open thread – July 28-29, 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.

{ 1,177 comments… read them below }

  1. my cat is prettier than me*

    My boss just told me that raises aren’t in the budget this year. We won’t even get a cost of living raise. We’re a start up, so I suppose it is to be expected, but I’m still disappointed.

    1. Hannah Lee*

      That’s frustrating and disappointing.
      Especially in a time when inflation is going on, so the same pay is not going as far.

          1. my cat is prettier than me*

            Ah. I’m not really sure. We’re currently working out a deal with a big customer, so hopefully that will keep us afloat for a while.

          2. pally*

            Precisely! Thank you!

            I’ve worked at a start-up and there were multiple years when no raises happened. We were fortunate to get through the tight times. Some places don’t.

            My Cat is Prettier Than Me- be mindful of the runway as best you can. Don’t be caught by surprise should things not work out.

    2. Cruciatus*

      I’d be disappointed too. I work for a “We Are” university and we don’t know if we’re getting our GSI this year, partially because of the state budget not being settled either. And they revamped all our job titles but then told us there was no money for salary increases through that either. So…just been very disappointing here all around as well.

    3. Qwerty*

      Been at a few startups and common items like annual COL didn’t become standard until the company had consistent revenue and was less dependent on invester funding.

      Instead, it was more tied to securing rounds of funding. A big influx of cash might trigger salary adjustments to get people closer to market rate across the board. Smaller rounds of funding resulted a one-time cash bonus.

      1. L. Ron Jeremy*

        I’ve also worked at a few startups and my last gave out 5% increases every year for the five years I worked there, all the time on investor cash.

    4. aubrey*

      Working at a startup I have had several years of 0% and several years of 25+% raises. For me it’s just part of the startup roller coaster. If they don’t reward people when things are going well though, that’d be a concern.

    5. Anon for This*

      Cynical enough to suggest you keep an eye on the boss’ social media, make sure the money isn’t going to maintain a certain lifestyle…

      1. juneybug*

        Obviously “Anon for This” and I have been readers for a long time as we both thought the same thing – we have read horror stories of bosses saying there is no money for raises and then buys a new car/vacation home.

  2. Earthworms*

    Has anyone successfully taken FMLA to manage mental health and burnout?
    Over the past year, my job has gone from an engaging challenge to completely overwhelming. I’ve discussed the issues with my manager and while she’s very understanding, the solutions we’re able to implement are either short-term band-aids (Harold can help out this afternoon) or much longer-term strategies (we can request new hires with anticipated start dates in mid-2024, but if X happens we’ll have to push that out to 2025…).
    I’ve been incredibly stressed and could feel myself getting burned out, so I took a 2 week vacation. Fully unplugged from work. Even so, halfway through the trip I became extremely upset about returning to work. The day I returned I cried on my way to the office. Since then, I haven’t been able to accomplish anything; I’ve just been sitting at my desk trying to look busy. I have a good reputation to fall back on, but people are starting to notice things falling through the cracks.
    I’ve tried to job search, but I feel so exhausted and unconfident in my skills that I can’t get through an application.
    For financial reasons, I can’t quit my job without something else lined up.
    I’ve been previously diagnosed with depression and anxiety, which I typically manage reasonably well. However, it’s clear that my work situation is exacerbating these conditions. Does anyone have experience using FMLA to handle something like this? And if I end up job searching while on FMLA, do you think I’d be burning a reference from my current job? Also open to any other advice or commiseration you might have!

    1. Knope Knope Knope*

      First off, I am so sorry you’re experiencing this. It definitely sounds like you need to leave this job one way or another soon. I didn’t take FMLA for burnout, but I did take leave while my spouse dealt with a mental health crisis. Here’s what I would suggest: If you have HR, ask about your company EAP and using whatever literature is available to you, see what supports your company offers. Mine offered a lot more than I realized. You don’t need to disclose that the reason you are looking into any of this is burnout or work related at all. Second, you mentioned being diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Do you have a current care team? Therapist/psychiatrist? If not, making getting that support system back in place a top priority. I know I personally became paralyzed by the whole situation, and was only able to start navigating my next steps once I had my support system in pace–and that started with a great therapist. Third, baby steps. You don’t need to jump to references yet. If you’re getting by looking busy and coasting on your reputation, why not just do that for a while, and use that time to start focusing on making a plan for yourself? Don’t do it alone!

      Good luck!

    2. Abby*

      I have always had a slight issue with anxiety, but after working for a toxic boss for two years, my anxiety was through the roof and I was having a lot of depression symptoms too. I was physically unwell and exhausted all the time. Couldn’t even relax at night or on the weekends, because I knew I had to go back to work. I ended up using FMLA to do a reduced work schedule. I had already been job hunting for a long time and continued to job hunt, and today is my last day for my two weeks notice.

      I was only getting paid for the time I worked, no medical leave, so that made things less complicated I think. My boss was toxic to begin with, so I wasn’t really worried about the reference aspect of it.

    3. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Your individual benefits will vary a lot. If I were your supervisor, I’d recommend checking to see if you have an employee assistance program, and contacting that provider. They’re there to support you in this situation and can help you find the right help and evaluate benefits.

      I recently had a staff member of mine go through something similar, and I learned a little bit more about the options:
      – FMLA protects your job under certain conditions. You’ll need to read the conditions- for example, one of them can be that you are under the continuing care of a health care provider.
      – FMLA does not provide pay, or guarantee pay. It guarantees you won’t lose your job.
      – Short term disability is another option if you have it (provided certain terms are met). And it does provide partial pay.

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Things can get better!

      1. Sun in an Empty Room*

        Oh, I’ve always struggled a bit with the “It gets better” phrasing and really like the rewording of “Things can get better!” Thank you for sharing the phrase along with your advice above.

        1. TeaCoziesRUs*

          I also love the phrase, “May you have the best day available to you.” It’s courtesy of Beth Silvers of Pantsuit Politics. :)

    4. ferrina*

      I haven’t, but we had someone at my work who recently did. He took the full 12 weeks to deal with his health issues (I’m not sure if it was just burnout or if there was more compounded). He opted not to come back after 12 weeks.

      At my company, it would not have jeopardized the reference. Especially if you explained that you needed to make the change for health reasons– “I really loved working here and I’m so grateful for everything I’ve learned. Unfortunately, at this time I have ongoing health needs, and Other Place is the best option for accommodating those needs.”
      If your manager is already really understanding, this might be her perspective.

      Honestly, if you can do this, it sounds like you really should. It sounds like you really, really need a change, and this is best option right now.

    5. HE Admin*

      I haven’t personally done this but know someone who did so it is definitely possible! The tricky part can be getting the actual paperwork filled out; if you think your medical providers will do it, go for it. As for job searching during leave, it’s actually VERY common for someone to come back from leave and put in a notice to leave. Make sure you wouldn’t be on the hook for paying anything back if that is the case. But do make sure you get the time you need between too; if you find something new, I would try to negotiate a start after your leave runs out rather than cutting it short, if possible, so you can get that time to recuperate. I hope this works out for you!

    6. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I know a former coworker of mine did, but she did a few days off inpatient treatment, followed by a few weeks of outpatient, then she had intermittent leave for the rest of the time.

      You didn’t mention (unless I missed it) that you’re currently in therapy. Either way you likely need to have a conversation with a therapy to get FMLA leave approved.

      I manage my depression pretty well on a day to day and can go serval months without needing my therapist, but every now and then I need to go back. Hang in there!

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

      I am so sorry you are going through this. A family member went through something similar and I know how difficult it can be. It does sound like your manager is understanding. But it is hard to know if you take FMLA time off and you find a new job if that will affect your reference.

      Have you been able to ask your boss for more than short-term solutions besides the possibility of hiring new people in the distant future? Like could certain tasks be moved to other people permanently? Are there things that would be easier for you, like maybe working from home, or working reduced hours? Do you have a therapist or doctor that could help you brainstorm some ideas to give to your boss. Can you push back on any new projects or tasks? Is there a different position with less stress/ projects that you could move to? Like instead of being a senior teacup client representative could you move to a junior roll? That might affect finances but would it be something that would work for you?

      Not to give you anything else to worry about but you might also want to check with HR on what happens if you don’t come back from FMLA, just to make sure there wouldn’t be anything like health insurance premiums that you would have to pay back. It’s rare but I’ve heard of companies trying to do this with new parents.

      A good company will realize that what they are doing is not sustainable for you and wouldn’t fault you for getting a less stressful job. But we know that that is not always the case.

      Best of luck to you OP.

    8. not a hippo*

      My coworker did 2 ish years ago and it worked well for him. However he’s related to upper management by either blood or marriage so YMMV.

      But I say if you can afford it, do it. There’s only one of you in the world, there are plenty of jobs.

    9. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Dude! I have so been there. I had to get out of there. Take care of yourself FIRST. If the environment was making you sick from breathing in dust or mouse poop, breaks would be great but insufficient. This may be that kind of environment. Or it may not, and you will be better equipped to know and to make a plan if you’re healthy and away from that place while you do it.

      If you tell your boss you can’t come back for health reasons would they support you in getting a new job?

      Captain Awkward has an excellent post about staying on your game at work (or at least looking like it) while depressed. Let me pull it up and I’ll post in a follow up comment.

    10. DivergentStitches*

      I think your first thing to do would go through your company’s EAP (If they have one) and find a therapist to help you recognize the sources of your burnout, then you’ll have backup to give to your company. You’ll need a diagnosis for FMLA I believe (someone please correct me if I’m wrong!)

    11. Maotseduck*

      I did (mental health, not burn out specifically) and I got fired for it. Had to fight to come back, came back on a Monday, that Friday I was gone.

      But my employer had a history of mistreating women (fire department). I hired an employment lawyer and she knew my boss by name.

      If your employer isn’t as bad, I’d say it would be worth it as a last resort to quitting. Look into EAPs and short term disability. At that job my EAP covered only a couple of sessions with a therapist, but I ended up going to a partial hospitalization program that put me in touch with the the therapy office I still go to now, over ten years later.

    12. Friendly Office Bisexual*

      Yes. I just returned from FMLA because I was experiencing severe anxiety and panic due to burnout and overwork. I’m very glad I did it, and I took the time to attend a mental health program.

      However, now that I’m back at work, I’m reminded of something my clinician told me at the program – “Burnout usually isn’t solved by time off.” In order to resolve burnout, you need a working environment that doesn’t contribute to burnout in the first place. I’ve tried to advocate with my manager for expanding our staff and taking projects off my plate, but so far I’ve seen very little change. In my case and maybe in yours, depending on how receptive your manager is, it might be time to look for a new job — because with burnout, the problem is often environmental and not personal.

      1. Friendly Office Bisexual*

        Also, I just want to add that I relate to SO much of your story and echo what others have been saying — it is not worth jeopardizing your physical or mental health for a job. Your first priority is your own health and well-being, and then you can start worrying about references once you’ve taken a step back to care for yourself.

      2. Aggretsuko*

        I have been considering FMLA myself. Unfortunately taking time off really doesn’t make me feel any better even when I’ve been out for two weeks, so it seems like a lot of drama and hassle to be gone only to well, not get better and the issue is that I can’t leave my job or get another one. I truly don’t think I’m ever going to “get better” at this point, to be honest, unless I won the lottery. And I’ve never played the lottery and probably never will :P

      3. Pajamas on Bananas*

        “Burnout usually isn’t solved by time off.” In order to resolve burnout, you need a working environment that doesn’t contribute to burnout in the first place.

        +1 to this

        My sibling took mental health FMLA last fall. They ended up leaving this month for related reasons.

    13. Past Lurker*

      I could have written this letter! Commiseration. My job said I need a doctor to examine me to determine if I’m eligible for FMLA for mental health issues, so you may need to get an appointment if it’s required by your employer.

    14. HR Exec Popping In*

      I’ve had an employee on my team take FMLA/medical leave for mental health and burnout related issues. In this specific case, he got the treatment he needed and developed new skills which resulted in him returning to work and he is doing well.

      A few things:
      – Taking FMLA should not be stigmatized regardless of the reason. Taking time for mental health needs is the same and taking time for back treatment.
      – you shouldn’t need to tell your manager why you need the time off, but HR will require medical documentation from a caregiver that indicates you are currently unable to perform the functions of your job.
      – If you need to find a mental health provider, check out your company’s EAP if they have one.
      – Not returning from a leave is not particularly unusual. It doesn’t mater if it is for mental health, physical health or parental bonding. Some people choose to not return from their leave for a variety of reasons and I’ve never seen it “burn a bridge”. Leave is a benefit that employers expect employees to take when they need it.

      Good luck and I hope you find treatment that helps you through this difficult time.

    15. Arglebargle*

      As a primary care provider I fill out FMLA forms all the time for patients with burnout/anxiety/depression related to their jobs. I do require them to at least go to counseling and have one visit with a psychiatry professional especially if I am not prescribing anti anxiety or antidepressant medications for them. But mental health is health! If you can afford it, do it.

      1. Tessellated Daisy*

        Primary care providers will actually do that? When I asked for that, years ago while going through so much anxiety stress that I couldn’t eat, the only thing the health professional would do is ask if I were pregnant, and prescribe more protein and Xanax. (Spoiler: neither helped, and I wasn’t pregnant.)

        1. *kalypso*

          Yes, non-terrible PCPs will. Some just don’t like forms or think things should be managed a particular way, but doing the paperwork for FMLA, ADA, workers comp, accommodations, for leave etc. is part of their job and they are meant to do it.

          But some will warn you off the system, and some just really hate paperwork. Depending on how and who they bill, some won’t do it because it’s not the most profitable use of their time, while others will jump straight to writing a certificate and ask about forms because then they can bill insurance at a higher rate for the appointment.

          Others will just do the sexist ‘you must be pregnant’ thing and that’s entirely them being terrible, not that it’s not their job or somehow your fault.

      2. Mrs C*

        [personal experience at the top, bottom line at the, well, bottom]

        I work in healthcare for a university medical center, in a specialty clinic. I am one of the people the FMLA paperwork often goes through between the provider and patient.

        My experience is that some PCPs are comfortable filling this out, and others really want you to have a specialist do it (regardless of whether it’s mental health or podiatry or whatever). It’s generally because the PCP feels underqualified to write things adequately.

        Also, often even the specialty providers are just as lost as the patient as to what to write that will get you what you want with your HR! HR will almost always try to interpret what’s written to the benefit of the company, with as little time away and as few changes as possible. (Worse with intermittent leave than blanket time off, but still….)

        My spousal-type and I recently needed to file for intermittent leave for the offspring-type’s ongoing needs, some of which have a mental health component. The specialist asked me to send the request through the portal, and spell out exactly what we were asking for, so she could write the paperwork as close to that as was reasonable. We did, she did, and we got good results from HR.

        BOTTOM LINE(S):

        Get the paperwork to the right provider, and don’t take it personally if that’s not the PCP. Be clear with the provider exactly what you’re asking for: vague requests get vague results.

        And finally, allow at least a week to get the papers back! Many practitioners only sign paperwork when they’re in the clinic where you were seen. They may have more than one clinic, or have research, hospital, or teaching duties–myriad reasons to only be in clinic 1-2 days/week!

    16. Mandie*

      Muster up all the strength and confidence you can and find a new job now. Seriously. I just changed jobs in February, and I was so stressed and burnt out that I had panic attacks and an IBS flare the first few months of the new job, but I was able to manage it without anyone really noticing. I’m now 6 months into the new job, with a very manageable workload, no drama, and a hybrid remote schedule. My health is recovering and I care about work again. I can tell I made the best decision for myself, even though the transition was painful.

      Let me add this disclaimer: it totally, totally sucks that our strategy for dealing with a toxic, soul-sucking job has to be forcing ourselves through a very stressful process to find a new job. It’s unacceptable that work can harm us this much and the only hope we have is to use what’s left of our health and sanity to try to find new work. I am by no means dismissing your feelings, because I’ve been exactly where you are. But for me, the short-term pain was worth getting out once and for all.

    17. M2*

      I’m so sorry! My sibling took FMlA for mental health. Although her work let her bank 6 months of sick time so she used 12 weeks of that to pay out her FMLA. That being said in her handbook if she didn’t come and do another 30 days then she would forfeit her vacation days. So read your office policies.

      She said she’d look for work during that time, but didn’t and also NO ONE covered her work for her so when she got back she had 3 months of work and a big event 2 weeks later. basically if she didn’t get it done well there goes the promotion and youre that much closer to a PIP.

      So just read your handbook, talk to HR and reply job search when you’re away in case you come back and no one has covered you at all. Because that seemed to cause her even more stress.

    18. Anon for this*

      I did – I took about ten weeks off with a combination of short-term and long-term disability with FMLA protection. It started off for insomnia, then once I could sleep it switched to anxiety for the official reason. After I could think straight I was able to really figure things out with my partner. I ended up returning for one week under very controlled conditions to do some knowledge transfer and resigning. I had a couple colleagues who also took leave for similar reasons, most of whom went back for longer than I did. None of us took career hits or lost references, although everyone’s at other companies now. There were some serious structural issues going on. Everyone who did it successfully had great, supportive managers and leaders. It wouldn’t have worked in some other teams.

      If you’re in therapy, your provider can write the letters needed. Be prepared to do all the paperwork twice – if they outsource this the FMLA and disability processes are completely firewall from each other and don’t share information. They’re not trying to make it harder. When I got frustrated or didn’t understand what was going on the folks who answered the phone were super kind and helpful.

      I completely crashed once all my access was turned off. All the stress I’d been carrying made itself known and I basically did nothing for two weeks. Processing all the emotions absolutely sucked both physically and mentally. But after I got through that things started to get better.

    19. 30-50 Feral Hogs*

      Haven’t taken FMLA but what you wrote in could have been me like 9-10 months ago. I thought a vacation would help, but I had been so stressed that when I finally got to the vacation I ended up spending about half of it very sick. This ended up happening on two separate vacations, one of which was after I switched jobs!

      Anyways, someone above said that time off won’t solve burnout, and they are correct. You have to remove the source of stress. I ended up finding a new job that was technically a lateral move, but as I discussed with a family member, doing less work for same pay is a raise. I am approaching 6 months in and while I still struggle with motivation sometimes, I am improving all the time and finding ways to make space for myself both on vacation days and in my regular life so that I can rest, recover, and slowly let the burnout heal. It’s been harder than I expected tbh but it’s so much better than staying in my crazytown job for longer, which was affecting my mental and physical health.

      1. Pringle*

        I did this in the past. I took the FMLA paperwork to my PCP who asked what I needed time off wise and I told her. she put “severe situational stress and anxiety” as the reason but could have changed the wording.
        I submitted it right to HR. due to confidentiality rules my boss and colleagues were not given the details or reason, only that I was on health leave. I did not share with them anything beyond the need to take leave due to a health issue, which was entirely true.

        I looked for another job while on leave, and put in my resignation while on leave, standing to return for a week after my leave ended to button things up before my resignation.

        good luck to you. I hope a break will bring clarity and the pause will help you consider next steps. you deserve a reasonable and manageable job that doesn’t make you cry!

    20. Dragonfly7*

      Commiseration from me. I wrote in about something similar a few weeks ago, decided with my medical provider to try just adjusting medication, and ended up breaking down crying and unable to stop two days in a row at work this week. I started the application process for either short-term disability or, if not approved, a month of unpaid personal leave, yesterday. Although the ultimate solution is probably different work, this gives me time to work with an EAP therapist who specializes in career and workplace issues to figure out either how to cope where I am or what a long-term sustainable job should look like.

    21. Lobsterman*

      My spouse used FMLA for burnout in 2020. It worked exactly like all other FMLA – HR gets documentation, and the gears turn.

    22. ER*

      You can absolutely use FMLA. I had to take a month off earlier this year for the exact same reason. You don’t have to disclose your medical condition to your boss, nor can they ask you about it. Talk to your psychiatrist about it along with your HR. Temporary disability is a bit more challenging since certain standards have to be met. That’s also a conversation you need to have with your psychiatrist.
      Go ahead and job search if you need to. Your employer doesn’t need to know you’re looking. You can’t fully heal until you get out of there, but taking a “time out”, getting extra mental health care and taking care of yourself will help immensely.

  3. Question for public employees*

    Is it normal for public employees to have to pay for their own parties?
    Years ago, I worked as a state employee at a public university. Since we couldn’t use taxpayer funds to pay for parties, every year for our holiday party, the dean paid out of her own pocket (about $3,000) to give our office a wonderful meal out.
    Now I’m a federal employee, and there are similar legal restrictions prohibiting us from using taxpayer funds on food. However, when I joined this team last year, I was taken aback when I was told that anyone who wanted to attend the holiday party would have to pay $20! Instead of leadership splitting the cost of the event, we have to pay for our own party. I’ve always thought of these as employee appreciation events, but apparently they don’t appreciate us enough to spend any money on us.
    Planning is currently underway for this year’s holiday party, and as it stands, we’ll again be asked to pay our own way.
    Public employees: is this normal? Are you used to paying for your own parties? I’m trying to decide how much to rock the boat on this.
    Thanks!

    1. Immortal for a limited time*

      Yes, this is normal. I’m a state employee. If you want to work somewhere that spends money on things that are not directly in service to your constituents/customers/members, you’ll need to get a job in the private sector.

    2. Peachtree*

      Curious: why do you think your boss should pay $3,000 every year out of their own pocket? It seems like you had a great boss who volunteered to do this, but surely that’s not reasonable …?

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Right? I’d be so horrified that I’d rather we forgo the party all together than to have my boss spend several thousand on this.

      2. another manager*

        Agreed, oof! Glad they could manage it but I’m a public sector boss who’s a sole earner in the household, getting donuts once in a blue moon for my staff is a splurge. I appreciate them, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve also got bills!

      3. Observer*

        Curious: why do you think your boss should pay $3,000 every year out of their own pocket?

        Good question.

        OP, your boss’ salary is public information. Unless they are very high up in the hierarchy, $3k (and it would be more now) is almost certainly a LOT to expect them to pull out of their pocket each year. And if they are that high up that they are making enough money that it wouldn’t be a difference? It wouldn’t be that little because that would mean that they have far more people to pay for.

      4. A nonny mouse*

        See, this is the kind of thing that’s expected of an academic institution because we’re encouraged to create a welcoming, you’re-important-to-us image so that the public gets the impression that we’re taking care of students and their education is a priority (and so that faculty and staff want to stay). In return, admins and faculty (and staff, to a lesser extent) are encouraged to answer emails at 11pm and buy things out of their own pocket when the budget can’t pay for things, like parties. The Dean was very generous, and not every Dean would do this, but some would consider it money well-spent to project that welcoming image.

        At a federal institution where the job is just a job, there’s generally no expectation to create such an image, so there’s no unwritten expectation to use your own money to pay for things like parties.

        I know people who left academia for a federal job because of this difference in expectations and work-life balance creep.

        1. anomnom*

          State university employee over here, just wallowing in these hard truths. Your comment should be pinned at the top as a warning to others.

          Don’t forget the repercussions that come with refusing to be a team player by spending your “free” time and own money on a dish for the Appreciation Potluck.

          1. A nonny mouse*

            To be fair, I generally like my job, and I hopefully am considered a welcoming person and mentor to students and juniors. I have stayed in my job for a reason.

            That doesn’t mean I am not annoyed when I have to spend my own money on hand soap for my lab because I can’t spend federal grant money on lab housekeeping supplies. Or I have to pay for cake to celebrate a student lab worker’s graduation out of my own pocket.

      5. Meep*

        I’ve bought morale boosters out of my own pocket and pay for an annual BBQ for staff, former staff, and their families (roughly ~20-25 people), and even I am horrified by this being an expectation. People can do with their money as they please. No one else is entitled to it!

    3. PABJ*

      Typical for government jobs in the U.S. Lots of laws about how money can be spent and employee parties typically aren’t allowed expenses to spend taxpayer money on.

      1. CanadianJessie*

        Typical for Government jobs in Canada too, for what it’s worth.
        (I really miss my amazing private sector parties sometimes! But not enough to go back!)

    4. ruthling*

      yep, this is very typical. it’s an unfortunate side effect of the news riling up the masses every time staties get anything.

    5. H.Regalis*

      Yeah, totally standard. When I worked for city government, we had to pay for our end-of-the-year party. It sucks, but it’s normal.

    6. Colette*

      That seems normal to me.

      (I spent most of my career in high tech, and we also paid for a portion of our parties – which I understand, because if people don’t pay, they don’t feel the need to commit or cancel.)

      1. There You Are*

        Yeah, I’ve only ever been a private sector employee and the only role where I didn’t have to pay at least a portion of my party / holiday meal was when I was in outside sales. But when I was an IT person, we always had to pay something for a ticket to the party.

    7. PunkArseLibrarian*

      We’re a City org here and we handle parties by just doing potlucks – usually by department as that’s more manageable, though we have done org-wide retirement parties the same way.

      I would feel REALLY weird if admin paid for a part out of their pocket, even if they could do it w/out financial stress. I’m not entirely sure WHY I would feel so weird, but I would!

      1. Sleepy in the stacks*

        Librarian as well, we also potluck. Never even considered the city paying for it. Any where I’ve ever worked has always been potluck or pizza funded by employees. For retirements and the like, we have to option to pitch in, but aren’t expected to.

      2. AnonAcademicLibrarian*

        We potluck and have a small “sunshine fund” that is all donations with a dash of petty cash.

    8. Andy*

      I’m not actually sure what a boat rock would achieve. No complaining will convince me personally to pay for a party for a whole department, and I for sure wouldn’t suggest that my boss pay out of HER pocket. What purpose could it possibly serve is my question? I suppose if it really makes you uncomfortable, which I could abs. see, and you don’t want ppl to feel pressured to pay anything, you could advocate for an afternoon off instead of a party.

      1. Samwise*

        May not be able to give an afternoon off like that either.

        State employee here. We cannot be given extra PTO or time off; salaried exempt so we can’t earn / use comp time. The office is supposed to be open during regular business hours, M-F, 8-5.

        When our boss wants to give us an afternoon off, we’re assigned to work on “professional development” or “long term goals” and told to do it outside the office “so we can really reflect and concentrate.” Then our boss stays at the office so TPTB aren’t in a snit that the doors are closed.

    9. Former Retail Manager*

      Federal employee here, and yes, this is very normal. How would feel knowing your tax dollars went to pay several thousand dollars, or more, for a holiday party for employees? It’s all about perception. Do not rock the boat on this at all. You will appear very out of touch with public employee norms. If you are ever fortunate enough to have a govt manager that pays out of pocket for anything for their employees, consider yourself fortunate. Those managers are very rare.

      Maybe another way of looking at it though. At my office, we will either all go out to a holiday lunch and we each pay for our own meal, or we do a potluck type thing and everyone brings something. The manager will usually spend a bit more than others, but we all pay out of pocket to make whatever dish we bring. Depending on what you choose to make, you could easily spend $20 on ingredients (not to mention your time) to make enough for even a moderate sized group. A $20 lunch in my area is also not uncommon. Sooo…is $20 really that bad assuming that the food provided is good?

    10. UKDancer*

      I know a number of UK public sector employees (including an ex) all of whom paid for their own parties. So if you want to have a Christmas lunch you pay for it. My friend works for a Government agency which has a large Christmas party and you have to buy a ticket if you want to attend. It’s the way things are in the public sector as a rule.

    11. Pretty as a Princess*

      Yup, this is the norm.

      When I was working for one specific federal organization, we had a little local honor system snack bar in the office. (Fridge stocked with sodas, a counter of chips and candies and whatnot.) There was a rotating duty roster for the junior people in the org to rotate who was in charge of the little cantina (stocking, counting the cash, putting it in the safe), and the proceeds above cost went to help defray the cost of things like parties and going away gifts.

    12. Jaid*

      Federal employee here. Ain’t no slush fund to keep employees happy and while it’s generous if management wants to pony up for pizza or even donuts, that’s money out of their pocket.
      Thank you to all the concerned citizens who want their taxpayer dollars to go to funding the org’s mission and not towards glazed and a cup of joe.

    13. Annony*

      Don’t rock the boat on this. You can’t force other people to treat you. You already know that they would have to pay out of their own pocket. You don’t know their financial situation and it is not their financial responsibility to make employees feel appreciated by hosting a party. It is their responsibility to provide verbal encouragement and appreciation, to advocate for you and to make sure you have full access to development opportunities and department resources. They should not have to personally pay for anything for you.

    14. Governmint Condition*

      It’s normal. However, sometimes the public employees’ union will be willing to provide funding to pay for some portion of the party. This happens where I work, so tickets are more reasonably priced. This will vary from union to union, and can get complicated where different employees are represented by different unions. (Which can result in different ticket prices based on which union you’re in.)

    15. Irish Teacher*

      I’m a teacher in Ireland and it is very much the norm for staff parties to be self-funded and for everybody to pay their portion.

      I’ve never really thought of them as employee appreciation events, just as a group of colleagues getting together to socialise outside work.

    16. Artemesia*

      Why would you expect the manager to pay out of pocket for an expensive party? their salaries are not exactly ginormous either. This is annoying but totally standard. Govt jobs can’t even provide coffee.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        My husband, a government employee, had one supervisor who did an employee appreciation dinner for all his good-sized staff AND their significant others. The food was bought by, cooked by, and served by him and his family. He was truly one of a kind.

    17. KLV*

      Yep, just echoing that it’s super normal and that not only will rocking to boat not achieve anything, you’ll be taking an unnecessary hit to your reputation/capital.

      For all that this site likes to poke at potlucks, government workers thrive on them (well, in my experience, haha), so to be fair, for me, a potluck would be more normal versus paying $20 to go out somewhere. A lot of places might have a sunshine club where everyone donates money throughout the year and then that pot is used for holiday parties or cards/flower for the employees.

      Also just in my experience (which is definitely dependent on my field/sector/agency), but I have not worked at a unit where the director is comfortable enough to drop $3,000 every year! Financially and culturally! Like if one of my previous directors did that, everyone would’ve be super weirded out.

      1. Me...Just Me*

        In my state, you can look up what state employees make. And while some directors have a pretty nice paycheck … it’s not like they’re making anywhere near what they’d be making in the private sector. $3k or more is a lot. If the OP isn’t even willing to pay $20 for their own dinner, I find it really weird that they’d be upset & expect someone else to pay 150x that amount. Their boss’s boss isn’t making a salary 150x their own.

        1. AnonRN*

          Yes, my manager and I are both state employees and I (hourly employee) make more annually than she does. I do a lot of OT and she is exempt. I would never expect her to pay out of pocket like this. I think it’s nice that she gives each staff member (about 80) a small holiday gift including a handwritten card.

    18. Sparkle Llama*

      I work in local government and we historically had a rotating committee in charge of fundraising for and planning the holiday party. They would plan hot dog cookouts, silent auctions, jeans days, vacation raffles (vacation time donated by staff) to raise funds for it. The party was in the evening off site and included a dinner and drink tickets for staff, plus ones had to pay a small amount. Our new head thought this was crazy since so much time was spent on fundraising and it didn’t really appreciate the staff. So now we have a breakfast hosted by senior management where they cook pancakes, eggs, etc for staff. I am not sure if the money is coming from senior staff contributions or government money. I think government money is a possibility since it is on site and there is no alcohol.

      I have also worked in a local government small enough where we could do a potluck party at someone’s house (25-30 people). Most people chipped in $5 or so to get a thank you gift for the host.

      1. All Het Up About It*

        Yeah – I think the all the people chiming in that it’s “normal not to have state/federal funds pay for this” – aren’t actually reading the OP’s question. They aren’t questioning that. Sounds like they are more used to your second experience than the first.

        OP – I’ve seen it both ways. Same in the Non-profit world, which doesn’t have the same regulations for spending on staff as government budgets, but there is a perception from donors that you have to be cognizant of. So I’ve seen potluck, chip in parties, and I’ve seen SeniorStaff/Board members chip in and pay set up. It very much depends agency from agency.

        1. Jojo*

          The OP explicitly asked if it was normal and if she should rock the boat to somehow make her boss pay for parties out of pocket.

