open thread – July 21-22, 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.

{ 1,124 comments… read them below }

  1. Lying Liar who Lies*

    Help! I have developed a really bad habit at work and I need a new script. I have one of those jobs (nonprofit) where there is always more to do than anyone could really finish, so you try to keep the balls in the air. Lately, when my boss and I are running down the to-do list and she is asking me about the progress items on my workplan, I start to panic and I’ll end up blurting out that something is done … when it’s not actually done-done yet. Usually it’s either mostly done or I think it’ll be done soon – often it’s literally open on my computer at the time. It’s like I am afraid she’ll think ill of me when too many things aren’t finished – but obviously I know she’d think worse of me if she realized I was lying about things being done when they’re not! I need to short-circuit this with a new response. Maybe “yes, this will be done by the end of the day” ? But can you really say that about three things on a list before you look bad?

    Please be nice – I’m extremely ashamed of this already and I know it needs to stop!!

    1. ChemistbyDay*

      Maybe instead of saying yes, when she asks if it’s done, say “today”. It’s a word-for-word swap, which may be easier to train yourself to do.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think this is the reality for many jobs that have concurrent projects. As a manager, I’d much rather hear my employee say something like, “I’ve completed X portion of the project and am working on Y section today. Realistically, I think I can get Y done by [time], but it will honestly depend on how much [other projects/priorities] interfere with my focus.”

      It allows me to learn what the roadblocks are to completing anything and also get a realistic sense of your workload and your pace, so I know if I need to step in to help either offload other work or help you get the project over the finish line. There’s no shame!

    3. Nonprofit ED*

      I am an Executive Director of a nonprofit. I would just appreciate you being honest about where things are. Use percentages if needed like task one is 95%, task two is 75% complete etc. If you have many competing priorities, ask your boss to help you prioritize what needs to be completed first. I agree that it would be worse to find out you were lying because then you lose trust. Honesty is always the best policy in my book.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Can you maybe look at the to-do list before you meet with your boss and status/prioritize everything you can by yourself first – A “Just needs one more review for extra commas etc, then complete”, B “currently in progress and expect be done by 2,” C “Next on the list after B, expect to be done before EOB today” etc.

      As a manager, “I’m working on A B and C and plan to have them done today” is WAY less of an issue than telling me they’re done when they’re not, for sure. And knowing going into the discussion what’s going on with everything should hopefully help you relay it more accurately!

      1. What The Freaking What*

        I like this process. It can be hard to find the time when overwhelmed to prep, but status meetings always feel more calm when I do.

        1. doctora colora*

          So true. And that may actually be something to discuss with your boss re: workload management. If you’re always swamped and putting out fires, how do you have time for the planning & prioritizing and focused productivity time.

    5. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      LLwL, something I’ve learned here at AAM is that it is the job of a manager to set priorities. I always have a general sense of what my reports are working on and know that some need more help from me on prioritizing and organizing than others.

      This is slower than a short circut but practice telling yourself that when your manager asks if something is finished, she isn’t asking “why isn’t this done yet” but “what is the status of the task?” That could even be something you could talk about, to find out what she hopes to get from these conversations. And be sure to ask what the top priorities are when you go through the list. If you can remove some of the anxiety about answering the question with what you think she wants to hear, it will probably help too.

      1. Ampersand*

        I really like this reframing—I’ll have to use it myself when talking to my own manager. It might allay some of my anxiety to remember that she’s asking for a status update, not looking to blame me for something not being done yet. I totally understand not wanting to disappoint your boss and therefore saying things are done when they’re not.

    6. kiki*

      I have had a similar bad habit. For me, this sounds corny and may make me look a little silly, but I take a deep breath before responding. Because it’s often my anxiety that makes me feel compelled to lie, even just one calming breath can set me straight. And in general, everyone has been really chill when something isn’t done– I’m a good employee, I’m not just putting things off. If I haven’t done something yet, it’s because I haven’t had time or it’s not my highest priority. From talking to somebody, it may become clear that its priority has changed and I should do it today, but nobody’s ever acted like I messed up.

      And getting out of this bad habit was difficult but very important. A few times, these little lies would get me into trouble or cause me to work crazy hours, if a task ended up taking up much longer than anticipated or there was some blocker to completing the work. If I panic and lie and say it’s already done, that makes it really tricky to ask for help or an extension.

      1. Lying Liar who Lies*

        Yeah, if I have already lied about something being done when it’s not done, the next step is a panic/shame spiral about actually getting it done asap so really the whole process is not fun for me and I’d really like to stop!!

        1. Just Another Cog*

          “…….where there is always more to do than anyone could really finish, so you try to keep the balls in the air.”

          You’re not being fair to yourself! As others have suggested, I think a running list of the progress of each project is an excellent idea, so you have the figures ready for your meetings. This way, maybe you wont feel like you have to make something upon the spot.

    7. English Rose*

      Oh don’t be ashamed, it’s a habit coming from an understandable place!
      Before looking at a script, is there something to think about around simply having multiple projects open at a time? I get your comment about keeping balls in the air, but is there any chance of finishing more things completely before starting on another? Just a thought.
      But for your script, rather than tying yourself to a timescale, how about “this is x% finished, I’m just waiting for y”, “I had to drop progress on this for a while to focus on abc, but I will be able to get back onto it now that’s finished”, or even an honest “I’m struggling with this one, do you have any input on z”.
      Maybe it’s something around specific reasons why something isn’t finished rather than just repeating no it’s not quite done yet.
      And take a breath before blurting! Best of luck.

    8. Tio*

      When you’re doing your list, write out all your projects, write out how close to complete you are and when you think you can finish before you go into the meeting. Block out ten minutes at least for this. Then, when she asks, say “Let me see-” and take a deep breath while you look it up on the list (take an extra second or two to calm yourself down a bit), then read off what you have written. Having the information readily available and written out as a script can help you short circuit the panic. If there’s more than one thing you think is close to finishing and might finish today, one way to say that is “This is one of my 3 priorities to try and finish today” or however many you have. It communicates it’s close to done and you might get it in today, but if not it’ll still be close.

      I would also practice this, honestly – just say it out loud in the shower, to your dog, to your friends/family /partner/roommate if they have time. It gives you a little muscle memory when you’re in front of other people. (At least, it helps me.)

    9. A Girl Named Fred*

      I agree with Not a Real Giraffe and Red Reader, and I’d also like to add – you say you’re extremely ashamed of this and start to panic when you have these talks. Is there a way you can forgive yourself for it happening in the past, realize we all are human and have slip ups like this sometimes, and give yourself the grace you would give your best friend if they confided this in you? I say that because it seems like you’ve built a “wall of awful” around your impossible to finish to do list, which makes you panic when your boss asks how it’s coming along. If you can give yourself that grace, and if you know your boss to be mostly reasonable, it might help you give yourself permission to be honest instead of blurting out the yes.

      You’re not a lying liar who lies, you’re a person who recognized a bad habit you want to change. That’s a good thing, and you can get past it!

    10. Jessica*

      Don’t feel bad, you correctly recognized the problem and you’re going to fix it! That’s good.

      My perspective on some of the advice you’re getting is colored by an experience I’m having. My employee uses the sort of language people are suggesting for you, and tells me that he expects to finish up the X project today. But the problem is that his estimates are always best-case scenarios, like if nothing else interrupts and every light is green, it’ll be done today, only our business is located in actual reality, so it never is.

      So how accurate are your projections? Do you have the sort of job/work environment where you can be pretty confident that you will actually finish the X project today, or more the sort of job where there are likely to be 37 urgent interruptions and maybe you won’t get back to wrapping up the X project till Thursday?

      If the latter, maybe it would be more useful to frame it in terms of how done it is, not when you’ll do it. Like, the llamas are all brushed, I just need to plait ribbons into their manes and they’ll be ready to go.

      1. Lying Liar who Lies*

        I have been wrong before for sure, and it’s terrible – like I thought it was “basically done” and then there ends up being something I didn’t anticipate and *now* what the crap do I do

        1. ThatGirl*

          You can correct yourself! It’s not a big deal! Oops, I thought it was done but I realized there’s still X, I’ll have that done by Y.

    11. NeedRain47*

      I just say “I expect to finish it today.” No one’s ever given me a hard time about not having it done-done when they know it’ll be finished in 24 hours even if I get sidetracked. (if it ends up taking longer, another update might be a good idea.)

    12. I'dratherbequilting*

      How about it’s on my list to complete and explain your priorities so you and boss have a reasonable expectation of when you will get to the task?

    13. A Penguin!*

      “X hours (or minutes) left”; possibly adding “I’ll finish it up after this meeting/the Anderson report/lunch/etc”

      But I think you need to take a look at why a normal and predictable boss question is inciting panic.

    14. Annony*

      I think it might help if you can reschedule your meetings for towards the end of the day. Then the projects that will be done by the end of the day are in fact done.

      Even more importantly, I think you need to discuss your feeling of pressure to not have so many open projects with your manager. If you are afraid having three projects that will be done by the end of the day makes you look bad, ask her if that is the case. Should you juggle less and try to complete the projects you have before picking up a new one? Are you prioritizing the way she wants you to? If you get feedback on what her actual expectations are I think you will feel more comfortable giving honest updates.

      1. Annony*

        Also, it may be easier to submit a written update before the meeting so that you don’t feel put on the spot. If you have a list of all current projects and estimated delivery dates or percent completed, you can then expand on it in your meeting or she can flag any that are behind where she needs them to be.

    15. HR Exec Popping In*

      One option is to maintain your own list of each thing you are working on and include the current status for each item. Then you won’t need to panic and try to come up with the answer. You can just read what you put down for the status. For example:
      – TPS report: in progress. awaiting feedback from manager, teapot design. Expected complete by end of week.
      – Fundraising email: complete. sent to donors on Tuesday, received responses from 10% so far.

    16. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I’m not quite sure here what’s going on, but it sounds like you need your manager to give you prioritization! And that is a completely normal thing to ask your manager about helping you with. Once you get those, concentrate on on only the top three and getting those completed.

      As with many jobs, there might be a constant backlog. Use your time with your manager to discuss priorities every week, as well as roadblocks that may be hindering progress (like waiting on an approval from another team).

    17. Jess R.*

      This is a WHOLE mood. I totally understand the panic response. The thing is, I don’t think “saying that about three things on a list” does look bad. I think it looks… like a status report. Morally neutral.

      There’s a lot of good replies here about making notes ahead of time on the status of each item so you have something to refer to (rather than relying on your likely-to-panic in-the-moment brain) and pausing, taking deep breaths, etc. I want to suggest that you take a little time in the coming days and weeks to think about why you do this. Does your manager make you feel like you can’t tell her the truth about project status? Are you troubled or ashamed or bothered by your own speed or work ethic? Are you afraid that your manager will yell? Do you think you “should” be doing more/differently/”better”?

      At our org, we just had a manager leave who was, I think, plagued by this very issue. We’d ask her to handle certain tasks (not like assigning work, more like escalating issues or reminding her of specific reports/paperwork we needed), and while she wouldn’t say it was done, she’d always say “Oh okay, I’ll do that right now.” And then she didn’t. Not right then, not that day, and in most cases, not ever. And she left a huge mess when she left. On my more gracious days, I think about how awful this must have been for her, to be stuck in that loop of “I said I’d do it and I haven’t but I can’t tell anyone I haven’t and I have to act like I’ve got it all handled.” I would have given anything for her to just… tell us she couldn’t do a thing and ask us to find another way.

      It’s obviously different in your case because a) the roles are flipped and b) it sounds like you’re not behind-behind yet, just inflating your current status a little. And I don’t tell this story to make you feel ashamed or panic deeper about what if you keep doing this. I tell it to say: Yes, all the advice I see here is good and practical: Take a breath, make a list beforehand, maybe even proactively email your boss regularly about the status of your to-do list before she asks. And also? Also spend a little time sussing out what the fear/anxiety/worry is that’s prompting this, if you can. I think it’ll be more useful in the long run.

      1. Lying Liar who Lies*

        I have really tried to put a lot of thought into the psychology here. My manager is a brusque but not unkind – very fair – person and has never been sharp to me – I really don’t think it’s coming from her, it’s mostly coming from me (although the fact that she’s not very warm does probably drive up my anxiety a bit – again, something I need to deal with on my end, not a failure of hers). I am somehow terrified of being seen badly by her or losing her confidence/respect. And obviously I realize I’m increasing the chances of doing that with my own behavior.

        1. leeapeea*

          I’ve been in your position before, but at that time it was with a mean-girl-boss (yes, portmanteau of a portmanteau). I was actively working with a therapist as my spirals were prompting anxiety attacks, and one of the strategies we worked on that helped me was changing the goal from “done” to “movement.” In that particular role, NOTHING was ever done, and not having a “completed” assignment to present to my boss felt like a crazy failure, even though I was working my ass off every day. “Progress” didn’t really work either as this was a governmental role and there were so often barriers I couldn’t move or account for. “Movement” just felt neutral, similar to Jess R. above noting that “status” could feel neutral. There seem to be lots of good thoughts here, I hope you find something that helps!

      2. Alianora*

        I have a coworker who does exactly what you described – when asked about the status of anything, she always says she’ll get it done. More often than not, doesn’t happen. She’s been offered help. She always says she has things handled, but people are pretty skeptical at this point. I know my manager is not happy with this pattern.

        OP does seem to be getting things done in an overall timely manner, so not quite the same, but I want to emphasize that 1) asking for help is much better than trying and failing to do it all and 2) setting realistic expectations is perfectly professional.

    18. Ferris Mewler*

      Smile and say “I’m right on top of that, Rose!”

      But really, just say “I expect to finish that today” or “I’m working on it today and it will be done tomorrow at the latest.” Once you change your responses and see that she isn’t going to bite your head off, it will be much easier.

    19. DrSalty*

      I have a job like this and I often use “it will be done today/tomorrow/realistic estimate.” The key is just you have to actually follow through with meeting those deadlines.

    20. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Reread this part: “there is always more to do than anyone could really finish.”

      Step oneis to give up the notion that you SHOULD be able to do more and let go of that guilt or shame. If your manager is judging you for not being able to do the job of multiple people then you should be job searching. But in my experience most non-profits are fully aware that the list never stops.

      I found it best to keep my to do list and instead of Xing things out I would move them to a done list. Then when I meet I would just say, this is what has been finished since we last talked, these (reasonable # of items) are what I consider top priority for me the next few days. The remaining items will be address as time is available.

      Then allow her time to peruse and reorder priorities if necessary.

    21. New Senior Mgr*

      No judgment. Anyone who has worked in a role where you’re trying to keep the balls in the air and meet deadlines, at a minimum, has been here, done that, and felt the pressure and anxiety. My response would be “working on it, no issues” or “working on it, running into roadblock A., let’s discuss.”

    22. J*

      One check in you might do with yourself is to see if you’ve mentally written off the project. I have a colleague who thinks done is “I did the edits” but forgets to send it out for signature. I really want to drill down with her in our calls about the exact status just so I know what’s going to trigger back for me. If next week I am going to get calls from the other party asking where the document is to sign or from accounting asking where the document is to cut a check, I’m going to be more annoyed because I thought this was done done. So when you answer 1) make sure you clearly state the status and prep for the meeting beforehand with documentation so you don’t just say something wrong, 2) think about how your answer will affect others. Maybe slow down in the moment – this is what trips up my colleague who thinks it’s a race to answer me. I don’t care if it takes her a while to think or check (though I do wish she’d do it to prep for our meeting but we’re all busy) or if the project is done (I mean I kind of do if I’m getting harassed by others but usually I can stall if I just know the truth) but I do care if I get the wrong answer. Remember your job is to be accurate first in these check ins and if you are falling behind, that’s something your boss wants to know so they can help!

    23. Hybrid Employee (Part Human, Part Wolf)*

      When I’ve been in situations where there’s more than I can possibly accomplish and I feel embarrassed and failure-y for not being superhuman, I find it helpful to judo-reverse the onus onto the manager. I’ve presented it as “I need your help selecting priorities, because my capacity is X for the day, and the docket is X+3.” No shame or apology! This is a normal way to leverage your manager.

      For this to work, you do need to have done the work of assessing your workload thoroughly. Project A will take two hours, but you can do a reduced version in 30 minutes; Project B will only take one hour of actual work but it needs input from Jeff first; Project C is going to take four hours and is the most urgent. Figuring out what someone else could support and ways you *could* make it all work gives your manager more to work with when helping you figure it out, and it means you don’t look like a naughty child shirking your duties — you’re a competent professional who’s using resources wisely.

      There is no amount of hustle and grind that will add more hours to your day, so you can’t be faulted for the work:time ratio. Your manager *needs* to know where you need support so she can do her job, so you’re doing her a favor.

      1. Anonosaurus*

        Boss here cosigning this approach. I am happy to work with team members to set priorities. I’m also happy to find additional resource where possible/necessary. That is my job and I actively want my staff to help me to do it by giving accurate status information. What I do not want is to be given the impression that everything is cool when it actually isn’t, because it makes it more difficult to fix when it inevitably comes to light and will end up being more work for us all.

    24. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Why are there 3 things that will be completed by the end of the day (when they sound like big enough things that they are a whole piece of work rather than “order this month’s stationery” or whatever)? It sounds like the real problem is too much “work in progress” at once.

    25. Shades*

      It sounds like you’re panicking. Does your boss make you feel pressured or anxious? As long as you’re prioritizing properly and putting in the right amount of effort to get things done, there’s no reason to be anxious. Get in the habit of keeping your own list of your tasks with detailed updates next to each one. Take it to the rundown with your boss, and when she asks about each item, just read it off. Also, there’s nothing wrong with putting a positive spin on it. Instead of saying, “No, it’s not done yet,” it’s fine to say, “It will be done by tomorrow.” If she seems unhappy with any of your responses, just explain why you have things prioritized the way you do and make sure you’re both aligned on which tasks are highest priority.

    26. Nameless*

      I am sympathetic to this impulse! I think the solution is more transparency “I’m 95% through that one, need to do X & Y which will be done by the end of the day.” Or “I’m proofreading before I publish now, so I can have it live by Tuesday” or whatever. If your meetings with your boss are too rapid fire to allow for that level of discussion, maybe you could introduce a shared doc where you track your projects and can detail this out so your boss can see exactly what you’re doing?

    27. Momma Bear*

      This is something I nag my child about. I’d rather the honest “not quite done yet” response rather than “done” and I find out later that’s not true. Sometimes when you say done, they tell someone else it’s done and…that’s a problem.

      Ask for a one-on-one to address your workload so you feel less stressed about in-progress work. She can’t help you prioritize or move work around if she doesn’t know it’s a problem. It’s not about looking bad, IMO, but giving your boss a realistic picture.

      You might also look into some sort of visual like a kanban board so you can say “in progress” or she can see the progress. See what kind of planner/tracking tools your office has or will allow.

    28. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Try keeping an ongoing numbered task list. Ask if it’s in the order boss wants them delivered.
      Then when she asks about the new Llama sweater, you can say sonrthing like “Llama sweater is 2nd on the priority list. I have been working on the Tiger mittens you wanted tomorrow. Which do you want first?”

    29. Mild Accountant*

      So, I’m a bit late, but:

      The bad news is: your boss already knows you’re lying, most likely.

      The good news is: your boss already knows you’re lying, most likely! So you don’t have to worry about being EXPOSED for being a lying liar who lies (to use your own alias).

      It really depends on what your boss is like. My old boss hates being told no directly (which…I’ll let y’all unpack that), so I often tried a two-step of, “We can have X done by Y; would that work?” with her. And then work things out from there. Or, heck, your boss could just be mildly socially awkward (hi) and come off as demanding that you have everything done when really she just wants to know what will be done so she can plan. Not that I could ever imagine anyone who’s like that…

      As a side project, figure out why you’re anxious! Has she given you reason to feel anxious about having unfinished projects? Are you naturally a people-pleaser and are generally nervous about “letting people down?” (Also: hi.) Are you just not looped in on deadlines and you think everything is top priority and it’s really not? (Ask me how I know!)

    30. The Shenanigans*

      Aw, I understand. I tend to hide and cover up when I feel overwhelmed by work. I learned the hard way that this is not at all helpful. It helped me to have other phrases to use, as other commenters have said. Things like “I’m on it,” “working on it,” or “90% done/will be done by the end of the day/other estimation” instead of “yep, done.” It also makes my work better because I am not rushing. It will take a little while not to have that panicked reaction, but it’s so worth it to try. Good luck!

  2. English Rose*

    Earbud uncertainty! Is anyone else unsure what to do about approaching earbud wearers in the office?
    I’ve always taken the wearing of normal headphones as a signal that someone is focusing and doesn’t want to be disturbed.
    But recently lots of colleagues are wearing white earbuds which you don’t see until you get up close (or not see at all if someone has long hair).
    I’ve had a variety of responses to my asking a question of an earbud wearer, from obvious annoyance at being interrupted, to a happy removal and an assurance they were only listening to music.
    Do we need new earbud etiquette?

    1. Mbarr*

      I wear ear buds very often to drown out background noise in the office. People either:
      – Call my name
      – Wave their arms beside my desk to get my attention
      – Message me on IM, “Turn around”
      In our office, these are all normal/acceptable methods

        1. wrex*

          ♫ Tuuuurn around
          ♫ Every now and then, I see you wearin’ those earbuds, concentrating so hard
          ♫ “Tuuuurn around,” IMed
          ♫ Every now and then I turn around… ♫

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think if people wearing tiny earbuds can acknowledge that the earbuds are hard to see and just like, put up a sign or something (“knock to get my attention,” “head down in a project please do not disturb,” etc) that would help a lot.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I have a sign on my cube that I can rotate to: Out of Office (we work hybrid), In a Meeting, Do Not Disturb, or Please Knock.

          If you knock on my desk, I will notice you. But I get lost in my work without earbuds sometimes.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I work from home, but I have a light strip running up one side of the entry to my office that is green when I’m on the clock, blue if I’m busy or on a no-camera meeting, and red if I’m on a meeting with my camera on, so my husband knows what level of wife interruption or puppy break is acceptable. (The dogs hang out in my office most of the day, so if the light is blue, he’ll come in and give them some pettins quietly without talking to them, and if it’s red he won’t come in at all.)

    3. EMP*

      At least in my office, earbud wearers tend to wear them constantly and not just when they’re at their desk, so I interrupt them (and so far no one has minded). I don’t have a good answer for this although if you’ve noticed some people in particular get annoyed, and you have a less invasive chat system you can ping them on first, maybe they’d be happier with a, “Is now a good time?” message beforehand?

      1. English Rose*

        Yes I think that’s probably best – the irony is we’ve been asked to be more ‘friendly’ (ugh) and do more interactions in person rather than electronically. Thanks.

        1. NeedRain47*

          I think this is fine if you have the rest of the discussion in person! (I, too, work in a place where talking to your coworkers is more important than not disrupting people.)

    4. M2RB*

      My hair is shoulder-length and frequently covers my ears, so I have experienced this. I find it disruptive if someone walks in my office and jumps right into their question/comments – regardless of if I’m wearing earbuds! If I’m really concentrating, it can take me a few seconds to stop my train of thought and refocus elsewhere.

      My current habit when I need to talk to someone who I know is an earbud user is to stop at someone’s office door or to make sure I am in their peripheral vision and say, “Hi, (name), do you have a minute for a quick question / I have a question on xyz when you have a few minutes, etc.” If I can see that someone has in earbuds, I will wave and make the “telephone?” hand motion in case they are on a call.

      We don’t use an IM program much at my current employer (to my dismay) but that has been my default at past jobs. I’ll send something like “Hey, do you have a minute for me to come to your desk to talk about xyz?” or “Hey, I heard your call just ended, I’m popping over on my way to the kitchen for a quick question!” depending on the person and the nature of the question/comment.

      At one past job, my cube was set up so that I did not have any peripheral view of people standing at the cube “door”. I ended up having to put up a sign outside my cubicle saying something like “I have in earbuds – please wave to get my attention” but that didn’t work… the only thing that slightly worked was getting actual headphones. It was annoying AF when people got mad at me for ignoring them when they completely disregarded the big blue headphones I was wearing.

    5. anon24*

      This doesn’t quite answer your question, but my subtle earbud method was always one earbud in – come talk to me. Both earbuds in – please leave me alone unless it’s important. I wore over the ear buds so it was easier to see and also kept the case for them open on the workspace in front of me so it was visible at a glance that I was using earbuds and if one or both was in use. It’s interesting because I never actually told anyone how I wanted this to play out in practice, but I only ever had one co-worker not instantly get it, and she had an entire conversation at me from across the room that I was completely unaware of and then complained to other co-workers that I’m rude and don’t pay attention to her and I had to kindly tell her that if I had earbuds in she needed to make sure she had my attention before she started talking to me.

    6. DeeDee*

      It’s worth noting that with wireless earbuds (at least, with mine), taking one out pauses my music/podcast, so when interrupted it’s really not a big deal to take one out quickly and have a conversation. (It’s only a problem when I come home with arms full of groceries and my husband starts telling me things I can’t hear and I can’t pause the sound until I put the bags down!)

    7. Elevator Elevator*

      As a workplace earbud wearer, I tend to think that the etiquette burden is on me. If I’m just listening to music, I stick to one earbud in/one out and try to stay aware of people in my vicinity so that if someone’s potentially approaching me to talk I can keep my body language open to make it clear they’re not interrupting anything. If I’m completing a training program or something that requires audio and my full attention, it’s both earbuds and I don’t aim for that same openness.

      None of this really helps you because you’ve got stealth earbud wearers getting annoyed at you for interrupting! Ultimately I think the burden is on them – I guess maybe you can take an extra beat before speaking to check for cues less obvious than “wearing headphones” or make a mental note of who to be more careful about potentially interrupting/ask them what they’d like you to take note of before approaching, if you’re running into repeated issues with someone. But if you’re in a workplace where the norm is to walk over to people with your questions, then if someone wants to disengage from that I feel like it’s on them to figure out how to signal it.

    8. Chilipepper Attitude*

      We do need new earbud etiquette, but I think it is the responsibility of the person who needs to be free from interruptions to signal that some other way.

      I’m also still salty about the time, at old toxic job, when I entered a room of 6 cubicles, said, “Hello room!” in a cheery but not loud voice, got two words into the next sentence, “does anyone …” when the sole occupant of the room looked up and then I could see she was holding a phone under her very long hair. I stopped talking immediately and left. I got a serious talking to about “barking” at my coworkers. Yes, a supervisor heard it and said I was barking at the coworker and demanding something from her!

      It was a crazy place. Also the place where one minute late was late and 4 lates in a year and you had to go to HR to explain yourself. Very high turnover. They are really confused about it.

      1. English Rose*

        Oh yes, I’ve done that too. Sometimes people are facing away and listening rather than talking and you can’t tell they’re on the phone.

    9. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      The funny thing is that I wear normal headphones just because I can’t wear earbuds. they fall out of my ears.

    10. lucyp*

      I mean, there’s nothing wrong with just communicating. Like, if you haven’t already asked your co-worker what works for them, when they have their earbuds in and someone needs to interact with them, you should probably try that.

    11. Mild Accountant*

      Unpopular opinion time!

      Disclaimers:

      1) I have – as the kids say – a touch of the ’tism, which means I’m pretty sensitive to background noise and earbuds really helped!
      2) Which was great (sarcasm) because I was a floor supervisor for a clerical department for…eight years. Up to 70 people (with a co-supervisor because even without the autism, who the heck would successfully solo-supervise 70 people, and…like, it was a goat rodeo even with a co-supervisor, to be frank).

      That said, I think it’s on the earbud wearer to demonstrate etiquette. You’re closing yourself off a bit by default, but not making it visible – so you have to make it visible. If you don’t want to be interrupted, you can wave off the person (it’s a bit rude, but if you’re going to be sour about being interrupted, don’t let yourself get interrupted). And I get that it’s annoying, but…like, people are oblivious sometimes! Sometimes you have to signal to them.

  3. New Mom*

    My work has a 12-week maternity leave policy (which in the US is pretty good). I’m thinking about spacing pregnancies really closely together. Are there any particular considerations that could be in play here? I’m feeling a bit sheepish about the idea of telling my manager, in the same calendar year that I’ve taken maternity leave, that I intend to do it again the subsequent calendar year.

    1. New Mom*

      (To clarify–obviously I would only tell my manager that *after* I got pregnant, I realize the “intend” might be a bit ambiguous.)

      1. Random Dice*

        I think you’re overplanning, honestly. You know the saying, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy?

    2. Countess of Shrewsbury*

      I really wouldn’t bring it up to your manager until you actually are pregnant and planning on taking another maternity leave. Don’t make it an issue until it’s actually an issue.

    3. EMP*

      Double check that it’s not per 12 month period vs calendar year (just thinking about this because FMLA is on a rolling year – clock starts when you take leave).

      I also wouldn’t tell your manager anything until you’re pregnant with #2! You never really know what’s going to happen in between.

      1. Rosyglasses*

        Came here to say this. Companies have an option to apply FMLA either on a 12 month rolling basis (which means leave #1 kicks off the 12 month period) and you only have 12 weeks (in hours) until the renewal date. Or it could be calendar year (Jan to Dec) which means that you’d probably be fine.

    4. Jessica*

      No shame! No sheepishness even! If your company doesn’t have adequate staffing plans, or if our society is a capitalist hellscape that hasn’t made adequate allowance for the perpetuation of our species, that is not on you.
      I think if I were your manager, while I’d be curious about your plans and firmly NOT ask you a bunch of questions that are not my business, as a person I’d super understand you wanting to space the kids close together, and as a manager I’d tell myself that maybe it would be even better that way, we’d stagger through the business impact in a more compact time and then get back in the groove, rather than having to weather the disruption every few years.

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      My recommendation is to not say a thing. I’m not sure which stage you are in (are you pregnant with your first but are thinking ahead, do you already have a baby and are considering a second, are you pregnant with your second, etc), but unless you are already pregnant with your second baby, you have no reason to tell your manager anything.

      Hopefully everything will work out according to your plans, but you have no guarantee that they will, or your plans might change! No sense (or obligation) to share what might or what you hope might happen.

      And if you’re already pregnant with your second and are just feeling weird about the closeness, don’t! You are entitled to live your live as you choose and take maternity leave whenever you need it.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a dear coworker who took 3 months of maternity leave, four years in a row. Absolutely nobody gave her a hard time about it, and she’s up for a potential promotion here shortly.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I’m in a completely different culture with regard to this stuff, but I had one colleague who has been on maternity leave for most of the time for about the last two years. She went on maternity leave, I think from September 2021 to about April 2022, then took her parental leave one week on, one week off and finished up the year, doing every second week like that, then I think she returned for a week or so in September 2022, then went on maternity leave for most of this academic year, returning for about a week again around April, before taking the 6 weeks’ parental leave to finish out most of the year.

        The only thing she came in for criticism over was the one week on, one week off, which was confusing for students.

        1. Ali + Nino*

          Fair enough that the one week on/one week off schedule got criticism, as it sounds confusing (and also difficult to arrange childcare for), but then why did her higher-ups OK that?

          1. Irish Teacher*

            That’s a valid question and I don’t know the answer. We had just had a new principal appointed at the time, so it is possible the answer was related to that.

    7. anywhere but here*

      Make sure you double check your workplace’s policy (as well as FMLA law) to be sure that spacing wise, you’re okay. On a personal note I’d recommend making sure you have enough time to recover from the first pregnancy before you gear up for the next one. Seconding the other comments to wait until you’re actually pregnant with the second baby before announcing to your manager. “Same calendar year” and “next calendar year” doesn’t mean that much when, depending on timing, that could still be nearly two years apart! Take the leave you are entitled to, and don’t feel bad about your family plans. Just make sure that you’re taking care of yourself :)

    8. lost academic*

      Also, to add to everyone’s reminders about what the policy is in terms of how they define “year”, FMLA is applicable federally when you’ve worked at least 1250 hours in the last 12 month period. Do some math to make sure that your intended pregnancy spacing would keep you eligible on that – I realize you’ve said “12 week maternity leave policy” but you should definitely be aware of what.

      1250 hours for a typical person looks like just over 31 weeks of full time (40 hour) work weeks. Keep in mind that you also need to be sure that you don’t need to go part time, take time off, or potentially go out early due to unforeseeable medical conditions (i.e. we don’t all make it to 40 weeks at work in a pregnancy!)

    9. Midwest Manager*

      I agree with the other commenters, don’t say anything until the actual pregnancy is a reality, and don’t say anything about future plans for it. You can’t always control when your body does these things. It might take longer than you expect (my spouse and I were working on our first attempt for 3 years), and you don’t know how you will individually fare once Baby 1 has arrived. You may want them super close together now, but your perception of the situation may change once your family dynamics include that first tiny human.

      1. BeepBoop*

        YES. I was sure I was going to have 2, maybe 3, then I had my first and we kept pushing off the second until we sat down with each other and said “do we actually WANT another one anymore?” Answer? No, not really. Obsessed in love with my kiddo, but don’t have the same desire to do it again that I thought I would.

        1. Pajamas on Bananas*

          This! We thought we want 4 maybe 5. After number 2, we’re probably done. We’ll reevaluate when little one is 5.

          This leads to my next point. I wanted my kids closer together. I had a 2.5 year age gap. I wish I had spaced them further. As someone who was a live in nanny for twins, twins are honestly easier than a toddler & an infant.

          My stepson was just barely 6 when our son was born, and that was so much better than the 2.5 years.

      2. New Mom*

        I hope it was made clear in my immediate follow-up reply to my own comment that I had no intent of doing telling my manager until I was already pregnant with #2. And as my username should suggest, I already have a child!

    10. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Your workplace will manage! It’s common here to take 12-18 months, and we manage to cover people in those circumstances. If you have a good manager they will understand, I thinnk.

    11. Momma Bear*

      I wouldn’t even bring it up until the pregnancy and impending leave is a reality. We had an HR lady who had 3 or 4 kids what felt like back to back (like one a year or every 18 months) and while I didn’t work super closely with her, I think the biggest thing was just that she returned ready to roll at the end of each block of leave. You might have a baby. Your coworker might have a parent need caregiving. Your boss might have surgery. There are a lot of reasons for leave and you should just follow the protocols that apply to you.

      1. New Mom*

        As I said in my comment 2 minutes later, “Obviously I would only tell my manager that *after* I got pregnant.”

    12. Former Retail Manager*

      In addition to agreeing with others about not announcing until you are pregnant, I’d also caution you about finding out how long you have to work after returning from maternity leave to ensure that you don’t have to pay back some or all of the amount you received while on leave. It’s not unfathomable that, after having a second child and essentially 2 babies, you may decide you want to just stay home with them full-time. Make you don’t have to cut a large check in order to do that.

      My organization (govt) requires that you work at least 580 hours after returning from 12 week fully paid maternity leave. If you don’t meet that 580 hours, you have to repay the employer’s portion of health insurance that was covered for you while on leave. We have great insurance and a recent new parent did the calculations….it was almost $7,000, and it isn’t prorated. So if you only worked 579 hours and then resigned, you’d still have to cut the check.

    13. Random*

      Just make sure to check your companies policies for how much time you have to be back at work between leaves, for instance my company requires that you be back full time for 12 months before you qualify for paid leave again, its not calendar year at my company the 12 months starts the day you come back from leave. So if you got pregnant in during your current leave you would not qualify for another paid leave. You would of course qualify for what ever the government mandates, but no paid leave by the company.

    14. Quinalla*

      Treat it as the most normal thing in the world ie don’t worry about it. It is pretty common for people to have back to back parental leave one year, then they next, then maybe two years later, etc. I know it is hard, but don’t worry about it.

  4. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

    I’ve applied for an internal job at my work and had my first interview earlier this week (good vibes). This morning, I had an email from Recruiting asking me for my salary requirements to see if I was inline with what they were offering.

    I deeply want to get out of my current department for a whole host of factors so I was a little nervous to push back, but I did! I requested the salary band budgeted for the position instead and was able to get a response. I’m so glad too, because if I had been pushed to give my own, I would have massively undercut myself.

    I’ve also flagged it to our DEI President (I’m on the board) that our company is using these inequitable practices. And I’m internal with an excellent track record! Just imagine how nerve-wracking if I were a completely unknown outside candidate.

    Fingers crossed for me. I have a follow-up interview next week.

    1. a beth*

      Fingers crossed! I had an internal interview this week as well, and about an hour beforehand found out the starting salary is about $6K less than what I make currently. They did say there is wiggle room but I don’t know if my institution has *that* much flexibility.

    2. a tester, not a developer*

      Good for you! I hope everything goes well, and that your DEI program takes a serious look at this.

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      Good for you! I’m glad you were able to successfully push back, and extra kudos to you for flagging this as an unfair practice.

      Crossing my fingers for you!

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      For what it is worth, “salary requirements” isn’t the same as asking salary history. I personally think it is appropriate to ask this information of candidates to ensure that you are at least in the ball park (vs. wanting 50K more than that max range). And it is always fine to not answer the question directly. Ideally a company would share their range first and ask if that was inline with expectations and that is starting to become more normal. But many, many companies are still moving along this continuum of transparency. I truly believe this will become the standard within a few years.

      1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

        If I had given my salary requirements (not knowing what the company considers market for this specific position), I would have come in $10K+ lower than what they were planning for the position. They could have easily decided to take me up on that and then I would have been underpaid compared anyone else at that level.

        Give the range you’ve budgeted for a position, and then see if the candidate feels they’re inline with that, or if negotiation is needed. Please don’t put the burden on the potential employee.

