vipond*

            When my university did it a while ago, anyone whose role moved down would then be considered for any job vacancy at the higher grade before that job could be advertised to anyone else. I can’t remember the exact details of timings and so on, but it was an attempt to deal with the cases where e.g. a role really had changed.

      2. JS*

        Yes this. that’s really crappy, Manders. sounds like manipulative cash grab by the university to me. in a someone who works in higher education. You know they’ll be shocked when people are leaving. maybe they’ll offer up a pizza party to make you all feel better. lol.

    2. Generic Name*

      Woaaahhhhh. I assume along with the demotion in titles, folks are no longer doing the duties that apply to their older, higher title, right?? Along with updating their resumes.

        1. Manders*

          Basically they keep saying that the old titles are no longer active and they have a whole new set of job titles and career paths. So in the example I gave, which has happened to many people I know and was also used as an example in an HR talk I attended yesterday, they no longer have the Tech Sr title in use. It goes from I to II to III, but we are not supposed to compare old titles to the new set they are using. Which does not work, like at all. How is a hiring manager supposed to interpret that you went back to Tech I if they don’t know that the system has been completely re-written? Was was a Tech I is now something like Laboratory Assistant I or something. But Tech I is a pretty entry level role, so adjusting someone to that after 7-10 years experience is not great. I also had a friend who moved from Director of some department to Associate Director. There are no plans to hire a Director… I think they just don’t want to pay him a Director salary. It’s all very frustrating for the staff (I’m neutral on mine, it’s a slight “demotion” but actually describes my job better because I don’t manage any people, so manager is not an appropriate title).

          And I should add that there are no pay reductions for anyone, just a few increases where people were underpaid.

    3. Anon for this*

      I went through this at a private company! And once I learned more, I found out that people had inflated their role or just out-and-out lied.

      My tiny but vital department was incorrectly reclassified. I was able to advocate for us to not get a pay cut (we would have quit, leaving nobody to meet federal requirements), but our benefits were still affected.

      I found a new job. My replacement didn’t work out, & I found out that everyone was re-reclassifed.

    4. Random Academic Cog*

      Wow – our studies have always ended up with additional staffing, people getting raises, and occasionally a promotion. I can’t even imagine it moving in the opposite direction.

      I’m so sorry they did this to your team! Is it too late to grieve the results? If there’s no room for negotiation, I would try to find something else.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah, same. I can think of maybe 1 or 2 people who ended up going in the opposite direction after a compensation study, and those had very specific circumstances behind them. Everyone else was either same or upward.

    5. WellRed*

      I don’t work in that type of environment but is this something worth getting the union if you have one, involved?

    6. different seudonym*

      JFC that’s awful. For what it’s worth, collective bargaining agreements (aka union contracts) can explicitly forbid this. So I suspect you’re non-union already, but if not, the union is where to go.

    7. The Shenanigans*

      omg. Are they hoping that the qualified (eg paid highly) people go get work elsewhere so they can hire newbies and pay them a fraction of your starting salary? SHEESH.

  11. MissGirl*

    Thoughts or experiences about accepting a job but continuing the interview process with other companies? I know Alison has talked about what to do when you’ve committed and something better comes along but I’m curious about people’s actual experiences and thoughts in this market.

    Last fall I did a big job hunt and got an offer while I will still interviewing with four other companies. The offer was good, the position interesting, and the company swore they just had their best year ever and had a two-year runway on investing. I took it and let all the other companies know and pulled out of their processes. Four weeks later my new company had a massive layoff one week after announcing bonuses for their record-breaking year. I survived to be laid off three months later. To say that I regret not continuing on with those companies is an understatement. I was really excited about some of them.

    Fast forward to now. I just finished interviewing for one position that I’m not super thrilled about and it would be a 25% cut over my last position. I was interviewing with them before I lost my job and have just now started a massive job hunt. It’s too soon to tell how this one’s going to go but I can already tell I’m getting fewer callbacks than last autumn.

    I had four screens this week with two continuing on to second-round interviews but those processes are going to take a while. I’m debating what do I do if I get an offer with the first company. Do I take it and continue interviewing? Do I decline it in hopes something better comes along? The market right now isn’t great.

    I know this is a decision only I can make but what are other people’s thoughts?

    1. EMP*

      I think it’s OK to keep interviewing but you’ll definitely burn a bridge with the first company if you accept an offer and/or start working there and then turn around and take a different one. In a small/niche industry that can even spread to future opportunities.

    2. DrSalty*

      I think it’s a bad idea, but I’m not comfortable bailing with no notice right after taking a new job. I’d either ask the first company for more time to decide or ask the second companies if they can speed up their process at all bc you already have an offer. Or just decline the first offer if you’re not excited about it and feel confident you will get others.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        But it could literally be months before another offer materializes.

        I think MissGirl needs a job, and should take this one and continue looking. If another one comes up, she can handle that choice then. It might not happen though, and then she at least has a job.

        1. DrSalty*

          It’s just what I would do, doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone or every situation.

    3. WellRed*

      You seem to be getting a lot of interest so I’d probably ride it out a bit longer rather than take an offer you know isn’t what you want.

    4. Tio*

      I would take t an continue interviewing. I actually accepted an offer, then retracted it when I got a better offer, and it was fine. And working at a place for a few weeks and telling them you think it’s not a great fit won’t really stay on their radar very long as long as you’re upfront.

    5. babaloo*

      I’m assuming this is the tech industry. Remember that as a non-man any salary cuts you take permanently and negatively affect you for the rest of your career in this field. Unless you are positive you were overpaid at your previous job, do not take this new job. You can take them to the offer stage and try to negotiate with them to match your previous salary before pulling out. Layoffs are out of your control and not an indicator of skill. From multiple women-specific industry slacks I’m in, it can be safer career-wise to pick up a part time job to pay the bills and still allow you to focus on interviewing for a good-fit job than to take one below your skill or previous pay. Most of the women who did this said it also helped alleviate the burnout and shame they were feeling

    6. MissGirl*

      Thanks for everyone’s feedback. It’s good to know that while this might not be the best thing, it’s also not the end of the world. It’s been a tough four weeks pounding the proverbial pavement. I’m so mad at wasting what could’ve been good opportunities for a company that treated me so poorly. I don’t want to make that mistake again.

  12. Is this burnout?*

    For ND people – what are the things that make you realise you’re reaching burnout? Does it feel like it appears different than for a NT person?

    1. Lead Balloon*

      Being more tired than usual, being irritable (that’s not typical for me), being tearful at stuff I wouldn’t normally cry over, finding it difficult to do household chores etc which I would normally be able to get done. An overall feeling of Not Coping.

      I don’t know if that’s different to an NT person, I suspect that there would be some crossover but the effect on my executive function is probably more pronounced since that’s something that’s difficult for me anyway.

      If having what I call a ‘low demand’ day (not working, no or minimal chores, engaging in special interests) helps me feel a bit better then that confirms the burnout situation.

      1. Yikes on Bikes*

        I am NT and this is me when I am feeling burned out. Especially the irritability.

      2. Dragonfly7*

        All of Lead Balloon’s first paragraph. Wanting to quit whatever the stressor is on a near-daily basis, even if it would be a bad idea, on bad days (like a job or volunteer role). Disproportionate emotional response to interactions that went poorly or even well.

    2. Jane Bingley*

      Not feeling rested even after sleeping well.

      Feeling annoyed or burdened by normal requests (eg: boss says “can you draft this email for me?”, a normal part of my job, and I think “why do you always pick on me?” even though I know that’s irrational.)

      Struggling to practice self-care – not eating consistently or not wanting my usual foods, avoiding hygiene tasks like showers, refusing to exercise even though I know a short walk will give me a boost of endorphins, not cleaning up even though I know a clean space helps me think better.

      Being unable to do tasks I normally find fun, energizing, or restful – putting off plans with a dear friend I don’t have to mask around, not spending much time reading even though I love to, eating only convenience foods even though I normally enjoy the creativity of cooking.

    3. not a hippo*

      For me, it’s apathy. Like think of the “this is fine” dog. A crucial project or an email from the C-suite that I should act on immediately is met with an absolute lack of interest or motivation.

      Caveat: never been diagnosed as ND but probably am.

    4. Synaptically Unique*

      I stay up all night reading or find myself working at 2 am instead of sleeping. Spend hours going down a rabbit hole on some tangential topic that isn’t ANYWHERE on my critical list. Can’t make myself get out of bed on time. Work an entire day doing nothing but minor tasks. I don’t know how different any of that might look from NT folks, but those are my usual symptoms.

    5. nope*

      I start feeling resentful for having to make facial expressions, or my face muscles hurt from forcing expressions.

      Email stops getting checked.

      Stop bringing lunch to work because I don’t have the mental energy to think about work/what I need at work outside of work.

      Revenge bedtime procrastination.

    6. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      I don’t typically watch a ton of tv or play games on my phone, but if feel the urge to find a new show to binge, that’s a yellow flag, and if I find myself suddenly super into playing Cats & Soup for hours, that’s a red flag that I am Burnt To A Crisp.

    7. Dittany*

      Unusual levels of irritation are my biggest red flag. I’m normally patient to the point of being overly passive, so getting annoyed about petty things is a sign that I’m on the boil.

    8. DistractedDeveloper*

      I’m always struggling with energy levels and executive dysfunction; I get worse and I get better, but it’s the difference of meeting the criteria of severe depression vs mild depression without reaching “normal”. That’s probably the biggest difference between my experience (ADHD inattentive) and most NT folks.

      When I’m approaching burnout, all the big and small tasks in life start to seem like more and more effort until even just making some toast for breakfast or taking out the trash feels close to impossible. I also struggle with keeping a normal day/night schedule and I “get stuck” a lot, where I decide to do something and then just kind of wait around for a few hours for it to actually happen. I think many NT people can just power through burnout for a while by and continue doing “what must be done” even while feeling worse and worse. In my case, I find myself losing control of my life pretty suddenly, sometimes even before the exhaustion and mood shifts set in.

    9. racecar driver*

      ADHD here: I am a go-go-go taskrabbit with no warning signs, right up until I crash. Then I become sluggish, clunk around without really accomplishing anything, and bore into useless rabbit holes for hours and hours on my phone. On a good day, I usually spend a few hours after work “decompressing” (read: staring at walls, glazing over in the shower), but if I’m burned out, that can turn into days. I’ll stay up till 4am just… blankly scrolling in bed or recycling issues from work over and over.

      Neurotypical people absolutely reach this point too, especially in intense industries (ex. doctors crying in the shower after the loss of a patient, peacekeepers being too exhausted to eat, therapists who need their own therapists) but since my baseline is already “useless for 2-3 hours a day”, real burnout hits even harder.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Glitch rate goes up and produces surprisingly random errors like leaving truly essential items behind or getting lost on my way to a place I know very well.

      Bumping into walls and dropping things.

      Wanting to quit activities I love to the point that the effort of going makes me want to cry.

      Everyone around me is suddenly stupid and horrible.

      I have no idea if these are ND specific. I imagine not, since many ND symptoms in normal times overlap with the behavior of an NT brain under stress.

    11. NDevee*

      Female with level one ASD here! When I have no energy for anything or anyone else after work, I don’t want to work on passion projects, or I want to isolate for multiple days. Also when I start getting really cranky it’s time to try and figure out a recouping plan.

    12. Self Employed Employee*

      Confusion. It’s like my brain physically aches when I have to think and I have trouble trying to figure anything out.

    13. Random Dice*

      My worst burnout involved me fantasizing about quitting, then just sitting and staring at a wall for 6 months, maybe a year. (I’m not a sitter normally.)

      Just that, but with an intensity of longing.

      I also get what HowToADHD calls the Wall of Awful, where everyday things like calling a friend, replying to texts or emails, or scheduling appointments or events… that’s all just completely awful and impossible and TOO MUCH, and then I’m in a shame spiral for not just buckling down and taking the 3 seconds needed to respond to a text, which makes the Wall of Awful even higher and worse.

    14. Is this burnout?*

      Thank you everyone who commented, you’re all wonderful people and I’ve really appreciated the different responses – I’ve found it a really useful start to identifying symptoms of what might be me being ND, versus me being burnt out, versus me being ND _and_ burnt out. Thankfully I’m taking some weeks off work soon and going to hopefully reduce the glitch rate and feel more able to tackle all the things. One of the things I’ve found hardest is that my emotional response doesn’t seem to link up with what’s going on, which makes it hard to identify how I’m actually feeling a lot of the time, but there are obvious practical things happening I can now start to point to and say “look, this is not right”.

  13. Freddie Mercurial*

    My manager is incompetent and the situation is unlikely to change anytime soon. I’ll have the same manager and they’ll continue to be incompetent. Issues with time management, project management, communication, the works.

    What are solutions for adjusting with? dealing with? making peace with? the situation.

    I know it’s one part managing up, but what else. I am trying to be firm about what I can do and what needs to be done by them. My coworkers and I have have essentially started a shadow department to get things done that don’t need manager buy-in.

    1. Junior Dev*

      As for making peace with it—there must be some reason you’re staying, right? If it’s just “I’m actively looking but need this job til I find something else” then you can just tell yourself you won’t have to put up with this much longer. If you’re actively choosing to stay, remind yourself of the reasons and see dealing with his incompetence as part of that goal.

      I have specific things I need to do in my life that are more urgent than job searching, so I remind myself of those things and see dealing with my obnoxious boss as part of what I gave to do to reach those goals.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      If you gave more concrete examples, we could definitely give advice. For example, just saying “communication” isn’t specific enough. Do they not answer questions directly? Do they talk too much and then give too much info to sift through? Do they give info to the wrong person?

      1. Freddie Mercurial*

        Not good at sharing out information that they learns from higher ups. Not good at scheduling regular meetings with the department. Telling people different things. Not good at running meetings.

        1. Tio*

          Well, for the regular meetings thing, can you take on scheduling 1:1s weekly or biweekly with them, that you can use to sort of fish the information out of them? Or send out weekly updates on the things you’ve done and the things you’re working on, so that if they claim that wasn’t what you were supposed to be doing, it comes on them to correct?

          There really isn’t anything you can do about the information sharing, and would really depend on the boss if you could convince them to let someone else run the meeting. Otherwise, you’ll probably just have to work through those.

        2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          Oh man, do we have the same boss? Never shares the information I literally need to do my job, can’t rely on anything they tell me because it changes daily (or even hourly), no interest in personnel management at all. So frustrating!

    3. debbietrash*

      Having been in a similar situation, and not knowing more details of your situation, I’m leaning towards “look to moving on/getting out” as a solution. Unless you’re really clear on why you’re staying (good pay, benefits, experience in your field, etc.), this is a recipe for becoming worn down and burnt out.

    4. theletter*

      If you get along with your coworkers, it’s a lot easier. I’ve also found that setting up reports in systems that do the work for you, such as automatic email notifications, tracking results, etc, make you look like a superstar and help your manager with the issues.

      If nothing else is an issue, try to see it as an opportunity. Sometimes a little chaos makes a job way more interesting and the payoff is much better.

    5. Yep*

      Mine is too. He was hired externally with no experience in our actual business b/c he has sales experience. I have 21 years experience and actually do all the work. I get paid really well so I just deal with it, work around him and fix the things he screws up. I also know he has absolutely no ability to fire me (zero, none), so I pretty much just dismiss everything he says.

      1. Freddie Mercurial*

        Ha on dismissing everything. I just don’t want to fix the things, but otherwise I am doing a lot of the work behind the scenes.

        I’m staying because of specific benefits and it’s not a good time for me to look for a new job, but I’m leaving my options open for 2024.

  14. NeonDreams*

    Journalists/media people-how do you organize your work samples for networking/possible job moves? The last time I kept an active portfolio was 10 years ago and that was printing out physical samples and keeping them in a portfolio. I plan to stay with my employer for awhile yet to gain experience, but was looking for ideas on how to keep my work organized in the mean time. Thank you.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’m no longer a journalist but I am a Creative, and a portfolio site with PDFs is probably the way to go.

  15. Freelance versus FTP*

    Folks who have done freelance work, do you find that it’s harder these days to satisfy clients than when you are a full-time permanent (FTP) employee?

    Asking because my last two assignments ended with the clients disgruntled, despite my working to the best of my ability. One wildly changed the scope of the work and then was angry that I was unable to do this second (totally different) job, another went through budget cuts and then nitpicked my hours billed to the point that I would have had to do half of the work for free in order to satisfy them.

    I don’t like ending an assignment on a sour note, nor do I like losing a reference, but it feels like the landscape of freelance work has changed drastically over the past few years. Clients are incredibly demanding and cheap. When I work FTP I get great reviews for my teamwork/effort/efficiency, but when I work freelance I get treated like a slowpoke/greedy/drain on the system. Has anyone else experienced similar?

    1. Generic Name*

      It sounds like maybe your clients just suck?? Maybe the companies you’ve worked for in the past screened out crappy clients in that they didn’t say yes to all work that came their way. Are you in a position to be choosy about which projects you work on? If not, you may have to grit your teeth through the awful clients until you get busy enough to raise your rates (that weeds out cheap clients) or say no to the outright awful ones.

    2. Chaordic One*

      To add to what Generic Name has said (and I totally agree with them) I don’t know that this is anything new. With your first client, I can understand your first client being disappointed that you were unable to do the second (totally different) job from what was first proposed, but you were certainly in the right to reject the job at that point. The same client would be disgruntled if you attempted to do the wildly changed job and were unable to or did so poorly. Yeah, it’s a hassle for your client to have to get a new freelancer to do the work, but that’s on them. Not you. When the scope of a job changes significantly, often times they are going to have to start over from scratch.

      It doesn’t seem like you’ve done anything wrong with the second client either. The client’s going through budget cuts isn’t your problem. If they can’t afford you, that’s on them and not on you. You deserve to be fairly compensated for your work and you shouldn’t have to deal with cheapskates.

    3. Yikes on Bikes*

      Not freelance but work for a small company in a client services business – and I will say that 2023 has been the year of clients nitpicking, nickel and diming, changing scope, changing timelines…everything. Was just talking about this with my boss yesterday and trying to figure out WTF is going on right now. Our hypothesis is everyone is getting squeezed, that there is uncertainty in the economy/world, etc…so everyone is taking it out on everyone.

    4. Ama*

      I think people tend to get more snippy with contractors over costs because it is right in front of them because of your invoices — with FTP the manager doesn’t have to actually approve the cost of your payroll every time (even if you are hourly they are probably just seeing the time not the full cost). And with everyone under pressure to decrease costs, people take their anxiety out on the place where it is easy to see that it is costing money.

      I do a little of both kinds of work, too, and when I do contract work I try to provide detailed estimates up front in my service agreement (including a very generous time estimate since for the work I do it isn’t always possible to know how many hours it will take)because if they are going to balk at the cost I want to know before I do the work. And then if they increase the scope or balk later I can point to the estimate as either “this is outside what we agreed to — it will cost you more” or if they are just nitpicking the cost “this is within the scope of the original estimate you agreed to.”

      But I do agree that your clients sound awful — when I’m the client working with contractors the only time I’ve ever given a contractor negative comments on an invoice was when it hasn’t been itemized well enough that I can tell what work I’m paying for (and I did pay it, I just asked for more itemization).

    5. Unfettered scientist*

      I’m NT and a leg jiggler and I think it’s 100% fine to ask people to not shake their legs. It’s easy to slip back into doing it for sure but if you have to keep asking that’s not on you, that’s on them! Your desk is shaking. Not wanting a vibrating desk is perfectly normal!! Maybe that person can get a modifier to stand up or sit in an alternative way to help stop the shaking.

  16. Lead Balloon*

    Someone in our office is a leg jiggler. It makes my desk vibrate (I think the vibrations are passing through the floor).

    Apart from moving desks, which is not necessarily possible if the office is full, is there anything else I can do? I don’t know if leg jiggling is something people can control at will or if they even realise they are doing it. I’m autistic and very sensitive to Things including vibrations, and also not sure if there’s a socially acceptable way to ask someone leg jiggling if they can stop.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We have a few different kinds of felt pads for furniture on our wood floors. Something like that under the feet of your desk might at least minimize if not eliminate the vibration. Unless you also feel it through your chair, I’m not sure what you could do about that. Some people might do it as a form of stimming, so it might be hard to stop, and even if it isn’t those types of habits can be hard to break, but it certainly wouldn’t be unacceptable to mention that a neighbor’s actions are affecting your workspace in a way that makes it harder for you to work. I’m only suggesting the pads because first, that might be all you need, and second, talking to them might be more effective if you can say you went to this trouble to fix the issue yourself, but it wasn’t enough.

      Good luck!

      1. Student*

        This. You just need to isolate the person or your desk from the floor vibrations.

        Little rubber mats are extremely effective and can be bought cheaply in hardware stores. Rubber is a great first step.

        You can order similar stuff online cheaply – search on “vibration isolation” and/or “anti vibration” and check out some of the small, cheap pads offered. They’ll be better than plain rubber due to the layers providing a mix of damping and isolation. You can put them under the feet of your desk.

        The leg-shaking action is very difficult to consciously control. I am a perpetrator. I generally have to adopt actively uncomfortable physical positions to prevent myself from doing the leg-shaking thing for longer periods of time. Drives my wife nuts, too.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Could you ask them to stop? maybe they don’t notice or don’t think it bothers you?

      1. EMP*

        I agree it’s fine to just ask politely for them to stop, but it can definitely be a subconscious behavior and they may not be able to stop all the time or remember not to do it. IMO it’s more like stimming than not.

    3. Betty*

      If you know who it is, I think it’s fine to say “Hey Fergus, I’ve realized that there’s a weird thing with the floors in the office where when you jiggle your leg it actually winds up making my desk vibrate in a way that’s really distracting for me. Is there any chance you can try to avoid that?” Note that this places the blame outside of both of you (our office has weird floors!) which helps make it more socially acceptable.

      Also, I wonder if you could stick some rubber or felt furniture pads under your desk? They make various kinds of things to protect floors, but I’d bet that it might help dampen the vibrations?

      1. Lead Balloon*

        We have hot desking so felt pads aren’t a great solution unless every desk had them. If it keeps being annoying I might make a suggestion about the felt pads in our employee forum.

        It might be more than one person or it might be the same person when they happen to be sitting near me.

        1. JustaTech*

          Specifically around the hot-desking: is the thing that bothers you the tactile sensation of the vibration, or the monitor vibrating, or both?

          If it’s the tactile sensation, you might try getting a rubber mat (basically a giant mouse pad) to dampen the sensation where you are touching the desk, something that you can roll up and put away at the end of the day. I also have coworkers who use these round silicone disks to rest their elbows on to reduce vibrations (they’re primarily for people doing microscope work, and they look like clear semi-squishy coasters).

          If it’s the monitors, that’s harder, but again maybe some kind of rubber pad to put between the monitor and however it is attached to the desk (so another mat to put under it, or a pad under the clamp of the monitor stand).

          Also, vibrations can irritate the heck out of NT people too, so it’s not unreasonable to ask around and see if other people have noticed the vibrations!
          We’ve had like 3 construction sites next to my office for the past 4 years and we’ve done a lot of work to mitigate the vibrations (we have some very sensitive instruments that don’t do well with vibrations), so if it’s something external, or something about the floor is making it impact a lot of people, things like the felt pads might be a reasonable request of your facilities folks.

    4. Grumpy Biologist*

      I’m a leg jiggler and it’s something that I personally am often not aware of. I just caught myself doing it without realizing! It’s something that you could kindly mention/ask the person about, and that might reduce the frequency, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it persists.

      One thing that comes to mind as a potential solution is some kind of mat that might dampen the vibrations, either under your desk or their desk (or both)? I’m envisioning one of those thicker mats that people have in their kitchens if they stand for a long time to reduce pain/fatigue, but maybe even a small square of carpet under the jiggler’s feet could help. The logistics of this kind of solution would depend a lot on office configuration and the individual’s willingness to participate in the solution (e.g. is it even possible to get a mat under your desk? would a mat under the jiggler’s feet make it hard for them to reach their computer because their rolling chair can’t get on it?) but it’s worth a try since it’s clearly bothering you.

    5. ecnaseener*

      It’s fine to just say “Is someone shaking the table?” (or “are you…” if there’s only one person at the table with you)
      In all likelihood, they will notice they’re doing it, say “oops that’s me sorry!” and stop for at least a little while.

      1. Anon. Scientist*

        I mentioned this last week as a leg jiggler, but I only do it when I’m concentrating and under high stress and I realize I’ve been doing it mostly when I come home and my right leg is wiped out. You can certainly ask, but you may need to do so many times, at which point it’s reasonable to see if vibration muting would work for them.

        If this is making you crazy and you’re ND, please remember that leg jiggling is also a form of stimming/ND behavior and give them some grace in thus.

    6. NDevee*

      I’m autistic as well and I would try and talk to them. I would approach the person one and one and ask if there’s anything they can do to adjust the leg jiggling? If not, I would ask to move desks or maybe see if you can wear earbuds to distract yourself? The ideas of pads would be a good idea.

      1. constant_craving*

        They would probably be willing to stop but would likely start again without knowing. It’s pretty frequently an ADHD or anxiety behavior that isn’t conscious.

        1. Random Dice*

          Right, but an autistic person gets to ask for reasonable accommodations at the workplace.

          So it can’t just be, “welp I just can’t not do it, deal with it” – that’s just the first step.

          The company could look into setting aside a desk for that person that has noise dampening, or rolling out desk pads to that whole row, or…

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yeah. As ND myself, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to find ways of decreasing the frequency or stopping a frustrating behaviour. I discovered fidget toys last autumn when someone gave out free ones as part of a neurodivergence-awareness programme. It drastically reduced the amount of time I spent playing with my hair or my lanyard and thus making both rather messy and dirty and, in the case of the lanyard, actively broken. My mother has also given me carte blanche to stop her when she picks at her fingernails, because it annoys my dad who sees the repetitive movements in his peripheral vision while driving and needs to focus on the road. It’s also likely to make the skin around her nails more susceptible to infection etc.

            Likewise for a while I unwrapped and chewed boiled sweets at my desk. When I stopped (because my dentist fingerwagged me about it), my colleague turned to me and said she found it eerily quiet now I wasn’t rustling and munching all day. I don’t think it bothered her much, but it was definitely noticeable when it stopped.

            In a collegiate environment, everyone has to modify their behaviour somewhat. For us it can be hard not to do something unconsciously, but being conscious about it for a while will help kick the habit. It’s a matter of showing people you care for and respect their needs as well as your own and knowing that in all likelihood they too will have bad habits they’ve had to brute force themselves into kicking. We’re ND — not helpless. It’s a shame that people assume we can’t stop doing things that are no fun in the long run for us either (twiddling my hair just makes it dirty, eating too many sweets is bad for me) and go to inordinate lengths to make other people feel ashamed for being annoyed by them. We all have to make some sacrifices to get things done.

  17. Matilda*

    I’m afraid that my boss and managers are trying to get me fired or push me to quit because something happened and they thought I was a part of, when I wasn’t- I was just trying to help someone. (It’s work related- I’d prefer not to provide details because HR is involved.) I overheard the managers talking with the boss and they think that I’m creating drama. One manager noted that I’ve never been involved with any drama, but boss is seeing red right now. The managers always go along with what boss says/does and they don’t care for me either. They just laugh and make fun of me- they’ve made fun of my appearance, the way I talk, etc.

    Boss is being very snippy and passive aggressive towards me. She wanted an answer on where to order food and when I said I was checking on something, she said, “Fine. We’ll do it another day.”

    I was working on a project and boss made a remark “Well, I don’t know how much work Matilda has done on it.” This is an ongoing project so nothing is ever done. Plus boss never gives deadlines or checks in or asks for updates. She expects you to read her mind and then gets mad if it isn’t done and yells at you.

    I’ve worked there for 5 years and am a good employee- I go above and beyond to help out, yet obviously it doesn’t matter. I’m deeply hurt .

    Needless to say, I need a new job. Until then, do I just put my head down and work and not say anything? Or only say something if they ask me?

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Whoa, this isn’t a you problem, this is a them problem. Making fun of your appearance and how you talk!? That is NEVER acceptable.

      I think your main focus should be on getting out of there, but also worth thinking about why you’re willing to go above and beyond for people who aren’t even treating you with a baseline level of respect.