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

      For state employees it is normal. I work at a state university and we were talking about our annual holiday party. It’s not much, we aren’t closed but there are no students on campus so we just have a big potluck, play games etc. My coworker has worked at lots of different universities in his many years and he said in a previous place they all contributed to a fund and that was used for any events. I knew that many of my coworkers wouldn’t feel comfortable with that. Many were trying to talk with admin to get more pay. I was in charge of the planning for that year and so I nixed that idea.

      It’s one thing to contribute if you feel like it, like buying something little for everyone or bringing in treats. But there is something that rubs me the wrong way when we have to contribute or it is not mandatory but you feel guilty not contributing.

    20. theletter*

      Maybe this is just because I live in a high col, but $20 sounds like a good deal for a party to me, assuming there’s food and drink.

      1. Question for public employees*

        There’s food and non-alcoholic beverages. If you want to order alcohol, you have to pay for that separately.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Honestly, any staff party I’ve been to, we’ve paid more than that just for the meal. The norm here is to book a restaurant. Generally, the cost is €20-€50 per person for the meal and then people buy alcohol, etc themselves. Sometimes the school will put money “behind the bar” for one drink per person. (either alcoholic or non-alcoholic depending on each person’s preference). $20 for food and non-alcoholic beverages would seem like a pretty good deal to me.

          I mean, that’s just my experience and this seems like an area on which norms massively differ, but that’s been true in pretty much every school I’ve worked in.

      2. HahaLala*

        That was my thought too! $20 for a nice dinner out is a steal. Most ballrooms or event spaces start closer to $40-$50 per person, plus room rental fees, entertainment fees, etc.

        I wonder if the higher ups are partially funding it to keep the per person cost low & accessible to all their employees.

    21. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Super normal. Expected, honestly. Your dean paying $3k out of pocket to give you a meal out was INSANELY generous.

      We pretty much always just do a potluck party. And $20 is a pretty reasonable price if you’re not doing a potluck–it’s hard to get a nice meal out for much less than that these days. Remember, your leadership (not sure how many rungs up from you they are) might not make a significant amount more than you do.

    22. Question for public employees*

      Thanks, everyone. This is all helpful information. Follow-up Q for anyone still reading this thread: in cases where you pay for your own parties, are your interns and entry-level employees expected to pay their own way as well, or does your leadership pay for them?

      1. Stevie Budd*

        In our federal office, the contribution is lower for lower level employees but they do still pay something.

      2. Elle*

        That’s crappy thing about this situation. I worked in a non profit that did this and charged a lot more than $20. I really tried to impress on my staff that it was an optional party but some who were on a tight budget felt obligated to go. I never went due to the cost and was vocal about it. Management never did anything to deter the party or its cost.

      3. Governmint Condition*

        Where I work, there are sometimes different prices based on salary grade. Also, some supervisors are known to have bought tickets for their lower-paid employees. (Be careful about this – if one boss does it and another doesn’t, there can be a union grievance for unequal benefits for employees at the same salary grade. We’ve had some employees who have gone through the trouble to do this.)

      4. Irish Teacher*

        When I was a student teacher, we were asked to pay half what the rest of the staff were. I think our school asks student teachers to pay the same as the rest of us, but not sure.

        New staff definitely pay the same as everybody else. I do think it’s fair to give a reduced rate to interns/work experience students. I wouldn’t expect a principal or manager to pay for them though.

      5. KLV*

        Entry-level, yes. Intern, dependent on manager. I think it’s like, entry-level is still like an actual employee so, would be expected to pay their way. With interns, I’ve seen it both ways, but it’s always been from the direct supervisor and not from like the upper level management/director.

        And it seems like your place does not have a sunshine club, so this isn’t really useful to you, but it’s usually generally acknowledged that more senior people will contribute more to the fund, but as in like, putting in a $10 or $20 bill instead of some $1’s or a $5.

      6. Former federal intern*

        When I was a federal intern, our office paid the cost for parties for interns and interns did not have to chip in for water (our office had to pay for our water cooler, in an office that did not have any other option for drinking water, because for some reason GSA wouldn’t pay for that). When I managed interns at the municipal level, I paid for them. I tend to think interns should not have to pay for these things.

        As a lower level employee, I paid, which I think is fine as long as costs are reasonable/attendance is optional.

      7. carcinization*

        My profession has paid internships, so yes, when I was on internship, I definitely paid my own way at the Christmas party and the end-of-work-year party. This was around 15 years ago so it may have been a bit less than $20, but more than $10.

      8. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

        Fed gov contractor here. Where I am, every govie and member of the military pays the same regardless of rank or grade.

        As a contractor, if I want to attend any work site parties, I have to use PTO in addition to paying the party fee. Totally understandable, but it means we don’t typically attend.

      9. Person from the Resume*

        In the military, the higher ranks usually had a higher ticket price. Not familiar with having interns.

        I think the entry level employees are tricky, though. You’ll usually have more of them than the higher levels so them getting in free would throw the budgeting off.

      10. Fed*

        The rest of us always chipped in more so the interns and lower paid folks would not have to pay anything. And once in a while if someone knew through the grapevine that someone else was struggling, they would quietly pay for that person too, although on paper the person who was being paid for might on paper make more money than the people we would typically “treat.”

    23. GloryB*

      Yes, this is absolutely normal. What’s weird here is expecting a manager or managers in the public sector to spend thousands of dollars of their own money on a party for you! Complaining about this anywhere I’ve ever worked would get you, at best, looked at very oddly.

      This is perfectly normal and common. Your expectations are out of whack. Time to recalibrate before you damage your rep.

    24. Observer*

      Public employees: is this normal? Are you used to paying for your own parties? I’m trying to decide how much to rock the boat on this.

      This is completely normal. And the amount to rock the boat is exactly *zero*.

      Think about what you want to demand – that an individual pull a significant amount of cash from *their personal funds* to pay for a party for you. I can’t imagine any workplace where that would go over well.

      I’ve always thought of these as employee appreciation events, but apparently they don’t appreciate us enough to spend any money on us.

      That sounds about right – and exactly as it should be. Individuals, even well compensated ones, should not be expected to shoulder business expenses. And that is exactly what an “employee appreciation” even is. This is not about how leadership *personally* feels – nor should it be! It’s unfortunate that it’s forbidden for tax money to be spent on employee appreciation, but that’s what you are dealing with when you are a government employee. It’s not the top of the list, but it’s part of why some people don’t want to work in government.

      1. Governmint Condition*

        In the private sector, the company shows its appreciation by paying for the party (not the managers/supervisors themselves). So a question I often hear is “what is the point of such a party if you’re paying for it yourself?” I don’t have a great answer to that because, when you think about it, you’re just spending time with the same people you’re with every day, except you get to eat rubber chicken with music playing in the background. When you think about it that way, it’s harder to justify the cost.

    25. EllenD*

      I was in UK civil service and it was accepted that you paid for parties/Xmas meals that you attended. If you were lucky the management team would pay for drinks (including alcohol) up to a certain limit. Some places what was paid for the meal was on a sliding scale with a nominal amount from the most junior admins on lowest wages and the senior management paying significantly more. However, with public sector pay freezes and London prices, senior management, in later years, were less able to pay a large share of the costs – child care, mortgages, etc. Pot lucks worked well for team days.

    26. Happy Friday!*

      Totally normal. And in my experience it’s actually standard practice. I’ve worked at the city, county, state and now federal levels and always had to pay or contribute for parties. Usually somewhere between $10 and $50 depending on the type of event. When we do a potluck those that didn’t want to bring a dish could still donate cash for someone to pool it and purchase items. I’ve definitely had supervisors pitch in and contribute beyond what the employees did but never had one person or even just managers cover the entire thing.

    27. Policy Wonk*

      Yes, this is standard. If this is an internal party, we usually have a graduated system where those at higher grades pay more than those at lower grades. If it is external – meaning you are able to invite key contacts from other agencies, the amount contributed includes a certain number of guests (usually five for us). If you want to invite more than that there is an additional charge per head. As others have noted, its not appropriate to use taxpayer funds for this.

    28. ONFM*

      I work for a municipality, and our holiday parties are always potluck because the city cannot spend money on us. Usually the top-level managers will split the cost of something large (a few pans of chicken or barbecue), and everyone else brings a homemade side or dessert. That’s a lot less than $20 a head, though.

    29. Person from the Resume*

      Absolutely yes.

      I was in the military. I’m pretty sure all the parties had tickets. In squadrons, there was often a club who did fundraising to help defray the cost of the party.

      It would wild to me to expect the boss to cover the cost of the party. Many of my boss’s were Lt Col or Colonels married with kids. They made more than me but were not throw a thousand dollar Christmas party wealthy.

    30. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      None of my private employers over 35+ years have ever paid for a party, whether holiday or retirement or any other party type. Never had free coffee or snacks either.
      This was in several European countries, R&D engineering. Interesting that US work culture has widespread food freebies, quite a contrast to European bennies.

      No job had pot lucks, thank the goddess!
      For a team party, we’d each pay for ourselves (no bill splitting) and the manager would normally pay for 1 round of drinks.
      For a department (115 people) the last holiday party I attended before retiring was €25 per head including 1 glass of wine and multiple water refills. We rarely had interns and they were paid enough that €25 was easily affordable.

      Parties at all jobs were optional, very informal dress (as in the workplaces), employees only, no guests.

    31. Throwaway Account*

      I’m more shocked that the boss paid than I am that you have to pay your own way!

      You can check salaries at public institutions. You might find that boss had a pay high enough to expect them to host a party like that.

      At old job, we had a great friends of the library org that paid for food for us!

    32. Fed*

      Totally normal. In my 30 years as a fed employee, I think maybe twice management paid out of their own pocket for a party. Not because they were stingy! But they have their own families etc. They did, however, on the down-low often pay for lower-paid folks who couldn’t afford to come to parties — as many of us did, to make sure those folks could attend too.

    33. Longtime Lurker*

      Federal employee, and yeah, totally normal. In our office, we have a sliding scale so that the secretarial staff pays 15-20, and the SES pays 100 or more. Informally, the managers tend to hang out by the (cash) bar not just to hang out by the bar but to treat people off-the-books.

    34. Pajamas on Bananas*

      I think it might depend on region and type of government. I’ve only worked in municipal government in Chicagoland (never Chicago itself) and Northwest Indiana. In small offices the elected would pay for one-two staff meals per year from their own pocket at the normal lunchtime. At my last job in a large office the elected, the deputy, and the managers split the cost as a reward when we received confirmation from the state that our annual deadlines were met. Sometimes this was an after work event. My current job I think has a better balance for the boss. We do birthday lunches, and the boss covers the birthday person’s meal. I would definitely be disappointed if this went away, but the other benefits are so good that I can’t imagine this being the thing I’d get caught up on, unless they were also a 401k org rather than a pension org. Definitely good to know this isn’t normal anywhere else.

    35. TeaCoziesRUs*

      DoD here. Not only is the ticket cost for the holiday expected, we would NEVER expect our senior leaders at the squadron level to pay for it themselves. In the line of “Many hand make light work,” the more people who pay, the nicer a party we can have. We do subsidize the tickets for our lower-ranked enlisted, and the unit Booster Club fundraises throughout the year to provide some fun prizes.

      Yes, it is employee appreciation, but it’s more in the light of we appreciate some social time with each other. :)

  4. Captain Vegetable ( Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    Amusing, quirky, incidental occupational hazards?

    In my job, every once in a while molasses becomes a topic of consideration. And inevitably, I get “Potatoes and Molasses” from Over the Garden Wall stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

    1. nope*

      People reading outloud from a text or written format, especially when they haven’t given us the text beforehand. Get ready to break your hands, or give up and only do the broad strokes because it’s impossible otherwise.

    2. LB33*

      Since it comes up as a topic, if you’re looking for a molasses related anecdote, you should look into the Great Molasses Flood that happened in Boston in 1919. If you’re not familiar, a molasses tank exploded and because it turns out molasses isn’t so slow, it killed 21 people!

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Recommend “Not Past It” podcast, 1/12/22 “The Sweet, but Deadly, Disaster” as it addresses this!

        1. Shiba Dad*

          “Tasting History with Max Miller” on YouTube did an episode on the Great Molasses Flood as well.

          1. vombatus ursinus*

            For a very quirky take, you might also like the Puppet History episode on the Great Molasses Flood on YouTube!

            1. TeaCoziesRUs*

              The I Survived kids’ book series also has an excellent book about the great molasses flood, as well as other insane historical tidbits – Grizzly and shark attacks, Mt St Helen’s and hurricane, lots of different battles and wars, etc.

        1. Observer*

          Well, *in January* it might be, if it’s outdoors in a colder climate. Because *cold* molasses (like *cold* honey*) tends to sort of congeal and not run.

          Of course, in the case of the Great Molasses Flood, that didn’t matter because when you’ve got that much pressure, the physics are totally different.

          1. AceInPlainSight*

            The physics aren’t totally different, it’s just that the viscosity of a liquid depends on both temperature and shear (aka how fast it’s getting stirred/ how much pressure is being put on it). Molasses is basically sugar water with added polymers, so if you put it under enough pressure, eventually it’ll run just like water!

            This has been your pedantic moment from a grad student who spends Way Too Much Time measuring the viscosity of liquids as a function of temperature and stir speed.

    3. Juicebox Hero*

      I spend my day shuffling papers around, and I’m clumsy, and so I have gotten epic paper cuts. Manila folders and plastic binder dividersin particular can turn into Ginsu knives without warning.

      1. Arglebargle*

        YES! When I worked in publishing I handled piles of paper regularly and learned early to moisturize the heck out of my hands to prevent paper cuts.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Additional bonus to our correcting being online this year is no paper cuts. The old answer books had rather sharp edges to their covers and you could guarantee a number of paper cuts each year. And probably a broken nail or two packing up the bags.

    4. ferrina*

      I do a lot of research on random industries and topics. It inevitably leads to the weirdest ads.

    5. PunkArseLibrarian*

      (no comment – I just wanted to say I love your username and will now have that song stuck in my head all day! :) )

    6. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Most of the year, no. But in December we go out to clients to observe inventory counts, and then you can have a LOT of variety. Every year someone ends up in Alaska taking 2 planes and a bumpy seaplane to go out and count fish. I ended up in the deep middle of nowhere counting hay bales in a blizzard. Those are the REALLY wild trips.

    7. Pretty as a Princess*

      Our field of specialty makes up words that don’t really exist in English and I am greatly disappointed every time I try to play one in the NYT Spelling Bee puzzle.

      1. ferrina*

        Lol! Or the acronym roulette- I’ll see a bunch of random letters and my brain will immediately associate them with an acronym.

    8. Environmental Compliance*

      Somehow I have become the site’s informal Animal Control. Geese are angry critters as is, they get even angstier when you’re trying to catch the one that’s dragging around fishing line.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I just snarfled my tea at this mental image. Please tell me you have more stories.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          At this particular worksite, I have caught four (4) geese, one (1) warbler, one (1) very clingy pigeon, and two (2) raccoons.

          One raccoon had managed to sneak in through an empty dock door and hid under a piece of scrap equipment about to be sent out. I got a panicky phone call from Security and meandered over to find two big burly security guards nervously looking at the equipment, which was now surrounded by chunks of pizza. They thought throwing pizza at the raccoon would spook it out for some reason. So then I got to crawl through chunks of pizza to grab the very pregnant raccoon, which was so fat there was no way she could turn around and bite me, and then calmly walk it outside. I let it go and she *waddled* off into the woods.

          This is why my work nickname is Redneck Disney Princess.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Yes! With pictures of preggers trash pandas! (And good thing you did get her out of there, OP, since she may have been looking for a nice spot to give birth!)

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            We have pigeons outside our call center (big windows look out onto a flat roof) that have become bolder and bolder these past weeks because a co-worker started giving them birdseed. I actually had one hop up to the open window! Luckily she didn’t come inside but they are really without fear.

            “Mother. We require the seeds, mother. Mother. THE SEEDS.”

      2. Hannah Lee*

        Angry Geese always makes me think of the BBC Radio show Cabin Pressure.

        There was a hysterical episode that involved some unruly geese.
        There are also ones with very funny bits about “lots and lots of bees” and “I don’t care how hypothetical it is, I am NOT flying with an otter on the flying deck”

        Bonus Benedict Cumberbatch, Roger Allam, Stephanie Cole and the comedic genius of John Finnemore.

      3. Csethiro Ceredin*

        Gosh, I thought I had something to complain about as the only willing bug and spider catcher.

        But stop the calls, we have a winner.

    9. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Accidental Midas touch. No, seriously.

      We occasionally use Rub-n-Buff (oily stuff you rub on wood, etc. to give it a gold leaf effect). Anyone who has ever referred to glitter as “craft herpes” has never used Rub-n-Buff. If you get any amount on your hands and miss it while washing up, you’ll know soon enough.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      All those body parts you’re not supposed to talk about at work? Not only do I frequently have to talk about them, but my doctors like to put pictures of them (but only if they’re injured or diseased) on my screen without warning :P

    11. Lady_Lessa*

      In my first job, dental materials research, I’ve had to help catch a squirrel that got inside. We used a very large beaker and a board. And also starling that came in the open window as well. (The bird was easy, just throw a towel over it.)

      The clinician who had the open window stopped doing that. (He was also the culprit at feeding the squirrels)

      1. MissCoco*

        When I was at college, a new chemistry building was opened during my 2nd year and a squirrel got into the organic chemistry lab on unveiling day. My advisor was the one who captured and released it. I remember there was a lot of stress the first week or so because it wasn’t clear how the squirrel had gotten in and if there was some kind of secret route squirrels could be using to get into the building, but since it never happened again, I assume someone just left a window open.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        If there’s one thing you learn fast in an urban environment, it’s that the local wildlife already does not fear you, and if they see you as a food source, they will actively start a mob to demand constant refurbishment of snackage.

    12. WantonSeedStitch*

      This reminds me of the occupational hazard of parenting: getting songs like “Baby Beluga” and the theme to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood stuck in your head…and finding yourself whistling or singing them under your breath in public.

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        Man… Tiger. I’ll STILL sing the pick up, clean up or potty or thank you song FAR too often. >.<

    13. Hotdog not dog*

      I work for a bank and occasionally have to review employees bank/credit card statements. It can be surprising to see what some people spend money on. Pro tip, if you really want to keep your unconventional proclivities secret, use cash or at least put it on an account that’s not held by the company you work for.
      I absolutely maintain complete privacy, but I am sure there are some things my coworkers would prefer I didn’t see.

    14. Data Slicentist*

      I frequently misspell and misread “bowl” as “bowel” because the latter comes up way more often in the data I work with.

    15. OMG, Bees!*

      I have a funny story involving bees at a client office.

      First off, I am highly allergic to bees, to the point that when stung as a kid, I had to go to the ER due to swelling. I treat bees with a healthy fear.

      Client office has a bee hive on their roof, opens the windows when it is hot, and of course the windows do not have a screen. Client also likes a summary email of what I did during the day in addition to tickets.

      So, end of day, I have my stuff packed up and am for some reason logged into one of their desktops typing up my email. I am about 70% done with the email when, as foretold, a bee landed on the desk between me and the keyboard. I knew I had to get out ASAP but also send that email, so I do the only logical thing I could think at the time. Mid sentence, mid thought I type OMG BEES! I GOT TO GO! send, log off, and quickly but carefully leave.

      This email went to my boss, the contact at client, and at least 4 other managers. I am a little disappointed no one mentioned the email later.

    16. Anonymous park ranger*

      As a ranger, I took reports from visitors who had wildlife encounters. Once a very upset visitor reporting a Bigfoot sighting next to a trail that he wanted to report. I dutifully wrote down details of an unknown animal sighting along with his report of a weird sound (which turned out to be a common bird when I walked to the area afterward). I shared it with our resource manager who was an expert tracker so he could go up to the trail the next day to look around.

      The visitor then went public and it was our busy summer season. For the next couple weeks, reporters from national news outlets all wanted to interview me while I was slammed with doing ranger talks. NI didn’t want to be forever recorded in print or on video in my ranger uniform talking about Bigfoot. My wonderful colleagues covered for me and directed people to the superintendent. When the visitor himself came up looking for me with his entourage of reporters, my co-workers gave me a heads-up so I could hide in a building that wasn’t open to the public until they were gone.

      Only once did a major news outlet with a camera find me. I made sure to be so boring in my responses to their questions that they never aired the footage.

    17. Notmyjobreally*

      We had a small snake in the building. Boss thought it was a great idea to capture and release it in the field next door. I on the other hand, thought small snake has family and friends and KNOWS how to get in the building.

    18. Not A Ranger*

      Possibly unknown escaped critters – one day there was a bucket with some sticks and leaves inside it sitting on a conference room table and somehow nobody knew who brought it in or if the sticks and leaves were meant to be a flora specimen or habitat for an escaped fauna specimen.

      Asbestos. Not the building kind, but our intern went and pulled a chunk of it out of a vein in some rock and started demonstrating to us how you could tell it was asbestos because of the fibers when you broke it apart… he had a toddler’s ability to get into the worst possible thing faster than we could identify what he had in his hands NOW.

    19. Pajamas on Bananas*

      22” x 34” books. Unwieldy to say the least, and it’s very easy to injure yourself with them.

  5. purring in my lap cause it loves me*

    I just found out that there was a huge scandal at my old job, and a handful of VPs got fired for cause–including the VP who stonewalled my promotion and thus caused me to quit. I am dying to know what went down, but my source did not have the closed-door details, only the aftermath. I’m not planning to re-apply, I just want the details so I can sip them like a warm Cabernet.

    1. Cookies for Breakfast*

      Earlier this year, I found out something similar about a senior manager who I sensed was trying to push me out of an old role (I resigned first). I don’t think they lasted a full year at the organisation. They had come from a very short stint at a huge company I’ve always heard described as a great employer, and in hindsight, it makes so much sense.

      I didn’t press for gossip, but my source shared enough to make me wonder how many relationships got shattered along the way. Among other things, the manager was a close friend of a colleague with a stellar reputation, who referred them for the job – and if what I heard is true, there’s both professional-bridge-burning and friendship-ending stuff in it.

      Today, I saw the manager’s new job announcement on LinkedIn. Yet another senior title at yet another household name. I just indulged in a strictly enforced couple of minutes of checking who from OldJob left glowing comments vs. who didn’t, and wondering how long the role is going to last.

      1. introverted af*

        Yessssss. Like, the fact that I worked REALLY hard to be good at my last job, and improve what I did for the team, and increase what the role is worth…and since I’ve left they’ve had prettttttty high turnover. Dang, almost like the role really is worth more than what they want to pay for it and nobody sticks around once they hear about it

    2. Generic Name*

      Ha ha, I’d be dying to know too. I had a coworker who complained about me, and it negatively impacted me at my company, even though I didn’t know what I did wrong. Turns out I did nothing wrong and the ceo ended up apologizing to me later and the coworker eventually got put on a PIP and left the company. Now he runs his own company, and that company is blacklisted with my current company.

    3. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I am still waiting for the comeuppance for the new manager who pushed me out. She’s horrible and not liked at my former company, but for some reason I’m the one who was cut because of her. I have a feeling she won’t last a year.

      1. Seal*

        Same here. There’s been a mass exodus since I was forced out because my former manager is so terrible at their job no one wants to stay. So far all of this has happened under the radar but once it becomes obvious that nothing’s getting done – which will happen soon – the ensuing scandal will be breathtaking.

    4. reject187*

      Same! I just got out of an awful job and one of my friends knows all the tea, so every few weeks I get a text saying “this entire department quit” or “so and so resigned effective immediately” and I can’t tell you how much joy it gives me that the place is falling apart for all the stress it put me through.

    5. NotBatman*

      My friend calls those “lobster knife fights” from an old meme. A lobster knife fight is any time you know SOMETHING went down, but the something is so far above your paygrade and/or confidential that you know you’ll never get all the details.

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        For a minute I was picturing lobsters with knives and thought it was meant to be some kind of contradiction or comment about impotence (lobsters can’t pince knives or be very threatened by another lobster with a knife because they have exoskeletons). And then I realized it’s meant to invoke fancy dinners where people duel with lobster knives. But I also like the first idea. :)

    6. Kat*

      While I don’t know you or your company, I absolutely need to know what happened! Please give us any updates! lol

      I was pushed out by a horrid boss who lied and was vastly underqualified. The company was taken over by C-level people who have no idea what they are doing. The company didn’t do well last year, and I’m betting this year will be awful too. I’m hoping I’ll hear they were bought out or something next year. I’ve also looked at job openings, they didn’t realize me, or others who were also laid off or quit. This tells me they still don’t know what they are doing and don’t know what they need. I’m also keeping my eye out for Glassdoor review

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Mmmmm, like that bookstore that fired me and then whoopsie! the whole chain collapsed, darn it all! Not saying I reveled quite a bit in that news–but also not NOT saying that.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      Two of my best work-related days have been learning that the CEO everyone hated and the VP who eliminated my position were fired. I’m still coasting on that, along with the happiness that comes with knowing that my friends who still worked there were equally delighted and all of whom had messaged me immediately to let me know.

  6. Night Tiger*

    I work in a client-based industry. Recently, I worked with a nightmare of a client who (even though we met all the goals for the client and did really good work for them) treated us terribly. They wouldn’t answer emails, they didn’t seem to understand the job they were doing, and as soon as the bill would come they would argue with us about it. Even now, this client has not paid us what they owe us.

    The people who were our original contacts at this place were terminated and apparently on their way out, apparently tried to blame us for everything they were being fired for. Now, one of those people keeps trying to reach out to me. It seems that they started their own consulting firm. I’m not sure if they want to talk to me to try to get me in on it or what, but I really am not interested in talking to them. First, they did not seem to have a good understanding of the industry we’re in or what is required when I worked with them. Second, looking at the website, they seem to be way over-extending themselves for what seems to be a one-person operation. Third, I do not want to work for a startup (and deal with all the associated work/pressure/risks). I’m not sure why else they would be contacting me, but I’m just… really not interested in talking to them.

    Is there anything wrong with me ignoring these requests to connect?

    This person also keeps trying to connect with me on LinkedIn, but the request keeps coming to an email that is NOT associated with my LinkedIn account. That’s weird right? Do they just not know how to use LinkedIn properly?

    1. Tio*

      Real linked in requests should be sent through linked in, are they not sending them through linked in or are the linked in requests somehow going off to the wrong email? Either way, you can ignore them though.

    2. Indolent Libertine*

      I think LinkedIn harvests every email address in the requester’s contacts and sends out a bulk emailing, whether or not those emails are connected to a LinkedIn account. If they were coming to your individual profile and making a specific connection request, that would go to the address associated with your account.

    3. Hannah Lee*

      I think you’re perfectly fine just ignoring it.

      If you want, you could reply to one of their outreach attempts through whatever means works best for you, blandly declining or even just an “oh, so busy! hope all is going well with you.” if you’re not sure what they are reaching out for.

      But what would be the downside if you just … didn’t? They’d badmouth you? They’ve proven they are happy to do that – unfairly – when you’re responsive and doing your best, what you agreed to

      You’re under no obligation to engage with ex-clients were difficult, unreasonable and willing to toss you under the bus. You could just ignore their requests, and then set whatever means they used to contact you to filter their communications into a folder or whatever so you could review it if you want to, but it doesn’t pop up in your normal feed “Oh, THEM again Ugh!” And then play dumb if you ever see them in person… “Hmm, I don’t remember seeing anything, but then I’ve been swamped / been having some issues with messaging/email apps, you know how it goes. Take care!”

    4. RagingADHD*

      If it is them reaching out directly (rather than Linkedin doing an automated thing), they probably want to build connections and recommendations for their profile. Or they want to “pick your brain” so you can teach them how to do their job.

      Ignore away! Nothing wrong with it at all.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      I suspect it’s actually that LinkedIn is automatically spamming that person’s contacts on their behalf, specifically because it’s not going to the email associated with your account. I’d thought LI cleaned this up in recent years, but maybe not. But I do not have a LI account. I will never have a LI account. Any time I get a LI request to connect from someone who does have an account, it’s because some automated thing did it, not the person actually intending to request anything from me. I’d ignore it for that reason.

    6. somehow*

      If you don’t want to connect, don’t. I’m not sure what would be wrong with that within the context of your post. Could you maybe go into a bit more detail about what’s making you hesitate?

  7. Invisible fish*

    Recommendations for plus size work pants specifically from companies that pay fair wages and have sustainable practices?

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      I’ll leave the ethics to you, but Eloquii makes some high quality plus size work pants. Thick fabric, washes well, doesn’t fade over time, and they have different variations depending on how your weight is proportioned. Wide variety of colors and styles as well.

    2. ursula*

      Following with great interest. I’m trying to transition to a more ethical wardrobe (which is one part focused on buying higher quality and less trendy things that will last and result in me ultimately buying less, and one part focused on environmental/labour concerns) and my God is it ever hard as a plus sized person.

      Lakyn Carlton (on insta under their name) works as a sustainable stylist and has a master Excel doc of brands that do ethical plus sized stuff. ‘Sustainable’ is a bit loosely defined IMO, but it’s a starting place at least, and much better than nothing.

    3. debbietrash*

      Look local. I’m not sure where you’re located, but start with your town/city/neighbouring area. In my experience it’s the small, local businesses that support both sustainability by being local, and paying their staff a fair/equitable wage. They’re also getting better at offering plus sized clothes, though a lot of places max out around a size 18 or 20.

    4. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Able clothing came on my radar recently — I can’t personally recommend but some people I know do.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        I love Able. I love Quince as well but I think their sizing is limited. Aday is another. Amour Vert. Basically, go to Good On You to see how brands rank in sustainability and responsibility.

    5. JMR*

      No idea about ethics, but as someone who is borderline plus-size and has (apparently) fairly unusual proportions, I’ve been getting my stuff custom-made from Eshakti. Everything has been great quality and reasonably priced. I do find that I still sometime require minor alterations to tweak the fit to make it perfect, but it’s waaaaaaay better than starting from standard-sized stuff.

      1. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

        Seconding this! And my understanding is that they’re very ethical all the way around.

      1. Ainsley Hayes*

        I cannot recommend Universal Standard enough! They are size-inclusive (every style! every color! every size costs the same!), their clothes are machine washable, and I have found them to be very good quality. They offer virtual stylists (free, I think) to help you find what you need. 10/10 stars, would recommend (as I am wearing a dress and jacket from them as I type this…). Expensive-ish, but worth it!

        1. clown.pdf*

          thirding US! I’ve only bought their jeans and t-shirts but they’re some of the best quality clothes I’ve owned.

    6. Picard*

      I’m a huge fan of Alison at Wardobe Oxygen (link in comments)

      She regularly has posts about ethical companies and she wont promote/work with/ whatever companies that dont offer extended sizing.

  8. TeenieBopper*

    So, I started a new job about three months ago. For context, I’ve always struggled a bit with imposter syndrome, but I also kind of like just being Some Guy ™ who’s merely competent and isn’t a rock star, but also doesn’t really screw anything up; it makes it easier to have firm boundaries between work and life. Anyways, I’ve been in a couple virtual meetings/email conversations with the CEO of the company (who I’ve literally never met before) and he’s made multiple references to me as a data scientist. That is not my job title – which is a significantly less impressive senior data analyst – and I’m not a fan of the expectations that title implies. But also, objectively speaking, I do have a lot of the same skills and experience. I don’t know that I have a question. I don’t want to correct him because he’s the CEO and I really am just some guy, plus it makes me look important. But I also don’t want higher expectations: underpromise and over deliver and all that.

    1. ferrina*

      “Oh, that’s kind of you, but my role isn’t as prestigious as a data scientist- I’m just a lowly analyst!”

      A little self-deprecating humor could help. You could let it go under the radar (particularly if you normally won’t interact with the CEO much after that), and if you were looking for a career boost, having the CEO lump your skills into a higher category than your role is a good thing. But if you want to slow or stop that, a gentle correction is just fine (unless your CEO is out of control and can’t handle a non-confrontational fact-check)

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        this is a bit much to me, could definitely come out wrong if a person says it wrong or has the wrong tone or voice (or is female).

        try, “oh I just wanted to say- you do keep referring to me as a “data scientist,” but please know my current title is “senior data analyst” – a lot of overlap in the job description, but since we data folks love to get technical, I just wanted to make sure we’re clear on that.” or something like that.