        1. Momma Bear*

          I agree. One benefit of things like government pay bands is that it’s public. If you’re aiming for a GS10 step 2 job, you know approximately what that pays. It’s so hard sometimes when you don’t know what the range is or what your worth is if you’ve been underpaid. My first job back from being a SAHP I did some research on the job title for my area and was able to ballpark something reasonable. I also negotiated a hybrid schedule. You can also ask about benefits when discussing pay.

    5. Observer*

      I’ve also flagged it to our DEI President (I’m on the board) that our company is using these inequitable practices. And I’m internal with an excellent track record! Just imagine how nerve-wracking if I were a completely unknown outside candidate.

      Good for you for flagging this!

      It’s a small thing, but can make such a big difference.

  5. Mbarr*

    Our company hires university students through a co-op program (they come every 4 months, are treated/paid like full time employees, etc.). Back when I was a student, meeting and hanging out with other co-op students was a highlight of every work term. We’d hang out after work and socialize once we went back to school.

    Now, with pandemic, and the fact that our office mostly works from home nowadays, we feel like students are missing out on this experience. How would you go about fostering/creating a sense of community among student employees? (These students are on different teams and have little to no reason to interact for work reasons.)

    Some preliminary ideas:
    – Start a student-only chat
    – Host an online meet and greet every 4 months
    – Organize walks to a local market near the office
    – Organize “come to the office for free ice cream” days
    – Try to ensure students start their work term on the same business day (so that they’re all in the office)

    I’m meeting with the students today for more brainstorming. I refuse to mandate fun, but I can at least open up avenues for socializing.

    1. EMP*

      Having a few days when everyone is in the office sounds like a good idea (both for the start date and for social moments like ice cream)

    2. Roscoe da Cat*

      Could you tie it to their work? True I work in labs, but we have them discuss work with each other and practice presentations.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I worked at a company that had 6-month co-ops and they worked on a co-op project together. The way it worked was:

        – a few employees who had been at the company for 1-3 years were project mentors who organized the first few meetings and were available as resources
        – the co-ops brainstormed ideas for a project (mentors helped) and voted on them
        – the co-ops had 4 hrs/week budgeted for the co-op project (agreed to by all their managers)

        It was a good way for the co-ops to meet each other, learn about project management (in addition to their individual technical areas), and “own” a project instead of working on a project lead by someone else.

      2. Mbarr*

        This is a good idea, but honestly it’s beyond the effort I want to put in.

        The students all have their own managers and teams. I socialize with their managers twice every four months: During the welcome and goodbye lunches. Otherwise myself and *MY* personal student have no need to interact with those managers. It would be like making the Payroll department and Software Engineering departments do show and tell for each other.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Lots of good things here.
      chat – yes
      meet & greet – yes
      ice cream – yes

      I’d also suggest having them do show & tell/lunch & learn events — especially since they are working in different parts of the company. It’s good for bonding, and it’s also a sneaky good way to judge whether they are grasping what goes on in their departments.

    4. oy. vey.*

      definitely ice-cream/pizza for co-op days! Free food is always attractive. It’s kind of you to try to organize the co-ops. My office has the co-ops in-office for at least 3 days a week, so that’s easy for them.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        That’s what I was coming to say–free food is pretty much always a good draw for students. And mix up what kinds of food/make sure there’s variety in what you’re offering. For sweet things, try to have a gluten free option and a sugar free option. For savory things, again with the gluten free, and a vegan or at least vegetarian option. If you provide drinks, try to have a caffeine-free option and a sugar free option (water covers that, but so does Hint/La Croix/etc. if you want them to have a flavored option).

        Also, no idea what your parking/commute set up is, but make sure it’s easy for them to get to and find wherever you’re having these get-togethers. If they’re not coming to the office on the regular, they might not know where things are.

      2. Mbarr*

        We actually do have free food every Wednesday right now (better than pizza!), but only 2 students come on a regular basis. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I’d say listen to the students too. While in-person is probably the norm to most of us over 25 or 30, young people in their ‘teens and early 20s now have spend a fair portion of their school and early working life familiar with online norms.

      They may well have ideas that wouldn’t occur to older people.

    6. Sparkle Llama*

      The one internship I did that had a cohort of people instead of just one or two interns had a great lunch program. We had to bring our own lunches (government employer), but over the course of the three months we got to have lunch with all of the directors and ask questions, hear about their career, approach to the work, etc. If you could add on ordering lunch that would be great. While I certainly got that information about my director from the day to day of the internship it was great to hear from other directors who I otherwise had no reason to interact with.

    7. DannyG*

      As a clinical preceptor I have had students with me regularly for two decades. One day out of the month I designated as “management day” and make appointments with the hospital CEO, CFO, etc. The meetings were short, but introduced them to a whole side of hospital operations that they otherwise wouldn’t get to see. Ex: HR director explained 401k/403b, IRA, Roth plans, FMLA, etc. in his session. Perhaps a weekly in office day w lunches provided & a chance to talk with various Executives & department heads during that time would be beneficial & promote discussion amongst the students.

    8. New Senior Mgr*

      I’d pay to attend an ice cream social right about now! This humidity is crazy.

    9. Hybrid Employee (Part Human, Part Wolf)*

      My all-remote previous job was garbage in a lot of ways, but a smart thing they did once in a while was assign a meeting among a few people who worked together but never met in person and send those people a gift card for Seamless or GrubHub, and have them virtually “get lunch.” There was no assignment, just a little virtual get-together with three or four people.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This may sound hokey, but if you have a company Toastmasters chapter, pay for their membership and let them attend on the clock. Work related AND social– with students and regular employees alike. And if you hire your interns later, you know they have had some public speaking experience.

  6. Verily Anon*

    So I got pulled in for a “no one’s in trouble” talk with my boss and grandboss over something(s?) I said on Twitter. The whole talk was VERY vague, the specific tweets that prompted it weren’t actually given, which left me at sea, and the discussion varied between “no one’s saying you can’t talk about work on social media, just be mindful” and “we all should try to be respectful and inclusive.”

    The latter tipped me off and I asked if this was about when my boss shut me out of a casual conversation near my cubicle that I tried to join. She said “among other things.” Which, again, wasn’t helpful because I don’t know WHAT I said that I shouldn’t have. I went back and looked at the what I twote about that, and I didn’t say anything insulting or call anyone names, I just literally described the action (turned her back on me and blocked me from the other people), and that I was hurt, and that I was upset with myself for being hurt.

    She also, in this meeting, accused me of posting information about coworkers families from their private conversations, which REALLY threw me, because why would I do that? I searched and searched my Twitter and the only thing I could find was a tweet in APRIL where I said “coworkers in the next cubicle over seem to be having a discussion about mom’s going crazy, which is starting to get to me (it’s very close to one of my triggers) but I also do NOT have the kind of relationship where I can ask them to stop.”

    Which, like. Since this was APRIL, I don’t remember the details. But for all I remember, they could’ve been talking about someone else, or a movie or tv show (it comes up a LOT in media, usually as a comedic thing, which suuuuuucks when it’s a trigger). All I know is they were being too loud for me to tune out, so that doesn’t seem private?

    So at any rate. I’m upset about a few things.

    Firstly, I don’t like being accused of publicly posting other people’s private information. I don’t think I did that at all, or at best, it’s a deliberately uncharitable read.

    Secondly, that was in APRIL. We have had three monthly meetings since then. The other thing was about a month ago so we’ve had a meeting since then too. Why wasn’t this brought up earlier? That’s the whole point of those meetings. This would’ve been relevant information for me when filling out my self evaluation this past week. And if it wasn’t just being sat on for months, then that means someone deliberately went looking for this on my Twitter (which takes a lot of effort), which is *troubling*

    Thirdly, the vagueness. If there are specific tweets that prompted this discussion, why not tell me what they were instead of this vagueness (especially the “among others” which just feels like paranoia fuel). I mean, I get that whatever was ACTUALLY said at the meeting, my takeaway should be “don’t tweet about work/coworkers” but why the vagueness? If I’d use people’s names, or called my supervisor a name or something, I could understand.

    …tbh, I am a bit worried that even this will get back to her (it’s why I haven’t tried directly asking Allison for advice), but I’m hoping that the fact that I don’t use this name ANYWHERE else (heck this isn’t even the name I use here), don’t tie this to my email account, and don’t actually say names or where I work will…not so much hide me (I know this is specific enough for identification, but presumably only for the three people who were in the meeting, because no one else should know about this, right?), but at least show that I’m not trying to reflect poorly on my place of work or insult anyone I work with?

    But this whole thing has me feeling really…just troubled/scared/paranoid/anxious/angry/frustrated.

    When I get really frustrated over it, I wonder if I should go to HR with it, because if this is going to be An Issue, then I actually do want specifics on paper, not vagueness. But that would probably just make everything worse, right?

    Should I just delete this whole thing? Help?

      1. ferrina*

        DO NOT POST ABOUT WORK ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

        It’s as simple as that. No updates on what is going on at your work, nothing about your coworkers, etc. Social media isn’t the same as chatting with friends- if it’s open to the public, it becomes a reflection of your professionalism. Even if you aren’t naming names, it’s unprofessional to gossip about someone’s mom behind their back. If you can’t see this, it’s time to stop posting anything on social media until you are able to see the nuances.

        A friend of mine was fired for this. He was posting about work in a friends-only privacy setting, and one time the setting got switched and he was fired. The worst part is that he didn’t learn that he shouldn’t post work stuff on social media- in the next job interview he got, he defended his actions and said he didn’t do anything wrong and he would continue posting on social media and be more careful about privacy settings. If he had said “I made a mistake, and now I know I should never post about work on social media”, he would have gotten the job (I knew the hiring manager and had put him in touch for the job; she gave me this feedback).

      2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        This this this. Your public Twitter, FB, etc. are not good places to post about work. If you want to keep posting on social media, you need either some kind of private account or somewhere that you’re posting with an entirely anonymous name, taking care to not ever use actual names.

        But really, just don’t post about work on social media. People always find it. They might not always say something, but trust me, they’ll find it.

        As for “I did this in April, why are they waiting until now”, well, they probably didn’t find it when you first posted. Someone found your Twitter and went backwards to read what else you had posted. That’s why it’s coming up now. Whatever you put there is there forever, and anyone can go back and find it and complain about it. Just ask Kevin Hart or any other celebrity that’s posted something stupid, learned better, and then still been called out for something their past, less-evolved self posted.

        1. verily anon*

          “Someone found your Twitter and went backwards to read what else you had posted. That’s why it’s coming up now.”

          That’s the part that has me kind of paranoid/angry, though. Because why would you do that? You would’ve had to dig through hundreds/thousands of tweets and retweets to get there, even assuming that the algorithm decided to show it to you.

          Like yes, obviously, I will definitely stop posting about work on twitter, because…yeah.

          But there’s still this issue that someone is deliberately trying to find Problems, and that’s just…exhausting.

          1. Student*

            Why? Because the person looking through your Twitter either liked or hated it. Seems like the latter. You posted something they got angry about, then they went through the history and found more things to be angry about. That’s… how social media works, and what it’s intended to do.

            If you’re unclear on how posts work, or how long they’re visible, or who can see them, then I strongly recommend you reach out to a tech-savvy friend to help you out. Social media is intended to be your personal PR tool. It’s not a diary. It can be used to communicate among close friends, if you change a bunch of settings and monitor them closely, but that’s not its main intention. It is a tool to advertise TO you first, and a tool for you to advertise about yourself to others second. Everything else is a very distant third.

          2. Irish Teacher*

            Twitter’s algorithm seems to be a bit weird lately, which might explain things. I recently checked my brother’s twitter and the first thing it showed me was a tweet he made it 2020 or something. I didn’t dig through anything, just typed his name and twitter into google and it was the first thing that came up. So perhaps it randomly showed somebody a tweet you made some time back?

          3. Ahnon4Thisss*

            “That’s the part that has me kind of paranoid/angry, though. Because why would you do that? You would’ve had to dig through hundreds/thousands of tweets and retweets to get there, even assuming that the algorithm decided to show it to you.”

            Just saying, they could have found your account, saw something in a recent tweet that caused them worry and then searched your username with keywords like “coworker” “office” “cubicle” “work” “job” to see if you have been talking about work on Twitter.

          4. SJ*

            I can imagine a situation where your manager saw the tweet about her and thought “hmm, was this a one time mistake or part of a pattern we need to address?” and then confirmed that it is something you’ve done more than once. This isn’t out of line on her part, your social media is public. She didn’t pull your diary out of your purse and scolded you about that, when you say something on a public forum about your job it becomes their business as well.

          5. Observer*

            That’s the part that has me kind of paranoid/angry, though. Because why would you do that? You would’ve had to dig through hundreds/thousands of tweets and retweets to get there, even assuming that the algorithm decided to show it to you.

            Once someone looking specifically at *your* stream, it’s really, really easy to go through months worth of tweets – yes, even “thousands” of them. That’s one of the design goals.

            But there’s still this issue that someone is deliberately trying to find Problems,

            Not necessarily.

      3. verily anon*

        ok thanks yes I will do that. I don’t know that that’s going to stop the thing where somebody is actively looking for problems targeted at me, but it will close off some avenues.

        1. M2*

          They aren’t targeting you, you shouldn’t be writing about work or others on social media at all.

          And saying yolk go to HR?! HR would probably be more stern with you. Honestly, I’m surprised you weren’t fired or put on a PIP. You need to stop being so defensive and realize what you need to change. Get some headphones for work.0

          Might be a good idea to look into a therapist.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          I wouldn’t assume somebody is actively looking for problems targetted at you. I mean, it’s possible, but unless you have other reasons to believe it, I wouldn’t assume it based on what you’ve posted here. I’d say it’s rather more likely that somebody stumbled upon that post (like I said, I recently googled my brother’s name and twitter and tweets from 2020 and 2021 came up…it was quite confusing because I naturally assumed they were recent but they didn’t seem to relate to the current situation; he was tweeting about politics and it related to stuff that was out of date) and somebody could have been doing something like “I wonder if verily anon has mentioned anything from work” and searched for work related words.”

          It’s also possible there was more going on with the mom than you knew. Personally, I would have interpreted the quote you posted as “the mom is really annoyed about something” but as others have said, it could have been something like the mom having mental health problems, assuming that is a direct quote from your colleague and if it was something like that or the mom being really annoyed in an abusive way, the colleague might be very sensitive about it and have gotten upset seeing it online and thought you meant to mock her or her mother’s problems.

          If you know you didn’t mean that tweet as mocking somebody’s personal family situation, then it makes sense that it seems like an uncharitable read to you, but they probably aren’t deliberately misreading. It’s more likely that they way they interpreted it is how it sounded to them, without the context of your own situation and the fact that you were triggered.

          1. Verily Anon*

            “ but unless you have other reasons to believe it, I wouldn’t assume it based on what you’ve posted here.”

            I did leave out a lot of details about the near-decade of bullying, being reprimanded for such nebulous things as “feeling threatened by a coworker” (I didn’t) or making tea in the morning during a lm approved grace period of a few minutes that I make up every afternoon with interest, and the myriad ways my boss has made it clear how much she would rather I not be here (including the behavior that prompted the original tweet, where she made eye contact with me, verbally acknowledged me, and then very deliberately turned her back on me and positioned herself so I couldn’t join in the casual conversation with the rest of the department while closing up).

            None of that excuses my having made comments about coworkers on Twitter, but I do realize that without context, it looks like I’m just being paranoid.

            Fwiw, stories about mothers having manic episodes/behaving erratically around their children are a HUGE trigger for me, because I have multiple cases of personal experience, from a very young age. I don’t know if they were talking about their own mothers (I don’t think so), but I definitely shouldn’t have written anything about it. My intent at the time was not to comment on their family but on my own extreme discomfort, both from what I was hearing even through my earbuds and because I was worried asking them to stop would just open me up to more gossip and passive aggressive remarks, because that’s happened before.

            I understand that none of this excuses. my tweeting at all, and accept that that was a poor decision on my part. I felt jumped on here and I got overly defensive, and I regret that, as well as posting anything about this at all. I’d like to get this thread, or at least my comments, deleted.

            1. somehow*

              I don’t see you being jumped on, but I do wish some commenters would realize that saying the same thing that SO MANY other commenters before them have said is just plain useless. Don’t make an OP slog through 130 comments, when the first five or six likely will cover all or most of it.

              1. nnn*

                You wrote this at 6:32 PM after 130 comments had already come in so it reads that way now but when this unfolds live it’s not a pile on so much as it is people just replying –to a request for input– without reading everything. Or when you first load the page there are 5 comments but by the time you get to this post and write your reply and hit submit, 50 more comments come in during the interim. This is a very high traffic board.

      4. Random Dice*

        Dear gods yes, stop posting about work on social!!

        Don’t put where you work on social.

        (Except on LinkedIn, and then never ever post this kind of thing on LinkedIn!! Keep it so professional on LinkedIn.)

    1. nope*

      Yep, time to shut it down, or at the very least make it private and never use it again. They’ve made your twitter Chernobyl and it’s not worth it. Plus you don’t know who in your office has a nondescript username and pic combo who could lurk if you just make it private.

      Open a new one with a totally different name and picture, and keep it private.

      1. M2*

        Don’t open a new Twitter stop posting about work and people on Twitter! Even if it’s private it could get hacked, Musk could decide to make private accounts public, etc. it is NOT worth it! Anything you post or send private or not wil be available forever.

        Talk to a friend or get a therapist or find an outlet to help with frustrations at work.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Yeah, don’t open a new Twitter. If you need to write about work, how about using a journal and writing on paper, where your thoughts aren’t instantly available to anyone on the internet.

    2. cactus lady*

      just don’t post about work on twitter. delete. text your friends about it instead. it will save you so much headache now and in the future.

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        This! Some things should not be for public consumption and the things you shared are part of that. A random stranger on Twitter may not be able to infer who you’re talking about or any of their personal business from your tweet, but “the cubicle next to you” is specific enough for people who work with you to figure it out.

        Also, I would caution you against sharing information about your triggers to a public online audience. There still may be cases where it’s worth doing, but that’s something you need to consider carefully.

    3. Jujyfruits*

      I think it’s a good idea to delete the tweets or set your twitter to private so people from work can’t read your posts.

    4. londonedit*

      Yeah, I’m afraid I really wouldn’t recommend tweeting personal stuff and/or stuff about work on a public account. Switch to a private account if you want to carry on posting things like that (if I thought someone I worked with was tweeting publicly about my conversations at work, I wouldn’t be very happy!)

      1. M2*

        I wouldn’t even make it private just stop posting about work and people you work with. People who follow you can see it and do whatever they want with it, you account can be hacked, and at any time Twitter can decide to make things public. What is the upside to telling a bunch of strangers online what you think about work? Also, are you tweeting while you are meant to be working?!

        Go talk with a trusted friend, or find a mental health professional to speak with in person or online.

        1. Former FB self helper*

          >at any time
          Word of truth. I used to be part of a private clutter control group and posted before and after pics of crap I was cleaning up.

          Guess what popped up when I went looking for old pictures? A bedroom closet purge. Delete key got used really fast.

    5. Shoes*

      To me this goes to a larger picture of how you, your work superiors and other people in general use Twitter. Twitter is public. Your work superiors and coworkers will more than likely continue reading your feed, because people are going to people

      I think you should just delete it.

    6. Rick Tq*

      You post to Twitter about work nearly real-time. Why? Posting comments about private discussions you overhear is not cool, especially when they are talking about elder care issues about an older family member.

      This should be a wakeup call to stay off Twitter when you are at work.

      1. Nonprofit Slave*

        Exactly. And if I were your boss, I would also be wondering why you’re tweeting when you’re supposed to be working.

      2. megaboo*

        If you’re concerned about noise, maybe noise cancelling earbuds or earphones would be a good choice.

    7. EMP*

      I would address this specifically: ” I don’t like being accused of publicly posting other people’s private information. I don’t think I did that at all, or at best, it’s a deliberately uncharitable read. ” because that is a pretty serious accusation, even if they danced around the topic. I think Allison’s script would go something like,

      “Boss, I’ve been thinking about our recent meeting about my twitter use. I’ve taken that feedback and I won’t be tweeting about anything work related, but I’m concerned about your comment that I publicly posted other people’s information. I went back through my history and couldn’t find anything that seemed to fit that issue. This would be something I take very seriously and would never do on purpose – do you have the particular tweet that prompted this? I want to make sure there wasn’t a misunderstanding so it doesn’t happen again.”

      basically: Don’t push back on the overall feedback, but push back on that particularly. Come at it from the side of, “I would never deliberately do this so let’s make sure we’re on the same page.”

      1. ferrina*

        Don’t do this. This makes it sound like you are trying to rules-lawyer your way out of responsibility.

        The steps to make sure that it doesn’t happen again is to not post about coworkers on social media. Your boss may not have been clear in the conversation, but the underlying message seems pretty clear- quit posting about work and coworkers on social media! Honestly, this is a pretty normal expectation. If you had done this at my work (based on the examples you provide), there’s a pretty good chance you would be out of a job.

        1. Isben Takes Tea*

          I think both things can be true. The absolute best thing to do is, of course, not post about coworkers on social media. It is also reasonable to verify what prompted the ask, as the OP still isn’t *sure* which tweets set this off.

          The suggested script here includes “I won’t be tweeting about anything work related,” and the tone is asking for clarification in order to take responsibility. I’d see it as a reasonable follow-up, especially in a situation where the managers should have included specifics.

          1. Random Dice*

            “I’m sorry, but ” isn’t taking responsibility.

            Just say “Thanks for the feedback about my social posts. It was kind of hard to hear but what you said has made me do some thinking.I really wasn’t considering how it might come across.

            The lesson I’m taking from this is not to post about work at all on my social media, and more generally to be more thoughtful about what I post on social media and how it could be taken. I appreciate your bringing it to me.”

        2. Rex Libris*

          This. No tweeting about or at work. Seems simple. If I was having that discussion as a manager, I would have been vague as well because A) pointing out a specifically upsetting comment might indicate who was upset by it, thus causing more drama and B) The larger point is stay off Twitter at work, not reword a specific tweet or avoid a specific topic, but stay off Twitter at work.

        3. Tio*

          I also don’t trust OP to go into another conversation without it dragging on or turning into something else if they get defensive, sorry OP. I think it’s best to leave it for now, especially since the boss chose that phrasing after being told about the specific tweet. You’re unlikely to change their mind, and since you’re not officially in trouble yet, I would not push it. And don’t tweet about work.

      2. CommanderBanana*

        But she kind of did? Imagine you are talking to a coworker about a family member’s mental health issues, and then find another coworker eavesdropped and then posted about your conversation on social media? I would be livid. At the very least I’d probably ask to be relocated so I’m not in proximity to that person.

        1. EMP*

          From the post it sounded like it was very vague (“mom issues”) vs the accusation of specific coworker or client info. I’m not saying I think OP should get defensive if that WAS the tweet that prompted it, but based on the post, I think there’s enough of a disconnect that asking for a specific example is OK. I’m not even sure, based on the post, that boss/grandboss confirmed it was OP’s twitter that they found? If boss thinks OP posted something legally liable, for example, but it turns out it wasn’t OP, that’s worth clarifying (while being clear that you won’t post about work anymore).

        2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

          OP is still in the wrong for posting about it, but at the same time, OP’s coworker is also in the wrong for expecting other people to not hear what they’re talking about in an open/cubicle office. If they wanted it to stay a secret, they should’ve been talking somewhere that wasn’t where people could overhear them.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            I don’t think is very fair. I don’t work in an open cubicle, but if I were chatting with a coworker in a shared space, like a kitchen, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that other coworkers won’t tweet about our conversations if they happen to hear a snippet of it.

            1. Lisa Simpson*

              Also, the implied judgement in Tweeting about the situation. I’ve had coworkers whose parents were in memory care, or who were flying across the globe to deal with ailing parents in another country, or who had special needs children who were struggling in school. A lot of the nitty-gritty details of handling those situations are ugly and upsetting, and it sucks to judge someone in that situation. Which is exactly what someone is doing when they tweet about it.

      3. Sloanicota*

        The thing about the other person’s mother is the part they’re talking about. I guess on the theory that if your followers know you they may know, or be able to figure out, your coworkers and now they know this about their mother, which they presumably only shared in a private-in-person conversation, not expecting it to be posted to a public platform.

    8. Prospect Gone Bad*

      You are right on the two of three issues, but I agree with your managers not to tweet about this stuff. Yes “no one is in trouble” but the tweet IMO is very petty, so take it as such. If I were you, I’d follow up and say “yes in retrospect I think my tweet was a bit petty and ridiculous, but I never shared any private information.”

      IMO you should not post work stuff or stuff about your boss doing something uncouth on twitter. Look at it this way. What if managers did that? I could spam twitter with things like “I know someone on my team is slacking off WFH today, do I say anything?” “Why are they taking a week to do a 2 hour project?” “Why can’t this person remember how to convert an excel to a PDF”

      I mean, all of those things might be legitimate in my head but it’s something else to post them online. Posting online gives much more credence to them, or makes them seem like bigger deals than they are. That is the problem

        1. Dovasary Balitang*

          The tweet in question was OP talking about how they didn’t want to hear a coworker talking about their mother being mentally unwell. “Mother’s going crazy,” is how they put it.

          1. Verily Anon*

            I agree, I shouldn’t have posted about it. But I also don’t want to hear detailed stories about that because “mothers going crazy” is an actual trauma-based trigger for me. I really don’t think they were talking about their own mothers though. It could have literally been about a show or a podcast or gossip or whatever.

            That’s not excusing tweeting about work. I definitely will not do that ever again. I just mean that I definitely wasn’t trying to be petty or meanspirited when I said that. I was trying to stave off a panic attack.

            1. CommanderBanana*

              I’m not trying to be unsympathetic about overhearing triggering things, but I think there were a lot of other actions you could have taken – leaving your cubicle, asking them to take the conversation elsewhere – before turning to putting their conversation on Twitter.

            2. Tio*

              There are other, more vague ways to do that. “I was reminded of an upsetting time in my life today, and felt really off for a while/meditated extra/ had to take some time to myself to regroup” is the sort of thing you post about that if you MUST and it was heard about work. No place, no details, still conveys your point.

            3. Prospect Gone Bad*

              You seem irrationally angry about this. It’s not that deep, and this is in your benefit: it’s weird to be tweeting about every little thing other people do. If you do that, everyone is going to be walking on eggshells around you. Be it at work or in your family or your social life.

              Going into how something is a trigger is adding a very unnecessary layer of complication to this.

              This is like is someone said “don’t slam doors in peoples’ faces” and one responded “I have a door story!”

              There is nothing one will say to change the general etiquette rule

            4. Joron Twiner*

              Gently, “trying to stave off a panic attack” isn’t a good explanation for tweeting about something… you can be in a genuine crisis and need to write out your thoughts. There are lots of places to do that, like the notes app on your phone. Don’t try to frame using your public Twitter account as a necessity or coping mechanism, it makes you look irresponsible and unreasonable.

      1. Dovasary Balitang*

        I agree. Someone was talking about their mother’s mental illness; that is not fodder to be tweeting about.

        1. Bismuth*

          “Someone was talking about their mother’s mental illness”

          Were they, though? Most people use crazy in a colloquial sense, the way we have agreed to use “bananapants” here, rather than in a diagnostic sense. Your take is possible, but fairly extreme.

          1. Ahnon4Thisss*

            Even if they were using it in the colloquial sense, that doesn’t give Verily the right to tweet about it.

    9. On Fire*

      I don’t have any advice, but that sounds incredibly frustrating and paranoia-inducing. I’m sending squishy internet hugs if you want them, and thinking harsh things toward your management.

      1. Random Dice*

        Very much disagree.

        Verily is very much in the wrong, and will be fired from many jobs if she doesn’t learn how to handle herself professionally.

        A manager shouldn’t have to practically hip-check a subordinate to stop her from butting into a conversation (which tells me this happens often and Verily didn’t pick up on all the other signals not to do it).

        It is reasonable for a manager to tell a subordinate – once – not to post about work in social, and especially not to gossip unkindly about a coworker’s struggling family member… but under a flimsy veil of “really this is about my emotional baggage I’m the victim here”.

        But Verily’s way-over-the-top anger and spewing of accusations and indignation (instead of calmly taking the hint and fixing the behavior) are really far outside the norm.

        Which, honestly, makes sense if she (?) has that mom baggage – but that’s not the problem of the workplace. It’s really something to work through with a trauma-aware therapist.

        1. Weird*

          This comment is excessive in both content and tone. You’re making a lot of uncharitable assumptions that aren’t helpful.

          1. bob*

            IDK, I’d say this is pretty accurate, and it’s “helpful” if you consider a reality check helpful. “Sir, that’s my emotional support public gossip-posting about the office” does NOT go over well in the professional world, and neither does butting into every private conversation within hearing distance.

            P.S. Is “not helpful” just the new trendy way to say you don’t like an internet comment or something. Like, the new “wow?”

    10. Despachito*

      Do you really need to tweet about your workplace at all, as opposed to privately venting to a friend?

      One thing is that the boss was not specific and I understand your frustration from that, but if I were you, I’d stop talking publicly about work.

    11. English Rose*

      Agree with others time to stop tweeting about work. I get it doesn’t seem like a big thing to you, and maybe your managers haven’t handled it brilliantly, but public tweets about work are just asking for trouble, no matter how innocuous they feel.

    12. AnonyMoose*

      I deeply hate the boss being vague thing.
      Can’t help you, but here’s another story:
      Couple of years ago, my then boss gave me a hard time at my yearly review, vaguely told me other susupervisors claimed I was a controversial person. When I asked what I had done or said, she answered “nobody can put their finger on it, but you’re difficult”. I pressed for examples or recommendations on what to change, but got nothing. Even went so far as to to write her an email after the review begging for help so I could become better employee – no answer.
      I was forced to ignore the whole shebang, but it did harm my career.

      1. Verily Anon*

        That’s a good story (although very sorry about how it ended), and I think the general reaction here has me convinced to just shut up and not do anything about it (aside from not ever ever ever ever posting about work on Twitter ever again). My friends that I was venting about it to were suggesting I try to actually get specifics and all, but it really doesn’t seem worth the trouble.

        I know I get defensive, but also just…I’m so frustrated. I love everything about this job except for this.

        1. Random Dice*

          I mean, that’s a solution.

          But it’s not a good solution.

          And you’re going to keep sabotaging yourself until you figure out good solutions to the rest of these harmful behaviors.

      2. Lisa Simpson*

        “nobody can put their finger on it, but you’re difficult”.

        I’ll put my finger on it. You’re a woman, right?

        1. GythaOgden*

          It’s perfectly possible for you to be a woman and difficult. We’re not angels just because of our gender assignment at birth. In fact, if we want to be taken seriously as individuals and equal to men, crying sexism every time someone says we did something that was foolish or difficult or whatever is not going to help be seen as equals.

    13. just another queer reader*

      i highly recommend a separate, anonymous, private(?) social media account for Shouting Into The Void About Work. or a group chat with a couple friends.

      I love shouting into the void about work, but don’t want it to ever get back to the people I’m shouting about.

      1. Feral Humanist*

        Group chat with just a couple friends is a great idea! This has replaced social media entirely for me in the last few years.

        1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

          Yes, this! It’s so much better and more relevant to my life than broadcasting things on wider social media platforms. Plus, so much easier to keep up with my friends.

        2. Ama*

          I literally just posted on a private Discord server about a work situation that I absolutely would not put on the public internet (even here anonymously).

        3. Mrs Columbo*

          I like that one, too. For the venting, I do a private message group with a few family members, and private messaging with a retired co-worker. I have the added complexity of being in healthcare; I never vent about patients or specific coworkers even in those private messages.

          For social media and work? I’m only on FB. Never use it on the clock. I share the press releases about cool stuff that various people and departments at work have done. Give generic, non-controversial advice on navigating the system. Offer generic healthcare information (or acceptable generic healthcare rants) that would be within my scope of practice. (It’s vaccine time, folks!, etc)

          And I haven’t taken my settings off “friends only” in years.

    14. BeepBoop*

      Yeeeah… look, the internet is not a safe confessional space anyway, but it’s also not a good place to publicly talk about your job. I’d delete those tweets and text friends or journal privately about what’s bothering you.

    15. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Let me explain the timing.

      Unless you work for a really weird place, there’s nobody monitoring your social media on a weekly basis. But – once you tweeted the one thing about the boss and it came to someone’s attention – the boss or somebody else in the management chain said “Well, I guess we need to go back in OP’s history and see if there are more things we should worry about.”

      It sounds like you’ve been using Twitter as a personal journal or diary — if you like writing those things down, I suggest you do it someplace completely private, not broadcast to the world.

      1. Not my coffee*

        The use of Twitter as personal journal or diary jumped out at me too as not being a good decision. The commentariat and I are often on different sides of this. I’m glad to see I’m not alone.

      2. Twitterpated*

        I can’t on to say the same thing about her management team going back after a particular tweet.

        OP my guess is that you tweeted the thing about your boss, someone at your office saw it, flagged it for said boss (and that person may have had good intentions like “Hey Janet, it looks like one of your direct reports was personally offended by an interaction with you, so watch that maybe” which led your boss/grand boss to look at your (in assuming public) Twitter, where they found the tweet from 3 months ago.

        At the end of the day I’d say what others here have said, and don’t post about work at all. You mentioned that you combed your Twitter and were only able to come up with a couple of tweets, but the two you mentioned are the kind of thing that would in fact be concerning to management. Maybe not a “oh my god we need to have a conversation about this now” level of concern for me, but I would definitely question your judgement. I’d honestly look at the conversation as a kindness.

        Also keep in mind that you know your tone/intentions when you tweet, but others don’t, so there are probably other tweets that you’ve written that may not seem like a big deal to you, but may be read differently by others

    16. Feral Humanist*

      I would probably set my Twitter to private for a while (and probably don’t describe interactions with your boss on there even if you do). Otherwise, I would try to let this go. I would be frustrated for many of the same reasons you are, and the idea that someone went back months and months, looking for something, is disturbing, but I don’t think there’s anything to take to HR. The best outcome is that it never comes up again, so unless your boss raises it, I think you should try to let it go.

    17. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      That’s why I hate this new public facing internet. You have to worry about whether your boss doesn’t like a tweet you don’t even remember. That’s why I do all fake names online, no pic.

      1. Student*

        Then don’t use it. I don’t.

        It’s mainly a way for advertisers to learn about you and advertise at you, to get money from you.

        Secondarily, it’s a tool for you to advertise about yourself to others.

        Anything else is “off-label” use, as it were. Sure, it can do other things – but other tools do those things better.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          I’m from the old internet where you can make friends and talk with people you don’t know but understand you more than ‘ the random people who live close to you’

          1. callmeheavenly*

            yup. I cannot imagine ever having a public internet presence in the modern era, and it is heartbreaking to someone who made basically all her friends, past and present, on the early web.

          2. Yikes Stripes*

            Also from the Old Internet, and I have two twitter accounts. One is public facing and has my actual name attached to it and is on the first page of google results for my name. My rule for this twitter is literally “Would I mind if my boss or mother saw this?” As such, it’s an extremely positive place where I don’t discuss heavy topics, and if work comes up it’s always in the context of, like, “Witness me! I have Exceeded Expectations in my review!” Always positive, always generic, never negative. I have definitely made friends who I’ve got very real connections on that account, but they truly have no idea who I work for.

            BUT. I also have a locked twitter where I interact with around fifty people I’ve known since LiveJournal. Only a handful of them know my wallet name, but that’s okay, because after 24 years of using the same internet handle it’s as much my name as that one is. I *do* sometimes complain about work there, but it’s still extremely general grouses along the lines of “Everything Happened So Much at work today, I can’t wait to take my shoes off” as I work in a HIPAA related industry and take that *very* seriously. More specific stuff gets saved for either therapy (where I honestly do discuss some stuff that’s covered by HIPAA, because if I can’t process things like clients dying I *will* burn out) or a group chat with five close friends.

            OP, lock your account. Don’t post specifics about work anyway. If you need to vent, that’s what discord dms are for.

    18. Fiona*

      It’s easier than you might think to find someone’s Twitter account (I assume it’s public?) and it’s just generally good practice not to tweet/blog/post about your work issues on a publicly accessed account, even if you don’t name names. I understand the frustrations you feel about your boss and your colleagues. And I don’t think they necessarily handled it well – they should have showed you the tweets that were problematic or if the tweets weren’t really crossing a line then they should have just ignored them. But it’s a bit disingenuous to say that just because you didn’t actively insult someone that your tweets were appropriate. If your Twitter account is private that’s a different matter.

    19. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You need to take a step back and rethink how you use social media in general. It’s a public space. I know it feels small and intimate, but it’s not. If you wouldn’t go stand in the middle of the busy grocery store and say it to people, then don’t put it on social media. If you wouldn’t say it in front of your boss, then don’t post it.

      “I just literally described the action (turned her back on me and blocked me from the other people), and that I was hurt, and that I was upset with myself for being hurt.” – you should not have posted this. Your emotion isn’t wrong, but the action you took was. If you needed to talk this out, that’s what close friends who know how to keep their mouths shut are for, or a diary, or a therapist. NOT social media.

      “tweet in APRIL where I said “coworkers in the next cubicle over seem to be having a discussion about mom’s going crazy, which is starting to get to me (it’s very close to one of my triggers) but I also do NOT have the kind of relationship where I can ask them to stop.” ” – also should not have posted this. It was incredibly invasive. And you 100% do have the ability to ask your coworkers to not have that discussion at work. All you had to do was send an im, poke your head around the wall, or walk over and say hey, this is awkward, but I can hear your conversation and the topic is troublesome for me. Can you please not discuss it at work? Thanks.