    2. Tio*

      If they say something like that, one possible response is “It makes me sad to hear that, as I thought I was doing a good job with ____.” That might work on whatever shred of conscience they have, but it also depends on time and place.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I would never advise telling a boss that you are “sad” about work related feedback. Especially people who do mean things like make fun of someone’s appearance.

        Be concerned, but not sad.

    3. theletter*

      You are a good employee! the toxicity of this place is surely what’s bumming you out. But whatever – you’re going to find a new job that’s much better and pays better. Until then, keep your head down and do your job.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      On the “I don’t know how much work Matilda has done on it” part – one way to address that is to proactively put together a weekly (or whatever cadence makes sense for the situation) update on the project, so that you are driving the updates rather than her asking for them.

      When she assigns a project have you asked about deadlines when you get given the work? What has she said to that?

      I think a lot of this situation may be due to mismatch in communication style.

      1. Matilda*

        Most of my work is continous so technically there are no deadlines.
        We have check-in meetings but sometimes they are canceled.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          Maybe maintain a running list of progress on the project (if it lends itself to that) or even things you did each week toward the project.

          “Boss, I heard you say you weren’t sure what I’ve been working on regarding this project so I’m attaching a list – please let me know if you’ve got any questions or would prefer to sit down and review in person. I’m happy to discuss in our next update or sooner if you like”

      2. Cj*

        I think there might even be a communication mismatch in what they mean by “how much work have they done on it”. Matilda is apparently hearing that is how much is finished. I would understand it to mean how much is it has been worked on, not how much is completed.

    5. Ama*

      I agree with all the other commenters that you deserve a better workplace then this. But I do just want to note, that if you participated in an HR investigation (or in bringing a situation to HR’s attention) and your boss is treating you poorly because of it, you should let HR know that’s happening, as that could be construed as retaliation.

      1. Random Dice*

        Exactly this.

        And bring to HR that you are being harassed based on your physical appearance. If you’re a woman, and there were any gendered insults – anything that they wouldn’t say to a man, which I’m guessing is the case for any insults about your appearance – make sure that you mention it as harassment based on gender, that is illegal.

        But yes, get out as soon as you can, and when you have a new job please consider therapy – this is the kind of thing that lingers harmfully.

    6. Chicago Anon*

      Respond to the words, not the tone. Ex. your boss says, “Fine, we’ll do it another day,” and you say (sounding super chipper and eager to help), “Great! I’ll check in with you about this tomorrow, or even this afternoon if you like!”

    7. juneybug*

      I am so sorry that your excellent work has not been rewarded. It hurts when you give your all and your horrible boss doesn’t recognize it. In fact, she belittles you in hope of you giving more, which is horrible management on her part.
      I would hold my head up high and keep repeating – I am doing my best and even though it might not be good enough for them, I am still a great employee and person.
      I look forward to reading your success story on Friday’s Good News.

  18. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I have to talk in front of people on an important manner next week so I’m pretty nervous. I’m also dealing with an unusual pattern where I’ll say ‘ hey about document D? and folks will complain about how hard their lives are? I didn’t mean to cause any issues but I really did want that document

    1. Mockingjay*

      It’s helpful to provide context for requests. “Hi, Bob, can you tell me when I will get the sales report? Boss wants me to prepare a brief for him with those numbers by next week. Thanks!” Succinctly explains what you need and when. (I send these type of requests daily – it’s pretty effective.) If you don’t get what you need, escalate to boss, but keep it neutral. “Hi boss, still waiting for the sales report; I can’t finish the brief without it.” Don’t overexplain; let boss handle it from there.

      As for the presentation, analyze your audience. Are they aware of the important matter? Just like the document request, add a brief background for context. “As you know, last month the production line was shut down due to unavailable parts. To avoid further shutdowns, the company is revamping its processes to procure materials and parts from more reliable vendors, and ensure sufficient quantities are delivered on time. Company has invested in Shiny New Order System to address the problem. Today I’m going to give you an overview of Shiny System and its capabilities.” That’s it. Set the scope of the talk in the first sentences, and the rest will flow.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That’s a good idea. Often times we all get so many action items that we get confused. I can mostly keep mine in order, but these other folks have so much on their plates they often are like just running around like they are on fire

    2. Yes And*

      Re the talk: Carnegie Hall method. Practice, practice, practice! Deliver your talk to the mirror. Delivery your talk to your webcam. Deliver your talk to your cat. (I assume you have a cat. Most people on AAM seem to have cats.) Walk into that room knowing your material cold. You can’t control the audience, but you can control what you can control, which is your own preparation.

      The document complainers are just trying to explain why they haven’t gotten to it yet. You aren’t causing their issues. How you respond has to depend on the power dynamic between you and/or your personal relationship, which isn’t very helpful I’m afraid.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The folks at work will help me know what to say which is good. I hope I can have the confidence to say what I need even if it is important. ( I don’t have a cat myself but sometimes they are in my yard)

        Lol the problem is that we work for them, but if they don’t do their jobs, we can’t do ours. Their company has almost collapsed but our company is doing ok, so it’s a little messy.

      2. JustaTech*

        The great thing about presenting to a cat is that they can do that “I am utterly indifferent to your talk” thing that’s important to get used to. Sadly since my cat passed I can’t practice on her anymore, and my baby is just so *excited* by my talks that I don’t get a good feel for how engaging they really are! :)

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      That unusual pattern? I learned to deal with that working retail. (Note: this worked because we never saw each other again. You may need to cushion it a bit for coworkers you see on a regular basis.)

      Customer: “I’m in the middle of a terrible divorce!”

      Me: “I’m so sorry about that. Your order comes to $34.72. Will that be cash or charge?”

  19. Tina*

    I have a work issue that I’d appreciate some thoughts or just reactions on. I work as junior in-house counsel in a company where we are expected to keep “law firm hours” because we are a global operation. I don’t plan on being here forever, but I’m two years in and would like to at least make it to four for various resume/career/compensation reasons.

    My understanding of workplace norms is that the longer you’re expected to be at work, the more permissible it is to “settle in.” (At my law firm, we had an in-house coffee shop along with a gym and bistro, and would regularly see people going to and from those places and in their casual clothes). But here, the other attorneys seem to be baffled by my behavior to the point where I’m unsure if I’m doing something wrong.

    For example, I like to cook and will box up breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for myself to reheat in the microwave. I periodically get people saying things like “Oh, aren’t you fancy?” and calling other people over to look when I’m just toasting a bagel in the work-provided toaster, and putting the cream cheese/salmon/cucumber on it. Once I was told I was “high maintenance” because I brought in sugar in the raw packets instead of using the office-provided white sugar canister. One attorney laughed and said “What is this, your living room?” because I decorated my office with various personal items like a picture in a frame, a vase of flowers, and a small lamp along with a throw blanket. I don’t sit around in my pajamas drinking tea with the throw blanket around my knees-I wear a suit every day and shut my door to eat or do anything “casual,” but they seem to notice the simple things I do to stay comfortable almost to the point of being irritated by them.

    1. CTT*

      I’m in an actual law firm and none of that would be outside the norms (especially bringing food to eat, do they order out every day???). I think you work at a company with a very uncommon culture and you’re not doing anything weird.

      1. Tina*

        It’s a mix of them going out and grabbing fast food or bringing in stuff to heat up, but it’s always something like a can of soup or a Lean Cuisine. I think it’s more about the perceived effort that went into my food sometimes…like they think spending time on yourself or your needs is somehow wrong.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          That sounds like a really unhealthy work culture! You’re not braising a rack of ribs in the office, just heating up leftovers. If such a normal and simple thing signals that you have “too much personal time” I’d start looking for a new job now–two more years of this may seriously skew your idea of workplace norms as a best case scenario.

    2. Storm in a teacup*

      Hi I think the crux is that there is a culture clash between what behaviour was considered the norm at your old law firm and what goes at your current company. Personally I don’t see any issue with you bringing in your own food etc… and in this day and age with budget pressures I’m sure you’re not the only one doing this.
      However the decorating of your office does sound potentially more than I would expect. I think a lot of people, once having a worked somewhere for a while, will collect stuff like stationary, calendars and bring in touches like photos. However flowers, lamp, throw blanket etc… would certainly be out of step in my office.
      Having said that I have a pashmina stowed in a drawer to wrap around when the office AC is too high.
      If it’s not impacting how your work with people or how you’re perceived then just do you. But be aware it may impact how you people see you in some workplaces and you have to be ok with that.

      1. Random Dice*

        I’d remove the flowers and any other decor and only keep the lamp if you need it (say to stave off migraines). Not because it should be necessary, but because there’s a stupid culture there.

        Honestly I think there’s more than a vein of sexism / ageism at play here, on top of “good workers live only for the job”.

        You might keep your resume out there to find a less toxic workplace.

    3. londonedit*

      People are being weird about the food, but then people are weird about food. People love to comment on anything that’s outside the norm – often it’s because it hits a nerve. Maybe seeing you with your carefully prepared lunches makes them feel guilty because they know they’re going to end up spending a fortune on something unhealthy again. Or maybe they’d love to have a smoked salmon bagel for breakfast but they never manage to get themselves organised. Basically, it’s none of their business what you eat, but unfortunately it’s one of those things people just love to make comments about.

      With things like the office decoration, again, I think it comes down to what’s normal for that office. If no one brings anything from home, then it will draw attention if you’re bringing in a blanket and a lamp and whatnot. Sometimes in those situations it can be beneficial to go along with the norms – to take your example of gym clothes in the office, that can be totally fine in some places where everyone changes into gym stuff if they’re working late, but in other places you’d stick out like a sore thumb if everyone else is suited and booted at all times. I wouldn’t put too much stock in one person’s comment, but if it was someone senior, and/or if more than one senior person makes a comment, then you might want to think about whether you’re looking out of step with what everyone else does around the office.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      It sounds like a cultural issue. The workplace culture there is just different from where you were previously. What you’re doing doesn’t sound in any way bad or over the top, but it seems that the culture of your current office is just very…masochistic? I don’t think there’s much you can do to change that, unfortunately. You might want to do some thinking about how much snark you’re willing to put up with versus how much personal comfort you’re willing to sacrifice. For example, maybe you don’t want to stop bringing in nice meals for yourself, but you could it to stuff that doesn’t need a lot of in-office prep (cold meal in a lunch bag in the fridge, or just something that you quickly zap in the microwave and carry to your office), or doing the prep behind a closed door (toast the bagel, but then grab a lunch bag with the fixings from the fridge, bring it to your office, and close the door to put it on the bagel).

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I wouldn’t limit myself at all on the food. It’s not the OP’s fault the coworkers are jealous of her fancy bagel! What are they, five? And why shouldn’t she use the kitchen for its intended purpose?

        Stupid cow-irkers.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          Like I said, I think the coworkers are being unreasonable! But it’s Tina’s call as to how much she wants to prioritize comfort/food versus being left alone by the unreasonable coworkers.

    5. EMP*

      In general I think what you’re doing is normal, but it’s obviously being noticed as out of the norm at your current company. Up to you how much you want to adjust your behavior to be unremarkable in this particular crowd vs staying comfortable. I don’t know if these are colleagues who might give you a reference someday or something where their opinion may matter more than just an in-the-moment comment.

    6. Two Fluffy*

      I look at this two ways.

      1.) is what you’re doing wildly outside of the norm in this office? If so, maybe there’s a few things you can adjust. For instance, take the flowers home or the throw blanket but absolutely eat the food you want.

      2.) You aren’t doing anything outrageous. You like your comforts in your office. So what?! You like your food a certain way. Most of us do! As long as you’re doing good work and doing what you need to do while at the office, chalk their comments up to jealousy (they probably wish they had a lovely bagel like yours) and let them roll off your back.

      1. Tina*

        I should have clarified, the flowers were a one-time thing and now I just have a plant (which surprisingly no one has commented on, maybe because it’s just a pothos).

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You are out of step with the culture. It’s not that you’re necessarily doing anything wrong, but it’s not the norm or expected, so you stand out. At this point you have likely been pegged as the odd one, for whatever reason. It’s not particularly kind of your coworkers, but it is what it is.

      If you really want to stay: then un-settle in and don’t try to settle in again. Take the blanket, etc home. Your lunch is fine because it’s pretty messed up for them to object to your lunch, but it’s clearly not the norm for personal touches on the desks so don’t do them.

    8. Generic Name*

      Your coworkers suck. Making fun of someone, for any reason, is not okay. I would un-decorate your workspace (but honestly, I’d wonder if someone wouldn’t also have a snarky comment about that as well…..maybe just give the snarker a blank look and say that your office items drew too many comments so you took them home). As for the food, maybe do as much prep/doctoring in your office away from the view of others. So if you get coffee, put the sugar in at your desk. Should you have to do this? Absolutely not. Alternately, you could just own the comments. “Yep! That’s me, fancy schmancy!!”

      1. JustaTech*

        I’d be inclined to roll with the “that’s me, all fancy pants!” on the food thing, but I’ve never worked in law so I’m not the best judge there.

        On their reactions to your food, it’s very unlikely to be about *you* at all but rather a verbalization of their thought process about food. Like, they also would like a nice bagel but didn’t think about it, and for whatever reason rather than just think to themselves “oh, I could do that” need to try to put you down, because why should you have a nice thing if they don’t? (Not reasonable, but a way that people think sometimes.)
        For the lunches I’m willing to bet that a lot of them either feel like you are judging them because they aren’t packing a nice healthy (tasty!) lunch (not saying you are judging them!) or they’re judging *themselves* for not packing a nice lunch. Possibly there’s also some classist stuff about only poor people packing lunch, there’s a lot to unpack (pun intended) when it comes to food.

        Sadly, yes, I agree that slowly “undecorating” your space might make sense. Again I’m willing to bet that at least some of the responses come from a place of “wait, I could make this space where I spend all my time just a tiny bit nicer? I wasn’t aware that was something a person could do!”
        I had a professor in college who made her office much more home-y/softer than the rest of the professors in her department and I’ll say that it made her stand out and threw the students off a bit. (OK, I’ll be honest that it felt a bit like a therapist’s office, where the other profs’ offices felt like academic offices, so it was a pretty different tone.)

    9. A Poster Has No Name*

      When you say “law firm hours” do you mean they basically expect you to work 12+ hours a day?

      If I’m expected to spend that much time in the office, hell yes I’m going to make myself comfortable and, as long as I’m not affecting others, they can go hang. I’d probably just ignore the comments because nothing you say is really going to make a difference in their attitudes. If you don’t intend to stay long then keeping your head down might be the way to go.

      But I thought moving in-house was a way for lawyers to get away from insane hours? I know you said you wanted to make it to 4 years, but I’d at least be on the lookout for something better, as it sounds like crappy hours and crappy coworkers.

      1. Tina*

        The norm is 10 and then occasionally we do work 12-14. And that’s a common misconception that your hours will automatically be shorter by going in-house. It depends on the company and what the company’s doing. This is the defense and aerospace industry, so it may be different than say, a small candy company. (I met counsel for a small candy company once and he did in fact hand out free candy. I was insanely jealous.)

      2. Ginger Baker*

        ^This is 100% where I come down. If I have to basically live in the office then YES it kind of is my living room, and I will keep my creature confronts SFW but for sure I will HAVE COMFORT as much as is feasibly possible. I personally would just embrace it “yes I am So Fancy, what can I say” but ymmv on that.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I would get a throw pillow with that on it, but that might be poking the bear.

    10. Anon for this*

      I think this might be the office culture where you work. None of that seems unusual or in any way unprofessional to me.

      It also sounds like people might be a little jealous of some of your creature comforts.

    11. Random Academic Cog*

      Our offices are heavily decorated (I just converted most shelves of a cabinet with sliding doors to a greenhouse with growlights and pretty planters since all of our files are online these days) so it’s definitely specific to the company culture rather than general professional norms. And for the same reasons – I’m spending 8-12 hours/day 4-5 days/week in that space. I want to be comfortable there. Unless it’s likely to impact your professional standing or your supervisor or higher-up specifically tells you to cease and desist, I would just own it. Be matter of fact when it comes up, have some careful or clever (depending on your preferences – though careful is probably more in line with your office culture) responses ready to pull out, and enjoy your nice lunches and comfortable space.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Agreed. It’s one thing to “undecorate” the office, but I wouldn’t give an inch on the food. If the culture is so “all must be sacrificed, even the non-raw sugar” that the LW can’t drink coffee or heat up friggin’ leftovers in peace it’s worth while to either ignore or push back, depending on what seems feasible.

    12. theletter*

      You choose a ‘high maintenance’ living style because you can handle ‘high maintenance’ projects, and you put in ‘high maintenance’ quality into your work, just as you do with what you eat and how you set up your office. Your investment in your salmon bagel is a reflection of your investment in your cases.

      What does your bowl of captain crunch say about how you work, Bob? You put in as much effort into your cases as you did in grabbing a day-old donut from the train station on the way to work? Hmmmmmm?

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      I think the blanket is weird and the lamp might be a little much depending on style (like, basic desk lamp vs fancy decorative shade) but everything else is totally normal. I can’t imagine feeling compelled to comment on someone eating a BAGEL as if that’s somehow an unusual or “high maintenance” food!

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, while it still wouldn’t be anything like OK, I was imagining at first that Tina was bringing in full three-course meals and reheating them or something that really read as expensive like caviar or something. But a bagel is hardly “fancy restaurant” food (not that there would be anything wrong with somebody bringing in expensive food either, but I could at least see it reading as a bit unusual if somebody was eating meals that seemed like something from a 5 star restaurant while everybody else was enjoying sandwiches).

    14. RagingADHD*

      At my prior law firms, there was something of an unspoken sumptuary law around decorating one’s office that depended on seniority / billable rate. For example, senior partners might have custom desks with high-end visitor chairs or an antique rug.

      But even the secretaries (who didn’t get doors to their offices) had lamps and pictures on the wall, and even the folks in the cube farm had plants.

      I am back in a non-law corporate office, and it does seem much more sterile than I’m used to. I think people customize their spaces less because they have WFH flexibility. But even so, a lot of people use the kitchen to reheat food from home.

    15. Hermione Danger*

      It sounds to me like you work with a bunch of people who don’t believe in self-care. All of the things you mention are the things you’ve decided you need to do your best work. If they choose to self-immolate at the altar of “who cares the most about the company?” because they think they’ll get noticed better if they’re on fire, that’s on them. If all of this is boosting the level of your work and productivity and not dragging you down like their eventual burnout will for them, you’re doing the right things.

    16. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      It might help a bit to throw an imaginary friend under the bus with the food stuff (you should not have to, but people are weird). So you bring in some salad dressing or something and somebody makes a comment, you could say something like “Yeah, someone left this at my place and now I have to finish it up!” like you are slightly annoyed. Maybe even offer them some. Note that “someone” is you, but it’s implied it was a visitor:)

      Deflecting some of it could help prevent a buildup of “Look How Different Tina Is!” which could help prevent people from looking for How Different You Are.

      They suck, by the way.

    17. Jinni*

      I find this question so interesting. My ex encountered this kind of thing in Big Law. He felt immense pressure to buy lunch. We couldn’t afford takeout (and loan payments and a house payment). He stopped eating lunch altogether.

      I got similar pushback in house, (two lamps, paint, decor), but until you wrote about it, I never considered their comments my problem. I had to be there. I wanted to pay off my loans. Unless they were living my life, it didn’t worry me. I got great evaluations, off-season raises (from my bosses), so figured it was a them (coworker) problem.

      But I also figured it may be a different ‘othering’ problem. As a black woman, people felt very free to comment on all aspects of my life/appearance, so I didn’t see this as much different. If it doesn’t effect pay/advancement, I’d ignore all of it and be comfortable.

    18. Ellen*

      You are probably looking for actual advice to stay at your job and bear it, in which case I guess (?) the suggestions to undecorate the office but not budge on the food are the move, but I want to validate that your coworkers are not behaving rationally to comment negatively on a single one of these things. It is not a knock on your professionalism to want your (very long) work hours not to be completely miserable! Not to mention, several of the office decorations you listed may very well have purposes that go beyond personal preference–having a lamp on instead of an overhead light can be preferable for light sensitivity, and, (famously), offices are Way Too Cold, which can necessitate a blanket.

      I’ll cede that I work in the notoriously-cozy field of librarianship where desk decorations of all kinds are extremely normal and it has often been suggested by supervisors that I should keep both an office cardigan AND an office blanket at my desk. However, I don’t think it’s reasonable to chalk your situation up to office/profession culture and say you should conform to stop the comments from colleagues! This is Bad Office Culture and if it’s not making your work life unbearable to hear these comments then there’s no reason you need to match the culture that your colleagues are apparently accustomed to. If I had 2 years of tenure there already, I’d probably feel comfortable responding with things like “well, if I’m going to spend half my day here I might as well enjoy it!” or “yeah, I have food preferences!”

  20. Ripley*

    I work in a large medical clinic (in Canada). Three weeks ago my clinic adopted a new software – this is part of a large project by our parent organization to get everyone on this updated software. It is not an exaggeration to say my workload has doubled, maybe tripled (it’s a long story but basically the software requires way more steps than the old one did). I made $35,000 last year. My income is so low I qualify for low income benefits in Canada.

    We have regular “town hall” meetings (online) for the whole organization where we are allowed to ask (respectful) questions. I am trying to formulate a question along the lines of “why would I (or my colleagues) stay in this job?” I love what I do but it feels like a slap in the face that they chose software that would radically increase the workload of the lowest paid people.

    1. Miss Manager*

      Hmm, maybe you can ask a question about how they’re tracking the impact of new software on worker productivity? Something like, “Since we rolled out Software X three months ago, tasks that used to take me 15 minutes now take me an hour due to the increased complexity of the software menus I need to navigate (or whatever). How are we tracking the impact of new software rollouts on worker productivity?”

      This doesn’t get at the heart of your issue, which is that you feel underpaid relative to the increase in workload, but it gets at what town hall organizers want to hear about (namely productivity). The pay aspect is probably best handled with a conversation with your manager.

      1. Ripley*

        I’m unionized. The union has been working on getting us raises and did well for us this contract, but we will always be the lowest paid staff in the clinic. There is no room for me to negotiate salary on my own.

        1. Tio*

          In that case, I would really focus on the increased workload as an issue. Bring some concrete examples of before/after timesinks and ask what plans there are to increase efficiency or split workload.

          1. Aitch Arr*

            Not just increased workload, but how that increased workload/lower productivity will affect patient care and outcomes.

    2. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

      Does your answer have to be in the form of a question?
      Can you say something like, “I would like to bring to management’s attention that with this new software rollout, time I used to spend making meaningful contributions is now spent doing rote tasks. My workload has increased, my productivity has decreased, and morale is sinking. I would like to hear management’s perspective on why this new software was implemented, what plans are for evaluating its effectiveness, and what steps they can take to address the increased time spent on tasks.”

    3. Synaptically Unique*

      Epic or WorkDay, by any chance? Regardless, this is a matter of doing what you can do in the amount of time your job is supposed to take and then going home/logging out for the day. You may need input from your supervisor on prioritizing, but don’t kill yourself trying to do an unreasonable volume of work. They’ll either hire more people or make changes that will improve processes. Are you in a position/headspace to offer suggestions to fix or streamline any of the problems? That’s different from just complaining without having any ideas on how to fix it.

      1. Clara Bowe*

        Betting EPIC. So. Many. Menus. And nothing is where it used to be except when it is.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      To be honest I’m not sure that this town hall meeting (I know the type you mean, with questions accepted) is the right forum for that, especially after only 3 weeks of using the new system, as presumably there’s a bit of a learning curve or ‘ramp up’ to get accustomed to it.

      Is there any way of providing this feedback via the “chain of command” instead, or even via the union?

      Do you think others’ workload has increased similarly or is it unique to you based on your particular role?

      Is there any chance that over time it will be more efficient (due to streamlining ways of doing things or whatever) and just needs an adjustment period?

      If the workload has doubled is that causing extra hours? (not sure if there is a similar hourly/salary distinction as there is in the states)

    5. racecar driver*

      While your concerns are valid, using a public town hall to ask why you should stay in your job will probably not lead to the solution you want. People who bring up issues that way can be written off as dramatic even if they have legitimate complaints.

      I recommend having a private conversation with your boss instead. Rather than saying your firm “chose software that increased the workload of the lowest-paid people,” explain how the update slows your workload significantly and the impact on your day-to-day output. Acknowledge that you know software updates generally come with an adjustment period of about 3-6 months where employees are slower, followed by a return to or increase in regular efficiency, but that this situation is different because [list Foundational Issues 1,2,3].

      The low pay is a separate and equally significant issue, but I would look outside your current clinic for that. If they’re paying far below market rate, you should be able to find a similar position elsewhere.

  21. cabbagepants*

    I wanted to give an update. I posted in the Friday Open Thread on June 2 of this year about what to do with an intern who was foisted upon me in spite of lack of experience in my specialized field. Imagine if my job was driving expensive equipment to remote villages along dangerous roads, and this intern doesn’t have a driver’s license, mechanical training, or know how to read a map. To be clear, this is just a metaphor.

    Based on suggestions, I decided to have this intern work on taking the hand-drawn maps my colleagues have made of new roads and translating them into our professional-grade map software. This task would introduce the intern to the challenges of different people on my team, teach him how to read a map, and teach him the mapping software that is used across the industry. The software is extremely well-documented so the intern can mostly teach himself and just get occasional pointers from me. The professional-grade maps he will produce will be useful to my team since they are standardized and make a great impression in customer meetings. The intern seemed happy to do this map project and my boss agreed it would be valuable to the team.

    Then I went on a scheduled 3-week leave and my boss decided that the intern should take over driving my routes while I was out.

    Another intern “trained” my intern how to drive and do truck maintenance by sharing some documents to read through. My boss had my intern take one of the company trucks to the company mechanic to be looked over before setting out. The mechanic, not knowing that the intern had zero experience, told him that he needed to replace the tires on the car, and gave the intern the new tires. My intern took the old tires off and then put the new tires on the roof of the car. That’s right, (in this metaphor) the intern didn’t understand the purpose of tires and interpreted “put the new tires on the truck” as “put them on top of the truck.” When I got back from leave he had already been driving around on the rims, so they were damaged and needed to be replaced. The tires had fallen off the roof at some point but thankfully hadn’t hurt anyone. He didn’t even have the experience to realize that the truck was driving funny without tires and I really hope no one noticed our branded truck driving around town like that.

    After this incident I was able to convince my boss that no, seriously, the work can’t be done properly by someone with zero experience and that actually, training people takes a lot of time. I took back the truck and put the intern back onto the map software project. The internship ends in August and while the poor kid isn’t a bad person and it’s really not his fault that my boss entrusted him with something he wasn’t able to handle, I can’t wait for it to be over. Also I am never going to let myself be pressured into taking on random interns ever again.

    1. Alex*

      Wait wait wait. This person drove a vehicle without any tires at all?

      I’m…wait, I can’t actually believe someone over the age of 8 would think that would be a thing you can do. Did he have a driving license? I mean…what?

      Yes, it was your boss’s fault that the intern wasn’t trained on replacing tires. Not everyone knows how to do that (including me!) and so training is needed or at least you need to confirm that someone knows how to do that properly. But driving around without any tires??? That’s extra.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        There were no actual trucks or tires or driving involved in the story behind this metaphor.

      2. amoeba*

        It’s a metaphor – I guess the actual equipment involved would be less universally known!

    2. A Poster Has No Name*

      Ugh, that sucks for both you and the intern. Does your boss kind of suck in general or was this just a blind spot about the skills required for your job?

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think the boss needs a reminder of this incident if/when they inevitably try to foist interns on you again in the future.

      I would be on the lookout for signs your boss seems to devalue/minimise what your role entails. “An intern can carry out cabbagepants’ work while they are away” could be a sign of how your boss sees the role overall.

    4. theletter*

      I think just to play on the metaphor here, a driver’s license should really preclude any driving assignment – but if in the real world there’s no actual certification that can provide proof of abilities, you’ll just have to find ways to push back on intern assignments that are inappropriate.

      I’ve often found myself in situations where I’m responsible for someone’s work, but not in charge of assigning it, and it always ends in disaster. I now push back on those situations – I can either evaluate the person’s skills and recommend work, but take no further part in managing them, or I have full control of assignments and work.