    2. star*

      As someone who went from data analyst to analytical developer to data scientist in the same org and without really changing the nature of their work, is it worth exploring? Are there data scientists in your organisation with whom it might be worth comparing notes and building connections?

      I’m not sure what additional expectations there are for data scientists vs data analysts in your org, but it might be worth thinking about? No worries if not, and I think ferrina’s response is pretty good if you just want to correct and leave it at that.

      1. TeenieBopper*

        Nah, I’m the first person hired in my department. My experience lies a lot with SQL query writing, report creation/automation, building dashboards, and a lot of interacting with people not as data literate and figuring out what questions they (actually) want answered and figuring out how to answer those questions. I feel like I’m competent in a lot of different areas, but I don’t excel in any of them. Like, I can write some pretty gnarly queries in SQL Server (but not Oracle or PostGRES or whatever), but any sort of DBA tasks or things with database structure and I’m clueless. And so, when I think of data scientists, I think people who have PhDs in math or stats (I’m so far removed from my math and stats courses and those skills have atrophied a lot over the years) or computer science. And I’m just some dude who does his job and when there’s a problem that needs solving, just hacks together a solution as best he can.

    3. NeedRain47*

      Pretty much anyone who works with data in any way could be broadly called a “data scientist”. Could he be using it that way instead of as Data Scientist as a title? It’s more likely that he just doesn’t know exactly what you do, than that he has any specific expectations tied to it.

    4. EMP*

      The CEO probably has no idea that there’s a difference or what your actual title is. Unless the talks are showing that they are expecting things of you outside your job title, then yeah, bring it up. But my instinct is the CEO mentally categorizes everyone in your department as a “data scientist” and is using that more generically.

      1. NotBatman*

        That would be my guess as well. CEOs get hired for strategic expertise, not data analysis — it’s very likely he thinks “data scientist” is a valid umbrella term.

    5. AnonAcademicLibrarian*

      Is it possible this is just short hand for your actual job title? Like technically a job title might be User Services Weasel Roper, but for ease, people just say, “Weasel Wrangler” and move on? Because that happens a lot in my field and I think you might be reading too much into this. However, if you do want to defuse it, I think ferrina’s self-deprecating humor suggestion is a good one.

    6. Data Slicentist*

      How big is the company? Is it large enough that other folks in these conversations don’t expect the CEO to have everybody’s titles right?

      Also, as a data scientist, the skills and expectations tied to that title do vary a lot by organization. I’m no DBA and while I do have math-related degrees, no phd. I write SQL, clean data, and build pipelines, and train models. I also help people with their excel spreadsheets if that’s what needs doing.

  9. UnReward*

    Latest corporate BS. Weekly HR newsletter contains a headline about new Company Name rewards program. I click through. What they have done is created a statement with pie chart that breaks out salaries/benefits/bonuses/Retirement and then totaled it up and called that your rewards for the year. The absolute minimum a company must do is pay people: it’s not a reward!

    1. Girasol*

      Isn’t it fairly common these days to call the combination of salary and benefits a “Total Rewards Package?”

      1. Somehow_I_Manage*

        Yes- although I think that may be a specific payroll/benefit provider branding. The generic term is “Total compensation.”

        The spirit it’s intended is to help you more accurately compare your compensation across employers. It’s valuable information as companies contribute differing amounts to retirement, health insurance, etc.

        I like it, and have considered in carefully when switching jobs.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Oof. I’ve seen these statements before, but they were called “total compensation” or something along those lines. I find them moderately interesting. Calling your standard salaries/benefits/etc. “rewards” absolutely rankles.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Oh yes the “total rewards” statement. Which to me has always felt like a guilt trip of “see, we can’t pay you more because we’re spending all this money on you already”.

    4. Colette*

      True, but benefits, bonuses, and retirement plans vary. It’s prett common to see all of those rolled up and referred to as a rewards plan. (To give you some examples, in my first job I had a defined benefit pension, in a later job they had RRSP matching and a fitness subsidy and volunteer incentive plan, in another job there was nothing but salary and health benefits – the value of those were different both financially and to me.)

    5. Hannah Lee*

      Calling it “rewards” is kind of obnoxious.

      But the idea of providing employees with a “Total compensation summary” that includes things beyond standard pay rates … ie bonuses, paid time off, cost of company paid insurance premiums, employer retirement contributions, employer FSA/HSA/HRA contributions, EAP or gym or transit passes or other employer paid perks/benefits isn’t a bad one on its own.
      If all employers did that it would help people get a better sense of whether their total compensation package is fair and how it compares to others if they are job hunting.

      We did it occasionally from time to time at a previous company, following year end; it was partially to give people a snapshot of their total package outside of just what they’d see on their W2.

      But it also served as a reminder to people that there were benefits available they may not have used yet, but were useful to be aware of – like employer paid LTD, that did have an annual cost even if they didn’t use it, or things like tuition, tool purchase reimbursement, or fitness and equipment discounts, language programs, international insurance coverage (including traveler assistance and medical evacuation) that only had a cost when someone used them or were bundled in with something else the employer had in place already.

      All that stuff was mentioned during their hiring process, and may have been mentioned somewhere else along the way, but the thought was it was good to give people a refreshed list all in one place every year.

      1. Pajamas on Bananas*

        I honestly don’t even like the “compensation package” language. If the employee has to pay for it, it’s not compensation; it’s a benefit. At my last job most people only funded their benefits every other year, because our compensation wasn’t high enough to afford to fund them every year. I couldn’t afford the full benefit package until my 5th year working full time.

    6. Roland*

      Eh, if they presented it as some brand new cool rewards program I’d be annoyed too, but otherwise it feels like totally standard HR language that’s always been a click away in workday or similar systems in jobs I’ve had.

      1. UnReward*

        That’s how they presented it. I like the compensation breakdown but don’t make it sound like a special treat or opportunity.

    7. HR Exec Popping In*

      I can see why you thought it was something different, however I doubt it was intently misleading. The term “Total Rewards” is standard terminology used in corporate America as well as in the HR profession. It is what we use to encompass the total investment in employees – direct base salary, incentive programs, equity programs, long-term comp, as well as the value of all direct and fringe benefits and perks.

    8. There You Are*

      I got fooled by that, too, when I first started at the company I’m at now. “You’re 2019 Total Rewards statement is available now. Click here to access your Total Rewards!”

      ::click::

      Oh. OK. It’s just my compensation package.

      Which might be meaningful if I were looking to switch to hourly consulting and had to pay for my own health insurance and match my own retirement benefits.

    9. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’d consider that a swizz.
      FinalJob (Germany) has a good Rewards Program of vouchers for 10-40% off a wide variety of big name shops/brands.
      They send out a monthly newletter with new vouchers to emplyees and retirees. I like that I still get these rewards now I’m retired.

      1. LJ*

        That might be a cross cultural terminology thing though – in the U.S. the kind of discount program you’re describing is often called “perks”, or maybe formally “employee discount program” – distinctly not “benefits” or “rewards”

  10. I do beach*

    My mom passed away about a month ago. She was sick for a very long time, and I had been caring for her for the past few years, and took FMLA to care for her full time for the last few months of her life. I also took 3 weeks off after she passed and went to Hawaii to relax for part of that. However since I have been back at work, I have been the most unmotivated I have ever been. It’s hard to even get up the motivation to do basic stuff like find a file in a folder. I don’t know what is going on with me. I miss my mom a lot – we were really close – but I knew it was coming, we prepared as best we could, and I’ve been in counseling. I’m not really sure what else to do. I spend my days reading the news and planning a vacation I am taking later this year, or else walking around the office and talking to people. I’m a manager so most of my job is making sure my direct reports have what they need to do their jobs well, and they seem to be doing ok, but I hate being this checked out. Does anyone who has also lost a parent have any advice?

    1. ruthling*

      Sounds like pretty typical grief. It sucks and I’m sorry you are dealing with it. It should get better with time, but don’t feel afraid to seek professional help if you think you might need it. Especially if you are having trouble with basic stuff like eating, sleeping, taking care of yourself.

    2. Night Tiger*

      I’m sorry about your mom. I lost my dad when I was 12, and the pain of that never really goes away, but it becomes more like a dull throb that comes up every once in a while, rather than a sharp, raw pain that you experience every day. We weren’t super close but it was still a terrible time. I didn’t go to therapy at the time, but looking back (and having gone to therapy since) I think it’s useful to try to process the trauma and grief of losing a parent. After a long illness, especially, you may have some really conflicting emotions coming up that it might be helpful to process with someone who has seen it all before.

      Creating something may also be a good outlet for some of your grief — could be art, journaling, baking, cooking, gardening, house projects — none of it has to be good, it just has to keep you busy. The goal being not to ignore the grief but to help process it.

      You’ll get through this. Sending you lots of love.

    3. Annie Edison*

      I lost my mom to Alzheimer’s about a year and a half ago. I really wish I had some useful advice but honestly, I was just kind of … off for about a year after she passed. I’m self employed and my clients were very understanding about me needing to take some time, and then I very much coasted on doing the bare minimum I needed to do for a while after that. I’m just now getting back to my normal baseline of energy and motivation now
      For me- even though she’d been sick for so long, and I’d done much of my grieving in advance as she slowly faded away, I was still just so exhausted from caring for her, and being intimately close to someone as they pass was a lot to process
      Be as soft and gentle with yourself as you can, and give yourself permission to do less than you normally would. Sleep more, move slowly, spend time outside- whatever feels gentle for you. And if you can, maybe look for a grief support group as well. I found it really comforting to talk with a friend who’d also lost his mom and helped me realize it’s ok to not feel ok for a while
      Sending you lots of love from an Internet stranger

      1. Panicked*

        *For me- even though she’d been sick for so long, and I’d done much of my grieving in advance as she slowly faded away, I was still just so exhausted from caring for her, and being intimately close to someone as they pass was a lot to process*

        This. SO much this. Caregiving is exhausting; mentally, physically, emotionally, etc.. It’s going to take more than just a few weeks to recuperate from that. Caregiving also gives a sense of purpose, as tiring as it is. Knowing that you’re the one helping and assisting in someone’s time of need can be fulfilling. I helped cared for my grandmother with dementia for a year before she could no longer live at home. Once that care was shifted to the professionals, I felt like I wasn’t doing anything anymore. You feel almost directionless and yes, unmotivated. I’m not comparing your situation to mine at all, but I know how you are feeling.

        That being sad, please allow yourself some time and grace here. It’s a lot to process and work through. Therapy, especially with one who deals with grief and loss, may be really helpful to you.

    4. Colette*

      When my dad died, I spent all of my free time playing video games and basically limped through work. What you’re doing is normal.

      If it continues for more than a couple of months, it could become a problem, but right now you’re OK. You had time off after she died, but you’re just now back in a more regular routine.

    5. Juicebox Hero*

      My mother died in August 2018, right in the middle of my busy season at work. This is my story. Her last year was a long and ugly thing at the end of decades of control, codependency, and emotional abuse. I got stuck being her caretaker and advocate even after she had to go into a nursing home, and basically didn’t have a second for myself. Once I was rid of her I had no desire to anything but savor the peace and quiet. On top of that, I got hit with a sinus infection, laryngitis, and pinkeye at once because my resistance was at an all-time low.

      Caretaker burnout is a real and insidious thing. Once a stressor is removed, it becomes hard to recalibrate yourself to normal routines. You’ve expended so much effort that I think it kind of depletes your reserves for a while.

      People grieve in different ways, too. You’re not crying and wailing, but you’ve had a major loss and your mind hasn’t fully wrapped itself around it yet.

      The best I can say is talk to your counselor/therapist about your lack of motivation and see what they suggest. Cognitive behavioral therapy helped me immensely in that it allowed me to acknowledge and address my emotional crapulence, while giving me the mental tools to set them aside when I really needed to focus on stuff.

      I’m very sorry for your loss, and good luck.

    6. Jo*

      I lost both my parents earlier this year (72 days apart! Zero stars, do not recommend!) and I experienced a profound lack of motivation. I just didn’t see the point of compiling reports and attending meetings and making goals. Everything just seemed so pointless–life is short, we’re all gonna die someday, and you want me to redo this spreadsheet? Something a friend said to me helped get me over the hump–“yes, this is all dumb in the grand scheme of things, but you gotta do your job to make money. Your parents wouldn’t want you to be homeless.”

      I’m still struggling with motivation at this point, but it’s more “am I doing what I should be doing with my life” instead of “this is all dumb, what’s the point of anything,” which I’m taking as an improvement.

      It gets better.

    7. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      That’s grief, and you have to just live through it. I lost my mom last year and slogged through for months, doing the minimum needed to keep the wheels turning and overall having a very hard time GAF. It’s hard to care about a job when you’re processing this kind of loss and facing existential stuff.

      You may also not be realizing the toll that all that caretaking took on you. Burnout caught up now that the crisis is over. Go easy on yourself.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      I had a fairly similar response after my dad died. I didn’t feel like I was grieving in most ways, but everything just seemed to take longer and I felt like I was less competent at work. In my case, it lasted maybe a month or two (probably helped that he died just over a month before Christmas, so I then had two weeks off to relax and regroup).

      I’m sure your direct reports understand

    9. Potatoes gonna potate*

      My dad died suddenly a little over 5 years ago. It was right before the start of our busy season. It helped having a lot of work to do and at the time I had a friend at work. But man oh man that first year is the hardest.

    10. Ainsley Hayes*

      When my dad died last year, I did the most I could – some days it was everything on my to-do list, and some days it wasn’t. But my list was a physical list, which helped. I relied on my team. I closed my office door and cried if I had to. I went home early and/or worked weird hours. No one is judging – you get a free pass for a while.

      I’m sorry about your mom. Sending you and your people good thoughts.

    11. Rainy*

      I haven’t lost a parent but my first husband died about fifteen years ago after a long decline. What you’re feeling is a very normal manifestation of grief and caretaker fatigue. It will take a while, I’m afraid. Getting through the first year is the hardest grief-wise, in my experience, and the lack of motivation really is a symptom of grief. The long period of expecting it doesn’t make it any easier. I don’t know if this will resonate for you, but I knew that my husband’s condition was never going to improve and I expected his death and thought I was prepared, but I wasn’t, and there was also for me the feeling before he died that it wouldn’t be as bad because I was expecting it. There’s often a sense that the anticipation of it was “paying into” the eventual grief and recovery process, like knowing it’s going to happen and being sad about it ahead of time is going to shorten things when it actually does, and that just isn’t how it works.

      It’s good that you are in counseling, it’s good that you are being kind to yourself, don’t stop any of that, but also know that it’s going to take as long as it takes and you can’t hurry it up just by wishing you were done already (even though you will probably reach the point where you frequently wish you could just *stop being sad*). And a lot of the people around you are going to start feeling that you should hurry up and get over it already, and that really doesn’t help. (It hit around the tw0-month mark for me–some people around me got irritated that I was “still sad”, and I would say that I wasn’t really myself again for over a year.)

      Keep doing the stuff you are doing that helps. Know that grief is like a physical injury to your brain, and it takes time for the brain to heal. Being active really helped me–his death was the start of my gym rat phase (I went to the gym 6 days a week)–and I also got a new pet of a totally different kind than I’d ever had that required a lot of attention and research, and that helped too.

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I wish you all the best, and I believe in your victory.

    12. Hannah Lee*

      So sorry for your loss I do beach.

      All of what you describe sounds completely normal! I went through something similar after my mom died. My siblings and I had all spent the 1-2 years before juggling assisting her and then full on care-giving as her health shifted, while most of us also had other responsibilities – partners, children, full time jobs, etc.

      When the urgent immediate need to be caring for her or planning care or worrying about whatever was suddenly gone, all the exhaustion, stress, tension and grief hit me hard. I found I was even *less* capable at day to day things than I had been during the time before when I was running on fumes. It was like the really meaningful emergency was over, and my body and mind just noped out of doing much of anything.

      Add to that awareness of how fundamental, profound, meaningful it is to be called to and be able to provide care to a loved one who is struggling, maybe dying … so many things that are usually “important” in day to day life are rightfully pushed aside because, frankly, in the big picture, they don’t matter as much – now or in the long term – as being there with your loved one, doing a little kindness for her even if she’s no longer able to respond to you, treating her with respect and dignity. For me, sometimes the MOST important thing I needed to do was right there, in the moment, for example, spending 45 minutes at 1 am, sitting next to my mother’s bed, brushing her hair and singing softly so she could relax, feel safe and loved, and fall back asleep after waking up with a leg cramp.

      Having to shift from that to the harsh light of day to day work life was awful. I was struck by how trivial and unimportant so many parts of my job were. What did it really matter whether I’d put pieces of paper neatly in files or just stacked them in piles on my desk? What did I care if the co-worker I’d always known was a jerk thought I wasn’t jumping fast enough on his non-urgent requests? It didn’t.

      I had to completely scale back my expectations, prioritize the literal “must dos” at work and in life and let everything else go. Things like processing payroll, paying suppliers, completing filings required by law? Those things got done … but often took 3 x as long as I struggled to keep focus, had to get up and go for a walk to clear my head, be in nature and breathe for a couple of minutes, or go sit in my car and cry when my grief got too bad. And reasonable things my co-workers needed done, I’d find a way to do them too, but not as quickly as I used to.

      But a bunch of stuff didn’t get done. And … it didn’t matter. A lot of internal systems that I used to keep my workflow organized or others updated got set aside. A year and a half later, I am JUST starting to look at them. Some will likely never be touched again.

      Our current capitalist societies place put SO much value and urgency “work” and “productivity” and “professionalism” I’ve always lived in New England in the US, so there was also an unhealthy dose of Puritan idle hands are the devil’s plaything in the culture that surrounded me, in my outlook and other’s expectations. But after being in the midst of something SO important, having the privilege of being there for my mom during such a difficult time for her, and for my siblings as we went through it together, I realize a lot of that doesn’t matter.

      Treating people around me with care and respect including treating myself that way, that’s what matters. And it’s okay and understandable that I often lack the motivation and focus “to do basic stuff” and that I still get wistful or teary sometimes missing my mom … the # of times a week I go to call her, or take a picture of something to share with her later, still!

      Sorry that was long, but the tldr version is:
      What you’re going through is completely normal, it’s completely okay.
      You’re doing all the right things.
      Advice?
      – Keep prioritizing so you hit the things that matter to you – including doing the basics of touching base with your team, getting them what you need. The files and the TPS reports or whatever can wait. At work, focus on the “have to dos” and block off time every week to ID what they are for this week, next week, next month – so you can chip away at them when you can focus. Everything else can wait.
      – Keep making time for down time, keep making time for being in nature, keep daydreaming, planning about the future – those are the self-care things that are helping you heal, regain balance, body mind and soul.
      – This is a long process, and you’re just in the very beginning, maybe still in shock and raw. Give yourself permission to grieve, to be imperfect, to be human.

    13. Anna Badger*

      I haven’t lost a parent but I’ve twice been the direct report to someone while they grieved a direct relative, so sharing in case that side of things is useful to hear:

      my bosses did what they were able to do, and what they weren’t able to do we worked around. if there was slack that needed to be picked up we were genuinely happy to do it – one thing about being on the outside of grief is that there is often so little you can do to help, particularly in a work setting where everyone’s trying to sense where the boundaries are now that someone’s life has been flipped right over. being able to say “yes, I can absolutely pick up this or that task” was a release on our end.

      and yeah, my bosses both absolutely had days where opening a file was an achievement. but the teams I was in got it, and we managed, and over time those days decreased in frequency.

      I wish you long life, and I’m sorry about your mum.

    14. RagingADHD*

      I’m sorry about your mom.

      You are grieving. That’s what’s going on. It’s a normal response to a terrible situation. The fact that you knew it was coming doesn’t change that. Sometimes when there is a long illness, loved ones might have some complex feelings (like relief at not having the pressure of caregiving responsibilities, or relief that she isn’t suffering anymore, or guilt about this or that you might have done differently).

      There’s a lot to process, and it takes up a lot of bandwidth. Be patient with yourself, make sure you are talking everything over with the counselor, and take good care of yourself physically.

      One thing you might consider: what are you doing with the downtime? Maybe nothing right now, and that’s fine. But maybe in a little while you might want to add something back into your schedule. Something you didn’t have time or energy for while you were caregiving. Something that makes you happy.

    15. VGS*

      I feel this so much.

      I lost my mom 4 months ago after a years-long illness. I wasn’t her primary caregiver – that was Dad – but I would say I was her secondary caregiver. In the months since, I’ve received a life changing promotion that is everything I wanted for a career next step, and my reaction has been… meh. I have been doing the bare minimum, and I know I’ve dropped several things (and also that my manager has noticed).

      I have good days, when I’m feeling extremely motivated, and am able to work on big projects. And I have a lot more days when I’m able to keep on top of my emails and must dos and that’s pretty much it. So I take advantage of the good days and accept the bad days.

      If you have vacation time available, I recommend taking a break. I took a few days in June, which I felt a little bad about, because I’d taken so much time at the end of my Mom’s life and after she passed. But end of life care and bereavement is not a break, and I desperately needed a break. So I limited it to a few days, found that wasn’t enough, and now I have another week planned for August. And if that week turns out not to be enough, I’ll plan to take another break in the fall.

    16. Just here for the scripts*

      What you’re going through is totally normal—I remember feeling like an untethered boat in a storm after my dad’s death (which followed my mom’s a year earlier). I could do anything, but wanted to do nothing.

      I think it’s why they say that—if you can—don’t make any big changes for a year following such a loss. You’ll need a year to regroup and re ground yourself—or at least I did.

      I can remember that year that the biggest thing I committed to doing was setting aside afternoons to watch the sappiest hallmark movies just so I had “permission” to cry.

      Be kind to yourself—no matter what age you are when you lose a parent, you will feel like an orphan. And that’s okay.

    17. Heather*

      This is absolutely typical for a grieving person. Even if you feel “fine” and that you aren’t overtly upset. My advice would just be to give yourself grace. Allow yourself to phone it in at work and do the minimum. Eventually you will start feeling more like yourself, but it may take longer than you expect.

    18. Dancing Otter*

      My condolences on your loss.
      Let yourself grieve. We had known for years that my father was on borrowed time, but it was still a shock when he died.
      Some people deal with grief by immersing themselves in anything they can to distract from it; others just go numb. Neither is “normal” compared to the other, and the same person may go back and forth between the two.
      Also, sounds as though you’re doing pretty well on the “walk around, be seen” approach to management.

    19. Jay (no, the other one)*

      My dad died suddenly and I was not right for a very long time. I was able to cut back at work and still felt well below my usual level of competence. A dear friend said “You’re getting a B. You’re used to getting As and that’s what you expect. For right now you’re getting a B, and that’s fine.” My mother died years later after a long decline with dementia and I didn’t expect to have the same struggle – and of course I did. It’s been a month. It’s a terrible loss and a hole in your life – even the caregiving was a kind of connection to your mom and something around which you organized your time.

      Lots of people find grief counseling helpful. Hospices often have services available to everyone in the community and there are also online resources. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. For some reason I have been able to ask for help and support in times of grief when I am usually incapable of it – I hope you can, too.

      And I’m sorry for your loss.

    20. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      Seconding everyone who has said this is totally normal. My mom who I was also close to passed suddenly a few years ago and I also found myself really phoning it in at work. Nothing really seems to be all that meaningful in the grand scheme of things when you are processing that loss.

      I was pretty useless for probably 2-3 months. Fortunately I’d been in my job for a decade and my boss knew I was not generally an underperformer (it was a very hands-on job and for some aspects, my flat affect/difficulty with enthusiasm/motivation was obvious).

      I don’t have any advice other than to be kind to yourself. I don’t think there’s anything you can do (counseling is a great idea) other than just go through it. Big hug for you! I still miss my mom but life has colors again now.

    21. I do beach*

      Thank you everyone. In the spirit of my post I cannot find the energy to reply to everyone’s comments, but they all resonate with me and I appreciate knowing that this is normal and I’m not the only one. I’m definitely phoning it in right now, which I don’t like, but I think I will try focusing only on the stuff that HAS TO get done, rather than what’s nice to do as an extra.

      1. Chini*

        I feel you so much. I’m going through something similar now, but for my dog. He died three weeks ago, and I’ve been an emotional wreck and absolutely useless at work since then. I’ve cried more over him than I did when my mother passed. I don’t care even a little bit about my job duties, and yes people are noticing. It sucks because pet loss is a disenfranchised grief — people will give you a day to be sad and then expect you to get over it.

        After my mother’s death, boss and colleagues bent over backwards to be helpful. And I didn’t need it…honestly, mostly I felt relief after her long illness and decline, and work was a welcome diversion. There were no conflicting emotions, no guilt…just closure. Whereas with my dog, I was totally unprepared for how hard it would hit. The crushing sadness and GUILT. From my late 20s to early 40s, he was the one constant in my life of victories and defeats, bad relationships, and life-changing moves. I was solely responsible for keeping him safe and healthy, and at the end….I didn’t.

        I’ve never felt so alone. I look forward to going into the office because my house is too quiet and empty now. But once I log on, I just stare at the screen. Maybe take care of easy busy-work tasks but completely fail to tackle the important stuff. I have no advice, just commiseration, and I’m grateful for all the suggestions people have provided above.

        1. allathian*

          I’m so sorry for your loss.

          I hear you on the pet loss thing. I mourned the loss of my parents’ two cats that I never lived with but occasionally cat-sat when they traveled more deeply than I mourned the deaths of any of my grandparents. I was a child or a young adult when they died and not a caregiver for any of them. I was sad, yes, but not for long, and I certainly didn’t need to take time off school, work, or college to deal with the grief. I suspect that because I wasn’t a caregiver for them it was easier for me to come to terms with their impending deaths, particularly my paternal grandmother whom I mourned before her death as dementia took everything that made her the person she was and left an empty shell.

          But my parents and in-laws are getting older and more frail, and I expect it’s only a matter of time before I experience the loss of a parent myself, and I’m dreading the prospect.

    22. Yikes Stripes*

      I lost my father unexpectedly to double pneumonia in 2019 and my grandmother (who was a second parent to me growing up) passed in 2021 after several years of fading health. I’d been Gran’s full time caregiver for nearly ten years when she died, and the last six weeks of her life were my mother and I doing *all* the hospice work for her. I’ve never been as tired and close to fully breaking as I was at the end of that, and I was fortunate enough to have enough financial support to take a couple of months off – which was extremely lucky because I was a total zombie for six weeks. I still have days where I see something that reminds me of one of them and I have to go hide and cry for a little while.

      I’m going to echo what others have said here, and tell you that caregiving is exhausting on a level that most people don’t understand, and even more so when it’s someone you love. I’m a professional in home care provider now, and when I was hired by the company I work for they were thrilled with the experience I had with family, because, and I’m quoting here “Everything is ten times harder when it’s your family.”

      Since October of 2021 I’ve gone through hospice with three clients and am currently starting that process with a fourth, so I’ll tell you exactly what I’ve told all of their families: everyone grieves the loss of a parent. Even if they don’t think they will, even if all they’re grieving is the could have beens, they’re going to grieve, and that pain is unique and terrible. You loved your mother very much, you spent years helping her live and months helping her die, and there’s going to be a lot of emotional weight on your shoulders from that. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and I bet that if one of your direct reports had gone through what you’ve gone through you’d extend them a lot of grace and as much leeway as you could. Please try to extend that same grace and kindness to yourself.

      I’m glad you’re working with a counselor, because that will help time and distance do their work.

      I’m so sorry about your loss. May your mother’s memory be a blessing.

    23. *kalypso*

      This is grief and it’s normal. You’re already doing counseling, but are you also doing anything with the will, your mom’s house/possessions etc? Because prolonging all that can make this part of grief (you will feel it for the rest of your life, it just won’t be this present all the time) last longer or feel more acute more often, as you’re constantly reminded/stuck around a bunch of reminders/dragging out the immediate loss. If you’re not and you have it hanging over your head as something to do, then make a start on it. Use it as a scheduled time to feel and process and transition from your mom being the main thing in your life (you took FMLA to care for her, this is a massive life change for you) and then when the feelings pop up elsewhere you can put them in a diary or push them aside until your packing/paperwork/affairs time.

      You might or might not also find help in picking out a small memorial/memento to put in your workspace – externalising the grief that way may clear it out so you can focus instead of holding it in and there being no room for the executive function in your job.

      But also, a big trip in your leave may not have been enough – a lot of travel is your brain on travel, not always leaving enough processing time for feelings and changes. Vacation and travel are good, but can you take some time to just sit around at home? Meet friends, go out for tea, read a good book, just be present with yourself and not you+caring for your mum?

    24. Mrs C*

      I slid into a depressive funk after my mom passed. It snuck up on me. Thought it wouldn’t be that bad because I had lost a child, and that’s “worse.” But this pain was nearly as deep, just…different.

      It sounds like your grief is sneaking up on you, too: you thought you were ready, but it’s still surprising you. Grief counselling or some depression help is probably called for. For your situation, a local hospice might offer a grief group or grief counselling services.

      Also, people find they’ve grown and changed after what you’ve gone through. A death can feel like a good time to re-evaluate other parts of your life. It could be your brain has subconsciously started re-evaluating this job, and whether it’s still what you need.

  11. Abby*

    How horrible would it be to wear business casual to a casual dress work environment?

    I start a new job on Monday, and just found out they have a casual dress work environment. Unfortunately, I own no jeans, I just have sweatpants and baggy cargo pants, which seem too casual.

    My old job switched from business casual to casual dress last year, so I spent a few weekends going to different stores and trying on jeans from different brands. I even ordered a few pairs online. None of them fit me well and none were comfortable. Since my coworkers were rarely in the office, I kept wearing business casual and it didn’t seem like a big deal.

    I’m going to try to get jeans again this weekend, but am not optimistic. If my options are to wear jeans that are uncomfortable or wear my comfortable business casual clothes, is it okay to wear the latter until I figure something else out?

    1. londonedit*

      I don’t think jeans are the only option for casual. I’m assuming from your name that you’re female-presenting, and I often wear quite smart-looking midi/maxi dresses with trainers (sneakers) or other casual shoes to dress them down. You could wear a dress with a sweatshirt over the top, or smarter trousers with a colourful t-shirt and trainers to dress them down. I don’t think it’s terrible at all to wear something more on the business side of casual – the terms are so open to interpretation anyway. I wouldn’t feel like you have to wear jeans. People are usually a bit smarter in their first few weeks of a new job anyway, so I’d just wear something you’re comfortable with, maybe try to casual it up a bit, and get a feel for what everyone else wears.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        This is a good point. Shoes can quickly take an outfit from dressy to casual. Wear your comfiest sneakers (the best part of casual dress IMO) and no matter what else you are wearing you will look more casual.

      2. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Seconding any kind of jersey knit dress. They’re the true “secret pyjamas” of the workplace, and if you feel *too* casual, you can always add some statement jewelry.

      3. Sparkle Llama*

        I am allowed to wear jeans (and often do). When I wear dress pants I will typically pair them with a solid colored decent looking t shirt and maybe a cardigan rather than a nicer business casual shirt. But I also have several coworkers that never wear jeans and nothing feels off about it

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      No one will give it a thought if you aren’t wearing jeans. Tan or black colored pants are still completely normal in a casual work environment. Just don’t show up in a business suit and you’ll be fine.

    3. TeenieBopper*

      I work in a casual/business casual office. I almost exclusively wear shirts and ties (Fridays being exceptions, where I wear a polo). The first couple of days I had people tell me I didn’t need to dress up but 1) my outfits were literally business casual but with a tie and 2) I like wearing ties and having pops of color and pattern. No one’s really said anything since.

    4. ecnaseener*

      Far from horrible. You almost certainly won’t be the only one. If it registers at all, it’ll be as an uninteresting thing about your personal style preferences.

      1. londonedit*

        Yes – occasionally people will comment on how I’m always wearing such nice dresses or I’m always so smart, and I just say ‘Yes, during lockdown I bought so many lovely dresses out of boredom and I never see the point in wearing them when I’m WFH, so I make the effort to wear them when I come to the office!’