      “Don’t post about work” isn’t vague. It’s very specific. Don’t post about work. Not what you did, or how you thought about it, or conversations you had or overheard. Not what others did. If it happened while you were working do not post it.

      It’s very possible that you’re close to getting fired because of this. These are serious, especially since you clearly do not understand why its serious. If you really can’t figure out what is or is not ok to post, then don’t post. And you really need to work on that lack of understanding in general, because it will impact your life in other ways.

      1. FromasmalltowninCanada*

        100% agree with this. Don’t post about work online. It is a big deal, and your boss was clear.

      2. Ferris Mewler*

        Really agree with this – OP’s entire attitude about social media/Twitter sounds much too cavalier.

        OP, you should not be posting about your workplace like this. Save it for a group chat of non-work friends or a therapist. (And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. I have a therapist and I think everyone could benefit from one.)

      3. Yikes Stripes*

        I very strongly feel that it’s fine to post about work on social media as long as it follows the following three rules:

        1. It’s always positive and personal (along the lines of “Who’s got two thumbs and Exceeded Expectations on her review? This girl!” or “I can always tell it’s gonna be a good day when there’s cupcakes in the break room”) or a very passing comment along the lines of “I’ll be in Raleigh for work this week, does anyone have any recommendations for restaurants to try?” You should never so much as mention your coworkers – just don’t do it! You might think that “Work bestie is moving on and I’m sad about it” would be innocent and fine, but that’s a slippery slope and best not trod upon.

        2. Ideally, nobody should know who you work for. I have a good friend on twitter who I know is a children’s librarian. I know this because she will tweet things like “If anyone’s wondering what the hot new books for the under five set are, gosh do I have some recommendations” with a list of a few extremely popular books. I’ve known her for six years and I have no idea what library system she works for, much less what branch.

        3. This one is trickier and I would recommend OP not do it, but I think that in general it’s fine to say things like “I’d like to expand my skills in Llama sculpting, does anyone have any resources they’d recommend?” The key there is that it *cannot* be related to any discipline or negative guidance you’ve received.

        1. Yikes Stripes*

          EDIT: I hit post too soon. I wanted to say that this is a general statement. In particular, OP’s boss has said “don’t post about work on social media” and OP should not post about work on social media. At all, full stop.

    20. Isben Takes Tea*

      It sounds both like they handled this in a really frustrating, ineffective, and possibly overblown way, and like you should not be posting (at least publicly) about work. It sounds like your best options are either 1) make your Twitter private, or 2) stop posting about work situations.

      I definitely would also feel extremely frustrated/troubled with the vagueness, the refusal to discuss the actual tweets at issue, and apparent effort they possibly went to to pursue this, so I think the safest thing would be just to stop posting on Twitter about things that happen at work, or at least in a way that someone could reasonably assume is happening at work.

      It may also be worth considering that there are no identifying characteristics to an internet stranger, but that anyone who knows it’s you and the office might figure things out. Could this be an overblown concern? Absolutely, but now you have the information that apparently your bosses care.

      I don’t think your feelings are unreasonable, but it’s probably best to let it go as much as you can and change how you tweet. If it happens again, I would definitely push back and ask for specific examples so you know what they take issue with, and if they still refuse, then escalate it.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        Frankly, given how bonkers Twitter has been lately, I wouldn’t trust any private account to actually stay private.

    21. CommanderBanana*

      You need to stop tweeting about things that are happening at your work, full stop, and (and I mean this in the kindest way) do some digging about why you are tweeting about things like conversations your coworkers are having with each other. I can understand needing a place to unpack stuff that is going on at work, but Twitter is emphatically not that place.

    22. Educator*

      My bias here is that I work in education, where we all have to be extremely careful what we post and what is posted about us. But that said—it sounds like you are describing the behavior of other people in your office in a public and not always flattering way. It is reasonable for people not to want the minutia of their activities broadcast into the public sphere through your lens, even with a vague sense of anonymity. It sounds like you are using Twitter to process your feelings about things that happen at work, and Twitter is not the right space for that. Keep a journal, text a trusted friend, talk to a therapist, or whatever else works for you—but stop sharing your feelings about your coworkers in such a public way. It’s going to come across as unprofessional even if that is not your intention.

      It sounds like your manager could have given you more timely and specific feedback on this. Now you know that is a weakness of theirs. But I think the best thing to do is let that go and find another outlet.

    23. Diocletian Blobb*

      Why is your boss reading your Twitter? If you have a Twitter that your boss knows about and can see, you probably shouldn’t be tweeting about anything personal, period, including your interpersonal relationships at work. Treat it like a LinkedIn.

      1. English Rose*

        As a side note, I agree with this, but it amazes me constantly how many people on LinkedIn make the most incredibly offensive public comments when their jobs and employers are right there in the headlines. Do they not think??

    24. Sun in an Empty Room*

      Very much agree with comments above to just not tweet about work.

      But I want to address one of your questions:
      “Secondly, that was in APRIL. We have had three monthly meetings since then. The other thing was about a month ago so we’ve had a meeting since then too. Why wasn’t this brought up earlier? That’s the whole point of those meetings. This would’ve been relevant information for me when filling out my self evaluation this past week. And if it wasn’t just being sat on for months, then that means someone deliberately went looking for this on my Twitter (which takes a lot of effort), which is *troubling*”

      I think your boss and grandboss were just made aware recently about your tweeting about work. An issue like this can very easily take weeks-a month to get everything together and get a meeting scheduled. Once one tweet was read, they scanned the rest to look for work related content. I’m not sure why you find that *troubling*, if they weren’t comfortable with your judgement on one of the work related tweets, they were probably looking to make sure they hadn’t missed more that may have been more egregious and to see if it was more of a pattern to address rather than a single instance.

      1. verily anon*

        I find it troubling because literally one of the specific reasons that we put the monthly meetings into place was to have a set time to bring up any issues as they come up *before* said issue has a chance to become a pattern. I would understand if it took that much time if I’d gotten something in writing or official, but this was presented as “just a talk/check-in”…which is what the meetings are for. To go through 1-3 meetings without saying that there were any issues with my behavior or performance when there was defeats the purpose of having those meetings.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          I’m not really sure why you’re focusing on this particular detail? Like a few posters said, your boss(es) probably didn’t know about your tweets before now, and clearly they felt it was serious enough to warrant meeting with you to talk about it.

          I think being this fixated on how the information was presented is stopping you from seeing the bigger picture here.

        2. saskia*

          Maybe they only just learned about the tweets recently and read back in your feed a few months. They never said they knew about these tweets the moment they were made.

        3. Rex Libris*

          As a manager and a “Haver of Uncomfortable Conversations” with employees, I’m going to review everything so I’m sure what the actual situation is, whether it was a poor judgment call, an honest random mistake, a pattern of behavior or whatever, then decide what level of seriousness it needs to be addressed at, etc. If there is more than one boss involved and we have to schedule time to confer, that lengthens the process.

          In other words, they didn’t want to address it until they felt ready to address it, and the boss gets to set that timetable, not the employee. Really, it sounds like they were as mild about it as possible given the situation.

        4. fhqwhgads*

          I think you’re misunderstanding. Someone, most likely very recently, became aware of one recent tweet about work. Then they went back through your twitter to find any others, and found the one from April. They weren’t sitting on this waiting to tell you for months. They almost definitely found one very recently, read backwards to see if there were others, then had the meeting wherein they vaguely told you to stop doing it.
          Their being vague here sucked, but since you were able to think of and tell us the examples that are almost certainly the root of this, please accept that they weren’t wrong in telling you to stop. They were only wrong in how vague they were about it.

    25. verily anon*

      Ok, should’ve been clear — yes, I will stop tweeting about work. Like I said, that was my overall ACTIONABLE take-away from the meeting. Setting my twitter to private isn’t feasible long-term for unrelated reasons.

      When I asked about deleting I meant should I just delete this whole post, because is THIS going to get me in trouble too? This is also a public forum. When it comes to deleting the tweets, I don’t even KNOW what the tweets are, so, a temporary set to private is the only thing I can do about that.

      It’s just that this feels very much like Somebody Going Out Of Their Way To Make Trouble, and while there are some things I can do to fend off the trouble, is there anything I can do at work to maybe make that…stop happening? The hunting for trouble, I mean, not just the social media aspect.

        1. The Person from the Resume*

          You can’t delete it yourself.

          You definately need to work on not posting (publically) without thinking things through. That’s something actionable going forward.

        2. annonie*

          Alison has said before she strongly prefers not to remove comments when someone changes their mind about what they posted if others have already taken the time to try to help since it’s not fair to the people who spent time trying to help. (I’m on a couple others forums that implemented this rule after requests for removal got out of hand too.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes — I don’t remove comments just because someone changed their mind about posting, and for that reason. However, verily anon, there were a couple of comments using your regular posting name and I changed those to verily anon to preserve your anonymity in this thread.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        I think the best thing you can do to keep someone from hunting for trouble is to not do anything for them to find. Delete every tweet you’ve got that could possibly be construed as being about work, set your Twitter to private, set any other social media you’ve got to private, don’t post about work, don’t post *during* work. Be as above-board and above reproach as you possibly can be about absolutely everything at work, especially as relates to your internet use.

        And make sure your bosses understand that *you* understand you shouldn’t have been posting about work. Do not argue with them, just agree to stop and that you will do better, and ask if there’s anything you can do to make amends. Take their concerns seriously even if you personally disagree.

      2. CommanderBanana*

        “I don’t even KNOW what the tweets are”

        Given the conversation your boss had with you, it’s probably safe to assume that they’re referencing any tweets you made about work, including tweets where you described the conversations and behavior of your coworkers.

        “It’s just that this feels very much like Somebody Going Out Of Their Way To Make Trouble, and while there are some things I can do to fend off the trouble, is there anything I can do at work to maybe make that…stop happening?”

        Well, like all of the commenters said, removing your work-related tweets and refraining from tweeting about your coworkers’ conversations and behavior at work is probably a great first step. It still feels like you’re trying to turn the focus away from your tweets and towards someone else ‘trying to cause trouble,’ which I don’t really understand. It really doesn’t matter who brought this up or how they found it (which, given that Twitter is a public forum, it’s not like this was something you were keeping private).

        The best way to head of this particular trouble is to stop tweeting about your coworkers’ actions in a public Twitter account.

        “When I asked about deleting I meant should I just delete this whole post, because is THIS going to get me in trouble too? This is also a public forum.

        This question also feels like a bit of misdirection (caveat that I don’t actually know that you can delete a post here, other than asking Alison to remove it?). Yes, AAM is a public forum, but it’s not the same as Twitter. The whole point of tweeting is so that other people will read what you tweet. The odds that someone you work with is an AAM reader who regularly reads all the open forum comments and will figure out it’s you posting this is way lower than the odds that someone you work with follows your Twitter account.

        Like one of the commenters above said, this feels like rules-lawyering. It really doesn’t matter why this wasn’t brought up before. It’s been brought up now. At this point, any response that isn’t removing work-related tweets and refraining from publicly posting about your coworkers’ actions at work is likely to just dig you in deeper.

      3. Yeah...*

        You can’t control or stop other people from reading Twitter.

        So “Stop Tweeting About Work So There’s Nothing In Your Tweets About Work”

        1. HR Exec Popping In*

          Yep. Please understand that it is never cool to share information about work publicly like that. People can look up where you work and who your boss is. Some might be able to figure out who your coworker is and the crazy mom. How would you like it if someone you work with vaguely referenced you in their tweet and spoke negatively about you? The reality is you are not expected to share this type of thing on social media. It isn’t polite, it isn’t helpful and it could damage your working relationships and your reputation.

          1. verily anon*

            “How would you like it if someone you work with vaguely referenced you in their tweet and spoke negatively about you?”

            I mean, they already make it clear that they dislike me, so I wouldn’t really go to read their SM post. But if the only negative thing they spoke about was something deliberately rude that I’d done, I guess I would be embarrassed that my bad behavior was vaguely referenced.

            And I don’t think my coworkers were talking about their own families. I don’t really have a memory of much except for trying not to have a panic attack.

            1. Rick Tq*

              OP, two things:
              – Twitter is not your therapist, using it that way is why you got into trouble. Find a better way to unload your thoughts but know that EVERY cloud-based app is insecure, the only to unload that can’t be released to the world by writing in a physical journal you leave at home.

              – You keep defending your actions instead of accepting you made mistakes with posting what you did and getting off Twitter at work entirely.

              If you keep rules-lawyering about this event and correction you demonstrating you don’t really understand the issue and making it MORE likely you will be put on a PIP or let go, not less.

      4. saskia*

        You may be overthinking this. Comb through your twitter, delete all tweets about work, and as you’ve said, you won’t be tweeting about work going forward. Problem should be solved after that. If somebody is indeed trying to make trouble, their ammo will be gone.
        IMO, going to HR about this will make you seem out-of-touch and cause them to question your judgment.

        You’re posting here under two different names now, fyi.

      5. nope*

        If you want to delete just the offending tweets, you can search for your username plus “work” or “coworkers” or “boss” and delete what comes up. Follow that with a diligent scan through the rest of your tweets for the time period you’ve been working there.

      6. saskia*

        You may be overthinking this. Comb through your twitter, delete all tweets related to work, and as you’ve said, cease tweeting about work going forward. If someone is trying to get you in trouble, they will now lack ammo.
        IMO, going to HR about this will make you seem out of touch with questionable judgment.

        Also, just fyi, you’re now posting under two different names.

      7. Morning reader*

        Maybe you should delete this post? I mention because although you changed your usual name for your first post, you didn’t keep that so someone who knows your situation might recognize it here.

        Is somebody going out of their way? Not necessarily. Sounds like someone found your Twitter feed and thought it inappropriate, reported it, they looked at it, discussed it with you. You’re not on a PIP or having any other action taken that I can see.

        Just stop tweeting. Especially about anything that happens at work. Above you say you can’t tell which tweets someone might consider petty. If you can’t tell, that’s a sign you shouldn’t be tweeting because your judgment is off. If you can’t delete the whole Twitter account, go back through it and delete anything you twote about work, ever.

        If you are lucky, you’ll get this done before a rumor spreads and no one other than the person who reported it will ever know you had this habit.
        Very likely no one is going out of their way. If that were the case, they would have discovered this months ago, they would have more than just this documented against you, and, you likely would have been fired already. If someone is out to get you, they’re not very good at it.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            There’s no way for commenters to delete our own posts, but you could reply to your post with a link (to send it to moderation) and ask that the post be deleted, or ask to change your username to the Verily Anon handle.

          2. Aaaargh.*

            Hmmmm. I found myself agreeing with the other commenters who said “don’t post about work on social media, period.” And then I thought: well then, there goes Ask a Manager, the whole point of which is to talk about work and solve work problems! Yeah, it’s not the same as Twitter but it’s still public and online and there has been more than one instance in which a letter writer came back and said their letter had been recognized, even though they hadn’t identified their workplace or used real names. I would absolutely hate for Ask a Manager to disappear, but how does one differentiate between posting there and posting elsewhere on the web?

            1. Rex Libris*

              I think it’s a different thing. Unless you’re ridiculously careless, there’s a level of anonymity and lack of breadcrumbs to your other social media here that just isn’t true with mainstream social media sites.

              1. Verily Anon*

                That’s true, but in this case, I think I was stupidly careless (should not have posted something I wrote in the heat of the moment, and especially not with so much specific information), so even if this doesn’t have any connection to my social media, it’s still probably going to come back on me.

                Which is kind of the problem with asking questions about specific situations. I wasn’t expecting this to get more than a couple of comments and the way it ballooned like this has me just sick.

            2. Aaaargh.*

              Sorry, this was posted in the wrong place. Should have been in response to the beginning of the thread, not to this specific subquestion.

            3. RagingADHD*

              Because this isn’t social media.

              Clearly, OP’s boss and coworkers know their Twitter handle, whether it’s their real name or something they have used or shared in a work context. That makes a huge difference.

          3. Nome King*

            I asked and had a comment deleted once. Not saying it can be done every time, but you could email Alison (using the contact links on the site) and see what she says. I do agree it’s best not to tweet about work, but I also completely understand about panic attacks and feeling compelled to share that with someone. Just have to share with someone/somewhere else. Good luck to you.

      8. Hlao-roo*

        It’s just that this feels very much like Somebody Going Out Of Their Way To Make Trouble, … is there anything I can do at work to maybe make that…stop happening?

        I don’t think so, no. You can make it more difficult for them to find trouble (for example, by not posting about work on social media, by being polite and professional in the office, etc.) but people who are hunting for trouble will generally keep hunting until they find some.

        If the person wants Trouble and/or Drama and anyone will do (they don’t necessarily care if you are in trouble) then you only need to do enough to get them to focus on someone else. If the person specifically wants to stir up trouble around you, you can do your best to remove possible complaints others would take seriously but they’ll probably still manage to hit on something every once in a while, because you can’t be perfect all the time.

      9. Daryush*

        I don’t think this is as sinister as your last paragraph implies. I see coworkers in my recommended on social media all the time. If I saw someone was posting about coworkers, I would probably keep scrolling down to see if they said anything about me.

        Also, keep in mind that even if someone is posting anonymously, it doesn’t feel anonymous when it’s about you or people you know. I would feel extremely uncomfortable around a coworker if I knew they might be posting observations about me. I might even go to my manager with a request to be moved to a different area.

      10. spiriferida*

        If I was the coworker having the conversation about their mom that you posted about, and I stumbled across your twitter where you’d said that… I would have remembered it, and I would have felt mildly frustrated that you decided to post about it. I probably would have started looking to see what else you were saying about coworkers on twitter, and I would have gone to my boss about it if I found more. The way the boss met with you about it is unhelpful, but the fact that someone brought it to them isn’t going out of their way to make trouble. It’s a reasonable course of action.

        You’re (indirectly) gossiping about people in public. Don’t be surprised when people don’t feel great about it when they find out. They’d feel just as annoyed to overhear you complaining about it to a coworker in the break room later that day.

    26. Maggie*

      Honestly I think it was really inappropriate to post either of those things on Twitter. You posted negative things about your boss and then posted about how someone presumably having a hard time personally was bothering you. Don’t tweet about that publicly. It’s not a good look at work and honestly is rude! It would make me think that if I ever interacted with you every perceived slight or thing you thought I did wrong would be posted, and it’s also really unprofessional.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        I agree, and it weirds me out a little that a few replies have defended the OP’s decision to post the contents of their coworkers’ conversations on Twitter. The excuse that the OP could hear them is bizarre. That’s like arguing that a coworker posting about my bathroom habits on Twitter is ok if we were in a shared restroom at the same time and they could hear me.

        Posting about work on social media should be approached with extreme caution, unless your actual job is posting about your work on social media. Posting the contents of your coworkers’ conversations because you happened to be able to hear them is extremely inappropriate, and frankly I would really question the judgment of someone who did this and is now doubling down defending it.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I mean, if the OP being able to hear the conversation makes it fair game, then the coworkers being able to read the OP’s venting about them is doubly fair game. They have every right to complain about it, and it isn’t “going out of their way to make trouble.”

          Everybody at work who reads OP’s Twitter knows who sits near them.

        2. Friday Person*

          Eh, in fairness, a whole lot of AAM posts and comments involve people recounting workplace conversations into the ether. The issue here is doing it under an online identity that coworkers are aware of and that is linked to OP.

        3. Gemstones*

          Hey, this is the same site where you had people bending over backward to excuse that biting lady.

      2. M2*

        This. I wouldn’t be able to trust coworker again if I knew they wrote about a coworker’s mom health issues on Twitter.

      3. All the Birds*

        It shocks me — shocks me, I tell you! — when someone posts IDENTIFIABLE content to a public forum and then is embarrassed to be called out on it.

        Twitter is not your diary.

        It’s unkind to post things like “coworker’s mom is crazy.”

        And yes, tweeting about work is dangerously unwise. Is it worth posting a couple sentences to lose your job?

        1. Verily Anon*

          ‘It’s unkind to post things like “coworker’s mom is crazy.”’

          But I didn’t say that! At all!

          1. CommanderBanana*

            She also, in this meeting, accused me of posting information about coworkers families from their private conversations, which REALLY threw me, because why would I do that? I searched and searched my Twitter and the only thing I could find was a tweet in APRIL where I said “coworkers in the next cubicle over seem to be having a discussion about mom’s going crazy, which is starting to get to me (it’s very close to one of my triggers) but I also do NOT have the kind of relationship where I can ask them to stop.”

            But…you did do this? You did tweet about coworkers in the next cubicle talking about moms going crazy. That is posting information about someone’s family from a private conversation – a conversation that, despite being able to overhear it (which is something you could have avoided through a number of other choices, like moving to another cube for a while or asking them to take it elsewhere) was a private conversation that someone was not having with you.

            Ultimately, what you choose to do after the conversation you had with your boss is up to you. You can either acknowledge that people you work with have found your tweets describing their conversations and actions at work and you can delete those tweets and refrain from posting about your coworkers online in a public Twitter account again, or you can dig into defending what you’re doing by trying to rules-lawyer how that conversation was held or going into semantics about what you posted.

            1. Verily Anon*

              I think two things are true:

              1)what I did was inappropriate and incredibly stupid, and I’m absolutely never going to do it again

              2) I did not call my coworker’s mother crazy or talk about their mental health. I’m not trying to rules-lawyer this to make my tweeting about a coworker’s conversation ok. It wasn’t. But saying I called someone’s mother crazy isn’t right or fair.

              1. fhqwhgads*

                So you’re saying that part of your other posting is you quoting the coworker whose conversation you overheard, rather than your own description of the conversation? Cuz otherwise I don’t understand. You’re literally contradicting your earlier post about said tweet.

    27. RagingADHD*

      I think you are thinking of “people on Twitter”, and “people at work” as if they are completely separate groups that don’t know anything about each other. This is not true.

      Apparently your coworkers know and read your Twitter account, and they don’t appreciate you making passive aggressive digs about them. You are venting about people *right in front of their faces.*

      Either change the way you Tweet, or delete it.

      1. Verily Anon*

        I didn’t make passive aggressive digs at them though. Like, I get the blanket “don’t post about work on twitter” rule. Not arguing about that or saying it should be fine. But that isn’t what I said. At all. It’s really frustrating to have what I said mischaracterized.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          I’m sure it is, but the actual issue here is not that what you tweeted was mischaracterized.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Okay, it sounds like you don’t understand what I mean by “passive-aggressive.” Because regardless of your intention, that is exactly what the words you describe above sound like.

          Imagine the moment when your boss turned her back and you complained about it on Twitter. Now imagine that you were standing directly behind her, saying that out loud to the person in the cube on the other side. Or imagine saying it out loud in the break room, and she walked in and heard you. Do you get how it sounds?

          Same thing with your coworkers. If you had called a friend on the phone and had a conversation with them out loud where the coworkers could hear it, saying exactly the same thing you said in your tweet, that would be really, really obnoxious.

          The point is not what you intended or how you felt. The point is that they are, effectively, standing right there and they can hear you. If you have a problem with someone, take it up with them directly or vent about it in a space that is completely private and separate. Venting about it supposedly to “other people” but very much in their hearing is a textbook example of being passive-aggressive.

        3. Ahnon4Thisss*

          At the end of the day, you posted identifying details of a coworkers’ conversation while they were having it at work. You are focusing too much on this “mischaracterization” (which IMO, it is not) and not the core of what’s wrong with what you tweeted. Even if they were talking about something as simple as their favorite type of chips that you dislike, you shouldn’t have tweeted what they were talking about. It was inappropriate.

          You are being very defensive over this and not listening to the advice people are giving you, instead arguing and focusing on minute details that in the end, don’t matter. I strongly urge you to purge your Twitter of anything work related.

          1. Ahnon4Thisss*

            To clarify, I view it as inappropriate because you were posting about a private conversation when you had so many other options, including leaving, asking them to step away because you could hear them or even making a Tweet that says something like “having a hard day today!” if you really NEEDED to Tweet something. There was no reason to bring their conversation to Twitter at all.

        4. Rick Tq*

          VA, it doesn’t matter what you think about what you posted, what matters is how it was perceived by your manager and your coworkers.

          If you pushed back on this at work anywhere close to how you have in this thread that you originated I’d be surprised if you weren’t headed for a PIP or similar disciplinary action. “I was trying to ward off a panic attack” doesn’t excuse what you posted and when.

          You asked for the opinion of the AAM commentariat and you don’t like what you are hearing. I get that, but own your error without mentally saying “Yes, but it was OK for reasons”…

          I am old school about personal responsibility. If I was counseling you about this pattern of behavior every time you responded with “but x is the reason it was OK to do that” during my instruction about your Twitter use would put you that much closer to termination.

          1. Verily Anon*

            I feel like I’ve said repeatedly that I understand it wasn’t ok. I don’t believe reasons are excuses, and I’m not trying to excuse what I did.

            I didn’t push back in the meeting at all. I’m not going to push back at work. I understand Allison’s policy, but I really do wish this thread would get deleted, because I was not expecting it to get huge and it’s almost certain that she’s going to see it. Which means I did another stupid thing by saying anything at all about it here.

            1. annonie*

              I think you’re catastrophizing in saying it’s almost certain your boss will see it. Even if she reads AAM (does she?) it’s unlikely that she reads the open threads or that she will happen to read the open thread this week.

    28. Dark Macadamia*

      As far as the one tweet being from awhile ago, it might’ve gotten flagged at the time and your boss chose not to address it, but now that it’s happened again they’re treating it as a pattern. Also, April is not that long ago (it would be a lot to scroll if you tweet frequently, but it’s not like they’re digging through years of content).

      I don’t use Twitter but these examples strike me as weird things to post publicly about – not funny enough to share as entertainment and not egregious enough to call out as problematic. I would message a good friend about this kind of gripe but I wouldn’t post it for all my FB friends to see, much less the whole internet!

      I’m kind of wondering if the tweets are indicative of a larger concern about your attitude or interactions at work. If that’s the case it sounds like it was communicated poorly, but just the way you’re describing things here combined with the things you’re tweeting about comes across like you’re regularly having strong reactions to fairly mundane situations, and if it’s so clear in text after the fact I’d imagine it’s hard to hide in person at the time too. I mean this kindly – I think you’re overthinking here and it seems like the comments from your boss are making you spiral in a way that isn’t helpful to you.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        I’m kind of wondering if the tweets are indicative of a larger concern about your attitude or interactions at work. If that’s the case it sounds like it was communicated poorly, but just the way you’re describing things here combined with the things you’re tweeting about comes across like you’re regularly having strong reactions to fairly mundane situations, and if it’s so clear in text after the fact I’d imagine it’s hard to hide in person at the time too. I mean this kindly – I think you’re overthinking here and it seems like the comments from your boss are making you spiral in a way that isn’t helpful to you.

        I think you hit the nail on the head, and OP, I really think it would be worth spending some time digging into this.

        I do know that if I found out a coworker of mine was posting snippets of overheard conversation, or describing people’s behavior in the office online in their public Twitter account, I’d feel really uncomfortable being around them.

    29. I Have RBF*

      IMO, your biggest mistake was tweeting about work under a name that can be tracked back to you.

      I have two Twitter accounts – one with my real name for commenting about issues in the field in general, and another under a pseudonym that I use for more snarky, sarcastic, and NSFW subjects.

      I seldom make any direct work comments on the first, unless it is about software or tech stacks that I have used in my jobs. I never identify the workplaces in question, and I never tweet about people issues, just the tech.

      The second account? If I have work snark, it goes there, and the company is either $job, $company, or $employer, plus coworkers are $coworker. No names, sometimes the serial numbers are filed off and details munged for anonymity. It’s under a pseudonym, and it still is vague as heck even then.

      The complaint about the triggering noise would have been “$coworkers nearby seem to be discussing a family member’s mental health, which is starting to get to me (it’s very close to one of my triggers). I also do NOT have the kind of relationship where I can ask them to stop.” It files a lot of the details off, expresses the frustration but is harder to tie to a specific workplace. But I’d never tweet that out under my own name. The point is to discourage others from airing family BS in an open plan office, not to out certain people, or yourself.

      I’m one of those people that hates FB because of the “real name” nonsense. Some things should stay anonymous or pseudononymous. Certain things should be vented into the void as object lessons for others, but not with names attached.

      If you want to tweet about the workplace, do it under a pseudonym, and make it hard to identify the people involved.

      IMO, YMMV.

      1. Weird*

        Agreed. I don’t think the things you posted were that bad, Verily Anon. Posting about your boss being weird to you or about coworkers talking about a topic you find upsetting and your frustration about that aren’t horrible to post about. Some of the responses that imply that they are seem over the top.

        But you need to be actually anonymous if you’re going to talk about it on Twitter. Not just not using your real name, but also not having anything that connects back to you in any unique way. And don’t tell coworkers about it. Honestly, to be safe, don’t tell anyone about it and don’t connect it in any way to other accounts.

    30. Aaaargh.*

      Hmmmm. I found myself agreeing with the other commenters who said “don’t post about work on social media, period.” And then I thought: well then, there goes Ask a Manager, the whole point of which is to talk about work and solve work problems! Yeah, it’s not the same as Twitter but it’s still public and online and there has been more than one instance in which a letter writer came back and said their letter had been recognized, even though they hadn’t identified their workplace or used real names. I would absolutely hate for Ask a Manager to disappear, but how does one differentiate between posting there and posting elsewhere on the web?

      1. Rick Tq*

        My take on why AAM is different: This is an advice site that Alison controls, not a public square with no rules. We also are pretty good about using industry substitutes (llama grooming, chocolate teapots) to obscure companies and pretty much always use aliases for EVERY name, including she being the default pronoun. Finally we have handles that can change every post, making it much harder to identify a specific poster. Yes, we have some favorites like “I Work(ed) on a Hellmouth” but someone could post under 10 names in one thread and only Alison would know they came from the same computer.

        Not perfect but being outed is rare enough we remember the events.

      2. I should really pick a name*

        It would take a lot of effort to sift through the ask a manager comment threads and find all of the comments by a single username and try to theorize if you know who they area.

        A twitter feed has all of one person’s posts contained in one location. Additionally, it sounds like whoever read it already knew who the poster was.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Do you ever think about how the data scrapers for Chat GPT must have absorbed all our comments, conversations and posts?? This freaks me out. It’s like we’re immortal! Also, I’m pretty sure on Alison’s end the IP addresses are logged so she, at least, is not fooled by our multiple user names, and of course we’re all vulnerable to some kind of hack.

          1. goducks*

            Since AAM doesn’t require the creation of user accounts, people can and do post under all sorts of names, there is absolutely no way for anybody (other than perhaps Alison if she compares IP addresses, but even then not always) to know whether any two comments posted by ‘Sloanicota’ are the same person.

          2. Rick Tq*

            And those programs have some REALLY odd ideas about llamas, chocolate teapots, and that Sansa girl is a real witch yet seems to get jobs at dozens of companies….

            :-)

      3. saskia*

        People are typically writing to AAM for help on issues they feel they can’t solve alone. They are knowingly taking the risk that someone from IRL will be able to identify them via this site (and consciously choosing to write in anyway, forfeiting the right to be surprised or upset if someone they know sees it). Identifying info is removed/changed as much as possible. And for the most part, this isn’t the primary social media ‘posting’ website of the vast majority of users, unlike fb, insta, twitter, tumblr, tiktok, etc., so the chance that a user would be identified here is less since there’s overall less personal info being given (or if it is, it’s over multiple thread vs. one endless-scroll feed).

        1. Sloanicota*

          I also think there’s some plausible deniability on AAM in a different way than Twitter. If your boss came to you with an AAM post (I don’t think that’s terribly likely in a comment, but if you were a LW it’s possible) and said “did you post this???” you could always deny it and they probably couldn’t prove you did. Lots of people have similar problems! On your own Twitter it’s less possible to obfuscate. However, it’s a big problem on the Nonprofit AF Facebook groups, because it’s tied to your FB account so your name and identity is right there. You can post anon but apparently the mods are weird about that now.

      4. Anon For This*

        I admit, I think a lot about what I post here on AAM. One thing I do is cycle through names. I used to be Lil Fidget, and another name where I posted semi-regularly, and now I post semi-regularly under a third name, because while I try to make each thing I post innocuous, I have a paranoia that someone could review the net sum of everything I’ve posted and suddenly know a heck of a lot about me, certainly enough to identify me to someone who knows me. I also recommend this site to friends and coworkers, although I doubt they pour through the comments. I don’t think the average person would take the time to do this, but I assume with data scraping it would be possible to automate it. Would someone do that? I doubt it, but still, here we are. I also deliberately throw in some fake info every once in a while, like how I live in LA and drive a Ferrari. If I’m going to post something especially intimate or revealing, I don’t use my ongoing name (although that can be a real bear to keep up, particularly if you come back to answer comments). But as I said, I post a lot both here and in the weekend threads. I assume most people don’t post as often.

      5. Roland*

        Something like “ugh my boss is being so annoying today” is quite different when it’s under a pseudonym like Aaaargh. or Roland vs if it were under our real names. Yes, sometimes letters with specific details are recognized – that has happened to me. That’s why it’s best to be kind when writing in and obfuscate as many details as possible, even if it’s just for plausible deniability when someone asks “is this you”.

      6. Too Many Tabs Open*

        When I was still using Twitter, nearly all my posts were work-related, but they were things that I’d have no problem with my coworkers or supervisor seeing: interesting articles about my industry; cheerful posts about finishing major seasonal tasks; news about what my workplace was doing. If I vented about something, it would be about an industry change that everyone else in my industry would be complaining about too and that wouldn’t be out of line in a public discussion.

        I have occasionally vented about coworkers to my pocket friends; it was in forums that aren’t open to search engines and where I post under a pseudonym, and even so I was extremely vague to where a random person couldn’t tell if I was complaining about a coworker, friend, neighbor, or relative. There might be other coworkers, and even with my pseud, someone willing to do the detective work could identify me, so I didn’t go into specific details. Today I’m more likely to private message a close friend than post in a forum, unless it’s a situation where I want advice from a variety of people.

        On AAM I don’t post about my industry under my regular pseud, even when tempted to commiserate with other commenters who are in the same industry. If I’m asking a question on the Friday work thread, I’m using an entirely different pseud.

        Overall, my guideline is “would it be awkward if my boss or grandboss saw this?” If it’d be awkward, I either don’t say it at all or only say it in a less open forum with a lot of serial numbers filed off.

    31. goducks*

      There have been times where employees have come to me in my HR capacity because they don’t like the written warning they’ve been given by their bosses, because they don’t agree with them, in much the way that you disagree with the verbal warning you were given by your bosses. I’ll give you the same advice I give them:

      Whether you agree with your boss’ characterization of your actions or not is largely moot. The point of the warning is to make sure that you are on notice that a behavior is unacceptable. It doesn’t really matter whether you think you did the thing they think you did or not, all that matters is that you don’t do this thing going forward. In most instances a verbal or 1st warning is just a way to reset expectations. If you abide by these expectations going forward, everything is going to be fine, and after a bit the matter will be considered closed. If you continue to stew and argue, you’re likely to make additional problems for yourself. You’re saying you’re not going to do this going forward… great! Don’t! You continuing to argue the validity of the warning makes it seem like you’re missing the point, and is not helping you.

      1. Verily Anon*

        Thank you. This is helpful and kind.

        I really wasn’t expecting to see so *many* comments, and I should have just stepped back and stayed out when I realized how upset I was, instead of trying to explain myself.

        You’re right. The validity of the warning isn’t important (and it was valid). At this point all I can do is make sure not to make these mistakes (tweeting about work and putting this much specific information in an AAM comment) again.

        1. Rick Tq*

          Verily, when you get flustered and need to vent, don’t post to the Internet. Open Word or Notepad and start typing. Share as much as you need to, go into details, name names, do whatever helps relieve your stress in the moment. Treat it like a private journal.

          Clear your head.

          If you need to get up from your desk and take a break, lock your computer.

          When you are done venting close the file without saving it.

          You can’t get in trouble for something that never leaves your desk and doesn’t leave any traces.

    32. The Shenanigans*

      I’m gonna disagree with people and say that people are gonna post about their jobs, and companies need to get over it. This is especially true now that non-disparagement NDAs are pretty well unenforceable. Plus, depending on how you talk about work, it may be protected speech, according to the NLRB anyway.

      BUT, clearly, this company sounds like they really monitor this stuff. So, your best bet is to lock down your social media, at least for as long as you job search. Because you really should be job searching. Your bosses have been really vague, and that’s a bad sign. If they wanted to give you a chance to fix things, they’d have been direct. Next, change your name on your real social media so it isn’t attached to you, and make a new bland corporate PR-approved social media. Just give prospective companies the bland one and don’t tell them about the real one.

      1. Joron Twiner*

        I agree that people should be able to criticize their companies on social media under their own names. But if you talk about your individual coworkers, well, that’s not about the “job” or the “company” is it? If my coworker tweeted about my personal information they overheard me share, that’s about me, not about the company. And it’s not reasonable to expect people to not react to that.

    33. Art Soplo*

      Oh boy.
      Okay, I don’t want to pile on here. But at the same time: I recently went through something somewhat similar at work except that it wasn’t twitter (it was a work-sanctioned slack/discord setup) and I wasn’t posting about coworkers (like many other employees in the app, I had posted a “wow, our [Email App] is pretty slow today, what’s that about??” message). I still got a call from HR offering “friendly feedback” about how I need to stop being negative, risk eroding professional relationships with other departments, etc. There are a lot of other factors that make my particular situation kind of nuts but at the same time: I sympathize with you, Verily.