      I hope you didn’t have to take it on the chin for not training the intern in truck driving and maintenance. If you did, you’d have to push back on your boss that without a driver’s license, the intern would never qualify for CDL training and you had given them tasks that were entirely appropriate for their skill level.

      Managers can sometimes imagine that every intern is secretly a wunderkind just waiting for the moment to really shine. Sometimes you have to be crystal clear that unless the new whiz kid has some specific skill that no one else can bring, they have to take the time to learn the old ropes, starting the the rope that’s closest to ground.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I think management can often regard interns as kind of ‘maids of all work’ who can pick up any slack around whether or not it’s appropriate or helpful to said intern’s training.

        If a company needs somebody with a metaphorical driver’s license who can install tires on a truck, they need to pay for it, not cross their fingers and send an intern out on the freeway.

    5. cabbagepants*

      Sorry for the crazy metaphor. What actually happened has to do with manufacturing and automation. You need to know our product, our tools, and our super obscure and poorly documented software interface to be able to do useful work. Mistakes can cause anything from scrapped product to safety excursion (rare) to down tools (expensive).

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I am a lab chemist who has various forms of equipment, ranging from reasonable up to date to too old for anyone here to run, nor can we find anyone to teach us. I can definitely appreciate the challenges and problems.

        1. JustaTech*

          I work in a bio lab and while my current workplace is pretty good I have heard *stories* of what happens when you don’t properly train people before letting them loose.

          Here’s an example: people in bio labs often work in a Biological Safety Cabinet (a BSC, often called a hood). These usually have two lights: a regular light so you can see what you’re doing, and a UV lamp for sterilizing the space when you’re done. (There’s debate on how useful the UV lamps are.) The UV lamp puts out a little bit of purple light, but if your overhead lights are on it can be hard to tell if the UV lamp is on.
          I’ve heard so many stories of people who weren’t properly trained on how to use the BSC working with both the regular light and the UV lamp on – resulting in both ruined experiments (the UV is supposed to kill your cells!) and terrible burns if the person wasn’t wearing long sleeves (or worse, eye damage).

          Newer BSCs won’t let you turn on both lights at the same time *specifically* to prevent people from getting hurt.

          So I can totally see how a person without enough training could really destroy a piece of manufacturing equipment by running it incorrectly.

          1. cabbagepants*

            Yes! It’s kind of like that. It takes a lot of tribal knowledge to do the work. In a perfect world there would be safety interlocks and everything would be documented (and people would actually follow the documentation), but the reality is that there is just a long learning curve.

          2. anxiousGrad*

            I also work in bio labs and that is horrifying! One time I was being a bit absent minded and I lifted up the glass before turning off the UV light and I was so mad at myself for that. I can’t imagine actually working with the UV light on the whole time! That is very poor training indeed.

      2. Cj*

        I thought the metaphor was hilarious, but I did forget for a minute as I was reading it that it was only a metaphor, and this became a total “wait, what?” situation.

    6. A Frayed Knot*

      This has got to be the best metaphor on AAM yet! Who needs llamas when an intern drives a truck with the tires on top of the truck?!?!?!

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        Sadly, I would not have been shocked if the metaphor had been literally true.

        Well, a little bit. My jaw did drop, and I took my glasses off to rub my forehead.

        But it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that someone could make that specific mistake.

        People don’t know what they don’t know. That’s why we have subject matter experts, trainers, and supervisors.

    7. Random Dice*

      Oh no! I was worried about your situation, but it went way worse than I thought it might.

      Can I ask, is this the first time your boss has devalued your work so thoroughly that he thought that, “oh, any minimally trained stack of raccoons could do it, without supervision”? That’s pretty bad.

      Have you rethought this manager or job at all, as a result of this fiasco?

  22. SometimesMaybe*

    So low stakes question. I work in an office of about 75 people with about half over 45. Recently a new college intern was proofing reading a document. She flagged all the double spaces after a period as incorrect. Now I know single spaces are preferred when writing, but we are not in an industry where this would be frowned upon or even noticed historically. Our documents to clients will be a variety of single spaces or two spaces depending on the author and template we use. So as long as we are consistent within each document, I have never seen any issue, however I am in my forties. But now I am wondering how big of a deal this is based on my intern’s reaction. Re-learning to type is no easy thing, especially since I type very fast.

    1. londonedit*

      Well, as an editor I find/replace double spaces with single ones in the manuscripts I handle, but that’s because our house style is for single spaces and you’ll very rarely see a book with double spaces after a full stop. Typesetting can make things go a bit wonky anyway, but we start with single spaces after the full stop in the Word doc. If you don’t have a house style, and it’s fine for different documents to follow different conventions, then I’d say it’s fine for you to continue doing what you’re doing. This person is only an intern – if they don’t need to be focusing on things like spaces when they’re proofreading a document, then you should tell them that and explain that while in some places things like that will be important, in the company you’re working for it’s consistency that’s key and she doesn’t need to worry about the spacing.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m in my 40s and I learned to type with a single space after a period. This is considered correct, as far as I know. Is it a huge massive deal? Not really, especially in your situation, but the intern is not wrong. It’s a very easy fix– just do a find and replace for double spaces to single spaces and it’s done. I had a colleague at a previous job who simply would not change his typing habits for the reports we released (that I was responsible for editing– I also created the org’s style guide), so I just made the fix and didn’t give it a second thought.

    3. Ashley*

      Personally I don’t think it is a big deal either way in business communication, and the intern could have probably just made a general note of this is current standard. If you do want to update your style, Word has some awesome auto correct options so I would think you could create an automatic one to go from double to single space. To me it is the consistency throughout the document that is most important personally… well as long as you aren’t using some odd font choice and then I will be annoyed and wonder about you for your choices.

    4. Jane Bingley*

      Double spacing went out of practice with the introduction of variable-width fonts that don’t treat every character as the exact same size. It made sense on typewriters and early computers, but is no longer needed as the space after a period is auto-sized by all modern fonts. It’s fine to flag for your intern that it’s not something that needs correcting in your context, but it’s generally considered incorrect. I’m nitpicky enough that I notice and fix it when I’m editing others’ work.

    5. Ama*

      They’ve been teaching single space after a period in schools as the default for about 20 something years now — I am just old enough that I was taught double space in school, but I started my career in a sector (desktop publishing in academia) where it became the standard very quickly and it was a big adjustment! But as londonedit notes, it’s really easy to fix — when you are done typing just do a find and replace for doublespace and change it to single space. And after a while my fingers learned the new rhythm and I didn’t have to use the find and replace any longer.

      The reason for this change is that typewriters and early computer fonts were monospaced, meaning each character was always exactly the same distance apart, so you needed that extra space to really distinguish the end of a sentence. But these days computer fonts are programmed to automatically add extra space after a punctuation mark — so they actually *are* putting in a double space, they are just putting in the second one automatically. Learning that actually really helped me retrain my thinking on this (I was very resistant at first) so that’s why I’m mentioning it.

    6. MsM*

      I prefer double spacing myself, but I think it is considered outdated and not the standard any more, particularly for anything that’s going to be published or circulated online. If it really hasn’t been an issue for you or your clients, I think you can flag for the intern that either is acceptable in this particular office, but I do think it’s worth considering standardizing and trying as best you can to make single-space your default for professional communications.

    7. ThatGirl*

      I probably would have done the same thing as an intern and would now – I’ve spent my whole career in writing and editing. I would also want the company to be consistent across all documents, frankly, and there’s no longer a reason to have two spaces after a period in most cases.

      But you’re also allowed to say it’s not as important to you as it is to me. As long as the company is aligned, and the intern knows her expectations, that’s what matters.

    8. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      So as long as we are consistent within each document, I have never seen any issue, however I am in my forties.

      That’s the standard I adhere to.

      College intern? That’s all but the definition of “Short timer.” I’d shrug it off until an experienced, trusted peer, supervisor, or stakeholder gets that bee in their bonnet.

    9. Kimmy Schmidt*

      What kind of document? Internal, external, official, casual, policies, brainstorming? I think consistency is important in external communications, so I’d be double-checking everything to make sure it’s consistent with one space. If it’s internal or less structured, I’d tell the intern to let it go.

    10. Alex*

      There is no space police. If your workplace agrees that they don’t care about this issue, then they don’t care. The world won’t end either way.

      It is very outdated, though, so I don’t think your intern was wrong or out of line to assume to flag this. But you can tell them, “oh, don’t bother, we accept both ways here.”

      1. SometimesMaybe*

        In some places. The MLA standard only changed in 2019, and Microsoft fully made the change in 2020. I know sometimes official standards are often behind the norm, but I think there are a lot of people who have ingrained habits and for a lot of us, the update never really mattered all that much. I am not trying to defend the old fashion, just that it didn’t seem very important.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Before! It was a topic of conversation when I was a grad student back in the 90s. It only makes sense on typewriters. (I never did it, because I learned to type on a word processor back in the 80s.)

        If it doesn’t matter to you, NBD, but it is old-fashioned. And I like consistency.

        Also, the double space thing should only be done after serif fonts, not sans serif. If you are really dedicated to it.

    11. SometimesMaybe*

      Thanks to everyone for commenting. I agree with most that spacing after a full stop is not a big deal (except to my 6th grade typing teacher who cared very much about two spaces), so I assume others would feel the same. I guess change is necessary even when it is not necessary.

      1. Stopped Using My Name*

        Don’t know if you’ll see this, but double spaces after a period read as “old.” Age-wise, I’m in your neighborhood. Change is necessary even when it is not necessary. I too had to learn so space only once after a period.

        I spoke to much younger colleague about this. We also had a discussion deep about a font. I also trained myself to use different fonts (depending on the document).

        Old habits die hard.

    12. Paris Geller*

      I actually do think if these are documents going to clients, they all should be single spaced or double spaced (and I would say single spaced as that is generally now considered correct) I think it’s just easier if there’s a style guide to keep everyone consistent. Internal documents, eh.

    13. Peanut Hamper*

      In the absence of specific instruction or an in-house style guide, she did what she has been taught and also what is current practice.

      I’m over 45 and I haven’t typed a double space in 30 years.

      Re-learning to type is no easy thing, especially since I type very fast.

      Hmmm….I recently bought a manual typewriter (for fun! They’re fun!) and I was able to very quickly retrain my fingers, since a lot of the punctuation marks are in different places. It’s a lot like code-switching, but for your fingers.

      1. Christmas Carol*

        My phone uses double space as a built in auto-correct to “. turn on InitialCaptialization for the next word. = double space means end this sentence and start a new one. Useful only for those of you who text in complete sentences. But Ive noticed it has revived my period-double space reflex.

      2. Te*

        I type very fast (grew up in on-line chat rooms) and stopped my double space habit a few years ago in a day or two of consciously making myself use single spaces. After that, it came naturally. It really wasn’t as bad or annoying as I thought it would be to relearn.

        1. snacattack*

          My experience exactly (though my fast typing came not from online chat rooms, which hadn’t been invented at the time, but from writing meandering stories on my grandfather’s old Royal manual typewriter). Learned double spacing in typing at school, then entered the world of publishing in my late thirties, where single spacing was the norm, and switching over was a lot easier than I expected!

        2. JR*

          This was my experience too. I put it off the move from two spaces to one for years because I thought it would be too hard to train myself. But once I decided to try, it was pretty seamless – my brain (and fingers!) just immediately made the switch.

    14. Christmas Carol*

      You can always just program auto-correct in MS Word to auto-magicaly replace “.” with “., and if I remember correctly, this may even be a built in default corection.

      If it’s really a concern, you can also go a global find-replace for with in your entire document, and repeat as many times as necessary to eliminate any/all extra spaces.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        I think in MS Office – like, all Office products, not just Word – you can set an option to default to 1 space after the period or 2.

    15. Ann F*

      I mean, it’s not a huge deal, but it looks very old-fashioned and out-of-touch. Whether that matters to your org or not is up to you. You can always create an in-house style guide for interns etc to use when copy-editing if you don’t want it flagged. I’m 47 and I would flag it unless told it was OK in house style, simply because I think it looks so dated and I dislike that.

      1. JustaTech*

        Serious question: if you’re reading a document that doesn’t show the formatting marks (so something like a PDF or a web page rather than a document in a word processor) can you actually see the difference between one space and two between sentences?

        I ask because I assume that people must be able to see it to care, but it’s not something that I have ever noticed (though while I read a lot I’m not the copy editing type).

        I also think it’s hard to tell here because the last time this conversation came up there was something about the website automatically stripping out the second space.

        1. Moql*

          Yes, I can see a double space without formatting marks, and it’s actually really distracting. My eyes snag on the extra white space.

        2. Ampersand*

          I can see it. This is one space after the prior sentence.

          And this. Is two spaces.

          I feel strongly about once space being correct and looking better. :)

          1. Cj*

            I have been staring at those sentences for a long time, and see absolutely no difference. Was this perhaps autocorrected to one space for both examples somehow?

    16. Just here for the scripts*

      In terms of digital accessibility for people with disabilities and making materials easier to machine translate, single spaces between sentences is crucial.

      1. Still don’t have a name*

        This is often overlooked. I teach at university and have to send materials like my syllabus to our course assistant for accessibility checking. Double spaces after periods (and ?, !, :, etc.) aren’t allowed. Neither is underlining, interestingly enough. (For what it’s worth, I’m 50 and gave up two spaces after a period more than 20 years ago. I don’t think it’s hugely important, but it does look very dated.)

      2. Cheshire Cat*

        Unless you’re someone with low vision (or at least some types of it). My mother literally cannot see a period when it’s followed with only one space, especially with a sans serif font. The capital letter beginning the next sentence isn’t a clue for her, especially if it’s a word like “I” that’s always capitalized.

        This could be related to the special software on her computer that bolds all text, now that I think about it, but it’s still an issue for her.

    17. SometimesMaybe*

      I think I should mention because it was not clear from my original post, the document the intern was reviewing was not mine, it came from an executive above me. I have no plans on changing her style, I was just curios how much of a deal this is. I do double space out of habit, but because of the fonts and alignments I use it is not noticeable. As I have mentioned I do not have a preference, except for the extra attention I would need to give my documents. Thank you to everyone again.

    18. fhqwhgads*

      I think the crux of the issue is if you’re going to have a college intern do proofreading, it’s best to give them the job’s internal style guide. If one doesn’t exist, it’s not surprising that the intern will fall on their internal definition of “correct” for any given thing that might not have a One True Definition Of Correct. Any the intern’s idea of “correct” will not necessarily align with what the employer considers to be “correct”. So this exercise could potentially frustrate both sides.
      If your question is more personal: are you “wrong” for using two spaces, I’d say no, this is a thing that’s dependent on the style guide of who you’re creating the document for. However, in my experience, if coming at it from a standpoint of making an internal styleguide – lacking an existing industry standard – double tends to read as outdated, given its origins with typewriters.

    19. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      It’s definitely out of step with current practice, but I agree with others that there’s a lot of work for which being in step with current best written comms practice simply does not matter. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

      That being said, if you or your double-spacing colleagues could ever see yourself working at another org you might consider how likely it will be in your industry to have organizational style guides.

      I’m in government and part of our plain language practice is consistent style, including single spacing between sentences.

      TL;DR It’s unlikely to matter to your org, but it may impact some of you individually at different orgs.

    20. Unkempt Flatware*

      If I were supervising the intern, I’d tell her not to waste time on it and explain what you’ve just explained here. If she’s causing work to be redone (like someone has to now go unmark all the double spaces), I’d especially say something. But if she’s like any intern I have had or was myself, she likely has all the time in the world to correct double spaces. If it isn’t causing delays or backups, I wouldn’t worry.

    21. theletter*

      It’s not a huge deal, but as a single space person (also in my 40’s), getting dinged for single spaces makes me ::FLAMES! FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF MY HEAD:: and sometimes I call out double spaces just to make it clear what I believe. I try to get the upperhand in the grammar decisions hierarchy, essentially, so that my work doesn’t get rejected for something I believe is outdated.

      What might make it easier for everyone is some sort of autocorrect that will let you double-space at will and fix it as you go, or vice-versa for anyone who didn’t learn that rule as a student.

      I put this out there not because it’s a grammatical problem, but because it’s a work issue for the new intern – if she’s proofreading for document consistently, she’ll have to switch modes for each document, which adds more time to her work. Why not just pick a rule and set up an autocorrect for anyone who needs it? And if you can put it to a vote and decide the office style is two spaces, the intern will just have to adjust.

    22. Donkey Hotey*

      Yes, single space is the standard. Yes, it’s “picking fly-poop out of pepper” to ding someone for it, so long as it’s consistent within the document and there is no over arching style guide.

      I’m 52 and yes, I learned double space back in the day. I am now a tech writer by trade and it’s easier for me to do a find-and-replace to turn two spaces into one than it is for me to retrain my right thumb.

    23. RagingADHD*

      Single spaces are correct. That is standard across all forms of publishing, online and off, and has been so for a very long time. I am over 50 and learned this in the late 1990’s when I moved to a job with a strict in-house style guide. The people who had trouble with it were over 40 *back then.*

      Whether or not it’s “a big deal” to your company is up to you. How much does consistency and looking like a 21st century company matter?

      You will wind up typing much faster than you realize if you don’t have to doublespace every sentence. That’s a lot of keystrokes. In the meantime, you can set your autocorrect to fix it for you as you type, and then you don’t have to worry about it.

    24. Invisible fish*

      Not an answer, really, but … I teach public school in the US, where students don’t learn to type and only ever text. Getting actual end punctuation, followed by even one space (thus making it easier to read), sounds glorious. Two spaces might bring tears to my eyes.

    25. Too Many Tabs Open*

      I am a middle-aged person who originally learned double-space and later retrained myself to single-space when the standard in my industry changed. If this were my intern and she flagged every single instance, I would be concerned that she missed more substantative errors while focusing on double spaces. I’d tell her to instead make a note at the beginning of the document that all double spaces after periods should be changed to single space rather than flagging every instance; this situation is why the Great Editor In The Sky created search-and-replace.

  23. New grad*

    Am I wrong to feel hurt by this hiring process?

    Hey all — this is basically a rant, but I could use some support. I’m a recent college grad who applied for an entry-level job with a different team at my former employer and got a form rejection email after submitting a one-way interview. When I reached out to my former manager (just to get feedback and improve), he told me that while he’d endorsed my application, the hiring team told him that my interview answers were too short and there was a very competitive application pool (several hundred people).

    To be clear: I totally understand that there were better applicants and that I was never guaranteed to get the role, but I can’t help but feel demoralized by the application process itself. This was my first time submitting a one-way video interview and it felt so awkward, and the feedback (while appreciated and undoubtedly useful!) made me feel like I’m so bad at interviewing that all the hard work I did at my internship doesn’t count.

    And I really thought I’d at least get a personal rejection note, not a form email — couldn’t anyone have reached out to say something like “sorry it didn’t work out this time, but thanks so much for your work last time, and best of luck”?

    I know I probably sound entitled but I’m just tired of job searching. I’m sure I’ll get over it in a few days (and who knows, maybe the position would have been a bad fit), but right now I would really appreciate if anyone shared advice or words of commiseration.

    1. Rick Tq*

      You got feedback on how to improve. That’s better than a flat Not moving forward or complete silence. The only way to improve your interviewing performance is to get feedback and then act on it.

      You are only a failure at interviewing if you give up after one rejection.

    2. not a hippo*

      You’re in your feelings and that’s ok! Rejection sucks.

      But you got honest feedback which is extremely rare. Even a canned rejection notice is rare, normally you’d probably just get ghosted.

      You’re only a failure if you give up entirely.

    3. Ama*

      Personally, I think one-way video interviews are a terrible way to hire for a lot of reasons so maybe you can just tell yourself that the entire process was flawed from the beginning.

      I would focus less on the “your answers were too short” piece of this (that sounds like they just kind of felt like they had to tell your old manager something constructive) and more on the “there was a really competitive applicant pool” piece. If they received lots of strong applications probably there were some people in there who had more experience than they would have expected for an entry-level position so your prior internship counted for less than it might have if the pool was smaller and less competitive.

      Also if it is a different team at your former employer I would not expect too much of a personal touch — your old manager wasn’t directly involved in the hiring process it sounds like, and if they really received a ton of applications the hiring team is probably pretty overwhelmed with just handling them.

    4. ferrina*

      Yeah, it sucks. Job searching suuuuuuucks. And one-way video interviews suck. I’m fabulous at phone interview, in-person interviews and virtual interviews, but I CANNOT do one-way video interviews.

      Unfortunately, becoming jaded with the job search is pretty normal and practically a rite of passage. You are not the first and you will not be the last. Being a new grad and getting that first job can be really tough. Job searching usually gets easier when you have more work experience, and it definitely is easier when you already have a decent position and you’re just looking for something new and get to be picky. I promise, you will be in that position someday and it will feel much better than it does now.

      Good luck on your job search, and I hope you find a good position soon!

    5. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      That’s disappointing, I’m sorry. Your feelings are valid, but it’s not helpful to frame it in terms of “they hurt me”. This is not an emotional thing for them at all, and you’ll do better in your job search if you try to keep it that way for you as well.

      You had expectations based on your internship, you thought you had a leg up, but it turns out you didn’t. That’s totally understandable, but nobody hurt you by treating you like all the other applicants. And now you’re extrapolating that into “all my hard work didn’t count.” It counted for your internship, which is where it mattered.

      Stop yourself from drawing further conclusions. Your former manager didn’t say “you suck so bad I will never be a reference, why didn’t I tell you this before?” You applied, you weren’t picked, that’s a let down, but it doesn’t say anything about you as a person or the work you did.

      Be annoyed and upset for a few days, then move on. Good luck!

    6. ecnaseener*

      The form rejection letter is very normal, especially since it wasn’t your former manager sending it. He’s not on the hiring team, he probably didn’t know you were rejected until you told him. So I’d try to let that part of it go.

      But yeah, one-way interviews are not very respectful to candidates. You’re right to be put off by that. But it’s not personal.

    7. theletter*

      Rejections are terrible, but you never really know what you’re actually missing out on when you get rejected for a job. For all we know, the team could be full of angry bees.

      Take the feedback you got and if it still bothers you, just think of the bees.

  24. Diversity stats*

    I’m getting tired of completing all the diversity questions with job applications. I know it takes seconds…but am really tired of numerous completing job applications when I know a lot probably won’t even be viewed by HR.
    So a question for hiring departments….how are these stats used? Does anyone care how many “diverse’ applications there are? Or do most applicants not even complete these?

    1. Miss Manager*

      Many companies track diversity stats among applicants, and some companies require certain a certain number of diversity candidates to be interviewed before making an offer (don’t get me started on this process, it sucks for many reasons but I understand the intent behind it).

    2. former academic*

      I only know this in the context of higher ed, but for us there was a step in which HR had to “qualify the pool” before we could begin review– they’d screen for a match to required qualifications and then look at the aggregate demographics of the pool to ensure it was acceptably large and diverse. If not, then we had to reopen advertising.

    3. EMP*

      IIRC some states requires companies over a certain size (and/or state/federal agencies) to track this. It’s usually kept separate from the actual application and used to generate aggregate reports.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Public sector UK has this too. It’s to ensure the situation is tracked as much as possible. None of the demographic details are transmitted beyond the recruiting team, but it’s actually designed to make sure they’re advertising in the right places, bringing in a diverse cohort and so on.

        For some people (disability included), if you fit the hard skill qualifications you’ll automatically be interviewed, which ensures a lack of finesse when writing a personal statement (which are fairly extensive for the NHS application form — they recently changed to focus more on specific parts of the job description, but even when I was applying this time last year they still expected a 1500 word essay on why you’d be the right person for the job) is overlooked. (It also helps when you’re like me and get lost in the details due, again, to neurodivergence.)

        For this and a few other reasons I actually differ on the reasonability of things like pre-interview tasks and so on. It helps me show how well I can do things and provides another avenue to shine as well as in the interview. I think the guarantee of an interview is a balancing act between leaving us to sink or swim and thus inevitably sinking or providing some kind of affirmative action that helps our voices get into the mix.

    4. A Poster Has No Name*

      This could also be used to find mismatches between applicant pools and hiring practices (We all know this happens on the regular, but at least this can give companies that care data to refute claims that, say, a manager only hires straight white guys because those are the only people who apply.)

    5. ferrina*

      We use it to track how well we are doing in recruiting a diversity of candidates and how well we are doing at hiring a diversity of candidates. Our company has a history of favoring white men (usually from upper or middle-upper class backgrounds), and while we have been slowly improving, we want to improve faster. Our HR team actually has KPIs tied to these stats.

      Note- these are only looked at in aggregate, never on an individual level. My company also tends to be really ethical about these things.

    6. Justin*

      They’re used in aggregate to track demographics. Some companies care for the sake of state laws, and some actually care. Doesn’t seem like you do, though, so, sure, skip.

    7. Tio*

      I was just talking about this to someone. In my company, those stats aren’t sent over to the hiring managers at all, so we interview based on the resumes we like. However, I believe HR may be tracking them. I’ve never been made aware of what if any specific goals they’re trying to make or how they make them though.

    8. TX_Trucker*

      If you are in the USA , some companies are required by law to ask that data of applicants. My company is a federal subcontractor and covered by OFCCP, so we ask and report on our EEO figures for applicants. I believe every company with more than 100 employees has to report EEO data for existing employees, but not everyone is required to report data for for applicants. Some companies “care” about the diversity of the applications. Some only care about complying with the law. As a hiring manager, I never see those stats. But our HR team compiles them. If we are doing paid advertising for job recruitment (rare for us), our HR team will recommend that we advertise in “X” to help us reach a target audience of “A” which have been historically under-represented in our applicant pool.

    9. SnappinTerrapin*

      Is there a “Prefer Not to Answer” option? That’s a quick way to get through it.

  25. Chocolate Teapot*

    I recently met up with a former co-worker, who I think likes to complain to me about how things currently are at my old job. I try and be neutral, although some of the things they complain are exactly the reasons why I left!

    We talked about employees we knew and suddenly they announced that somebody I used to work quite closely with and with I got on well “…didn’t like you. They hated it when you bombarded them with emails”.

    Now the nature of the work was that people needed to be kept informed and I specifically agreed with the bombardee the level of communication I would have with them, so it was a surprise to be told this.

    Since I am no longer working there it seems bizarre to be told this now, and I am wondering if former co-worker is up to something. Has anyone else dealt with something like this?

    1. Rick Tq*

      If you didn’t have a relationship with them outside work before you left why keep meeting with them at all? It sound like this person just likes to complain and stir up trouble.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Well I think I will go for the “fizzle out” approach. Our paths may cross in future since we are both part of the same professional association but I usually find work relationships naturally come to an end when employment finishes.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      I haven’t dealt with anything like this but I would definitely be suspicious of the person who told you, especially if it seems to contradict what you knew of the coworker they were talking about and the relationship you had.

      Even if it was true, it seems like a weird thing to tell you; what purpose does it have except potentially upsetting you? And it also seems like a weird jump on the part of the coworker who is telling you. Even if somebody did complain about your “bombarding them with e-mails,” I wouldn’t take that to mean they didn’t like you. It would be a really weird thing to decide to dislike a person for.

      So I’d be inclined to wonder if either that person simply made some throwaway comment like “I’m getting a lot less e-mails now that Chocolate Teapot isn’t here” and the coworker jumped to conclusions or deliberately exaggerated it for reasons of their own or they are making the whole thing up. My mother says that when she was a young adult, her mother used to attribute any criticisms to “Mrs. Murphy next door,” like “Mrs. Murphy next door said that she saw you on your way to work yesterday and what you were wearing wasn’t at all suitable” or “Mrs. Murphy said your new hairstyle doesn’t suit you at all” when Mrs. Murphy hadn’t actually said anything of the sort. My grandmother just wanted to attribute her criticisms to somebody else so they would look more “neutral” and not like a mother being fussy. It’s possible your ex-coworker wants to criticise you but remain “blameless” so she is attributing it to somebody else. Or that she dislikes the other coworker or was jealous of your friendship, so she is trying to stir things.