    5. ThatGirl*

      My office is casual, but that still runs the gamut of pants, skirts and dresses. Just because you CAN wear jeans, that doesn’t mean you have to. I’ve seen leggings with tunics, khakis, “editor pants”, and plenty of more casual dresses and skirts.

      1. CR*

        My office is casual too and my colleagues wear everything from formal shift dresses with heels to shorts and t-shorts.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You’re overthinking this. Just wear what you have for now, it’ll be fine. And gradually acquire additional items that make sense. If that means you never wear jeans to work, then you never wear jeans to work. There are people who just don’t like jeans, or can’t find well fitting ones that are comfortable. There’s other clothing options out there.

    7. Alex*

      I always took “casual” to mean “wear whatever you want.”

      You will find that plenty of people feel most comfortable in “business casual” just because it is their style. I work in a casual office and people wear the whole spectrum of things.

    8. The Prettiest Curse*

      I used to wear business casual (sometimes a bit smarter) all the time in a very casual environment where the dress code was basically “please wear clothes” and nobody ever said a thing to me about it. Also, they’re definitely not going to bat an eye at your dressing smarter during your first week, since people often do that at new jobs anyway. Good luck on your new job!

    9. NeedRain47*

      Dress codes are a minimum, not a maximum, you know? You’re allowed to dress nicer than called for. Wear the clothes that you have and you like. Unless your coworkers are real jerks they’re just going to think that’s your style.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This. You aren’t violating dress code by being more dressed up. If anything, folks at your new job are likely to assume “Abby must be trying to make a good first impression in her new job.”

    10. Dust Bunny*

      I’ve owned the same pair of jeans since 2001 specifically because I wear them so infrequently that they haven’t worn out (although they’re getting close now). I find pants in general really physically uncomfortable and almost always wear skirts or dresses, although some of those are pretty casual.

      I’m not sure I would even notice if you wore business casual. I definitely would not care enough to wonder about it.

    11. LemonToast*

      It’s totally fine to wear your existing clothes! I work in higher ed IT, which can be pretty casual, and we have a spectrum. Some people like shift dresses and button-downs, some people (like me) wear university t-shirts and athletic pants. No one bats an eye either way. Also, I am a manager, and have never been talked to about my clothing choices. Some days I dress up a little bit more and some days I’m in the yoga pants.

      I don’t wear jeans the majority of the time – because they are super uncomfortable, especially when it’s hot. I have one pair that I like, and even then I don’t wear them that often. Please don’t stress about needing jeans to work in a casual dress environment. There’s so many other options!

      I’m a big fan of Athleta pants but I try to buy them second-hand, as they are expensive but there is also a plethora of second-hand options out there, and no need to buy them full price. Also they look great with all my school spirit shirts. :D

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

      I think you will be fine with business casual. For some places, their casual is more allined to business casual than actual casual. And typically for the first few days at a new job people dress a bit more businessy than normal, because you are feeling out the norms of your new place. No one is going to come at you on the first day because you are wearing dress pants and not jeans. And as a new person you have the perfect opportunity to make this what you prefer. If anyone says “oh you know jeans are ok” you can say that you know that but this is your preferred style.

      good luck on the first day!

    13. mreasy*

      You can dress slightly more formally than the dress code – just not less so. Biz casual vs regular casual isn’t such a huge leap that you will stick out, or if you do, it will be for looking nice.

    14. Unkempt Flatware*

      Nope, you’re good. Wear what makes you feel good. I also dress a step above everyone else– even my grandboss. No one cares.

    15. Hotdog not dog*

      I do it all the time. So far, if anyone has even noticed, nobody has ever said anything. Similar issue, I just don’t have the kind of body shape that jeans will fit. So I wear what I’m comfortable in.

    16. AnonAcademicLibrarian*

      I think you’re fine. Basically, dress the best you can and then keep an eye on what other people are wearing. I love wearing jeans to the office, but that’s because I love wearing jeans to the office. Some folks wear them. Some folks wear dresses. Some folks wear khaki pants. I would err on the side of formality if you’re unsure at first, but just see what other folks have on and adjust as needed to the dress of your colleagues.

    17. HR Exec Popping In*

      Do not worry about this. Wear whatever makes you comfortable. As a new person just don’t show up multiple steps more dressed up (ie., full business attire). Otherwise, normal business casual is fine for a casual environment.

    18. metadata minion*

      Totally fine! It would look a bit off if you were coming in in a suit and tie/very nice interview dress, but wearing dress slacks and blouses or button-downs will in most offices just mark you as a snappy dresser or someone who enjoys fashion. Unless there’s some practical reason you need to wear casual clothing, like if you’re a field ecologist or something, dressing slightly more formally than you “have” to is completely normal.

    19. Mandie*

      Absolutely you can dress up a notch from everyone else. In my office, jeans are acceptable, but there’s a huge range in how people dress – from jeans with sneakers and T-shirts, to dresses, to khakis and blazers. I mostly wear stretchy dress pants because they’re much more comfortable for me to sit in all day than jeans.

    20. RagingADHD*

      You aren’t required to wear jeans. If something else like chinos or a casual dress is more comfortable, wear that! I am living in knit dresses, and it’s awesome. Somebody told me the other day we’re allowed to wear jeans, and my response was, “Do I have to?”

      Driving and walking from the parking lot when the heat index is 105F, and then sitting all day in jeans, is not my idea of a good time.

    21. Meghan*

      If you are a person who shops at Kohl’s, the Lauren Conrad Ponte Point pants are insanely comfortable to the point where they sometimes replace my leggings on the weekends, but I can wear them at my luxury hotel property as long as I pair them with a blazer. I love them so much, I have 4 pair!

    22. I Have RBF*

      Just stick with business casual if that’s what’s comfortable. There should not be a penalty for not wearing jeans. Jeans and a t-shirt is basic casual, but you can dress up from there, you don’t have to be at the “floor” level of attire, it just gives you and others permission to dress down.

    23. ccsquared*

      Especially on your first day/week, I’d wear what you have that fits you well and you feel great in and not worry so much about what everyone else is doing. People pay less attention to us than we think, and they’re far more likely to notice your discomfort if you’re in clothes you don’t like than if you perfectly blend in. Also, casual environments tend to be less uniform – you might be imagining everyone is going to be in jeans and hoodies, but more likely someone will be wearing that, someone else will be in khakis and a polo, someone will be in a cute blouse and blazer, etc.

      Once you get the lay of the land, if you feel like you want to make wardrobe tweaks that balance your own preferences with the office culture, by all means do so, but you’re more likely to feel that money is well spent if you have a better sense of what you’re aiming for. I made the mistake of buying clothes for a job I assumed would be business casual bordering on full business dress, only to find it was more of a hip smart casual, so not only did I fumble around in heels and stiff pants for the first week or so, I felt guilty spending ahead of my first paycheck on clothes I realized I’d be unlikely to wear again.

    24. Nancy*

      Casual doesn’t mean jeans only, it means wear whatever you want. I never wear jeans to work.

  12. Your Local Password Resetter*

    I’d like some advice on recruitment etiquette, and when you’re still allowed to politely bow out of a job offer.

    I have currently accepted a verbal offer from a recruitment company “R”. I will be working for the hiring company “H” as a contractor employed by the recruitment company.
    This work will start in about 5 weeks. As of now I only have the verbal assurance of the recruiters.

    The issue is that I still plan on applying for other jobs in the meantime, but I’m not sure at which stage I would be proffesionally obligated to decline other offers in favor of the offer from R. Is it once I accepted verbally? Once hiring company H starts processing the hiring paperwork? Once I sign the contract?

    For extra context: contracts are a standard part of employment here, and working based on verbal offers alone is almost unheard of. The contract is usually signed a few days before the start date.
    In addition, I’ve had previous hirings through other recruitment companies where the start date was pushed back by weeks, or the whole contract was cancelled at the last minute. As such, I don’t consider myself properly employed by hiring company H yet.

    What would be the appropriate course of action here?

    1. Knope Knope Knope*

      Never. Do what’s right for you.

      Source: left accepted jobs and have had new hires bail on me. Everyone moves on.

      1. There You Are*

        Agreed.

        When I graduated with my Master’s, I accepted four job offers. The first two paid about the same, so I kept interviewing. The 3rd paid better than the first two, so I had to call the first two and rescind my acceptance. They weren’t pleased but they understood.

        Then the fourth company showed up out of nowhere with an offer that was waaaaaay above Company #3, so I called #3 and rescinded *their* offer.

        All’s good with my contacts at the first three companies. They would have loved to have gotten me for less than I’m being paid now, but they all also acknowledged that they would have done the same thing in my shoes.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I’d wait until I signed a contract with Company H, because up until then anything and everything can happen and you may still need those other job leads. Something could still happen *after* you sign the contract, but at that point it will have made sense to have turned down those other jobs.

      If it’s standard that contracts aren’t signed until a few days before, then the other companies will probably know that too.

    3. ferrina*

      I think it would be once you have a signed contract, though they might get frustrated if you back out when they have a verbal agreement.

      That said, if they are comfortable changing things on their end that impacts your pay (like a start date), turn-about is fair play. Sometimes polite isn’t as important as self-advocacy.

    4. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Assume you haven’t gotten the job with H until you’ve signed the contract. A lot can happen in 5 weeks, as you’ve found out yourself! I’d keep looking.

    5. Jayne*

      My advice would be to proceed with your job search until the contract is signed, preferably in blood.

      You have experienced the chaos of a withdrawn offer, so you are a free agent until the company commits to you

    6. Samwise*

      You have no contract. You owe them nothing. If they really wanted to ensure you were starting on Day One, they would offer you a contract now with Day One start date.

    7. HR Exec Popping In*

      The company you verbally accepted the offer would obviously want you to let them know ASAP if you accepted another position and won’t take theirs. However, you really can’t expect it to final until it is final. For me, I would wait until after background check and you have physically accepted the offer in writing.

    8. Pita Chips*

      Keep looking, applying, and interviewing until your first day. Making you wait 5 weeks is a bit much.

    9. Dancing Otter*

      This sounds like a temp contract rather than permanent employment. Is it?

      Assuming so, they should expect people to continue looking for permanent employment. Not just before the start date, but even after. That’s just the nature of using contract/temporary help instead of actually hiring someone.

      And even if company R claims they’re hiring you on a permanent basis, it’s only permanent until company H decides to use a different out-sourcing company. We see this a lot with government contracting companies.

    10. I Have RBF*

      When I have worked contract and a permanent job came up, they never really had a thing to say about it, because regular employee with benefits beats contractor “rent a body” type work. This is US, so YMMV elsewhere.

  13. Amber Rose*

    I took a week off and there was a meltdown. Despite my best efforts, I’m a choke point for a lot of occasionally time sensitive things, and a bunch of other efforts. I got an absolute slew of emails during my week off asking me to do things urgently (none of which I answered because I don’t check my emails when I’m away).

    I’ve asked for back up so many times but we’re experiencing our busiest year in the company’s history, basically double sales from last year, and nobody has time or inclination to take on any additional tasks. I’ve been trying to argue for hiring another person but I’m a little worried I don’t have enough for them to do.

    How do you look at everything you do, figure out what can be delegated, and then determine if that actually needs a whole extra person?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      I would say that this is your manager’s to figure out, not yours. They know what needs the whole team has (not just you) and whether adding someone makes sense. All you need to do is point out that you need back up (with this week as Exhibit A) and let them figure it out. Don’t be in the position of caring more about making sure the work gets done than your boss is.

      1. Tio*

        If you wanted, you could take the slew of emails and whatnot to your manager and be like, “Here are the things that didn’t get covered while I was out. Do you have any suggestions as for where to direct them next time I’m out so they get covered?” If the manager just sort of shrugs it off, then oh well, they won’t get covered and things will fall behind. That might be what they need to change

      2. Hannah Lee*

        “Don’t be in the position of caring more about making sure the work gets done than your boss is.”

        ^ THIS!

        It is SO hard to do, when you’re someone who is competent and conscientious.
        But it is the best thing to do. You can raise the issue to your manager, but if they choose to not act on it, it’s on them.

        Not just in a “hey boss, look! If it isn’t the consequences of your (in)actions!” way, but also because it’s important to manage your boundaries, your role and responsibilities. If they don’t give you authority to address xyz, do not move heaven and earth, suck up your time and energy and time off to try to head the problem off at the pass, or worry about it.

        Staffing issues, coverage issues, failure to manage deliverable/response time expectations … that’s on them.
        They have the power to address it … and have CHOSEN not to.

      3. Amber Rose*

        I am the whole team. I’m literally the only person who does the work I do. My manager is basically just the person who signs off on my expenses, he has no other real input in my work.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Even that, you being “the whole team” is the manager’s choice. They could choose to have cross-training, back-up and/or procedures in place if you’re not available, as well as a plan they would put in place if for example you won the lottery tonight and gave your notice effective immediately.

          A while back, a poster mentioned the way their manager handled critical staff planning to be out of the office was by announcing in advance “The widget department will be closed from the 1st to the 15th. No orders will be responded to during that time. Requests will be handled in the order received when the department reopens on the 16th”
          It was on the other departments to plan ahead, schedule accordingly. And the staff would come back on the 16th to a backlog they would simply work through. No coming in on vacation required.

          That might be an option.

          But basically it’s still on the manager – if the work is critical, time sensitive, and pops up at a moment’s notice, their choice is to staff so that there is always someone available to do it – ie with cross training or multiple people in the role, outsource during any absences, manage the inbound requests so that no one is expecting and output that week

          But closing their eyes and saying la la la and doing nothing about coverage means stuff won’t get done that week, because that’s what the manager decided by only having one person do that task and zero back up coverage. That’s on them and within their control to solve and deal with.

    2. Rick Tq*

      Sounds like your manager isn’t doing her job and got to pay the consequences while you are out.

      Those are classic tasks for management, not you.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Thirding that this is your manager’s problem, not yours. There is no reason that your going away for an entirely reasonable amount of time should have resulted in things falling apart.

    4. ferrina*

      Figure out:
      1) What tasks you are responsible and how much time each of these take. Include admin things, like answering emails or filling out timesheets. Anything that takes time.
      2) How that is projected to increase
      3) At which point the work surpasses the hours you are contracted to work (on a regular basis- not a one time) and how this will impact the business (for example, how much will it push timelines?)
      4) Options to fix this. Try to come up with 2-3 feasible options. This could be cross-training so others take on part of the work, bringing in a temp, dropping certain programs, hiring someone.
      One of my favorite tricks is calculating the FTE (full-time employee, aka 35-38 hours per week depending on how much admin overhead you have), breaking down the FTE load of each of the core responsibilities (Program B= .3 FTE or 11 hours/wk) then showing how many FTE the current tasks are taking. If it’s more than 1.2 FTE, there’s clearly an issue. I once got up to the point where I was expected to do 2.3 FTE of work.

      Once you’ve got everything written out, take it to your manager. Yes, it should be your manager’s job to do this, but IME most managers have no idea how to handle situations like this. Most managers have been delighted to have everything documented, and it makes it easier for them to understand their options and make their case the Powers That Be.
      Just make sure that when you talk to your manager, it’s about information sharing. You want to be clear that how they handle it is their decision (and there’s likely options that you won’t know about), you just want to make sure that they have all the information that they need to make their decision and advocate for resources.
      From there, it’s on them. If they can’t get additional resources, it’s not on you to never take a vacation or work countless hours. At that point they are making a decision on how to handle it (deciding not to handle it is still a decision).

      Good luck!

      1. Ashley*

        Something else to consider when presenting does it make sense to have an entire second person, what is on the one day I hope to get to X list? Are there ways the role can expand but you have just never quite gotten there.
        Maybe management is open to finding someone that wants more part time work but would be willing to step up their hours if you were out as a compromise.

      2. Csethiro Ceredin*

        I agree with everyone that this SHOULD be the manager doing this, and I see the argument to just stop doing extra work. But I’ve been in this position and sometimes it’s worth doing at least coming up with a suggested solution as Ferrina laid out, and laying it all out to the manager.

        Because no matter how hard you try to maintain boundaries you’re the one dealing with everything coming at you, and before you start dropping balls you want to have made the situation very clear to your boss about the inevitability of this happening and what appears to be needed. This might be to share all possible info, or it might be more to make sure they can’t say “I didn’t know it was this bad, why didn’t you tell me?”

        One other thing to add to your discussion with your manager is coverage – the need for this is really obvious after your recent experience and you’re going to have sick days, time off, etc. and can’t add a backlog of work to your already full plate each time you return to work.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      Agreed that you and your manager will need to solve this together. I think it will help if you take some time to list out all your tasks and perhaps add rough time estimates (ex. Task A – 5 hrs/week, Task B – 2 hrs/month) so you both can see what you can accomplish in a 40 hour work week. Then you and your manager can work on priority tasks for you to focus on, and tasks to hand off to other employees/hire a new person to handle.

    6. Synaptically Unique*

      I’ve had a few new positions approved over the years. Justification has generally been a combination of overall workload (e.g., we had ~100 widget requests annually 2018-2021, 2022 had ~150 requests and 2023 is on track to hit ~200 requests with no change in staffing OR we’re now supporting 3 departments instead of 2) and a change in scope or potential change in scope (e.g., we’ve seen widget quality issues traced back to supply chain changes and could get the quality of shipped widgets back up to standard if only we had staffing to do QC checks). I always throw in one duty that includes backup responsibilities for another role for exactly the reasons you’re describing. As far as writing the duties for a whole extra position, start with the tasks you (or other staff if you’re bringing them into the conversation) hate or struggle with the most. If you want to add new duties that aren’t being done but should be, you can decide if you want to take those duties on and offload some of your less favorite tasks or if you want someone else to do them. A lot of our tasks overlap on paper, but individual duties cover different parts of the process. Also aim for 75-80% (for you and a new person) actual workload because you need some breathing space. If everyone is working at 95-100%+ all the time, you can’t absorb anything to cover for someone on leave or deal with an emergency without everything falling apart.

    7. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      You have to let things fail. It’s so hard to do, but right now, because you are handling it, it’s not a problem to your supervisors–the work is getting done so who cares if it burns you out to do it?

      If you keep juggling all this, then it is a problem for you. Work a reasonable about and drop the rest. Make it a problem for your manager. Show your company that it isn’t sustainable.

    8. BubbleTea*

      Maybe it doesn’t need a whole person – but something else might need the other half of a person, or someone might want part time hours. I know part time is less common in the US and I assume that’s because of the health insurance aspect, but it’s often the ideal option for many people.

    1. Girasol*

      I’ve seen this in the private sector where a manager will ask for long hours and foregoing vacation days to complete a time sensitive effort on schedule. IMHO it becomes a problem when the manager gets in the habit of lining up one crisis project after another so that it isn’t a “just this once” thing, but people are consistently overworked and forbidden to use their vacation days.

    2. TeenieBopper*

      Non unionized school district post capitalist hellscape Texas gonna non unionized post capitalist hellscape Texas, I suppose.

    3. Pretty as a Princess*

      They are so busy laying off librarians that they are telling the HR folks to hunker down? Yikes.

        1. DistantAudacity*

          Meankng: Chaotic, flailing, too much in all directions

          «Det var helt Texas» = « It was completely Texas»; usage: «I went into the store with a massive sales on – it was completely Texas!»

          :)

          1. TeaCoziesRUs*

            I AM a Texan (not a proud one right now, though), and this just tickles me! Hello, Norway! :D

    4. Cellbell*

      I’ve worked in HR at a school district, and the summer months (especially August) tended to be the busiest since there’s always a lot of hiring, separations, transfers etc. As an overtime exempt staff member, I worked a lot more than 40 hours each week during the busy season, but I’m still taking issue with the overall tone of the email and the specifics around the expectations. Checking in to see if there’s more work every day at 5? That’ll be a nope from me.

  14. ThatGirl*

    Things not to do in interviews, part 6,432:

    My husband’s team is hiring, and his boss is really interested in teachability – understanding that not everyone will have direct experience, but if you’re willing to learn, she’s on board.

    They had an applicant who looked good on paper, was doing OK in the interview, and then got asked about a moment where a previous supervisor corrected them and what did they do.

    This person’s answer was to share a time when their boss said they were doing something wrong, but “my boss was wrong so I just kept doing what I was doing.”

    Better yet, husband’s boss had someone else ask the same question, just in case the applicant regretted that answer or wanted to give additional context but … nope, same answer, doubled down on it.

    1. ecnaseener*

      It’s so nice when people tell you what they’re like and save you the trouble of finding out later!

    2. Elle Woods*

      Yikes. At least they found that out before the applicant was hired. I gotta hand it to the applicant though; it’s nice that they gave a consistent answer.

    3. Tio*

      I interviewed someone and we asked them about a career accomplishment they were proud of… and they told us about how they convinced a current company client to switch to their new company when they left. So, basically a direct violation of pretty much any non-compete. Please don’t make non-compete violations your “best accomplishment”.

      1. Elsewise*

        I once interviewed someone and asked them about an accomplishment and she straight-up said she didn’t have any! This wasn’t a fresh out of school first job person, either. I said it could be something small, it didn’t have to be a big award or anything, just something you were proud of or your boss said you did a good job on, and nada. I followed it up with a question about taking feedback and she sighed and said “my boss is a real b-, so I get a lot of feedback, all negative. I just ignore most of it. I figure if it’s serious they’ll just fire me.”

        I did not hire this person.

        1. NotBatman*

          WHAT. I trust you that this wasn’t a 17-year-old who’d never had a job before, but by gum does she sound like a 17-year-old who’d never had a job before.

        2. Csethiro Ceredin*

          I also had someone tell me they dealt with negative feedback by just trying to ignore it.

          Then proceeded to complain about several people in their personal life at length.

    4. FrogPenRibbets*

      Had a similar interview. At one point I asked the guy what his ‘hot button’ issue was in managing (I was hiring for a warehouse that a had a lot of personalities and needed to know that this person would be able to effectively manage a very eclectic group of people). He went on a 10 minute rant about tardiness that was just over the top. Think words like “Disrespectful” “won’t tolerate” “No Excuse”

      I moved on knowing he was done… but later in the interview I asked why he left his last position. His answer “I was fired for being late too often”

      Insert every meme that comes to mind about confusion here… I was able to thank him for his time and shoo him out the door. Go figure he started to pester me about the job shortly after that interview.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Hmm, I wonder if he had a manager who ranted at him like that when they fired him so he assumed it was the attitude bosses were supposed to have about late employees and assumed you’d want him to show that reaction.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Thank you, I am latching onto this rational explanation, as I feel overwhelmed by cognitive dissonance in the world’s humans.

    5. Roland*

      I love it. For even the mildest behavior question, there might not be a right answer but there’s lots of wrong ones…

      I once had a candidate say that if they had to do a project with someone who wanted weekly meetings, while they the candidate preferred to always stick to emails they’d…. just do the whole project alone. Ok!

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I was hiring for a medical coder.

      “What is your favorite type of service to code?”
      “I’m actually looking to get away from coding at all, I’d rather move into IT.”

      … Then why on god’s green earth are you HERE applying for my surgery coder position.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I trained a new CSR once; on the last day of a week of training, she quit. The reason? “I didn’t realize I’d be talking on the phone so much.”

        I take pizza orders. Over the phone. She spent a week training on the phone. I have no idea what magical job she thought would begin after a week spent training ON THE PHONE.

    7. Samwise*

      Reminds me of the time we had a great (we thought) candidate.

      “Tell us about a time when you made a mistake at work. What happened, and how did you handle it?”

      “I can’t answer that because I never make mistakes”

      Chuckles all around. “So ok, but could you tell us etc”

      “No really, I don’t ever make mistakes at work”

      Committee members glance around at each other, I say “Oh, everyone is human, we all make mistakes! All of here on the committee could give you examples! It doesn’t have to be a big mistake.”

      “I just can’t truthfully answer that because I don’t make mistakes at work”

      In our post-interview discussion, one of my colleagues remarked, “But they do make mistakes at interviews!”

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        I wonder if she “filed a complaint” with corporate about being pressed for an answer in the interview?

  15. is it me?*

    About a year ago I got a major promotion at work, which included moving departments to one I had worked in previously, but not for several years. A few weeks ago I initiated a conversation with my boss after I noticed she had been very short/grumpy with me. I asked her if there was something that was frustrating her about me and my work. She admitted that she was disappointed in my job performance. However, when I asked her to give me specific examples, she could not give me any. She did say she needed to be “more of a leader.” I gave some examples of times I had shown leadership, which she agreed with, but again could not give me specific examples of times she wished I had stepped up to show more leadership. She also said that I had been hired to “help her” and that I was taking up more of her time to manage than she had anticipated. So what I am wondering here is, does my boss suck, or is it possible I’m just kind of bad at my job? I am fairly high up in my organization now so I am wondering if I am just sort of missing something about being a more senior manager.

    Additional context: My position was newly created, so there was no specific list of job duties to be handed over to me. My thought is if there were specific things my boss wanted me to take over, she should have just communicated that to me, but my impression is she wants me to step up and take things on without being told. Also, we did our annual reviews a few months ago but she never went over mine with me. I asked her to send it to me so I could see it, but she said she wanted to review it with me in person, which hasn’t happened.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      A boss who gets grumpy instead of talking to you when they think you’re not performing well is a them problem, not a you problem. Maybe you’re not performing as well as you could be, who knows, but how are you supposed to know that if she refuses to tell you and won’t meet with you to discuss your performance?

      I’d also ask her what she means by “help her”. Does she think you’re her assistant? Did she want to unload some work responsibilities onto you and just didn’t?

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      Sorry you are experiencing this. It is directly rooted in the lack of clearly defined responsibilities/expectations for the position, which is a failure on your boss’s part.

      My recommendation would be to think about your boss’s role & responsibilities and what YOU see as the priorities & responsibilities most appropriate to your position. I would draft those up, and ask the boss for a convo and say something along the lines of “I think that we need to get clearer about where you want me to prioritize – this is a first draft and I’d welcome your feedback about your expectations so I can get us on the same page.”

    3. Lily Rowan*

      It sounds like she is not a great manager, but also you could be more proactive/aggressive about taking things on, and it might help.

    4. Try This*

      Rather than trying to assess if she is wrong or if you are wrong, try approaching this from another angle. Since this position was newly created, ask her what her ideal version of the person performing this role would be like. Try to get her to give you as much detail as possible. One of the problems here might be that your boss is reluctant to criticize you personally, and she is hesitant to give you any feedback. If you can de-personalize the interaction by talking about an imaginary 3rd person performing the role, you might have better luck.

      1. is it me?*

        She keeps asking ME what my vision for the role is. (I feel like she’s giving me a test and I keep failing.) I also asked her to please give me more feedback as I take corrective feedback very well, which she agreed is the case on the occasions she has given it to me.

        1. Generic Name*

          Your manager is ineffective. It’s a management job to come up with job descriptions for their subordinates. I take it this is a small company. You have 2 paths to sanity: 1) write your own job description and get her to approve it. Don’t include anything you hate doing or are bad at; or 2) get a new job.

          If you wait for her to do her job, things will get worse. The leadership she wants to see in you is you doing her job for her (but for less pay, natch).

        2. Lily Rowan*

          I have to say, this is why I don’t apply for jobs that have “entrepreneurial” in the posting — I am good at doing my job, but not great at making it up.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          It sounds like she thinks any guidance on her part is “more work” and her only real image for your role is “you taking stuff off my plate without me having to do or say anything.”

          That vague version of “leadership” also points in this direction–take the lead! Without any input! You’re just supposed to kinda know what to do!

    5. Ashley*

      Is there another manager or division you could ask for feedback since you manager isn’t helping? Something low key with someone you have a friendly relationship with?
      Food for thought, are there things that she does that you could be doing? What could you take off her plate on a regular basis?
      Also, has your department gotten extra busy in the past year where two people might have been able to handle the load a year ago, but things keep growing and maybe you are a 2.3 people now.

      1. is it me?*

        Right after I started most of the people who were supposed to be my direct reports quit (complicated situation, having to do with two departments merging and someone in a different leadership role behaving badly) so I have been doing their jobs as well as my own.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      Your manager sucks at coaching and giving feedback. Now, does that mean that she’s wrong about you having areas where you need to improve? Not necessarily. It does sound like what she wants is for you to be more proactive about shaping your own position. I think what might help is if you say to her, “it sounds like you want me to be more proactive about shaping my position and taking on new work. Is that right?” If she says yes, then the next step is for the two of you to sit down and talk about what the priorities should be for you. I would go into that conversation with a list of things that you think are the biggest pain points for your team that are within your power (or might be within your power) to improve: “Need to streamline X process,” “need to ensure all members of the team are trained on Y so we don’t have to rely on Wakeen to do it all.” That sort of thing. It can help to ask other teams that work with yours, “what could our team do to work better with yours?” That can highlight some challenges or areas for improvement. When you have your conversation with your boss, ask her if she agrees with you that those are priorities, and if not, listen to what she says would be higher priorities for her. Then start coming up with some plans to make change. Check in with her as you formulate your plans to make sure you’re on the same page, and continue to keep her in the loop as things progress.

    7. Synaptically Unique*

      I’ve hired people into higher-level roles where they are expected to be independent and I can agree that when that’s the expectation, it’s exhausting to have someone who wants/needs direct instruction/supervision. It’s also tricky to be in a new role with ill-defined duties and expectations. I agree with the suggestion to look around and come up with suggestions and recommendations for addressing pain points or improving workflows. Make sure you focus on substantive instead of petty changes. Write it all up, take it her as a rough draft and see where things stand. I wouldn’t go back to her and ask if this is what she wants. She’s already told you she wants you to be a self-starter, and at least she’ll have a baseline for direction if your ideas aren’t exactly what she had in mind. I find that when I’m overwhelmed, I get much further if my staff brings me a rough draft. Even if they took something in the complete opposite direction, I have a clear place to start pulling my thoughts together.

    8. gyrfalcon17*

      “My position was newly created, so there was no specific list of job duties to be handed over to me.”

      Was there a job description for the position? If so, can you use that as a basis for starting a conversation with her? (It’s possible the job description was inaccurate though if TPTB couldn’t/didn’t correctly envision what your boss would want.). If there isn’t a job description, start with getting one created. (Does your boss want you to create the currently non-existent job description from scratch yourself? That seems unreasonable.)

    9. somehow*

      Your boss sucks. She doesn’t know what she wants and is blaming you for it. I’d go elsewhere if possible.

  16. Former Retail Lifer*

    I have a medical condition which can occasionally but suddenly affect my vision, so I made the decision years ago not to drive. I live in the city and close to public transportation, so, while my job options have been limited to the areas served by public transit, I’ve always been able to get to and from work without issues. I’m looking at changing jobs and maybe industries, but I literally can’t find anything that doesn’t require, at minimum, at least local travel between sites. Using public transportation would take too long and impact the job too much to use it several times a day (as opposed to just to and from). My background is in retail management (not looking to ever go back), property management, and sales. Any suggestions for industries or positions that are solely at ONE location? My current position has made a reasonable accommodation for me to attend meetings in other cities via Teams if there is no one to carpool with, but it seems like everything I’m seeing would require too much driving to make this reasonable.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Oh ouch. That’s really challenging. One thing you might try, depending on your area: in the region I’m in the city is focusing on building affordable housing near major public transit lines, which I would presume would lead to property management positions. Is it possible the region you’re in has anything similar? Sometimes the not-for-profit and government sectors are better at accommodating challenges like this.

      1. Former Retail Lifer*

        The majority of the new builds out here are deep into the suburbs where there’s no transportation, and, sadly, our city has zero interest in making more affordable housing. There are always property management job openings here, but the competition is extraordinarily fierce for them and I haven’t been able to get many interviews.

    2. Shirley Keeldar*

      Would it be possible to request cab fare as an ADA accommodation after accepting a job? If you can’t drive for medical reasons, but only need an employer to subsidize occasional travel, that might work? Good luck!

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      To be honest, I feel like there are a large range of office-based roles that are in one location, which makes it hard to have suggestions of roles/industries.

      For some reason, academia came to mind. Roles in fundraising (your sales background could be relevant), student affairs, or campus housing.