      *That being said*
      You need to let this go.
      You NEED to lock your twitter down to the most private of private settings (or maybe delete it entirely).
      If you really can’t quit Twitter because you like giving Elon Musk attention/money for whatever reason: do not tweet anything about work, ever, even on your private twitter. If you decide to delete your current twitter and make a much more anonymous public one–absolutely never tweet anything about work on there. If you make that new account a private one: still don’t tweet anything about work, ever.
      Get some therapy to learn better coping mechanisms for panic attacks because nowhere in the history of mental health has been “bitch about my coworkers out of context on social media in real time” been a suitable form of therapy. Does your insurance not cover ativan or other anti-anxiety meds?????
      You seriously need to let this go.

      I know I’m being harsh and I really do get it. I’m still fighting the urge to go scorched earth at work even though I know that’s a terrible idea and that ultimately, I don’t make the call over if I was “in the right” about my situation or not: my employer does. But you are going to tweet your way out of this job and probably the next if you don’t get your head right on this.

  7. WhoAmIToday*

    How all do you handle a boss who asks for suggestions but ignores all suggestions that aren’t their own? Do you even bother suggesting anything else for the rare time when suggestions are taken or just say Great! Love it! regardless of opinion, history, or experience?

    Ex: What color should we get for this year’s t-shirts? I’m thinking barney purple.
    Option A: “We had barney purple two years ago and they were the worst selling in our history. How about a lighter purple?” Resulting in a 10-minute discussion before settling on barney purple 90%+ of the time.
    Option B: “Great idea!”

    Both options are demoralizing and exhausting in their own unique way.

    1. a beth*

      Ugh this could be my boss. I use very tentative, couched language now to suggest anything, which I hate for many reasons. If I am bringing a suggestion to them unprompted, I ask their opinion instead of just giving my own with my reasoning. It’s definitely demoralizing, but at least with your option 2 maybe you are saving up capital to push back on things that matter.

    2. SansaStark*

      Ugh you have my sympathies. You’re right that both are so demoralizing. It helped me to find a way to just stop caring about 90% of those conversations. If boss is going to do what boss wants to do, there’s really no need for you to put in any emotional labor in it. I only gave feedback/suggestions where it directly impacted me. Using your example, I’d keep my mouth shut if I just thought it was dumb to use a color that didn’t do well, but I’d say something if my bonus was tied to the # of shirts we sold. But either way, it may help to emotionally untangle yourself from the problem and solution if possible.

    3. Friday Person*

      This obviously has limited utility if your boss is pretty much never going to listen regardless, but I’ve found it helpful in some situations to signify the level of importance I’m placing on a particular suggestion (“That seems reasonable. As one other thought, we could also consider doing a lighter purple that might have more selling potential” at one end of the scale if it doesn’t really matter, “Given our past results, I’m extremely concerned that the barney purple could pose issues for our sales targets” if it’s a big deal. This does require being a little judicious about how often you play the latter card.)

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

      I realize your example is probably simplified for the sake of privacy but I have a sort of internal algorithm about how important the task/subject is vs the possible impact of my suggestion. Low stakes items that don’t really impact my life, I pick option B, “Purple great! Let’s roll”. But something that directly impacts my job or enjoyment of my life, option A — I make suggestions and back it up with bottom line facts. “Two years ago we missed our sales goals and that eliminated our year-end bonus. I feel very strongly that we pick a color based on previous successful sales and purple was one of our worst products. According to the Pantone color of the year, Adobe trends forecast, and this influencer I follow on Tik Tok, the color consumers are trending toward in the upcoming season is Moss Green with a hint of sad beige.”

    5. Whiney McWhiner*

      I hear you. I work in a big bad beaurocracy. We have an organization webpage that is similar to AAM here, but you have to register and set up an account to use it, and any time anyone actually brings up an issue, they are ever so “politely” poo-pooed and dismissed.

      Recently TPTB issued a call for suggestions on how to revise and improve our SOP manual. Few people actually submitted any suggestions because the amount of information they wanted to support the suggestions was unreasonably excessive and detailed. (I suppose because the people who actually write the SOP, are NOT the people who have to use it and they don’t have any idea of what is like to actually work in the jobs that do use the SOP. The seem unable to anticipate what the next logical step would be after you’ve taken the step written in the SOP and they lack the initiative to preemptively provide that information.)

      Also, the people who use the SOP don’t have any time to actually, thoughtfully, make suggestions and include the kind of documentation requested. Employees’ time is strongly monitored and they are expected to either be on the phones or actively processing paperwork, which means that they would have to use their own personal off-work time to create a decent suggestion with the level of detail that TPTB expect. And TPTB wonders why people are not more actively engaged and providing more and better suggestions.

    6. Admin of Sys*

      A thing that has worked for me before is to ask questions to lead them to why the idea is a bad one, without disagreeing with them. In the above example : “Cool – Do we have numbers about how well the barney purple performed sales wise the last time we had it?” Then hopefully, when presented with the fact that the color underperformed, they’ll ‘discover’ light purple performs better and adjust their opinions. This works best if you can let them give /you/ the answer. You, personally, had no opinion on the matter, you were just curious. /They/ figured out barney purple underperformed.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      Can you split the difference to try to shorten the interaction? “Barney purple was really unpopular last time, but it’s up to you!” Rather than trying to actually convince them or give a true suggestion.

      “Barney purple” made me laugh. The worst purple!!

    8. I Have RBF*

      Option C: — silence —

      Why waste your breath if they’ve already made up their mind and are just looking for praise?

    9. Workerbee*

      Option B, always. You will be able to get back to your own work/life/well-being that much sooner.

      The real trick is to learn how to not care when people are being stupid. You can’t change stupid. Let them be stupid.

      Source: Me, who had a boss who wanted bobble-heads for employees

    10. Random Dice*

      Option B.

      And find another job.

      You also might pay attention to whether your boss ever rejects your idea then later claims it as their own. That’s frustrating but you can make it work.

    11. Extra anony*

      Option C: “OK, that works.” Or “Sure, got it.” Treat it as a direction, not a question, and ditch the effort of enthusiasm.

  8. formerly corporate*

    I posted a couple weeks ago about a horrible new director (Ann) at my nonprofit who was insulting basically all of us within her first week. A lot of commenters guessed that she wouldn’t be around much longer.
    My update is that she’s still here, but probably not for long. She has now managed to butt heads with our Executive Director and his EA. They apparently found her work… subpar, and she did NOT react well to the ED’s feedback. She apparently launched into her whole rant about how “backwards” and “behind” our nonprofit is. His EA is someone you really, really don’t want to piss off, so I’m thinking that Ann’s days are numbered.
    A few commenters asked how she ever got hired, and my boss and I had been wondering the same thing. The short answer is that the org was desperate to fill the position, and Ann is quite qualified on paper. The longer answer is that (I learned through the grapevine) there was a lot of debate about it, and one of the most senior managers argued very hard against hiring her. He was overruled by another senior manager who has a reputation of avoiding conflict and taking the easiest route, which in this case, was hiring someone who is defendable on paper. It’s too bad; senior management is usually pretty good at hiring.
    Thanks for all of your input! It was helpful to feel like I wasn’t overreacting to Ann’s wild behavior.

    1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Oh wow. Great update on this. Sounds like she is digging her own grave at this organization. I have the feeling her departure is going to be spectacular. Keep your popcorn handy OP.

  9. MWKing*

    A colleague recently mentioned to me that she has to “use her sick days” before they expire. Our organization provides 15 sick days a year which do not carry forward. This is in addition to four weeks of vacation/personal time.

    While I didn’t say anything to my younger, Gen Z colleague (I’m an older millennial), I was mentioning to another friend (not at our organization) that I thought this was dishonest practice. My friend responded that “PTO is PTO” and you should use it.

    While I unquestionably support using sick days as mental health days every now and then, I think my Gen Z colleague is abusing the system. I also think that this is how organizations enact draconian sick leave policies, such as requiring a doctor’s note.

    Where does everyone stand on this?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As another older millennial – if it’s use it or lose it, people are gonna use it and that’s perfectly reasonable, as long as they can make excuses that fit within the using-it policy.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Yep. I’d for sure schedule some routine appointments to use them up, and lower my threshold for needing a mental health day. That doesn’t mean I’d go to every length to use them and not lose them (I’m not in the all-PTO-is-equivalent camp), but I’d make sure I wasn’t losing sick time I had a reasonable health-related use for.

      2. A Girl Named Fred*

        Mid-range(?) millennial here too, and I agree with this. I’ve never been able to make myself do it (though I’ve also never worked anywhere with use it or lose it), but I applaud those who do.

      3. lost academic*

        This. You, friend, are a bit outdated. That person should use the sick days for appropriate time off where applicable and should indeed be mindful of expiring benefits.

        I would like to be hooked up with 15 sick days please.

      4. Charlotte Lucas*

        As GenX, I have never heard of sick days expiring! Vacation or PTO, yes, but I always thought separate sick time was rolled over, in case it was needed for a health crisis or maternity leave.

        It’s a crappy policy, & I, too, would schedule all my appointments but lower the bar on how much I rushed back to work or whether I were truly sick enough to call in.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I thought this until 2 jobs ago. My parents’ jobs had rollover sick time with a cap of something that amounted to like 6 months. My first jobs after college had something similar. Last 2 jobs, use it or lose it for sick and vacation.
          But yeah, this begs for scheduling a 30 minute appointment first thing in the morning but taking the whole day off. Sick leave is for appointments too. Not abusing the system.

    2. londonedit*

      This seems to be a cultural difference that I wasn’t aware of until I started reading here. In my (UK) experience, sick time is like an insurance policy – it’s not something where you have a set number of days to ‘max out’ each year. Where I work, we don’t have a set number of sick days – for longer-term sickness we can take up to 12 weeks and the company will top up the government Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to our full salary, but that’s all official with doctor’s notes etc. For shorter-term sickness you can self-certify for up to 7 days, but HR may require a ‘fit to work’ note when you come back, and if you have frequent absences then HR will probably request a meeting with you and your manager to discuss what’s going on and whether you need any help or accommodations. So it’s really not the done thing to use up all your sick time as if it’s extra holiday – that’s something your manager/HR would definitely become concerned about. We get 25 days’ holiday, plus public holidays (8 here in England, more if there’s a special event like the Jubilee or Coronation – we’ve done quite well in recent years). That’s all completely separate from sick time.

      1. NeedRain47*

        I’m in the US, and in my experience at multiple kinds of jobs, it’s pretty normal to get a set number of sick days, but it’s not normal for them to expire if you don’t use them. Vacation days might do that but not sick time.
        Having to get a note or not would depend on the individual company, my current workplace doesn’t have a policy, previous had if you were out for more than five days.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          My experience has been the exact opposite; vacation days may expire or roll over, but sick days always expire at the end of the year in which they’re earned.

        2. Clisby*

          I’m in the US, now retired, but my experience was the same as yours. When I had my first child, 6 weeks of my FMLA was paid with accrued sick leave (and I still had some left over.) I think it was capped at 8 or 12 weeks, though, and it was never paid out if you didn’t use it.

          Also, I never worked anywhere that sick leave was supposed to cover routine medical appointments, or care for a family member. So if I had needed to stay home with a sick child, that would be PTO unless I could WFH. (Yes, I know I could have lied and said I was sick, and if I had been desperate, I would have – but fortunately, no need for that.) Sick leave covered appointments if you actually were sick, of course – like if the reason you’re seeing the doctor is that you have a fever of 104 and your throat is killing you and you need a strep/flu/covid test. But not just because it was time for your yearly checkup.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            FYI some states explicitly require sick leave be usable for routine appointments for yourself or an immediate family member, so this is not always an employer-specific thing.

        3. Lisa Simpson*

          California enacted Paid Sick Time while I worked there, and it was my understanding that those were considered a government benefit provided by through the employer so it was government fraud to take a sick day when you were not actually sick.

          This may also apply to other state-mandated sick time policies.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            California Paid Sick Leave specifically includes seeking preventative care for yourself or a family member, as well as diagnoses or treatment. But as far as I know, it’s not a government benefit. Employers in California are required to provided at least 3 days of Paid Sick Leave a year.
            You might be thinking of California’s Paid Family Leave? Which is separate and paid into SDI, and while it can be intermittent, doesn’t sound at all like what OP was describing.

    3. Anon for This*

      Not carrying unused leave forward is the problem. While 15 days seems generous on its face, it could be insufficient for some diagnoses. If you can carry over leave it makes sense to bank it. Not allowing for carry-over means a lot of people will suddenly get bad headaches or back problems in December…

      1. I should really pick a name*

        One of the arguments for not carrying them forward is that it means people will actually use them instead of coming into the office and infecting people.

        1. catsoverpeople*

          I think that’s the tradeoff, isn’t it? You as the boss will have fewer people coming into the office while sick to infect everybody else, and you have to look the other way when someone suspiciously has a lot of back pain or sick kids right before the days expire. Frankly, I’d prefer that kind of system to the micromanaging note-requiring types.

    4. CatCat*

      Capping out sick leave, imo, is pretty Draconian already.

      I’m with your coworker.

      Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

      1. Anecdata*

        I am 32 and I am on your side – sick leave isn’t the same as PTO, where you should be able to plan on using it “just because/as part of your compensation”; and many companies offer more dates total with the expectation that sone employees won’t use all of them done years. It’s more like parental leave, or bereavement – you don’t get it if the circumstances it’s designed for (ie being sick) don’t apply to you.

        But! Is it possible your coworker meant something like “I have a bunch of sick time acquired, let me line up my doctor’s/eye/dentist appointments to use it”? That seems aboveboard to me.

        1. Kesnit*

          That was the way I read it.

          I have T2 diabetes. My primary care (who was handling my diabetes) died and I had to find a new primary care and endocrinologist. I’m also nearsighted and have a family history of glaucoma, so need to keep up on my eye care. I control my BS with exercise and recently have been having problems with my knees, so need to see an ortho. My endo recently told me that my cholesterol is high and since I am on a medication that can affect the heart AND I have an extensive family history of heart disease, I need to work on my diet; back to the dietician to discuss a low-carb, low-fat diet.

          All of that requires time off to go to the doctor. All of that is hitting at once (although I’ve been forgetting to schedule my eye doctor). I have a lot of sick time (it does not carry over into the next calendar year), but every appointment takes a few hours from my bank.

    5. Giselle*

      I’m with you. Sick days are for when you’re sick. They’re not vacation, and people treating them like vacation is how we get doctor’s note policies.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        It seems to me that in this case, the company is treating them like vacation days by having them expire.

        1. Giselle*

          Bereavement leave doesn’t “carry over” either. It is time you are meant to take for a specific purpose if extenuating circumstances come up, not time you are meant to bank.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Anywhere I have worked with bereavement leave allows a specific number of days per loss, not a specific number of days overall, so not the same to me.

          2. Double A*

            But bereavement leave also doesn’t expire and usually isn’t limited in number beyond the relationship. If you have one person die and you use it, then in a month another person dies they aren’t like, “you’ve used up your bereavement leave for the year” (unless your company is terrible). They’re really different types of leave.

        2. Foxy Hedgehog*

          Yeah, that’s exactly it. I can confidently say that if I had 15 sick days a year and if they expired at the end of the year, I would develop a very very low threshold for calling in with headaches and general fatigue. And I certainly wouldn’t judge any other employee who felt the same.

      2. Old and Don’t Care*

        In several places I’ve worked if every employee took 15(!) sick days, we would no longer get 15 sick days.

        Having said that, one place I worked that had single bucket PTO let you roll over one week of PTO and if you had more carryover time could roll it to short term disability. I thought that was fair.

        (Gen X).

    6. Rosyglasses*

      Eh – as an HR person and manager, it would probably depend on other things (like performance or other concerning behavior). Paid sick leave laws do not require businesses to pay out time, but many states or local laws do require a certain amount to be rolled over. There are also maximum amounts that can be given (e.g. you can roll over 40 hours but you can only use 90 hours a year), again, depending on state laws.

      The laws are there to protect employees and help support them so they can take time to go to dr appointments, child dr appointments, not come to work sick, so to try and use it for extra vacation time rubs me a bit the wrong way, but I also think alot of companies don’t give enough time off in general, so it really depends.

    7. A Simple Narwhal*

      I think this is fine. Unless she’s blatantly taking all 15 days in a row at the end of the year or only doing it on days that leave the team in a real bind, I doubt this is going to affect anything.

      Maybe she said she had to “use her sick days” as a TLDR, but there’s a good chance what she meant was “I’ve been stingy with my sick days all year just in case I got really sick and needed to use a big block of them all at once, but now that we’re approaching the end of the year I can relax my standards for using them and feel more confident to use them for mental health days or mild sickness.”.

      I know I was really nervous to use sick days in the beginning of the year and was reluctant to use them for less than a debilitating illness “just in case”, but now that we’re well into the latter half of the year I feel a lot better about actually using them when I just don’t feel great or need a mental health day.

      So unless her usage of sick days is having a direct impact on you, I wouldn’t worry about it. And definitely lean into using your sick days too! The annoyance you feel might be more that it feels like she’s getting to do something you can’t, when you absolutely could too.

      1. Giselle*

        I read the “PTO is PTO” comment as she is taking them all as vacation at the end of the year when she is not sick.

    8. EMP*

      elder millennial here. Using 15 sick days when you’re not sick is kind of a lot, but in general if it’s use it or lose it PTO, I say use it. I always used to use a couple sick days at the end of the year because they didn’t carry over, may as well not use PTO.

    9. On Fire*

      We accrue fairly generous (by U.S. standards) sick leave with no cap, but policy explicitly states what that sick leave can and cannot be used for. If we were use-or-lose, though, I would at least be tempted to use it as extra leave. The use/lose system is the problem.

    10. ZSD*

      I think your company should change its policy so that sick days have no cap and carry over from year to year. It gives great peace of mind to know that you have six or eight weeks of sick days in the bank in case you have a medical emergency. If my employer didn’t allow sick days to carry over, the first thing I’d do would be to try to get the policy changed, but if that didn’t work, then yes, I’d be taking “mental health” days to at least get the full use of the paid sick days I’ve got.

      1. NeedRain47*

        My previous job capped it at six months’ worth of sick time. And then you could “donate” your extra to others who needed paid time off.

    11. Chris too*

      Could she have been meaning it in terms of lining up a bunch of appointments? A physical,
      the dentist, eye exam,
      Etc.?

      1. Me...Just Me*

        If it were me, that’s what I would do. I’d make sure my dental, eye, doctors’s appointments were all up to date before those hours expire.

      2. Clisby*

        As long as the company allows it to be used for routine appointments, that would be fine. I never worked anywhere that did.

    12. M2RB*

      I am going back and forth on this one in my head. I think I come down to this view: if this is a benefit that the company offers, we do not get to regulate it beyond what is written in the handbook/policy documents. Employees are presumably adults and should be trusted to use their benefits appropriately. Rigidly monitoring and restricting use of benefits is demoralizing! If the use of the sick time causes true negative business impacts, then address the pattern and the impact, but we don’t get to question WHAT people do with their sick time. That harsher approach may lead to individual managers saying “you’re not sick enough” when their personal bias is actually the problem.

    13. anywhere but here*

      Use it or lose it sick time is the bigger problem here, I think. It’s unclear from this whether she means “use her sick days” as in, take a few mental health days / schedule doctor’s appointments / use the sick time when it is beneficial but not *strictly* necessary, or whether she plans on treating it like vacation time. I don’t think it’s good practice to treat sick time exactly like vacation time, but I also think if someone is otherwise healthy and sick time doesn’t carry over, there’s no problem with trying to use it before the year runs out for things that don’t meet more strict criteria of sickness.

    14. The Ginger Ginger*

      I’m an older millenial and I’ve with your colleague. Sick days are part of your compensation and you’re entitled to use them ESPECIALLY if they don’t roll over. It’s not on me to police their use unless it’s causing work problems. And as someone who manages people, that’s still my take. Wake up feeling mentally exhausted and nothing hot is on your plate? Take the day. Feeling burn out sneaking up? Schedule a sick day next week – I don’t care if your health appointment is with a hammock and a book.

      If someone’s performing as expected or better, I’m not hung up on their sick time. Be conscientious sure, but don’t offer more back to your work than is reciprocated or healthy for you. And don’t leave money on the table.

    15. Purple Cat*

      You have no idea what specifically she meant by “use” before they expire. She could have been putting off dr’s appointments that she can now schedule. She could just be more generous to herself in the future to use a sick day when otherwise she might have powered through. OR their just mental health days. All are valid uses of sick time. It’s there to be used. If there are any performance issues with this employee that’s on her manager to address.

    16. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I feel like it would really depend on how she spent them. Make sure to book some needed doctor’s appointments before year end? No problem. Setting the personal bar a little lower between “I’m sneezing but feeling well enough to WFH” and “I don’t have anything critical today and I’m feeling crummy” – sure. I definitely push that bar higher at the beginning of the year and then drop it later. Take it all in a vacation block at the end of the year? Eh. Really not in the spirit of it.

    17. MsM*

      I think this is very YMMV by organization. My husband’s boss is constantly encouraging him to use up his personal time if things get down to the last couple of months of the year and there’s still a lot left. It’s a nonprofit and there aren’t a lot of other incentives she can offer him, so might as well max out this one.

    18. Alex*

      I think it depends on what kind of job you have. If you have a kind of job where an unplanned absence causes a lot of inconvenience for others (AND you have a reasonable amount of vacation time allotted) , then I think you ethically have an obligation to take sick time only as intended–to care for the health of yourself or your family members–and not to use it as a freebie day off.

      But if you being absent a day here and there doesn’t really matter (like in my job, and lots of other kinds of jobs) I think it’s fine. Who does it hurt if, at the end of the day, the expectations for your productivity are being met?

      And I’d also add that if you work for a place that is exceptionally cheap with vacation days, it’s also fine, because employers should give reasonable days off.

    19. Choggy*

      I’m a Gen-Xer and I take every single second of any PTO that I earn every year. I *wish* we were offered 15 sick days, we only have 5 so it’s probably easier for me to use it throughout the year, or closer to the end of the year, if I have them left over. I’m rarely sick, but do need to take mental health days from time to time to decompress from my stressful job.

    20. RagingADHD*

      Since doctor/dentist/therapy/pt appointments, and mental health days are perfectly legitimate reasons to take sick time, I think your coworker is being smart about budgeting their time.

      I also think that it is none of your business. If you coworker’s sick time significantly impacts your workload, talk to management about the coverage plan.

    21. Violet Sorrengail*

      I am borderline millennial/Gen Z, but lean more millennial. I ALWAYS use all my sick time. For me, this means using sick time for appointments instead of working extra to make it up, taking sick/mental health days as I need them, and occasionally using a sick day at the end of a long trip if I’m experiencing jet lag or travel fatigue. I typically still end up with 1-2 I need to burn at the end of the year and take them as mental health days in December to finish my holiday prep!

      As long as her absence isn’t causing issues, she can and should use ALL her PTO.

    22. Dark Macadamia*

      “I also think that this is how organizations enact draconian sick leave policies, such as requiring a doctor’s note.” – No, employees making use of their benefits are not at fault for employers choosing to treat them poorly.

    23. The Shenanigans*

      Elder Millennial here and if capitalists want to make all leave use it or lose they need to be prepared for people to use it. If the company troes to retaliate with dracion rules, well, this is why unioms exist and are more popular than ever.

    24. Morgan Proctor*

      PTO is PTO, and you should use it or lose it. You’re not mad at your colleague — you’re mad at your organization for enacting a policy where PTO doesn’t carry forward, and is categorized in such a way that you can’t take full advantage of it. I’m sure, deep down, you’d like 7 weeks of PTO instead of your current 4. I sure would. You know what would help you get that? Organizing. Don’t turn on your fellow workers. Band together and demand what you really want.

      Signed, an Elder Millennial.

      1. MWKing*

        Just for the record…I’m not *mad* at anyone here, and I’m certainly not turning on anyone.

        It was simply a noted difference of opinion, and I was, in a sort of sociological way, curious if this was an age thing or something else. Please don’t read more into this than that. This comment section can really jump to conclusions.

        1. Anecdata*

          Eh, yeah – this doesn’t hold water to me. I’d like 3 extra weeks of vacation sure, but I’d ALSO like to work at a place where people who need more sick time than average can get it (because they have a chronic illness, because their 2 & 4 year old bioweapons manufacturing facilities, because they just had a sucky year and got sick a ton). They’re just different things. If “all PTO is PTO”, companies should set the # of sick days at the average, the amount they’re comfortable with everyone taking every year – and folks who need more are out of luck, or never get actual vacation because they use it all for sick, or what not.

    25. tangerineRose*

      This makes me think of a baby-boomer co-worker. It seemed like he always, always used up every sick day he had available. Which probably wouldn’t have been noticeable if he had doing a good job at work instead of finding creative ways to not work.

      1. catsoverpeople*

        Ha! Did you ever tell him “no one wants to work anymore”? Gotta love those generational stereotypes!

        – signed, an Elder Millennial who has never once eaten avocado toast

        1. Rainy*

          I like avocados, don’t get me wrong, but avocado toast is pretty overrated. I prefer buttered toast.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        In my experience, it is more often the older members of staff who do things like that, but that is probably due to the nature of teaching in Ireland where those in their 20s are very often on temporary contracts or subbing and need to make a good impression whereas those in their late 50s and 60s are generally coming to the end of their careers, have permanent contracts so they aren’t likely to lose their jobs and often aren’t looking for any kind of promotion and are therefore freer to do what they like.

        I don’t think it is age related.

    26. mreasy*

      Geriatric millennial here, I always use up all my PTO and never a day less! I don’t resent or dislike my employer, in fact I like them a lot but… those days are part of my compensation package, and feeling unwell is a spectrum.

    27. Gyne*

      To me, this is a “this is why we can’t have nice things” issue. If your colleagues can’t be trusted to be honest when they’re actually sick vs attempting to maximize the time they can get paid not to work, your employer will never want to revise their sick leave policies to be more humane. In a perfect world we’d be able to take off whenever we are sick or need to take care of normal human things during working hours, but if people treat “sick” time as “spontaneous vacay!” time, the business is never going to think, “gosh we need to pay our employees *more* time not to work” when they routinely lie about what they’re up to.

    28. Random Dice*

      We’re all catching up from 3 years of hell.

      Mental health is also health.

      Don’t police how people define sick days.

  10. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    How do you get into project management? And are there any good resources or articles about it that weren’t written by chatGPT/a content farm?

    1. ferrina*

      I got into it by managing projects. My team didn’t have a dedicated project manager, so I kind of learned by doing. I would write up plans and present them and get buy-in; I would coordinate with others and confirm priorities with my boss; I would send reminders and figure out ways to clear up time/space for others to support on my projects. You can also support an existing project manager- “hey, what can I take off your plate? Are there tasks I can support you with?” Project managers are often used to delegating and can help show you the ropes (I’ve traded tips with other PMs often- our adaptability and ability to share/gather information is part of what makes us so darn good at our jobs)

      I know a couple people that got into it through the Project Managment Insititute, which offers the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. This can be helpful, but it’s definitely not a substitute for doing.

      1. Recently Certified PMP*

        “I know a couple people that got into it through the Project Managment Insititute, which offers the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. This can be helpful, but it’s definitely not a substitute for doing.”

        You can’t get certified as a PMP without 36 months of project management experience, so you definitely have to have practical application, not just take a course/get certified :) also it’s INCREDIBLY difficult to pass the exam.

        1. Bismuth*

          There is a CAPM certification that one can get by taking the test without needing project management experience.

          I side-eye that 36 mo requirement, though, bc I worked with a guy who got a PMP with less than 36 mo experience. Don’t know how he worked it. He also got a CSEP with less than 5 years experience. I think those certs are negotiable, and I wish I knew how to negotiate them.

          1. Recently Certified PMP*

            “I think those certs are negotiable, and I wish I knew how to negotiate them.”

            Can’t speak for the other certifications you mentioned, but the PMP through PMI is absolutely not, there is a rigorous application process before you can even take the test. They conduct both random audits and audits if your experience has anything they might consider questionable in it. If they find out you lied about experience you will be permanently banned. They take it very seriously.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      I’d start with the Project Management Institute. They offer a widely recognized certification and may be able to point you in the right direction.

    3. Susan Calvin*

      So the thing is, project management is a distinct skill set, but the day to day work, and more so the way to get that work, really varies between industries. I can really only speak about software, and even there you have huge differences between product PMs and services/delivery PMs, and both of these are several worlds away from the PM my spouse works with in construction, and a million other examples I could come up with – so I think your best bet is to look for resources specific to the industry you want to get into, which should cut down the generic fluff pieces already.

      Corollary, do pick an industry – having experience as an individual contributor in the kind of projects you’re supposed to lead can only help, and is a prerequisite in some companies, although experience in the industry of your prospective employer’s *customers* is also often very valuable.

      Otherwise, for very basic things, I’ve found LinkedIn learning better than its reputation – subsequently following some of the instructors I liked has also put additional resources on my feed.

      Good luck! (from someone who also only recently made the jump, haha)

      1. Miss Thymia*

        I second LinkedIn Learning. I’ve watched some of the videos that are available for free, and it was great to put some structure around the things I’ve picked up over the years.

        I’m also considering making an intentional move into this area, still very much in the considering phase, so I don’t have experience reaching out or making connections to help in that way. But either way I feel more comfortable learning some of the principles and terminology, and a lot of it can be applied to situations that aren’t specifically “projects” so I feel like it was a good time investment either way.

        1. Lyudie*

          There’s actual PMI education on there too. I had to watch a few videos for one of my grad school classes.

      2. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        Agree with this – I am a Project Manager, but 90% of my projects are onboarding and offboarding new customers at a logistics company. I imagine it’s a very different experience than managing software launches or building a school.

    4. lost academic*

      Unavoidable in my field (consulting). Lots of good stuff out there – PMP is a good certification resource. Your company is likely to have some internal stuff if they have project managers. Talk to your boss.

    5. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Project management is a very broad term with a variety of job descriptions and salaries. I’d think about what industry(s) you’d want to pursue and look into that rather than “project management”.

    6. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      I am currently a Project Manager who got there by managing projects on behalf of my clients in different customer facing roles like Account Manager and Implementations Analyst. I have no formal certification at the moment, though my company is paying for me to take the Google Project Management certificate through Coursera. It’s pretty good, probably more intense than a LinkedIn learning, but it’s nothing like going for your PMP which can be really advanced from what I’ve seen.

  11. Anonymouse for this*

    So I gave notice in June with a September end date (I’m in an executive role in a small company and the only director of 11 departments). I’ve been able to share this with a few of my managers and leads so they can assist me in planning and transitions, but the owner is dragging his feet in letting me share with the rest of my direct reports or leaders in the company, along with not wanting to post a job to replace me in time for me to help with transition. I get that that is the businesses choice and they will reap the consequences – but I’m having a really really hard time acting as though I’ll be here when I’m chatting with staff about future planning and helping set up goals and supporting their learning development.

    Any advice others that have been in a similar situation can provide? Any help with mindset and not feeling like you’re “lying” or being deceptive?

    1. ferrina*

      Since you are already transitioning out, can you start referring questions to the person you are transitioning that task to?
      So: “X is going to be working closely on that this year so I can do other things. You should set up a time to talk with them.” (You don’t need to mention that other things are not being at the org)

      For setting up goals/learning development, encourage them to make plans on their own. Ask for things like areas where they want to learn and how they think that will impact their role/the business – things that your replacement would be interested in learning. It will also help them in taking ownership of their own learnings, in case the replacement doesn’t prioritize that.

      1. Anonymouse for this*

        There isn’t anyone identified to take over any of my work. I’ve done my best to fast track some promotions that were in the works so that people are covered to have good people managers, but my own managers and leads that I meet with to coach through things and help plan KPIs etc would only be reporting to the owner unless they decide to hire a replacement and so it would be very weird for me to refer them to him without it signalling things. But maybe that is a good plan, to start directing people to him so it pushes him to figure out what he wants to do more quickly.

        The team is pretty good at doing their own planning generally, but I have about 5 newer-to-management folks that I would typically be meeting with biweekly to coach them, go through learning materials, ask questions, and help settle into their role. I know if push comes to shove they’ll be fine, but it makes me sad to think that they won’t have the support towards success their peers had (again, not my problem in the end, but I care alot about them being supported!).

        Thanks for your insights.

        1. MsM*

          Can you encourage some of the other managers to step into a mentorship role with the newbies? I think you could pretty easily frame it as wanting them to be able to build connections and have more people to go to than just you, and as an opportunity for the mentors to grow themselves.

    2. Zephy*

      What’s the owner going to do if you start telling more people that you’re leaving? Fire you? I’ll bet you ten dollars this man is going to be utterly flabbergasted and shocked and dismayed and upset and totally blindsided when you don’t show up after your last day.

      I’ll +1 the suggestion to start referring people to whoever will take over X. Up to you if you want to get into why they should ask Fergus for the teapot reports instead of you.

      1. HoundMom*

        Exactly this. I gave my c-suite manager four months notice and kept them in the loop that about the job offers I had. He was shocked when I would not extend beyond the last day. The role was empty for months after.

    3. Purple Cat*

      Honestly, just stop lying to people. Why are you trying to cover for them – especially when you’re the one that is going to seem shady and like you didn’t care about transitioning. I would be furious as a direct report if you had told some of your direct reports and deliberately excluded me from that communication. You need to be direct with everybody that reports to you. And since some of them know, you owe it to all of them to know. And they probably already do – unless your company is very siloed, don’t your direct reports talk to each other?

    4. Call Me Dr. Dork*

      I am going through this now, although I am not a manager but rather an SME. My managers know and their managers know that I’m leaving in September, but I’m not supposed to tell coworkers for a while. I just had a situation come up with one of our annual technical exercises that will happen after I leave, and I just dumped it in my manager’s lap. I’d rather work with someone to help plan this (or just be around for a resource while someone else plans it), but I can’t do that if I can’t tell anyone else that I’ll be gone. Thus: manager’s problem, no longer my problem.

      I find this frustrating, but I’m also trying to disengage a little bit. It’s not going to be my responsibility in the future…but it’s really hard to break my proactive habits. And not being forthright with my plans is not fun either. So alas, I have sympathy, but no solutions outside of resigning yourself to your current limitations.

      1. Anonymouse for this*

        Yeah I think this is probably my best course of action – to disengage a bit and start to create that emotional distance.

    5. The Shenanigans*

      I’d push back to the owner and just simply tell them you need to start telling people you aren’t going to be there. Tell the owner they need to announce your departure by X date, or you will. Then do so. What are they going to do, fire you? Your direct reports and others need that information, and you need a good reputation from them.

  12. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I was exposed to the bizarre stay interview with questions such as ‘ when is the last time you wanted to quit your job?’. ( my boss noted that she would type them up so that no one saw my distinctive handwriting ( although ‘I made a mistake doing paperwork so I thought about quitting my job is probably distinctive) and also apparently you can’t say ‘ the thing I look forward to going home’ which is what my boss said.

    What are these for? like why?

    Also how are you guys pushing Trello to the next level? After a hard week I decided to make a chart with alarms instead of quitting my job

    1. Giselle*

      My only response to the first part is that this sounds like a very bad boss. If people are leaving so often that she is scheduling interviews with people demanding to know why they want to quit, something is wrong. I would run for the hills if I worked for this person.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Well my actual boss thinks this is dumb but if her boss wants her to do this, I can see why she just did the thing. We have a lot of turn over because it’s a hard job.

    2. English Rose*

      Oh Trello! I recently adapted the list of topics I keep for regular meetings with boss. I want to keep a record of what we discussed but not keep it in the live list. So I have “Waiting on” and “Discussed” boards.
      I’ve set up 2 x button automations with those names. One sends the item to the bottom of the Waiting on board and adds the date it was discussed. The other sends the item to the top of the Discussed board, adds the date it was discussed and marks it complete.
      I’m sure it would be just as quick to drag them across, but it gives me such satisfaction!

    3. TootSweet*

      We use stay interviews at my company to get a sense of 1) what makes an employee want to stay, and 2) what would make them want to leave. This seems like a not great way to word this question. To address #2, we ask things like, “What causes you the most frustration in your daily job duties?” or “What about your job makes you want to hit the snooze button?”

    4. The Shenanigans*

      Oh, I would not be comfortable answering any question like that, honestly, if the answer was written down. I would just demur and say something like, “Well, like most people, there are projects I like more than others. But I am absolutely committed to doing my best while I am here,” or something like that.

      I don’t see the point of these interviews, either. If a place is well-run, they already know the answers because there is already a culture of discussing problems and discontent. If the place is not well-run, no one is going to answer honestly. They know nothing will change, or they will face retaliation. So it’s pointless.

  13. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

    Those of you with small children, what do you do when they are too sick for school/child care and you can’t take off work? I’m at the point where if I call out again I will be fired. I have no family in town. I am at the point where I will have to decide between bringing him to work (office job in cubicle land), leaving him home by himself (he’s seven) or getting fired. My grand boss could let me work from home but he has zero sympathy and refuses to allow it. (We are set up for wfh and bring our computers home every night.) My manager told me it’s normal for mothers to be on a final warning for attendance when their children are little and she was all the time when children were small. (We are allowed only three call outs a year, rolling. Most kids are sick more than three days a year.) I pointed out that our state doesn’t allow discrimination based on family status and any policy that has a disparate impact on parents of small children would violate the law, so she told me to take it up with HR. HR told me if it wasn’t a chronic illness there was nothing they could do. What I’m worried about is normal colds and stomach bugs. My husband is completely out of PTO due to his own health problems. I am the main breadwinner. I’ve been trying to find other jobs but can’t find anything that wouldn’t be at least a 1/3 pay cut. With school starting soon I am so worried about new germs and how I can take care of my son and keep my job.