      I can’t imagine any good reason for telling you something so minor. If the other coworker was starting rumours about you or saying something really horrible about you or making fun of your personal appearance or something, I could see her feeling you should know, but telling you she doesn’t like you because she thought you sent too many e-mails? Even if that is true, a) it seems like a jump to assume that means she doesn’t like you, especially since it sounds like it’s not even something you had control over and b) it doesn’t seem like something you would need to know.

      1. ecnaseener*

        That’s what I was thinking too — some good-natured grumbling about how many emails they have to deal with (with an understanding that it’s just the nature of the work and no ill-will toward CT) being exaggerated for dramatic effect.

    3. ferrina*

      Why are you neutral with them? And echoing Rick Tq, why are you meeting with them?

      I occasionally meet up with friends from OldJob. When they complain about OldJob, I usually laugh and say “Ah, so they haven’t changed then.” If I was told So-And-So hated me, I would probably shrug and say, “Pity. I really liked them! And kudos to them for being professional enough to be friendly to me! I’m impressed.”
      You don’t know if So-And-So actually hated you- that could be a miscommunication, or it could be someone spreading drama, or any number of weird things. Until So-And-So actually tells you that they hate you, take it with a grain of salt.

      I’m also side-eyeing the person you are meeting with. What on earth did they think would be the benefit of telling you this?

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      They are not “up to something,” it’s just idle chit chat, it seems. Sometimes people here or online say stuff is out of your control and I disagree, but I’d say this is indeed out of your control.

      Two companies ago, I only was supposed to contact some people in HQ when there was a problem in the sense that I needed to or was asked to provide regular updates or general positive updates just for the sake of doing an update, and when I tried, I got “why are you calling me for no reason” vibes.

      Well then I found out I have a reputation there as someone who complained and stirred up problems. OK? The industry was changing a lot and I had a huge backlog of customer and vendor complaints that I needed help with as well as a few legal things I was not allowed to respond to alone. So was I supposed to not escalate them, so I had the appearance of being more “positive.” I was so depressed when I found out that working on the most complicated and high maintenance accounts actually made people internally not like me because they associated me with the complaints and drama of it all. For example, there was a regulatory audit that uncovered a few mistakes another employee did. But since I was managing the response project (it turned into a longer-term project) the negativity of it all got tied to me. When in reality I should have gotten kudos for volunteering to deal with the mess

    5. Trotwood*

      It sounds like you know that this person creates drama? If you think you had a good relationship with the other former co-worker, you probably don’t need to agonize about it.

    6. Elevator Elevator*

      It’s been about three years since I left a company where I socialized with my coworkers a lot, and I still see a lot of them regularly. I’m also…I don’t know, let’s call me an acquired taste. Basically, I’m no stranger to chatting with a former coworker and getting hit with “so and so didn’t like you.” I’m generally pretty self aware about how others perceive me, so often it’s not a huge surprise (even when I was there, it was everyone else’s favorite running joke how much my manager hated me), but occasionally I’ll really be blindsided or hurt and have to think about it. Sometimes I conclude that it’s not true, or that if it is, the issue wasn’t with me.

      I wouldn’t assume they’re up to something, unless Meetup Coworker has a history of that kind of thing. The most likely explanation is something’s getting lost/exaggerated in translation – Emails Coworker made some kind of comment about how many emails you had to send them, but in their mind if it was a complaint it was a complaint about the nature of the work, as you put it. And Meetup Coworker, without the context of that level of communication having been a mutual decision, interpreted that as a complaint about you.

      People just say these things sometimes (especially in the context of a conversation about Old Workplace that sounds like it’s already pretty negative/gossipy) and they don’t think about how it’ll be received. People don’t always have the insight or understanding that they think they do – and that goes not just for Meetup Coworker’s assumptions about how Emails Coworker felt about you, but also for how Meetup Coworker thought you’d feel about hearing it. They probably just tossed it in as a piece of gossip and didn’t think too much about it.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Thanks everyone for your input. After they had told me about how bombardee didn’t like me, Meetup Co-Worker said something along the lines of “I thought you ought to know”. Erm why? I don’t expect to be working with bombardee any time in the near future.

        And in answer to why I am meeting up with them, I don’t have many friends and thought they seemed worth developing a friendship with.

        1. Straight Laced Sue*

          Perfectly reasonable reason to trial a friendship with someone!

          Meetup Coworker told you something completely unusable, and also hurtful, so we have to assume she’s either a) a sh*t-stirrer or b) thoughtless and not very good at reading social situations. EITHER way, there’s tons of scope there for her being wrong about how Bombardee views you.

          Sorry this happened to you! Ugh, some silly people!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        “You know what I don’t like? Being told three years after the fact when that information has no value but is incredibly hurtful.”

        I mean, unless by “acquired taste” you mean you routinely punched people or something, I truly don’t understand why on earth anyone would say this. There is absolutely no value in it except that of hurting your feelings.

        I guess if you were going on and on about a tremendous crush you had on so and so and were finally going to ask them out, or you’d heard X was in charge of a new division and were planning on quitting your current job and applying to them directly, or something along those lines? Where knowing that might be painful but very important before making a decision?

        But otherwise, OMFG, keep that stuff to your damn self, ex coworker! If I wanted Mean Junior High energy in my life I’d watch Slam Book or something.

    7. NDevee*

      If you don’t like meeting up with them, I would just become more and more unavailable over time until you no longer meet up with them.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I think this person is drama seeking and you should take anything they say with a massive grain of salt.

    9. linger*

      Extreme best case scenario, Former Co-worker (knowing you had reasons for leaving) might be telling you what she thinks you want to hear, and so is casting other former coworkers in the most negative light possible.
      But whatever motives might underlie her account, it is highly unreliable, and, even if it might be based on a kernel of truth (e.g. if Mentioned Ex-colleague was once heard to complain about the volume of email necessitated by your former role), it is not at all anything you should act on.

  26. Weekly Commiseration*

    Hi fellow job-searchers….how’s it going? Any annoyances? I’d say when you get a rejection email six months after applying and you’ve already forgotten about it and moved on….only to get some salt in the wound.

    1. MissGirl*

      One company I applied to but never heard back has been flooding my internet with ads. I’m assuming visiting their website triggered Google ads. Now every time I watch a YouTube video to have a laugh, I get a reminder of the company who didn’t want me. Fun times.

    2. Generic Name*

      I got an auto rejection for a job I was asked to apply to, and yet another job I was asked to submit an application hasn’t contacted me at all. I did interview for the first one, and I got the sense in the interview they needed help with A but I’m an expert at B, so wasn’t surprised by the rejection. I have a preliminary interview next week, and I’m submitting an application for a requisition that was created specifically for me, so it’s not completely hopeless. :)

    3. NDevee*

      Oh so many annoyances. One place forgot to send me a rejection email. I reached out to the recruiter who let me know I hadn’t been selected. I also hate when the person interviewing you hasn’t bothered to look at the notes from the first person who actually interviewed you and fixates on something you’ve just addressed. The pain of trying to break into a new industry is constant!

    4. GythaOgden*

      My public sector org keeps teasing me with an enhanced admin role (training me up to eventually going FT while in my current PT position on reception, while allaying my supervisor’s fear of losing my ability to cover the job by keeping me on the front desk as much as possible until they get funding for the FT position) but they currently operate on geological time. It being the middle of the summer, I don’t expect to see much action until September, but the current timeline is 6-9 months until I get my ‘wings’, so let’s see what happens. No-one else was biting anyway (all the issues seem to be that either I don’t have enough admin experience or I don’t haveso I’ve got nothing to lose by waiting.

      The bonus to this would be still working closely with people who I’ve worked with for coming up to ten years and who I know are genuinely nice people and who have been incredibly supportive. My co-receptionist and supervisor may be relatively apathetic and have different goals to what I have, and that accounts for some of the friction between us at the moment work-wise — my supervisor squashed a plan to have me cover some administrative duties for a nearby team struggling because it would interfere with my current role. (Which is driving me crazy with the very little actual stuff to do.) But beyond that, I can see that it’s not malicious — she has a very stubborn streak in her (think Rosie the Riveter meets Volodymyr Zelensky) and she’s not likely to stand in the way of an actual reorganization led from above. She just wasn’t sure about someone sending me ad-hoc work, particularly when we don’t actually have a working printer to be doing it on.

      The wheels turn slow, but tbh you don’t really expect much else from the public sector. (The one objection I had to Jeremy Corbyn’s promise of free broadband to every household was that right now internet providers take ages to come out… government-run connectivity would be much worse.) I can work with people who can overcome my supervisor’s resistance and in the mean time I have a job of sorts. NGL, not a bad position to be in at all.

  27. Cruciatus*

    Please tell me I’m not a complete idiot for giving up a job with 18 days vacation to go somewhere else with only 12 (to start), but is going to pay me $10K more than I make now, will have a pension, 2 WFH days a week, paid volunteer time, charity matching, and professional growth possibilities. I expect to hear back soon (my references were checked, my drug test completed). I can’t stop thinking about those 6 days even though every other aspect is going to be better. (And yes, I did ask if they would go up but due to my job level it was “non-negotiable”). This is not a high level position there.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      When do vacation weeks go up? I know people complain about Europeans tend to have more vacation weeks, but between 12 or so 3-day weekends and my company adding a few days ad hoc (like July 3rd this year) and days off around Christmas and New Years and Easter, I probably will only use two weeks this year. Its definitely liveable for a year or two unless you have kids with busy schedules or do 11 hour days or something

    2. LemonToast*

      I think it was a good move. Definitely better to have more money, and a pension is a great thing to have, even if you don’t stay until retirement – once you get vested in it, it’s guaranteed income. I have a pension with my work, but I also have additional retirement accounts, so I recommend continuing to contribute to those, just in case you decide to leave this job at a later time.

      Growth opportunities are great as well. Those can turn into more money later on down the road, and sometimes better benefits, which can include more vacation time. Those opportunities can also put you in a better spot to get different job later on and be able to negotiate for vacation, amongst other things.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Well… how many company holidays will you have? Are there summer Fridays? Shutdowns during the last week of the year? Personal days? Opportunities for flexibility? I don’t think you’re a complete idiot– it’s a calculated decision.

    4. not a hippo*

      It sounds like you have the opportunity to earn more than 18 days, so I think it’s the right choice.

      Plus all those benefits sound amazing!

    5. Rick Tq*

      A pay rise and a pension will be LOT more valuable in the future than 6 days off now. From my view staying where you are would be the mistake.

      Good luck at your new job.

    6. Alex*

      That is a very ungenerous amount of time. Does it get better if you stay longer?

      That said, those other bennies are pretty swell. Turn it around–would you leave a job for one with six more days of vacation but take a pay cut of 10k, lose your pension, have fewer growth opportunities, and have to go in 5 days a week?

    7. Anonymous 75*

      If it was me those 6 days wouldn’t even be on my radar. pension, higher salary and charity matching??? Too me that’s WAY more valuable than 6 days.

    8. CommanderBanana*

      You’re not. I’d definitely pass up a week’s vacation for the perks you mention.

      I do tend to have a lot of “buyer’s remorse” when switching jobs, even when it’s a demonstrably good decision, which I’ve learned is just part of settling into a new place. I’ve learned not to give too much weight to those feelings. You may be fixating on the vacation time when it’s really more about moving to something new and unfamiliar.

    9. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      More money, and a pension based on that higher salary, is valuable.

    10. Random Academic Cog*

      Unless you’re making over $200/hr (which is how 10k translates against 6 8-hour days), just take extra days as leave without pay if you need them and you’ll still be better off.

    11. Snax*

      You’re not an idiot, you have to weigh out all the pay and benefits that come with the job and decide whether it’s worth it. But I guess I differ from many of the replies you’ve gotten…12 days is stingy and would probably be a dealbreaker for me regardless of how much money they were throwing at me unless I was unemployed and desperate. I feel like 15 days is my minimum, and sick leave and holidays better be separate from that.

    12. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I think it partially depends on how you you use your vacation now. For example, in my case, if the paid volunteer time gets to be at a time and place of my choosing rather than the company’s, those days would simply replace things I currently use personal days for. Also, if the WFH is allowed to be “work from wherever” rather than “work from your specific home” that can add some flex to vacation planning as well depending on how the company does things.

      On the other hand, if you really value time off, it’s ok to value that more than other things and keep the lower paying job! I chose a lower-paying career over a higher-paying one because I never, ever wanted to be on call. It was the right decision for me, but someone else would see the constant interruptions as fair for the extra money. Money isn’t everything, although it does buy a lot more options.

    13. Not A Manager*

      What’s their policy on unpaid leave? You could use some of that extra money to “buy” a bit more vacation time if you need it.

    14. Shandra*

      I’m single, childless and closer to retirement, so this decision was different for me.

      Long story short, my current job pays more, is way less complex, and more PTO at my previous job was no longer making me happy. Whether out for a day or a week, every time I came back I just hated the place more.

      It’s already one year down, two to go till I get an additional week of PTO. I can manage. I’d also realized from the start this was a compromise i’d likely have to make.

      1. Shandra*

        I should add that I’m in a financial position to take LWOP, if I really wanted to do something requiring more time.

    15. Rekha3.14*

      A week is about 2% of your salary, so is the 10k jump at least that much (based on old salary)? I’m going to presume so, or I don’t think we’d be talking about the differences in days or a 10k difference. So even if you have to take few days unpaid (if it happens), you’re ahead.

  28. happytobehere*

    I have an employee who I am really struggling with. She’s not necessarily doing anything wrong in her role but every interaction I have with her is like nails on a chalkboard to me. She is young and has not had a lot of support growing up so I am aware that she’s never really had a “role model” to show her the ropes but I’m getting frustrated that I’m having to hold her hand through basic tasks. Little things like her running down the hall to tell me something (that’s not even important and I didn’t need to know in the first place), saying she never got an email but when I have her bring her laptop and filter through her unread emails, it’s sitting right there (this is the second time I’ve had to do this for her), not getting me information by the time I’ve requested it even after I’ve sent her calendar invites for it, and the way she talks is unprofessional. I ask her to send me testimonials for our clients to send to our Board of Directors and it’s honestly like she puts in zero effort. “The family signed up for services and they were really excited. I got them connected to another community resource” The last thing she did was told me (not asked) that she was going to be taking Friday off and that she decided she was going to work four 10’s so she could spend time with her family. The only reason she decided to tell me was because I sent an email to our team asking them to be in the office on Friday since we are having a site audit for one of our other programs and our ED wanted all staff in the office to show support. So she was never even going to inform me unless I’d said something. These are just little examples, but I DREAD every time I have to talk to her. She just does not get professional norms and this has been going on for 8 months. I meet with her bi-weekly and we go over ways to improve but I’m really not seeing any improvement .She’s just not getting it but overall she’s not actually doing anything against company policy (except the taking the day off without notifying me, I am addressing that) WHAT DO I DO? I’m losing my mind

    1. Roscoe da Cat*

      Are you being very specific? For example, “Changing your schedule can only be done with my permission. The company has requirements on staffing at your position so you can’t make that decision on your own. I will try and accommodate you but this is not something you can decide yourself at pretty much any job.”

      She would probably work better with clear concrete examples like that and then the last line is about appropriate office norms. Also, is there someone else who can informally mentoring her so that you aren’t solely responsible? That would let you pull back on the amount of time you are spending with her.

      But if she is taking up too much of your time, this may be a bad fit and you will have to let her go.

    2. Rick Tq*

      Put her on a formal PIP with measurable performance goals and start interviewing for her replacement when she is fired in 30 days. I’d also tell her every time she doesn’t come in on a scheduled Friday that is a no-call/no-show strike.

      For your sanity you should probably start the paperwork to release her now. She hasn’t shown any interest in meeting your performance standards.

    3. CommanderBanana*

      It sounds like this is a combination of reaching Betch Eating Crackers stage with this person and with her genuinely not making progress the way you’re expecting, which, trust me, I have been there with direct reports before.

      If you can try to separate how you feel about her from what she’s actually doing, that will help. I got to a place with a former coworker where everything she did irritated me, and I had to stop and ask myself if someone else were doing the same thing, would I be having the same reaction?

      If you are going over these issues with her with actionable changes and you’re not seeing improvement, it’s probably time to start documenting towards a PIP. Deciding to change her work schedule on her own is a big overstep and definitely one you can have a conversation about.

    4. Ama*

      So I think I would ask how much initial instruction she has been given at this point. When you asked her to start collecting client testimonials, did you show her examples of what you want and give her some pointers on how to collect that? Was she told how PTO requests are supposed to work or was she just given an employee handbook? Is there a way you could get her some extra training on how to use your office email client (since it sounds like she really doesn’t understand how it works)?

      Now I have definitely had a direct report for whom the answer to all of those was “she has been given instruction multiple times and she still can’t do it” and I came in fully ready to have a “I need to see improvement in these areas or this isn’t going to work out” (as it happened she quit on her own that morning, I think she could see which way the wind was blowing).

      But I’ve also had direct reports who were just inexperienced at 9 to 5 office norms and technology and it required me to be a little more conscious of when I might be introducing something that they might not really understand (for example I had to explain to one of them that flex hours in our office didn’t mean “you can work whatever hours you want any day and change your arrival time constantly” it meant “you can decide what 8 hours you want to work and then you will stick to that schedule on a day to day basis”). Or for the technology piece, I had to have one of my reports take some extra training classes on Microsoft Office because she’d only ever worked on a Mac. Or I had a report who had difficulty remembering processes and was absolutely shocked when I told her it was okay to spend part of her time making checklists or other reference sheets that would help her remember what she needed to do each time (and that that was what I did myself).

      It can be really frustrating if you are the kind of person who mostly learns by observing (as I am), but some people really do need to be told everything.

    5. Dragonfly7*

      I agree with being explicit with your expectations, and even put them in writing for her to refer back to in case she forgets. What counts as professional norms in one workplace doesn’t necessarily automatically transfer to another, or even from position to position in the same workplace if there are employees who get flexibility that others don’t.

    6. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

      Is her work fine, she is just immature and unprofessional? This lady sounds like she is crying out for a mentor. Is there someone in your office you can tap for this role? Can you encourage her to tap into her alma mater’s alumni resources? At eight months, I think she is not going to “get it” on her own, but she could be very coachable.

    7. Irish Teacher*

      Have you actually told her this stuff? Like given her clear examples of what is worth coming to tell you and what she has authority to deal with on her own and does not need to consult you about. Or given her clear examples of what you want from a testimonial.

      It sounds like you have but some people do need clearer instructions than most for all kinds of reasons and professional norms are probably so obvious to you that it’s possible there might be stuff you are assuming she understands when she doesn’t.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        The biweekly meetings might be backfiring in that the employee might be thinking of them as “here’s where I get instructions to do XYZ” when instead the LW is thinking “Oh, God, I’ve got to go over XYZ AGAIN with her.”

        Like you say, she needs to be clear not only what and how to do specific things, but also that these meetings aren’t supposed to be a regular hand-hold through her duties where everything gets “fixed.”

    8. NDevee*

      When I had my first internship out of college, I was similarly unaware of social norms. My supervisor at my internship was very unkind. The irony of the whole situation was that I was an undiagnosed autistic volunteering at a pediatric clinic where at least 40% of their patients were autistic children. I would try to approach things as kindly as possible and just communicate honestly. I dreaded going to that place and was often in tears on the drive home. Keep in mind some people’s minds just work differently.

    9. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      What kind of onboarding/employee handbook/documentation was this employee given? I feel like if procedures and policies (especially about attendance) aren’t spelled out explicitly somewhere, that’s a failure on the part of the business, not the employee. The email thing is interesting. I don’t know what “not having a lot of support” means in her case, but if it means she didn’t have much access to computers/email growing up, it could be that some intensive, basic skills training in little things that seem obvious to you like filtering and how to use calendar invites could go a long way towards helping her. I’m sure there are tutorials you could direct her to so you don’t have to do it yourself.

    10. juneybug*

      This sounds frustrating.

      I think you can go either way –
      1. Mentor her by sitting her down and explain how professional norms work. Explain that everyone has to learn these to be successful. Suggest she reads for 30 minutes daily about professional norms on work time.

      Suggested books –
      The Exceptional Professional: What You Need to Know to Grow Your Career by C. Gould.
      Unspoken Social Rules & Etiquette, (Un)common Sense, & How to Act by P. King.
      Great at Work: The Hidden Habits of Top Performers by M. Hansen.
      What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How successful people become even more successful by M. Goldsmith.

      2. Or go the route to get her out the door with PIP.

      I don’t think anyone will judge you either way.

    11. Shandra*

      It’s entirely possible she’s simply wrong for the job. I’ve seen my share of people who can deal only with exactly what they’re told, and I mean exactly. People like that can’t be in positions that require any degree of exercising judgment.

  29. WednesdayEveryDay*

    How does one “prepare for a meeting?” I keep getting feedback from managers, coworkers, even vendors, that I am unprepared for meetings. I don’t disagree! I go into meetings and everyone else has notes, reports, presentations. I feel like I missed some sort of training on ‘how to prepare for a meeting’ that everyone else attended. Can someone please give me step-by-step directions on this? I know this is a ridiculous question but I always either prepare the wrong thing, or think I am prepared only to find out that I am underprepared once again.

    Basically, the feedback I get is that I walk into a meeting, listen attentively, but do not contribute or seem to do anything after the meeting until the next meeting comes up, when it is clear I haven’t really done any follow-up. I think I am a very literal task-oriented person so unless I have been given a specific assignment I really don’t understand what it is I am supposed to be doing.

    How much time to you spend preparing for meetings? How do you know what you are supposed to prepare/focus on? When do you start preparing? What do you do after a meeting?

    I am sorry if this is a ridiculous question, but I am flailing here. Can someone please clue me in on the secrets of what a meeting is supposed to be?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think I am a very literal task-oriented person so unless I have been given a specific assignment I really don’t understand what it is I am supposed to be doing.

      Honestly, it seems as if maybe you have the wrong job? Unless these meetings are only a tiny sliver of what you do.

      It sounds as if they want someone more proactive instead of task-oriented. There’s nothing wrong with being task-oriented. A lot of task-oriented people I know are some of the hardest-working and most efficient workers I know. But if a major (again, I don’t know if it’s major or minor) part of your job involves you being more proactive, that may just be not part of your personality.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I don’t agree with this. OP seems fine doing this, just needs a how-to.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      What do these meetings look like? Do you get an agenda in advance? If not, I’d ask the meeting organizers if they could prepare one as a first step.

      At the start of the week, I look at my calendar to get a sense of what’s next and what meetings/projects are coming up. Most meetings, I prepare only a day or so in advance, unless I know it’s a big and fast-approaching project. My preparation generally involves reviewing any notes from the last meeting (my own or official meeting minutes), reading any relevant documents or emails, researching ideas to help solve whatever problem the meeting is about, and brainstorming some potential questions. I might also email the meeting organizer to ask about specific things we’re going to discuss that I need to be prepared for.

      When I’m leading a meeting, I always create an agenda. I also try to make sure we end with “action items” so that everyone is clear what the next steps are and who needs to be doing what. Are you able to ask clarifying questions about your action items at the end of meetings?

    3. EMP*

      Some ideas:
      – review the agenda before the meeting. See if you have questions or comments about it.
      — if there is no agenda, review notes from the last meeting on this topic and see if there are questions that should have been answered by now that weren’t, or new issues/questions that have come up. Note these to bring up in the meeting.
      – speaking of which – take notes during the meeting. Might just be a bullet point or two of what comes up that is particularly relevant to your work. “VIP visit Friday” or “report due 8/1” or whatever.
      – If you are struggling to figure out what to do after the meeting, see if you can get your managers support on this. Personally I would hope they’re open to you stating the problem and asking for support (example script: “I know we’ve talked about my lack of preparedness for meetings. I’m working on fixing this and one thing that would help is going over my go-dos after meetings, is that something we can review [once a week/after This Important Meeting/a few times until I get the hang of it]?”)

      Hope that helps! I am in a very meeting-light job but I still spend about 5 minutes before and after every meeting I have making sure I know what the meeting’s about, what I need to learn/share, and then after, if there’s anything I need to do before the next meeting.

      1. WednesdayEveryDay*

        Super-helpful! Thank you. I am literally writing a set of meeting prep instructions for myself right now.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          Way to go! You’ll have this down as routine before you know it. I find that I learn so much more when I volunteer to write standard policies and procedures. Is there a cheat sheet for how to submit reports, for example? Write up a quick step by step for yourself if not. These sorts of things make you look like a rock star to bosses. I walk in to each meeting with at least one page of notes I made from the last meeting or from the quick research I did on the topic before the meeting.

    4. londonedit*

      I mean…it is slightly odd that you’re clearly expected to attend these meetings, and you’re clearly being expected to prepare, contribute and follow up, but no one has explained to you how this is all supposed to work. I would expect that if your job is one where you’ll have things to prepare before a meeting, something to contribute in the meeting, and then things to do as a result of the meeting, you’ll be aware of those things at some point! Are there meeting minutes? Do these make it clear that someone in your role is supposed to be following up on X, Y and Z before the next meeting? Do people ask you to follow up on things in the meeting? I find it odd that everyone else comes along with notes and presentations, but you’re not aware of anything that you need to do. Is there someone you can ask about this, because it isn’t clear to you what your role in these meetings is supposed to be?

    5. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Vendor meeting:
      How are sales? Going up or down?
      Any complaint since last meeting from them, customers you got through them? Are they being handled?
      Any software glitches? Are they being worked on?
      Anything you need from them? Maybe you have to follow up on all of their requests because they keep leaving out data? You can ask them to start including it and explain why it’s a big deal?
      If meetings truly are pointless, ask for less frequent meetings

      Meetings with managers:
      Any task take a long time because someone else didn’t do their part, or did parts wrong?
      Need your boss to approve anything?
      Any data you sent to them they didn’t respond to? Follow up on it
      Spare time, let them know

      If you work with more nitty-gritty stuff, like raw materials, you can give status updates on where shipments are, if anything is delayed and why, if you noticed pricing going up or down, if you noticed some customer or vendor being grumpier than usual

    6. Betty*

      It’s hard to know without a little more detail about what these meetings are about, but–

      One big one that stands out to me is what information gathering/reporting you might need to do between meetings. Are there cues in the meetings where people say things like “We’ll need to keep an eye on X” or “Let’s revisit the decision about Y after this quarter”? Or obvious progress/performance metrics that you might want to follow on an ongoing basis?

      If the issue is not speaking up enough, can you think ahead about how the meeting topics might affect your area of responsibility and weigh in on that? (Possibly, again, with information– e.g. “I reviewed the information about last year’s Dromedary Open House, and 90% of our attendees were llamas.”– and some analysis “…so I’ve been thinking about how to make the event more appealing to alpacas”/”…so I think that we should approach Larry’s Lllama Lounge to see if they’d be a sponsor this year”)

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      It depends strongly on the meeting, my role in it, and the subjects under discussion. The most important thing you should do is to review the agenda for the meeting as soon as you get it. Note what the subjects under discussion are, and give them some thought: are there any things you can comment on, or ask a question about? Another thing you can do is to jot down any significant accomplishments or new projects you’re working on, so that if you’re asked during the meeting to talk about what you’re doing, you are ready to do so.

      During the meeting itself, take notes. It sounds like you’re having trouble identifying action items that come out of meetings for which your boss expects you to be responsible. I think it’s entirely reasonable to ask your boss, “can you highlight any action items from this meeting that you’d like me to take care of before the next one?”

      With all this said, I think it behooves meeting organizers to be clear about the kind of preparation they want to see: “be ready to list the projects your team would most like to focus on during the next calendar year. We’ll take them into account as we create our strategic plan for the year.” And it’s good to clearly list action items and person or people responsible for them in the minutes of meetings.

      1. M_Lynn*

        To draw our your comment on roles-I think part of the prep is being really clear about what your role is. What are you the expert on knowing/doing, and how does that fit into the wider picture of the purpose of the meeting and who is there?

        I ask myself some version of the following:
        “What information do I have that the others in the meeting need?” – so I make sure I have that info ready
        “What decisions will be made in the meeting that I need to contribute to?” – I think about options of that decision, pros and cons, and decide on what my recommendation will be (to the extent possible)
        “What am I learning in this meeting that I need to share back to others who weren’t in the meeting?” – that’s what I take notes on and share back in team meetings, emails, etc.
        “What information do I need from others in the meeting” – this is a list of questions I want to be sure I leave the meeting with the answers to, and I ask them if they aren’t addressed naturally

        To clarify, usually in my field, meetings are where the actual work happens, so most of my job is preparing for meetings and doing follow up from meetings. It’s rarely the case that meetings time spent away from doing my job-the meetings are my job! I work in a very collaborative/participatory field.