      1. Andi*

        Working as a professional fundraiser actually usually involves frequent travel, and at least sometimes to places where public transportation is either unavailable or impractical to use for your prospect visits.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yup. I worked in a regional two-person office as a fundraiser with responsibility for contact databases. I went to two places in my year there — one London peace and reconciliation conference and one trip to the site that the charity ran as a retreat/respite holiday centre (for families of chronically ill/disabled children who struggle with the logistics and expense of going on ordinary holidays but still need time away from home)/religious reconciliation centre (Northern Ireland, so focusing on bringing two tribes with distinct Christian sectarian identities together, so yeah, the charity had an overt religious focus but on the highly inclusive end of the spectrum).

          I don’t drive, but I’m in the UK where transport links are easy to use — but even then I still had to catch a lift with another person from the Belfast office by car to the north coast to get to the centre in question after I got off the plane from southern England.

          I was just the office dogsbody but my brief certainly involved those retreats and engagement with the core mission. I just sent out letters and emails asking people for money but it was definitely in the job description that I got to travel, and it was a lovely perk that I enjoyed simply because I enjoy traveling and our public transportation system is functional. For someone without that mobility, it would be very tough.

    4. Kez*

      If there’s a college or university nearby, those campuses are often designed to be walking and transit friendly, and in cases where some small amount of driving is necessary, I think discussing it as a disability accommodation would likely yield the sort of assistance you’d need. Heck, I work at a college and you can get a bonus/stipend if you commit to not driving or to carpooling to save on parking spots and help the planet. A background in property management and retail management (assuming that in retail you would sometimes be managing young people) will also give you some potential ins at a campus with students living in residences there.

      Similar to the above, hospitals and any other sort of facility that has a “campus” are often actively looking for fewer people to commute by car, because arranging adequate parking for staff and visitors is difficult. These are often also the kinds of locations prioritized by public transit, since transit authorities know it’s important for someone who can’t drive to be able to get to medical appointments.

      Honestly management experience in general is a pretty valuable skill, so I echo the commenters that say there should be a variety of office gigs that meet this criteria. Anyplace that has things like “occasionally attend conferences offsite” or the like should be able to accommodate non-drivers with taxi and bus fare to get from your house to a bus to whatever destination. That’s pretty much the definition of a reasonable accommodation.

      Wishing you luck in your job search!

    5. Armchair Analyst*

      technology b2b sales are almost all remote these days.
      unfortunately a lot of technology firms with A+ sales teams have laid off a lot of their sales people since January. so it’s a tough market.

      if you are good at training/teaching, that might be ” all at one location ” I’m not sure

    6. The traskmaster*

      I suggest you move to New York City (ideally Manhattan) or Chicago, or perhaps central Miami, Boston, or DC. If you can get a work permit, perhaps go abroad — if in North America, maybe to Toronto/Montreal/Vancouver or Mexico City.

      The bottom line is you need to be in a highly urbanized area where it’s normal to forego automobile ownership. Those are really the cities in the US where lack of car ownership is compatible with a high-powered career.

  17. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Do you think your job is entirely trainable or do workers need certain things you can’t train? How do prospective workers figure out if they have what it takes?

    unrelated – how long do you think my great grand boss will remember that I ran out of the building during a fire drill? I had the worst week, disaster after disaster and I realized I also have to help plan the Christmas party and I think the fire drill was just too much on top.

    1. Lady Ann*

      I work in community mental health and there are definitely skills that are not trainable, or at least not trainable within the amount of time and effort that a workplace is able to put in. If someone just doesn’t know how to connect with people, I’m sure that’s something they could fix with a few years of their own therapy, but that’s not something we have the resources to teach them. Same thing with organizational skills. We have definitely had employees that just can’t figure out a way to organize their workloads even with coaching and support by managers. I think those folks just need a more structured work environment.

    2. Alex*

      I work in a tech related job, and it is mostly trainable, although certain innate strengths are helpful. Some people are good at attention to detail, and some are not–that is hard to train on. But you can learn programming languages that you didn’t know before easily.

      Unrelated–aren’t you supposed to run out of the building during a fire drill? What did your boss want you to do, practice fighting the fire?

      1. I Have RBF*

        IMO, in tech there is one thing that is not trainable (I’ve tried): The ability to learn, especially on your own. Things like research, google fu, knowing how to use an index in a book, all of these basic, basic things to fill in details are just… essential. This is stuff you should have learned in grade school, but some folks just… can’t. But there is enough ambiguity that it really is essential.

        Sure, when I started I wasn’t very good at it, because my manager didn’t realize I didn’t yet have the fundamentals down. Once I got to somewhere that they gave me a bit of a framework, I was off and running.

        1. Not Totally Subclinical*

          Yes. I’m not formally trained in tech beyond one college intro-to-programming course (the only time I have ever used Scheme), but I have no problem teaching myself what I need.

    3. Colette*

      I think portions of my job are not (reasonably) trainable – things like being assertive at the right time and having the right level of attention to detail are only trainable if you start out close to where you need to go.

    4. Caramel & Cheddar*

      My job is half technical and half strategic, I guess? I got trained on the technical parts, but I was hired because I had the strategic experience necessary for it. The strategic parts are about being able to get a broader sense of how we work, seeing big picture stuff, making decisions that benefit most people, not just people on specific teams, and it’s not my experience that lots of people are good at that. I don’t want to say that people can’t be trained to be broader thinkers than just their piece of their puzzle — they can — but it definitely feels like one of those things where people who think about things in a certain way are more suited for this role than people who think about things in other ways.

    5. not a hippo*

      Most of my job is teachable but what isn’t teachable is critical/forward thinking. You have to be two steps ahead to succeed here and while that isn’t difficult (to me), it’s difficult to get people to think about the future.

      Say I work for a teapot making factory and we go through an average of 3000 lbs of clay a month. If we’re down to our last 1500, it’s time to order more. But getting people to think about that ahead of time is a struggle.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Ummm, how can they not realize that… nevermind.

        I do that type of planning and buying for my household of five adults. One of my roomies doesn’t get it, so she’ll not bother to tell me when we are low, or even out, of essentials until she needs some more. Then it’s a three ring circus to get it, with her blaming me for not magically knowing we were running out, when she’s the one who used everything and didn’t tell me! (Our consumption rate of some things isn’t constant, unfortunately.)

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I think there are things teachers need that you can’t train. Less than you would think, but I think people need to have empathy – this is one of the main problems I’ve seen with teachers who struggle. They can’t put themselves in their students’ shoes and get annoyed by “how come such a student can’t understand Maths? I’ve explained it to him dozens of times. He’s just not trying! Is it because he doesn’t respect me” when the student has a disability in the area or is going through trauma outside school or has other issues going on that have an impact on his ability to learn.

      I also think you need a passion for your subject. Looking back at my own school days (and college days too), you could tell the teachers who really cared about what they were teaching and/or cared about their students doing well versus those that were just going through the motions. If you aren’t interested, it’s going to be very hard for those you are teaching to be.

      I do think you can train more of it than people sometimes think. Good discipline is definitely something you can train. It’s not just about being “scary”. But I do think that if a person doesn’t care about their students or the subject they teach or finds it difficult to see things from another point of view, they are unlikely to be successful. Perhaps those things could be taught, but I don’t think it’s very easy.

    7. ecnaseener*

      The main soft skills for my job are reaaaally good communication skills. Both comprehension and explanation of very complex information. We can give lots of training and support on the key requirements to look for, and that’ll get you to passable, but we can’t really train you to have good enough comprehension to notice things not found on the checklist. To do the job really well, you need a “years of education” level of reading comprehension and possibly an “if you missed out on good early childhood education and/or are missing a certain innate talent you might never get there” level. It’s similar with the flip side of explaining the information, though that’s a little more coachable.

      How candidates figure out if they’re suited for it – I think just through reading the job description & the interview. It’s not such a glamorous job that I’ve ever had people asking me how to break into it or anything.

    8. Choggy*

      This is an interesting question because I work in technology and can say, without a doubt, there are people who are just built for this work and those who aren’t. Critical thinking, being open to learning something new every day, being proactive in problem solving, taking ownership of my responsibilities are a huge part of what I do, and are part of my makeup, no one taught me how to be that way. I have a coworker who should never have gone into this field, who has to ask their teammates the same questions, never explores or figures things out on their own, by trial and error, and can’t perform the most basic of tasks without a lot of hand holding. They take no ownership or responsibility, and resorts to weaponized incompetence at every turn.

    9. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I’m in accounting.

      These are things I learned at each job – how to properly do a tax return. What things to look for in a return, how to communicate with clients (surprisingly it’s differed at each job). How to manage workloads. How to read financial statements.

      “untrainable” to me means something that can’t be trained for at work; an individual can certainly try on their own time with therapy or other tools/practice, but most workplaces wouldn’t have those kind of resources available. So to me that would be….attention to detail? How to figure out how to use the software if it’s not working right away. How to find information both external and internal.

    10. WantonSeedStitch*

      The “unteachables” I tend to look for in my job (prospect research) are a general sense of curiosity, proactiveness (especially regarding communicating with people), and a knack for analysis. We can teach some of the analysis we do, but some people have minds that are just more apt to find connections between things that others might overlook. If I don’t see those in a candidate, I don’t want to hire them.

    11. Samwise*

      Not entirely trainable.

      Requires an ability to establish rapport quickly, empathy, ability to read others emotions; critical thinking (especially on-the-spot problem-solving); ability to independently plan and execute one’s own work.

      Requires integrity. Requires genuine respect for others.

    12. Mill Miker*

      My Job is a bit of a general troubleshooting, long-term planning, finding short-term wins and kind of vaguely defined for what is a very technical role.

      The thing I’ve found nearly impossible to teach to others is the reliable intuition needed to look at a complete mess and determine which (metaphorical) levers are even worth trying, let alone which ones will help. I’m not trying to say I’m at all perfect at this myself, but when there’s too many possibilities to just brute force a solution, you need to be able to make really good, informed guesses.

      On a related note: Being able to look at all the options/tools/information etc. you have available, and spot what’s missing. It’s really heard to make a checklist for figuring out what’s missing from your checklists.

      These things can definitely be learned, but trying to train someone else in a workplace is like trying to teach someone how to solve riddles.

      For figuring out if you have what it takes, I’d be asking yourself how comfortable you are with the idea that no one will be able to provide you a process to follow or really any actionable instructions, even if they can give you a lot more information about whatever problem your solving.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        My job sounds a lot like your job. We’re the folks in the home office. The “support of last resort” when the field team is stumped. The people who give the final answer to questions like “can your technology do XYZ”, particularly when the answer is “we don’t know, but if you’re willing to supply X and Y we’ll give you a free box of Z and we’ll figure it out together”. It’s perfect for me, but definitely not for everyone.

        I didn’t know the technology coming in – it’s fairly niche, so unless we poach one of the nerdier members of our field team (and we do!), we don’t expect new hires to know anything about it. But that’s easy to teach. What’s hard to teach, as you say, is the intuition needed to look at an unholy mess and come up with a reasonable to-do list. You can improve your skills and confidence as you get more experience, but at some level…either your brain works this way, or it doesn’t.

    13. DrSalty*

      I work in medical writing at an agency. Writing skills are generally trainable, but soft skills that are really critical for success (time management, flexibility, professionalism in dealing with difficult clients, etc) are much harder to train on the job. You can definitely learn those things, but if I’m choosing between two candidates where one is a fab writer but with awful time management and the other is an ok writer with GREAT time management and experience working with difficult personalities, I would pick the latter candidate to hire 10/10 times.

    14. Sparkle Llama*

      I would say anyone can be trained to be adequate at my job but the difference between adequate and good is largely untrainable. You can get better at the softer parts, but if you don’t have a natural inclination towards helping people you are going to really struggle.

      Also – were you not supposed to leave the building during the fire drill? Seems to defeat the point of the drill.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I assume the point is that you are supposed to leave in an orderly fashion in order to ensure people don’t just all start running, which could lead to somebody being knocked over or something.

        Teaching is a particular case, but we are supposed to tell the students to leave the room, then close the windows and the door and then lead the students to a designated assembly point. Of course, in most jobs, you don’t have people dependent on you but I presume there would still be a procedure.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          yes. but the administrative assistants did note that they would have told me it was a fake one if they knew I was so easily frightened..At work I try to cosplay as a mentally well person so of course no one would know in advance that I would have had such a strong reaction. I’ve been on emergency calls and been calm the whole time, etc.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Sounds like they are feeling more guilty for stressing you out, rather than judging you for rushing.

    15. Jello Stapler*

      Our roles need strong people skills that we can usually see through a person’s experience (if they have had the type of jobs that require the skills) and also in their interview. They also need organization skills and if they just need help on how to apply that to the role its fine- but if they are very scattered and disorganized it won’t work.

    16. Notmyjobreally*

      I always say, there jobs I wouldn’t hire me to do. On the other hand, my boss kinda just throws me at a problem, and I can analyze and find what causes it and where it went wrong. unrelated I think running out of the building during a fire drill is a reasonable response. I might possibly smirk and suggest I was merely leading the group.

    17. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t think running out of the building during a fire drill is a huge deal. The point of drills is so that the confusion happens during them and then, ideally, you are more organised if there is a real fire.

    18. There You Are*

      My job is not entirely trainable. There are a lot of situations where you have to make a judgement call, or tie a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated things together to make a decision or to create a solution to a brand new problem that no one has ever encountered before.

      We have people in my department who have been here several years longer than I have who can’t seem to make all the “unrelated” things fit together. They’re great when you give them a huge stack of Tab A’s and tell them to insert all of those A’s into their respective Slot B’s, but they don’t know what the A’s and B’s are, let alone why they need to be paired up permanently.

      Which means they’ll never know how A & B, or A-inserted-into-B, could possibly facilitate C.

      I was grumbling about one of them to a friend of mine and she said, “So it’s like they can’t tell Tuesday from Wednesday?” And I said, “No, it’s like they have no concept whatsoever of ‘days’ and how those ‘days’ make up these things called ‘weeks’; and I need them to be thinking in terms of ‘months’ and ‘years’, which they can’t do because they don’t even know what ‘days’ are.”

      So the ability to take in a ton of information — by reading, hearing, seeing, and doing; and then connecting a million tiny dots — isn’t something we can train. You either have that capability or you don’t.

    19. goddessoftransitory*

      Wait, are you…not supposed to exit the building during a fire drill?? I think I may have been doing life wrong!

      1. GythaOgden*

        Exit the building, yes (unless you’re trained otherwise, as some of us have other duties in a fire situation such as seek and rescue or, as were trained in the health service, to also make sure patients are safe and can be moved safely). Run — no. Walk briskly so you remain situationally aware and aren’t in danger of tripping and falling, as falling down might end up with you injured and requiring resources taken away from those who are in need of help, but also create obstacles that other people need to get round.

        It’s risk management — the safer you are, the more the fire and rescue services can focus on those who are genuinely lass mobile. Training and drills are there to ensure you know what to do in an emergency and not start panicking — because when people panic, they’re not making safe decisions and can just create more unsafe situations than there already are. It’s easier to navigate these situations if you’re calm and able to ensure that you don’t compromise the safety of others. It’s counterintuitive and there’s a lot of crappy YouTube videos from teens rebelling against what they see as absurdity — but if you fall and break your ankle, you just make more work for the emergency services where it could have been avoided, present more of a risk to those behind you and prevent the more vulnerable staff from being able to get out.

        Please get out of the building ASAP! (As someone who has a job to do in an emergency situation, we don’t want you loitering in the building for longer than necessary debating what’s going on. Save that for when you’re at the assembly point.) But don’t do it in a way that might end up making the situation a lot worse.

    20. goddessoftransitory*

      In reply to your first question: I think the ability to deal with repetition and detail. Because I’m in food service, lots of people assume “a monkey could do that job,” but it’s really much more like a very cutting edge but narrowly focused jazz club–one theme with endless little variations that all have to be correct.

      Now most people can get better at code memorization and such–that’s where repetition comes in handy; you will remember the code for No Tomatoes until the day you die–but coordinating typing, talking, and making sure orders are correct all at once is something some people just cannot achieve.

      (And of course there’s also the soft skillset of handling all sorts of customers on the phone–most totally normal but some drunk, some high, some deciding you are their counselor or potential new girlfriend…)

      1. Not Totally Subclinical*

        My first job was a summer working at a fast food restaurant. Yes, I learned that it wasn’t something I wanted to do with my life, but I also learned that food prep is a skill, and I really hope that the manager who could chop eight heads of lettuce in the time it took me to do one eventually got a job at a higher-end place.

    21. Yikes Stripes*

      I’m an in home caregiver for elderly people and ahahahahahaha oh man. You’d think that my job would be extremely trainable, but it turns out that you can’t train common sense or being able to stay calm in an emergency situation much less figuring out how to stay the right kind of casually cheerful while helping someone use the bathroom or bathe.

      I’m very very very good at what I do, but the industry as a whole is underpaid and doesn’t exactly attract the cream of the crop.

      1. allathian*

        Kudos, you’re doing a job I could never contemplate doing. I have a kid, so changing diapers and potty training and all the accidents that can happen were all in a day’s work when he was a baby and toddler. But I’m not sure I’d be capable of helping my parents with such an intimate task, and if I’m honest, I hope I never have to find out if I can do it or not. The idea grosses me out, TBH.

    22. Not Totally Subclinical*

      The individual tasks I currently do are all trainable.

      The ability to realize these tasks need to be done, to come up with procedures that work, and to keep on top of them while also responding to one-off situations? That I don’t know how to train.

    23. GythaOgden*

      Definitely trainable here. Even an Olympic-level introvert like me (I mustn’t get a purely remote job otherwise I’d just never leave home at all!) can learn to be on reception!

      More broadly, you learn on the job. Unless you really refuse to use the phone (and I actually prefer it because you can speak to someone in real time and get an immediate answer), you can learn the ropes. After ten years I’ve developed a thick skin — in healthcare, I have a healthy level of empathy for callers because of my own health situations in the past (I was treated by one of the clinical psychologists who works for our trust, albeit in another building, and it’s really pleasing to see him when he comes in to get his IT kit replaced) so I can be a listening ear while toeing the party line and not just giving in because they yelled at me. Some things have become more traumatic — I have difficulty navigating calls from hospice procurement and the hospital where my husband received most of his specialist treatment, but I can steel myself since I’m only ever deciding who to put a caller through to rather than having to, e.g. source syringe drivers or talk directly with the oncologists themselves.

      I’m also in Facilities, so a lot of my job is maintenance requests and keeping an eye on jobs so they actually get done. I’m interested in that kind of area as I move into a more administrative-focused role, but it’s something you can pick up on the job.

      The best conversation I ever had about hiring practices was with the guy who runs the IT helpdesk (let’s call him Gordon because he raised geckos at one point). Gordon was very enthusiastic about people who could learn on the job — he was a techie himself, and had come up from that direction, but he said he looked for people to staff the helpdesk who were natural problem-solvers and could talk people through a complicated fix. He also valued his staff immensely — one of his immediate juniors went on maternity leave and he brought in a replacement, Taz, because of a year’s leave being standard here. Gordon got along with her replacement so well, that when she returned to her old job, he found a new niche for the replacement guy so he could keep hold of his skills. Taz has been here about 9 years in total now; the lady who went on leave joined the 2020 WFH exodus but Taz has come back mostly in office.

      So, while some fields are going to require specialist knowledge, many just need someone who is adept at learning the specifics as they go. And those of us like me and Taz who work well temp to perm are more used to jumping into a new role and acquiring specialist knowledge as we go.

      —-

      Fire drill — as a first responder myself, we’d really appreciate it if you go careful. Running can cause people to trip and fall, and that’s a major cause of serious congestion if you end up being an obstacle to other people getting out of the building. Many horrific incidents — both fires and stampedes — have been made worse because someone stumbled and fell and sent others flying as well. Locked doors are one major concern in fire situations, but the responsibility of employers to provide safe environments does not mean employees are off the hook to conduct themselves calmly in a dangerous situation.

      It’s counterintuitive but Do. Not. Run. I doubt we’d be lecturing you over it after the event, but panicking in a situation just makes it worse — you need the practice drills to ensure you know how to evacuate a building safely. Next time, walk briskly and efficiently but remember — more haste, less speed.

  18. Justin*

    At a conference for work, and this is the second conference I’ve done with this job, but now that I know a lot more about the business and industry and have some concrete successes under our belts, it’s a pretty cool feeling to be confident in approaching people (and yeah, the Dr. on my nametag does help).

    I say this a lot but it is almost boring how simple the fact that I am well paid and treated like an adult at my job has greatly increased my success at the work. I know it’s not possible in every job to immediately trust your new people, but the risk/reward is so low (ie the reward is much higher than the risk) when you put faith in people that it’s really a silly thing when companies don’t do it. My last job was so extremely petty over absolute nonsense and this job trusted me with huge projects fairly quickly.

    1. Reba*

      Congrats and have fun!

      re: treated like an adult — my spouse is currently in a job where the immediate team respects his expertise, but the company as a whole is a real “low trust environment” and it’s amazing to witness how the head honchos burn through goodwill over just pointless stuff.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Sounds like where I work. The company grew like topsy, so each little sub-company is in its own little silo, and they are obsessive about restricting access to Every. Little. Thing. It’s worse than the federal government. They have a lot of turnover… I wonder why…

    2. NotBatman*

      I feel this. I’m constantly amazed at how much better I am at my job — and how much easier it is to do well — now that I’m no longer working for the company that had me doing 1.5x as much work for 0.75x the pay.

    3. HR Exec Popping In*

      Posts like this make me wish AAM has a “like button”.

      I totally agree that it is amazing when leaders take the chance to trust their team members and that the benefit almost always outweighs the risk. I’m glad you found somewhere that values you and treats you like a professional adult!

  19. cabbagepants*

    I let social awkwardness work for me yesterday and I wanted to share.

    My boss asked me about whether I wanted to extend am the contract of an intern that he hired without my input. This intern has no relevant experience and training him to help me with my work would take a minimum of eight months. I don’t see it as worth it and have already told my boss this on two other occasions. The intern has a small project that I gave him that should naturally wrap up by the end of his original contract.

    My boss, though, had a palpable but unspoken desire for me to find this intern significantly useful to me and helpful with my own work. I think my boss is under some pressure to reduce my team’s workload and so it would really help my boss if I played along that this intern was helping me, rather than costing me time and effort in training.

    Rather than caving to my boss’s hints and leading questions, though, I kept my answers really simple and literal, and turned the biggest questions back to him, such as having him define his expectations for interns, so I could then tell my boss that the actual experience was different from that. It got really, really awkward but at the end he agreed that it didn’t make sense to extend the internship.

    Sad for the innocent intern who should not have been hired in the first place, but hey, now he has this internship under his belt and he can use the line in his resume to find a position that suits him better.

    1. Tio*

      Ohhhh, this is the “truck tires” intern, yes? that has been a fun saga to watch from the peanut gallery

      1. cabbagepants*

        yeah hahaha I left out the metaphor this time since it seemed like it confused people! I’m glad that someone is enjoying watching it lol.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      The thing is, having this particular intern around? Would be the opposite of what he needed! No matter how he might be able to temporarily spin it!

  20. Audiophile*

    I’ve had this happen a few times now, and I find it hilarious and weird all at the same time.

    I interviewed with a company recently, then a few days later, emailed the recruiter to withdraw from the position.

    This week the recruiter followed up to say the team was going in a different direction. Um, ok.

    I’m not sure if recruiters feel like it’s a way of wrapping up the process, but it’s incredibly strange as a candidate to receive an email like this. As far as I’m concerned, once I’ve told you I want to withdraw, what you do after doesn’t matter to me.

    I’d think the more professional option would be to simply thank the candidate for their time and wish them luck. Leave it at that.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      It could just be an automated email that goes out to all the candidates who weren’t selected

    2. ecnaseener*

      I’m guessing they just weren’t terribly organized and didn’t take you off the list.

      1. NotBatman*

        Yes. I’ve gotten a job offer from a company I’d already turned down, so clearly it happens.

    3. Jello Stapler*

      I’ve gotten the same from a position where I withdrew my candidacy. I think it’s just an automatic thing as they close the loop in their HR systems.

  21. Princess Buttercup*

    Biggest work pet-peeves – go!

    I’ll start:
    -Requests for calls with no context as to what the call would be about/IM messages that just say “hi” and nothing else.
    -Pushing back meetings right before (or after!) they’re to start.
    -The phrase “please advise”.

    1. Our Lady of Shining Eels*

      A yell to help out a colleague on the info desk (hello libraries), colleague then abandoning you with the patron, with no context of what you’re in for.

      1. Sleepy in the stacks*

        Even worse when it is a problem patron. I’ve been called over to assist and then abandoned with one of our biggest creeps so many times.

        1. Our Lady of Shining Eels*

          Happily, my coworkers and I will invent emergencies that require the trapped coworker to come to the back RIGHT NOW

    2. londonedit*

      YES to your first point! I absolutely hate it when an author emails me and just says ‘Please give me a call’. I immediately think something must have gone terribly wrong, or they must want to have a go at me about something, and I hate feeling immediately on the back foot because I’m having to ring them without having a clue what I’m going to get when I do. They could at least say ‘I’d like to talk through my text corrections in person, would you mind giving me a ring?’, in which case I can make sure I have the relevant proofs open and ready, or ‘I’m not sure about how the design is looking – can you call me to discuss?’ – just give me SOME clue as to what you want to talk to me about! Don’t make me ring you totally unprepared!

      I also hate pushy authors who act like their book is the only thing I’m working on.

      1. Princess Buttercup*

        Yes!! Also, when they just say “please call me” and you do… it’s almost never urgent or it could have been an email. UGH.

        1. londonedit*

          Yep. It’s usually one extreme or the other in my job – either it’s a two-second question that I could easily have answered in an email, or it’s ‘I just wanted to make sure I’m doing these corrections right…can I run through them with you? OK, so page 34, paragraph 3, line 2, can we change “definitely” to “probably”…then page 46, last paragraph from the bottom, line 4…’ ARGH.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Yes, and it’s also such an inane thing to do……if you want to talk with me on the phone, call me. If I’m available, I’ll pick up. This is quicker than waiting for me to see the email and call you. If I’m not available, you can leave a voicemail (TELLING ME what you want to talk about) and I’ll listen to the voicemail at the same time I would be seeing your email (if not earlier). In no scenario do you get to talk to me sooner by emailing to ask for a call with no context.

        1. A Girl Named Fred*

          This one just set off my hatred for voicemails that say, “Hi Fred, it’s John. Can you call me back at (number)? Thanks.” If you’re leaving a message anyway, please TELL ME WHAT YOU NEED.

          1. Csethiro Ceredin*

            I hate that so much. or worse, something like “at your earliest convenience.”

            The vast majority of the stuff people call me for would necessitate reading through a file first to be able to give them the answer/decision they want, so this just wastes both our time and messes with my prioritizing.

        2. Mimmy*

          My supervisor sometimes does this. If I’m home, she’ll text me asking me to call her with little context. I may not always have my phone handy, so it may be a few minutes before I see her text. It’s usually not urgent, but if you want to talk to me, just call me yourself!

    3. Colette*

      “Gentle reminder” – I haven’t seen that one much lately but it really annoys me.

      1. YMMV*

        The alternative is “why the FUCK did you forget about this” so I’m gonna keep using gentle reminder.

      2. anomnom*

        Thank you!! So patronizing. I’m a pleaser who constantly works on not softening communications but this annoys the absolute hell out of me.

      3. somehow*

        The bane of my existence. What – am I too fragile for just, ya know, “A reminder…”?

        Good call, Colette.

    4. anomnom*

      I have made it a core tenet of my being that I will never respond to a “hi” IM unless it’s from a work pal.

      -“Circle back”: No. I’ll follow up, thanks.
      -“Appreciation events”: I don’t need gross, cheap pizza that 100+ people have breathed on, served on my lunch break so that I don’t even get a break at all that day. I need growth opportunities, respect, transparency, and leadership who don’t consider one-to-two remote days per week extremely generous (this is strictly enforced)
      -Expectation that because our job is philanthropy, we should all be donating to the entity (higher ed; I could understand a bit more if we were saving baby seals or our planet)

      1. Coffee and Plants*

        The “hi” IMs kill me! I always get “how are you today?” Just get to the point! lol

        1. Ashley*

          I have learned this is person dependent. I have been told I am to abrupt I to soften my tone so unless I am working with another hyper focused person I do that … but it does mean I put off some interactions until I can allocate additional time.

          1. ecnaseener*

            It’s totally fine to start your message with “Hi, how are you?” Just keep typing your whole message before hitting send please!

            1. I Have RBF*

              This.

              I will start with “Hi Bob. Do you have any background on ticket PS-12345? It just landed in my queue and Joe said you had worked on something similar previously.”

              IOTW, it will have the pleasantries, but it gets to the point quickly.

        2. anomnom*

          Haha, the “how are you” leaves me thinking, “well, I was fine but are you about to change that?”…I’m paranoid {shrug}

    5. Coffee and Plants*

      – Asking for everything to be treated as an urgent request
      – Requesting a call late on a work day, especially calls that aren’t a big deal (often after I would have already logged off for the day)

      1. Princess Buttercup*

        There’s a special place in hell for people who suddenly need to call you at like 4pm on a Friday. Wtf. Wait until Monday, Steve.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Oh, related to that, the person who asks a complicated question that requires a long answer just as the staff meeting is finishing up. Especially if it’s about something that doesn’t even matter anyway.

          1. Jello Stapler*

            Or they need clarification on something that was already explained 5 times in the meeting.

        2. Mockingjay*

          The best part about getting old (lol) is that I finally have the seniority to ignore Steve. I have the vast experience to know with certainty (in my industry), it REALLY can wait until Monday. Waiting until Tuesday is entirely reasonable as well.

    6. LemonToast*

      There’s this person at my job who will join meetings 10-15 minutes late and then after a few minutes of listening to the discussion, he will interrupt and rehash everything he THOUGHT we said and say it like it’s the first time anyone ever talked about it. Then awkward silence ensues and someone says, “Yes, we were just talking about that.”

      I’m all for repeating things back to make sure you understand, but he takes it to a new level that shows a complete lack of understanding of any part of his job, or anyone else’s job. And the part that annoys me the most about him is – he makes way more money than me but has less responsibility. :/

    7. ecnaseener*

      Totally agree on your first one. But IMO even worse than the “hi” chat message is the image with no text attached — like if someone sends a screenshot with no context and only then starts typing their question about said screenshot.

      It feels like if you walked over to my desk and wordlessly held out a picture for me to look at lol. And on a more practical level, it feels like you want me to look at the picture and start trying to guess what your question is while you’re typing. (I’m sure that’s not what the intent is, I acknowledge it’s a very petty peeve.)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Arrrgh, it’s like when Husband just looks at me and then starts getting impatient that I haven’t responded to–what? What, dude? Use your words!

    8. Shiba Dad*

      Multiple projects being “top priority”. This would happen in meetings where we discussed all of our projects. In one meeting I had a “Top Priority Count” on my notepad and we had six in that meeting.

      When we would talk amongst ourselves about a project, one of us would ask something like “Is this top priority A or D?”

    9. Past Lurker*

      Everyone seems to think that we all have a private office in which we can take zoom calls. I’m in a cubicle farm, so don’t “zoom” me for something that needs privacy!

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        It’s hard to find a professional way to say “what the hell do I do with this?” and someone will be annoyed by whatever phrase you use. That’s why it’s a pet peeve. It’s just a peeve, not a real problem, and it’s a me thing not a you thing. :)

        1. Princess Buttercup*

          Yep – I usually go with “are you able to help or direct me to someone who can?” or something like that. The thing I don’t like about “please advise” is that (and this is all the ‘pet peeve’ not a real problem stuff) usually comes after a paragraph of telling me about an issue and it’s always said with a period at the end which feels like a demand. Tone is hard over email/IM, but the times I’ve seen it used it has come across as “I have a problem and you need to tell me how to fix it.” That may not be how it is intended, it’s just how I read it.

          It doesn’t help that I’ve had some real life bitchy people put that in their emails, which has probably soured it for me.

      2. Josame*

        I use ‘please advise’, too. I use it when I have conflicting information. I use it to mean “well, which is it?”.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Genuine question: do you want the snarky/nonplussed tone to come through? If yes, sure. If not, maybe ‘Please let me know whether you’d like to go with X or Y’ or similar phrasing would grease the social wheels. I had someone aim a ‘please advise’ at me during my hiring process and I never quite trusted her to care about obstacles I faced after that.