    1. cardigarden*

      What in the actual fck re your job.

      I wish I had something more productive to say beyond outrage and sympathy. It might be worth it to double check with an employment lawyer to confirm whether what HR said about chronic illnesses is accurate. It seems like there’s also gender discrimination at play if all mothers of young children are “at final warnings”.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I too would like to break out the pitchforks. 3 sick days a year??? All the mothers with kids???

        Honestly, apart from starting the legwork for finding a new job, I’d probably go to the EEOC. And if you are fired, I’m not usually a suggester of drama and not a lawyer but I would hit up every social media you have and name names. This is the sort of thing that potential employees should know about.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        This sounds like “tell me you discriminate against women without saying you discriminate against women,” all right. I’d bet a dollar no man in the LW’s office is on a final warning for similar reasons.

    2. just another queer reader*

      I don’t have any advice, but I’m really sorry you’re in this situation. Your company sounds super unreasonable and this must be so stressful.

    3. Panicked*

      Look for sick care providers! They are nannies/babysitters/dedicated facilities that will take care of sick kiddos on an as-needed basis. They can be pricey, but they are a lifesaver. I *highly* suggest you signing up and getting all their paperwork filled out well before you actually need them.

      1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

        I have looked, and the only one takes kids up to 6.5. My son is 7.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Perfect world: your lawyer scares the crap out of them/sues them into oblivion for discrimination.

      Real world: Start looking for a new job. Figure out if your family can manage on one income, and your husband becomes a stay at home parent. Figure out some sort of child care for when the kids are sick. Figure out if your husband can wfh.

      It sucks. I’m sorry.

      1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

        This is a Fortune 50 company. (If that’s a thing. But top 50 of the Fortune 500, so huge.) I don’t know if any lawyer I could afford would be sufficiently scary.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Like I said, perfect world. The world isn’t perfect. If you’re able to fix things for others then do so. But you need to make sure you and your family are taken care of, and it’s ok if that’s really all you can manage.

        2. Sparkle Llama*

          Do you know if this is a company wide policy or specific to your office? Could you figure that out? It seems very outside the norm for what sounds like an office job and I am wondering if it is some rouge policy created by someone at your office and someone higher up needs to hear about it and put an end to it.

          1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

            The three days is company wide. Department managers can allow us to work from home in cases like this, but ours isn’t.

            1. M2*

              Can you switch departments? If you are the breadwinner can your husband just call out for unpaid time off?

              If you need to bring the kid to work when they are sick get kid n95 masks.

              Ask families in your area. I WFH and don’t have crazy hours anymore so if I had a parent friend who needed help I would offer to help occasionally but would expect the kid to be in their room and I would be elsewhere working. I would wear a mask and if kid left room they would wear a mask.

              Ask the school counselor or nurse they might have resources or the school nurse may just keep the kid in their office with a mask (as long as they don’t have a fever). Granted our school nurse sent a strongly worded email to parents in the winter about sending sick kids into school, so def speak to the school nurse first!

              1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

                I can’t switch departments because job changes are not allowed when you’re on a final warning.

                1. goddessoftransitory*

                  Oh, this is EFFIN’ RIDICULOUS–they are openly trying to shove mothers out the door!

                  Just know that this all sounds ridiculously illegal–I know it doesn’t help but it IS. NOT. YOU. It is them.

        3. Random Dice*

          You don’t need a good lawyer, you just need a lawyer.

          I was involved in a lawsuit by someone who was lying through their nose, and we had photo evidence. They were self-representing and not well.

          They still got a payout.

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      I feel like I’d set up a consultation with a lawyer. Just because HR said there’s nothing they can do doesn’t mean that’s actually the case, and my spidey-sense is tingling here. I’m not sure if anything might immediately come from the consultation, and maybe nothing can happen until after you’re fired (which I hope doesn’t happen!), but getting more information into this situation seems like it would be helpful.

      I’m sorry you’re in this situation, it really sucks.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        One quick thought I had – HR said they could only make accommodations for chronic illness – does it have to be your own chronic illness, or would being a caregiver to someone with a chronic illness count? You said your husband has a variety of health issues so I wonder if this would fit under the umbrella and then use it to wfh and look after your kid. I wouldn’t normally recommend this but your company is behaving unethically and you should do what you need to do to not get fired.

        And then use that time to look for a new job because your company sucks.

    6. another mom*

      I just want to say I am so sorry you’re in this position. Especially with more childcare/schools having stricter illness policies in the past 3 years, I agree that it’s almost impossible to imagine a typical, healthy kid only using 3 sick days.

      Is emergency WFH something your manager can approve, given that she seems sympathetic? Especially if you present it as “should I bring my kid with norovirus to the office or wfh today?” Or that she’d turn a blind eye to if you present it as “just FYI I will be WFH today”?

      If your state has specific legal protections, and your manager has explicitly said that mothers in your company tend to be on a warning status, I’d honestly consider a consultation with a lawyer specializing in this issue in your state.

      1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

        No, the decision is up to her manager, who is an unusually unsympathetic person. He refused to let a coworker work from home after a knee injury with a doctor’s note, and she wound up damaging her knee further, since even handicapped spots are a quarter mile away from our desks, and we’re on the third floor and some of the elevators were out of order.

        1. I Have RBF*

          He refused to let a coworker work from home after a knee injury with a doctor’s note, and she wound up damaging her knee further, since even handicapped spots are a quarter mile away from our desks, and we’re on the third floor and some of the elevators were out of order.

          That BS is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Further damaged her knee because the boss wouldn’t let her WFH? I’d have been getting a doctor’s note requiring WFH rather than damaging the knee by walking on it too much, and if the boss refused it I’d have been up in HR’s grill for health status discrimination.

          But the “My manager told me it’s normal for mothers to be on a final warning for attendance when their children are little and she was all the time when children were small.” is probably evidence of discrimination against working mothers IMO. That is just freaking wrong, and I’m not even a parent. I do not want parents to come in when their kids are sick, and I sure as hell hated it when parents would bring their sick kids to work.

          But I’m old and cranky, and don’t have patience for BS any more. Fortune 50 doesn’t mean it’s a great place to work.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          That is flat out sadistic and your coworker seems to have a personal injury case at the very least!

          Focus all your energies on getting out of there posthaste. It seems overwhelming now, but once you take the reins of active searching you will feel more powerful, I promise you.

      2. another mom*

        Another thought: you might look into whether you could get some protections from intermittent FMLA? I have a friend who has a medically complicated kid and needed to set this up because of frequent needs for time off for illness/appointments– but there may need to be a specific illness/event to invoke it?

        1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

          Yeah, it’s for a specific illness, not just normal childhood bugs.

            1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

              Oh, I meant FMLA is only for chronic illnesses. I’m worried about absences due to general childhood illnesses.

              1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

                I had a variety of medical issues one year, nine of them chronic, and my husband was able to use intermittent FMLA for each time he had to take me to appointments/procedures, or help me at home.

        2. Mrs Columbo*

          +1 this. It’s common in some healthcare jobs (think nursing, EMTs, etc) for any call-out to risk being an occurrence. I have heard EAP counsellors recommend that these employees get FMLA that will cover any call-outs. And I have known employees that have.

          Ask your pediatrician if they are willing to fill out the paperwork for “anticipated childhood illnesses.” Ask your PCP about similar paperwork for you.

          Also, if you have a decent EAP (one that will actually try to help), ask them for additional recommendations of resources.

          1. Mrs Columbo*

            Oops. I re-read some of the guidelines, and in some cases that might not be allowed.

            Does your child have an underlying condition for which these illnesses could be a complication or cause an exacerbation?

            Or, are these illnesses recurring enough that it could reasonably be argued that they’re complicated and requiring ongoing physician’s care?

            Also, +1000000 to all the “your workplace stinks on this.”

            I have been in jobs in the past where I didn’t qualify for benefits, and staying home with a sick child meant lost pay. Sometimes I lived near extended family who could help, but not always.

            The way we treat working parents in this country stinks. My heart goes out to you.

      3. Anecdata*

        Also — if you think your department manager is particularly unlikely to approve emergency work from home for sick kid, but approves WFH for other “life stuff” (basement flooded, gotta meet a plumber? Flat tire; auto shop’s ordering the replacement and it takes 3 days?) — that would be really sucky of them BUT, given the circumstances, I think you could ethically mix in some of those items. There’s a definite risk of getting fired for lying if the company finds out, but if you’re sure you’ll be fired for the absence anyway, might be one worth taking

    7. lost academic*

      Your job sucks but I understand being trapped as the breadwinner. Search hard for a new one that’s not so behind the times.

      I have a service that I used for babysitters. They aren’t supposed to come for legit sick kids (like you can’t request a sitter for a kid that’s vomiting or got diarrhea) but it’s useful. Unfortunately as a double working parent family we need a lot of resources to help with this and we mostly have to pay more for it. Creating as big a network as possible helps. We’re also managing because we DO have very flexible work locations and hours.

      Don’t leave a 7 yo home alone.

    8. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Do you have to ask for your time off/vacation time in advance, and if so, how far in advance? Because in this situation, what I’d do if it was possible, is bring kid in for the first day, and ask for the next day or two (depending how long you think it will take) off as vacation.

      It sucks, but I really can’t think of any other way around it. That, or if your husband can just take some days off without pay, or take the kid with him–if you’re the breadwinner, then your husband should be the one taking the hits to his job/career, not you.

      Once your kid is more like 9-10, you can probably get away with leaving kid at home and just having one or both of you check on him during your lunch break. I’m assuming that you don’t have any family or close friends nearby that can help out–but if you do, I would definitely try that, too. Maybe offer to keep their kids over a weekend or something in exchange?

      1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

        We can ask off a day ahead of time. I’m pretty sure actually bringing him into the office would not be allowed, though I may just do it if necessary and beg forgiveness rather than ask permission.

    9. Purple Cat*

      1 – Talk to your manager for hard-core specifics on how the Final Warning works. ie are you REALLY going to get fired, based on written policy. Or is the unwritten rule that you are safe?
      2 – Your husband has no PTO, but will he definitively get fired for taking more days off? Find that out for sure.
      3 – If bringing him to your office really is an option, consider doing it.
      4 – Find the SAHM parents in your child’s class. Reach way out of your comfort zone and talk to them about emergency care for your child – that of COURSE you would pay for. Your village needs to become “strangers” if you don’t have family close by.

      1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

        I have asked my manager multiple times how I can take care of my son if he gets sick and keep my job and if I will be fired if I call out because of that, and she refuses to give me a straight answer.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          She can’t commit because that puts her butt in the sling, legally and otherwise.

      2. Endorable*

        Someone brings an actual sick kid into the office, I’m OUTTA there! That’s reckless exposure to others and in my opinion, not an option at all.

    10. Maggie*

      I stayed home alone at this age but I know that’s heavily frowned up and not really accepted anymore. Is there any other parents you work with or at your kids school that would be willing to help? For pay? Otherwise your husband could stay home or look for a flexible job.

    11. Student*

      Sounds like your husband out to take the hit in terms of using unpaid leave, due to the differences between your jobs and you being the main breadwinner. I know that ALSO sucks, but I’m… shocked it is not on your list, given your other options.

      After that, you and your husband need to start networking locally to figure out some coverage for your kid when sick paid or unpaid. Or relocate to a place where you have a support network, or one/both of you will need to find a different job that will allow you to cover your family’s needs. All of those also suck and take time. I would happily vote for laws more supportive of parents like you – but there’s broadly not much to prevent this kind of thing right now.

      You are right that your life, right now, is not sustainable. Something has to change, and you and your husband will have to figure out what. That’s morally wrong and a failing of society, and I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer for you. Better to try to take what control you can sooner than to wait for things to fall apart more.

    12. Parenthesis Guy*

      Your managers’ suck.

      I think you need to have a tough conversation with your husband about him potentially leaving his job in this situation. It seems like one of the two of you is likely to lose your job soon, and you’re the main breadwinner. I would try to see if I can be transferred to a different team if I were you.

    13. RMNPgirl*

      Do you know anyone at the company in another department who is allowed to wfh and would be willing to watch your son?
      One of my coworkers is in a position that can’t be done at home and got in a childcare bind. My position is allowed to be fully remote, so I told her if she needed to drop him off with me for the day that would be fine.

    14. The Person from the Resume*

      Honestly your company and your grand boss sucks, but it’s not illegal that I see. (Doesn’t sound like they’re treating mothers any differently than fathers; they are applying the same policy across the board.)

      But you’re the main breadwinner so your husband should be the one to take care of your child next time he’s sick until you are off final warning. If he is fired, it’s less of a hit to your family.

      I do not think bringing your sick child into the office is a solution. That’s something you should not do and should warrant an immediate talking to/warning from your rather unsympathetic boss and sucky grandboss. Basically “you need to bring your child home now” and then you not being in the office is another absence.

      But also you and your husband start job hunting for something that provides more flexibility because your family needs it. But until then you’ve got to stay employed.

      ** also the ad autoplaying caused me to lose the thread post as a stand-alone

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        FWIW A policy that is technically applied equally but primarily punishes/affects a specific group in practice would still be illegal.

        Agree 100% that the husband needs to be the one taking care of the child on sick days. OP didn’t mention if he’s in bad standing at his job or if he’s just out of paid sick time, but hopefully he works for actual humans who would be willing to offer him some grace in the form of occasional unpaid sick time to look after a sick child (or wfh if it’s an option). But if he’s also working for a shitty company and you have to pick her job or his job to get fired from, it sounds like the family has a better shot at surviving financially without his job, but definitely can’t do without hers.

        It sucks and they shouldn’t have to be choosing who gets thrown on the chopping block, but unfortunately if one job has to be sacrificed it should be the lower-paying one, which is his.

    15. Double A*

      You get THREE sick days a year??? I mean… can you name and shame this company? Talk to the media in your town? “Mom to be fired unless she leaves sick kid home alone” is a juicy headline.

      I do think you should talk to a lawyer. There could be some family status discrimination going on here.

      And job hunting, which I know is terrible.

      1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

        As tempting as it is, they still pay my paycheck (and my husband’s, actually). I will say they are a very large company that pretty much every American has heard of and seen commercials for.

        1. cadbury*

          Is your husband on a final warning? Why are you considering being the one to handle the next sick day instead of him, especially when you’re the main breadwinner?

          1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

            He works for the same company. They’re the largest employer in the area. He’s currently out on short term disability for work-related stress and is getting in-patient medical treatment for it, and I don’t know when he’ll be home. Until he does come home it’s all on me.

            We are both looking for new jobs but this is the only company in the area that does this type of work so it’s hard to find something else. We’re looking into moving closer to family but can’t afford to do that until one of us has a job there.

            1. Bismuth*

              Would the facility he’s in allow the kid to spend days with him?
              Or, does the facility he’s in have childcare (maybe there is not a space right now, but if it exists, you can apply)?

                1. Anecdata*

                  if the place he’s receiving treatment has a family services/social worker available, I would absolutely recommend talking with them, they might know of some more local resources available to you

                  also – you might look into whether you qualify to take intermittent FMLA to take care of your spouse? and just, use it for sick kid too

                2. Anecdata*

                  to be honest, figuring out how you can take care of your son /and/ meet the job’s requirement of being in person all but 3 days a year is not your manager’s job. She’s right to focus on just the business side: “we need you in here with <3 callouts or WFH days" and not get into how you manage that in your personal life. It SUCKS because the work requirement doesn't really seem like it serves a strong work purpose but it also sounds like your manager doesn't have the authority to change that.

                  When you talk to your manager, I'd go in with a list of just the questions you really need manager to answer : how specifically does final warning status work? can you bring a quiet kid to sit in the office? and focus on those; not the overall question of "well, what AM I supposed to do with my kid"

            2. Anecdata*

              In addition to hospital social worker – if your employer has any kind of EAP, call them. Long term, yep, you and your husband need some kind of plan for sick coverage (+ school closures and all the other stuff) and that is a perennially tricky problem for working families (there’s a long Ask the Readers thread Thursday with some ideas — but basically, it’s a massive problem even when you have when flexibility at work and can throw money at it!)

              But right now, you have an immediate crisis problem – SO getting in patient medical care, so you’re flying solo on work, kid, and I’d imagine are picking up additional tasks related to helping your SO. Call the EAP, explain the situation, and ask if there are any crisis resources they can connect you too.

            3. mem_cee*

              Wow, OP you have so much going on, I really feel for you. You should still qualify for FMLA (intermittent or otherwise) for your husband’s condition. And I was able to use FMLA for my kid’s colds and such – FMLA is for medical leave! The paperwork differs from employer to employer but the law is there to protect “medical leave”, it doesn’t specify what that medical leave must be for. I was able to get FMLA for my kid’s croup, because it lasted several days, and for each time we got COVID. If your HR rep gives you BS about only chronic conditions being allowed, go above their head. Be assertive – your employer is on very shaky legal ground with this and they’re able to get away with it if you don’t push them further for answers. Put them on notice, so to speak, that this policy is known at least in your department to put working mothers at a disadvantage so they hopefully think twice before firing you. But only do this to buy yourself some time, because you need to GET OUT.

    16. Midwest Manager*

      Check with your county social services about respite care. In my area these are foster-approved homes/families that take in kids for a day, a few hours, or whatnot. They bill the county for it, you don’t pay. My spouse and I qualified for that when our multiples were < 1yr and we were out of other options. We only used the family we were paired with a handful of times, but it was a LIVESAVER when we needed it. It is NOT foster care – it's like a county-vetted babysitter for emergency situations.

    17. mreasy*

      Are you eligible for FMLA based on company size? It’s unpaid leave but they have to let you keep your job. This is nightmarish and terrible. Your job is insanely unreasonable and I’m so sorry.

    18. Ama*

      I am currently managing a mother with a chronically ill child and although we would never ever fire her (I would quit if senior staff told me I had to fire her for attendance reasons, I am not even joking) — she has also all but maxed out her PTO and we get a ton more than you do (3 days is absolutely ridiculous), and our bosses are being similarly pigheaded about it. She at least has the ability to apply for FMLA caretaker leave, which she’s working on (and maybe there have been one or two days when she’s forgotten to file a PTO form and I have “forgotten” to remind her if I’m sure no one else noticed, because I am past caring).

      I have no plans to have kids myself but I have so much sympathy for people that do, managing this woman has really opened my eyes to how hostile many companies are to parents with kids and people with chronic illnesses. I knew it wasn’t great but I didn’t know it was *this* bad.

    19. Janeric*

      Ah, I was a “sick day nanny” in college — I had about five families where I did care for their kids when they were sick (first come first serve) for about twice my babysitting rates. You could see if you could find a similar person? (Or two, honestly.)

    20. K*

      Look for college students or other sitters in the area who have flexible schedules and don’t mind being around sick kids.

      Ask your unreasonable employer for a care.com backup care subscription which provides last minute vetted babysitters at subsidized rates.

      And look for a new job. I’m frustrated by my company’s lack of empathy for parents but it sounds like we have it mimes better than you do.

    21. The Shenanigans*

      Apply for intermittent FMLA if you can. Then report the company for EEO violations.

  14. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    I’m curious how other’s jobs have handled hiring for their boss. Currently, my current boss is searching for a team lead for our team, who would become my boss and his direct report. It seems like he’s not involving us as much as I would have thought – right now, he and another lead for a different team with a different job function are interviewing people and reviewing their work for the technical interview. In our last one-on-one, he said that the next step involves our team, but that nobody’s passed the technical interview.

    I’m interested to hear from people whose managers have been hired after they started, or from people who hired managers for an already-working team – at what point did the hiring manager involve the people who would be working under a would-be manager in the hiring process? Did they involve them at all? I believe my current boss when he says he will involve us in the next step once someone passes the technical, but would have thought he would involve my more senior coworkers in reviewing the technical interview since they have more of a sense of the best practices for our job.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I was hired for a management position, I was never interviewed by any of my team members. (I planned and prepared for it, but it never happened.) I was internal, so I had worked with the two team leads previously (I was a lead for a different-but-related team), but at least from my end, working with them as a manager was VERY different (and infinitely more pleasant) than working with them as another team lead had been.

      1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

        Interesting! I suppose since you were internal, you’d have some knowledge of your team members prior to starting. I’m not a manager myself, but if I was interviewing for a manager position elsewhere I’d actually really want to meet with my future team. If you were an external hire, would you have asked about meeting them ahead of time?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I didn’t actually know the individual contributor team members well at all, hadn’t ever met most of them. (In fact I STILL haven’t ever met most of them in person, at least, two years later.) I probably wouldn’t have asked about meeting the team myself, but I would’ve been prepared for the hiring panel to want me to meet them? If that makes sense? Pretty much the same way I was with the internal process – ready for it if it came up, but it never did.

    2. DashDash*

      I was working in a role in an org that was hiring for a new role I would be moved to report to. Initially the plan was to not involve me or the other staff member who would become this person’s direct report at all, but I asked if it was possible to at least meet the final candidate(s?) before they start so I would know what to expect, what type of work style to prepare for, and that kind of clued in my boss at the time that maybe the process would be much less stressful for people if impacted staff would be involved. The other staff member who ended up reporting to this person and I were then allowed to have an interview session and provide input on the 3 final candidates before they were hired.
      The hire they ended up making was a disaster and the reason I left the job within 6 months, but it would have been so much worse if we’d been left out of the hiring process entirely.

      1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

        Ouch. I’m glad you were able to get some input, and I’m definitely glad that we’ll be able to have some say eventually.

    3. English Rose*

      I’ve had different grandbosses approach this differently. The best was one who had four of the new managers direct reports (including me) as the interview panel at the start, so we were involved as soon as the paper shortlisting had been done. And then we were fully involved in discussions who the new manager should be. It was grandboss’s decision in the end but it was so lovely and open and no rumour-mongering.

      1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

        Honestly, this was the process I was envisioning. I get that it’s not entirely possible on all teams, but I think my team could have been involved earlier so that we understand the types of people my boss is looking for. Thanks for sharing your experience!

        1. English Rose*

          I think it also helps the interviewee to understand the kind of people they will be managing, at least on a superficial level. (So they can run screaming from the building if they wish, hehe.)

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      So, I’ve done hiring for management roles for existing teams, and have also been hired/promoted myself into management of an existing team. The way my workplace does hiring even if it’s an internal promotion that’s filling a vacant slot (we generally open those up at least to multiple internal applicants even if we don’t open it up outside the organization) is this:

      1) We post the job, HR collects resumes.
      2) HR screens resumes to ensure they’re actually relevant to the position
      3) Hiring manager reviews resumes and chooses candidates to phone screen
      4) HR phone screens candidates
      5) After phone screen notes are shared, hiring manager decides whom to bring in for an interview
      6) Interviewees meet with a variety of people separately over the course of about half a day: hiring manager, peers, people on associated teams, **and direct reports if it’s a management role.**
      7) All the people who interview a candidate submit feedback, which is reviewed by the hiring manager
      8) Hiring manager decides which candidate is first choice, checks references, and makes offer.

      1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

        That was how we interviewed folks at my last job, but we’re fully remote, so the interviews are spread out across a few days. Thanks, though!

    5. vombatus ursinus*

      My boss is going on parental leave soon. I was given a 30-minute slot to meet the candidate who made it to a final interview, and I was then included in the follow-up conversation with my boss, grandboss and HR rep about whether to hire the candidate. I think my team/workplace is unusually good about trying to maintain employee satisfaction, though — I really appreciated, but didn’t necessarily expect, then to give my perspective as much weight as they did.

      PS love the username, fellow marsupial :)

    6. Velociraptor Attack*

      I just started a position managing an existing team. One of them was on the hiring committee but I didn’t interact with the other 4 until I started.

    7. Qwerty*

      I consider meeting the team to be part of the last round in the interview process. It can get weird when people get brought in earlier.

      While I get it feels weird that someone from another team is involved, one thing to keep in mind is that higher ups might want to take a new direction with your team or how it is managed or want to have the manager evaluated by someone who is also a manager. Sometimes a very senior trusted member of the team is involved early, but that’s usually someone who is probably filling the role on an interim basis or has historically been involved in higher level decision making.

      There are also a lot of places who never have the manager meet the team but I do not like the practice. I think its good to at least have a meet and greet conversation both so the team can raise any concerns that come up and so the manager has some idea of they are getting into

    8. Synaptically Unique*

      I’ve had four different bosses in my current job. The first one hired me and promoted me twice before she left. I ended up taking her place, so inherited her boss (which is a part-time internal role for my office). When boss 2 stepped down, my grandboss basically met individually with the team leads and gave us a choice of A or B. We all chose B. She was a disaster. Not that I think A would have been any better, but it would have been a disaster in different ways. Current boss was picked by a hiring committee and we didn’t even know who was being interviewed. Two of us didn’t know her at all, one had limited knowledge. None of us met with her until she was announced as the new boss. She’s been amazing to work for and I’m going to be incredibly sad when she moves on someday.

    9. Parakeet*

      Not sure how it works at my current job, but at my last job (at a small org), the hiring committee for a manager was the hire-to-be’s future boss, future reports, and, in a situation involving a long notice period where the outgoing person was still there, the outgoing person. If any future reports were themselves candidates, they were obviously an exception and could not be on the hiring committee. Members of the hiring committee read resumes and cover letters and discussed them together, did panel interviews together, and debriefed interviews together. The boss-to-be had final say but they generally did carefully consider what the reports-to-be thought.

  15. Pinky Pie*

    I’m a new employee and expected to go to training. Training is done virtually. Each member will be sorted into a team. Each team member is expected to be a note-taker. I have ADHD and can’t divide my attention between notes and participation. How do I professionally say “Can we use the technology built into the program to take the notes?” without forcing me to disclose? I can’t believe they don’t use the technology already!

    1. EMP*

      I would just say you have difficulty contributing to meetings when you have to take notes without mentioning ADHD. If you have a solution you can add, “but I’ll use the program’s transcription feature and review it later” (or whatever).

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Plenty of people without ADHD can’t participate and take notes at the same time either!

    3. Nea*

      The technology built into the thing – you mean a caption, or a transcript?

      Either way, you don’t need to disclose anything, just choose one of these, or mix-and-match:
      – I don’t want to look away from the screen to my notes; I might miss something important.
      – I learn better following the process instead of writing it down; let me use the internal (whatever) so I can focus on the technique and write things down later
      – Have you SEEN my handwriting?

    4. mreasy*

      Can you record & transcribe later? Having a meeting where everyone is expected to take notes is terrible when you want people to pay attention and contribute, ADHD or not.

    5. SnappinTerrapin*

      You probably have a situation where the manager/trainer knows what works to help them remember things, and assumes that it’s a universal truth that will benefit everyone.

      Taking notes helps me remember, even if the notes are illegible, and even if I never refer to them again. But I know that doesn’t apply to everyone.

      Unless there is a strong business reason for encouraging everyone to learn how to effectively take notes (i.e., the note-taking is actually part of what the trainees are supposed to learn, rather than just documenting the material covered), I think it’s worth pushing back and trying to open their eyes to different learning styles.

  16. JustaTech*

    Conference hotel question:
    I’m signing up for a conference today, but the conference hotel is already booked solid (not just the conference block but the whole hotel). There are several other hotels nearby that the conference will be running a shuttle to, so I have some other options.
    The thing is, my in-laws live just as close as the other hotels, and have said they’d be happy to have me stay and either loan me a car or act as my chauffeur (if the on-site parking is outrageous, which it probably is).
    My in laws have a lovely house with plenty of room (no sleeping on the couch) and it would be a great excuse to bring my husband and the baby down for a visit.

    My only concern is that this conference is more “senior” and “business” than the ones I usually attend (scientific research conferences) – would it be seen as weird/ very junior/ unprofessional if it comes out that I’m staying with my in-laws?

    1. JustMyImagination*

      I’d really think through what borrowing a car or having them chauffeur you around means. What happens if you want to stay and ask a speaker questions, grab a happy hour drink or join colleagues for dinner post-conference. Will that work with your in-laws if you don’t bring the car back at 5? Would they be willing to pick you up at 9pm? Are you going to skip those networking opportunities if your baby is just a few blocks away?

      One of the advantages of a conference is the networking. I think you’d be setting yourself up to miss out on that if you are tied to someone else’s schedule while you’re there.

    2. Panicked*

      I don’t think I’ve ever known or cared about where a colleague was staying for a conference. I wouldn’t think twice about it. I would caution you to have your own vehicle though, so you aren’t beholden to anyone else’s schedule.

      1. DrSalty*

        This. I’d just be sure you have your car and everyone understands you need to work.

    3. Anon for This*

      Often the biggest benefit to a conference like this is the dinners, evening cocktail hours or other socializing that gets done on the margins, rather than the presentations themselves (though depending on the conference most are worthwhile.) So please consider whether you will participate in all of that, even if staying with family. If you are expected to get “home” right after the last presentation you will miss out on all of that. If you and your family understand that spouse/baby are visiting, and you may not get back until late, it would be fine. In that case I’d recommend you talk to your boss and suggest that rather than pay for the hotel, they pay you for parking. Otherwise I’d recommend you do the hotel nearby and stay the following week for some vacation.

    4. PurplePenguin*

      Nah, stay with inlaws! If the conference is big enough to overflow the convention center, it’s not so small that every interaction is based around some in-residence onsite community. Most people you talk with won’t ask where you’re staying. Those that do, you say “I’m offsite, the rooms here were sold out! Did you get a room here?” you don’t have to say you’re staying with family. Or there are plenty of people with alternate housing solutions, and you can spin yours as being skillful problem-solving creativity to get you a place to stay near the conference. In terms of the logistics, I’d go with having them drop you off in the mornings and catching an Uber/taxi/etc home after you’ve done any post-event socializing. You’ll want to warn them that you will be prioritizing business networking and won’t be home for dinner most nights. Except for politeness if there’s a night that you know you can reserve for them, do take that time. And check your work travel policies – if I stay with friend/fam instead of a hotel bill, I can get reimbursed up to $75 for a host hospitality gift/dinner, maybe your employer is similar.

    5. Hiring Mgr*

      Not in my experience – it’s common if you have family to visit with them. I’ve had CEOs who do this when they travel for business – I’d be very surprised if anyone would bat an eye

    6. lost academic*

      Stay with them but definitely set THEIR expectations before you commit to it. Conferences are a LOT of work and they might be assuming that your time outside the working day is free when it might not be. I usually end up working a LOT more and much longer hours at conferences and I have to do a lot more work-socializing and networking even at technical ones. Since you mention it’s more senior and business focused, assumed that your evenings are going to be filled with work events.

    7. Purple Cat*

      First check if your company has a policy against staying with friends/relatives during business travel. Mine did – I think it had to do with liability of being in someone else’s personal residence.
      Second – there are usually a lot of dinner, after-hours socializing as part of the conference. Are you going to miss out on that by staying off-site? Especially if your husband and baby are also going to be there? Are you unintentionally self-sabotaging?

      1. JustaTech*

        I never thought about that, I’ll check our policies.

        To your second point, I will have to stay off site no matter what, the main conference hotel is already full, so the options are satellite hotels on the shuttle route or my in-law’s. Perversely, knowing that I *can* leave a socializing/networking event actually helps me be willing to stay, rather than getting stressed about being stuck waiting for the bus until I give up and sit on a bench.
        And bringing the baby is an advantage because then I don’t have to try to figure out how to ship the milk home, only where to pump and keep it during the day. No one (including me) is going to expect me to scamper home at 5 to take care of him (that’s the advantage of staying with grandparents who will be spoiling him rotten).
        But it’s good to think about!

    8. RagingADHD*

      I have known some very senior people who choose to stay with family rather than in the hotel. Just choose the “borrow a car” option or Uber rather than having them pick you up, because leaving times can vary so much it will be a hassle.

    9. UKDancer*

      I’ve never much cared where anyone slept during a conference. I mean there’s usually some chit-chat while networking around where people are staying and what it’s like (if it’s somewhere with more than one hotel – some conferences I’ve attended are at more of a country house hotel with nowhere else in the vicinity). But I’ve had a few people say they’re staying with family and I’ve never thought it weird or unprofessional.

      I agree, just think about how you’re getting around and back as to whether it’s better to hire a car or have them collect you.

    10. JustaTech*

      Thanks all!
      I’ve already warned my MIL (repeatedly) that the evenings will likely run late and that I will be a giant pile of mush when I get back and not up for socializing. My FIL gets it (well, the runs late, he loves these kinds of things and finds them very energizing) and my husband understands, so between them hopefully my MIL will get that I’m not being rude, I’m just exhausted.
      (One time we went on vacation with my in laws while I was still in grad school and I explained a dozen times that I still had class and homework so I would *have* to be on my computer a few hours a couple of days. After an hour and a half my MIL was asking “oh, so JustaTech is done now, right?” and my husband had to explain that no, I had only finished my lectures, I still had to do my homework.)

      And I don’t know why I didn’t even think that I could just take a Lyft in the evening, that will work way better than asking for a pickup.
      I can’t imagine my company would be upset, since the already sold out Four Seasons is *not* the most expensive hotel for this conference (!).

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        Honestly, there’s nothing unprofessional about staying with family but since there seems to be a precedent with your MIL not respecting other priorities, that would definitely make me err on the side of not staying there.

        I get the idea of husband and grandchild distracting them but it also seems like a good setup for your MIL to feel like you’re being rude and taking advantage of their hospitality.

    11. mreasy*

      100% would not think it odd not to be in a hotel. Most people assume it’s more comfortable in a home with family. The car & transportation thing are key. I’d also look into taxis & rideshare options just in case someone isn’t available when you’d want to be picked up or dropped off (given the networking opps mentioned below especially).

    12. Gyne*

      Hmmm, I would not worry about this. If it came up at all, I’d just say, “I’m staying with family that lives nearby!” I think most people, especially those in the travel/conference circuit, would 100% understand the appeal of a private (ish) dwelling with an actual kitchen.

    13. TX_trucker*

      I attend a big national conference that always sells out the hotel. People stay in lots of places. Your colleagues won’t find that weird. But are you using your in laws as a “lodging only” or are you “visiting family” If your conference has lots of after hours activities, you need to set the expectations with your husband and family that you will be working and not visiting. Don’t miss out on business functions just because you are not staying at the official hotel.

    14. The Shenanigans*

      I don’t think it matters where you stay at all. I would absolutely rent your own vehicle, just so you can come and go as you need to.

  17. Giselle*

    I’ve been unsatisfied with my current job and recently decided to accept another job offer. Due to some oddities with their schedule, the job will not start until the end of August, so mid-August I will be giving my two weeks notice.

    I found out today that I have a quarterly performance review with my manager scheduled for literally four days before I’m giving my notice. These performance reviews are really long and require hours of preparation. A big chunk of them is usually spent discussing our personal goals for next quarter and brainstorming in-depth plans and strategies for meeting them. It seems like such a waste of my manager’s and my time to be sitting in this meeting when I will just be in-depth discussing goals that I fully know I will not be around to meet.

    Is there any way I could subtly push this meting off without making my manager suspicious? Or do I just need to sit through it?

    1. just another queer reader*

      Would you be willing to give 3 weeks notice instead of 2?

      Would you be able to reschedule the meeting for the following week?

      1. Giselle*

        No to the first, it is very likely I’d be pushed out after two. To the second, I am just not sure how to do that without looking suspicious. Ideas would be welcome.

        1. Chaordic One*

          Well, if postponing it for a week or so looks suspicious, so be it. It doesn’t seem like too big of a deal to me since you do plan to turn in your resignation the following week anyway. If you need an excuse to hide behind, maybe you could say something along the lines of “needing additional time to prepare for the performance review” in an extremely apologetic tone before meeting with your supervisor .

        2. HR Exec Popping In*

          You could “get sick” and call out. Not honest, but also not the worst thing in the world given you don’t trust you manager with this information for more than 2 weeks.

    2. EMP*

      Do you trust your manager/company enough that you can give an extra week of notice and not get pushed out? I’d just tell them early.

      1. Giselle*

        No, I am not comfortable giving three weeks of notice (and that’s not really done in our industry, everyone gives two).

        1. AnonyMoose*

          Then reschedule the meeting to the following week! Once you have given notice, they’ll cancel it anyway.

    3. Take a break*

      Give two weeks notice, on the day/during the time you are scheduled for your review. Take the few gap days off before starting at the new place.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This, exactly. Then you can use the meeting to discuss your transition instead.

    4. I Have RBF*

      Ugh. I hate formal quarterly performance reviews. They are such a time sink for both the manager and the employee.

      In your situation I might make my notice period three weeks, or maybe just two weeks with a week off between jobs.

    5. allathian*

      Give 2 weeks’ notice on the day of the performance review and use the meeting time to discuss your plans for outboarding. Enjoy 4 days off before you start the new job.

      There’s absolutely no point in making your manager do a lot of preparatory work that you know you won’t be around to do. If you had your quarterly performance review a month before giving notice, you’d just do it, but 4 days?

      That said, I hope your new job is more reasonable with performance reviews. Having them annually is great, and I usually prepare for mine for an hour or less. But I’d quit my job and find something else if I had to do that 4 times a year. YMMV, of course.

  18. Niniel*

    Is there such a thing as a creative job where you can work 30 hours a week and net 60k/year? Or is that a pipe dream?

    1. EMP*

      Depends on what you mean by creative. Maybe something like architecture. But in general – sounds unlikely.