    8. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      What is the purpose of these meetings?

      Are they for presenting information and making decisions? For reviewing status? For disparate people to report their activities over the last week so everyone is aware of what everyone else is doing? For generating concrete outputs (brainstorming, group writing, responses to customer requests/complaints, etc)? For allocating work to various departments and people?

      Prep for a meeting depends on what is supposed to happen at the meeting. Think about the purpose of the meeting, and then think about what your role is in supporting that purpose. Are you presenting information? Are you contributing to the outputs? Are you one of the people that work is going to be assigned to?

    9. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      Depends on the type of meeting, but here are a few general things I do:
      – Take 10 minutes to think through (and write down) what I want to get out of this meeting
      – For meetings where I have a specific outcome in mind, I might do some bilateral checking in to pre-build consensus so it’s an easy decision once we’re in the room. or, if I suspect there will be dissent, I try to find out what it might be in advance so I’m not getting surprise feedback in the meeting. Sometimes this is just a quick email like “I think we’re on the same page about X, but want to make sure” and other times it’s like “I know we both want X, let’s hop on a prep call and discuss how we can steer the conversation there.”
      – Anytime prep materials or an agenda is sent, I read through the materials and take notes on my key reactions.
      – I spend a few minutes thinking about what might be significant points of tension/disagreement/challenge, and how I’ll handle them. Sometimes I write down talking points.

      Often this is like 5-10 minutes of prep work. If it’s a particularly weighty meeting, or if there are a lot of prep materials sent in advance, it might be significantly longer.

    10. NDevee*

      I remember listening to a leadership podcast where the person being interviewed said she would try to understand where everyone stood on a certain topic before a meeting so she could research options. If you know what the meeting will be about maybe researching that beforehand? We don’t have meetings very often at my company and we always get an email beforehand to look over. It’s always the same kind of data. Hope this is helpful.

  30. Student*

    I am fed up with my job. The org I work for also appears to be on the brink of collapse.

    My manager hasn’t given me any substantive work tasks in 2 years. I’ve asked. I’ve pleaded. I’ve made suggestions. I’ve taken initiative to just (try) to do stuff, only for her to yank things that are mildly successful or better away from me. I basically just browse the internet and get paid for it at this point.

    It’s killed my morale. I want a real, normal job! This situation is making a resume update for a job search really hard. I have no accomplishments or significant responsibilities for the last two full years. I feel awful about it. I never wanted this. I stuck around because I believed it would get better over time.

    I could use some advice from people who have escaped similar BS, no work jobs.

    1. ferrina*

      Apply apply apply. This won’t get any easier as time goes by. If you can take trainings (even LinkedIn Learning), that can help.
      For your accomplishments- put on your bragging hat and turn anything you can into an accomplishment. I usually find that a glass of wine helps me with this- whatever helps you get into that swagger mindset. It’s okay if you feel silly. The goal is to help you find whatever you can to put on your resume. You are holding yourself to higher standards and it feels silly to put the mediocre stuff on your resume, but if that’s what it needs, do it. And it’s okay to have older bullet points or only a few bullet points under your current job, as long as you have something.

      I’m sorry you’re in this situation!

      1. Mockingjay*

        Mediocre tasks can be valuable. Use them to demonstrate consistency, metrics tracking, attention to detail – all the small elements that add up so businesses can successfully meet production schedules, provide better client services, or comply with industry standard and gov’t regulation. “Reorganized the share drive and posted quarterly financial reports to retain as fiscal archives for 3 years, in compliance with government reg.” “Redesigned vendor invoice form; billings are now processed 50% faster.”

    2. MsM*

      In terms of the resume, I think you can list the stuff you’ve initiated, and then any positive outcomes from the stuff boss took over. You can even frame it in your interviews as a testament to how good the ideas were that they got kicked up the chain, and that part of the reason you’re looking for something new is that you’re more than ready to take something all the way to completion yourself. And of course, if you feel the need to gain skills you’re not having a chance to practice, there’s always volunteering, freelancing if the terms of your job allow for it, side hustles, etc.

      1. Dragonfly7*

        Yes, this is what I came to add! Initiated X program to X that led to X or something.

    3. Some dude*

      Seconding the points already made. Also, you probably do more than you are giving yourself credit for. I had a similar role and started writing down five successes every day and it demonstrated to me how much I was actually doing.

      My biggest piece of advice is to not bring your negative energy about your job into interviews/your job search. You want to work for x company because you are really excited to do x, and your experience makes you a good fit. While you’ve appreciated your role at Job Where You Literally Do Nothing, you are looking for a more dynamic and challenging work environment where you can be part of a high-performing team.

      I hated my job and was bringing that to interviews and they could tell.

    4. NDevee*

      I totally get where you’re coming from. Keep applying and see if you can volunteer somewhere to build new skills. There’s virtual volunteering positions. I understand and there are better workplaces out there. Keep looking and applying!

  31. MissGirl*

    I want to reach out to LinkedIn contact who works in a department I’m applying for. This isn’t anyone I know at all beyond sight (we went to school together five years ago).

    Hi John,

    You probably don’t remember me but we were in the same program one year apart. I saw that your company posted Position XXX. I’m really interested in this role and was wondering if you could forward my resume along? I’ve already applied through the portal.

    Thanks

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      I’d probably say “Not sure if you remember me,” and would switch it to “would love to chat with you more about the organization and insights you might have about working there.”

      If the odds are good he doesn’t remember you, he’s unlikely to forward your resume. Forwarding it would be an endorsement it doesn’t seem like he’s in a position to give.

    2. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

      I would not kick off the email with “you probably don’t remember me…” Do you remember anything about him? “We had class X together and I always appreciated your insights…” only something more specific. You need to 1) jog his memory so he remembers you and 2) give him some context as to why he should forward your resume.

      People are rightfully leery of recommending people they don’t know for jobs. There are plenty examples on this site of that going sideways. You may want to start by just asking if you can chat with him about the company and learn more about it and then ask if he can pass along your resume.

    3. Rick Tq*

      If you knew and interacted with this person in college go ahead, but if they a year ahead and didn’t spend any time with you I would not reach out.

      Asking them to forward your resume is asking them to recommend you for the job, they have no reason to do that besides a shared alma mater.

    4. MissGirl*

      I went ahead and reached out. If he responds, I’ll let you know next week. Honestly, I didn’t see a downside to asking. Our program really encourages us to help each other and I’ve helped others I didn’t know.

  32. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

    hi! thank you for all your help re: PIP success stories last week. i am really glad to know they’re not always gonna result in a termination. i don’t know how much time i’ll have for this process, they didn’t give me a “due date.” but i hope that slowly reducing my errors is enough….. but since i was put on one after making progress for the first time in awhile (thanks to working with my coworker), i honestly don’t know. i have more issues with how the PIP was implemented than the PIP itself (it was needed, but it was needed a few months ago, and this process is bringing a lot of stuff to light).

    also – is there a way to talk about that i am struggling in a job that i was moved to without anyone asking me if i wanted to move? i guess my original team didn’t have a ton of work, so they moved me to a team that does. but i am really struggling. i know not everyone is a good fit for each job, and i sometimes wonder if leadership thought about that…. i might have avoided this black mark had they not moved me.

    (at my company, we can’t willingly switch teams until we’ve been here for a year. my year mark is coming up soon, but this PIP threw a huge wrench in those plans as i don’t know how long this process will take, and then i would wait another month or two before i even think about moving, and that’s assuming everything works as it should. getting this job was hard enough and i do not mentally have it in me to start from scratch.)

    1. ferrina*

      “My company needed help in X Team, so I was assigned to work there. Unfortunately, X isn’t quite in my wheelhouse and it wasn’t a great fit.”

      (feel free to remove that second sentence).

      Honestly, it sounds like your company moved you to an area that plays to your weaknesses, not your strengths. That’s not your fault. Sometimes the Lessons Learned are just that “yep, that weakness I knew about is still a weakness, and now I know that if a company reassigns me to do that, I need to update my resume.”

      If you have the energy, please do start looking around. Even applying to a couple jobs can help- it sounds like your company isn’t handling this well (seriously, who does a PIP without an end date?)

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        oh whoops, sorry, i meant, is there a way i can talk to management about the move! but your answer is still really helpful, if i do actually start looking around, that’ll be really good wording to use. i’m hoping to pass the PIP and then move internally (so your wording would still be helpful), but you’re right in that even just poking around might help.

        and yeah, i have never had a PIP or any kind of warning, so i genuinely don’t know if the lack of an end date is because they thought that i’d suddenly go from 15 errors a week to 0? but that’s not how i operate. i can make slow progress, and i truly think i am doing this, but expecting me to go from 60 to 0 is not something i can do.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          I feel like you need to wait to raise the issue until your performance is satisfactory in your current role. Then, it might be a good time to say “I’ve been working hard to improve my performance in this role, and judging by feedback I’ve received, I’ve been successful in that. That said, though, I feel like this particular role isn’t as good a fit for me as when I was on $other team–it’s not something I would have volunteered for, myself because I don’t feel like [area where you’ve had difficulty] is really one of my strengths. I’m hoping it might be possible for me to move into a role where I can focus on [and talk about the stuff you’re good at, the stuff you want to do]. Is there an opening like that available now?

          1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            honestly part of what i’d be trying to get away form is leadership. not that i’d tell them that obviously. but you’re right in that i should wait until i’m in better standing to raise issues about the job i don’t enjoy. like this job is a lot more fast-paced than i’d like. there is always something to do, which is good, but i also feel like we’re constantly in “go” mode and i do not do well in that kind of environment. even though i’ve been slowing down to reduce my errors, telling myself i can take my time, i know eventually i’d be expected to pick up the pace and do more and more. i’m gonna think about what kind of work i do like, even if it’s not my old job.

        2. ferrina*

          Ah! Well, it depends on what is on your PIP. If it’s skills that pertain to the other roles, then yeah, that’s not going to look good. But if it’s mostly skills that are specific to that team, you may be able to point to that type of work being the wrong fit for you. Especially if you performed well in your previous role.

          You might be able to get a sense from your manager if they think other roles might work better. Tread very lightly on this- IME 80% of managers think if you can’t hack it under their Wise and Successful Guidance ™, then there is no such thing as a better fit. I have had one manager that actively encouraged me to apply to another role when I was struggling on her team- that other role was a great fit and I instantly went from struggling to rock star.

          1. Random Academic Cog*

            Second this. They didn’t put an end date on the PIP, you were moved to this role/team without any input, and the specific tasks you’re struggling with weren’t necessary in your previous position. All of this seems to point towards it being a relief to your current boss if you were straight with them that you want to stay with the company, but need to find a role similar to the previous one where you were successful versus a low-performer.

            They may well be VERY supportive and even offer key help to get you transferred. Definitely preferable to all the work involved in a PIP and having to decide how far you’re willing to accommodate someone who is never going to be a high-performer. Mostly folks seem oblivious to the fact that it’s a poor fit and won’t look for another position until you fire them – which really sucks almost as much for (many? most? Certainly me!) managers as for the (former) employee. Good luck!

            1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

              thank you both! :D

              so immediately after i got placed on the PIP, i asked my grandboss (who was the one who moved me in the first place) if i could move back to my old team. i was told no, but that if i passed the PIP, we could talk about my moving then. i also don’t believe people can me moved if they’re on a PIP, it’s my understanding that that can’t be overrulled. so, it seems like i’ll have to make it through and then i can move.

              but like i said, this PIP brought a lot of stuff to light, namely just how bad of a fit this role is for me, and i didn’t realize all of this when i first spoke with my grandboss.

              1. Random Academic Cog*

                If you talk directly to your boss, they may modify the PIP to get you through it as quickly as possible so you can move on without wasting a lot of time. PIPs are a huge time-suck for the manager. And with no defined endpoint, they can probably do what they want with the timing.

        3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          Am I reading correctly that you were put on a prior PIP? Was it with this company, and, if it was, was it while on this team (the one you were assigned to w/out really talking to you) or the prior team?

          1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            Sorry I didn’t explain this well. This is my first PIP, both for this company/role and at all.

  33. Prospect Gone Bad*

    I like when I make meetings for mid-level people, higher-level people show up, and keep chiming in and derailing the meeting. I purposefully did not invite them because TBH some mid-level folk don’t know what they are doing on certain projects, which is the point of the call. To clear up issues. So I asked questions and I get a VP “why wasn’t this done already” or “this should be easy.” Yeah, no s***. We are here to discuss making things easier, so be quiet! More of a vent about corporate BS derailing work. VP also rambled on about something and asked “is that clear” as if I should respond “yes” but I had to say “not at all.” Unnecessary drama in my meeting.

    1. ferrina*

      That sucks! Been there. In fact, been there so much I set up a summer home there.

      I ended up casually going out for coffee or lunch with certain mid-levels, and if we happened to discuss projects and come out of that coffee/lunch with clear tangible action items, then these things happen. (and the things happen much faster without the VPs mucking around, since the VPs were universally incompetent at that company)

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      How much time do the VPs have on their hands?! Where I work, leadership’s in so many meetings of their own, they don’t have time to crash these kinds of meetings.

    3. Brrr*

      And when you have that kind of senior leadership present, many people will be unwilling to fess up to any problems they are having with the work, for fear of appearing incompetent. Or because they know if they speak up about an issue they will either be shot down or made to fix everything (VP: that’s not how it is! Rest of us: Um, yes VP, in fact that IS how it is, but you don’t know that because you are not doing the day-to-day work!)

  34. Panicked*

    Low stakes question: I have a private office and a small couch across from my desk for seating. On my lunch break, I’ve taken to shutting my door and sitting on the couch with my feet up next to me. I’m not lying down, I just have my feet up next to me. It’s comfortable and helps me step away from my computer.
    One of the other managers in the office came in without knocking to drop off some paperwork while I was on the couch. He mentioned that it was “unprofessional” that staff could see me “lounging around” in the office. Even after I told him I was off the clock and my door was shut, he continued to chastise me. So, my question is, is it unprofessional?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s much less unprofessional than opening a closed door without knocking! And no, if it’s a private, closed office, then I don’t see a problem with it. Note that I have a big issue with shoeless feet in an office– I don’t think what you’re doing is a big deal.

    2. Alex*

      It’s unprofessional (and rude!) to walk in without knocking. No staff would see you unless they were being rude!

      I think you’re fine and this manager is a jerk.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      IMNSHO, not knocking on a closed door before opening it is more unprofessional. I might have been tempted to say, “Oh, I’d never answer the door from here if anyone knocked! Of course I’d get up and open the door.” Especially if this person wasn’t YOUR manager.

    4. not a hippo*

      Manager sounds like a jerk. Could you put a sign up that says “at lunch” or “not available” so people will know you’re on a break vs taking a sensitive call?

    5. Seal*

      Barging into your office when the door’s closed without knocking is unprofessional. Call him on that and continue to put your feet up on the couch.

    6. Ginger Baker*

      Our office options (all glass-walled) come with a couch option (so some folks have that and others have a different layout) and I have seen multiple Very High Level Folks on the couch in that exact same position taking calls or just taking a moment to themselves. 100% fine in my book (and I’m at a BigLaw firm so hardly a casual “anything goes” environment, tho I suppose worth noting we also generally take the view that when you are working SO SO MANY HOURS, you’re quite reasonable in expecting to at least be as comfortable as possible).

    7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I have to disagree with the other commenters and say I do think it can come off as a bit unprofessional, yes. Is it clear that it’s your lunch break – even so, if there is ever a time in your workplace where people work through lunch and scarf a sandwich down in 5 minutes at their desk due to workload – this isn’t going to come across well.

      It was also unprofessional of the other manager to come in without knocking though.

    8. Three Green Apples*

      I’m reading this whole thread thinking…how GLAD I am that I work in a different sector. I cannot imagine a working life where putting your feet up (even – shock! – in front of others!) is seen as grossly unprofessional in itself. When it makes no impact on ability to work. In my sector (which has many flaws of course, like every industry), as long as you are clean and considerate, you can sit any way you like except for when you’re meeting clients, new folks or higher ups. I hope I’m not being offensive here – I just want to chime in and say that from the perspective of at least one other sector, these expectations are…wild!

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      If you were sprawled a la The Naked Maja with your door open, then yes. In the circumstances described, no, unless someone did knock and you didn’t swing your feet down before saying “come in.”

      Is this guy your manager or just a manager who isn’t your boss? Because if it’s the latter he gets a two for one punch on his MYOB card.

  35. Ainsley Hayes*

    I ended up having to buy a new wardrobe this summer for Reasons. In doing so, I have discovered I love wearing dresses to work! How do I transition to wearing dresses in the fall/winter? I work in a casual office.

    1. Alex*

      A fall dress with leggings and tall boots is my fave work outfit! Sweater dresses are great if you run cold like I do. Some summer dresses also work as fall dresses–some sleeveless dresses look good with a long sleeved shirt underneath to turn into a jumper, or you can always wear a cardigan over a short sleeved or sleeveless dress.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        And add patterned tights, too!

        I love dresses. They are such an easy way to look put together, & can be very comfortable in bad weather. (Cooler in the summer, & you don’t have to drag pant hems through rain & snow.)

    2. Rick Tq*

      Um… Just chose to wear dresses in the fall and winter? As long as you are comfortable in the office and you follow any dress code(s) I doubt anyone in the office will care.

      1. The teapots are on fire*

        I’m betting the OP lives in a place where fall/winter is on the chilly side, in which case “wearing a dress” involves some “yes, and…” brainstorming like it’s an improv show. “Yes, and tights, leggings, boots, thigh-length Cuddle
        Skins”, just generally other ways to wear a dress in the winter without a stiff breeze up the skirt on the way in from the parking lot or the bus stop making you gasp.

        1. Gemstones*

          But does “wear leggings/tights” really require brainstorming, given that winter is generally known to be a chilly month? Surely most people know to cover their bare skin in cold weather, and if you’re wearing a dress/skirt, tights or leggings are basically the main ways to do that.

    3. londonedit*

      ‘Secret leggings’ are a boon. They’re not a specific brand or anything, they’re just leggings that don’t show under your dresses. I wear pretty much exclusively midi/maxi dresses, so I buy cheap capri/knee-length leggings, and they provide the perfect bit of warmth under a dress in autumn/spring, when you don’t want to be wearing tights but it’s not quite warm enough for bare legs. You could get whatever length suits your dresses. Then in the winter, instead of bare legs/hidden leggings and trainers/sandals, I wear black tights and closed-toe shoes or boots with my dresses. I also wear sweatshirts/jumpers/chunky-knit cardigans over my midi dresses if it’s really cold.

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Layering! On top I’ll add long sleeve tees, cardigans, and sweaters over (or under) dresses. On bottom, I might go for leggings, tall socks with boots, tall socks over tights, or tights and leggings for really cold days. They’re easy enough to peel off at work if you get to warm. I also recommend fleece-lined leggings, especially if you live in a colder climate.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      In winter, I wear long-sleeved dresses that go to about mid-calf, and pair them with thicker tights and calf-high boots. I often add a contrasting hand-knit shawl, but a pashmina or cardigan sweater can be another nice way to add an extra layer of warmth.

    6. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      Tights and sweaters with dresses are a classic for fall/winter. I wear heels at my office, but boots/booties, flats, and sneakers (think Converse or Superga) all work equally well with tights and dresses and are the easiest way to scale your level of casualness up or down in a dress. The choice of top makes a difference too – I often go for a shawl wrap or blazer but a cardigan or even a zip hoodie can look great if your office is more startup-casual than business-casual. Play around with styling dresses with other items already in your wardrobe and see what you like and feel comfortable in and don’t overthink it too much. Have fun with it!

      Unpaid plug: if you don’t typically wear tights, I’ve loved Sheertex lately. They’re more expensive than regular tights but they are far more durable (cheaper per wear in the long run) and go on sale often (in fact I just checked their site and they have a Black Friday in July sale going on right now).

    7. Gondorff*

      Fleece-lined leggings or tights are my best friend in the winter. Not only do they keep me warm and cozy, but they’re comfortable enough to feel like I’m secretly wearing sweatpants – but of course when paired with a dress, they don’t look it! (They also work with skirts, which I highly recommend when it starts getting colder because it can be easier to pair a skirt with a sweater or other heavier top than it can be to find a cozy enough dress, but YMMV depending on where you are).

    8. Synaptically Unique*

      I find dresses much more forgiving and flattering if you have weight fluctuations or a generally changing body (e.g., pregnancy, menopause). Almost all I’ve worn to work for years now. I mostly wear sleeveless dresses (see “menopause” above) and blazers or flowy jackets, lighter-weight and often 3/4 sleeve with bare legs and black flats or pumps in summer, heavier and long-sleeve with leggings and usually boots in winter. Once you find a few styles that work well for you, it’s easy to look for variations on color/pattern and coordinate with layers and footwear. Most of my dresses are wearable year-round, though I have a few that are heavier or lighter. Spanx “light” they sell at Target works great for leggings and the high-waist, mid-thigh briefs to smooth everything out if that’s a consideration (I joke with my chiropractor as he’s draping towels over me on the table that I’m wearing more under my dress than half the young people are wearing as their entire outfit).

    9. Dragonfly7*

      I am also on team add tights and a cardigan. leggings can be tucked into books, and I have even worn thick woolen socks over those tights but under tall boots on especially cold days.

    10. CommanderBanana*

      I like to put lightweight blouses under sleeveless dresses (I don’t wear sleeveless clothing to work because I dress frum), so 3/4 length light blouses for summer and long-sleeve blouses for winter. If you have a black or other solid color sleeveless dress, you can match it with a couple different blouses and it looks like you’ve got more outfits than you actually have. Also great for packing lightly when you travel.

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      Leggings, tights, and light shrugs/jackets are a godsend. And close toed shoes if you’re currently wearing sandals.

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      Title 9 has killer dresses for all seasons. Tights/leggings/boots are your friends in fall and winter. As mentioned above, you can put a heavy cardigan over a sleeveless dress. Dresses are the bomb!

  36. Nicki Name*

    “Fun” team names: anyone else hate them?

    At a past job, they were strongly encouraged by management. This job also involved maintaining a highly connected system, and management also was weirdly averse to making a list of the bits each team owned. So anytime you needed to find out who controlled a specific, you had to go on a quest across Slack channels from person to person with fragmentary knowledge. For instance, someone would know that the last time they needed to work with resource X, it was owned by the Alpaca team, but then the Alpaca team would say they handed it off when the Corbomite team was spun out of theirs, but then it would turn out no one on Corbomite ever touched it and the only person who really knows how it works transferred to the Lothlorien team a while back.

    At my current workplace, we’re at least allowed to call teams by what they actually do or own, but a lot of the team names are themed to one specific pop-culture franchise, and I think sometimes about what someone who hates the franchise must be feeling about the names.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Argh, that’s frustrating. Why would I expect that benefits are under the Lothlorien team when payroll is under the Alpaca team? Department names should be clear about what who goes where (minus the usual corporate mumble mumble about Strategic Planning or other buzzwords).

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      The best team names come from crayons, I think. Red Team, Blue Team, Green Team, Yellow Team. This has always worked for me.

      It also allows you to color code things if they are all contributing to a common project.

    3. Nesprin*

      Lol that’s better than an acronym driven team names- just as opaque, but with none of the fun.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Oh I hate this. It also makes it harder than it needs to be for new people to integrate and really know what’s going on. I work in software where each team can be aligned either to a specific (fairly long running) project, or to a particular technology or defined part of our software. We used to have “fun” names and it was confusing for everyone. I’m sure there were people who, more than a year into their tenure, still didn’t know what “Apollo” or “Hermes” did and by that point it was too late to ask. Now we have proper names for the teams that describe what they do, and it is much easier for everyone.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        We also name projects after the Greek/Roman gods (and comic book characters), and I’m not a fan. Yes, there’s usually some tenuous reason for choosing the name, but then I have to remember all that nonsense. (Project Argonauts? Okay, that’s the quest for the Golden Fleece, but was that the one where we were trying to import the blonde llamas, or the one where we were testing llama shampoos?)

    5. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah, I don’t like it either. Haven’t encountered the pop-culture-themed team names, but where I work for ages the team names were what we were responsible for. Team that cover X was the X team. Then someone higher up decided it would be fun and harmless to let teams choose their names. To my delight, no one on the X team cared and we remained the X team. The Y team decided to call themselves something like “Yelsificators” or something. I thought “‘meh, it’s silly but I can still get the gist”. And then the Z team for reasons I will never understand decided to call themselves something that was complete gibberish. If it was a reference, it was completely over my head. It was also not intuitive to pronounce in the native language of everyone on said team or teams that worked with them. I was like, ok I guess I’m glad you’re having “fun” with that but now I’m pretty sure we’re gonna end up referring to y’all as Z because otherwise no one would know what the hell we’re talking about.

      *yes I realize the combination of my username and that penultimate sentence makes me sus, but my username is a pop culture reference I do understand, so that’s my defense. Also, not a thing I’d try to use at work.

    6. Loreli*

      Team names that have nothing to do with what the team does are like reading group names in first grade. Can we please just not?

    7. carcinization*

      This happened at my previous workplace and I definitely disliked it, but honestly I don’t even remember what my team was called. I think all of the teams were birds… maybe mine was Eagles? The silliest part of it was that the Roadrunners absolutely hated being Roadrunners, even though they really had the most apt name because they traveled the most out of any of us as a part of their essential job duties.

  37. Cookies for Breakfast*

    My manager is leaving next month, at a time of great uncertainty because of the merging of two business areas, wreaking havoc in all of my team’s priorities. The chaos is kind of bearable right now, but once Manager leaves, we risk to be directionless for a period of time.

    My team and I are losing the person that shielded us from a lot of the chaos in other areas of the business, and helped us make sense of conflicting information and priorities that keep hitting us from all directions. A replacement will be hired, but it will inevitably take ages for them to get up to speed with the complex product we look after. Neither I nor my teammates have Manager’s breadth and depth of knowledge, which takes years to build in this organisation.

    Also, at a personal level, this is the best manager I’ve had in my career. We were on the same page since the very first interview, and knowing I’d work with them was one of the factors that led me to accept this role. I started interacting with their boss, who is new to the organisation and to whom I will report temporarily, and…I don’t know. I keep getting the impression that my skills fall short of Grandboss’s expectations in some way, even though the quality of my work has always been more than fine with Manager. In fact, Manager helped me recognise some strengths that I really value, but I worry I’m about to find that I can’t apply them to the sort of relationship Grandboss wants to have. At the same time, I’d rather not think about job hunting, unless a position opens up internally in a very specific area (none yet).

    I don’t know if, once Manager goes, I’ll be able to keep being good at my job, or what “good” even looks like. Some of this is my imposter syndrome talking, but right now, I do believe the team’s confidence and my confidence in myself are about to take a hit.

    How have others navigated similar situations before?

    1. ferrina*

      Get your resume ready and start applying.

      Here’s why:
      My team and I are losing the person that shielded us from a lot of the chaos in other areas of the business, and helped us make sense of conflicting information and priorities that keep hitting us from all directions.

      Chaotic organizations don’t get better without top-down change. That’s not happening. You are going to be thrown into the middle of a bad situation. I think you know this. This situation will very likely warp your norms and impact your future. If your grandboss isn’t jiving with you now, leave before it gets worse.

      Once upon a time, I was the manager in this circumstance. The organization was toxic, and I did everything in my power to protect my team. When I left, the grandboss utterly failed at that. She would happily throw people under the bus and demand unrealistic output- anything to protect herself. One of the brightest, most hardworking team members stayed through the transition time into the new manager. The new manage immediately found fault with him and started belittling him. The poor guy eventually found a new place, but he wasted a lot of good time trying to hold on in that toxic organization.