      3. RagingADHD*

        I use it in context of, “Here is all the information I have gathered, and here is my recommendation. However, nobody but you can make this decision, so make it already.”

    10. Ann. On a mouse.*

      I’ve been guilty of rescheduling a meeting right before it started. But, to be fair, it was a meeting to teach a process for when a vendor confirms planned maintenance (or not) for one of our systems, and the vendor was late providing the info, so we didn’t know if we’d actually have to do the process or not.

      1. Princess Buttercup*

        Oh I’ve had to do it too! Me adding it in there is more a reflection of having a boss who does it to me CONSTANTLY. Like 7/10 meetings I have with him.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      When my company’s sales people send me contracts to review and don’t put the customer’s name in the subject line. They KNOW how many contracts I look at in a week. Help me find the original email! Sheesh. I’ve only asked them numerous times…

      Plus when people Slack me with “hello” or “good morning” and nothing else. Just please tell me what you want and be done with it.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Yeah. I’ll be busy working and am interrupted by a Slack message. No biggie, someone might need help. But the message just says “Hi” or “How are you?” or something. I know the person has something they really want to say but haven’t said it yet.

          So I answer with “Hi” or “OK” or something, and then I get to either wait the long minute or 2 while they type, or I can try to work on something else, knowing that at any second, I’m going to be interrupted again.

      1. ccsquared*

        I also work in a sales adjacent role, and I wish we made 1+ year in a project management or project support capacity a requirement for account executives. Good sales people know you control what you can control and make it easy for people to help if you want the process to go fast, but there’s also a lot of chaos monkeys and shoot-from-the-hip types out their surviving on grit and gumption.

    12. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      – When people just start talking to me without making eye contact or saying my name. I am focused on my work; how am I supposed to know you’re talking to me?!
      – Constant rescheduling!!! Stuff comes up but if this is the fourth time you’ve rescheduled this particular meeting maybe it just isn’t important!!!
      – Constantly being asked the same questions about basic functions of our dept by ppl who should know better than I do (this may rise above the pet peeve level)
      – Cell phones with the ringer on and watching videos/holding virtual meetings in shared spaces without headphones
      – Too many signs. We all know they don’t work and if there’s 12 signs saying not to do stuff in the kitchen it’s just bad vibes. IDK can’t explain.

    13. Anonymask*

      Oh, the meeting thing gets under my skin! It feels like they don’t respect my time when they do this (constantly, as they do over here).

      When someone sends a message over the company IM system with a request for assistance, and it just says “Hi” as it’s own line to… get my attention? The requester clearly wants something, why not just tell me what it is so I can better assist instead of pinging me multiple times via IM with “Hi” then “How are you” and “Are you free?”. Just send one message (or an email!) and tell me what’s needed. All three of those (separate) messages could be the first line of the request if they feel so strongly about it.

    14. WantonSeedStitch*

      Mystery meetings. Meetings with no agenda and no clear purpose stated in their title that appear on my calendar.

      Managers who don’t advocate for their teams. I had one grandboss once who was great about saying she was going to champion the team and push back against unreasonable requests that served no strategic purpose, but when she actually met with the requesters, she caved every single time. Sweet person, but maybe TOO sweet.

      1. ccsquared*

        100% to both of these, and the worst people are the ones who send mystery meetings and then react as if you’ve insulted their grandmother if you dare to ask for context in advance. 9 times out of 10 that’s a sign that they’re about to ask you to do something you’re not going to want to do, or they have no plan for doing something they need to do and think shooting the breeze about that is going to help them sort it out.

    15. Lizy*

      I LOVE “please advise” lol. I use it when we’ve tried to get an answer and they refuse, or give conflicting answers… look, we did our part, now you do yours. mmkthanks.

      But yes, requests for calls is pretty high up there. Especially when it’s “as soon as possible”. Like, com’on. If you have a phone, and it’s that stupid urgent, YOU call ME.

      Anything Google-drive/Google-docs related. My current boss, while very nice and good in many ways, loves Google-related stuff and I REALLY DON’T LIKE IT lol.

      1. DrSalty*

        Same, I love please advise for that. Tell me what you want, I’m not a mind reader.

      2. Mimmy*

        I’ve never been able to grasp anything Google-related (I have Gmail, but I use Outlook to read those). I don’t use Google at work currently, but I did at an internship last year, and I just was not getting it.

    16. Irish Teacher*

      This isn’t related to the work itself but colleagues gathering right in front of the fridge, microwave and kettle (the microwave and kettle are on a worktop over the fridges) at breaktime. We have 10 minutes for break and pretty much everybody is going to be making a cup of tea or coffee or getting something to eat or drink out of the fridge so…standing and having your conversation right in front of them when everybody is coming in for break…why?

      1. JustaTech*

        There’s a senior guy in my department who had a terrible habit of standing *directly* in front of the door to the women’s bathroom to continue a conversation after a meeting.
        Like, it made sense with the hallway layout, but also, dude! I shouldn’t have to ask a senior manager to scoot over so I can get into the bathroom!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes! Please move AWAY from the water faucet and have your conversation; I have to fill my water bottle and get back on the damn phone!

    17. nekosan*

      This is how I deal with the “hi” IMs: I wait 5 minutes. If they haven’t gone forward by then, I just reply “?”. This seems to get the point across well enough. (Then again, I have huge social capital built up, so I can get away with the “rudeness.”)

    18. Jello Stapler*

      Calling repeatedly but never leaving a message. I may not be at my desk! And if I am and was not able to get to it but you keep calling, now I pointedly will NOT answer.

    19. Pita Chips*

      You’ve nailed a few of mine. An email with nothing but, “Please call me.” Context!

      I’ve used, “please advise,” usually as a substitute for something like, “WTF is going on.”

      People not showing up for meetings on time. I once had a higher-up tell me to go walk around and round people up (I was the one running the meeting). I refused, telling them I wasn’t a border collie.

      I totally get that emergency demands happen sometimes, but if you’re an adult, you should be able to be there on time or within the first five minutes.

      1. tangerineRose*

        When people say “Call me”, sometimes they have an easy question, sometimes it’s something that I have to look up and spend time on and then get back to them. So yeah, it would be good to know what they want to know about.

    20. Lurker*

      -Using “hey [Name]” as a salutation.
      -Repeatedly missing deadlines. Especially deadlines that are recurring – like X report is due every Friday.
      – Scheduling a meeting first thing on a Monday morning or last thing on a Friday afternoon.

    21. There You Are*

      If a peer or lower pings me with a request for a call, I say, “Depends; what’s it about?”

      If a peer or lower pings me with “Hi”, I ignore them entirely until they type whatever it is they want to say to me.

      If either of those things comes from someone higher up the chain, I panic about the first, and immediately respond with “Good morning/afternoon! How can I help?’ to the 2nd.

    22. goddessoftransitory*

      Guys (and it is guys 99% of the time) who think they are comedians and I am their audience during a call.
      My dude, I truly, truly do not care how funny and clever your mother insists that you are. I am not here to enjoy overpriced cocktails and encourage your self image–my goal is to take your order and get you out of my life.

    23. Not Totally Subclinical*

      The person who never cc’s me on emails that I need to be in the loop on.

    24. NPTraveler*

      I hate a long email ending with “Your thoughts?” I don’t want to be asked to write a treatise. If you want my thoughts set up a meeting or call me and I’m happy to share them!

    25. Not My Money*

      getting a phone call, hearing the person’s entire backstory, getting to and through the issue, and having to ask “who is this?”

  22. Rubies*

    How can I graciously turn off my camera during 1:1 online meetings when colleagues won’t turn theirs on?

    I tend to join meetings camera-on, unless it’s a larger group and I’m not presenting. However, sometimes I join a 1:1 and the other person doesn’t have their camera on. I usually query this in case it’s accidental, making it clear that it’s fine for them to keep it off. Usually the response is “oh my camera is on my laptop and my workstation set up doesn’t allow this”, or “I’m not feeling great today” or similar. I then want to turn my camera off because I hate it when they can see me and I can’t see them. Can I literally just say “oh, I’ll turn mine off too then”?

    I don’t want to start joining camera off just in case. I don’t especially enjoy being on screen, but I try to do so as much as possible because I need to be visible in my role, as I work across different sites and with many remote colleagues.

    I also acknowledge that I feel some annoyance at people being “camera off” in situations like this, and I don’t want my annoyance to show, so I need some gracious wording to use. I know some people have strongly held reasons that mean they don’t want to have their camera on and I’m not going to start forcing them. But I hate feeling like I’m in a police interrogation room with a one way mirror, and it feels rude/awkward to turn my camera off, like I’m suddenly hiding behind a sofa mid-conversation. I’m overthinking this, right?

    1. Princess Buttercup*

      Yeah, this happens to me all the time. I usually don’t ask why they have theirs off because I’ve made clear (I hope) before that I don’t expect it. Honestly, a lot of times I just leave mine on because I figure we’re here now, but I think there wouldn’t be an issue with saying nothing and just turning it off.

      I have lately just started coming into meetings camera off and if they have theirs on, I switch it on. That seems to be working well.

      Also, yes, you’re overthinking it, but as a chronic overthinker myself, I feel you.

    2. ThatGirl*

      You are overthinking it. Just turn it off. I do this all the time when I realize the other person doesn’t have theirs on.

    3. MsM*

      Yes, you can literally just say “oh, I’ll turn mine off, too.” Or “I assume you won’t mind if I turn mine off, then” if you think there’s some reason they might object, but it’s highly unlikely.

      Honestly, I’m not sure what the issue is with joining with your camera off, either. You can always turn it on the second you connect if everyone else has it on, or ask what people would prefer before getting started if you’re leading the meeting. You can even express that your own preference is to be able to talk face to face as best you can, but you want to be respectful of what works for others.

      1. Rubies*

        Thanks all – I’ll just be a bit more direct. I think this got to me because the most recent cases were a series of meetings I had with my downstream reports – I’m their grandboss. The meetings were about their salaries. These felt like important meetings, where I wanted to prioritise rapport and connection, so I was a bit taken aback.

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          If I have a 1:1 with my grandboss I always make sure I’m camera ready, especially if it’s pre-scheduled. It about the only time I make sure I have a nice shirt on and my hair done, lol. I do get why that threw you a bit. I usually follow the lead of the higher up person, unless I’m having a really bad day.

          Now regular 1:1 with my boss, sometimes we have them on and sometimes not, but if one of us has it off, the other will turn theirs off too, because it is weird being the only one on camera.

        2. Colette*

          In that case, you could just ask. “Would you prefer cameras on or off for this call?”

        3. saskia*

          You’re the grandboss and they’re doing cameras off for a salary-related meeting? yeesh, that’s so casual of them. I’m sure people would be giving you different advice if you had said “my reports” instead of “colleagues” in the original post.

          If you’re meeting with these reports regularly, at the end of your next meeting, you can try saying something like, It’s fine that you were camera-off for this meeting, but in general, I strongly prefer cameras on unless [there’s a legitimate reason to be off/whatever sounds natural to you].

          Basically, just set the expectation of whatever you want. You can also mention it to their manager. I’d be mortified if one of my reports did camera-off when meeting 1:1 with my boss. But my job is pretty much always cameras-on unless we’re in a big meeting where someone’s presenting.

        4. River Park*

          It sounds like for you, cameras on signals rapport and connection. For a lot of people it does! But not for everyone. Just speaking for myself, video calls feel really creepy in a way that is hard for me to articulate. Having to overcome that feeling of creepiness so I can accommodate another person’s preference destroys connection for me. That’s just an example of one alternative view on the cameras on thing—I’m sure other people could give you other reasons.
          Turn your camera and your assumptions both off. If the other person has their camera on, turn yours on. If the other person has their camera off, keep yours off and don’t read anything into it.

        5. Extra anony*

          It sounds like you want them to use their cameras for these meetings – very reasonable for a salary conversation. As their grandboss, you can definitely put in the invitation “Please have your camera on for this meeting.” I’d just let them know in advance if it isn’t a given at your org.

    4. Former Retail Lifer*

      I start every meeting with my camera off. If someone has theirs on, I say, “Oops. I forgot to turn my camera on.” My company’s big on encouraging people to have their cameras on but it’s so rare that anyone actually does that I start with it off.

      1. Mill Miker*

        I used to do this just because my workplace had a culture of most people being a couple minutes late to the meeting. So I always joined muted and camera-off so that I didn’t have to just sit there quietly looking presentable for who knows how long, and then try not to startle when the next person joined.

        There was a strong culture of camera-on though, so I didn’t run the risk of the other person thinking I didn’t want the camera. There were a few times I’d turn it on, and then off 30 seconds later when it was clear no one else was going to use theirs. I said nothing about it, and neither did they.

        I tend to assume when the other person has their camera off, they probably don’t have my video front-and-centre on their screen either, so I doubt they even noticed.

      2. I Have RBF*

        Yeah, my company has a “camera off” culture for most meetings. Everyone has custom avatars that are as much their personality as their face. Considering we’re mostly remote on a VPN, it saves bandwidth.

    5. Jujyfruits*

      Yup you’re overthinking. Just turn yours off. Sometimes I’ve said things like “I don’t need to look at myself” before turning mine off. But you can also just turn it off without a comment.

    6. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I literally just turn it off with a cheerful “Oh, we’re not doing cameras today, okay!” and it’s fine.

    7. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      ever thought about going to screen sharing mode, as a graceful way to sidestep? I assume there’s some kind of document, spreadsheet, web page, what not that you’re calling about.

    8. Head sheep counter*

      This evolution of video calls basically back into phone calls is so fascinating to me. Why bother with a video call if one is literally not using the video capability? I’m phone-phobic and still think that a phone call would “feel” better than a no video video call.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        For my team, it’s because using Teams or Zoom for a video-off call is just easier to do than a phone call. You’re already looking at a screen, so clicking a button on the screen for a virtual meeting is a lot faster than searching for a colleague’s phone number and dialing it.

          1. Observer*

            This is it for us. For a lot of things we’ll still use the phone. But if anyone thinks that we may need to share links, documents or screen? Video conference is the way to go.

      2. Generic Name*

        Phone calls don’t allow for screen sharing. I look at maps, plans, aerial imagery every day for my job, and it’s super helpful for both to be looking at the same thing.

      3. Head sheep counter*

        Sharing content is great. But this sounded like a one-on-one with no use of the video capabilities… which… is a phone call.

        For Teams or Zoom – I have to put on a headset… and then click a button. I suppose if I were able to use my setup without a headset it would be easier. With a headset… seems like its equal for a phonecall.

        FWIW when I woke up this morning I never imagined advocating for a phonecall. :)

        1. Mighty midget*

          All our work calls are via Teams, even if we’re phoning a landline or mobile number with no video or sharing capabilities.

          All internal calls are therefore Teams calls, with video sharing capability, whether you like it or not! We literally don’t have any other work phones.

      4. I Have RBF*

        Simple: Screen sharing is the purpose to have video calls instead of phone calls. You don’t need to see their faces, but you sure do need to see that list of non-compliant systems that need to be remediated and how, or whatever else the important thing is.

    9. Generic Name*

      I just turn my camera off if it’s obvious I’m the only one with it on. I might say, “I feel weird just looking at myself, so I’m turning my camera off, ha ha.”

    10. WantonSeedStitch*

      If you’re in a 1:1 and the other person has their camera off, don’t query it. Just say “I’m going to go no-camera too” right away, and do it.

  23. Our Lady of Shining Eels*

    Literally just had a coworker try to take my cane away from me, because I’m “too young” and “don’t need it to walk.” I am in my late 30s, and periodically have to use a cane.

    Readers, we are in an extreme heatwave, I have a heart condition, and I’m barely upright because of those two things. He would only give it back to me because I said I needed it to get a seat on public transit. I already have a phone call scheduled with HR on Monday to talk about accommodations, and seriously wondering if I burn this bridge with this coworker by mentioning this little incident.

    1. MsM*

      That’s…yikes. I’d be asking HR if you can connect today if I were you. But yes, definitely mention it.

    2. ScruffyInternHerder*

      ::record scratch::

      HE TOOK A PIECE OF YOUR PROPERTY THAT HAPPENS TO BE DME? OH HAYLE NO.

      I’ve got kerosene and matches for your discussion with HR. What kind of bargain basement audacity purchased in bulk from Sams Club does this coworker think he HAS? Its not his. It doesn’t sound like he has any authority to, you know what? No. Stop at “its not his property and its not in his job description to question medical needs and diagnoses.”

      1. NotBatman*

        Also: HE TOOK AWAY YOUR ABILITY TO WALK SAFELY?!?!?!??! BASED ON YOUR APPEARANCE!?!?!?!?!?

    3. Juicebox Hero*

      Burn, baby, burn. He lost any right to your respect by swiping your property (a medical aid, no less), being a know-it-all jackass, and not giving it back until you gave an explanation that satisfied HIM. I’m only glad you didn’t fall or faint and hurt yourself.

      People have to learn that disabilities, inlcuding invisible ones, can happen to anyone of any age whether or not they “believe” in it.

    4. Warrior Princess Xena*

      He took your cane, a needed piece of medical equipment, because he didn’t think you needed it. I’d say the bridge has been burned, and not by you. Tell HR asap!

      1. BigMove*

        Seconding the tell HR ASAP. At the very least email them ASAP to document that it happened. His actions were completely acceptable!

        1. Tio*

          Man I would have been on the phone with HR the minute he said no the second time First time, maybe a bad joke. Second no? HR is now on speakerphone.

      2. ferrina*

        +1000
        HR needs to know this. At my company, HR would be upset if you didn’t tell them.

    5. Rick Tq*

      Burn it unless you really need to stay on good terms with this jerk.

      Fergus had absolutely no business policing HIS rules about who should use a cane, and I will bet this isn’t the first time Fergus Rules have been inflicted on the undeserving.

      This should get him a documented stern warning.

      1. Our Lady of Shining Eels*

        YEP! That’s the thing. We’re both union (the joke at our job is you only get fired for one of three things: embezzlement, assault, or timekeeping), and he is the one who fixes all the things for several locations – and since his office is in the basement, he always makes our location high priority.

        I wound up talking to him and explained, AGAIN, that because of heat/medical condition, I need the cane … to which he replied I need more electrolytes. *face palm* I have documented this in an email to myself, wrote down who witnessed the interactions, and am saving it if he continues to be an idiot.

        1. Rick Tq*

          The next time he touches your cane report him for assault, battery, and theft. Threatening to take your cane is assault. Touching you to take it is legally battery, and taking it a way even for a moment is theft.

          This guy needs to go, he can be replaced by someone who isn’t an abusive jerk.

        2. Observer*

          Well, he’s coming pretty close…

          Document this, talk to HR, make sure your union knows about this, and don’t worry about your relationship.

          If your union is halfway decent they are not going to go to bat for him too hard if he keeps this up and you keep documenting it. But regardless of his firing or not, you have no reason to try to keep up a relationship with him. He’s bad news all around. Nut just an “idiot”.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          This has to be a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. I don’t care what union you’re in, these outrageous actions open up your company to a lawsuit.

          I’ve got his damn electrolytes right here.

            1. I Have RBF*

              Me too. He doesn’t get to tell you that “you don’t need a cane, you’re too young” or “you just need more electrolytes”.

              It’s not his place, his job, or his right.

              Shut that down ASAP.

        4. I Have RBF*

          We’re both union (the joke at our job is you only get fired for one of three things: embezzlement, assault, or timekeeping)…

          Taking your cane is ASSAULT.

          He does not have the right to give you fucking medical “advice” (fuck his electrolytes BS).

          He is waaaaaaay out of line.

          He needs to be reported to HR now, with details, or he’ll do this shit to someone else who can’t stand up for themselves. Not “if he continues to be an idiot”, but now, after this instance. He doubled down on his trying to diagnose and treat you, FFS.

    6. Meg*

      I *would* absolutely talk to HR about this. What he did was incredibly inappropriate! Its like someone taking the glasses off your face because you’re “too young” to need glasses. wtf!!

    7. Pretty as a Princess*

      Burn it to the ground. You absolutely need to talk about this with HR.

      (Think about it this way – why are you worried about burning a bridge with someone who clearly already decided to nuke the bridge by stealing your medical equipment and playing keepaway like a 5th grader?)

    8. Elle Woods*

      I’d be burning up the phone lines with HR immediately about this. Don’t wait until Monday.

      And torch that bridge with this coworker.

    9. LadyByTheLake*

      HOLY MOLY!!! A coworker essentially assaulted you, took your private property, disregarded your disability in a highly problematic way, and you are worried about HIS feelings and calling this a “little incident”??? This is an outrageous incident — I can’t even imagine waiting until Monday to report this to HR — call them now! If he does this to you, imagine what he may be doing to others. If he doesn’t get fired (which he should), he should be groveling at your feet begging your forgiveness for being such a bigoted, overbearing ass.

    10. Jujyfruits*

      My jaw dropped. He took your cane? No. That’s a huge no.

      Up to you if you have the energy to deal with reporting him. I’m so sorry that happened.

    11. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Holy shit. That’s an absolutely horrible thing to do. Imagine pushing someone out of their wheelchair or stealing their guide dog because they didn’t fit their idea of what a person who needs a chair or a dog looks like.

      I am so sorry.

      And then he wouldn’t give it back to you till you gave him a good enough reason?

      PLEASE burn this bridge all the way down. If you can’t muster up the outrage for yourself, imagine what he might be doing to others, current or future (or past! And maybe HR WANTS to fire him!). He needs to be reined in immediately.

      Wow, I am just so sorry he did this to you.

    12. Sara without an H*

      This is not a little incident. This is a major violation and yes, you do need to report it to HR.

      Do you and Grabby Coworker report to the same manager? If so, I really recommend telling them about it ASAP. If one of my reports did this, I’d want to know about it.

      Yesterday.

    13. ThursdaysGeek*

      Wow. It’s so nice they know so much more about your body than you do. Yes, you should mention it to HR.

    14. anywhere but here*

      Piling on to join the bridge burning encouragement because wtf that is so very messed up.

    15. SereneScientist*

      Holy shit. No, you will not be the one burning the bridge, your coworker already did by this insane overstep.

    16. not a hippo*

      Please speak up! What he did was not ok. Chances are he’s a prick in other ways and HR should know about this.

      He needs to know there are consequences for his asshole behavior.

    17. Head sheep counter*

      My dear… if he took your computer… you’d report him. Right? Because its theft or appropriation of property not his own. I can not imagine a situation in which I would touch someone’s personal property like this let alone take it from them. This is very very far from ok. If your cane was simply there because you felt fancy today and planned to do a tap dance routine… it still wouldn’t be ok to take it. As a medical device its HORRIFYING.

    18. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      WTactualF.

      Set that bridge on fire. Your coworker should get major, serious consequences for doing that to you. What’s he going to do next, tell people with glasses they just need to put their faces closer to the computer screen? Take a diabetic coworker’s candy they might need to regulate their low blood sugar because it’s not real food/unhealthy? Etc. etc.

      I really hope you also bring this up to his boss, and to your boss (if they’re not the same person). He is way, way out of line.

    19. Canadien*

      What the hell goes through some people’s minds? That is so utterly bizarre and I’m sorry you have to deal with it.

    20. Stoppin' by to chat*

      OMG please don’t downplay that incident. I would absolutely mention it! What is wrong with that person!

    21. My Brain is Exploding*

      Your coworker already burned the bridge. Also, PLEASE let us know what happens with HR!! And sorry you are feeling so awful.

    22. different seudonym*

      THIS IS SO NOT OK! I know you know that, but I want to make sure you feel justified in your protest.

      People def do shit like this all the time. They are terrified at the thought of disability (which to them = their own mortality; endless narcissism at play here) and they lash out with harassment and often physical bullying. It can be **really dangerous,** especially because they often escalate when challenged. I think you must report, right away, and if I were you I’d BOTH define what this…person…did as assault and harassment, AND remind them that the company (not he) is who gets sued if you are denied a workplace accommodation or injured through his behavior.

    23. HR Exec Popping In*

      PLEASE tell this to your HR person. For goodness sake. As someone with a disability I find that type of ablest behavior disgusting. Your company needs to do some work on inclusion.

    24. WantonSeedStitch*

      Tell HR NOW, not Monday. “I know we’re meeting Monday, but I wanted to tell you this right away. Fergus Pinkerton just attempted to take my cane away from me, citing my age and claiming I don’t need it to walk. Between my medical condition and the heat, I’m barely upright at the moment, and absolutely DO need it to walk. If he had refused to return it to me when I insisted, I would have been immobilized. I need you to make sure this does not happen again.”

    25. Anonymask*

      I think everyone already covered all the bases, but just to really bring the point home:

      He burned the bridge on his own. Report him to HR (and move up the meeting to today if you can). If you feel especially petty and don’t need a decent bridge this guy, there may be non-work related places you could report him as well. Don’t feel bad for “getting him in trouble” because, again, he got himself in trouble with his bad behavior. Why give him any more mental space? Get HR involved for accommodations and probably some company training about how to act appropriately.

    26. Bananapants Circus with Dysfunctional Monkeys*

      Set that bridge on fire. That’s unspeakably unacceptable. I’m so sorry

      – fellow cane user who has unfortunately encountered this herself.

    27. RagingADHD*

      You are a lot nicer than me if you are worried about burning a bridge with this piece of work. I’m glad you didn’t fall over and hurt yourself.

    28. Observer*

      I already have a phone call scheduled with HR on Monday to talk about accommodations, and seriously wondering if I burn this bridge with this coworker by mentioning this little incident.

      Two thoughts here.

      1. This has nothing to do with “accommodations.” This has everything to do with people acting like basic decent human beings rather than like a bratty toddler. At a fundamental level it doesn’t even matter whether you actually NEED this cane or not. It’s beyond none of coworker’s business. And it’s beyond outrageous that he took something of yours and then only gave it back when you begged and gave him a reason that he considered “good enough.” Of course the fact that you have this meeting scheduled means that this is a perfect time to bring it up, but this is something that needs to be dealt with even if your company can’t give you any accommodations.

      2. Why do you care about burning the bridge? I would have thought that this bridge was already dust and ashes – why would you have anything but the coldest professional relationship with someone so disrespectful?

    29. Tiffany Aching*

      I am in HR and if your HR is at *all* competent, they will want to know about this ASAP so they can shut it down. This coworker just opened up the company to multiple flavors of discrimination and/or harassment lawsuits. Please call them today and then follow up with an email documenting it.

    30. Captain Vegetable ( Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      Your coworker just pooped on the bridge- burning it is the only way to sanitize it. Sweet, cleansing fire.

    31. Roy G. Biv*

      Burn that bridge. He’s a jerk. “He would only give it back to me because I said I needed it to get a seat on public transit.”

      The fact he put his hands on it in the first place? Jerk! And only gave it back when you gave a reason that he found satisfactory? MASSIVE jerk!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And that he found “I use it to lie and take seats away from the actually disabled” AN OKAY REASON???? That the OP had to pretend to be as disgusting as he is to get back her necessary medical equipment???

        There are no words. No. Words.

    32. Girasol*

      Aside from the fact that this is wrong, what was his motivation? Why would an employee with a million things to do take time out of his day to steal someone’s cane? He wanted to bully or harass her? He was trying a schoolboy’s trick for getting attention from someone he liked? Either way, he’s already burned the bridge with you.

    33. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’d make an immediate complaint to HR with the demand they officially order him to NEVER again do anything like this to you or any other disabled person.

      Sod being polite when subject to such dangerous disableism.
      I have visual & hearing disabilities and if someone had tried to take my (thick & ugly) specs I’d have lost my shite and shouted loudly at him (because I would be in danger of bumping into things & falling over, which has caused me injury in the past)

    34. goddessoftransitory*

      Burn the bridge?? That entire infrastructure should be aflame! I am literally sputtering with disbelief at this person’s audacity and ignorance.

    35. Nightengale*

      That is harassment

      I have had people take my cane at work and didn’t say or do much about it besides ask for it back, but the motives and circumstances were different. I work in health care and don’t need my cane for shorter distances so I don’t take it into patient rooms. (Better for infection control also.) So I would leave it outside a patient room and people would take it. Sometimes to tease me. (not funny.) More often because they thought it belong to a patient and never thought it could belong to the young student doctor. I always got it back right away. If someone had actually said they took it because I was too young to need it or made me negotiate the return, I would have ADAed that one all the way up the chain.

    36. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Your coworker already burned the bridge with you by trying to take your necessary assistive equipment from you. You don’t need to worry about burning the bridge. Tell HR.

    37. GythaOgden*

      It’s only been said to me once, but I replied with details of the incident that made me have to use it and they shut up.

      My mother is allowed to say it to me because, yeah, truly, I don’t like using it either and I am looking for physiotherapy/exercises that might help ease the pain and reduce my reliance on it. She’s involved in my health decisions because she helps me out to pay for private attention (because obviously the free NHS care is decided on the basis of medical need, and I think a private physio can give me more time and attention than an NHS one can. My personal budget stretches to mental therapy but not physio, and I have to keep her away from being blinded by quacks, but it’s worth it to keep her and her pursestrings onside). I know my mum is saying it because she cares for me and doesn’t like seeing me in pain — I’m not a parent myself but it’s an entirely understandable motivation — it’s depressing not having mobility when I should be in my prime.

      But I don’t know the motivation behind others so it’s one of the few times I will play the grumpy card to get them to understand. The funny thing is, they probably wouldn’t say that to me if I was in a wheelchair — but because I don’t ever want to be that way (there are people who find one liberating, but when your health and mobility are suddenly taken away from you that’s not generally the case) and am keeping as mobile as I can, they make silly comments like that.

    38. WorkingRachel*

      I am so angry on your behalf. That is very Not Okay. Please feel free to burn all the bridges with this person.

    39. A Frayed Knot*

      I know I’m late, but I have to applaud your patience. If someone did that to me, I would call the police and demand to press charges for theft. Plain and simple. Don’t even give the union a chance to defend him. Have him taken to the police station and see if he changes his attitude.

  24. Introverted Cat Lady*

    I work with a lot of extremely extroverted people. Think a group of people who all have main character syndrome. I work in a hybrid setting and the days I am in the office are utterly exhausting from dealing with their need to constantly treat every single thing like a major performance, talking over other people, stealing projects to get credit, talking behind people’s back (especially the introverted person), etc. It’s terrible. I come home exhausted, defeated, and feeling worthless because I am quieter. (And have the capability to listen to others unlike this lot.)

    I am working on finding another job, but that takes time as I work in Higher Education and everything moves slowly. How do my fellow introverts who deal with extreme extroverts who are like theatre kids who treat every single aspect of their life like they are preforming on a Broadway stage? (side note: I do not work in the drama department or anything remotely near the arts.) Any tips on how to survive the day?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      On the home front: are there any rejuvenating alone-time routines/activities you can plan for on your in-office days? Whatever that looks like for you: taking a long bath, playing your favorite video game, anything that you can look forward to during the workday and helps combat the feelings of exhaustion, defeat, and worthlessness.

      On the work front: are the exhausting behaviors (talking over people, stealing credit, etc.) happening sort of ambiently around you (like in a cube farm) or during interactions you’re part of (like in a meeting where you need to pay attention, give input, respond, etc.). If it’s the first, can you tune it out? Wear headphones, listen to music/a podcast/etc. If it’s more in meetings, that’s trickier. I recommend reading the book Quiet by Susan Cain. If I recall correctly, she shares some workplace strategies that worked well for her; they played to her strengths as an introvert and allowed her to weigh in on important decisions. Some of them might work for you too.

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      I don’t think extroversion/introversion has anything to do with it; I’ve had to endure drama llamas who are introverts as well.

      I pretend they really are characters in a show that’s on in the background that I can’t shut off (like at a doctor’s office or something) and therefore give myself permission to riff, critique, and mock (inside the privacy of my own head, of course).

      If they try to drag me in I try to just smile pleasantly and respond with non-answers.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        +1 on the advice

        +1 on pointing out that this isn’t about introversion or extroversion.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Inner David Attenborough voice as a way to gain distance. “Here we see an assistant provost in her natural environment; let’s watch and find out how she’s misinterpreted the latest tenure guidelines.”