      1. Niniel*

        By “creative” I mean being able to help people redesign things, do consultations for a fee, or create my own pieces to sell.

        Funnily enough I am in an architecture-adjacent field, and no that is not a thing in my field unfortunately.

        1. mreasy*

          Front-end web development and/or graphic design, requires that you’re very well-networked but it is absolutely possible.

      1. Niniel*

        That seems to be the only way. The downside of that is that it’s really up to the algorithm to decide if you’ll be boosted or not.

        1. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

          God, yes. Much more so than people think.

          (Source: I was a micro-influencer on TT with a 6-figure following. I stopped because I couldn’t keep up with the pace it demanded, and it didn’t pay well enough for me to continue doing it.)

          1. Niniel*

            Yes, it IS a ton of work. I tried starting a YouTube channel in 2020. And while I truly enjoyed it and my friends enjoyed the videos, the editing, even with nothing but simple cuts, took FOREVER. I don’t have 4 hours a day to shoot, edit, and upload videos 5 days a week. Even if I were to do 3 days a week, that would probably be 12 hours a week of work for absolutely no pay.

            1. Double A*

              This is why I’m so confused by the pivot to video. Writing is SO much faster!!!! Sometimes I think of a clever video I can post but then have no idea about how to go about even simple editing nor do I have the time to learn.

    2. Generic Name*

      Own your own creative business? It probably would take a whole to get to that level of pay and hours, though.

      1. Niniel*

        Yeah, I have thought about that. It’s possible to build, but I would have to make it my full time job WITHOUT much income first to get to that point.

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I was a freelance graphic designer for many years and I made 60K working no more than 20 hours a week. It can be done.

        1. Niniel*

          Oh wow!! That is amazing! That’s kinda the goal for me. Did you start off working for someone else while building your own business on the side, or were you able to jump in headfirst and start from scratch on your own?

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            It wasn’t an intentional path. I had 5 years working in full-time design jobs for others then after a recession-based layoff I found freelance work before I found a full-time job. It started with my old agency and clients reaching out to me, then word of mouth from there. (Including a couple of key partners who regularly sent their clients my way.) I soon discovered I thrive on lower hours — and in a way that worked out better because that’s all the hours that passive referrals could fill. If I wanted to be busy 40 hours I’d have had to hustle a lot more!

    3. RagingADHD*

      Creative jobs that pay approx. $50-55 per hour? Sure, if you build a freelance practice and are very good at what you do, you could charge at least double that. But you won’t be able to count on a steady income or predictable workload, and you probably won’t get there very fast only working 30 hours a week.

    4. Blued*

      In the longer term, sure. Assuming you are both talented and lucky enough to be successful, and are willing to work twice those hours for half that income for years first to achieve that success.

  19. Desperado*

    I just finished an interview process, meeting with the hiring manager’s boss this week. Her questions were unlike the others- previous interviews had been behavioral, while this was really focused on my resume and what I’ve done. Is that a good sign? Bad sign?

    The interview was very conversational and she was super friendly and invited me to reach to her or any of her team at any point after the interview. I just have no idea. It’s a step up job in my super niche field and their recruiter reached out to me, and now I’m obsessing.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Is that a good sign? Bad sign?

      Different interviewers have different interviewing styles, so I’ll say this is a sign that the hiring manager’s boss prefers a conversational, resume-based interview over a behavioral interview. Not necessarily good, not necessarily bad.

    2. Sherm*

      Yeah, I think you’re overthinking! Different people will have different areas of focus when they interview. If your gut is telling you that something is “off,” that is worth exploring, but a friendly person who is interested in your accomplishments sounds alright to me!

    3. SansaStark*

      Agree with the posters above not to read too much into it. I think it’s a good when a company is thoughtful about hiring and may use a couple of different interview techniques to determine if someone is a good fit or not.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      I generally think one is better off not looking for signs one way or the other. It’s quite possible that that is just her interviewing style and she would do the same thing regardless of whether she had already pretty much decided to hire you or was leaning towards somebody else already or anything in-between.

      Super-friendly can be a good sign, but it can also just be a person’s personality, so without knowing if she was equally friendly to any other candidates, it’s hard to know if she was being friendly because she expected to be working with you in the future or just because she’s a friendly person. And the latter is probably more likely.

  20. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    On Workday. If an application says Under Review vs Application Submitted. Does that mean someone has actually looked at what was submitted?

    1. Burntliketoast*

      yes and no. Under review means its been opened/downloaded. Which would could be by an admin, etc. It doesnt necessarily mean that the hiring manager has looked at it yet.

      Personally I would go with the usual advice Alison says and put it out of your mind. If they contact you great. Because watching it update isnt likely to be helpful.

    2. Roland*

      No way to know what each company’s process is. They’ll contact you or they don’t. Hang in there and I hope you find something great!

  21. What The Freaking What*

    I need a touchstone to see if I was right to have felt frustrated by the following interaction.

    Yesterday I had a coworker tell me privately in a stay-in-your-lane tone that I am an expert in teapot painting, and they are an expert in teapot spigot building. The thing is, I have a degree and relevant work experience in teapot spigot building so I’m not talking out of ignorance.

    I wanted to remind them of my background because I wasn’t butting in to have my say, I was commenting because I had input I felt was credible enough to provide. I ended up staying quiet because I felt that I would sound pompous and also it’s their project (in our agency, you garner team feedback to do with as you wish). So I figured I said my peace and they can do with it as they wish.

    I am curious how others would have handled this. If it helps, our agency mainly project manages the teapot manufacture. We have an outside agency that advises on the teapot painting, and another that does the teapot spigot building.

    Thank you everyone.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      So I think it depends to some extent on your relative seniority and on your responsibilities.

      I was in your shoes, addressing a smart but very young coworker about a similar situation, and had to say “you probably haven’t read my resume, but my master’s thesis was in teapot spigots. And even though we didn’t have carbon-fiber-composite spigot spinning equipment back then, the old clay extruders use the same math as the equipment today.”

      If you and your coworker have different areas of responsibility that don’t overlap (and it sounds like you do), then I would have started with something along the lines of “Hey, I ran across a similar spigot issue last year and can dig out my design if you want to consider it.”

      1. What The Freaking What*

        Thank you. We are in the same role with same responsibilities (same grades). I’m new to the org, she’s been with the org a few years but is new to our department. The overlap thing is kind of weird. We have our own projects to manage, but one isn’t necessarily an expert over another (IMO) since the projects are all relatively the same.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Yeah, since you haven’t known her or the org long, no idea what her motivation is.

          She may be really possessive. She may have experience of other people shoehorning into her projects, and therefore she doesn’t get appropriate credit. She may be jealous of her professional/status prerogatives.

    2. Kate B.*

      If you reframe their comments as “you’re being paid to worry about the teapot painting, and I’m being paid to worry about the teapot spigot building”, does it still raise your hackles? If not, I’d tell yourself that that’s what they meant, even if it wasn’t the words they used. Or, similarly, “you’re an expert in how we manage teapot painting here, and I’m an expert in how we manage spigot building here.”

      The OCCASIONAL “when I was a spigot-building apprentice at Famous Spigots, we tried ____; would that work within our constraints?” can work but you don’t want to be the person who won’t shut up about what they did in university or their former job.

      If it is important to you to bring up your background, I’d try to do it in cases where you are agreeing with this person, at least as often as you do it to disagree with them or question their choices.

    3. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      There are several factors that come into play here:
      1. was this a scenario where input was asked for?
      2. is your relevant experience directly related to the feedback you wanted to give?
      3. is your feedback going to solve a problem or prevent a problem?
      4. do some reflection, do you have a habit of giving opinions without requests for input.

      Sometimes it is good to reflect on the the idea of “just because you could doesn’t mean you should”.

    4. Nelalvai*

      It’s not your project, you weren’t asked for advice, a boss didn’t ask you to weigh in? If yes, I would just let it go. I know, you’re qualified and your input was well-intentioned, but you now have crystal-clear proof it was not well-received. Keep it to yourself, even if that means your coworker struggles or makes mistakes. (Assuming you’re not seeing mistakes that will have disastrous, burn-it-all-down consequences.)

    5. *daha**

      They gave you a request (don’t kibitz on their project) and a justification (you don’t have the background). Even though the justification isn’t correct, you should still honor the request. If you see something disastrous or expensive in process, you should approach your manager and ask how to provide input.

  22. Somewhat anonymous*

    I have a personal issue that’s going to cause an unknown level of disruption in my life in the next several months at least (serious illness of a family member). I’ve told my manager. Should I tell the employees I manage? What would you do, or what would you consider in deciding this?

    1. just another queer reader*

      If you were my boss, I’d appreciate a heads up at some point. I think the context would be helpful.

    2. ferrina*

      “I’ve had a personal issue that may impact my availability. I’ll make sure I keep my calendar up to date and I’ll minimize the impact as much as I can, just wanted to let you know so you wouldn’t’ worry if I’m working weird hours.”

      Tell them exactly what you need from them. If you just need them not to worry, that’s fine!

      1. M2RB*

        I like this approach.

        I recently had a manager who was dealing with some serious health issues. Because of my work schedule and our longer working relationship, I knew what was going on long before most of the team. Her other direct reports were concerned on her behalf, didn’t know how to ask, and/or didn’t know what to expect, and it caused a lot of confusion – and awkwardness for the very few of us who DID know but appropriately did not share the information.

        If she had made one announcement to the whole team like the following, it would have made a big difference (IMHO). “I’m having a personal issue that is affecting my availability. My calendar will stay up to date, and my availability status on Teams will also stay current as well. If something comes up unexpectedly that means I will be unavailable, person A has the authority to deal with xyz and person B has the authority to deal with def. If you get emails from me at odd times, I do not expect an immediate response unless stated. Please respond first thing when you begin your next scheduled workday.”

      2. What The Freaking What*

        100% this. The OP will have an off day and will react differently to an employee on something that will make them really confused and anxious. Having some pretext to what may be going on with them personally will help let uncharacteristically off moments more likely to roll of their back.

      3. WantonSeedStitch*

        This is pretty much what I did when I was thinking I was going to be starting IVF treatments and wanted to give both my boss and my direct reports a heads-up about the likelihood of somewhat unpredictable appointments.

    3. ZSD*

      I would tell my reports as well. You don’t need to give specifics, but you can let them know that something is going on such that you might be out for long periods on short notice. Then explain your general plans for coverage for if/when you’re absent.

    4. English Rose*

      It does depend on your relationship with your employees to a degree, but I’d appreciate some advance notice that you may have periods when you are less accessible than normal.
      I’m sorry about your family member.

    5. CSRoadWarrior*

      I had a similar situation this past winter but not exactly like your situation. But the difference was that I never told anyone. Which was a mistake because at the end some employees noticed a change in my mood, though thankfully my performance was not affected. I ended telling them I had a personal crisis but I never gave exact details.

      You told your boss already, which is a good start. If you need to tell your employees, tell them and keep it brief. That should be enough to have your employees understand. There is no need to go into details.

    6. M2RB*

      Posted a sub-comment and immediately realized that I forgot to say this – I’m sorry about your family member and am sending good thoughts your direction.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      If your workplace is like mine, the rumor mill moves fast and is often wrong. I would let people know what is going on because otherwise they will think you are the one with a serious illness. You don’t have to say anything more than what you just told us – and explain how it may impact their work, who to go to when you are not available.

    8. HR Exec Popping In*

      I’ve been in a similar situation a few times (family health issue and personal health issue). I have always shared this with my team. One – I don’t want them to misinterpret my behavior (thinking I’ve checked-out, don’t care, etc.), two – my performance impacts their performance, three – I may have to delegate more to them than I normally would, four – I want to model an open and honest work environment where we care about each other and show up for each other.

    9. HR Exec Popping In*

      I have been in a similar situation a few times and have always shared with my team. I do this as I don’t want them to misinterpret my behavior (assume I don’t care, I’ve checked out, etc.), I realize my performance level impacts their performance, I may need them to take on some of my responsibilities from time to time if I’m not available and finally I want to model the type of behavior I expect – where we support and care for each other. The reality is everyone struggles from time to time and needs help from others. And I’ve always found others are willing to help out when someone is in need.

    10. The Shenanigans*

      Definitely tell your boss, and see if you can get FMLA leave without too much pain. This is what it’s for, may as well use it.

  23. InCoworkerHell*

    I work for a very small company (think less than 5 employees) pretty toxic company with no HR. I’m already set to leave and have about 2 weeks before I depart. However, our acting office manager has taken a personal grievance with me as I’ve become her latest work target because as she puts it, “I played her” for not making more attempts to hang out and socialize outside of work. I have only tried to keep a professional friendship and have only twice in a over a year socialized with her and other colleagues outside of work, never one on one with her or anyone else. I’m generally just quieter, but nice and friendly to co-workers, even those I dislike, (which I genuinely hadn’t disliked her until this experience) as to maintain professionalism. I have previously brought this up to my boss as she was actively giving me the silent treatment and generally acting aggressive when I was around her. This conversation really went nowhere and other than she now speaks to me, but is just rude and has multiple times coordinated lunch arrangements with all the other coworkers specifically leaving me out. I find this to be so bizarre, immature and just generally disbelief as can’t believe I’m in this situation as an adult.

    Since I’m about to leave, do I address this at all or just keep my head down until I leave? Need advice please!

    1. ferrina*

      Keep your head down. Do whatever you need to do to fly under the radar.

      Prepare yourself for a bad 2 weeks once you put in notice. There will probably be an extinction burst as they realize that you’ve put yourself outside the radius of their control. Remember, if you need to you can shorten the 2 weeks. 2 weeks notice is a courtesy, but if they become outright hostile or abusive, you can say “I think it might make sense for today to be my last day.”

      Good luck!

    2. CSRoadWarrior*

      Since you are leaving and she is not your boss, I would just let it go and ignore her behavior. She does not have power over you, and it is not like you will use her for a reference anyway.

      Work out your notice period and only talk to her if you need to. She is acting really childish.

    3. CatCat*

      What would be your goal in addressing it and what would addressing it look like? Your boss doesn’t seem to care. The office manager doesn’t care.

      You can certainly call her out in the moment if you want. Like you don’t have to just take people being rude to you. (E.g., a pointed “Wow.” And then turning away. Or, “That was rude.” Or, “Please don’t [whatever rude thing she is doing].”)

      If you get the silent treatment from her for your final two weeks though, that’s a gift. Enjoy it.

      1. InCoworkerHell*

        I appreciate everyone’s replies and advice!

        I guess I feel like a bit of a doormat right now, but I’m afraid to engage as I typically avoid confrontation. I really like your suggestions of just a simple “Wow.” and “That was rude.” and leaving it at that.

        1. Double A*

          You’re not being a doormat, you’re being an eagle and soaring above the drama (and up and out of that circus).

          Frankly when terrible people give you the silent treatment I say accept their gift and encourage them to keep giving it for as long as you can.

        2. Rex Libris*

          Don’t think of it as being a doormat, think of it as “This person will soon be out of my life and is therefore too inconsequential to spend thought and energy on.”

    4. Nonprofit Slave*

      My advice is be like Zelda and “Let it go!” You’ll be out of there soon enough.

        1. Random Dice*

          I love this kind of typo.

          I was totally imagining Zelda with his sword and tunic.

    5. CommanderBanana*

      …what the heck. How weird that someone is reacting to feeling like you’re not making more attempts to hang out outside of work (which, what) by being MORE unfriendly and rude?

  24. oy. vey.*

    I’ve been laid off & am looking for work. Here’s the essentials from a job ad to write software for a particular company. I know these acronyms won’t mean a lot if you’re not in the field, but I loved the conjunction of “entry level”, “publications”, and “experience in large-scale commercial dev environment”. Some of those things don’t go together!

    -entry level
    -Batchelors/Masters
    -publications in heat transfer
    -eexperience with algorithms and computational efficiency, AutoCAD ARX development, OpenMP, C# and Python, FEA, CAD
    -experience in a large-scale commercial software development environment

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      LOL
      You might just, barely, if you squint real hard, be able to lump the first 4 together if you are trying to signal you only want to hire people with extensive academic experience and no private-sector work.

      But that 5th point.

    2. cardigarden*

      Sounds like they’re gonna pay peanuts. I see this a lot in archives jobs where the job duties are for Big Jobs but the minimum requirement is 1-2 years of experience. Lo and behold, when you scroll down, the starting salary is 37,000 USD in a high COL area.

      1. Mill Miker*

        In theory those are all things you could have gotten through a masters program (if it had an internship), but I’d be very surprised if you got all of them from the same masters program.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Yeah, you’d have to be a double major in Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering (heat transfer tends to fall under ME.)

    3. really*

      I have come to the point that this is an entry level to this company. Not this is a first job out of school. And there will be minimal training.

    4. I Have RBF*

      IMO, that’s not an entry level position. Things like “experience with…” and “experience in…” indicate that the position wants not just experience, but specific experience. Also, requesting publications? That is a mid to senior level thing, especially when it’s in an area orthogonal to software development.

      IOTW, whoever wrote the JD is out to lunch.

  25. LilacLily*

    Wondering if I can get people’s opinion!

    I’m going through the hiring process for a company I’m really excited about. I did a virtual interview (answer 6 questions by recording a 1 minute video for each question), followed by a test that I had a week to complete. After completing the test, their internal recruiter called me to schedule a video interview with the hiring manager on the 3rd of July. Call went amazingly and the hiring manager said that I should expect to hear back from them by the 7th of July, the next Friday, even if it’s to say that they need more time to make a decision because that week would be a busy one for them.

    I didn’t get anything that Friday, so I emailed the recruiter the next Monday. Still didn’t hear back, so I decided to text the recruiter the Monday after that, since he’d told me on our phone call that I could contact him if I had any questions. He apologized, said he was on bereavement leave thus why I hadn’t heard anything yet but he’d be back on Wednesday and would definitely get back to me by then. I gave him my condolences and thanked him for the response. But it’s currently the end of the day on Friday and I still haven’t heard from him.

    My partner is very upset on my behalf and I’m just super disappointed. I get that companies get busy and emergencies happen but this is raising a bunch of red flags for me. Why did no one else, like the hiring manager, bother to contact the candidates who were promised a swift response when the recruiter had to take time off work unexpectedly? Should I email or message the internal recruiter one last time next Monday? Or maybe email the hiring manager to see if he could potentially chase this up for me? Or should I just drop it altogether since I’ve already chased the recruiter twice and let it be a pleasant surprise if I ever hear back from them at this point?

    Important to note: this is the only job I’m waiting to hear back from at the moment and they seemed to really like me. The pay is amazing and the job is exactly the kind of stuff I’d like to be doing at this point in my career. I’ve been unemployed for 4 months and I’m struggling to pay my bills, so this would not only be a good next step in my career but also the solution to all my current problems, hence why I’m so anxious about how long it’s taking to hear back from them.

    What would you do in my position?

    1. ferrina*

      Mentally write it off and move on. If you want, you might reach out one more time in a couple weeks (July 31), but that’s a maybe.

      They know you’re interested. Ball is in their court now.

      Sorry, but this is super normal. If it helps, remember that there is no such thing as a dream job. Look back in the AAM Wait, what? archives and imagine some of those things happening beneath the surface- that can help you mentally take your eggs out of this one basket.

    2. Ranon*

      You’ve got to let it go. Saying they’d be back on Wednesday and not hearing by Friday is entirely forgiveable, unplanned leave can mean coming back to fires you have to put it without the time to do it.

      Generally recruiting is not the first thing on the task list of anyone but the recruiter, so not surprising no one else followed up either.

      I don’t see any red flags, just totally normal hiring process- obviously it really sucks on your end, and I sympathize, but no one is treating you extraordinarily poorly by most hiring norms.

    3. Magpie*

      If you read through the AAM archives, you’ll see it’s really normal for hiring processes to take longer than expected for any number of reasons. In this case especially, I think you’re getting really worked up for no reason. The recruiter said he was out on bereavement leave. You have no idea what his week has looked like. Maybe he needed to extend his leave for some reason. Maybe he came back to work on Wednesday and had several high priority things he needed to handle first. Maybe he’s still just feeling really sad about whoever died and is struggling to stay on top of everything. At this point, they know you’re interested so I would drop it for now and assume there’s no news since they haven’t reached out.

      On another note, if you’re unemployed and struggling to pay bills, it’s not great to put all your eggs in one basket like this. You have no idea how likely you are to get this job even if it seems perfect for you because you don’t know all the details about other candidates, the company’s decision making process, etc. Instead of spending any more time worrying about this job, I would spend that energy networking and looking for other positions to apply to.

      1. LilacLily*

        I agree that I don’t know what the recruiter’s week looked like, I’m absolutely not in any way blaming him for not getting back to me, I just wish someone else was helping him keep on top of things, even if it’s to give me a new timeline, if only out of respect for the candidates who are waiting for some feedback like myself. They’re a small company (less than 20 people) and the hiring manager has my contact information, he could have sent me a short email at any point these past three weeks, but it is what it is and I’m not going to take it personally. All I’m saying is, I’ve been a hiring manager and I would never leave candidates hanging like this. I know this happening is common enough that we consider it normal, but I really wish it wasn’t.

        I’ve been applying for dozens of jobs and sadly haven’t heard back from most of them. I’ve had a few interviews – too few for how many jobs I’ve applied to – and unfortunately this is the only job I’ve gotten to the last stage of since the start of my job search. I’ve spoken to job seeker advisors and they’ve all said my resume looks impressive, which is awesome to hear but frustrating. The job market is a lot tougher than I expected and it’s taking its toll on me.

        I’m changing some things up, applying some of the advice I received and making sure my cover letters are top notch. Fingers crossed something else comes along soon.

        1. Rex Libris*

          Don’t read much into it. Hiring for a single given position is generally way less of a priority for the company than it is for the applicants. I’ve never worked anywhere it would occur to anyone to have another staff member jump in and communicate with candidates when the recruiter/HR person was unexpectedly (or even expectedly, like vacation) out. Things usually just sit until the HR person is back in the office and ready to proceed.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Look, if they start with virtual interviews, they have a very specific HR process. The hiring manager is managing their own stuff, and HR is in charge of the hiring. The hiring manager may have told the recruiter “I need more time” and not even know the recruiter is out, or not know that they didn’t communicate with you.

      They can’t go jumping into the recruiter’s inbox to decipher their entire workload and manage their emails for them. Not only would it be a huge overstep, it’s probably technologically impossible.

      Drop it and let it be a surprise. You can’t know what’s really going on. Two follow ups is plenty.

    5. mreasy*

      This happens so very often. Sometimes the recruiter is told by HR or the hiring manager specifically not to update any candidates if there will be a delay. I think Alison says following up once a week for 3 weeks is okay but otherwise… they will absolutely contact you if they want to move forward. I don’t think a job search I’ve been in has ever gotten back to me when they thought they would, and on the other end of things, when I’ve been hiring manager there have almost always been delays. I would try not to be angry at the folks involved, it’s just part of the hiring process.

      1. nela*

        Once a week for 3 weeks is much more than I’ve ever seen her recommend! She recommends 2 followups at the absolute most, spaced further apart.

  26. fish out of water*

    I’m trying to decide how much culture fit should matter to me in my current job. I like my job, I like my managers, and I like the company. What I don’t like: my team is very homogeneous (read: almost entirely upper class straight white men) and there is a low-level good ol’ boys network that one of my long-timer coworkers is propagating. My managers have treated me fairly, promoted me within my role, and recognize my work, so this isn’t affecting employment decisions in my current role and I know from reading here that those things are huge. But it’s draining on a day to day basis. Seeing my coworker making introductions and grooming our younger white male coworkers for the fast-track up the corporate ladder and seeing people respond differently to me when I network exactly the same way. I also grew up blue collar and have ADHD, while the company overall is very white collar, which feels like being a golden retriever in a company of mostly cats. But logically I’m in a great position where I am. Am I trying to talk myself out of something that’s important to me in the long run, or is this something I just need to deal with? Any tips for letting it bother me less?

    1. ferrina*

      This is a big deal, and it will almost certainly have consequences in the long run. Stuff like this needs to be changed from the top, and it sounds like you are the exception rather than the rule. This isn’t a single coworker- this is a culture. There’s a reason why your team is mostly upper class straight white men.

      For what to do- make an exit plan. Don’t let the system use you- you get to use the system. Take all the advantages offered, and use them for your own purposes. This could be getting the skills and moving to a new company. This could be getting the skills and asking questions like “Hey, what is our commitment to DEIJ look like? Studies show that businesses with diverse teams have competitive advantages- are there concerns that we are missing out on that advantage?”
      Don’t plan to make your home at this company. This won’t change until the top changes it, and right now those people aren’t showing any interest in making changes.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Well, can you mentor people who don’t fit into the good ole boy mold?
      Can you start or volunteer for an ERG?
      Can you advocate for more diversity in hiring?

      If you’re getting promoted, then you have influence. You could use it.

      1. fish out of water*

        I honestly wouldn’t dare raise the (lack of) diversity issue on my team, but I will be looking out for potential mentees on other teams.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      This is a job that’s probably going to work short term, but not long term. I would strongly suspect that there’s a ceiling to how much you can advance here, especially if you’re seeing white dudes getting fast-tracked. Also, if you don’t feel like you can bring up the diversity issue at all, that’s another reason to get out sooner than later. Don’t let this job grind you down when there are other, more inclusive companies out there.

    4. Rex Libris*

      Other than being low level aware of it so you notice if it starts inhibiting your career growth, I’d let it go if my manager and the paycheck was good. You can’t anticipate what will happen anyway, and you can be 100% certain that anywhere you work will have something that irks you. What guarantee would you have that six months in, you’d like somewhere else any better?

    5. Straight Laced Sue*

      Yes. Unfortunately it sounds like you don’t feel comfortable being yourself at that company, and so it shouldn’t be your forever work-home.
      Which is sad!
      At least it is a good job, so you don’t have to hurry out of there, and can take your time getting what you can out of it and searching for a company/team/job that clicks with you. Maybe that’s a wonderful luxury context in which to play the game of your fulfilling exit masterplan?
      I once had a prestigious job where I felt like a golden retriever puppy among lionesses and hyenas. I spent a while trying to fit in, but the experience dented my confidence in my own self and what I fully had to offer as my self. After a couple of not-perfect fits I found a less shiny job where I felt that 50% of my colleagues were also golden retrievers, and it felt kinda blissful! But it took a good 5 years for me to grow back my confidence fully.
      So – remember: Golden retrievers have SO MUCH to offer : )

    6. The Shenanigans*

      I agree with those saying this is a big deal. It will kill your soul and likely your promotion and payment over time. It won’t hurt to look around and see what your role pays at other companies and even apply for other jobs. See what’s out there. Maybe you are in the best spot you can be for now. Maybe not. But knowing one way or another gives you information to move forward with. If you are in the best position you can be for now, then that will help you put up with this crap. If you aren’t, there’s no need to learn because you can move on.

  27. Barcaldine*

    This is inspired by yesterday’s post about being on call: is there any way to make a job where you’re on call 24/7 workable? Or is it always going to feel a bit exploitative, like the job is taking over your life?

    I used to have one of these jobs, and though I only worked part time hours (and was only paid for the hours I worked!), it was really hard to maintain any boundaries because the work came up at all hours and needed to be done immediately, and the organisation was small so other staff couldn’t cover my tasks effectively. It kind of felt like they were paying me part time but expecting (more than!) full time availability. I’m interested in others’ experiences with this kind of job, and whether you were able to make it work for you.

    1. Rick Tq*

      The only way that kind of continuous call works IMO is to treat the assignment as shift work. You are on call for 2-3 days at a time and OFF call for equal periods. But, you are Engaged to Wait so IMO you should be paid for ALL the time you are on call, not just when you are actively working with a client.

      Your employer is taking advantage of you.

      Don’t allow yourself to be on call 24/365 without SERIOUS compensation.

    2. ferrina*

      Not workable.

      You are not a robot. You need time to be able to decompress. When you are constantly on-call, your brain doesn’t get to shut-down. It’s in a constant low buzz, waiting for the next thing. Sort of like how my computer doesn’t like always being in sleep mode, and needs to be properly shut down every so often so it can work properly.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I’d literally die if my job had me on call every single week. We all take turns being on call for a week. so I’m on call approximately every 3 months. going out at midnight every few days would break me

    3. Isben Takes Tea*

      It’s not going to feel a bit exploitative, it is exploitative! Unless you are getting paid for the entire time your are available, and have clear breaks from being available (as it’s still counted in overtime calculations and laws), it is unreasonable and in most cases illegal at federal and many state levels.

    4. Sharon*

      This sounds like poor planning on your organization’s part and not necessarily something to just accept as a part-time employee – it’s a management issue and NOT YOUR PROBLEM that there is not enough coverage. A job where you have to be on call 24/7 should be exceedingly rare – like if you are the only doctor within 100 miles– and you should be **paid accordingly**. If it’s something more like systems maintenance, it might be more appropriate for the company to hire a service instead of having one part time employee on call.

      When I was working a self-employed side hustle, I never cancelled any person plans just because someone offered me a gig – I was simply “not available” for that time block. What would happen if you tried that?

    5. Random Bystander*

      I’ve never heard of a part time that required on call beyond something very strictly limited in scope–like when my mom was working on her psych degree and was a phone counselor for a suicide hotline (so she was on call 24 hours for a given day during the course of a week; however, the other six days were completely off from that position … and of course, that didn’t mean that she was actually on calls for the whole 24 hours, just that she was one of the people who would get routed calls in that time frame).

      Later, of course, she ended up having on-call weekends … but she was salary full-time and a hospice chaplain (calls outside of office hours were almost always that the hospice patient had passed away or was expected to do so in the very immediate future–I lived 900 miles away at that time, and if it was her on-call weekend, she would always start the call letting me know that she was on-call and would have to check the other line if it went off during the call; if it wasn’t hospice related, she would tell whoever she’d call back, but if it was hospice-related our call was over immediately), but that rotated with the other chaplains employed there.

    6. Gatomon*

      It depends on the volume of calls. I’m on call 24/7/365, but we only have maybe a call a month or less. I get my tail kicked about twice a year in practice as there’s enough of us on the team that it’s not always up to me to respond.

      If things are coming up on a daily or weekly basis, a rotation schedule needs to be created. Our second-line support has an on call schedule because they are required to respond much more frequently than we are at my level, tier 3. And we have outsourced the first line support to a dedicated call center to cover off hours.

      Now at my level we’re exempt, but lower levels are hourly. They get paid a flat amount per day they’re on call plus their hourly rate (and OT) if they’re called up. When I was in that role it could add up to several hundred additional dollars a month, so at least we were compensated for the work.

    7. LuckyClover*

      I had a job that paid hourly and on a rotating basis each of 6 / 9 staff (because the software they used only allowed 6 phone numbers to be programmed and the admin would not identify a different way to do it) would be on call for a week at a time.

      I was not really told about this responsibility at hiring, and then the pandemic happened so for 2 years I was off the hook because everything was remote. I was terrified when it was my first on-call week, and I was assured the calls were incredibly rare.

      Reader: They were not very rare. I would get calls at midnight or 2am at least once every 2 times it was my turn, while still working my 8-5 shift during the day. I questioned why I wasn’t paid to be on call (only on hours worked) when I wasn’t supposed to be more than 40 minutes away from the work site. A few of us questioned about logistics with children, or like could we have a beer if we were technically on call and they wouldn’t answer directly to avoid being on the hook for saying we were on the clock.

      Maybe I am just too anxious, or my individual on-calls involved instances that traumatized me, but some people weren’t bothered by it. However, they were also the same people who weren’t very good at actually responding to calls (which involved the health and safety of others in a residence-based school program). I never understood how they could be so relaxed, drink, and make plans during their turns when things felt so invasive when it was my turn. When the people who agreed it was difficult tried to ask for changes to be made, this select few would minimize the issues or tell us we were getting taken advantage of by callers and needed to just have a backbone (that would still involve answering though??).

      I reached a point where I had a hard time falling asleep in anticipation of a call, and found myself feeling angry at people for calling (even though I know this was not logical ). I didn’t like what the 24/7 mentality made me act or feel like, and that was only once every 6 weeks! I don’t know how people do it.

      I reached a point about a year in when I had gotten late-night calls 3 nights in a row, where I told my partner I would quit with or without a new job by the end of the year. That same month I got an offer and I would NEVER go back to being on call.

      1. Random Dice*

        None of that is legal in California, in case you’re wondering what actual worker protections look like. That’s all exploitative BS.

  28. This Old House*

    Any tips for telling people you’re pregnant at work? I’m THE WORST at this. (Always have been, this is baby #3.) I hate making announcements about myself, calling attention to myself, etc. I am not noted for my smooth conversational skills in any situation. My boss and HR already know, as do a handful of random people who I told when there seemed to be an appropriate moment in conversation. But there are lots of people who I work physically close to and see and talk to every day, without actually working with them on projects, so there’s not a specific work reason to bring it up. I cringe thinking about walking up to people’s desks and just being like “Hi. I’m pregnant.” But I also cringe about the (rapidly approaching, maybe even ongoing) situation in which I am visibly pregnant and don’t say everything and everyone thinks I’m stupidly oblivious. (And at this point enough people know that I am reluctant to do anything resembling an announcement, even to individuals, because they may have already heard? I’m overthinking hard.)

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I have two thoughts:

      (1) Do you have any regularly-scheduled team meetings? Weekly or monthly? Can you make a quick announcement at one of them? You can get your manager’s buy-in first, especially if there usually aren’t social announcements during the meetings.

      (2) Can you send an email to the team? No verbal announcement, and you don’t have to tell people one by one.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I did this–I made my announcement at the end of an all-staff meeting of my branch of the department, with my manager’s permission (he led the meeting). For folks who were not at that meeting, I sent emails to say “hey, FYI, I’m expecting a baby around [due date] and will be taking maternity leave from then through probably [end of leave]. While I’m gone, [relevant details about who’s handling what in my absence].”

      2. This Old House*

        (1) No. Essentially my department is one team, and then me. I’m more or less a team of 1, and our work doesn’t overlap. I’d have to crash a different team’s meeting to make an announcement and that is a lot more attention than I’d like.

        (2) A life news email to the department would be out of step with the culture here – I’ve never seen it done – but not necessarily poorly received, if it comes to that.

    2. Burntliketoast*

      I found out a colleague in another department was pregnant when she started talking about maternity leave plans. We didnt have work overlap and while friendly enough arent close. She kind of looked it but people dont want to assume. I doubt anyone will think that you are stupidly oblivious.

      I dont think you need to mention it to every colleague if you dont want to. If anyone says anything you can always just say “Oh I thought you knew” but you can also say “I dont like making a big deal about personal stuff at work, etc.” Or lean on the fact that its baby #3. Even though each pregnancy is different you can still lean into the idea that you have done this before.

      Just continue being pregnant and do whats comfortable for you. Reasonable people will be fine either way and happy for you.

      Congrats on the baby!

    3. PurplePenguin*

      Ask one of your work friends who already knows to start gossiping about you? Ask in a team meeting what their coverage plans are for when you’re out on maternity?

    4. MouseAtTheDoor*

      I’m pregnant with my first and just threw it in at the end of a daily tag-up that our team does. I specifically did it as everyone was standing up to leave so there wasn’t really the expectation of hanging around or continuing to chat about it, as I didn’t want to make it A Thing. Everyone else, it’ll come up organically or it’ll come up when I start talking about/planning my maternity leave.

      P.S. No one is going to think you’re stupidly oblivious, they’re just going to think that you don’t want to talk about it, which it sounds like is true. They may come up with weird reasons why you might not want to talk about it though.

    5. Purple Cat*

      Have you told the “one person” at your company (and every company has one) that will spread the news like wildfire?
      Otherwise, just casually mention “when you’re out” when people are talking future plans and everybody will figure it out.

    6. Elevator Elevator*

      No one’s going to think you’re oblivious! When someone notices a coworker is pregnant, if they’re not the type to just ask you about it directly, the first thought is usually more along the lines of “is this news or am I late to notice/hear about it?”

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen a coworker broadly announce their pregnancy. They mostly do exactly what you’re doing – tell people who need to know for work purposes, tell other people as it comes up (or just treat it as a given in conversation, once you’re visibly showing), and then it spreads organically.

    7. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Email. Everyone at once and you don’t have to have the in person conversation. You can just say “Hey Barb the Boss already knows this but I wanted to make sure everyone else does as well, I’ll be out on maternity leave sometime in late February or early March.”

    8. Ranon*

      I just didn’t mention it and secretly played a game with myself to see how long folks would hold to the “never ask someone if they are pregnant” norm. I worked in a male dominated industry so I personally found it hilarious, the best was one time when most of the folks I was working with on a project had been not saying something and then a client who hadn’t seen me in a while just walked up and said “Ranon, you’re pregnant!” and all the other guys gave him a look like “dude, we noticed but we weren’t saying anything”

      Honestly people don’t really need to know until you’re planning for maternity leave? It’s not like people actually prepare for you being out until you’re like “I am going to have this baby tomorrow, what is your plan?”

    9. Alex*

      I don’t think you actually have to make any announcement. No one is entitled to this information except as it pertains to their own work. If it comes up, just treat it matter of factly. If you have to make plans for leave with people, just say something like “As you may or may not know, I’m pregnant and will go on maternity leave around X time. Here is what that might mean for you….blah blah blah”.

      Back in the beforetimes, women at my office didn’t make announcements past their own immediate teams or friend groups. Did I see their bellies growing larger and think, oh hm, looks like Jane is pregnant! Sure…but I never assumed I should have received an engraved announcement or anything. It wasn’t my business!