      Grab coffee with your manager. Talk to them. Ask them for advice in navigating the changes. Mention that you might start looking around and ask if they are willing to be a reference*. Be clear that you aren’t sure whether you actually want to leave, but you’re curious. I would have been delighted if one of my people asked for help leaving that toxic cesspool, and if your manager is as good as you say, they will probably be more than happy to be a reference. Oh, and don’t be swayed if your grandboss makes vague promises of a promotion or raise or whatever. Unless the changes actually come, focus on leaving.
      *Usual caveat of apply your own knowledge of your manager. If there is a chance this will get back to your grandboss, don’t do it.

      1. Umpteen*

        Agree, agree, agree.
        Years ago I loved my job and felt very loyal to it. So, when my brilliant manager gave notice I did not even think of leaving. Then a new manager came in and was awful and did some damage and then he quickly resigned. Then a new manager came in and was much worse, and I stayed for a while (trying to make things better) until I quit in desperation, basically a shell of my former self. I learnt that when your great manager leaves, it’s time for you to start looking for a new work-home.

    2. Hermione Danger*

      In the middle of one right now. Best boss I’ve ever had who is also a shield between our team and the crazy that defines the rest of the organization is leaving at the end of the month, and meanwhile, our division is being reorganized while the company is freaking out about the state of the economy. I’ve already been struggling due to the reorg and the company freakout; I’m definitely concerned about how effective or useful I’m going to be once the buffer he provides is gone.

  38. Llama Wrangler*

    My department has a tradition of sending around a virtual card for everyone’s birthday – everyone is asked to sign it, and then our administrator sends the cards on the day of our departmental meeting. I have a June birthday, and joined in July of last year, so last month was my first birthday on the team, and I just realized that I didn’t receive a virtual card.

    I was out on vacation on my actual birthday, and my immediate team shouted me out when I came back, but another department member acted surprised when I said I was also a June birthday (but she’s also a space cadet, so not necessarily a sign that she didn’t know).

    I think the answer is to just ask the administrator about it, right? Say something like: “Oh, I just realized I never received my card last month, did you send it?” And then if it turns out they don’t have my birthday on the calendar, he can fix it moving forward.

    The asterisks is that the admin was just notified this week that his job was going to be eliminated at the end of the summer, and so this feels like maybe it’s worth just dropping?

    1. MsM*

      Yeah, I’d wait and see who (if anyone) takes over birthday card distribution, and send that person a note some time before next June just to check that they’ve got your info on the calendar.

    2. ferrina*

      I’m with you. In normal circumstance, I think it would be good to flag for the person that handles these things. But when that person is being laid off, this is something that can be dropped. That poor person has other things they are dealing with.

      Happy belated birthday to you!

    3. Elsewise*

      Oof, yeah, with that last paragraph, I’d drop it. My guess is that he’s letting some things drop because he knows his time here is limited.

      It sounds like your birthday is recorded (your team knows it), and whoever takes over birthdays next year will probably get it. I wouldn’t put much stock in the other department member not knowing your birthday; ours are listed somewhere but I’m not the person responsible for birthday cards so I don’t know anyone’s birthday unless they tell me, and I’m pretty detail-oriented.

      If your birthday doesn’t get acknowledged next year, I would probably say something to whoever has taken over cards, but with the current admin losing his job soon, I’d let it drop.

    4. Llama Wrangler*

      Seems like the consensus is – let it drop! And when it gets close to my bday next year, I’ll just check with whoever is in charge of cards at that point.

    5. Cordelia*

      yeah, don’t ask this admin. But it seems like cards are something that might get missed anyway, when the departing admin’s tasks are reallocated, so perhaps you could mention in a team meeting or similar (once he has left) – “I was wondering about reallocating responsibility for doing the birthday cards now XXX has left? Do we need to update the calendar? As I am not sure I am on it”

  39. Boolie*

    Got promoted twice in one fell swoop, but in two separate steps (so two fell swoops?): one salary increase for merit and promotion to team lead, and a second increase for earning a certification and an official position grade promotion from individual contributor to manager.

    I had to chase my grand boss and HR person for the first one to get it in on time for the pay period, and now that I have the certification, I have to chase them again. Because it’s the next pay period now and they forgot. Again. I’m really trying to be patient and understanding because of course they have other more important things going on but it’s frustrating having to remind people of something that’s important to me.

    1. ferrina*

      They have more important things to do than paying their employees the correct amount?

      No they don’t! Correct payroll is one of the single most important things in business! Chase them down and don’t apologize for it!

      1. Ama*

        This. You should never feel bad for asking to be paid or asking for payroll corrections when things are wrong. They agreed to this raise — they need to make it stick in the system.

      2. Boolie*

        You’re right, and I am doing it. It’s just a bummer to have to do it.

        No one is the bad guy in this situation but I feel like the bad guy and a pest, because even after asking about it earlier this week (and getting confirmation that it’ll be done by today) I don’t know what is preventing it and thus don’t feel like I should push it when maybe it’s in the works??? I just don’t see anything on my end yet and the day’s almost over. Sigh

        1. ferrina*

          You are not the bad guy for asking them to uphold their end of a contract. This is a very normal business interaction. Your brain is trying to trick you for some reason (did someone in your past make you feel guilty for having normal needs? maybe tell you that you shouldn’t feel hungry, or that your basic needs are inconvenient? if so, are we related, cuz this is the way half of my family operates)

          Tell your brain that getting the money promised to you is literally the least you can ask for. You aren’t being a bother- in fact, you are doing the right thing by reminding them and alerting them that it hasn’t been taken care of. Anyone who begrudges you your paycheck is Officially Terrible. And please, consider therapy or similar work to help you feel comfortable advocating for your needs! It gets easier, I promise!

    2. EMP*

      Ideally you’ll have it in writing when your new pay takes effect. If Payroll takes time to get their stuff together and give you a paycheck or two at your old salary it’s not the end of the world, you can make sure they make up the different in a subsequent paycheck.

      1. Boolie*

        I got the first one in the nick of time, but this second one while promised in email they just “haven’t gotten around to it” yet even though sheets are due today. I suppose it will have to be back paid, gah. I wish I didn’t submit my timesheet today because it still has my old title and it means I basically consented to it. Dumb of me

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Why is it being done like this? Is it because there is only a certain % increase that can be given at a single step by policy? (because I would think normally the promotion to manager would be linked in with the certificate and merit increase if they are so close together).

      1. Boolie*

        They gave me the first promotion and pay bump when I stopped doing the individual contributor tasks. (my boss became program manager so he was focused on another project, so the current project management was given to me because my team members, while dedicated, need a lot of direction and hand-holding – they’re very much the type who can’t figure out what to do and are totally lost the first time a task is assigned, but will happily do it in a timely manner once they know what to do. When I was hired there was a months-long backlog; a year later things were at a sustained daily pace, hence the first promotion). Nothing happened until time sheet day crept up. Several friendly emails later over a couple days, I got the first pay bump, but I had a sinking feeling I would have to do this all over again.

        Because we’re a projectized organization, the title of project manager could only be awarded to certified project managers, so they couldn’t give me the second promotion (official title change and second pay bump) until I got my PMP. Which I did, hooray! Glad that’s over. But that was half a month ago. They had all this time to put the second bump into effect and nada.

  40. Resume Help!!!*

    Hi AAM fam, today is my last day of work at my job, I’m being furloughed because I work in the entertainment industry and two of our major unions are striking. I am also union, but cannot survive on unemployment. With that said, I would like to try to find a job as a barista or other service-industry job, which I did a lot of up until 8 years ago. My question is, how do I apply for or write a resume when I haven’t been working in the service industry, but have 8 years of entertainment industry desk job work? Is it hopeless? Do I leave that off and pretend not to have worked in the last decade?

    Any advice from trying to transition from a sitting job to a standing job would be appreciated.

    Cheers.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      The unemployment rate is really low right now. Even if it’s been 8 years since you worked retail, that’s not going to deter somebody from hiring you.

    2. WellRed*

      I missed your last question. I took a part time retail gig and was so tired the first couple of shifts I didn’t even have the energy to eat lunch but adjusted quickly. If standing in one spot, like a cashier, do some knee bends etc when you can.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The last time I applied for retail I didn’t send in a resume, just filled out the application. I imagine it will be similar for you. For the sitting into standing… first, get really good shoes. It might be an investment but it will be worth it. Second, try not to stand in one place for too long, and if you have to, walk in place or do some low kicks occasionally. Third, you’ll get used to it. When I took my last retail gig I was 38 and had been doing sitting jobs for 15 years.

      I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good shoes. Inserts/orthotics if you need them. A lot of the comfort shoe brands (Aetrex and Vionic come to mind) have summer sales, though you may want to wait until you land something– if they have color/style requirements you’ll want to be cognizant of that.

    4. beep beep*

      In addition to good shoes- compression socks. I (pretty sedentary) worked a couple seasons at a ren faire in a kitchen about the size of the cubicle I work in now, and they really helped. As other commenter have said- many retail jobs are about warm bodies who can follow instructions. You got this. If you need, I’ve seen a few mutual aid funds out there for entertainment people out of work due to the strikes- doesn’t hurt to see if you qualify.

    5. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I briefly worked retail last summer when I was between (highly paid, professional career) jobs. They didn’t ask for a resume, I entered my job info in the online application and when they asked why I wanted to work there I just said I was looking for something part time to spend more time with my family. I’m sure in your case you can just be honest that you’ve been furloughed due to the strikes – I’m sure you won’t be the only person in this position.

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this!

    6. Just here for the scripts*

      For the “transition from sitting job to standing job“ query, I can strongly recommend starting a workout routine at home. You’ll find quickly that “standing jobs“ actually use a lot of ancillary muscles — like abs, back, late, neck— as well as arms. Start doing some simple stretches and core work (I always found Pilates to be helpful.) it can be done from online resources, or in an in-person class. Meditation resources — you’re going to find that your patients is tested in both retail and serving. Having some practice in being calm/staying calm (or just disengaging) in advance will help.

  41. Duke Flapjack*

    I’m looking for a new job and have gotten to references with one I’m reasonably interested in (not an exciting place to work, but somewhere I *think* I’d be reasonably happy and if offered I’ll take the job. The issue with my current one is it has too much corporate shenanigans and it is taxing to my mental health. I have a client with more money than patience so everything is a crisis and nobody wants to work with them. We’re also getting nagged by corporate because our office is the lowest profit office in the north east (despite having a whopping five people working there) and I’m constantly worrying something bad is going to happen. I work low voltage and just left a really really good company that didn’t pay well enough back in October to work for somewhere larger. The issue was I ended up TOO large and within a couple months was already looking for somewhere else (couldn’t pay the bills at my last company so as much as I would like to there was no going back). The issue now is I have become valued by everybody around me and I’m starting to feel guilty about putting in my two weeks in (hopefully) the not too distant future.

    I’m basically wanting some reassurance that I’m not at all doing anything wrong here. I feel slightly as I am betraying my coworkers somehow (corporate can go jump in a lake for all I care, they’re doing fine).

    1. blood orange*

      You’re certainly not doing anything wrong by leaving a job that isn’t working for you! I’d bet your colleagues will understand. Especially if they’re aware of the downsides of the workplace, but even if not, it’s entirely understandable to accept a better opportunity.

      Good luck with your job search!

    2. SansaStark*

      Also, you’re not “betraying” anyone although I certainly understand that it feels like that sometimes. Anyone who truly likes/cares about you will want you to do what’s best for you and will understand.

      1. Duke Flapjack*

        Thank you both. You are both absolutely correct and the rational side of me knows that. Honestly I’m hoping to take one of my coworkers with me as he is not happy with corporate either.

  42. The Prettiest Curse*

    What’s the most useful communication template you use at work? For me, it’s the following text, which can be useful to reduce email back and forth with pushy people. Please add your examples below!

    Our policy is [details of policy go here] and unfortunately we have no flexibility on this policy. [Follow with slightly softer sentence giving useful information or additional resources.]

    Here’s an example of how I use this at my job, slighly rewritten:
    Due to attendee limits at [conference venue], our policy is to only admit attendees who are from [sector] or have [specific type of relationship with our organisation]. Unfortunately, we have no flexibility on this policy. However, many of our other events throughout the year are open to anyone, and you can find out more information about this on our website. [URL goes here.]

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      “The coding team is not involved in the process of establishing prices and is unable to make any changes to charges except incidental to coding corrections. If the patient is dissatisfied with the cost of care, that is a customer service issue and should be addressed by the customer service team. If you need assistance with verbiage to address these concerns, please reach out to your leadership.”

      I am a medical coding manager and get a lot of emails from our customer service team about “patient thinks we’re charging them too much for an IV.” Never mind that literally the only team who can issue credits for no logistical reason beyond “the patient isn’t happy” is — guess who — the customer service team. I think they’re worried about getting in trouble if they do too many credits, so they try to get someone else to do it — but they won’t, this response was actually written in collaboration with their management because they won’t quit trying to pass the buck :P (Please, no rabbit holes about the cost of American health care. We all know.)

  43. Forest Sounds*

    I am in the US, and I could use some help from UK readers. I am talking with a company located in Cambridge, England, and the recruiter asked me for my salary expectations, which he does need (I am not going to argue with him about whether or not I give him a number). He shared the range with me, and the posting doesn’t specify experience level.
    I need some help figuring out UK salaries so I can ask for the right amount. My goal is to be paid reasonably for my industry and experience level, which hopefully will allow me to afford rent in Cambridge. On to my details:
    I am a late-mid-career engineer with two graduate degrees in physics. I switched specialties mid-career by getting the 2nd degree, so I’m still a bit early career in my current specialty. I have 14 years of experience total, not counting the graduate degrees, with 4 of those in my current specialty. I include the subject matter switch bc my US salary is a little lower than it would be if I had spent my entire career in the same field. I expect a UK salary to be similarly impacted.
    I’ve always been an individual contributor. I’m senior enough to had led small efforts within large efforts, but I’ve never been the official team lead. I’ve never handled budgets or top level schedules.
    Approximately what salary would an engineer with that kind of experience make in Cambridge, UK?
    Or, besides Glassdoor, where can I research engineering salaries in Cambridge?
    Thanks!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      You could try looking at job listings on LinkedIn and Indeed as well.
      Cambridge is one of the most expensive cities for rent (and general cost of living) in the UK, but since the STEM sectors are generally competitive for hiring in this area, that may be factored into salaries. Since you’re applying from outside the UK, ask about relocation assistance and rent assistance.

      Also, if you’re applying for a position that is on the UK shortage occupation list (you can find this on the gov.uk website), I’m pretty certain that employers can legally pay non-UK residents that they hire for those positions up to 20% less than they would pay a UK resident hired into the same position.

      1. Forest Sounds*

        “I’m pretty certain that employers can legally pay non-UK residents that they hire for those positions up to 20% less than they would pay a UK resident hired into the same position.”

        Yes, it looks like they can. Well, I would definitely like to avoid that. My specialty wasn’t on the list, but it is a hard to find specialty. There are a few “XXXX Engineer – All jobs” categories which I might fall into. The salaries listed seem astonishing low: £25,000-£30,000. Full salary would be £31-37,000, which also seems astonishingly low. I genuinely can’t see a new college graduate in the US getting an offer for less than $50k in the private sector, even in a relatively low COL area.

        “Since you’re applying from outside the UK, ask about relocation assistance and rent assistance.”

        I did ask the recruiter about whether relocation assistance would be offered, and he hedged a bit. What is rent assistance? Is that an increase to the salary or a one time payment?

        This was helpful, thank you!

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I don’t have any experience with negotiating a relocation package myself, but since landlords will usually ask for a deposit plus first and last month’s rent in advance, it would essentially be some kind of payment to cover that and to make it easier for you since it would take a bit of time to set up a bank account. Whichever country you go for (Germany seems a lot more stable than the UK recently so might be a better bet), make sure that they offer visa assistance too.

          Housing and cost of living issues aside (bad income inequality too), Cambridge is an interesting place. There’s a good mix of people, and you don’t have to go far outside the city to be in beautiful countryside. There are also some great parks in the city. Public transport is relatively good, the traffic and parking situation is not so good, but it’s a very bike-friendly city with lots of cycling infrastructure. And if you get bored, London is an hour away by train.

          1. Forest Sounds*

            Ah, so asking for rent assistance is asking for some kind of lump sum to help cover that deposit, first, and last month’s rent. Ok.

            The company will sponsor the visa, I checked on that.

            Amusingly, I have lived in Cambridge, MA. It seems sort of similar in a lot of ways–university town, small, diverse, a little hotter in summer, a little colder in winter (MA vs UK). I’m a little worried about the climate bc I love the sun and I hate the cold. When I first moved to MA, my rent to income ratio was $1500/mo:$92k/yr. It was fine! I couldn’t afford a house, but I could handle the rent and have a pretty good life. I saved a lot of money during that time.

            What I am finding about salaries in the UK, though, is that they really are alarmingly lower. Best salary I have found for my specialty is £60,000, and with rent around £1,500/mo, that’s a much, much lower rent:income ratio. I know people make things work on this salary, I mean, people besides engineers live in Cambridge.

            I don’t think I will get an offer for this job, however. I have interviewed for similar jobs, and they determined that I am not enough of a specialist for their needs, which is fair.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Also, I forgot to mention – the local employee organisation Cambridge Network – cambridgenetwork[dot]co[dot]uk – has job listings and other useful info about Cambridge on their website. The local business publications Business Weekly and the Cambridge Independent may have some syndicated job listings too.

    3. OxfordBlue*

      Can I ask what range the recruiter has given you? As Prettiest Curse says Cambridge is currently one of the most expensive places to rent/buy in the UK so you’ll probably need to pay around £2k pm minimum. If their range isn’t going to give you that sort of disposable income then I’d say you should pass on this opportunity.
      Some other things to consider are that the public sector pay rises announced earlier today are going to be funded from raising visa fees and charging non-Brits more to use the NHS, our cost of living has increased massively over the last three years and UK inflation is still climbing. All this and if one of the Ukrainian nuclear power stations ‘leaks’ the UK will be right in the path of the fallout.
      If that hasn’t sent you screaming for the hills here is a useful site for all things money related in the UK https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/categories. You can get a good look at typical UK expenditure by going to the Debt Free Wannabe board and looking at the Statement of Affairs (SOA) that posters fill out so that other members can suggest possible economies.

      1. Forest Sounds*

        “Can I ask what range the recruiter has given you?”

        I debated whether I should share it, and it’s confidential, so I prefer not to. I know the chances of them seeing this post are low, but I’m a generally risk averse type of person. All I will say is that their low end is similar to the range I found on the skilled worker list (full salary would be £31-37,000), and the top of the range would give me a rent:income ratio just a couple percent lower than what I make now. Naturally, I want the top end of the range. :) If I had two graduate degrees and 14 years of continuous experience in the relevant specialty, I would ask for the top of the range with confidence. Since the bulk of my experience is actually in a different specialty, I’m pretty sure they’ll balk at the top of the range.

        I live in a pretty HCOL area that is just getting more expensive to live in, so I am not unfamiliar with that pain.

        I did take a quick look at a Cambridge real estate site, and I saw 1 bdrm apartments going for £1,5-1,600/month. Are those the roach infested crack houses?

        1. OxfordBlue*

          Hi FS and sorry for not replying to your question before now. I don’t think the least expensive flats will be ghastly but many flats have been carved out of larger buildings and so have issues with layout, noise insulation, difficult access and so on. You’ll generally find that better build quality means higher rent and the reverse is true too.
          Regarding pay bear in mind that on top of rent you need to pay Council Tax which is set by the local authority and non-payment is a criminal offence for which you can be imprisoned. Letting agents should be able to tell you which band a property is in and the name of the relevant local authority so that you can check the amount. A one-bedroom flat would usually be Band D. There is a 25% reduction for people who live alone but as you can see here it’s still a hefty amount https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/council-tax-bands-and-charges.

    4. Hedwig*

      The Royal Academy of Engineering might be able to advise (there’s a royal college, society or academy for nearly every profession in the UK!). Their website links to this page, which has helpful info about salaries: https://www.thisisengineering.org.uk/where-to-next/faqs
      There is also the Engineering Council, which is the regulatory body: https://www.engc.org.uk/
      You might also want to look into becoming a chartered engineer, without which, your future engineering career in the UK might be limited. With two graduate degrees in physics, you may want to look at the Institute of Physics website: https://www.iop.org/

      1. Forest Sounds*

        Thanks for the links!

        I’ll keep the CEng in mind if I end up getting and accepting an offer. A brief look at the requirements makes me think a CPhys might be more appropriate, and it’s not clear how US degrees count for either. I’ll have to see what my employer wants. Not having a PE hasn’t hurt me in the US, so maybe I’ll be ok without a CEng in the UK. This is all counting unhatched chickens, though.

    5. Heather*

      I hope this works out for you, but I’ve always heard that UK engineering salaries are dramatically lower than in the US, and even lower than continental Europe. (At least in terms of how highly paid engineering is relative to other disciplines, if not in actual amounts. i.e. purchase power would be a lot lower.) I don’t have any first hand experience but I’d be grateful if you keep us all updated!

      1. Forest Sounds*

        “I’ve always heard that UK engineering salaries are dramatically lower than in the US”

        Yes, the recruiter warned me about this! I am expecting to be less well paid than I am here, but that’s ok.

        “and even lower than continental Europe”

        If I understand you correctly, you mean UK salaries are lower than continental Europe salaries? Interesting. He said he had a French position and a German position that he could submit my resume for as well. He didn’t tell me what they were, though.

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          “If I understand you correctly, you mean UK salaries are lower than continental Europe salaries?”

          Yes, in my 40 years in R&D engineering, starting in the UK then France, Germany, Scandinavia, Netherlands, then back to Germany.
          All with working language English, due to high numbers of coworkers from other European countries and India, Korea etc
          Eastern European countries mostly still below UK salaries, those nearer Russia being v far below.

          I had adjacent STEM BSc & PhD but no formal engineering qualifications or certificates

          Even with higher tax – and better public services – I found my disposeable income and standard of living was higher on the continent. Especially compared to English areas with high house prices/rents.
          imo because engineering still seems to have lower status in the UK than on the continent (due to persistent UK classist views among our top 1%)

          I’d recommend you ask the recruiter to submit your name to those jobs in France, Germany and anywhere else in Western Europe with English as a working language (or whatever other languages you are sufficiently fluent in)

  44. Gotta Be Anon*

    Not a question really, more of a vent. A friend of mine has been working in startups since they lost their job during COVID and because startups are startups has never been in a a role for more than a year. I don’t know how to be supportive because they are on their fourth layoff and we’re an area where they could find a position that is secure and still pays well.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      There are some situations where you just can’t be supportive. If you’re not comfortable saying “oh look, Company X is hiring and they’re really stable” you may just have to sit back and say nothing at all.

    2. EMP*

      If you’re out of sympathy on their 4th layoff, and they aren’t looking for advice, then the kindest thing might be to voice your support and your boundaries and then keep a topic change handy. “I’m really sorry about your layoff but I can’t keep being the person you vent to about it for my own mental health. I did just start rewatching Gilmore Girls if you want to talk about that instead”

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      What sort of ‘support’ are you trying to give? I think the best approach (and the one I would take) is to have a direct conversation with them about the risk/reward nature of startups, and that my suggestion is to look to a more established company and so on.

      And then if this still keeps happening, pull back on how much you engage.

      They seem to want all the upside and none of the risk – it doesn’t work like that!

    4. RVA Cat*

      There’s a line in the Queen Charlotte miniseries that really sticks with me: “It may be a mistake, but it’s mine to make.”

    5. Jinni*

      I have a few friends who INSIST on working at startups even after 20+ years of fairly unstable employment. One is traveling the world (no partner no kids) after his last layoff. The other bites his nails nightly over supporting an expensive house in a HCOL area in California and supporting a wife who works part-time as a physician because they have a special needs kid.

      I stopped commenting years ago. They like that lifestyle – the innovation! The risk! What if it’s the next Microsoft/Facebook??? It’s interesting to hear about, then I go home.

  45. Indigo*

    Any advice for hiding a baby bump? I work remotely but have an in person meeting coming up. I’m not ready to disclose my pregnancy for a number of reasons. At the time of the meeting, I will be 15 weeks pregnant, I’m petit and this isn’t my first pregnancy, so I’m already showing more than I thought I would! The weather will be hot and humid, otherwise I’d wear a giant sweater. Dress code is business casual. Thanks in advance!

    1. No Tribble At All*

      If it’s business casual, would a somewhat structured A-line dress with an empire waist work? I’ve been living in empire waist type things. If it’s already structured, it’ll be expected to flow outwards. Or a shift dress might work?

    2. Anon Teacher*

      Stretchy sundress, possibly with empire waist, paired with flowy/sheer short-sleeved cardigan, or short-sleeved cover-up you can knot in front or to the side?

      Knotted tunic top over pants?
      https://www.amazon.com/SHIBEVER-Womens-V-Neck-Summer-Knotted/dp/B08T6Z1BQB/ref=sr_1_3_sspa?crid=1CKSJAJXWPWYJ&keywords=knotted+tunic+top&qid=1689351109&sprefix=knotted+tunic+top%2Caps%2C86&sr=8-3-spons&sp_csd=d2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGY&psc=1

      Tiered/ruffle shirt?
      https://www.aliexpress.us/item/2251832677494775.html?gatewayAdapt=glo2usa4itemAdapt

      Also, you could luck out & they could have the air conditioning blasting in the office, so bring that sweater just in case!

      Good luck, and congratulations!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You’ll be inside for this meeting, I assume, so I would go with a wrap or a pashmina. I am always cold, especially in meetings– I wouldn’t think twice if someone came in with a wrap.

    4. Minimal Pear*

      The combo I generally see is bottom that does some gentle compression + looser top. I think I’ve seen people say that small, busy patterns can help hide a bump too.
      Bear in mind I’ve never been pregnant, but I’d maybe go for compression shorts (something like looser Spanx) under maybe… lightweight pants? And then an oversized blouse, not tucked into the pants.

    5. WellRed*

      In addition to whatever you wear, maybe carry a portfolio/notebook/laptop in front of you.

    6. Whomst*

      I’d go for a kimono-style flowy cardigan with a nice loose top, it’s casual but still business casual. Flowy and layers are your best friend here, problem is that flowy tends to read as less professional and layers are a problem because it is hot and humid. Pick your poison, I suppose.

      As a side note, I’m 15 weeks myself with my first pregnancy, and the bloating factor in how much/whether I’m showing or not is significant. So if that’s a factor with you, your diet during and a little before the meeting could also affect your ability to disguise it.

    7. The New Wanderer*

      I think I wore all of the options described in the responses when I was 13-15 weeks pregnant and didn’t want it to be obvious.

      Flowy loose cardigan over a loose tank top and narrow legged pants is what worked best for me in a biz casual. If it were a dressier event, I found that an empire waisted dress in a relatively stiff material made for good camouflage.

      1. Annika Hansen*

        I think a cardigan works well. My co-worker hid hers pretty well with it. I saw others suggest empire waist dresses. The flipside of that advice is that I got a lot of pregnancy questions when I wore an empire waist dress. I have never been pregnant. I stopped wearing empire waist dresses (they usually don’t fit me anyway so not a big deal).

        1. Lila*

          seconding the open cardigan over loose shirt! It hides the side profile a lot. That got me to 20 weeks with my 3rd kid before anyone noticed (though I was also hybrid so not in the office that much)

    8. Texan In Exile*

      A former co-worker had not disclosed her pregnancy yet, but many of the men figured it out, even the non-fathers. They noticed that she had stopped tucking in her shirts – that she was wearing looser shirts – and that she was carrying herself differently.

      (I am embarrassed to admit that not only did I not notice these things, her new afternoon doctor appointments didn’t even register with me any more than that I hoped everything was OK.)

      However.

      They all kept their mouths shut. They waited for her to announce it.

      Unless you work with a bunch of gossipy jerks, I think you should be OK. Congratulations!

    9. for once...*

      Peplum style tops. Start wearing the maternity pants before you need to (and you’ll have to find a way to hold them up until you have enough baby to do it) so that when you have to wear them they will be a more normal part of your wardrobe.

  46. Shai*

    My manager did something that I found really strange and I’m hoping to get others opinions on it. I’m a very shy introverted person and don’t really talk much at work unless I have to. I don’t share anything overly personal about myself, despite the fact other coworkers do. I’m also a private person and don’t like to be the center of attention for any reason. I have bad social anxiety and being the center of attention or knowing everyone is focused on me triggers panic attacks. It takes me a long time to calm down once this happens. I work remotely and chose a remote job because it’s one of the ways I can manage my anxiety.