    4. WhaleToDo*

      If I were in that situation, I would try and harness one or more of the extroverts who wants to think of themselves as a compassionate hero. (I imagine you’ll have at least one in this sort of group.) Get them to adopt you as their cat who gets stressed by loud noises and interpersonal conflict. What that actually means in a professional context is that they can echo your ideas or redirect attention to/from you during meetings, they’ll stop gossiping to you, they can try and manage the group to tone it down instead of you having to do all the work. You stop putting in so much social energy at work and show people how draining they are (e.g. if you’re going to grin and bear it, make it a strained grin, or just start completely ignoring their drama and being cold/aloof when people are being annoying), putting in effort around those who are trying to be considerate of your different personality and work style. Make sure you’re good at your job and don’t bother socializing at all outside of that. That can lead to negative professional consequences in some realms, in others it can gain you a reputation for good judgement and work ethic, so take this advice with a grain of salt.

    5. Samwise*

      They’re not like this because they’re extroverts. They’re like this because they’re assholes.

      People can have BIG and DRAMATIC personalities, they can be extroverts, without being assholes.

      Doesn’t solve your problem! But I think your solution (finding another job) is the way to go.

    6. MaryB*

      The extrovert-hate on the website based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the terms extrovert/introvert is getting extremely tiring.

      You work with people that have strong personalities. It sounds like that’s not a good culture fit for you.

      1. MaryB*

        Sorry, I submitted the comment instead of a paragraph break.

        While you’re looking for a new job, are headphones an option? In the hybrid workplaces that I’ve been at, most of them have some flex seating or empty desks are pins. Can you move somewhere else for a few hours? I do that sometimes when I need quiet – I find an empty desk near the finance or legal departments. If coworkers ask where I’m going/where I’ve been, I just say I needed a change of scenery.

        Overall, I think a change in mindset will be most helpful. They’re not bad for being loud, they’re just different. People have different personalities. With those personalities come different strengths and weaknesses. If you can focus on what your colleagues do bring to the table, you may be able to appreciate them a little bit. I find annoyance goes way down when I can see the positive things about someone instead of only their annoying traits.

    7. DrSalty*

      Noise cancelling headphones helped me so much when I worked in an open office with very annoying people. Just tune it out.

    8. cncx*

      I have a front facing job that drains me as well. I find I rest the best at home without technology or visits. I schedule one day a weekend where I just…don’t have People Noise.

      I also found I just don’t have the bandwidth if people in my private life are Main Characters so I’ve had to reorganize some priorities, meet them less, or, in the case of some family members, dip when they want to ruminate, relitigate, recycle or otherwise use me to Talk Things Out more than once a week.

  25. Coffee and Plants*

    Those that have completely changed your career path in your thirties (being faced with potentially starting in an entry level job all over again even though you had a mortgage and other thirties-related bills), I’d love to hear your stories.

    I’m facing burnout in my current job, where I’m in a senior position, and I want to do something (ANYTHING) else, but my pay is good so it’s tough.

    1. Cruciatus*

      I’m sincerely asking this–are entry level or senior position you hate the only options? While your pay is so good, can you take classes? Get certified in something? Is it the position that’s tough or your workplace? Is there anything that would make your current position better (admin assistant or something like that)?

      1. Coffee and Plants*

        I’ve kind of painted myself into a very niche role. I don’t like the work itself very much and frankly, I don’t feel like I’m very good at it. I’m completely stuck as to how I can apply the skills I have to any other job except maybe proofreading, but I kind of need to maintain my salary to a point, too. I’m intentionally being a little vague but I’ve been considering taking copyediting classes. Not sure how much of a boost it would give me!

        Can you tell I’m a little discouraged at this point? haha

        1. Cruciatus*

          I think you should try the class! If that’s the area you’re trying to get into then it’s a good idea to see if you even like it! Assuming it doesn’t cost a billion dollars, what do you have to lose? And maybe you’ll realize you hate it but that’s valuable too. You can try to pinpoint what you don’t like about it and apply that to other jobs so you can rule them out too. But if you love it, maybe there are a lot of different areas you could apply it regarding jobs, and maybe your current skills too might give you an edge. Not knowing anything about any of the jobs you mentioned, I have a friend who makes bank writing technical manuals (I think for Amazon. Maybe Google? A big name). So that’s about all the knowledge I have in that arena, but I bet the right kind of thing is out there–just a matter of finding it. I wish you luck!

    2. Jujyfruits*

      Start by figuring out what you want to do next. It can be tough if you just want to get away from something. Can you take some time off to reflect? Figure out what skills will transfer to other fields. Do research. Figure out what you might like (or not).

      Career changes do not mean starting over in an entry-level job. Salaries may vary but your skills are your skills.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I was able to switch from senior to mid-level in my pivot, because it was a different role but in a related field and context, so some of my experience transferred. It was hard going from being super-competent to newbie mode, but I didn’t literally have to start at the bottom.

    4. Head sheep counter*

      Have you considered a career coach? Chances are you’ve obtained valuable skills that can be applied in a variety of ways. Talking this through and working with someone might help you from starting at the bottom.

    5. Miss Thymia*

      No stories to share, but I’m also very interested in hearing from others who’ve done this!

      I’m sort of half in this boat. I’m not walking away from an established career (random floundering for much of my 20s and then SAHM in my 30s) but I am looking to start a career for the first time now that my kids are older. I’ve had to stop thinking about what I thought my life would look like and focus on what do I have now, where do I want to go, and how can I use what I have to get there.

      It’s weird feeling so far behind, but I guess there is an advantage in not forcing myself to leave something that’s more comfortable.

  26. NotBatman*

    Is there a polite way to tell a grand-boss “I’d like to be looped in on decisions that affect my work”?

    Some backstory: part of my job involves planning trainings and social events. My dotted-line manager “Hal” is very committed to the Tradition of our org. My grand-boss (different department from Hal) “Ira” is much more committed to move fast and break things, and has been pushing major culture changes since she started 2 years ago. There have been a few occasions where Hal has asked me to plan trainings, and Ira has announced a decision that makes it impossible for my event to occur as planned. The most recent one involved Hal asking me to plan a week-long orientation for a new team — only to have Ira announce that she’s having a mandatory all-hands in the middle of that week, one nearly impossible to plan around, even though she knew about the orientation that week. The time before that, Ira eliminated the soft all-company lunch break — after Hal and I had already planned programming for that break time and invited in two speakers. I feel like I’m the rope in their ideological tug-of-war.

    So: I’d very much like to ask Ira to make me aware when she’s about to make these massive schedule changes, and/or to be one of the people who gets asked for an opinion before these changes occur. At minimum, I’d like to find a way to politely say “you making these sweeping instantly-implemented schedule changes is fucking up my ability to do my job” so that at least I know she’s aware. Anyone have any recommendations?

    1. MsM*

      Honestly, this seems like more of a Hal problem. Either he needs to be advocating for you to get looped in on these decisions, or recognize that Ira is probably going to break stuff and send a message or schedule a call to discuss what you’re thinking and get sign off before you get too far into planning. And even then, if Ira’s the kind of person where the only thing you can count on is that they’re going to change their mind, you may just need to be prepared for that. (If there’s some other senior member of staff who’s capable of saying “Ira, no,” and having that listened to, maybe make friends with that person.)

      1. NotBatman*

        You’re probably right. Ideologically, I kinda agree with Ira — our sales numbers are way down, so we *have to* change if we’re going to survive — but she’s very unpopular in the office because of her tendency to make sweeping changes that affect current workflow without communicating those changes in advance. Hal is beloved and has been here 20+ years, so all the soft power is with him, but it might be worth at least floating to Hal that the traditional week-long welcome for onboarding isn’t feasible right now.

    2. KitCaliKat*

      Have you talked to Hal about this? I’d be interested to hear what they have to say and if they are aware that Ira’s actions are creating issues for you.

    3. RagingADHD*

      “What’s the best way for me to stay on top of your ideas about upcoming events or changes to the schedule? We could eliminate a lot of needless effort or duplicated work if I know what you have in mind before we commit to large events.

      How about I book a standing meeting with you every week (or every other week) so we can plan ahead?”

    4. saskia*

      Why isn’t Hal telling you these things if, presumably, Hal knows about them before they’re implemented?
      If Ira’s telling Hal but Hal is keeping this info from you, Ira’s not “fucking up your ability to do your job;” Hal is.

      1. NotBatman*

        Hal doesn’t know, is the thing. Ira’s senior to Hal, and Ira has tended to implement these changes with an all-company email to the effect of “starting today, all llamas will be groomed from back to front and I’ve already thrown away all the front-to-back combs.” Hal’s often getting hamstrung right along with me by the changes, and in more severe ways.

    5. Hillary*

      I’m sorry if this sounds harsh. That’s not my intention and I’m trying to say this as kindly as possible. You sound pretty frustrated. It’s completely understandable but they’re not doing this at you. Events might be getting caught in a power play, but it isn’t personal.

      If it’s making it impossible to complete other work or if there are real costs to the changes (nonrefundable plane tickets, catering deposits, etc) it’s worth bringing that impact up with Hal and talking about ways to mitigate them. Even then the money may not be relevant, at my last company international travel might be cancelled the day before if needs changed.

      If there isn’t quantifiable cost or if it’s only the effort of replanning, there isn’t a good way for you to express your frustration without looking bad. It’ll come across as emotional and out of touch, part of event planning is replanning as situations change. For Ira this is just Tuesday.

  27. anomnom*

    A hiring manager for a fundraising job I applied for reached out, we chatted online a bit, and then they stated that I was in a final group of five candidates. Instead of traditional interviews, they ask each candidate to fully run, on their own, a fundraising campaign for 30 days and whoever raises the most, wins the position.

    They provide a prospect list; it was ambiguous as to whether any staff assistance was provided. I could not get a clear answer and I’m known in my unit for being able to pin people down in a polite manner. This was for a Director of Philanthropy role listed on LinkedIn and Indeed. No red flags in the job listing.

    This sounds bananacrackers to me and I declined. If I had time to create and run campaigns on the side, I would be doing that for extra cash and to build an eventual consultancy.

    Or am I way off base? Is this a new thing?

    1. MsM*

      This is a multi-course banana tasting menu. Setting aside the obvious issues with not paying for what is clearly a consulting project, they’re comfortable with letting people who they haven’t fully finished vetting yet represent and solicit money on behalf of the organization?
      And the winner is based purely on dollar amounts, not strategic planning or relationship building or any of the skills you’d want to see to know whether someone can grow a program long-term? I’m curious what kind of candidates they’re getting that would say “yes” to this.

      1. anomnom*

        Hahaha, thank you for that description. It was so “off”. Granted, we had chatted but nowhere near enough to where they could’ve known I wouldn’t run their reputation into the ground and/or alienate prospects. They did not check references.

        I honestly wondered if this is something they do constantly just to have a steady supply of monthlong campaigns going and they actually care nothing for donor experience. I asked about retention goals and other metrics, but they said it was dollars raised. 15+ years in philanthropy and I’ve never seen hiring (or measuring although I’ve seen some questionable things) work like this.

        1. Elsewise*

          This is one of those things where my conspiracy theory brain goes into full gear. Like, is it possible that someone making decisions is actively trying to destroy the organization? Because that’s the only way it makes sense.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Or they’re running a flat-out scam and contracting out to hiring hopefuls to do the actual scamming (unknownst to them!)

      1. anomnom*

        It seemed to be, from googling it. No industry awards or similar that I could find, and their LinkedIn is pretty bare but I’m in the US and this company isn’t, so I chalked it up to different spaces at first.

    2. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      How can you run a fundraising campaign for an organization if you don’t represent that organization? AND for 30 days no less! Sounds like a scam job to me.

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I’m a fundraiser. This is completely unacceptable and contrary to the AFP Code of Ethics and Donor Bill of Rights. No professional fundraiser would ever go along with this and you shouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      Seems like they did you a favor by letting you know they’re a bunch of bananas before you had committed to anything.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      This is an entire banana suit complete with matching banana tie and handkerchief. I’m in the fundraising sector, and I cannot IMAGINE my organization pulling shenanigans like this.

    6. Jello Stapler*

      So would the people donating money for this “campaign” know its a sham? I won’t not be happy if I donated to something and found out somehow it was part of some cockamamie interviewing thing.

    7. It's too darned hot.*

      I’m glad you declined. This trend of demanding uncompensated work from job candidates needs to go.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Do the people who don’t get hired get to keep the money they raised? Since they don’t work there.

    9. Zzzzzz*

      Bwahahahaha! yeah, no. Run. Or really, just turn and saunter away. No need to waste any time debating this one.

  28. is this a bad idea?*

    On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad of an idea is it to disclose to my boss that I’m planning on getting pregnant soon in order to get more help?

    As a bit of background, I’ve been with my company for over a decade, starting at a low, general rank and working my way up to a specialized and higher rank. I’m still responsible for a lot of the tasks I had at a lower level – tasks that are not specialized, “easy” but time consuming. I’m taking on a lot of tasks that are specialized but things are falling through the cracks because I’m just responsible for too much.

    I want to talk to my boss about hiring someone at a lower rank to take on a lot of my early responsibilities so I can focus on the more challenging stuff. This is a conversation I want to have regardless – while I think he may be receptive, I also think he’ll drag his feet.

    My husband and I are planning on trying for a family soon. To be perfectly honest, I think me leaving on maternity leave would result in a poop show that I would absolutely dread coming back to. I’m already tentatively looking for other opportunities, but if I can get the extra help, I don’t really *want* to leave my current job.

    Would it be a bad idea to mention to my boss that hey – I might be out on leave for a while so let’s get someone in here sooner so I can train them?

    (I’m really not concerned about getting fired or being treated negatively at my place for getting pregnant – I think my company has a pretty good history treating pregnant people well.)

    1. Colette*

      I wouldn’t mention it just because you don’t know what will happen – some people find it hard to get and stay pregnant, and you don’t want to have your boss making decisions based on something that hasn’t happened.

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      My own experience shows me that this is on the negative number side of the scale. At one point I was doing approximately three separate job descriptions in bids and pieces. My boss only hired a temp for my maternity leave after our office manager told him that she would not be covering my duties (I am not in administration in any capacity, for the record, I do fairly technical things) and she’d be quitting with no notice if he tried that. And even then – the temp started a whopping 5 business days prior to be going on leave. And I worked until my due date.

      Why do you think that he’s going to drag his feet?
      Why do you think its going to be a fecal matter festival while you’re out?
      Why has he not removed the original responsibilities from your workload while you’ve progressed and have more challenging tasks?

    3. Princess Buttercup*

      So, there tends to be a similar question to this asked in the open forum each week, and the answer (no matter the situation) remains the same: do not disclose that you are planning to get pregnant. A lot of things can happen on that road and you are not guaranteed a viable pregnancy when you plan it (or at all), unfortunately. Another thing about pregnancy is that it’s a 9 month endeavor that you can plan for when it’s an actual thing.

      Pregnancy or no, it’s a good idea to have a succession plan in place – you might leave the position for another, or get hit by a bus tomorrow. Other people need to know how to do your job.

    4. EMP*

      I would avoid bringing up pregnancy for the same reason it wouldn’t be appropriate to bring up as a reason you need a raise – there’s already a business reason for this (free you up for higher level work, provide more coverage for general leaves of absence/vacation) that should be more compelling. And TBH if your boss is going to drag his feet over hiring in general, I don’t think imminent maternity leave would help anyway, because he might see that as a definitely temporary thing that they can just muddle through for 3 months while work piles up for your return.

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      Don’t bring up being pregnant or soon to be pregnant.
      Bring up “what is George gets hit by a bus” (or wins the lottery and quits if your workplace tone death is avoided). It’s a legitimate concern. Workplace should be actively trying to have redundancies in place.

    6. Loreli*

      Never say the sentence “I’m planning to get pregnant.” What is the person you’re saying this to supposed to think about after hearing that?

      Besides, you have absolutely no idea how long it will take to get pregnant. And if you make that announcement and then it takes some time, you’ll have to endure endless “advice”.

    7. DrSalty*

      Bad. You don’t know how long it will take to get pregnant. It could be years. Once you’re pregnant, then you can start planning for maternity leave.

      Or just push needing back up without an external reason because it’s a sensible business decision (which it is). What happens when you go on vacation?

    8. TeaCoziesRUs*

      Pass the awkward up instead of bringing up family planning. You’re letting specialized tasks fall because so much of your focus is on the mundane. Write that out for your boss specifically – and ask the better if you have numbers or other impact that this drop caused. (BTW, this fall is NOT on you or a reflection of YOU. It’s a reflection of miserable staffing levels and poor oversight.) Something like:
      In the last (week/ month/ quarter), I have had to turn my attention from specialized task #1, 2, 3 in order to get mundane task accomplished. That led to impact X, y, and z for our department / department we are supporting. This is not sustainable in the long term, and if it continues I can see X, y, z fallout. We need to hire a mundane generalist to focus on a, b, c so that I can accurately and efficiently complete specialized tasks d, e, and f.
      Don’t mention pregnancy. If boss questions a sense of urgency, just lay out a worst-case scenario thinking. If there’s a time in your business cycle where this makes sense (like getting books or processes together before an audit / inspection), that would be a great time to bring it up.

      Regardless, whether you have a baby or not, you need the support of a generalist. Figure out the business reasons. why and focus on those. And many blessings and good karma for your path to potential parenthood!

  29. Cherrytree*

    My company just went through a surprise layoff round. My team isn’t affected much – some adjacent teams were laid off but not in our direct area. They aren’t feeling too bad, I don’t think, but I’d love some advice from people here on how to support them over the next few weeks, now the crisis week of shock and updated processes is over. This is the first round of corporate layoffs I’ve ever experienced, let alone as a manager, so I’m a little bit at sea. My own manager has been on holiday for the past two weeks and I have to admit to feeling a tiny bit shaky myself. His manager is helpful but not particularly approachable or much of a people person.

  30. SirBluebird*

    I’m in the final interview stages for an entry-level job with extremely good benefits and training that would allow me to get the licensing I need for a huge career boost that should lead to me doubling my income in the next 3 years. I’ll also be able to work from home 50% of the time during training and then 75% of the time once I’m out of training.

    However, in the short term it’s going to be rough. It’ll be a 15% effective pay cut and when I do need to go into the office, my commute is going to increase from a 20 – 30 minute drive to a 70 – 90 minute drive. My husband and I will be relocating in about a year so that will be way less of an issue, and we will be able to live on what I’m making after the pay cut, but it will definitely give us a lot less spending money! Do any of you have experience with this kind of short term sacrifice for long term career growth? Or with a commute that long? How did you get through it?

    1. long commuter*

      I had a job for 10 years where the commute was 60-90 minutes. It was long. If at all possible shift your hours, reducing that by a bit helps. For me, the friday evening home commute was horrible, so I’d do food shopping and let the traffic die down, it was better at 7 pm than at 5. Otherwise, I listened to a news/talking based radio station (like the american npr, or bbc but for my country). I preferred that to a podcast, because the soundscape was more variable. Plus the usual : look for carpooling/public transit/active transit options. (it took me about as long to bike to my work as it did to drive, so I did that when I could)

      and 15% pay cut for a huge income boost sounds smart!

      1. long commuter*

        The other thing I’d add is : try and be active in the day. Walk at lunch, maybe walk after work to let traffic die down, walk before work if the commute is shorter at 7, but your work hours don’t start till 9. Also: if you are in a place where “large dinner” is standard, consider having half of it, or a large snack before you leave work. Having your lunch at 12 and dinner at 7 is a long break, even with a snack. My life improved immensely once I had protein and veg before leaving work. Also, I did batch cooking on the weekend, to ensure that I didn’t have to cook weeknights. That also helps with the budget.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Oh goodness. Yes I’ve done that and it was really draining. The other commenter had good advice. I’d add that you will need to proactively manage your energy – when you get home you’ll be more tired and want to do less, so make sure you’re moving your body enough, drinking enough water, setting conditions for good sleep, eating food that energized you rather than makes you sluggish, offloading all non-essential commitments (essential being things you have to or really want to do, because this is about doing things that you must do (like feed your kids) and that genuinely recharge you (whether that’s binging on Netflix or hiking all weekend).

      I had much less margin to put up with the impacts of a glass of wine which I love but gives me headaches, or the way I’d feel so sore if I didn’t force myself to exercise. I just had so much less room to deal with stuff, so I had to change my mentality from “well I’ll just treat myself to these donuts because they’re yummy and I had a stressful day” to “if I eat these I’ll feel sick tomorrow and I’m already exhausted so I have no room to do that”. Kind of like spoon theory.

    3. DannyG*

      Two areas to consider: outflow & income. Look hard at subscriptions. Are you 5 books behind on audible? Terminate. Do you have 3-4 streaming services? Edit to 1-2. And so on. Can you or your spouse pick up some extra work? Run a register at the local supermarket once a week? Work a couple hours every evening with a friend’s lawn mowing service? Working both ends together helps and keep in mind that this is temporary, on the way to a goal.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      Commuting advice: I have had a 60-90 min commute before (60 min to work, 90 min to home). Mine was public transit, not driving, so not all of my advice is applicable. I read a book on the way in, so radio, podcasts, and audiobooks are all good driving alternatives. Like long commuter, I looked for ways to make my commute better. When the weather was nice, I would walk for part of the way instead on piling on to a crowded train in the afternoon. The driving equivalent may be looking at alternate routes that have less traffic, or easier left turns, etc. One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that driving 20-30 mph on a crowded highway feels much more frustrating than driving 20-30 mph on city streets because I feel like I should be driving faster when I’m on the highway.

      Another thing: if possible, run errands on your way home from work. It will break up the drive a little bit and potentially give traffic some time to clear up. For me, when my days were 8 hours of working plus 2.5 hours of commuting, I had no desire to leave my house after work. It was much easier to run into a store while I was on my commute because I was already up and about.

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I did the “long commute but with a known end date.” Some things that I did:

      1) Audio books from the library. Borrow more than one at a time, in case you don’t like the narrator.
      2) At lunch, go for walks to explore the area. I was lucky and worked near a park. That assumes the job is at a walkable area that’s worth exploring. Being outside in fresh air helps.

      I didn’t do this, but a paper calendar to mark off with planned celebrations during the countdown could be nice. Like, Week 1 complete, beach trip. Week 2 complete, ice cream subdae night. Week 3 complete, all day weekend hike. Breaks up the stretch of extra commute to smaller milestones.

  31. Alexis Carrington Colby*

    Does anyone do “stand ups” at their jobs with their teams?

    I’ve been at a new role for a 1 month, and we do stand-ups every morning. It’s with my boss and my immediate coworker (who also reports to my boss), then a handful of people who don’t report to my boss but are in the same part of the org (not quite department), so about 8-9 people total. I’m starting to find it annoying lol. I feel like everyday is overkill, I think it would be better maybe 1x or 2x a week. I don’t even listen when other people speak, and I doubt they listen for me. I’m pretty much just prepping for my turn to speak, and it’s all on video call and we’re all on a grid. I’ve also noticed when someone has an appointment, they’ll say they have a doctor/dentist/hair appointment, and they’ll talk about which other meetings they have for that day. I don’t want to share with everyone when I go to the doctor lol

    I get that it helps with team bonding and accountability. But about half of them on the call work out of the main office, and me, and a few others are fully remote, it just feels like a lot to do everyday. And our immediate team has a task management system so we’re all tracking what we’re working on, and every Monday my boss, immediate coworker and I talk through what we’re working on this week.

    And during the stand-ups, usually every Friday, everyone goes around and talks about what they are doing (what you doing Alexis? how about you Dominique, what do you have on tap for this weekend?), and then the same process every Monday on what we did that weekend. And then everytime I have a separate meeting with my boss, he’ll always ask what I did the prior night or what I have planned for this night. It’s a lot and I don’t want to talk about my personal life with coworkers.

    I don’t think it’s micromanaging or lack of trust, but was curious if others deal with something similar

    1. Nicki Name*

      A daily standup is part of agile programming. Every development team should have a quick daily meeting where everyone says:

      * What major thing(s) they did yesterday
      * What they’re working on today
      * What’s in the way of their current task, if anything

      If your company or team isn’t doing software development, then I won’t try to guess why it decided to borrow the practice.

      1. Alexis Carrington Colby*

        Not software, more marketing and design/creative. Besides my boss and immediate coworker, I don’t work with the rest at all.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          It sounds like they’re doing standups wrong, not solely because not software, but they’re basically having a daily check-in and talking about whatever and calling it a standup.
          Like for example, some people on my team in a stand up might mention they have an appointment, but they don’t go into detail, and the point of bringing it up is “and thus I will have fewer hours in the day today to work on ThingI’mWorkingOn. It’s not just a share fest. It has purpose. And unless y’all work on the weekend, what you did on the weekend is superfluous. Like, if it were chitchat while waiting for folks to come in…like small talkers gonna small talk, but if this is a standard part of the meeting going round to EVERYONE about weekend plans, that’s just weird.

    2. Burned Out*

      Some time ago I was in a team where we also made the daily standup ritual. If people stick to “what have I done”, “what I’m doing today” and “do I need help/am I stuck” then it can be useful to find out as soon as possible where the problems are. It is a good moment to ask for help (but not getting help. Do it later!).

      Hovewer, in my experience it’s only useful if people are concise. If people derail or go too much into detail, then you have a situation like you have described.

      1. Alexis Carrington Colby*

        Yeah, several years ago I was on a team where we did stand-ups 2x/week and they were helpful because people would talk about the main priorities (instead of every little thing) and any roadblocks or questions. This is more like this is exactly what my day is: working on X, meeting with Blake, then working on Y, meeting with Fallon, dentist

    3. No Tribble At All*

      Ugh, we have one as well, and we’re a superteam composed of three different sub-teams, so for 2/3 of the tag-up, it’s people talking about things I literally don’t know what they are. The whole meeting goes on for 15-20 minutes every damn morning at 9am. It’s so unnecessary!

      Also, a tagup should not include chitchatting about the weekend. It’s originally called a stand-up because it’s supposed to be so short you can just stand around for 5 minutes. My sympathies!!

    4. Friday Me*

      We were able to convince a former boss to move from daily to *only* three times a week.

      As for the weekend stuff, I’m a big fan of – boring life, just playing with my cat and reading. Soon they won’t bother asking :)

    5. Colette*

      In my last job, I ran standups. It sounds like yours aren’t well run – they shouldn’t be generally used for social time. But having them every day is crucial, because they should be used to find out quickly when something is falling behind or hitting roadblocks.

    6. Anonymask*

      This is one of my biggest complaints about my job. One hour. Every day. Such a waste.

      1. Certified Scrum Master*

        an hour? A daily standup is supposed to take fifteen minutes or less. The point of standing up to do it is to help keep it short.

        1. Anonymask*

          They’re scheduled to be 30 minutes. But the manager is… Not good at keeping things on time. So 95% of the time, we go over (I was being uncharitable by saying *every day*, since the days the manager is out we don’t have them).

          We also meet over Zoom since we have one remote team member, and the manager has stated that the hourly people driving in need to be on the call as well (despite the meeting happening an hour before their stated start time). So I’m sure that doesn’t help the situation…

          1. Alexis Carrington Colby*

            Oof, that’s rough. I’m sorry.

            Our’s are scheduled for 15 minutes. Some people don’t sign on until a few minutes into the meeting, which bypasses the small talk. I’m still new, but I might starting signing in a minute late or so

    7. I Have RBF*

      Daily standups are part of “Scum™”, an “Agile” framework that’s supposed to make everything go smoothly, make engineers empower, and help unicorns pump glitter out of their butts. They seldom are worth the time involved.

      I’ve been working with agile scrum crap off an on for over ten years. Unless it’s a greenfield software project, it is like pasting a smiley face mask over a assault victim and calling him cured. It is a waste of time, and usually devolves into waterfall style mini-deathmarches every two weeks.

      No, I don’t like Scrum. It’s a horrible way to run anything but a narrow niche of software development. It certainly is not a way to run anything that is interrupt driven or operations style work. It is often cargo-culted by clueless management to make their process seem modern, or because some consultant told them that all the cool companies were doing it.

      It actually lends itself very easily to micromanagement, but calls itself “developer empowerment”, and it is not empowering at all, IMO.

      And the personal stuff? I would shut that down hard, either by going TMI, just saying nothing, or saying “my life outside work is not the subject of this meeting.”

      Also, start looking for a new job. This intrusive garbage is a buzzing hornet’s nest.

    8. Been There Done That*

      I had a job once where we did 15 minute stand ups every afternoon, just for the C Suite level. Sometimes it ended up being longer than 15 minutes, but we each brought to the table something we were working on/accomplished, an issue we faced and our focus for the next few days. As the newest person in the company, I found it immensely helpful learning about the different departments and how they conducted their business. It also gave them insight as to how I, as a new department head, structured my department and conducted my area. We did this only until COVD struck and we all went remote, then we had to change our meeting schedule.

  32. Indisch blau*

    Dealing with inappropriate questions and the like: Does anyone have a strategy for learning to give non-answer or answer a question with another question and in general to think on one’s feet?
    When I’m asked an inappropriate question or a question I don’t want to answer, I tend to answer it anyway. Witty comebacks don’t occur to me until days later. Unfortunately, I also don’t think of answering with question (Why do you want to know? and the like).
    Has anyone learned or trained themself to actually skip a beat and deliver the polite non-answer?
    Thanks!

    1. Nicki Name*

      What sort of inappropriate are they? Inappropriate for work, or something the questioner should have known you wouldn’t have the answer for?

      1. Indisch blau*

        This happens to me both in work contexts and private. At work I was once asked by a client why another vendor had the policy it did. I didn’t know, of course. But instead of just repeating, “I’m sorry, I don’t know,” I speculated.
        A non-work context is that a friend of my parents’ asked me where my spouse and I go to church. I told her we went to different churches (and which ones, although that information didn’t tell her anything). And she asked how that worked for us. I don’t mind answering the question which church(es) we go to. The follow up deserved a “Why do you ask?”. I need to learn how to take the second before plunging in with an answer in order to deliver the deflection.

        1. Double A*

          These questions don’t sound inappropriate. In the first case, it’s one you don’t know the answer to. In the second case, it’s small talk you’re not interested in engaging with.

          It sounds like maybe you need to get more comfortable with saying “I don’t know.” Or in the latter case, have some phrases ready to disengage. “Fine” is a small talk response that works well. “How does that work?” “Just fine!”

          You can also practice pivoting to a question to change the subject.

    2. Princess Buttercup*

      You could always go with Geena Davis’s response “Whoops! That was inappropriate!” in a cheery voice.

    3. Burned Out*

      What worked somewhat for me before is to choose a few general of sentences that can be used for this kind of situations, like “I don’t want to answer that”, and practice to say it calmly at home until you can say it fluently.

      It will feel odd at the beginning, but it helps you get better.

    4. Rick Tq*

      Anyone who has worked with sensitive information has been trained to give non-answers to those kinds of questions in a way that makes it clear the topic is something you will not and can not discuss.

      The boilerplate I learned starts “I can neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of X”.

      A more polite version might be “I’m surprised you asked that, I really can’t discuss X” leaving the details why to the listener.

    5. anywhere but here*

      Why do you ask?
      (As a response. Not a question for you haha)

      Gives you a bit of time to think and sometimes can help redirect if you can address the reason they’re asking without answering the question.

    6. NaoNao*

      “Why do you ask?” in a Barbara Walters almost-concerned voice. or a brisk “Oh, pass!” with a big smile and a topic change. You can also do the “no thank you!” or “no thanks!” as if you’re declining a delicious looking but too-high-calorie treat or something similar. It creates just enough confusion for a disappear in a cloud of smoke effect.

      1. Indisch blau*

        My question is more: How can I learn to take the time to ask, “Why do you ask?” I jump in with an earnest and honest answer before I realize I don’t really want to answer. (People pleaser? Honesty is the best policy?)