      Now I work at home and don’t even know that people are pregnant until their boss sends an office-wide email with “Welcome Baby Girl Jane!” and usually a picture of the new baby. And I think oh, wow I didn’t even know she was pregnant! Good for her!”

    10. Aelfwynn*

      Honestly, I just let my boss and HR know, then when I was showing I wore a tighter shirt around the office gossip. That took care of it. ;-)

      1. This Old House*

        I’m almost there, since I pulled my maternity clothes out of the attic last week and some of those shirts really accentuate the belly! But honestly, while it feels awkward to have my department and closest coworkers not know, I don’t hate the idea of continuing to be less obvious about it for everyone else. Between having the same conversations about how you’re feeling/cravings/due date/names/are you finding out? with every single person you encounter in your life, from you mother and closest friends to nodding acquaintances, and people who ask inappropriately intimate questions, and the lady down the hall who will (from experience) call me “Mama” from the day she finds out I’m pregnant until I deliver . . . I just hate how on display you are in pregnancy and find it exhausting.

  29. Burntliketoast*

    I am currently taking time off for burnout. I am getting paid sick leave. How do I know when I am ready to go back? I am not as bad as I was the first week of being off and am sleeping somewhat better. I have told its important not to go back too soon or could burn out quickly again. But how do you know when is right and when is too soon?

    Also any advice for a smooth transition back to work after some time off.

    1. ferrina*

      One thing that helped me know the burnout was gone was when I felt bored. Not anxious-I-don’t-know-what-to-do bored, but ya-know-what-I-could-go-for?-A-spreadsheet! bored.

      If you have the time, take it.

    2. The Ginger Ginger*

      It might be worth find a therapist to help with that conversation as well (if you have one, talk through it with them, if you don’t have one, check one out). Even short term that might give you a helpful second perspective on things.

    3. mreasy*

      I would highly recommend talking to a doctor (psych or therapist if possible). I’ve had friends return from mental health leave and they ended up not being ready once they were back in. I have been on MH leave twice, and both were about 4 weeks.

  30. Irish Teacher*

    Low stakes question for my fellow teachers: just wondering what ye’re return to work after the holidays looks like. I mean, do teachers return before students? Do all students start back on the first day or is it staggered? If teachers have a couple of days preparation time before students return, what happens on those days?

    And when does ye’re school year start/end? (I know the English school year is only just ending now and I think some parts of America go back fairly soonish?)

    Our school year starts around the end of August/early September and finishes around the end of May/early June for secondary school (which is what I teach) while primary schools end around the end of June. The last day for secondary school is usually the Friday before the first Monday in June, if that makes sense. State exams then start the Wednesday after schools finish up, but teachers are free as are 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th years.

    Secondary schools have to do 166 days, and schools have a little bit of leeway about when to go back. A school can choose to go back a few days before the required date and then take additional days during the school year.

    In our school, the staff votes on what to do. I think this is the norm in most schools And this year, we voted to go back on the 28th of August.

    I haven’t got our schedule for returning yet, but the norm is that the first week is sort of introductory. Each year group will come in on one day for a couple of hours, to get their timetables and get a talk from their year head and so on. The rest of the time is given over to stuff like staff meetings and preparation. Some of these involve all staff, others are within departments or things like induction for new members of staff.

    Last year, this went from Monday to Thursday and then school started back fully on the Friday.

    1. londonedit*

      Oh that’s interesting, that secondary school finishes for all years in early June and then the exams happen. Here in England, school carries on for everyone except Year 11 (GCSE) and Year 13 (A Level) until around this time in July, and it’s only the GCSE and A level years who finish earlier (for study leave/exam time). Exams are in mid-May to around the end of June. So in Year 11 and Year 13 you end up with a nice long summer holiday! I actually feel like this year the holidays have started way earlier than when I was at school – we always finished around the 25th. The school year starts in the first week of September – some primary schools will have a staggered start for Reception classes, so they might do a week of half-days. For secondary it’s normal for everyone to start at the same time in September, Year 7 to Year 11 (and 12 and 13 if the school has a sixth form).

    2. cardigarden*

      (America/Mid-Atlantic/East Coast)

      Spouse’s school district (secondary school teacher) has their first teacher day back Aug 17 and the first student day back (all students) is on Aug 26 or 27. Seniors graduate at the end of May, and depending on how many snow days, the earliest last day of school is in early June. The last student day this year was June 5 I think.

      Start and finish dates, and number of snow days built into the schedule before having to add more days in June depend on the district. Our area is administered on the county level, but I grew up where schools were administered at the town level.

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      When I taught, the start date varied depending on the school system, but teachers always started back a full week before students showed up. Teachers in both states I worked in were contracted for 190 days, and the school calendar had students required to attend 180 days. So that’s 10 days without students, with usually 4-5 days at the beginning, 1 or 2 “teacher in service” days mid-year, and 3-4 days at the end of the year after students finished.

      Usually at the beginning of the teachers-are-back week, we’d have some faculty-wide meetings about whatever random crap was going on/changing this year, and we’d break into small groups/departments to have more meetings. Any time outside meetings would be devoted to setting up the classroom/prepping materials.

      Mid-week, there would often be an “orientation” or “meet your new teacher(s)” day where students and parents could come in the early evening to meet you and see the classroom, and get a supply list.

      End of the week would have more faculty meetings to wrap anything up, and for the principal to try and pep us up for the year ahead.

      I would say that in the South, student start days are usually early August (most Georgia county schools actually start the last week of July, which accommodates them getting a full week off in the fall and in the winter). Further north (like Virginia), most schools start the Tuesday after Labor Day (so beginning of September).

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        Oh, and end of the year in the South, at least for the schools starting before September, is usually in May, not June.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Technically, in Ireland, teachers and students have the same number of days, but in practice, it’s accepted for students to do a few days less. I heard the government once tried to put a stop to that and insist that schools just opened with no preparation. I do not know how true this story is as I heard it from the principal of the school I was subbing in at that time and according to his version, he single-handedly changed the policy. “They wanted us to just open the doors and start teaching and I stood up and said that was all very well for small schools but not for schools the size of this one and I said I would refuse to do it and a number of other principals of the largest schools in the country backed me up” (and then everybody cheered!).

        The government have made other attempts to standarise things and it usually ends in schools rules-lawyering it to get around it so I think they’ve figured at this point, they are better off compromising.

        “Usually at the beginning of the teachers-are-back week, we’d have some faculty-wide meetings about whatever random crap was going on/changing this year, and we’d break into small groups/departments to have more meetings. Any time outside meetings would be devoted to setting up the classroom/prepping materials.”

        This is pretty similar to our first 4/5 days back except that we officially have to have some students on the premises for some part of the day, so there will be an hour or two giving some class an orientation.

        And we can usually leave at the times we don’t have meetings unless we have set-up or prep to do. Generally, the principal will say “this time is for individual preparation and it’s up to you. If you’d rather do that at home, that’s fine but if you have stuff to do in the school, the time is available.”

        And that makes sense about schools finishing up earlier if they start earlier.

    4. Maestra*

      I teach at a New England boarding school (high school), so our timeline is different in terms of moving students back in to dorms. Our new faculty will begin with their orientation at the end of August and we’ll all start meetings in that last week of the month. Some meetings will be full faculty, others just with our departments or the dorms we are affiliated with. Our varsity athletes will return on Labor Day weekend and we’ll start pre-season practice. Various student leaders (student council, peer counselors, orientation leaders) will also arrive then. They will have a few days before other students start to arrive in a staggered way – new international students, new domestic students, all returning students. We’ll start classes on the Friday after Labor Day and have class that Friday and Saturday (we do class six days a week with half days on Wednesdays and Saturdays). We are on trimesters with a full week off at Thanksgiving, about 2.5 weeks off at Christmas, a 4-day weekend in February, and about 3.5 weeks off in March. We end the year in the first week-ish of June.

    5. School daze*

      In the U.S. a lot of the timing is determined by which state you live in and whether it’s a public school with lots of requirements or a private school which have a lot more freedom to set their own timing. Overall calendar decisions are usually made by the districts, not the individual schools because of all the shared services across the districts such as busing or shared training days. State-mandated testing at the end of the year drives a lot of timing decision as it all happens according to strict schedules. So districts count back from that, factoring in:
      -the number of extra days for emergencies (snow, tornadoes, local bridge out, who knows), -the required number of days of teachers contracts and their required training days (in the contract)
      -local factors (e.g. in part of New York the public schools schedule the Jewish holidays off, not just the major Christian ones because the rates of allowable absences for religious holidays would be so high)
      School timing in U.S. history was largely crafted into the calendars we are familiar with today because of the agrarian background and the need for the kids to be available to help on the farm during planting. That’s partly why schools in the south go back sooner than in the northeast; the kids were needed for spring chores earlier due to the climate.
      When the teachers must/can come back is set by the school and usually includes set up and training days before the kids come back.
      There’s a good overview of this done by the PEW Research Center: https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2019/08/14/back-to-school-dates-u-s/

      1. Irish Teacher*

        That’s interesting about private schools having more freedom. I guess it makes sense, given ye’re school districts and stuff. As far as I know, here, the same rules apply to private schools and non-fee-paying schools (most teachers in fee paying/private schools are paid by the government here anyway, so they have the same employment rules, conditions, etc as everybody else).

        I can see the logic as regards schools in the same district having the same days off. There was a bit of griping on social media during a storm here, when we started late and the other school that shares our campus did not. Parents of kids from their school were complaining that if it was too dangerous for our students to go in, how come it was safe for theirs? Simple reason was different principals making different calls.

    6. Flower necklace*

      I’m in Virginia. My county finished mid-June and we start back up August 14th (for teachers – students come back August 21st). The teacher workweek is generally meetings and classroom setup. We also have one day where we do PD based on content area.

      Although I teach summer school, so I don’t really get a break. High school summer school is 6 weeks, so it’s essentially all summer.

    7. Harriet J*

      I teach in the U.S. (New Jersey) – students are required to have 180 days of school. Most districts have contracts that require staff to be in for 182 or 183 days.
      Administration sets the calendar, staff has no input. Some superintendents are more open to input from the union than others. I’m jealous of your ability to vote on return date.
      Students start the Tuesday following Labor Day (first Monday in September – the U.S. moved Labor Day from May 1st because that was too “communist”). If Labor Day falls on September 6 or 7 – then students will have classes before Labor Day.
      Staff comes in for 2 days the week before Labor Day – usually the Wednesday & Thursday so we can still have a 4 day Labor Day weekend. These days are usually full of unnecessary meetings so many people come in for an extra day to actually set up classrooms, etc.
      Classes usually end in mid-June. Staff come in for additional day after the last day for students.

      1. carcinization*

        I am in Texas and we vote on the school calendar every year, so this is interesting! It’s not just my district, I’ve worked in multiple districts that have had voting each year for the next year’s school calendar.

    8. Meow*

      Our teacher contracts are from August 15-June 15. Last year, we started on Aug. 30 and ended on June 2. Before the school year starts, we have 4-5 meetings, trainings, etc. and the rest of the time is for getting the classroom ready and scheduling home or classroom visits with students and parents. We also have a back to school night the Thursday before school starts that staff are required to be at. When school lets out, we usually have 2-3 meetings, plus an individual check out meeting with the principal. Teachers are responsible for inventory, final grades, and cleaning out their classrooms/getting them ready for summer custodial services. Our school year (private K-8 school) is 170 days.

    9. Rara Avis*

      Teacher at a private school in the US. We finish in early June and go back mid-August. We have a week of teacher training to prepare. Most of the public schools in my area (west coast) start earlier in August; my husband goes back August 7 and only has two days of prep time before the students come. I grew up on the east coast, and schools there usually run late August/early September to late June. We were visiting my parents in June and it was kind of a bummer for my 15 yo because all their summer friends were still in school.

      My school is K-12. The middle school students come in for an orientation day for the first day of school. It’s a little shorter than a normal day, and we stagger the start so that the 6th graders ( who need more orienting) come in first. We do a lot of activities (some fun, some logistical) with our advisory groups, and then the students see each class for 15 minutes. The little kids have half-day parent and student orientations. The high school students have two events the week before: grade-level activities (team-building on campus for 9th, ropes course for 10th, white-water rafting for 11th, and maybe college stuff for 12th?). The next day is matriculation with a formal ceremony, school pictures, meet your teachers, etc.

      It’s making me tired just thinking about it all … I’m definitely going to need the rest of my vacation … after I travel with students next week!

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m a West coast US teacher and our school year is early Sept to mid June. When I taught in the Southwest it was mid August to mid May. At my current job we have two required staff days the week before students start – one district and one campus – and then an optional paid planning day for classroom setup. There’s also an orientation day for new students a week or two before school starts.

      At my kids’ elementary school preschool and kindergarten start a couple days after the other grades, which I think is weird – a previous school I taught at did the opposite, with kindergarten starting early so they can find their way around the building before the bigger kids show up. It’s a huge pain for childcare because my oldest and I start school on a Tuesday and the youngest needs someone to babysit her until Friday!

    11. Dumpster Fire*

      I’m in Massachusetts, teach in a public high school. We go back the last Monday in August, kids start that Wednesday so we have two days of meetings etc before class starts. Many of us go in once or twice the week before in order to set up classroom, get technology working, etc.

      We have a couple in-service days during the year, and a few days where the kids have a half-day of school and then we have professional development in the afternoon.

      Seniors usually finish the Friday before Memorial Day and graduate a week later. Everyone else goes through mid-June, or later depending on how many snow days we have during the year.

    12. Claire*

      I’m a secondary school teacher in Scotland. We go back in mid-August, and term dates are set by the local council. We have two in-service days at the start of term when it’s just staff in, then the kids come back on the Wednesday. We changed timetables back in June and so the kids go straight back into classes first thing on the Wednesday – seniors have already done their inductions, so the main focus is settling our new S1 students who have just come up from primary school.

      The in-service days are a mix of whole-school and faculty time. We have whole-school meetings and trainings (child protection, ICT, health and safety etc) as well as introducing new staff to the school, a briefing on exam results (high level whole-school picture, each subject will do its own more in-depth analysis and evaluation later), general news and updates (staff changing roles due to promotion/acting posts etc) and so on.

      Faculty time is at the direction of the curriculum leader but mostly involves a faculty meeting to agree the improvement plan for the year (drafted back during exam leave in May, but might need to be adapted in light of exam results so we have to finalise it for submission in August) and then the rest of the time is for teachers to work on their own or with subject teams to get ready for the students returning (organise resources, prep classrooms, update Teams and SharePoint etc.). And if you have any new staff in your faculty, they need to be shown around, introduced to everyone, and given time to familiarise themselves with everything they need for the first few days.

    13. Fastest Thumb in the West*

      I am in the southeastern US and our state mandates that public schools cannot start before August 25 and must have 185 instructional days. Private schools can set whatever calendar they want, but for most it is very similar. This year school starts August 28 and ends June 7, with teachers returning August 16 for meetings, training, and classroom preparation.

    14. Glazed Donut*

      In my experience (in the southern US), private schools CAN set their own schedules (as long as they meet the requirements of whichever organization accredits them) but many choose to align with either public districts (in order to line up spring break/winter break) or with other private schools (since some families may have one kid at a K-8, another at a 9-12 or one at all-girls/all-boys). The breaks end up being pretty similar – what I’ve found different is the end of the school year and exams. Some will go well into June while many try to wrap up by Memorial Day.
      Younger kids may have one-off days of orientation (or half days) before they begin back full time. It helps them become less fearful of the school changes, I think, and better able to adjust to wake up/get dressed/etc that they may not have in the summer.

  31. Optimal Pointillist*

    I am working on a project with John from another team, and recently a Joe from that team reached out to me (privately) saying their boss wanted me to include him. I met with Joe and went over the goals, what we had already done (part 1), and what we hoped to do next (part 2), but he doesn’t seem to have taken in the information. First he suggested that we should try part 1. I clarified that part 1 was finished, and next he suggested we should try part 2. I encouraged him to take a shot at it, and he came back with… part 1. He’d taken the finished work I sent him and made a single very very minor change. I reminded him that we were working on part 2 and broke it down into small steps for him. He came back in a week with the steps done (mostly) right. Since then I haven’t asked him for anything else, but he’s been asking me questions about next step, telling me I should use [obvious procedure in every intro textbook] and generally eating crackers.

    On this project, figuring out what to do is the vast majority of the work. I don’t want to spoon-feed the guy, check his work, and have him present ‘his’ project at the end. I’m also pretty new to white-collar work. Do I have to manage Joe? Who do I talk to to find out? How can I bring up the communication problems, the extra time commitment involved in working with him, and the fact that he just plain doesn’t seem ready for this stuff without letting my frustration leak out my ears?

    1. ferrina*

      I’m pretty confused by this story, so apologies if I’m not reading it correctly. Here’s some things that stick out to me:

      -There isn’t a clear project lead. Which team owns this project, yours or John/Joe’s? Who is responsible for it’s success? Who is coordinating the team and pushing things through? It sounds like this is sort-of you, but there’s a few parts that you are missing.

      -If the three of you are working together, are you having regular communications? Set up a weekly/biweekly meeting to check in. Capture current status, action items, brainstorms, etc., in a follow-up email. If you are setting up meetings and leading the delegation of the work, it will be really hard for Joe to claim it as “his” project.

      -What’s John’s role vs Joe’s? Do they have different specialties? It might make more sense for John and Joe to collaborate on the part of the work that is handled by their team. I’d also be interested in John’s reaction to Joe. Is he excited about working with Joe, or resigned?

      -Talk to your manager. Your manager can help you solidify your role, either as the project lead or as a collaborator. If Joe’s work is terrible, you should take that to your manager, who can talk with Joe’s manager. If you are wasting time re-doing Joe’s work, that’s a problem your manager needs to solve. (as a manager, a couple times I’ve flat-out told other managers that my team won’t work with Person due to the high level of mistakes and the time it’s taking my team. Or I’ve quietly cut certain teams out of the work so my people don’t’ need to deal with them. It’s not something I do often, but if it’s necessary, I will.)

      1. Anon Librarian*

        This is all super solid advice. I often ask, “Whose baby is this?” And once you know that, you can know how to best proceed. If it’s not your baby, don’t take it home and raise it.

      2. Optimal Pointillist*

        I’m sorry it’s confusing, you are reading it right!

        -There isn’t a clear project lead. It was assigned by John’s/Joe’s manager to “John, and Optimal, if you want” but because I’m excited about the project, I’ve been doing most of the work and setting up the sporadic meetings.

        -We are not having regular check-ins. This lower-priority project and I’ve tended to let it sit on the back burner when I’m busy, but this is something I can change. If I don’t set up a meeting to doesn’t happen.

        -John is more senior than either me or Joe. I don’t have insight in their internal team roles or dynamics, but I think I can casually feel John out on the subject.

        -Re: Talk to my manager, thanks, this is another easily actionable thing I can do.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      Have you checked with yours and Joe’s mangers yet? That is step 1. You didn’t at the outset (I would recommend verifying first next time) but it’s a perfect time now. You can outline the exactly what you mentioned here—communication, time commitment, readiness—and ask how you should proceed.

      I have found project team changes usually are communicated by the manager who initially assigned the project, so it’s always reasonable to check (if you were given the initial project management assignment) if someone is self-inserting them onto your team, especially if they reach out privately. Check in with management, and check in now.

    3. ecnaseener*

      The fact that he went around John to privately ask you to include him makes me think something’s fishy (and you must think so too because you included that detail…)
      Maybe he’s underperforming and trying to save his job by swooping in on John’s project, maybe something else, who knows. Is John even aware of this?

      1. Tio*

        Something struck me as strange there too. Maybe confirm with Joe’s manager that he wants you to include Joe, and does he have any specific goals? Odds are, there is either something Joe volunteered for, or the manager said something like “You can see if they need help” and he ran with it. otherwise, the manager probably would have said something.

        If you are all supposed to be working on this together, maybe schedule a 3 way call so you can all get on the same page and divvy up the next steps – John do A, you do B, Joe do C. Or some kind of project flow.

    4. Sharon*

      I’d clarify Joe’s intended role. Maybe his boss just wanted him to sit in on meetings and see how things work rather than expecting him to contribute significantly to the project or be assigned tasks by you?

  32. Musing*

    I was wondering other perspectives on something that happened a long time ago.

    There was a big work-sponsored event that included an open bar. Many/Most people seemed to have at least 1-2 drinks.

    One person was under 21 and also had a couple drinks. I found out later that HR wrote them up and said they would forfeit their job if they did that again, and also docked a paycheck (or two?) by a significant percent.

    I’d never seen a similar situation before. Is this how it’s usually handled? The write-up is the kind of thing I’d have expected, but the docked wages give me pause.

    1. Rick Tq*

      The company AND the contractor who provided the open bar may be reacting that severely as a response to the alcohol licensing laws for the venue. The person who requested the drinks knew they broke the law when they asked for beer instead of soda, what they didn’t understand is the significant consequences for the server and the catering company.

      The docked wages were probably less than the fine for under-age drinking if this went to the courts and company actions aren’t court records that will follow them for years.

      A final warning and docked pay was a pretty light punishment.

    2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Writing them up was absolutely reasonable but docking pay is not and, depending on where you are, probably illegal.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        It’s only illegal if 1) they are salaried and exempt, or 2) it would bring them below minimum wage.

        1. mreasy*

          It’s illegal if paychecks constituting work they had already performed were included. You cannot retroactively lower rate of pay, but as you mention, they could do this for future work / paychecks.

    3. ZSD*

      I disagree with Rick.
      First, I don’t think docking the paycheck is legal.
      Second, if the company knew that people under 21 were attending, they should have arranged for the bar to be carding people. The person under 21 who drank showed poor judgment, but the company was responsible for preventing underage people from drinking.

      1. Tio*

        I mean, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a company to expect that their employees will not break federal law while at a work event. The venue had some personal responsibility with regards to liquor laws, but the company itself is not responsible for people randomly deciding to break the law, any more than they would be if someone ran a red light in the company car. They have a responsibility to respond if a bad behavior arises – which they did.

        I’m not certain on the paycheck issue, though it looks like there’s potential for it to be valid.

      2. Roland*

        It’s up to the people providing alcohol to card. They don’t need to company writing the check to say “and btw please follow laws about minors/overserving/etc”.

    4. Isben Takes Tea*

      This person knowingly and intentionally broke federal law at a company event. Firing immediately would have been a reasonable response, so docked wages doesn’t seem that unreasonable (if a bit unusual) to me.

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        Agreed. Every time I’ve had a situation where someone under 21 drank at a company event it has resulted in immediate termination.
        That said, the docking of wages seems odd. I think we would need to better understand where this is, what type of employee the person is and how they are paid.

    5. ferrina*

      I don’t think that’s legal. The person can’t retroactively be paid less than the agreed-upon amount.
      I’ve never heard of someone having money taken out of their paycheck as punishment (I’m in the US). People have had money garnished if they owed the company money, but this doesn’t sound like this was the case.

      If they didn’t think writing the person up was enough, fire them. That is a very reasonable response to having an employee knowingly break the law (and it teaches a lesson very quickly)

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        From what I’ve seen, it’s only illegal if 1) they are salaried and exempt, or 2) it would bring them below minimum wage. Employers can change what they pay you moving forward (not retroactively) for any reason for any time if you’re not under contract. I believe it’s uncommon but not illegal to dock someone’s pay for company policy violations (but of course I’m not a lawyer).

        1. Need More Sunshine*

          Your rate of pay can be changed moving forward, yes. It is illegal to dock/withhold pay for hours worked just because someone broke policy. “You drank at this event so we are withholding $100 from your pay” is not legal. “We are changing your rate of pay moving forward to $15/hr instead of $16/hr” is legal.

    6. anywhere but here*

      Legality of pay docking seems to depend on state (will post link for citations separately). But even if it’s legal, it’s shitty. If it’s that big of a deal, fire the employee, and if it’s not worth firing them, it’s not worth docking their pay either.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Well, since firing them for cause would make them ineligible for unemployment, and having to tell interviewers they were fired for committing a crime at a work event, and having the company tell reference checkers that they are ineligible for rehire, would all make it much harder to get a comparable job in the near future…

        Docking pay and keeping them employed seems significantly less shitty than firing them.

    7. Anon Librarian*

      This person knowingly broke federal law at a work event and the employer, in some states, would be liable if anyone happened as a result of that. While I’m not a big fan of docking wages was punishment (I don’t think pay should be used punitively), my understanding (not a lawyer) is that it is legal, if you are not exempt and the amount doesn’t take you below minimum wage. a state by state issue. It might be the employer took the stance that the person simply wouldn’t be paid for their hours at the work event, which I think might be a reasonable response, if they were breaking the law while in attendance.

    8. UKDancer*

      I don’t think docking the salary would be legal in the UK but then I’m not a lawyer.

      Obviously the drinking age in the UK is lower than in the US but I’ve never known someone be punished in that way in the UK for underage drinking in a work setting. I had a Saturday job before I was old enough to buy alcohol legally and I still drank at the office Christmas party but not a huge amount (not least because my mother worked there too and was at the same party). I think the attitude here is more that if you drink and get massively hungover then you’ve had a salutary lesson.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I don’t know how it is in the UK, but the really big issue for the company would be their liability with respect to the venue. The venue could potentially lose their alcohol license for serving the employee, and as that’s their livelihood, they would be making a Very Big and Expensive issue with the employer. It may in fact have been a violation of the employer’s contract with the venue to even have underage people at the party at all. They could potentially have to pay a large penalty, get banned from using that venue in future, etc.

        This is one of those situations where it’s not that the Booze Patrol would come after the employer. But there would be financial blowback that the employer is passing downstream.

    9. TX_trucker*

      “Docking” pay retroactively is illegal in the USA. But an unpaid suspension for the future is legal. We likely would of terminated the intern. If we learned that an another legal age employee encouraged or allowed this behavior, we would of likely issued an unpaid suspension to that employee, and possibly a termination as well.

  33. Juicebox Hero*

    I have a rather picayune situation going on at work but it’s driving me 27 kinds of bonkers and I need to share. I’m in municipal government and it’s just a skosh disfunctional :/

    I have had my current job (customer facing) for 15 years come November, and have been in the same office all that time: a large corner office with a rather awkward layout, like my phone and computer being on opposite ends of the room. It also had two desks because I need room for and easy access for two big ledgers I refer to constantly. The office manager, Evilynn, has a big office in the middle of the building with no windows, and the administrative assistant, The Sorceress, had a tiny office across the hall from Evilynn. The three other administrative employees, Orko, Teela, and Grouchy Smurf, share an office across the hall from me. There was also a small empty office next to mine.

    The police department, which shares the building, is being completely rebuilt and they need room for their people while this is going on. The original plan was that Evilynn would move into the small empty office, the police would use her old office and the conference room, and when the police were back in their own wing Grouchy Smurf would get Evilynn’s old office. This was cool with everyone, especially Teela and Orko, who aren’t allowed to throw Grouchy out the window even when they really want to. An extra bonus was that the offices would be repainted and have new flooring put in, and we’d get new furniture out of the deal.

    So one day Evilynn threw everyone for a loop when she came in and announced that she was taking my office, The Sorceress was going into the small empty office, and I got to have The Sorceress’ smooshy little office. “But are you OK with that? I want you to be happy!”

    A) I know when I’m being told, not asked. B) If I’d expressed any displeasure I’d have been nagged to hell and back until I gave in. C) If you contradict her she gets incredibly defensive and snappish. So I wasn’t pleased at all, but I agreed.

    The small empty office was redone and The Sorceress moved in there without much drama.

    D) Evilynn is the queen of telling people what she thinks they should want instead of listening to what they want. So for a whole week she fought me tooth and nail on the layout I wanted in the new office, argued at length about how many filing cabinets I was going to need, kept arguing even after the furniture salesman drew up the perfect layout in order to have the counter space I need in half the floor space, and a month later is still making comments about how I’m going to hate the layout and will wish I listened to her.

    By the Friday of that week, I was so sick of nagging, arguing, insisting, and passive-aggression that I was ready to scream. I also had to pack up my stuff because I thought the next office to be redone so I could move in following a scheduled vacation the next week. I got a little emotional – 15 years is a long time to have an office and I don’t really like change, plus there were some personal things going on that had me upset. Unfortunately, Evilynn noticed me sniffling and started bugging me to share what was wrong.

    In a weak moment I admitted that I wasn’t happy about the switch and kaboom. She loudly started trying to deflect blame onto me, insisting she’d asked repeatedly if I was OK with the change, railed on about how my furniture was the most expensive out of anyone’s (which made me happy to hear, honestly!) and “with all due respect…” Nothing good ever comes of that so I shut the “conversation” down hard and she slammed out of the room.

    I ended up apologizing just to keep the peace, citing the personal reasons and playing the tiny violin for all it was worth and Evilynn came over all sweet and nice. I went home, started my vacation, and seriously pondered whether I was going to bother coming back after it was over.

    I went back; Evilynn had ordered the renovations to start in my old office instead of getting my new ones ready :headdesk: so for the first two days I had to make do in The Sorceress’ old office with her junky old furniture, without access to my email, files, and voicemail for the first day. Then I ended up back in a kludged-together setup in my original office, but at least I have my phone and computer…

    As annoying as all that is, that’s not the most infuriating thing.

    Now, Evilynn comes in about six times a day in a snit about how she hates my old-but-I’m-still-in-it office. The two big bright windows are in the wrong place. The eight-foot ceilings are too high. The fluorescent lighting hurts her eyes. The worst offenders are two small floor vents that are preventing her from putting her filing cabinets where she’d envisioned them. She’s this close! to booting the Sorceress out of her new office into this one and taking the one she was originally going to take.

    I just sit here in my little kludge korner and smile like an idiot whenever she comes in.

    My new office, whose renovations were much harder and more expensive than anyone else’s, too, because they had to put in a new customer service window and replace the drop ceiling, should be ready by the end of today so I can move in and Evilynn won’t be driving me crazy all the time.

    If you’ve made it this far, thank you :D

    Note – I can tolerate Evilynn on an everyday basis because we interact very little, and the pension plan, PTO, and healthcare here are magnificent. The renovation of my new office looks great and it will help me be more efficient, and no, I won’t be regretting the choice of layout no matter what Evilynn says.

    1. Ginger Baker*

      I personally too would be having a hard time hiding my laughter. I’m glad your new space is shaping up to be amazing!

    2. Double A*

      I hope all the drama it took to get there makes the enjoyment of your lovely new office all the sweeter

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Wow, I hate Evilynn. I hope your old office makes her miserable and you don’t have to be the one to hear about it!

  34. PurplePenguin*

    Agree, docked wages seem weird, but I’m not an HR or legal guy. Why docked wages? Uninformed, I would have thought that you dock wages only for specific financial math – like for the $8/drink. Couldn’t possibly be legal to say “well you’re irresponsible so we’re paying you less this month” so I wonder what their excuse is.

    1. Rick Tq*

      A Stern Warning may go in one ear and out the other, but having money taken can have impacts far down the line and makes the point more memorable. Getting caught serving a minor can be an extinction event for a catering company, they may have threatened to blacklist his employer if they didn’t take immediate and severe actions.

      Summary firing isn’t too extreme to me, knowingly breaking the law at a company event brings that guy’s character and judgement in to question, hence the final warning.

      1. Imtheone*

        Pretty sure that docking wages previously earned is illegal in the US. Going forward, wages can be reduced.

        1. Rick Tq*

          Not so. The link to avvo.com has the details, but here is one snippet “California, for example, pay docking isn’t allowed unless the employee acted dishonestly, deliberately, or with gross negligence.” (emphasis added). Asking for a drink when you are underage is IMO both dishonest and deliberate.

          Other states have similar restrictions or require written consent. The underage drinker might have been given the choice of agreeing to the deduction in their NEXT pay period or being terminated.

          1. MissElizaTudor*

            As far as I can tell, that doesn’t refer to any dishonest or deliberate act. It’s about actions that result in a cash shortage or loss/breakage of equipment, which are not relevant in this situation. Also it looks looks like that might not even be functionally allowed, even if it technically is, and you have to go to court or arbitration to do it.

            The avvo.com link doesn’t really have any details itself, but if you click on “California” it takes you to the CA department of labor website that has more details.

    2. This Old House*

      I wonder if it is possible there was a fine or fee attached by the catering company/venue that the company had to pay, and that is what’s being taken out of the intern’s pay?

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        It seems unlikely that the catering company or venue would subsequently find out, though. I think it’s more likely someone went to HR and said “I saw Soo being served wine but I’m pretty sure they are only 19” or such like.

  35. Anax*

    Any advice on job-hunting while functionally housebound?

    I’m in IT, and my job absolutely can be done from home – but obviously, a lot of employers are really pushing return-to-office these days.

    Thing is… I have some serious issues with the heat, and I live in a hot climate. I can’t drive, bike, or walk far enough to get to a workplace, and public transit where I live is almost nonexistent. And even if I could get to the office, I’d definitely be a lot less effective – in 2019, I spent every summer afternoon so dizzy and nauseous that I couldn’t function, and I sometimes had to lay down on the floor to avoid fainting. And ‘summer’ here can be 10 months per year!

    All of that is to say – I have a legit disability-related need to work from home, and my job absolutely can be done from home.

    I’m just not sure how and when to broach that during the job-hunting process. Do I cross all hybrid jobs off my list – knowing that when they say ‘3 days from home, 2 days in office,’ the job can definitely be done completely from home? Or do I broach my disability needs at the interview? At the job offer? How do I push back on in-person work being an essential function of the job – or find out if it really IS essential, and it’s not just a ‘people collaborate better in person’ initiative?

    And even with remote jobs, they tend to say ‘you must report to the office when your supervisor tells you to’ – any thoughts on how to broach that one? If it’s say, a couple times a year, I can ask my partner to take the day off work and drive me, but if it’s monthly or happens with no notice… I don’t know, I guess I could get a taxi but that feels both unpleasant and expensive.

    To make matters worse, my disability isn’t an obvious or visible kind of issue, so often people don’t really believe me about its severity. I’m not sure how to convey it better, so workplaces know I’m not just trying to play hooky. I’d love to be able to drive, and I technically haven’t had my license taken away, but I’ve come close to blacking out behind the wheel, and I don’t want to actually faint while driving!

    (This is also the issue with biking – I’ve had some bad falls into traffic – and with walking – I get heat exhaustion at the drop of a hat, and any workplace would be several miles minimum from my suburb.)

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oh, this is interesting. If I knew I need a from-home job, I would not apply for hybrid jobs and hope I can persuade them otherwise or get a medical accommodation I think. I would assume they decided they wanted someone in the office for whatever reasons if they listed hybrid, and pass on that. Particularly if I worked in a field like tech where it’s pretty likely you can find a fully remote job! I’d focus on getting out more high quality applications for jobs that are already fully remote.

      1. Anax*

        Doing my best! “Fully remote” is a bit of a tricky phrase – many of them want SOME ability to call you into the office, and frequency/advance warning are going to be key there.

        I’m definitely grateful that I’m in IT – even before the pandemic, I was seriously planning to try to become remote-only after one summer in California. Wisconsin has some rough weeks, but not like this!

    2. Elsewise*

      I’d prioritize remote jobs, but if a hybrid job that seems perfect comes up, it wouldn’t hurt to apply. It seems like you have a documented disability that would make this an accommodation, so you’d need to talk to your doctor to make sure they’d be willing to fill out the required paperwork. From there, all the advice I’ve seen on accommodations is to wait until the offer stage to bring it up!

      1. Anax*

        Thanks, that’s about what I’ve been trying to do. Hybrid jobs are going to be very much in the ‘only if it looks REALLY perfect’ category, though I’m really worried about ‘remote-ish’ jobs that promise remote work but want you in the office ‘when needed’. It’s too vague, and I think I’m going to have to wait until the offer stage to get clarity on those positions.

        I’m pretty sure my doctor would be willing but I’m going to bring it up; she’s been helpful with other disability-related stuff. I’m at the start of my job hunt right now, so I haven’t had a chance to see her yet.

        (I found out a week ago that the other two developers on my team have job offers and I don’t, and they’re ‘going to keep looking for something’, but… yeah, it’s time. Work got acquired and layoffs are in progress.)

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I am strictly remote-only, so I don’t apply to anything that says hybrid. My thinking is that even if i could talk them into it, unless they have a bunch of remote folks I’d be significantly disadvantaged in that culture — it’s likely I’d have to keep fighting policy over time or I’d be forgotten/overlooked/left out. However, if I needed work bad enough my thinking might change!

      1. Anax*

        That’s fair. Honestly, I work mostly with hybrid coworkers and it’s been great – I do miss out on in-person camaraderie, but we have enough status meetings and IM conversations that I feel more included than I did in-office in 2019. I can definitely see how it might be different with a mostly-in-person team, though I think it would still be worth it for me.

        How do you deal with vague “remote, except…” job postings? I’m getting SO many of those right now.

        For instance – “This position may be required to occasionally report to the designated office location in [location]. Travel expenses related to reporting to designated office is employee’s own responsibility and is not eligible for reimbursement.”

        There are a TON of these, and it’s too vague to know whether it’s a dealbreaker for me – a couple times a year or ‘if there’s some kind of giant emergency but functionally that’s never happened’ would be fine, but ‘every couple of weeks to go to our mandatory meeting’ would be a problem.

        For now, I’m applying to the promising-looking positions and hoping to hash things out in an interview. But gosh, it’s frustrating.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          In that case all you can do is make a judgment call, as you’re doing — if it’s above average, you just have to spend the time to find out and hope it’s not wasted.