    In February, it was my 5 year anniversary with my job. I went to lunch, when I came back I had so many messages congratulating me and wishing me many more successful years. I even had some coworkers calling me up to say congrats. It turned out that my manager put in the group chat that it was my 5 year anniversary and for everyone to congratulate me and wish me well. She has never done this with anyone else the whole time I’ve been there, and she hasn’t done it to anyone else since February. If she would’ve checked with me first before announcing to everyone, I would’ve told her that while I do greatly appreciate her acknowledging my anniversary, I’m a private person and would prefer not to have so much attention on me. I felt very embarrassed and had a panic attack. It took me about an hour to calm down and be able to focus on my work again.

    She also has made it her personal mission to get me to talk, even if it’s something where my input wouldn’t matter. It’s like she takes my shyness and quietness as a personal insult against her. I am friendly with coworkers, and I’m always willing to help them if they’re stuck on something. When I do have something to say in meetings, the manager will say something like “wow Shai, we finally get to hear your voice!”. My coworkers will laugh and agree with her. Then I feel embarrassed and don’t want to say anything else.

    I just don’t know what to make of her actions. Am I overreacting? Have any other introverts had to deal with this before? It’s really stressing me to know that I’m going to have to talk to large groups of people all the time, even if there’s no need for me to speak. It’s stressing to know that she’ll just announce things about me, when she doesn’t do this to anyone else. Or that when I do talk, she’ll make such a big deal out of it, like I’m a baby saying their first words. Are people so bothered by quiet coworkers that they’ll do things like this to “break them out of their shell”?

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      Ugh, that’s annoying! And I say that as a definite extrovert! When someone is shy and introverted and doesn’t like to speak up in meetings, the goal shouldn’t be “get them to speak up in meetings even if their input doesn’t matter,” it should be “make sure you’re getting their input on the things that matter, even if they aren’t speaking up in meetings. Give them another avenue to provide it that makes them more comfortable.”

      1. Shai*

        Thank you! I don’t know why some people make it their goal to get quiet people to talk. Leave the quiet people alone! Workplaces are made up of all types of interesting people of all races, genders, cultures, and intro/extroverts. We should appreciate everyone for who they are and stop trying to get them to change into what others want them to be!

        1. Random Dice*

          I’m thinking there are several issues here.

          1) You need to have a private word with your manager about your social anxiety, and that being spotlighted (even by IM) feels bad to you.

          2) The idea of directly addressing this issue with your manager makes you anxious, so anxious you haven’t been able to get yourself to do it yet.

          For context about me: I’m a neurospicy introvert with deep social anxiety. I appreciate that you strategically took a job specifically to manage your anxiety, and the answer to anxiety can never be “Just don’t be anxious” – thanks that’s not how this works.

          But not being able to speak to your manager about such an important matter is kind of a big deal.

          Since you haven’t been able to broach this yourself, what professional help have you sought out? Any chance there are meds you can adjust? Do you have a therapist who can help strategize? Scripts you’ve used in the past? Relevant books that you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t gotten to yet?

          Would you be able to write her an email with the key points?

    2. MsM*

      Have you tried telling her in a one-on-one check-in that prompting you to speak up or calling attention to when you do so makes you less inclined to talk? You can preface that by saying you appreciate that she wants your contributions to be heard (because that probably is what’s behind her pushing), but being put on the spot interferes with what works best for you in terms of processing information and providing feedback, and you don’t really enjoy it in social situations either.

      If you think that’s likely to go worse for you than not addressing the issue with her, then I would just commit to working on saying one thing in meetings for the participation points, whether it contributes anything meaningful to the discussion or not. (I’m also introverted, so I know that’s easier said than done, but I find that affirming things other people have already said is a relatively simple way to do that.) The less of a rare occurrence it becomes, the less reason she’ll have to comment on it. Or if you really can’t see a way to do that without triggering your anxiety, then consider going to HR and seeing if there are accommodations available to you, or talk through strategies with a therapist if you think HR also won’t be helpful.

      1. Shai*

        I want to mention it to her, but often times I’m frozen with anxiety. I also don’t know how she will react. I’ve never seen how she reacts when someone brings an issue to her about something she’s doing. But during our next one to one, I will muster up my mental strength, and talk to her about it. I just wish people would respect those who don’t want to talk much!

        1. Lives in a Shoe*

          Practice always helps. Tell the most judgemental cat you can find, using a script that works for you. Then tell them again. And again, until you’ve bored the cat and you aren’t anxious any more, because now your manager will be “bored cat” in your mind! Good luck!

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Unless her intention was to embarrass you, I don’t think mentioning your anniversary was necessarily problematic — it’s not personal, it’s about work, the team cares, and 5 years is a milestone — but other things like making a big deal when you do talk is really rude.

      FWIW, I don’t think the issue is being bothered or insulted by quiet coworkers so much as believing that everyone actually wants to talk or would talk if given enough encouragement and space to do so. I don’t do this to people because I know better, but I am a big talker and it’s natural for someone who has a lot to say to think that everyone else does too!

      This goes for a lot of things people love, like surprises or birthdays. They love it, so clearly everyone else does too, on some conscious or sub-conscious level, even if they say they don’t. IMO this reflects their inability to look outside themselves and consider that not everyone is like them. This lack of perspective-taking and empathy is super annoying.

      1. Shai*

        Thank you for your response! Don’t get me wrong, I really do appreciate the fact that everyone cares. But it was just the public spectacle of it that bothered me so much. I like my boss and coworkers, I just wish they would stop trying to push me to talk!
        I agree with you 100%, people think because they like something, surely everyone else must like it too. Some people have no ability to see others as individuals. At my last job, they had a baby shower for me despite the fact that I said I DID NOT want one. Then you look like the AH when you get mad because they didn’t respect your wishes. I just don’t understand the way people think.

    4. OtterB*

      You may be overreacting a bit. You’re entitled to feel however you feel, but a work anniversary doesn’t seem terribly personal to me, and the examples you gave don’t seem hostile or mocking (though I didn’t hear the tone and you did.) To be clear, those examples are clearly not good ways to make *you* feel welcome in the group, but I don’t think they rise to the level of “anyone would hate this.”

      If there’s someone in the group that you feel more comfortable around than others, maybe you could raise it with them? “When everybody laughs when I answer a group question, it makes me less likely to want to answer.”

      May not work for your temperament, but if you could find an all-purpose response that you could use as needed in a meeting, in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, “Yep, I’m quiet.”

      1. Shai*

        I agree with you that I’m probably overreacting a bit, but then she should announce everyone’s anniversary, not just mine. In all the years I’ve been here, she’s only done it this one time to me. People have been here 10 years, 20 years but she never draws attention to it.

        1. OtterB*

          Yeah, I agree it should be everybody or nobody, and it makes no sense for it not to be.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I agree with that–I think the anniversary mention was well intentioned, but not if it’s singling her out. And the whole “let’s make the shy person feel even more spotlighted!” thing in meetings is flat out rude.

            I do think the former might be a way for the manager to try to connect Shai more with the rest of the team–it can be hard to figure out how to incorporate introverts without overwhelming them or making other employees feel rejected or overbearing (not that Shai is doing either of those things, especially on purpose! But sometimes shy people end up frozen out professionally because it becomes “easier” to avoid them.)

    5. Irish Teacher*

      Yeah, this is fairly common. There are people out there (I suspect a lot are shy extroverts) who assume everybody really wants to to party, talk at meetings, etc, but that some people are just too polite and shy to do so and that they are doing them a favour by “encouraging” them to.

      The problem is that not only are those people ignoring the fact that some people genuinely don’t enjoy such activities (whether due to social anxiety or just personal preference or just not enjoying that specific person’s company!), they also don’t really understand what is encouraging and what is discouraging.

      I suspect she thinks that by saying, “wow Shai, we finally get to hear your voice!” she’s making you feel that she really values your input and is glad to hear from you and that she is also doing some friendly teasing/banter to “make you feel more part of the group,” but of course, for many (I suspect most) people, it feels more like a criticism.

      As Weaponized Pumpkin said, there are people who really can’t see things from another person’s point of view. I think it comes from a lack of imagination; they truly can’t grasp that not everybody feels the same way they do about everything

    6. RagingADHD*

      Okay, as gently as possible, I am not trying to pick on you — what you are describing is not simply introversion or being “quiet.” Yes, many people who don’t like to speak up in meetings get “called on” or remarked on when they do speak up. That’s a very common response, and I think your manager is trying to be friendly and encouraging.

      However, the thing that caught my attention is that you said that you work remotely, and you had a full blown panic attack because you got congratulatory messages in an asynchronous medium. You were alone in your house? And the effect of getting these messages was that intense. This is not really the same as being “put on the spot” in front of a group of people in person.

      You deserve to get proper help for these fairly extreme symptoms. Please seek out some professional advice.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        This goes beyond “friendly and encouraging”. The manager is being an ass. Shai already knows that their own response is not typical.

        Yes, some professional help may be in order here, but less professional help would be needed if the boss were less of an ass.

        I speak as someone who also works remotely, also has ADHD, also has anxiety, who has taken over a year to get used to the idea of presenting things over MS Teams and is still not comfortable with it (despite the fact that my coworkers are a bunch of gems–something I am truly thankful for!), and who has also had to deal with panic attacks in the pasteven when I’m alone.

        Yes, these things can get that intense. Working remotely and being alone has nothing to do with how your system reacts to these things. If anything, it can make it worse, because you can’t just leave work and go home; essentially, the two spaces are one. I literally have to log out, disconnect my laptop, and put it in a box in my living room so I can regain my personal space every day.

        1. RagingADHD*

          But my point is that introversion / extroversion has nothing at all to do with panic attacks. It’s a fuzzy range of personality traits / preferences, not a mental health issue.

          Extroverts have panic attacks, too. Panic attacks are a symptom of mental health issues that are treatable. OP can be themselves, and be shy and quiet, without suffering from a treatable condition.

    7. Peanut Hamper*

      She also has made it her personal mission to get me to talk, even if it’s something where my input wouldn’t matter. It’s like she takes my shyness and quietness as a personal insult against her. I am friendly with coworkers, and I’m always willing to help them if they’re stuck on something.

      Shoutout to all the “extroverts” out there — not everybody is like you. Please stop trying to get everybody to talk all the time.

      If you make work a safe space for everybody, we will speak up when we feel we have something important to say that other people need to hear. But please stop with the “100 ways to be more extroverted” crap. If you are truly a good manager, then our input is more valuable than your ego.

      Shai, I’m so sorry you are going through this. Your boss may not be an ass, but they are definitely showing some questionable management strategies. (So, they are ass-adjacent, I guess.) I totally get it. Sending you internet Jedi hugs.

    8. maybesocks*

      Your last sentence is on the money. I think she has taken on the project of fixing you. She’s tromping all over the boundary between work requirements and personal traits. Maybe communicate about this to her in writing? Still very stressful to do.

    9. Anon for This*

      I can better do hard anxiety-provoking actions when I take steps to get good calm thoughts deep into my psyche.

      This sounds kind of hippy-dippy but follow me anyway…

      1) I vape to medium-level high on marijuana. (The below doesn’t work for me sober but high the calm well-being gets deep inside and lingers for days)

      2) I put on 2-ear headphones and listen to binaural* theta waves**.

      3) I focus my attention on the funny-sounding theta wave sounds (they’re kind of droning), and imagine a line of light connecting my ears like a rainbow. There’s a point where the theta waves suddenly start to pulse in a thick 3D shining cloud and I float deeply. That’s where my brain gets very receptive to good thoughts.

      4) I quietly say to myself the good thoughts that I believe in my head but not in my bones. In your case it might be “I am good at telling people what I need” and “I am safe with my coworkers.” Just think the affirmation and let it linger, with an air of receptivity. Repeat it over and over, or move on to a new affirmation.

      If you have a meditation with the positive affirmations that work for you, you could play it out loud at the same time you listen to the theta waves.

      *Binaural just means the sound travels from one ear to the other. I suspect that having the sound bounce back and forth between the ears makes the eyes follow, sweeping back and forth, which in EMDR therapy helps unlock important things in the brain, possibly by connecting the two brain hemispheres.

      **Theta waves are sounds that supposedly induce calm relaxed brain waves. Studies have very inconclusive results, but I’ve never heard of a study of people who are high. I have no effect from listening sober, but high it clicks deep inside and I can feel the good calm thoughts for days after. I listen on the Calm app (Doctor Hz’s Slow Movements), but YouTube likely has binaural theta waves.

    10. theguvnah*

      having a panic attack because people wished you congratulations isn’t introversion; it’s anxiety disorder.
      I’m saying this because I think it is important to distinguish. No, it is not generally acceptable to tell people not to wish you congratulations; it is a part of being in a society and working with people.
      It doesn’t sound like you are just shy.

  47. Anxious maybe-job seeker*

    I have a somewhat urgent situation. I have an opportunity to interview for an internal position in a different department. I haven’t given them an answer yet. I haven’t spoken to my current manager yet but feel like I need to in order to be transparent. My dilemma is that I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I feel like I would prefer to stay where I’m at. I love my manager and department. But the other opportunity is likely to offer more money, and I want to make sure I’m not sabotaging myself. I’m also unsure if I should pass up the opportunity to see if a counter-offer might be a possibility, but I don’t want to ask for that if I’m not actually prepared to leave if I don’t get it.

    I had applied for the other position pretty abruptly because it looked potentially promising and I had very little time before the deadline. I was curious to learn more about it but on the fence about how serious I was about considering it. I feel I would still need to learn more, and talk to my manager, before determining if it would be a good career move.

    Any suggestions on handling this?

    1. Glazed Donut*

      I have been in a similar position before, albeit the other manager reached out to me (because he knew my background and skills).
      But what I did was put an agenda item on my check in with my boss to talk about growth opportunities and potential for learning. She and I were able to have a good conversation about what I should and should not expect, and she was at least aware that I was considering expanding outside of my current responsibilities. It didn’t scream “I may leave!” but it did give me a better angle to consider both roles.
      (For what it’s worth, I stayed in my role — at that time.)

    2. All Het Up About It*

      Just tell you manger exactly what you’ve said here. You love where you are at and working for them, but this seemed intriguing and your curious about the roll and the compensation. Then interview to learn more. The pay might not be as big as you think. The work might suck. The new department head might be the worst. And then you can come back and and be happy as a clam and say you that where you are is still a better fit for you.

      Right now you are trying to figure out what you will do in several different what if situations. You don’t have to figure any of that out right now. Just tell your manager and interview. Then you will have more FACTS and can plan from there.

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        Seconding this. Managers talk; your manager is going to find out anyway. Unless you have a terrible relationship they will want to know where your head is at, what’s behind your applying and see how they can help with your career path. It always feels very anxiety producing but it’s a more common conversation for managers than you think!

      2. Anxious maybe-job seeker*

        Thanks for the push! I bit the bullet and talked to them, and I think it went well. I was anxious about them finding out from someone else but also anxious about having the conversation. But I do trust my supervisor to be supportive and honest with me.

        I’m going to proceed with the interview for now, but I feel like I’m in a much better position to weigh my options.

  48. NeedRain47*

    Those of you in academia, how long did it take between your excruciatingly long interview, and when they offered you the job?

    1. Princess Peach*

      Two to three weeks for an offer, and anywhere between three weeks and four-ish months for a rejection. I don’t think I was ever ghosted after doing the campus visit marathon interview.

      1. Chidi has a stomach ache*

        Same here – but I was interviewed at the end of the semester and they were really motivated to get an offer out before their Provost changed over. So, give some leeway to that time, because some folks go MIA over the summer (depending on who has to sign off on the offer).

    2. fueled by coffee*

      This also depends on when other candidates’ interviews are scheduled. I was the first campus visit for an interview, and was notified about ~2 weeks after the last visit that they had offered the job to another candidate, but that was almost six weeks after my interview.

      For my current postdoc, I was notified about 2.5 weeks after the interview (but that’s a postdoc, and I believe they did all their interviews in the same 2 week period).

      1. NeedRain*

        I got the impression I was the last interview. Mainly from the fact that no one said “after we complete the interviews” when telling me what would happen next.

        1. NeedRain*

          I’m mainly trying to decide when to start keeping my phone on and panicking every time it makes a sound. Ha!

        2. Princess Peach*

          When I’ve been on the hiring side, we crammed all the interviews into a couple days. That made it easier to make a “quick” decision by academic standards. Most of the lag time was waiting for the dean, provost, and HR to get all their paperwork done after we selected our top candidate.
          Good luck!

    3. Random Academic Cog*

      I applied in early August, interviewed in early September, job offer in mid-October, and started in January. Staff, not faculty. I’ve been involved with hiring a number of staff and faculty and we’ve reached out to candidates for interviews from 1 week to 3 months after initial application. Rejections often don’t go out – even for non-interviewed candidates who would be acceptable if the first few candidates don’t pan out – until we’ve got a confirmed acceptance, so it can take 1-6 months before you get a “thank you for applying, unfortunately…” notice.

      1. NeedRain*

        I used to work for the same institution as a staff, this time it’s for a faculty position and I don’t know as much about how it works. For the most recent staff position I applied for (last year), I complained on here several times about being ghosted after the interviewer made a big deal that I wouldn’t be ghosted- until they finally sent me a “no thanks” email 5 or 6 months later.

    4. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      The longest I waited for an offer was 6-8 weeks, but they stayed in touch and kept me informed about their extended timeline with scheduling the other campus interviews. And then there was the time last year I was totally ghosted after a campus interview, so you neve know!

    5. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      we interviewed candidates in March. our VP stalled second round interviews because he’s a micro manager and insists on being involved. phone offer went out in May. hr sent paperwork sometime over the summer. we’ve lost a number of good candidates thanks to this terrible process.

  49. Amber Rose*

    I am massively, massively behind on my reports. I managed to finish off the last few outstanding from last year, but I’ve done none of the ones from this year, that’s how behind I am. It just feels like every time I feel motivated to finish some of them, something else blows up or I get pulled into another meeting.

    I’m looking at several days straight to get through them now and I just don’t know how to stop shame spiraling about it and also set out time.

    1. Daisy*

      I am big on the shame spirals. What helps for me is to make a list of items which need to be done (each one small enough it can be completed in 30-45 minutes), pick one item off the list, take long enough away working at something else that I’ve completely forgotten the contents of the entire list, and then…do only that one item.

      I then repeat the process until the list is done. For some reason, it’s so much easier if I can put the blinders on and only look at the one task ahead of me, without feeling like I’m about to be crushed by the giant boulder rolling down the hill.

    2. Sloanicota*

      For me this kind of stuff is very affected by what you said: when I actually do finish reports, there’s no good feeling payoff. Usually a bunch of other work has piled up in the meantime, so if I finally do the unpleasant task, it’s not a relief, it’s just on to shoveling the next load of manure. I have to consciously counter-act that by “making it an occasion” (this is a terrible approach to housework, by the way) – like, take a whole day that you work remotely from a fun place – full disclosure, mine is a mexican cantina and yes I do have a margarita – right before you take a vacation day. Think of a special reward that motivates you for when it’s over. Try to make it feel GOOD to be done. If the year’s reports are more than you can do in a day, maybe set the goal of whatever one day’s worth is and then celebrate that heavily, and repeat next week / month / whatever. Also be sure to come back and tell us on the chat when it’s done so we can celebrate with you.

    3. BellyButton*

      Have you tried the The Pomodoro Technique? You work on a task for 25 minutes, set a timer, then do something else for 15 minutes, then back to the tasks. Work in chunks of time.

    4. Unkempt Flatware*

      Ah the ol Shame-Avoidance cycle. I know it well. I find it helps to name it–I’m in a shame-avoidance cycle. Then do something toward your goal for just 10 minutes. I find that after 10 minutes, I feel I can do another 10. I put on Kath & Kim in the background and just go to town. I bring a snack that will keep me occupied. You can do this!!!!

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Break them down into smaller units than you normally would (e.g. if the real unit of work is “complete report x” then the tasks could be “create outline structure for report x”, “grab numbers from the accounting system”, “fill out excel sheet”, “transpose into report” or whatever tasks make sense) and then you will be able to complete parts without having to complete the whole thing at once. (Are there any commonalities between the reports so that you could focus on extracting all the accounting numbers for projects q through z for example?)

      1. Amber Rose*

        They’re all QC reports. I have the basic information entered as a ticket, I just need to go fill in the sheets for what went wrong, why it happened, and what we did to fix it for each one. It’s more time consuming than anything, and while they’re all single page reports that are relatively quick to do, I have to look up the details for each one individually, sometimes by digging through my emails.

        1. MJ*

          Can you start with more recent reports that won’t require so much digging / might be fresh in your mind?

          If you can crank some of them out quickly it will reduce the overwhelming pile. Whereas if you start with the older ones, by the time you get to “today’s” you’ll need to dig for the info.

          Start to deal with current reports as soon after the event as you can, and make a plan to get through the older ones at a rate of xx per day/week/whatever makes sense.

  50. Daisy*

    Last week I applied for a job with the public policy/ethics branch of a company, and, just a few days ago, I saw in the news that it’s recently come under investigation from the FTC for its data-collection practices. One of the qualities they were specifically asking for in the job ad was “unwavering commitment to ethical standards”

    How worried should I be? I’ve walked into Theranos-level sketchy professional situations before, and I really do not want a repeat.

    1. All Het Up About It*

      I’d say… medium concerned?

      They could be under investigation and the investigation might find no wrong doing. Or something very minor.

      It could be that they’re a company that unintentionally ran afoul of data collection requirements, because there is a LOT of new and evolving legislation out there these days and they are already trying to course correct.

      They could be a company where a one or two bad actors made decisions that had larger ramifications and the company has already moving away from them and preparing for the fallout and trying to do better.

      It could mean that the “unwavering commitment to ethical standards” is complete bullshit and this sort of thing is going to happen ALL. THE. TIME.

      Nothing wrong with staying in the pool and if they call you in for an interview asking how they handle these type of investigations, if this roll would be involved in them etc. While the interviewers won’t be able to speak to an open investigation in detail how the respond, particularly with body language, etc. can help you decide if you’d rather just nope out of there.

      1. Daisy*

        It is one of the AI companies coming under scrutiny for the collection of others’ data (writers and artists, among others) in their training model.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Do you believe there to be any substance to the investigation? if so – I would be concerned as well, that the “ethics office” may be just compliance theatre and you (or whoever takes the role) liable to be thrown under the bus later when there is another ethical breach, because typically companies don’t do a complete u-turn on things like that.

      I would ask (if it isn’t public knowledge already, because that would just prompt “why didn’t Daisy research better before coming to the interview”!) about how this office has been established, how long has it been in place, what is its role in the investigation, has it been set up specifically in response to the investigation. How “independent” is it of the rest of the company (ethics, like audit, should be independent and have a direct line to the top rather than reporting to someone like a CTO or CFO).

    3. fhqwhgads*

      Yellow flag probably?
      Could be they’re hiring BECAUSE of the thing being investigated and wanting to not do that anymore/again.
      Or could be walking into a swirling vortex of hypocrisy and badness.
      I wouldn’t necessarily pull out of the process immediately – altho you of course do what you’re comfortable with – but I’d ask a lot of questions during the interview process to try to see if I’d actually be comfortable or not.

    4. Zephy*

      Well, I guess that answers the question of why they’re hiring for that position, doesn’t it. If you’re worried about it (and I would be, too), you can withdraw your application from consideration – send an email to the hiring manager saying as much, or see if you can cancel/withdraw/otherwise un-apply through the applicant portal. “I don’t want to apply for a role that is currently under Federal investigation” is an extremely reasonable boundary to have.

  51. Timesheets*

    The letter earlier this week made me think that maybe this community might have some helpful suggestions for a similar problem that we have. Don’t worry, we would never withhold pay for not turning in timesheets! But it is a perpetual struggle to get people to complete them correctly and on time.

    I work in finance for a creative industry that works partially on billable hours (like law, consulting, etc.) and partially on retainer fees. I feel like half my job is chasing people down to submit or correct timesheets. How can I encourage people to do them correctly and on time?

    For hourly projects, I try to convey the importance of logging time to make sure we get paid – we can’t bill for time not logged. This has the highest success rate, but usually only among senior people that have visibility into our profitability metrics. Entry- and mid-level still often forget to turn in time or log to incorrect project codes.

    We also have projects that run on retainer and it’s been nearly impossible to convey why time logging is still important. We use it to for budgeting, to determine employee utilization and staffing, and profitability across projects and clients. This is all really important stuff! But because the people doing the work aren’t privy to it, logging time isn’t a priority.

    As an example, we have a client with say a 10k monthly fee, but the team logged 40k in time last month. I can see why someone might think that time doesn’t matter if we can only charge an agreed amount no matter what. We can’t charge more, but we need to investigate the cause to improve going forward. We want to know if the project was scoped inappropriately or if the client is unreasonable or if the team isn’t experienced enough in the specific tasks.

    What we currently do:
    1. Supposedly it’s a company policy that more than 6 late timesheets in a fiscal year makes an employee ineligible for raises and promotions. I do not think this is enforced.
    2. Timesheets are due on Mondays. Automated emails go out on Friday afternoons and Monday mornings to anyone that hasn’t submitted one.
    3. A junior analyst pulls a list of missing time 3x per week and emails people on the list. I think people generally ignore this.

    Limitations:
    1. I am an analyst, so I don’t have any power to impose consequences for not completing them.
    2. I will be the first to admit that our system is clunky, tedious, and user-unfriendly, but I have no standing to push for a better system. Supposedly there is research in the works to switch in the next couple of years, but I am not in the loop on that.
    3. I only have contact with team/client leads and project managers for the most part. I can’t call a team meeting with all of the contributors on a project to explain this.

    I feel like there’s really nothing I can do except send out constant emails begging people to submit/fix time. I can’t force another adult to do something they don’t see as a priority. But it needs to be a priority! Any suggestions?

    1. Ginger Baker*

      If you are looking at folks on specific matters (versus say, you are overseeing all the budget scoping for all matters), it’s very tedious but I have great success with phone calls. (I usually start with a specific to-one-person-directly email but given the number of emails already I would bypass that.) I just call at a random time and then explain alllllll the impacts (mine are often specific to narrative requirements that I need them to adhere to so there’s a lot of discussion of how many hours fixing these mistakes on the back-end takes, esp when multiplied by X timekeepers…). I take a tone of “I’m sorry, I know this is super tedious, but I really REALLY need you to do this Because [Reasons I Explain] even if it seems ridiculous” and a clear indication of how much work/general chaos they are causing if they don’t (plus making clear they are NOT the only ones and therefore every [missed timesheet] from them is really one of [hundreds] impacting me personally – I want to be very clear that YES their specific contribution matters a great deal.

      That call usually does the trick, and if it does not I generally escalate to the partner on the matter (if necessary having the same conversation with them so they understand why it’s such a big deal) and have them call also.

      Good luck, I am intimately familiar with this particular struggle…

      1. Timesheets*

        This is a good suggestion, especially because it lets me talk directly to the people that are causing problems. In the process of getting things submitted/fixed, I could explain the importance of accurate time reporting. If I commit to a few of the most difficult people each week, the problem should reduce eventually with a reasonable weekly investment of my time.

        I have noticed in the past when I have to send a number of reminder emails to someone about an issue with instructions for fixing it, as soon as I schedule a call to do it together, all of a sudden the instructions were clear and people had no problem with their submissions. I bet this will be similar – people at my org seem very motivated to avoid phone calls.

        1. Ginger Baker*

          I can attest to the fact that if I commit to continuing to push the pain back onto the timekeeper (versus absorbing it all myself!) they eventually realize it’s easier to just get it correct than to have to deal with me calling them (repeatedly). Group emails are stupid-easy to ignore, my pestering phone calls, much less so!

    2. timesheet hell*

      My agency is very aggressive about it:
      They moved up the deadline from Monday to EOD Friday (our week starts Sat, not Mon)
      Frequent verbal reminders from leadership in town halls + department meetings
      Slack reminders on Fridays in company channels + department channels + project channels
      Outlook event every Friday for a 15 minute “do time sheets together” zoom
      Email reminder on Friday
      Email on Monday with a list of everyone who didn’t do it
      Mandatory 5-minute training every week you miss the deadline, that talks about why time sheets matter

      1. Timesheets*

        I’d institute the extra trainings for missed timesheets if I could! That sounds like a great deterrent.

        I like the idea of a weekly Zoom meeting, maybe I’ll pitch it as an opportunity for anyone with questions to get them answered, sort of like timesheet office hours.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          We have a separate weekly office hours earlier in the week for time sheets (forgot that one, i deleted from my calendar) run by the admins who know the codes and system best. The 15 minute one is run by our culture team, they play music and make it a little coworking party.

          I do think it’s effective — first to actually provide a space that’s useful/helpful, but second the meeting popup is also a reminder. I never attend, but I keep it on my calendar as it has successfully nudged me a few times.

    3. mreasy*

      Without buy-in from someone with the ability / authority to impose consequences, I’m not sure there will be a way to get people to focus on this. However, you have some excellent data to support the need for these consequences. Pull together some bullet points – # of person-hours spent chasing, billing errors/shortfalls due to things like the $40K month for a $10K client that was IDed after it would have ordinarily been, anything else that makes a business case for taking this very seriously. Find the highest-ranking person you’re able to meet with comfortably, and share this info and meet with them. They will either suggest next steps or take it upon themselves. If you do meet with someone senior and nothing happens, I’d follow up with that person in a few weeks again, and if still nothing… this may just not be something they are ready to resolve, and the way you handle now is part of your job.

      This sounds incredibly frustrating and I would have a very hard time with it too! I hope you’re able to get some resolution. Good luck!

      1. Timesheets*

        Thank you! I have considered this, but another thing to track on my end just seemed too tedious. But it is at the point where this is taking up an inordinate amount of my time so I should probably give it a try now – I’d rather spend my time doing the actual financial analysis that I was hired for.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Who do you “report” to in terms of these time sheets i.e. whose requirement is it that you are carrying out? Whoever that person is, if you’ve done everything with reminders and processes it needs to be escalated so a harder line can be taken on it. Filling those out is a job duty just as much as whatever the actual work is that someone does for a client- and should be treated the same way as if someone was neglecting any other job duty – with a progressive process of being “talked to” even through to firing if they are not doing them on a long term basis.

      The issue is people’s incentives and the company’s incentives aren’t aligned here. People get paid anyway (as we saw with the earlier letter) so it doesn’t hit them in the pocket, but the company can’t bill if they don’t have the time sheets.

      We have to do time sheets at my place (even the most senior levels have to do them!) and I hate them even though I recognise why they have to be done, so for what it’s worth here are some of the reasons I struggle with them:

      Buggy software
      Too many different codes to put things into and too many owners of the codes
      I often get asked to work on something urgent and if there isn’t a code to record the time in, I think “I’ll find that out later” and then it gets difficult to recall what I did last Tuesday once we reach the deadline. We are trying to address that by having people push back on requests for work that don’t have a time code associated.

    5. Random Academic Cog*

      I’ve had great success in improving responses to tedious task reminders by changing the email subject line to something that sounds vaguely alarming (followed by personal phone calls as someone else suggested). Example: License Renewal Due August 1 became License Expires August 1. Small change, conveys exactly the same information, prompt response rate tripled. Sometimes we’re trying to be too nice.

    6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If you could wave a magic wand, you could make timely submission the responsibility of the project managers. And then penalize **them** when their subordinates don’t submit on time. (Which would incentivize the PMs to do whatever they need to get everyone to get do their timesheets).

      ‘Consistently fails to submit timesheets’ would be a big ding against whatever review category covers adherence to company policy or professionalism.

    7. for once...*

      This can create more problems but sometimes easier ones – since you’re using codes to charge against, modify the system such that you have to be authorized to charge to a specific project (a list of names is provided when the code is set up). We did this at my old firm. It kept people from accidentally or intentionally billing to the wrong project – the problem can be a delay when you have to add someone. We were also able to (though few did) allocate hours to someone in the system so they’d always see what were allowed to bill and for what).

      You probably also need to do periodic reeducation about the problems created here for all the staff. You also need real metrics that hold more people accountable.

    8. Shirley Keeldar*

      I once had to motivate myself and three peers (I was slightly senior in experience, but not title) to do a tedious, time-consuming task. What worked was to schedule a group lunch once a month where we all ate and got it done. Breakfast meetings or afternoon snacks on Friday where everybody sits in one room and does their #@($#*!!! time sheets on the company dime, perhaps? Just trying to think carrots as well as sticks.

  52. Stripes*

    I’m looking for some scripting for how to address feedback a direct report shared.

    One of my direct reports manages her own team of 5. They have had a lot of growing pains, and I’ve been working on coaching her through them. After I gave her feedback she disagreed with (regarding a last-minute “I am taking vacation next week” demand), she scheduled a meeting with me where she read multiple pages of her own grievances–essentially a monologue. The meeting she scheduled was sandwiched in between other meetings I had, so once she finished reading we didn’t have a lot of time to discuss what she shared. I’ve scheduled a follow up meeting for once she gets back from vacation and let her know I’d like to be able to discuss her concerns when there is appropriate time to do so.

    I am struggling with what to say about one part of her prepared remarks in the monologue: A few weeks ago, I made an off hand comment about being hangry and eating a snack. In her monologue, she said, “Maybe you haven’t been eating enough and that is coming through in your behavior.” This was in between criticisms like “I was set up to fail” and “I have never experienced the level of entitlement that I have here.” So, she has said some things worth exploring, but I am not interested in hearing feedback from a direct report regarding speculation about my own eating habits, and I would *never* want her to say anything similar to her own direct reports. I think the AAM community is well-versed in people’s sometimes-complicated relationships with food, and I believe that one person talking about their own eating is different from someone else both commenting on it and ascribing it to a behavior. This was in no way a genuine concern.

    Should I not have mentioned being hangry, since apparently that’s one of the reasons she believes I am not supporting her? What is the best way to address this with my employee? 

    For what it’s worth, she also seems to struggle with understanding how much she should push in. Another complaint of hers is that she saw a meeting on my calendar that had a title somewhat related to the work she does, and she asked if she could come and sit in on the meeting. It was a meeting my grand-boss scheduled with me regarding strategy for a potential change in protocol, I didn’t schedule the meeting in the first place, I didn’t even know what it was about ahead of time other than a quick chat message, and I didn’t think it directly related to her work (she was just looking at the vague title). I kindly let her know that access to my calendar is for scheduling and other pieces of awareness, and if there’s a meeting she needs to be in, I’ll be sure she’s included. In this recent monologue, she compared me not granting her access to the meeting akin to “being told there’s not a seat at the table for me.” I am starting to question her judgement. 

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      All of it is pretty wildly inappropriate, to be honest. Not necessarily the context but definitely in the execution. She summoned you in order to monologue at you? I’d have her email it to me so it is on record and then in a couple of weeks, revisit the discussion but on your terms. Don’t do it right away as she seems very entitled and bossy. I can’t believe she weaponized your casual mention of being hangry but now I guess you have to be a robot around her. Give her nothing. I think you did a great job of telling her that is not what calendars are to be used for. What she is doing right now is distracting you from the issue–her team turnover. I’d bet she is actually doing much worse than you think considering how dramatically she is trying to pull your attention to something else. Maybe start having a skip level meeting with her DRs quarterly or monthly.

      1. Random Dice*

        Yeah, 100% agree. This manager is getting stuck on the hangry comment, but the Airing of the Grievances interaction with one’s manager is WILDLY inappropriate.

        This is not someone who you can trust to manage a team.

        This is not someone who should be on your team.

        Start the documentation process for letting her go.

    2. MsM*

      I do think if you’re trying to foster an environment where people don’t comment on other people’s eating habits, proactively bringing up not having eaten even though you know you probably should maybe isn’t the smartest move. More importantly, though, I think focusing in on that one comment risks derailing the conversation when it sounds like there are much bigger issues that you need to address here: you’re trying to work with her and provide helpful feedback, but if she’s going to react with this level of extreme defensiveness and interpret you needing to occasionally say “no” to something as “setting her up to fail,” that’s not going to get either of you anywhere. Have you looped HR or your own supervisor in on what’s going on?

      1. Stripes*

        I’ve definitely kept my supervisor in the loop – she’s actually a skip-level, since my regular supervisor is out on leave and I’ve taken on her workload in addition to my own (this is known to the whole team and has been going on for a few months).

        HR is involved…because a few members of the 5-person team shared concerns and HR is doing a little investigation there with the hopes of recommending training. The rub here is that throughout all of this, I have supported and defended this manger–saying I trust her, she’s been nothing but professional/responsible/respectful… and then this conversation this week has my head spinning. Maybe the team did see something I didn’t, and I just didn’t understand it well enough.

        1. Random Academic Cog*

          This right here. She’s not manager material. She’s the reason good team members leave. I doubt there’s anything worth stressing over in her “feedback” unless you’ve heard some of it from others. No more defending her. Definitely meet with her direct reports – LISTEN to their concerns, accept that you made a mistake putting her over other people (if you hired her for the role), and recalibrate. If she was previously a great IC and can be shifted to a comparable IC role, start writing that job description. If she was an external hire directly into a supervisory position, you may need to let her go.

          When this happened to me, I identified a coverage gap, wrote a new job description to address the gap, structured it as a (small) promotion that wouldn’t have any direct reports and “promoted” my rockstar IC who was a terrible manager (but doesn’t think so). It was hard – I had to admit I made a mistake and risked damaging a solid relationship (it worked out well, fortunately), but I wasn’t going to subject staff to bad management when I recognized it. She’s back to being a high-performing IC and things are running smoothly again.

    3. Turingtested*

      Frankly, the delivery is terrible but I think you need to step back and see if there is validity to what she’s saying and why she took that approach. For example, are you often short tempered with her? Not that she should comment on your eating. Are you so busy that she felt she had to give you the monologue rather than letting you know things as they come up?

      If you realize that you’re doing everything right and she still has that approach that’s a very different conversation.

      1. Stripes*

        While I am busy, I always make time for a call if she sends a “Do you have a moment for a call?” message or wants to de-brief an interaction with someone else. We have our weekly 1:1s as well as weekly leadership meetings (with 3 others). In total, I spend 2+ hours/week in meetings with her (scheduled + impromptu).
        I really can’t think of anything I would have done differently in this situation, or ways I could have supported her more. I’m worried that she feels sharing assumptions, speculations, and personal attacks are acceptable forms of communication — both with me as her supervisor and potentially with her own direct reports.

        1. Turingtested*

          I think if you directly stated that last sentence to her and coached on the right way to do things you will find out very quickly if she needs training or is a lost cause.

    4. WellRed*

      She sounds unhappy and maybe a bit burned out. How long has she been there? Nothing about this was appropriate and frankly, I’m questioning whether she shouldn’t move on.

      1. Stripes*

        She’s been around for about a year. I am thinking that if she truly believes people are out to get her, she will find another position.

    5. Peanut Hamper*

      I think your employee is being a bit over-the-top, to be honest. She sounds like she is not progressing as quickly as she would like to or think she should be and is looking for excuses.

      She scheduled a meeting to “discuss” grievances, knowing that you had meetings on either side and then just used that time to rant.

      She demands a last-minute vacation.

      She demands to be allowed into a meeting that she thinks is related to her work, but isn’t happy with the reason you gave for not including her (which was very reasonable).

      She takes one off-handed remark you made and is using that as a reason for how she perceives you are treating her.

      She describes being “set up to fail” and experiencing “entitlement” but does she give you any substantial proof of that?

      I am seriously questioning her judgment as well. What have her reviews been like previously? Has she always struggled or is this something new?

      You should ask her to substantiate her claims. She says she’s not being given a seat at the table. Ask her for other examples. Ask how they’re impacting her work. Ask her to demonstrate how she was “set up to fail”.

      I’m betting she can’t. Her responses should be interesting, to say the least.

      1. Stripes*

        I’m worried that asking for examples will make me seem combative. I’m not here for a fight, although I would love to know when I have been unprofessional, unsupportive, etc. This all feels like a defensive move on her part.

        Her reviews have all been mid/average. Out of her performance areas, she had one that was above average, but everything else has just been passing.

        We’ve worked on communication in the past since her writing tends to be unclear. One of her monologue points was “I have a college degree and no one has had an issue with my writing until now.” There are many times myself and her direct reports will ask her to re-state something in a chat because we can’t make heads or tails of it. She’s become better at adding context (literally she will write a question and then write “Context: ” because of the number of times I would respond to her questions with “Context, please?”

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          About being combative — that definitely depends on how you approach it.

          But you can’t change a behavior if you’re not aware that you’re doing it, so yeah, you’re going to need some examples.

          “You’ve said that I’m not giving you a seat at the table. Can you describe some times you’ve seen that and tell you what you would have preferred that I do.”

          “You’ve said you’ve seen a lot of entitlement here. Can you tell me about some of that and how you think that could be prevented?”

          “You’ve said you feel set up to fail. Could you describe some of those reasons and how we could turn those around so that you are set up to succeed?”

          She is the one making these accusations, so the burden of proof really is on her.

        2. DistractedDeveloper*

          Asking someone to elaborate isn’t the same as being combative. She might take it that way, but that is a problem on her end. Frankly, she sounds quite combative herself and I’m seriously questioning her judgement.

          It sounds like she might trying to push you into going on the defensive in order to keep scrutiny of herself. If that’s the case, there’s just no way you can deescalate by giving in to her. It’s good that you want to be open to receiving critical feedback, but you should be able to receive it on your terms — not all at once, the acceptable mixed with way-out-of-line speculation and no opportunity to talk about it.

          1. Peanut Hamper*

            Asking someone to elaborate isn’t the same as being combative

            Yep, exactly. If she is being combative, it’s to deflect from her own mediocre performance.

            100% agree with all of this.

        3. Mockingjay*

          Whoa. “I have a college degree and no one has had an issue with my writing until now.” I cringed on your behalf.

          Channel your inner Alison: “Feedback is a regular part of all the roles here, regardless of role or experience, and that includes your writing. These reviews provide a quality check for accuracy and standardization across all written reports and communications. Going forward, I need you to be open to critique of your work as process improvement. Can you do that?”

          I’m not sure this employee can be “saved” except by reassigning her to a nonmanagerial role and/or putting her on a PIP, and even then I doubt she’ll be happy or stay. But weighing the replacement of one disgruntled employee against an entire team, I’d talk to HR & management about steps to part ways with this one, should the PIP fail.

    6. WorkingRachel*

      So, wait, this “monologue” was in response to you giving her some performance feedback? Specifically that she shouldn’t tell you she’s taking a weeklong vacation last minute rather than actually requesting it with some kind of reasonable lead time? Which is a really normal and reasonable workplace expectation. And it sounds like she went on the vacation anyway, so you didn’t even deny it, she just doesn’t like that she’s been asked to do it differently in the future?

      The monologue itself is, in my opinion, a serious performance issue. It’s one thing to push back gently on feedback (“Hmm, I’ve never heard that about my writing before, could you be more specific?”). But this is…there’s a word for responding to criticism by lashing back at the person criticizing you, which is escaping me right now, but it’s a manipulation technique, and your response shouldn’t be to go over your behavior with a fine-toothed comb, but rather to tell her that this is also not acceptable and escalate any coaching you were doing beforehand. I’ve been on the receiving end of this sort of critical ambush, and I’ve never had it end well–either they’re fired, or they quit, or they become chronic problems (the worst of the three options). If she’s very young or new to the this type of workplace, you might be able to salvage this through serious coaching, but you need to tell her directly that this isn’t an okay way to respond to feedback and that doing it again will result in a PIP or whatever your workplace’s equivalent is. If she’s really got concerns that’s she’s being treated unfairly (and I suspect that’s just a red herring), she can take it up with your boss or HR/HR equivalent.

      Should you have joked about her being hangry? Maybe not. But it’s a pretty mild transgression, and just because she might have a point about a couple of details doesn’t mean she wasn’t out of line. Think of it in reverse, if you decided to give her feedback in a meeting you didn’t disclose the purpose of, in the form of a monologue that went on for quite some time (I’m assuming you probably didn’t do any of that), that would also be inappropriate, and you’re her boss!

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      The second she tried that “you’re inappropriate because you made one joking remark about being hangry” all my alarms went off. She’s being both unprofessional and wildly entitled (and projecting both those things onto you with this fire hose blast of My Issues: A Manifesto.)

      It is definitely time to start questioning her judgment, and also start taking a close work at her production levels and team morale.

  53. BioInformaticsAnon*

    I’m having trouble letting someone fail. They’re a rotations learner (like an intern) for 2 months only. They have some serious attitude issues and are really self centered. I’ve been advised by my manager to just be more hands off and let them be, but they sit next to me so keep being my problem. We’ve had conversations trying to set expectations prior to this. But it’s really not my job to babysit the rotations learners. And as one of the only women on staff its a bit dicey and I really want to avoid being the one who has to do the soft skills development, I’m a coder not a therapist darn it Jim. But I feel bad knowing they’re burning bridges and maybe not realizing it. Any advice for just keeping your head down? Especially since that’s what I’ve been told to do.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      If they fail – does it have an effect on you? (extra work, bugs that have to be tracked down and fixed, etc) If so, that’s the discussion to have with your manager- about the impact. Otherwise manager is right – sit back and let it be. BTW, it’s not necessarily your problem just because you sit next to them!

      If there is someone (surely there must be) who coordinates the rotations program or is the defacto “manager” of the rotation people overall – you could talk to them, although whether this is seen as going over your manager’s head or undermining them is workplace culture dependent.

      1. BioInformaticsAnon*

        This was really helpful, thanks! No it won’t reflect on me , they’re working on a self contained project. It might look bad that I didn’t make our department welcoming to them or something but I think that’s more shared on everyone.

        The coordinator is in another department, I’m not actually sure who they are, but I did previously suggest that rotations learner consider talking to their coordinator about what their goals should be for their rotation.

    2. Random Dice*

      Save your energy for rotationals you’d want to work with after they got good at the job. Let future nightmare coworkers wash themselves out.

      It’s a good thing to help inexperienced people who are trying their best, have a good attitude, but just don’t know stuff. That’s the kind of person one can mentor, and root for.

      Someone with attitude problems, arrogance, selfishness, AND ignorant of the job? Why pour energy and effort into someone who will be a nightmare coworker after their ignorance is cured. (Though let’s be real, this kind of person doesn’t actually get to mastery, they just learn a little and bake in their character flaws into the job.)

  54. Woeful Empress*

    I have a new job (3 months in), and inherited a staff of nine. One of my staff, Rachel, has expressed the desire to get promoted. The challenge there is that she has a really specialized role. She manages the online llama directory. We may be able to create a “senior llama directory specialist” role for her, but my boss has concerns about her ability to manage projects, present to senior leaders, and do more senior-level work.
    I am struggling with how best to create opportunities for her to demonstrate her ability to perform at a more senior level, if that makes sense. Any thoughts? I’m really stuck.

    1. MsM*

      Does she want to expand beyond managing the online llama directory? If so, are there projects you can put her on that will allow her to get experience in those areas? Are there aspects of the llama directory that she could work on automating, or cross-train other people on to free her up for that other work, which would probably have the side benefit of proving that she can project manage and present and oversee others’ work?

      If she wants to just keep handling the llama directory as is and just feels like she deserves a title bump for having managed it for this long, you may just need to be honest that that this is as far as she’ll be able to advance on the current track with her current responsibilities, and let her decide whether that’s going to work for her or not. (Although if she does decide it’s time to move on to other challenges, someone’s going to need to cover that work at least until you can hire someone new, so you might want to get started on the cross-training regardless if that hasn’t already happened.)

    2. blood orange*

      What is the basis of your boss’ concern that she isn’t ready for more senior level work? Is he unhappy with her current work product, or has something otherwise made him feel that way?

      If she’s really excelling in her current work, then what kind of work would a senior llama directory specialist do? If you don’t really have an answer for that, then I’d wonder if you’re trying to create a role for an employee rather than being led by the business need.

      If her work is great and you can think of examples of what a senior specialist would do (including if she could take some things off of your plate, or work on more strategic projects), then I’d also really want to address her ability to manage projects and present to senior leaders. That’s good feedback for her, and those are skills you can coach her on to improve in those areas. It’s possible if you lead with those two concerns, the more senior level work possibilities would follow.

  55. DisneyChannelThis*

    :(( My work removed WFH and now people are quitting . My friends who have jobs that cannot be done remote are being offensive about how people just want to be lazy and I’m just so over it. I liked the team members we had. It’s going to be a PITA to train replacements and shuffle work loads around in the meantime. We tried telling management that removing WFH would lead to this but they did not listen. They also couldn’t provide any measurables or metrics for what they were hoping to see improve by not having WFH, so it really came off like whim. Time to start polishing my own resume I guess.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Ugh I’m so sorry. This would def make me quit. I have a hard time believing higher ups when they say productivity is down and metrics are not met if they can’t even back it up with real data. I’m sad to see so many employers going back to butts-in-seats and using vague reasons like, “culture”. I’m also sorry your friends cannot even muster a, “Ugh I’m so sorry”. So obnoxious. I think the people who say work-from-home folks are lazy are unmotivated and lack proactivity and they are projecting that onto you.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        What’s especially crazy to me is that we don’t have enough desks, or parking as it is. It’s not like there’s an empty office building they’re paying rent, or something. Now we’ve got people packed like sardines in offices meant to be singles.

        1. Anonymask*

          This sounds vaguely familiar, like my place of work. I am also job searching, and when I find something, I will be mentioning the loss of WFH as a reason I left. I’m sorry this is also happening to you. Good luck!

    2. Sloanicota*

      Ugh, everyone is struggling but I hate when we workers turn on each other. Yes, it sucks that some jobs are not able to be remote, particularly if the workers in those jobs WANT remote (which not everybody does!). But being unkind to you is not helping anyone, it’s just making you feel bad! And it does stink to have to go back into the office knowing there’s no real reason! Solidarity. I hope you also job search and find remote work if that’s what you want to do / what makes sense in your field.

  56. Tennisplyr1*

    What do you think about management that takes every employee complaint seriously? There was recently a situation at work that involved some of my coworkers, and management came to everyone that if they have any complaints about anything, the situation will be dealt with. I feel hesitant because then management could take petty complaints as serious complaints.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’d rather HR/Management have to take the time to sort out trivial “She chews too loud” complaints from legitimate complaints (“She slapped my behind”) than have people not report any complaints because they think they won’t be taken seriously or will be brushed off. Management has the tools to address the complaints, and sometimes even trivial seeming complaints add up to patterns of legit harassment.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      I think it’s management’s responsibility to at least hear people out and then determine if further action is warranted. The opposite — dismissing something because of its face value–could get tricky if only part of a situation was shared and the rest was something that could get the company in trouble legally.

    3. ferrina*

      Aw heel no. I get that management needs to listen to every complaint seriously, but the follow up can be as minor as making a note somewhere. People complain about their boss doing their job (I had one person complain that I kept telling her what to do- I was her supervisor and it was literally in my job description to assign tasks to her role).

      So it’s a fine line. Management needs to be able to listen to every complaint, but also needs the wisdom to know which ones to act on and how to act. Sometimes acting is just showing up a couple times and having coffee with a couple people and dropping a hint, then following up with the complainant to confirm things are a bit better. If they treat every single complaint as needing an investigation, that is overkill.

    4. Gotta get through this*

      I think it’s wonderful when management take complaints seriously and are willing to investigate them and make a reasoned determination of the facts, rather than dismissing complaints out of hand, ignoring them, or being discriminatory in which complaints they choose to consider.

    5. Educator*

      As a US-based manager, I am obligated to work with HR to investigate any complaint that could conceivably expose us to liability. That does not mean I deal with everything at the same level, but it does mean that some things my employees might perceive as less significant still need follow up. For example, something small that, if it kept happening, could create a hostile work environment, needs to get documented in case it does happen again. It’s likely that HR is asking for feedback at this time to see if there are any patterns of behavior related to the incident you mentioned.

      You should definitely report anything that you feel is discriminatory based on a protected class. If you are in the US, you are protected from retaliation if you do, and it’s morally the right thing. But HR is unlikely to care about or investigate complaints like “Joe is clipping his toenails at his desk” or “Sarah never washes her mug.” They are just looking out for legal liability.

    6. Random Dice*

      I feel like you’re being a touch gullible, taking the words of management so seriously. (We all do it, early on.)

      They care about employer complaints that can get the company sued, but after that it’s very unlikely that they will get too torqued about employees’ gripes.

  57. Some dude*

    For those of you who hold marginalized/underrepresented identities, what has an inclusive workplace looked like to you? What things have employers and managers done that made you feel like you belonged in your workplace. Conversely, what smaller, less obvious things made you feel like you didn’t belong? This is a big topic in my field (nonprofits) but I’d love to hear from people’s actual experience.

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      A big thing for me (municipal government) was having an ERG with a designated liaison to our highest level (non-elected) manager. It was clear we had access to power and that manager actually responded to concerns the liaison brought them. We got affirmative gender diversity policies and the process of development centered our input without forcing us to carry the load of the work of policymaking.

  58. Lila*

    Anyone know if a job can require you to use up any accrued leave before going unpaid? I started a new job a few months ago and already had vacation time lined up, which I mentioned at the offer stage. I was told it was fine to go unpaid after using 2 floating holidays and that was outlined in my offer letter. However, now HR is saying that they require me to use any accrued leave time, which is basically only my sick leave, since I don’t get vacation time for the first 4 months. I would rather go unpaid, and am also not thrilled that no one said this before. I am salaried and exempt, if that matters. Thanks!

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I’m not sure where you are but this is legal in most parts of the US. (I’m thinking a few states may have laws against this, but I’m not aware of any.)

      Most companies do not like unpaid time off, because it creates a bookkeeping nightmare. Hence the requirement to go through all your paid leave. (Unpaid leaves of absence where you are pretty much off the books are a different matter, but most are longer than 30 days.)

      This may also create a headache with their insurance and workman’s comp, which is another reason to not allow it.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      My job requires this.

      I think you’re ahead to use your paid time. If you get sick and need to take those days unpaid, you come off no worse, and if you don’t get sick in that time, you come out ahead.

    3. ferrina*

      This sounds pretty normal to me. It really sucks that HR is going back on what they said, but if you take that part of it, it’s a fair ask.

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      Can you confirm they mean you will have to use sick leave? I think it’s common to have to use applicable buckets of PTO before going unpaid, but in my experience employers won’t let you use sick leave for non-health reasons. I would guess that in this case you have an applicable, but empty, bucket to use before going unpaid.

  59. ID Badge Clip Help*

    Super low stakes but does anyone have a work badge clip they like? I hate lanyards and I don’t always wear the kind of clothes I can clip the stretchy-cord kind on. Any ideas?

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I don’t have any ideas but I am genuinely curious what kinds of clothes you can’t clip the stretchy cord kind on!

      If you have to wear it in a specific place on your body I can see it, but I clip mine (I got cute ones with little embroidered cats on the clip part) to the neckline when I’m wearing a dress or something without a waistband. Or I’ll wear a belt to clip it to. And since I often find myself wearing a blazer or cardigan with a dress, that’s another neckline or pocket I can use to clip.

      I suppose if there really was nowhere (ie a turtleneck sweater dress I guess?) I would put a safety pin in the chest and clip the badge holder to that. I don’t think that’s an ideal solution, though.

      If your badge needs to be visible I don’t know what to tell you, but if you just need it to get in doors you could always put it in a wallet or one of those phone cases with the card slots on the back?

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Now that you’ve asked me this, I’m wondering if I can find the magnetic kind like if I were wearing a name badge. Like Admin of Sys says below. I don’t think it will interfere with opening doors. My favorite kind of pants do not have belt loops so the stretch cord thing can’t securely clip anywhere. Thanks for your input!

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Similar to the safety pin idea – I have a magnetic thing – I think it comes up under “magnetic eyeglass holder” in searches? Like, if you take off reading glasses, you could loop them onto it through one arm, but you can also clip a work badge onto it, and it magnets onto your shirt and sticks out a little bit for holding things.

    2. Admin of Sys*