          I think it’s really important to be clear about your Plan Bs. Do your due diligence, but if you took it and it turned out that in-person demands were more than you expected what would your options look like? If you have extremely limited resources and spoons, maybe you need play it safer. If you can afford some travel, have a safety net, and feel confident you could get another job if needed, then you can take more chances.

    4. mreasy*

      If remote requires reporting to the office once a month… seems like taxi or rideshare would be worth the expense if the job is otherwise a good one? For hybrid jobs, could your spouse drive you (assuming the distance is reasonable and you can have a flexible start time if needed)?

      1. Anax*

        It… depends on the drive, honestly. I checked a fare calculator, and most of these jobs would be about $100 each way. $200-$250 per meeting is a little painful, and the jobs I’m seeing explicitly won’t reimburse me for the cost. Especially because it’s hard to guarantee that meeting frequency won’t change over time. I make good money, but not enough to justify that cost more than very occasionally.

        An occasional 30-40 minute commute isn’t bad when you drive, but it’s a little painful to taxi!

        And no, my partner couldn’t really drive me, except maybe to the very closest jobs. They start work at 7am and end at 4:30 – tacking an extra hour or more of driving on each end (30 minutes each way) would be rough on then, potentially make them late for work if traffic were delayed, and would mean that I would be waiting either in the office or in the heat for several extra hours (e.g., 6:30am – 5:00pm, without traffic or other delays), bearing in mind that if the office is a little too warm (likely), I’m likely to be physically ill and not thinking super clearly, and a longer duration does make it worse.

        Basically, the only feasible option for them to drive me would be for them to take off work every time I need to go into the office, which could work a few times a year, but not more than that.

      2. Anax*

        It… depends a LOT on the specifics. There are a ton of jobs in my field about a 30 minute drive from me – and checking a fare calculator, that’s about $100 each way in good traffic.

        I could swing $200+/month if I REALLY had to, but that’s enough money to definitely give me pause. Especially because these job openings explicitly state that they won’t reimburse me for travel costs, and it’s easy for meeting frequency to change over time.

        (Most of these positions don’t have a contractual specification on meeting frequency or anything – it’s usually something like “This position may be required to occasionally report to the designated office location in [location]. Travel expenses related to reporting to designated office is employee’s own responsibility and is not eligible for reimbursement.” How often IS that? And is it going to change as soon as there’s a new manager, or according to some executive’s whim? It might! Which would change a job from ‘good’ to ‘completely undoable’ for me.)

        It’s functionally a pay cut of several thousand dollars per year, and public sector jobs (most of these) have limited ability to negotiate on salary to compensate for that cost.

        Ditto, my partner works 7am-4:45pm, so an extra two hours of driving (30 minutes each way) would be rough on them if it were more than a couple times a year, and it would mean I’d be in the office from about 6:30am-5:30pm – definitely rough when the average office is too hot for me, so I’d be dizzy, ill, and probably heat-stressed the whole time, even if I could stay indoors with good A/C the whole time. If I had to be outdoors, I would almost definitely get heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Frankly, I’d probably have to take at least a day or two off afterward to physically recover.

        Honestly, the only way it makes sense for my partner to drive me is if they take the day off, drop me off for the meeting, and pick me up right afterward to go home.

        None of that is doable more than MAYBE a couple times per year, and even that gives me some pause.

        An occasional 30 minute commute isn’t bad if you drive, but it’s a lot trickier if you don’t. It’s… pretty frustrating, not gonna lie.

        1. Gathering Moss*

          This may or may not be helpful, but if your issues are yet related, could you apply for remote positions in cooler states? That way it’d a. Be obvious you won’t be coming in regularly, and b. Be easier if they want you to fly in a few times a year? (I’m not in the US, so apologies if this is a bonkers idea, and obviously, you know your needs better than I do!)

        2. Anecdata*

          I wouldn’t worry too much about whether the policy or frequency might change — that’s true of any job, and no matter what they say now, a new executive can always upend a policy you depend on, or institute layoffs, or replace your great boss with a terrible one. You just have to deal with it when it happens – which yeah, might mean having to change jobs, which sucks, but there is no reasonable way to ensure a job that’s a good fit /remains/ a good fit.

          But for the right now — just ask those questions directly in the interview! “I saw there’s occasional in person presence needed, how often is that?” if they say something occasionally, ask exactly what you just said : “is occasionally like a few times a year or a few times a month?”. If you know you don’t want the job if it’s a few times a month, you can ask that by email or in the screening call – being aware that sone employers will opt out / not get back to you (when you get invited to an interview : “I want to be upfront that I’m only considering fully remote positions, and would only be able to travel to the office 2x/year or less. Given that, does it make sense to take the time to talk?”). But if you can afford to be choosy, no harm/no foul.

          If you want to pursue the ADA route, I’d wait until you have an offer. Be aware that companies don’t have to give you what you initially request as a reasonable accommodation — just enter into a dialogue about possible solutions. Typically, I’m not sure commuting is covered – so if they offered accommodations that meet your needs /during the actual work event” (maybe – the occasional meetings needing in person attendance will be held in an air-conditioned room; or, OP can have step out of the room and cool down in X office with a thermostat with needed), I’m not sure they’re legally required to accommodate your commute issues. They might be fine with allowing WFH as the accommodation too! don’t want to discourage you, but just recommend doing more research before you take a job relying on this path

    5. Random Dice*

      I’d wait until they offer you the job in writing, then clarify that you would need an ADA accommodation to be remote.

      I told an employer about my disability after they offered the job but before it was in writing, and they rescinded the offer but in a roundabout way that technically isn’t illegal.

    6. Wordybird*

      This is such an interesting post to me as I would imagine you could get all types of remote-only jobs in the IT field. What websites are you going to to look for work? I would suggest WeWorkRemotely, Remote.io, Remotive, Idealist (non-profits), DynamiteJobs, and NoDesk.co.

      I’ve worked remotely for two different companies over the last 3 1/2 years and having to come into the office has been a non-issue. Both of these companies advertised the roles as remote-only, and they both have HQs in different states than the one I live in. My current role might have me fly in once a year for a team meet ‘n’ greet but that’s all.

      I also have invisible disabilities so I understand the need for WFH accommodations. Remote work has been a godsend for me; I hope it is for you, too!

    7. *kalypso*

      I got a job like this in a hybrid office so here’s what I did.

      The job was advertised as looking for 1 full time and one part time admin and the hours and duties were flexible, so I started from there saying I was looking for part time in a range of 8-20 hours per week. I didn’t say outright that I wanted only to WFH but I said I was already set up for work from home including for transcription and dictation and video calls, and talked about my skills and experience in admin and why I’m not practising as a lawyer right now and a bit on my philosophy on being a good admin (freeing up people to do what they’re good at makes me happy).

      Then I had a separate paragraph in which I said I am disabled, this is the nature of my disability, and my work from home set up works really well for me so I can be fully productive. I did lay out how I can be accommodated in an office (no stairs, typed communication, breaks, ice pack/heat pad, headphones, using a trolley to move file boxes) and that I can perform the work with those accommodations, but work from home already works. But if I took out that paragraph my cover letter would basically be exactly the same with no mention of disability, so none of my relevant experience or anything was conditioned on whether I was disabled when I did it etc. and that paragraph is just ‘okay so now you know about my work here’s what I need to do it’ and just assuming that of course they would oblige because it’s a necessary accommodation.

      I got a letter back saying I had a job, and to help them figure out the role can I please outline a bit more about accommodations and the questions they had were mostly about breaks and compliance with minimum shift laws, so I was able to negotiate an extra ten minute break per shift and WFH except for one visit for group training, which they held in a ground floor room anyway. Turns out the office doesn’t have a lift and some of my coworkers are oddly solicitous which WFH avoids.

      For jobs where they’re actively seeking people to be in the office I rejig the paragraph to also include an example of how the job being done from home and in the office are the same work and my location doesn’t matter, or where the job does need to be adjusted for me how that can happen – like I need to use a relay to make phone calls, so I point out that if I need to make calls it has to go through the relay and because the relay works through a website, I don’t need to be on site to make the call, or if some else likes phone calls I’m happy to do something they hate. I’ve also offered to job share if someone wants to be part time in the office, or take on extra duties to exchange for things I can’t do where that’s been appropriate (partial front desk roles or covering customer service where that reads as a ‘would be nice’ or boiler plate inclusion, or I know from osmosis that it’s just covering the phones at lunch time and I’m never going to be the only one on phones anyway). Because you’re IT and you already know your job can be done fully remotely, you probably have a useful example of how you can communicate with the rest of a team and can point out that you’re doing it the other few days anyway, and have a version of ‘tell us about a time when you had to work as a team and deliver on a short deadline while remote’ cued up for the interview. Having an example really helps people understand where ‘I need this and this and that’ doesn’t make sense to people who don’t already have experience with accommodations.

  36. r.h.*

    Very weird situation this week. It reminds me of the stories on Alison’s “What’s the smallest amount of power you’ve seen someone abuse?” posts.
    We have a receptionist, Joan. She has always been very kind in the 5 years she’s been here, until about 2 months ago. Out of nowhere, she started making negative comments, refusing to do parts of her job, and pushing back hard on very minor things. I assumed she was going through a rough time, and just continued being very polite to her.
    There’s a monitor in the lobby that I use for advertising and weekly information (ie where meetings are happening in the building). The old monitor broke months ago, IT said it needed to be replaced, and it was very low on the list of priorities. Joan was upset, and kept pushing them to fix it, saying that she found it very helpful. She stopped mentioning it around the same time as her huge attitude shift.
    Well, two weeks ago, IT replaced the monitor, and I began uploading weekly information again. It has been nothing but problems with Joan. First, she refused to turn on the monitor. It took a week of her manager having increasingly serious conversations with her before she finally turned it on. The only reason she gave for this weird insubordination was that she thought the screen graphics were “ugly.” They are very similar to the previous graphics, so I feel like that’s BS, and more importantly, it’s not her call in any way.
    Then, apparently out of spite, she started nitpicking every single aspect of the monitor. She complained about a “new wire” (entirely hidden by the monitor), sent me a long-winded email ranting about a very minor aspect of the background graphic, and then sent a very rude email to my dept’s admin blaming her for a “mistake” on the monitor (it ended up not being a mistake). I copied Joan’s manager on each of my responses, and I know she’s on top of it. But I can’t shake the feeling that this is such a weird hill to die on. Any thoughts on this situation? I don’t work closely with her at all, so I’ve just continued to be polite, and I don’t think there’s much more I can do.

    1. W Olive*

      I don’t think there’s anything that you can do. This has to be left up to her manager. Just keep documenting all interactions and stay out of her way.

      Also, as I was reading this, my first thought was that she has an emergent medical issue like a brain tumor. People don’t normally have such drastic personality changes out of nowhere. Either she was really good at hiding it and has now stopped for whatever reason, or there’s something medically or mentally wrong that has suddenly surfaced. In my opinion anyway…

      1. Random Dice*

        I immediately thought she may have had a stroke.

        This all screams sudden onset medical issue.

    2. girlie_pop*

      I used to work with someone like this (although she was like this for all six years I worked with her lol), and I think copying her boss on your responses and just being polite is the right thing to do. It’s very, very weird behavior, everyone else is going to flag it as such, and any problems it creates are going to be on her.

      The fact that it happened so suddenly makes me wonder if she had some kind of difficult personal thing happen that is making her lash out, or if there is something going on at work that is making her feel like she needs to raise a stink about things.

      But even if that is the case, it’s not on you to fix it, and the kindest thing you can do is just be polite in your responses and not give in to the weird arguments she’s trying to start!

    3. Bismuth*

      I feel like there must be something large in the background that Joan is really unhappy about, and the monitor is something concrete she can fixate on.

      Do you *have* to address her complaints? Can you give vaguely sympathetic but non-committal responses about how hard the adjustment must be for her? Can you ignore her complaints completely?

      Maybe if you shift your mindset from “Jeez, Joan, quit hassling me about the damn monitor” (which is an understandable mindset to have!) to “Joan is expressing her dissatisfaction with life to me, but it’s not actually about me,” it will be easier to allow her nitpicking to wash over you.

    4. *kalypso*

      Is it just the monitor? Or is that just the only part you have experienced firsthand and this is a general thing?

      It’s possible there’s actually something about the new monitor that is harmful or disruptive – if it’s larger, it has a flicker, the refresh rate or colour balance is off from the previous one or something – and it’s causing headaches or vision issues. If it’s within your power to suggest letting her change the settings on the monitor and the monitor is central to the other issues, that might be a start that doesn’t require anyone to go straight to ‘you’re acting different you should see a doctor’ although that’s definitely indicated, but if it’s all monitor related an optometrist might also be an option – some people are so sensitive that the difference between 30Hz and 45Hz can make them irritable, or a screen with lots of white light can cause retinal bleeds, or trigger migraines or seizures, and not everyone who has these knows about it before something happens to let them know. Joan may well realise the monitor is annoying her but not how, or may not feel it’s something she can raise since she pushed for a replacement and ‘your replacement is worse than not having it’ isn’t always taken gracefully, or the new monitor may have some other issue that’s reminding Joan of a sensitive diagnosis and she’s lashing out. But giving her the ability to turn the brightness down or turn it off when clients aren’t around or whatever other flexibility is reasonably available for the purpose that monitor is there for may be much more helpful than you might think – if it is actually that and not anything else.

      I read your post as you’re responsible for the content of the monitor but not the monitor itself and Joan directly but while being polite and going about things as normal is ideal, if you have any flexibility about how the monitor content is displayed (and recognising that the new graphics may not have come from you and some changes may have been necessary for bigger screen or other aspects of the new monitor) , an email to Joan (cc her manager and yours) that goes something like ‘I recognise that you’ve had some issues with the content on the new monitor. We had to make some adjustments on our display to account for the new screen, and I just wanted to double check with you that it was readable and as helpful to you as it has been in the past.’ but there’s a chance you wouldn’t get ‘actually it’s a bit hard to read, can you make the font bigger’ and would get another rant with nothing actionable, so that may not be something you’re willing to open up to. If that’s the case, finding a way to check out the monitor content discreetly and making sure it’s appearing as intended, the font is legible, the contrast is good (and meets WCAG 3 guidelines, ideally). And again, if her issues are not centralised to the monitor, then meeting WCAG guidelines is still nice because accessible web display standards are kind of good guidelines for screen content generally in terms of readability and contrast, but you don’t have to bring Joan into it to be accessible.

  37. NaoNao*

    I’m not even sure what kind of help I need here…

    In 2022 I accepted a new job and about 6 months in I made a serious fumble that snowballed into me making 2 more fumbles and losing the job.

    I found a new job un late 2022, and it wasn’t the right fit–my confidence was rattled from the previous job and I never really found my footing. It seemed like a similar pattern as the previous job–the first few months went okay/good and then things slid downhill. We “mutually decided” that I would move on.

    I found a third job and started in April of this year. So far it’s going very well–compliments, successful projects, my boss seems to really like me.

    However, I’m very concerned because yesterday I wasn’t feeling well and laid down to take a quick nap. I overslept and missed a meeting, which is very unlike me. It worked out okay but I am rattled and very worried this is a pattern at this point.

    It seems like I can’t avoid mistakes or messing up like this for more than 90 days in ANY job. This job was a major step down in salary and responsibility and while it was eating some humble pie, I’m genuinely enjoying it and want to do well.

    My concern is that this missed-meeting has a very similar flavor to the 2022 mistakes (which was a missed class, and then a missed meeting + another failure to time manage/schedule) where I looked at the calendar and misread the scheduled time as later than it was–same deal yesterday, mis-read the calendar and overslept.

    I’ve set up double-notifications (windows and outlook) and have made a habit to log in 5 minutes early to every meeting. I’ve also decided to write down my meeting times in my OneNote every day with the hope that writing it will engrave it in my memory. I guess I could set phone notifications too so that if I’m away from the computer I can still get them?

    What is the deal here? Am I over-reacting and does everyone space out and make mistakes like this? Am I maybe “undiagnosed” something or other? Do I need better work habits or ethic and I’m overlooking a really easy solution? I *can not* lose another job in a row but apparently after a certain point fear is not enough of a motivator.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah I wonder if there isn’t something medical you might want to look into. And keep an open mind – anything from sleep apnea to new eyeglasses to ADHD.

      See if installing the Outlook client on your phone and getting notifications there will help, rather than having to enter the same thing a third or fourth time in a different system.

      1. Random Dice*

        I was just rereading and was struck by how the problem seems to revolve around misreading numbers.

        “where I looked at the calendar and misread the scheduled time as later than it was–same deal yesterday, mis-read the calendar and overslept.”

        It sounds like you’re a high performer… With a consistent time reading glitch.

        I don’t know much about Dyscalculia, but a quick search seems like it could be worth a bit more consideration. (Knowing the right bucket can help identify strategies that work for your wiring.)

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Definitely, definitely get a COMPLETE physical–eyes, digestion, sleep, the works. Since it’s the same type of thing, and seems to be occurring in a patter there might be something physiological that’s cropping up once the adrenaline of “new job” has worn off and stopped damping it down.

    2. anywhere but here*

      The nap situation seems like a run of the mill mistake that can happen because you’re human (especially since you weren’t feeling well), so I would look into the larger pattern of what exactly causes you to miss things and why. I’d also look into times you were successful about making it to your commitments and what helped you accomplish that. If it’s common for you to misread times that may be something about reading letters/numbers that isn’t working right for you? But the occasional mistake is normal and human, so give yourself some space for that.
      If you trust your boss, it may be worth mentioning your difficulties and get a sense for 1) where it would shift from “usual human error” to “serious problem” from her perspective and 2) how she handles employee issues more generally. Ideally, she’ll let you know her process for if/when something is serious enough to put someone’s job in jeopardy, and she’ll make sure to let *you* know if you ever reach that point and give you a chance to seriously turn it around, rather than just telling you one day that you’re fired.

    3. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I don’t wish to worry you, but as this seems to be a pattern, you should definitely make an appointment for a full physical and bloodwork just to rule out a medical issue.

      It might just be stress, but it could be ADHD or something else entirely. Better you know.

      1. mreasy*

        I agree. If your issues are mostly oversleeping/spacing out related, it would really be wise to see a doctor.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Do you have a therapist? Therapy will really help. When I left an absolutely toxic, soul-killing job, therapy was essential in helping me get back on track and rebuild my self-esteem. Even now, many years later, I apply some of those techniques when I find myself falling into old patterns. (I’m in a new job and it’s not going well, and I feel like I’ve regressed six years.)

      What you’re doing sounds very good– you know there’s an issue and you’re addressing it head on. Try not to beat yourself up too much, because honestly, stuff happens AND these people don’t know it’s a pattern for you. As far as they’re concerned, it’s a one-off.

      Take a step back and make an organization plan. Staying organized and on top of things is important, so what would help you? For me it’s spreadsheets and daily to-do lists. This may sound like an overreach, but the reminder thing is only one piece of the puzzle. It may help to take some control over your work and work style.

      Don’t let this one incident start the free-fall. You weren’t feeling well. That’s ok! Sometimes meetings get missed, and while yes, it’s not great, it’s very rarely the end of the world. The key is meeting it head on.

    5. Not the Droid You're Looking For*

      So I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say the root issue(s) here is not missing one meeting.

      You were ill, and no-showed a meeting. Unless it was mission critical (or customer-facing, if applicable), it happens and the world keeps spinning! My manager no-showed me for a 1:1 yesterday because she entirely spaced on it and took her kids to the pool. Humans gonna human.

      What really stood out to me here is a sense of spiraling. You say that fear isn’t enough of a motivator, but I’d ask yourself – is it actually *too much* of a motivator right now given what you know about your new workplace? What feedback have you gotten from your manager or peers about this situation, did they also think it was serious? How much brainspace have you dedicated since the meeting to thinking about it and/or worrying about it and/or apologizing, after the initial triage, rather than working (during work time)?

      I will trust your judgement that the missed commitments in your previous roles were the main reason that you had to part ways, but this workplace is a different set of managers, different culture, and perhaps an entirely different field given your description. Before you think you’ve messed up so severely you are en route to departure already, I would just take stock of the culture you’re in now, and see if this is a pattern at *this* job, or just a moment of being human.

      Hang in there!

    6. Sparkle Llama*

      Do you have an EAP at work that could cover a few therapy sessions? I feel like you might benefit from talking to a professional about the previous spiral you experienced and how to prevent it. Seems like you might be getting stuck in some negative thought patterns and therapy can be a great way to break out of that.

    7. Anon Librarian*

      I am not a doctor, but I don’t think you’d lose anything getting this checked out. However, I also think missing a meeting is a mistake that happens. My hunch is that some of this is a panic response from having lost two others jobs and that isn’t helping. If you work from home (and it sounds like you might) I would add phone reminders as an option. I would find the only thing that keeps me organized is a paper planner. Old fashioned maybe, but it keeps me sane.

    8. A Penguin!*

      If this is ‘very unlike you’ but has happened 3+ times in the last year, I’m echoing the ‘talk to a doctor’ of several other commentors.

      In my experience, no-showing a meeting is pretty rare. I’d certainly take not if it happened with one of my reports, especially several times. Not automatically in a ‘your job is in danger’ perspective, but definitely in a ‘what’s going on / this needs to get better’ conversation.

      1. NaoNao*

        Yes, I’d take note too–perhaps this wasn’t clear but this was twice at Job 1 (other mistake was not missing meeting) and this past event was the first-ever time at Job 3, so it wasn’t 3 times at the same job FYI–that would be deeply concerning for sure!

    9. Irish Teacher*

      I can think of two possible explanations here. The first is what you and others have suggested, that there could be something going on medically.

      The other is simply a vicious circle. You made a mistake in your first job; those happen, especially when you are new and it snowballed. Then you went into your next job, nervous, which is very understandable and that in itself might have contributed to your second job not being the right fit. The same thing is true with this job. You are probably nervous having had two bad experiences. Is it possible that you were tired from the stress of starting your third new job in a short period and that you may not have been getting as much rest as normal?

      I don’t think everybody misses meetings due to oversleeping and I definitely don’t think you have a poor work ethic. If anything, I’d say the problem is more likely to be at the other end of the scale. That you have too good a work ethic and are therefore wearing yourself out/stressing to the point that it causes mistakes. Looking back at my Leaving Cert. year, I now wonder if I would have gotten (slightly) better grades had I worked less. I got good grades, but I was half-asleep a lot of the year from the stress and the amount of study I was doing and struggling to keep awake in class can’t have been beneficial to my overall learning. I wonder if a version of the same may be true here.

      I think it would be worth talking to your doctor to make sure there isn’t any underlying cause. There are many things that could cause such problems, including fairly easily solved ones like a thyroid issue.

    10. Random Dice*

      Oh man I can sure empathize!

      1) definitely get checked out, medical physical with a focus on sleep, and attention

      2) Scrutinize your organization systems. Every single day my first task is to set alarms for every single meeting in the day. Is there something somewhat like that which might help?

      3) Calm your brain. At this point you’re freaking yourself out with every mistake, that it’s the start of a death spiral. People who are operating in their lizard brain are unable to think logically with their human brains (look up “3 brain theory of cognition”). So work on calming down the panic and getting your prefrontal cortex back online. Meditate (I love Jeff Warren on the Calm app), try positive affirmation hypnosis, whatever works for you.

  38. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    How common is it at your job for you to have to write up or present on a major topic when you *neither* have opinions on the subject *nor* care about the outcome?

    A friend of mine is concerned that her 13-yo daughter struggles with writing assignments like “Design a utopia,” because my friend’s job involves a ton of work where you may not care about the subject or have worked with it enough to have opinions, nor do you care about the outcome, and my friend thinks being able to do that is key to success in the working world.

    And I’m like, any time I get an assignment at work where I feel unqualified and unmotivated to talk about the subject, and there’s not going to be an outcome I care about, I consider it bad management, because I was the wrong person to assign the task to. And I can only think of a few exceptional occasions where I was asked to do something like this, and I resented it each time. When I have to do a research/writing assignment, I usually have enough experience to say things like, “If we do X, Y and Z are likely to happen, and Z is really bad,” and I usually care that we avoid Z. Or if someone else has come up with the material, and I’m writing or presenting on the subject even though it’s well outside my domain, I’m doing this because I have superior writing or presenting skills (which are things I have opinions about). If I don’t have any background knowledge nor do I care, I’m left wondering why anyone wants me to weigh in on this at all, and can’t I be doing something useful? And if I were a 13-yo with no opinions about government, knowing that nothing is going to come of my essay, I might get analysis paralysis researching it too.

    I work in tech, and my reluctance to do this kind of work hasn’t held me back at all, because I’m almost never asked to. My friend in data analysis doesn’t mind doing it, and says people at her job who do refuse to do it or do a bad job are held back in their career. What about you? How much do you have to do this kind of thing at your job, what is your job?

    (Leaving aside the question of completing school assignments that you think are pointless but have to do anyway.)

    1. Anon Librarian*

      In written form, I don’t usually have to do this; however, presentations are a normal part of the day long academic job interview. So, you’re given a topic by the committee and expected to put together a 20 to 30 minute talk on that topic with slides, Q&A, the whole bit. And, if the job involves speaking with donors or teaching or research presentations (and most jobs in academia with day long interviews involve one of the three) you are heavily judged on the outcome. There has been someone movement to get away from required presentations for jobs where these skills aren’t required, but I don’t think it is wide spread yet.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Well, that describes about 50% of my job for a number of years.

      I was the one in my 100-person government contracting team who would read long policy and strategy documents, analyze them for impacts to current operational policies and technical architectures, and write the draft comments, objections, and recommendations from my piece of the Air Force to the entire Department of Defense.

      Did I really care whether they distributed certain networking responsibilities among the various uniformed services, or whether those would be done as Pentagon-wide services? Not really. Did I understand what the Air Force’s institutional opinion on that subject was, and could I articulate it well? Absolutely. Was I the right person to point out all the pros & cons of everything in the policy document as it related to the part of the Air Force I supported? Without a doubt.

      Some jobs are about articulating somebody else’s ideas. Like that’s 90% of advertising, public relations, contract law, etc.

      As to the school assignment – most of the point is determining “does the student understand what a utopia actually is” and “can the student string together 20 coherent paragraphs”, not “will the student’s argument for a utopia convince Senator O’Fergus to introduce legislation giving everybody a free llama.”

    3. Ranon*

      Sounds like the daughter might be suited for a different line of work than the mom.

      Fortunately there are many, many kinds of work and assuming a living wage (sometimes a stretch, granted) the daughter only needs one.

    4. MsM*

      I don’t think the pointless school assignments is beside the point, because for at least the next five years, thinking about and providing opinions on subjects she doesn’t necessarily care about is part of your friend’s daughter’s job. And every job will have at least one or two tasks that are unengaging or seem unnecessary, whether they’re writing-related or not.

      Beyond that, though, being able to think big-picture about areas outside of your own expertise, or being able to represent the company as a whole to external stakeholders is a pretty important requirement of leadership roles. So I’m inclined to agree with your friend that if her daughter wants to keep her options open at least until she finds a niche that will make her happy with or without advancement prospects, this is an important skill to develop.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      Well, I do sometimes have to teach topics I’m not interested in (believe me, I am relieved the Industrial Revolution has been removed from the new Junior Cycle History course), but honestly, I don’t think struggling with topics like “design a utopia” has anything to do with success at work. For a start, there are many different types of job and what is important will depend a lot on what her daughter chooses.

      I also think a couple of other things come into it with assignments like that. For one thing, it is also simply about how good you are/how interested you are in English and in creative writing. A student might struggle with a topic like that but be really good at designing a poster campaign for a topic they are equally disinterested in. I couldn’t do the latter, but would be good at essays. I don’t think an assignment like that is the defining question of whether or not somebody can do work they aren’t interested in.

      Then there is also the teacher and what they want. If a teacher has very narrow rubrics, students can be anxious about creative tasks.

      But with regard to my job, even when I have to teach topics I am not interested in, I know the purpose of them, even if the purpose is just “I know neither ye nor I have any interest in this topic but there could be a question on it on the exam, so ye have to know it.” (When my students are really interested in a topic, it tends to be fun to teach if it’s not really something I’d be interested in.)

      Otherwise, my school is pretty good at ensuring we take responsibility for the things that interest us. I have no interest in sports and there are plenty of others among my colleagues who love organising sports teams, etc.

      I do think there are some tasks nobody enjoys and which just have to be done.

      1. Gyne*

        I appreciate your perspective. I think a lot of school, especially elementary and middle/high school, is not simply learning the things you “want” to learn but generating a “well-rounded” education. Someone may not be passionate about history but it’s pretty important to know the basics of how we got to where we are today. There’s a basic level of math and literacy expected of the average adult. Bonus points if you know a little music, maybe some basic grammar in a second language. I hate sounding like I’m telling children to suck it up and do what they’re told but I think *most* people benefit from having the experience of buckling down and doing something that either doesn’t benefit them immediately or serves the greater good and being able to come out on the other side.

    6. Educator*

      On behalf of all teachers who have created writing prompts for 13-year-olds–

      We are not trying to assess their workforce readiness. We are trying to assess their understanding of a particular concept or give them the opportunity to demonstrate a particular skill. Many times, we will try to give them flexibility in how they evidence that understanding.

      There are a lot of reasons a student may struggle with or dislike a prompt like that, ranging from executive functioning skill development, to personal preference, to physical challenge, to not getting the concept. I would be less concerned with the potential ramifications for a 13-year-old’s future career, and instead approach this with curiosity about why the student dislikes the task so that that can be addressed.

    7. Friday Me*

      My personal experience: When my son struggles with stuff like this, it’s not just that he doesn’t care, it’s that it is too broad. Design a utopia – like what?!? Write a paper comparing and contrasting “something”. I’ve had to help him many times with narrowing things down to a manageable level. This isn’t anything I’ve come across in my work life.

      As far as writing or presenting about something I don’t care about, I’ve had to do that, but very infrequently and I generally know how my manager feels about it and use that as a guide.

    8. Bismuth*

      At the end of the day, the only reason I care about anything at work is bc they pay me to care. In that light, everything I do is something I don’t have opinions about or care about the outcome of.

      The point of these writing assignments is not for a 13 year old to care about or have opinions about something. It’s to learn to write so she can apply those skills across the board whether she cares about a subject or not. In school and at work, you can’t guarantee that everything single thing you work on is something you are passionate about, so learning the emotional regulation skills to do it anyway is important.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        “At the end of the day, the only reason I care about anything at work is bc they pay me to care. In that light, everything I do is something I don’t have opinions about or care about the outcome of.”

        I also only chose this job instead of another job because of the money, but since I’m going to be working there 40 hours/week, I also care about my experience there. I also care in an abstract sense about doing a good job for the people who will benefit from my work. So if you ask me to weigh the pros and cons of implementing a technology, my choices are going to make the end user’s life easier or harder, and make my life harder or easier as I maintain the technology. If I’m qualified to have informed opinions on what will be harder or easier to use and to maintain, then I have opinions, and we’re good.

        If something is so far outside my wheelhouse that I have no informed opinions and no reasonable prospect of acquiring opinions informed enough that they’re likely to lead to a good outcome by the deadline…then I’m probably not the right person to be making this decision.

        As noted elsewhere, I’m ignoring the part about the point of school assignments; I’m here to discuss jobs and whether you’re likely to end up in a similar situation where you have nothing useful to say (no opinions) and your work will not actually matter (no outcome you care about). The emotional regulation skills for that scenario for me are radically different than if I have something to say or I think someone (me or someone else) may benefit.

    9. UKDancer*

      I don’t think being unable to define a utopia will materially affect friend’s daughter’s chances in the working world. I found many of the essays I had to write at school difficult, boring and not much fun. It did not materially impede my ability to write about the things I wanted to write about. Honestly I’d struggle to define a utopia because it’s not something I’m much interested in.

      There are all types of jobs some involving more abstract thinking than others. Mine doesn’t which suits me as I work better within a given set of parameters. Other people do better with nebulous concepts. Friend’s daughter will probably work out over time what type of work suits her and try and go for jobs that let her do that.

      I don’t have to like all the parts of my work or believe passionately in everything I’m asked to do (spreadsheets I loathe in particular because Excel hates me) but I am happy that I have a job that has more things I like than dislike and about which I’m broadly positive.

    10. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      Thank you to everyone who’s replied so far! I am specifically looking to find out about this kind of approach in a job setting, not to discuss the assignment itself (which has been dramatically simplified anyway).

      My opinion is that there are some jobs that will require a lot of this and some that won’t, and that those of us who absolutely hate this kind of work will probably be able to find success in a career that doesn’t require it. I’m just hoping to get an idea of which jobs do and don’t require this approach.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Interesting. So let me ask you a thought experiment.

        You’re in tech. Does your demotivation of “I don’t care” apply to the end goal of the work, or the technologies that go into the work? Would you say “I don’t care about llamas, but the new grooming simulation software uses MongoDB, which is interesting to me, so I’m happy to work on the project”?

        1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

          I have to either have opinions about the topic or care about the outcome. For example, at no company where I’ve worked have I ever cared about the company mission (the llamas), and that’s fine. I do care if the software I’m responsible for breaks in a way that affects our clients, my coworkers, or me, though. The outcome is a lot more work fixing it.

          So if you ask me to make a decision on whether we should use MongoDB, and I know enough about the alternatives to be able to have opinions (Mongo is easy to maintain but is good when you don’t have a fixed schema or need data integrity, SQL DBMSes are harder to maintain but better when you have a relational schema and need to enforce relational integrity) and to relate those to the outcome we want: how flexible a schema do I foresee us needing, do we have more knowledge on the team to maintain one or the other, what are the trade-offs…then we’re good. I have opinions.

          If I know that using Mongo is going to introduce all sorts of data integrity issues that are likely to result in a lot of complaints from clients, and somebody’s going to have to address them, I care enough about avoiding that outcome, or having a plan for dealing with it, when I’m making the decision that I’m the right person to be involved in making a decision.

          If, however, you force me to respond to a company survey that asks (real example): “Are senior managers in touch with what is happening at $Company?” and I’m thinking, “I never interact with senior managers, I actively avoid doing so, I have no way of assessing the impact of their “in touch”-ness (whatever that means) or lack thereof, I have no opinions and forcing me to put an answer down is not going to result in any outcome that I care about other than allowing me to hit ‘submit’ on this mandatory survey,” then I consider that a bad choice on the part of the person making the question mandatory. Make the question optional so I can get back to my actual job, which involves things that I’m either impacted by or qualified to have opinions on.

          If it’s my first six months out of school in an entry-level position, and you force me to interview job candidates and give a verdict, when I have no skills to assess them technically (they are so far above me that I don’t understand the words they’re using), and I have never worked in a job before and have no idea how to evaluate cultural fit or identify red flags or even have priorities about I would want in a coworker…then you’re just putting me in a position where I feel like I’m the wrong person to be forced to write up my non-existent and uninformed opinions. (I may generically care about the outcome of a good hire, but I know the outcome is not going to be positively impacted by my uninformed opinions and my struggle to put convincing-sounding words on a page to make my manager feel like I contributed *something*. I don’t care about whether we hire someone with trait X or Y, because I don’t even know what traits to look for.) There are plenty of people who can assess candidates better than I can; let me develop some tech skills first and observe my coworkers in the wild so I can decide what traits I value, or give me some training on what to look for, or *something*.

          When I was one month into my first entry-level job and was asked to identify gaps in our documentation and fill them with documentation of technology that I didn’t even understand, and I’d never used technical documentation, I neither had opinions about what should be documented, nor about how to write documentation in a way that’s useful to the end user, nor opinions about what material should be included in the documentation on a subject that I knew very little about. Now that I’ve been around the block a few times, I either have opinions about what should go into the documentation (because I understand the subject that I’m writing on), or I’m picking someone else’s brain to get the content, but I have opinions on how to present the material usefully so that the end user (who may not be me) benefits. World of difference. I should not have been expected to document things I didn’t understand when I didn’t even know what documentation should look like, because I had never used it. (Pep talks like “I believe in you!” from my manager were not helpful. I needed time and knowledge, not encouragement.)

          Once I’d been in the working world for more than a year, suddenly it made sense for me to be assigned all kinds of tasks I’d previously had no idea where to begin on and shouldn’t have been assigned. I still don’t want to have to answer survey questions about senior managers I never interact with, though. ;)

          So I can very much see how when I was 13, I neither had opinions about government, nor did I have opinions on what made a good essay, since I had never actually *read* an essay, and I might not have felt I was the right person to be writing an essay designing a utopia. Now I can write essays on all sorts of subjects, of intrinsic interest to me or not, because I have read essays and have opinions on how to present the material usefully based on my experience. And if I’m writing something for someone else to use at work, I want it to be useful for them, or I want to convince them to do the thing I’m trying to convince them of, or I want *something* that makes me care about the real-world outcome, even if I’ll never see the outcome myself. A survey question on which I have no opinions: hard no. “Research what your coworkers think about senior managers and present the findings to the execs” would be different. One, I’m not supposed to supply material on which I have no opinions, and two, the presentation of other people’s actual valid opinions might lead to a good outcome! For them and/or for me.

          Does that answer your question?

          1. Anecdata*

            A lot of your examples fall into a space where I think a lot of employers would reasonably expect “know how to develop an opinion on New Item X, that you don’t currently have enough experience with to already have an opinion” and I think that’s a pretty core transferable skill success in many different industries and types of jobs will require. Actually putting it in multipage essay format is way less important in the business world than in school (in my experience, making a good deck, a cogent 1-pager or even just a clear email summary is a much more broadly useful communication tool; essay style whitepapers are less common)