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Can you get into the habit of responding with “good question” before jumping into answer? Either for all questions, or for questions asked by people you know are frequent offenders of asking inappropriate questions. The “good question” (and perhaps a small pause or “hmm”) will become automatic, so you can use those few seconds to internally check “do I want to answer this question?” If you do, you can transition from “good question”/pause/”hmm” to the answer, and if you don’t, you can instead go into “why do you ask?” or “no thanks!” or any of the other suggestions above.

        2. NotBatman*

          I’ll paraphrase back any question I’m not sure I heard, or just hope that I misheard.

          Rude customer: How old are you?
          Me: To clarify, you want to know how old I am?
          Rude customer: Yes.
          Me: Sorry, that’s private, but can I get you anything else while you’re here?

          Often it gives me time to remember that no, I do not have to tell people personal information. I’m also a fast talker, so I’ll often launch into an entire paragraph about an unrelated subject as a way of getting the conversation away from whatever I was just asked.

        3. Tio*

          Honestly, I have actually practiced responses. In the shower, with a partner, with a friend. Sometimes you can build that sort of “muscle memory” in this way.

        4. TeaCoziesRUs*

          Silly answer – breathe.

          When someone asks you something, focus on your breath. Is your breath going in or out? That will give you a small pause to encourage your TMI self to stop and think. I had a teacher who said, “Come back to yourself,” which has stuck with me. I bring my attention back in for a quick gut check, which helps me answer in a more authentic way. The authentic way can be “reason x,y,z” or “myob” or any variation in between, but that breath allows me to pause and not spew.

    7. Not the Answer Man anymore*

      I have the same impulse but after getting embarrassed enough times by inappropriate answers I’ve learned “I don’t know” is the best answer when that is true.

      I’ve moved from needing to prove my value by ALWAYS having the answers to the confidence to say I don’t know.

      1. Anon for This*

        You prove your value more by admitting that you don’t know than by giving out wrong information. If appropriate (like if your boss asks for needed info) you can say you’ll find out.

    8. ferrina*

      “Hey look, a distraction!”

      Try the vague….”huh”.
      Or the time buying…”oh shoot, I just thought of something. I need to send an email. Excuse me.”

      Pick a response that feels the most comfortable (dont’ worry about witty) and practice it until it’s part of your muscle memory. Picture someone asking you an inappropriate question and give your response. Practice your response on your morning commute or other places. Practice until you get sick of it.
      Same thing as athletes do- you practice the move until you do it in your sleep, so you can do it in the clutch moment under pressure.

    9. Jessi*

      I legit started a business to help people with this! Somethings are just harder for some people to say! Practice can really help as well as having your reply ‘fixed’ in your head. I’ll include a link below in case you feel like it could be useful for you

  33. Cruciatus*

    Man, even when you like where you work, the two weeks’ notice period before you leave for a new job is the worst. I’m really glad people like me, and I really like them too, but it’s like I’m dying and not just working 7 miles away. My supervisor is also trying to out-plan me leaving. She’s trying to cover for scenarios that I never encountered in all of my time here and it’s just A. Lot. And I still have 4 days in next week!

    All that said, I’m still in sort of denial because not much has changed yet, besides people finding out I’m leaving, but my day-to-day otherwise is the same. But everyone gets why I’m going (we aren’t paid enough, and they don’t make it easy to get more money whether through annual review/GSI, job title/duty switches, etc.)

    So weird to love a place but have to leave it for more opportunities!

    1. I'm that box at Mar-a-Lago*

      “but it’s like I’m dying and not just working 7 miles away. My supervisor is also trying to out-plan me leaving. She’s trying to cover for scenarios that I never encountered in all of my time here.”

      As someone who lost 3.5 team members in March and May leaving only 2 of us behind to pick up all the work (going into a $5m fundraising season with no boss or two other staff members), it was a team I really adored and worked well with, it’s like a death. We’re all saying, “We’re so happy you’re going to a great place’ while inside (no apologies) we’re pissed and trying to hold on to a semblance of sanity to cover for all your tasks before you’re backfilled or better yet, they change the structure, and we have to adapt to a new system and new staff member.

      I’m glad your boss is trying to out-plan because did you plan for your departure? Is there a transition plan of all your work, tasks, contacts, follow-ups, and future work?

      “it’s just A. Lot. And I still have 4 days in next week!” I can’t empathize with you, and I can’t support your feelings. We’re all trying to figure out how to do your work, cover your responsibilities. Turn your sympathy to them instead. How can you make it better for them?

      1. Cruciatus*

        Yeesh! I work in a library, nothing is life or death. We have staff who are trained in the basics of my duties so everything will keep moving until they can hire someone new. Everything is going to be fine, but…thanks, I guess.

        1. What's in the Booooox*

          From another librarian, I’ll send some empathy and support your way! I’ve left several librarian jobs for other opportunities in my career, and every time I turn in the notice and then kinda…. sit. I find a lot of of library tasks are either immediate (like, literally finish this hours) or verrrry long term (like, predate your career and will go many years more) so the 2 weeks are a weird combination of literally nothing changing in the immediate tasks and just not being involved in longer conversations because they’re going to continue without you. There’s not much to “wrap up.” It is a surreal feeling!

      2. Never Knew I Was a Dancer*

        I’m That Box At Mar-a-Lago, it sounds like you’re having a rough time at work…but Cruciatus isn’t leaving their job at you.

        1. Parakeet*

          Not to mention an astonishingly nonsensical one. How many posts have there been on this site over the years where Alison emphasizes, correctly, that employees leaving is a normal part of work life?

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I left a job that I liked for a different opportunity, and it was a little weird! I knew leaving was the right thing for me, but I was also really sad to leave my coworkers. We worked together well and I learned a lot from them. I was sadder than I thought I was going to be during my notice period, and that was a bit surprising to me. I will say, once I left I was so busy with my new job that the feelings of sadness and weirdness evaporated, so there’s light at the end of this tunnel!

      1. Cruciatus*

        That is exactly what I’m hoping for! That’s what I was telling some people–they’d ask “are you excited, are you excited?” and I was like…I think I will be but right now I’m still in my current position and nothing has changed (except preparing for me to leave) so I’m still too close to this job to be excited yet. I’m not excited to be the new person again! But I was the new person here too once and ended up loving it so I’m trying to remember that as well–the newness will eventually fade.

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I think part of it is because in most workplaces, the odds are that you probably won’t see that person again. Or at least not often–I have loved several of the places where I worked, but have only returned to one of them for anything, and it was 6 years after I’d left, for a couple of hours (my spouse attended a conference in the same building, so I came a bit early to pick him up so I could have a little nostalgia walk-through). Even if you drive or walk by it semi-regularly, there’s just rarely a reason to return to most places.

      And you may very well have people who are genuinely happy for you, but also a bit jealous that you’re moving on to something better. I got a lot of that when I left my second-to-last job.

  34. Nicki Name*

    Anyone else watching Zom 100 and feeling resonance with the protagonist when he realizes the zombie apocalypse is better than having to keep going to his horrible, toxic job?

    I’ve got a much better job these days, but there have been a couple of horrible, toxic jobs in my past where I stuck around way too long, and… boy did I feel that moment.

    (For those who have no idea what I’m talking about: the full title is Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, it’s about a guy trying to live his dreams after the zombie apocalypse frees him from that job, and it’s on Hulu and Netflix.)

    1. anomnom*

      I haven’t seen it but will be watching it this weekend. I desperately need this type of escapism while I figure out whether/when to leave. Love my team, job and work but pay is subpar, benefits keep getting eroded and remote work is a constant battle.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I wouldn’t be that hyped but it would be much cooler to live in the apocalypse where you don’t have to go to work than today where it’s the end of days but you also have to do your job

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      Is it a comedy? I love me a good zomedy. In my horribly toxic old job years ago, I used to fantasize about the subway crashing or aliens attacking downtown while I was on the way to work. I remember one time I got a call on the way to work saying that there had been a flood and none of the computers were working, and my heart started to leap with joy, but then the person calling told me that “it’s going to be all hands on deck cleaning up for a couple days” and it sank again.

  35. lurkyloo*

    More a little whine about my situation than anything.
    I’ve recently returned to a role that I loved very much after being away for a year. While I was away, they went from portfolio based to team based work. Think of it as: When I left, I took care of 5 llamas and backed up someone and their 5 llamas if they were away. On my return, I find out they’ve gone to a team based approach where the team of 3 cares for 20 llamas, but really, we have 6-7 llamas each and keep each other in the loop if we need to. Or that’s MY team.
    Other teams are actively discussing the whole herd of llamas daily, travel together to visit their llamas and generally operate as a whole.
    I have a chat with the manager who praises the other teams and suggests that I should get my team to be more like that. I talk to my team about ‘hey, can we at least meet weekly’? Only to find out that management left it to each team to determine the right approach and I’m on the team where everyone does their own thing (like it was when I left). But apparently, we’re the team that management says isn’t doing it ‘as I envisioned’.
    Sooooo….direct us to do so? I’m good either way, but feel a bit tossed under the bus by the manager not wanting to step up and tell the team how to do it, but asking me to instead.
    Sigh.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Yeah, you’re right, this should be your manager’s problem rather than yours. They can’t leave it to each team to determine the right approach and then be surprised when the team does something that isn’t exactly what they envisioned. If they’re supposed to be working more collaboratively, then your manager needs to manage. You’re the newest person on the team, even if you are a returning employee, and you don’t have lead or supervisory roles. I wouldn’t want to burn my capital on doing something that my manager should be doing anyways either.

    2. Qwerty*

      Clarify with your boss on what authority you have.

      If you are a team lead or a similar type or role, then you should have the authority to just go ahead and schedule a weekly meeting.

      If you are just a regular team member and not seen as a form of defacto leader, then talk to your boss about you don’t feel you have the authority to implement the changes she is asking for. Does she want you to act as more a lead? Do you have the option of borrowing your boss’s authority to say “Jane asked me to run a weekly team meeting” ?

      It’s possible you and your boss may not be one the same page about what your role is. Or your boss could have failed at getting the team to do the new approach and is hoping they’ll listen to you instead. I can’t tell from the post whether there is a 1:1 ratio of manager to team or if your manager sits over multiple teams. If its the former she needs to step up. If its the latter, then it is normal to deputize someone to handle the day to day stuff.

  36. phrasing, after lay-off*

    I got laid off in the spring. When I was employed, I used to write in my cover letter: “in my current job, I am the person most called upon to shave zebras”.
    How should I word this: “in my last job I was the person most called upon to shave zebras”? That feels weird to me.

    For context, the job I got laid off from I’d had for 15 years, and before then was a series of 2-year appointments. (post-docs)

    1. Meg*

      I think its fine wording. You could phrase it more like “in previous positions I have been the most called upon…” as well.

    2. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I’d go for something like “In my [Job Title] role at [Company Name], I was the person most called upon to shave zebras”. Then on to more details of what you enjoyed / learned / achieved / were great at.

      Or, if your length of service is likely to be an impressive factor, something like “Throughout my 15 years at [Company Name], I was the person most called upon to shave zebras”.

      That also has the advantage of giving the reader context if they see your cover letter before your CV. Perhaps the company name is one they recognise, or they get a sense for what industry you worked in, or they can see that the job title is a close match to what they’re advertising for. I’ve used similar wording even while employed, for this reason.

      All the best on your job search!

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Instead of “in my last job,” I would probably go with “at [company name], I was the person most called upon to shave zebras” or “as a [job title] at [company name], I was…”

  37. Burned Out*

    Some time ago I was in an IT project, alone, where I had only about 1/3 of the information about what was needed to do.

    While I did my best to keep going and to bring the project forwards while wearing more hats than I can handle, I ended burning out. A manager in my company, who has no relationship to the project, has seen me at my worst, and assumed that I must be immature for my years in the industry. Unfortunately he has been telling people, and he is belived despite me having had only good reviews prior to that project. It got to the point where each time someone would ask me something, my answer would be ignored because “you don’t know anything anyway”.

    I plan to get out as soon as possble from this company (also because of other things). I am on sick leave right now, but I wonder how can I best survive the time between getting back to work and leaving?

    1. NotBatman*

      A suggestion someone made for a different commenter trying to get through a notice period: pretend you’re an actor playing a role of IT Project Manager in Bullshit Job. Sure, you’re moving through this bizarre situation where your boss is a jerk and nobody recognizes your work, but it’s not really happening to you. It can help with playing along with shitty norms, without internalizing those norms too much.

  38. JMR*

    I have placed several online orders in the past few weeks that have had to be returned. To save me a trip to the UPS store, I’ve been taking the packages to work to return them. I bring the item (all packed up and with the pre-paid shipping label) to the person on our Facilities team who handles package deliveries and shipments, and ask them to hand it off to the UPS driver. I was wondering what might be an appropriate gift for the Facilities team member that has been handling these packages for me? I don’t know him well and would have no idea what would be appropriate. Or is a hearty “thanks” all that is required? The driver stops by every day and there are almost always outgoing packages, so he just adds it to the pile, but I’m still grateful because it’s a personal favor. I should also mention that lots of people send packages from work because it’s so convenient (or have packages shipped to work, so that it won’t sit on their doorstep all day and possibly get stolen), but I’ve been doing it a lot lately. I’d like to thank him without being weird about it!

    1. Somehow_I_Manage*

      The right move here, and you’ll have a friend in your corner for life! This situation calls for delicious baked goods.

    2. Samwise*

      Gift card to an appropriate food place or shop selling things you know they will like.

  39. Cookies for Breakfast*

    A question for UK readers about workplace pensions.

    I worked at my previous employer several years, and my pension got paid into Provider A. My current employer pays into Provider B, and I’ve been there just over a year.

    The money from OldJob’s pension is still with Provider A, and I found out from the statements they send me that they take out an annual service charge. So I’m essentially losing money, since that sum is never going to grow (unless, I assume a future employer also uses provider A). I’ve been wondering whether transferring that money to Provider B would make more sense. But then again, who knows how long I’ll be staying here and what provider my future employer(s) will use – I’m very far from pension age!

    If you’ve transferred pension providers yourself, what was the process like, and what are the trade-offs?

    Is there anything to the third-party apps I’ve seen advertised that allow merging pensions in one place (I’m thinking PensionBee, Nutmeg, and similar)?

    Or, is there a free source of financial advice you’d recommend that could help with this topic?

    1. Ivana Tinkle*

      I’m in the UK and work in financial planning. A good place to start would be http://www.moneyhelper.org.uk which is a free government backed advice service. It’s often the case that old employer pensions charge you when you’ve left the scheme. Most UK personal pension providers don’t charge you for transferring your pension. In your situation, if you’re happy with the pension scheme you’re in with your current employer, and can see yourself staying with your company for a while, I’d see if you can transfer your other pension into this one so it’s all in one place. Otherwise, somewhere like Pension Bee would be a good shout – they’ve got a reputation for being lower cost & easy to transfer to & their charges & investment choices etc are supposed to be easy to understand. Think it also depends on the value of your pensions – if they’re worth a lot or have any guarantees attached, it’s worth paying for a financial adviser to take a look.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Is that annual charge a percentage of the amount in the pension rather than a flat fee? (typically it is) – in which case the principle is that the investment will (should) grow at a rate that exceeds the fee. Of course that is dependent on what funds/approach it’s invested in and stock market etc performance year to year. Generally if a future employer used Provider A you would have 2 pots with A, rather than them continuing with the original one.

      I have transferred pensions and it was fairly easy. Generally the process is that you choose the new provider (could be your current employer scheme or another one), give the details of the pension you want to transfer into it and the approximate value. The old provider will then send some paperwork out for you to return confirming you agree to the transfer. The whole process took a few weeks as I recall.

      Some good sources of information are the Money Saving Expert website and the UK Personal Finance community on reddit.

    3. OxfordBlue*

      Seconding MoneySavingExpert both the website and the forum which has boards devoted to this subject. It’s definitely worth your becoming au fait with this subject because unless you stay where you are until retirement the same thing will happen again.

  40. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    A few months ago, I asked for advice on getting my underpaid star performer a big raise. I was asked to come back and give an update on how that went.

    Well, there’s good news and bad news.

    Background: my star performer could go on the market and almost double their salary. They started entry-level and have worked their way up to senior (this is tech). Even making 50% more than when they started thanks to annual raises and a promotions hasn’t brought them close to market value.

    Since I knew our budget wasn’t going to allow a 90-100% raise, I was planning to try to negotiate a 50% raise for them.

    Bad news: Right as annual comp review was supposed to happen a couple weeks ago, we got an announcement from our company that raises were being delayed 6 months. So nobody’s getting a raise.

    My boss and I agreed to keep raising our star performer as an exceptional case who deserved an out-of-cycle raise before they get poached by someone willing to pay them what they’re worth. (They have niche, recession-proof tech skills and would be difficult to replace at any salary, and impossible to replace at their junior-level salary.)

    We got very pessimistic messages from upper managment that nothing was going to happen for at least a month or two, as the company was busy trying to come up with money just to make up for this year’s shortfall, never mind extra salary money, and if this person left, that would be seen as one less person we’d have to lay off, not someone we’d replace.

    Good news: After underpromising, our C-level overdelivered and surprised us with a 25% raise for this person earlier this week.

    Now, normally, I would push for the 50%, which would itself still be below market value…but considering the circumstances, I’m going to take 25% as a win for now (and it took most of my boss’s political capital to get that much). Hopefully we’ve bought ourselves some time until the next merit cycle in 6 months, at which point I’m going to try to bring the number up to the original 50% I was going to aim for.

    1. Somehow_I_Manage*

      You’re an awesome boss!

      Any chance the C-level would be more receptive to promoting your star? That’s always been the way around off-cycle raises- if we can move them to a completely new title/position, we can re-set the pay scale and employment description to match.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        I’ve definitely been keeping the promotion idea in my back pocket. The problem with pushing for it now is that I genuinely believe we will not pay a senior-level salary for a senior-level position (and would not backfill a senior position at a senior salary either). Since it is in fact easier to get a big raise with a promotion, I’ve been trying to hold off on the senior title until we can give them senior pay to go with it. Otherwise, they have a senior title and mid-level pay, and then…trying to convince the company to get them up to senior pay without a title change is probably going to be harder than trying to get them to a senior pay with a change to a senior title.

        For now, they have a mid-level title and I’m trying to get them mid-level pay (right now–or at least in a month, after the 25% raise takes effect–they have low mid-level pay), and I’m going to push to get them high mid-level pay as a high-performing mid-level employee, as long as I think there’s no chance they’re getting senior level pay.

        Once I think they can get senior-level pay, then I’m planning on going for the promotion angle: “This person is doing senior level work, this is what a senior role pays, we should give them the pay that goes with the title.”

        The other good news is that the more money we can get them now, the more of an effect a smaller % raise has for them (10% of a higher number is more money than 10% of a lower raise), and the smaller the % I have to ask for. If I say, “This person is senior and needs a 90% raise,” I’m going to get laughed at. If I instead get two 20-25% raises in their current role, and then after a year can say, “This person was mid-level and is being paid mid-level, but is now senior and needs a 20% raise to be paid senior,” then I might be able to get that.

        If I thought I could get a senior salary with a promotion, I would absolutely have gone for it by now, and as soon as I think I’ve got a shot, I will. I just don’t want to set a precedent for paying a senior person a mid-level salary.

        I’ve also made sure this person is aware of how much they could make on the open market (I had them gather market value data), what my negotiation strategies and their salary prospects are here, and that we would of course be sad to lose them and they would be difficult to replace, but that they are not responsible for our difficulties after they leave. I’ve said that if they did leave, I would not hold it against them if they gave notice without letting me know they’d been looking, nor would I hold it against them if I knew they were looking and they asked for a reference from me (which I’ve said would be stellar). We’ve also talked about the benefits of working here, and they’ve said their morale is good and they’re willing to pay a certain sanity tax for the good bosses, coworkers, and work-life balance here. So my hope is that we can keep them on a low mid-level salary for 6 months and then get them a high mid-level salary (senior is a stretch goal), and then it won’t be absolutely absurd for them to stay at this company when they could make 25% more elsewhere (but with unknown bosses, coworkers, and workloads), as opposed to it being absurd to walk away from 90% more salary because the grass *might* not be greener on the other side.

        The thing I’m trying to avoid doing is coming across as trying to sell them on “You should stay here and be underpaid because the company culture is so great!” but instead present it as, “There are benefits to a nearly results-only work environment. I can’t tell you how much to value them vis-a-vis money, but is true that another company might insist on a more consistent 8-hour day, 40-hour week than we do (either because they have a more butts-in-seats mentality or because they have a much higher workload), and you seem to really take advantage of the flexibility here. I am trying to get you paid within the ballpark of what you could make elsewhere, but I may not be able to, and I will support whatever you decide. You’re the only one who can make that decision for yourself.”

        1. Random Academic Cog*

          Thank you for the updates! I was just thinking about that conversation recently and wondering how the quest to get your employee more money went!

    2. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      In other news, an update on advice I asked for training my manager to, you know, manage. He was promoted for being the best engineer without training, and so was his boss, and neither of them had the foggiest clue that management is more than “attend meetings” and “tell people what to do.”

      I took over a project that had been stalled for 1.5 years and got it unblocked and moving along by managing the engineer who was supposed to work it. The engineer is doing a great job (because he has engineering skills, just not management skills), and that bought me a lot of credibility for my claim that “If a manager manages, they can get work out of reports who can’t self-manage, which is a lot cheaper than replacing them and then hoping their replacements don’t also need management.”

      With that credibility, I was able to move to a setup where I’m doing all the 1:1s and project management for my team, and I’m coaching my boss on how to manage. My boss is enthusiastic about the new organized approach to project management (“It’s working so much better than what I was doing before! The projects are moving faster *and* I’m in the loop about what’s going on!”) and the engineers are like “This status doc is so helpful!” and “Working on this project and seeing the results is like eating one piece of candy after another!”

      My boss’s and my hope is that after a few months to a year of this, one, we’ll have knocked out so much more work that the results will be visible to upper management, like at the quarterly business review. And two, he’ll have learned more about how to manage (he’s actually said this, this isn’t just my pie-in-the-sky dream).

      He’s coming along! Just six weeks ago, he was telling me, “Well, if people can’t self-manage, they’re not going to be able to work with me, so this team might not be right for them,” as he was thinking of firing an engineer who can’t self-manage. (That’s when I had to take over managing.) Last week, his boss was like, “Well, if you say your engineers don’t ask enough questions and just wait for you to tell them what to do [this is a high-paid job that requires a lot of autonomy], should they be working here? Can’t we just fire them?” and my boss hard no-ed that and said, “We’re managers, we have to learn to manage.”

      Look, he’s learning!

      He also went from “No, that would be silly” in response to an engineer’s question about whether we could change something to “This is my first thought, but I want to hear your input: I think we should do X, then Y, but what do you think?” from Monday to Thursday of last week, after I had a chat with him about not using language that shuts down your employees’ ideas and then complaining that they’re not autonomous enough.

      If you’re wondering if my boss is doing anything at all now that I’m doing the 1:1s and project management and leading all the meetings for our team: he’s meeting with the managers in other departments, the VP of another department, the director of our department, the SVP and C-level who run our department, 3rd party vendors, and basically everything that isn’t our team. I’m effectively a line manager meeting and managing our reports, and he’s a middle manager meeting with everyone else. And these are all things I very very much don’t want to do and am happy for him to get paid to do and to technically outrank me to do (esp. meeting with the director of our department; he’s the worst boss I’ve ever had, and if I have to meet with him, I will start searching immediately).

      My boss is very receptive to new ideas, like “what a manager’s job is” and “managers need training”, in a way that most people aren’t, and even if this is obviously not an ideal situation, I’m happy to continue doing it and watching him grow. And taking over more responsibilities is a huge growth opportunity for me as well–there’s a lot of stuff I’ve never done that I’m having to figure out and make up as I go along, and it’s very challenging and rewarding.

      1. Tio*

        Sounds like you’re effectively acting as a supervisor while he’s a manager – which is not unusual! But perhaps you could get a raise/promotion out of it, at some point (though it sounds like a bit of a mess right now, based on the raise item you advised)

        1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

          I was planning to ask for a bonus for working crazy hours and doing work above my pay grade, and then wait a year and see if I want to do this long term and if I do, ask for a promotion and raise next time… but then, yeah, the news broke that we’re not even getting COL raises until 2024. So yeah. We’ll see what the future brings. I’m highly paid already, so I’d rather spend my capital on my underpaid star performer for now.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      If they are niche and difficult to replace, you need to be looking at contingency and succession plans. What if rather than being “poached” by another employer they were in an accident etc, what would you do? Now start applying that. Your argument that they are irreplaceable etc is likely to be met by management with “why have you allowed a single point of failure to develop” and management would be right.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        If they were hit by a bus, we have adequate contingency plans that would tide us over through a hiring period/FMLA/whatever. However, if we wanted the same results as we’ve been getting from this person *long-term*, we would have to hire a replacement at a much higher salary than we’re currently paying them.

  41. Lunch Meat*

    I quit my job in June and I’m so happy at my new place. It feels tailor made for me. I made the mistake of agreeing to work remotely for a few hours a week at the old job until they found someone else and my boss thought that would work long-term and decided not to try to hire a replacement. I finally convinced her I won’t be available past Monday because of my new job but she’s not planning to tell staff what’s happening, just that I won’t be available for questions on the things I was helping with because I’m working on something else or something? I don’t know. I want to tell at least one of my coworkers but I don’t know if that’s because it will help her do her job easier or I just want to feel better about leaving. I don’t want to cause conflict as I’m going.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I honestly don’t think it’s a big deal! It’s fine to tell your coworker. Don’t make it weird like “I don’t think boss is telling you but…”. Just say “Hey it’s been great working with you! I won’t be at Company X after Monday but wishing you all the best / stay in touch / here’s where you can find resources etc.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I mean, it’s fine to do even if it is “just” to feel better about leaving. You don’t need to cause conflict with it, just matter-of-fairly mention Monday’s your last day.

  42. The Prettiest Curse*

    A recent comment made me wonder what people’s with good, bad and mediocre work environments is like. As commenters sometimes mention, reading the letters on this site can make you over-estimate the percentage of truly toxic and awful work environments out there – though of course they very much exist.

    My work environment history, with jobs that lasted more than a year (I’ve had many that lasted less than that):
    Job 1 – Fine
    Job 2 – Fine/Good
    Job 3 – Pretty good for the first seven years I was there, went downhill and became less-than-great for the last two years I was there.
    Job 4 – Mildly dysfunctional, but not intolerably so. (They moved me off the team where I was being bullied as soon as I told them about it, which made my last year there much better than the first three.)
    Job 5 (current job) – Best work environment I’ve been in, helped by having a terrific boss and team.

    So what’s your work environment history?

    1. anne.l*

      Job 1: fine. Basic retail. Management was surprisingly supportive.

      Job 2: the most toxic, abusive place on earth. I’m still trying to unfuck my brain from that shithole.

      Job 3: literally an escape from Job 2. Was actually really great until the owners sold the business

      Job 3.5: (aka after Job 3 was sold to new management) not as bad as job 2 but pretty close. Working through pneumonia level bad.

      Job 4: fine. I miss some of the people I used to work with actually. Management got stupid towards the end which is why I left.

      Job 5: fine. Loved it here for a while but feeling over it. Pay is almost high enough to not be living hand to mouth. Boss is relatively flexible about stuff.

      But honestly my benchmark for a good job is “oh you’re not actively trying to murder me or force me to cover up a crime? Ok we good”

    2. anne mouse*

      Job 1: fine. Basic retail. Management was surprisingly supportive.

      Job 2: the most toxic, abusive place on earth. I’m still trying to unfuck my brain from that shithole.

      Job 3: literally an escape from Job 2. Was actually really great until the owners sold the business

      Job 3.5: (aka after Job 3 was sold to new management) not as bad as job 2 but pretty close. Working through pneumonia level bad.

      Job 4: fine. I miss some of the people I used to work with actually. Management got stupid towards the end which is why I left.

      Job 5: fine. Loved it here for a while but feeling over it. Pay is almost high enough to not be living hand to mouth. Boss is relatively flexible about stuff.

      But honestly my benchmark for a good job is “oh you’re not actively trying to murder me or force me to cover up a crime? Ok we good”

    3. Cookies for Breakfast*

      Job 1 – The place that taught me everything a workplace should NOT be (all I will say is “family-run startup”, and Glassdoor tells me they haven’t changed one bit)

      Job 2 – Good, sometimes great, for most of my years there; then on a downward spiral. The organisation as a whole mostly tries to do right by employees, the team I spent most of my time in was a dream to work with, and the work was interesting until I started feeling the need to leave my comfort zone. I then moved departments, and uncovered a well of dysfunction and blame games that wasn’t at all visible from where I previously stood. Burnout ensued.

      Job 3 – So far, so good. I could never have dreamed of a workplace this flexible, and everyone is lovely. But my great boss is about to leave, and the work is so technically complex, I fear my impostor syndrome will have a field day with that. We shall see how I feel about it in a few months’ time!

    4. Cruciatus*

      This has been on my mind because I’ve resigned–and I shed embarrassing tears when I did! I’m mainly resigning because of money and lack of professional development. My coworkers are great, and, except for the money, my employer is pretty good. So…going with full-time employment it’s:
      Job 1 – coworkers good, but everyone sucks up to management. Miss the coworkers, not the administration.
      Job 2 – Same place but new supervisor is a less of a suck up. Different set of regular coworkers but they are still pretty great. Admin still sucks.
      Job 3 – New employer. People were great, my office/supervisor sucked. Thank god for my 1 coworker I could be honest with and have sanity checks with. This was all down to our supervisor. She sucked in many ways, but one way was she’d write you helpful letters about all the ways you were sucking and how to improve. Coworker and I both left within a month of each other (and during the pandemic the supervisor moved to Florida and never came back, though I had already left that office years earlier).
      Job 4 – Same place as 3 but new department. Everyone told me “you’ll love working there”. They never said this about Job 3… Nor did they ask why I left. And this is where I’m at now! I do love it here! There are annoyances and while I have to be on site full time, I can do my duties how/when I want to and my coworkers are wonderful, helpful, supportive (both work-wise and not).
      Job 5 – TBD! I start there August 7th and am just hope, hope, hoping I don’t hate it! No reason to think I will, but it’s a new employer, and I don’t know anything else yet so fear of the unknown and all that!

    5. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I don’t have a list of everywhere I worked every but here are my last 10 or so years job 1- horrible, the second worst job I ever had. job 2- meduim terrible, no money, just horrible, job 3 ( this job – pretty bad, but good money, good benefits, good children, wouldn’t mind doing a structured version of this

    6. Skippy*

      Just doing my professional gigs here:
      Job 1: great first professional job!
      Job 2: seemed terrible at the time, but in retrospect it was okay
      Job 3: boring but fine
      Job 4: completely dysfunctional mess
      Job 5: amazing! stayed for 10 years and probably should have never left
      Job 6: fine until there was a leadership change, then absolutely terrible
      Job 7 (current): has its ups and downs but ultimately it’s a bad fit

    7. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Job 1: Nightmare startup with crazy owner. Zero trust. They ran out of money.

      Job 2: Was great, great manager, office and autonomy for first two year. Company was divested and went public, manager left, and it became a nightmare scene.

      Job 3: Was great for 4/5 years until we got a new CMO who brought in their own people from former company, and I was moved to report under a new manager who was a micromanaging B who didn’t like me from the start (along with several other long time people). Was laid off with a nice severance package.

    8. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Job 1 – Chaotic and wildly unprofessional but it was childcare and I was in college so the good outweighed the bad back then. (It would not today.)
      Job 2 – Same old retail BS, but I really enjoyed the work itself and only quit when we got a toxic new store manager.
      Job 3 – Pretty good. Org was dysfunctional but my team was great, the work was good for me at the time, and my supervisor was invested in my development.
      Job 4 – Promotion from Job 3. Better than Job 3 but similar wins/challenges.
      Job 5 – The worst. The absolute worst. Promotion from Job 4 (still same org) but I learned how important it was to be on a team with people who don’t hate each other and a manager who is competent, engaged, and supported.
      Job 6 – A dream. Promotion from Job 5 in a different dept at same org and I’m in heaven. The only thing that could be better is winning the lottery and not needing to work at all.

    9. Justin*

      Job 1 – Fun, but really sort of a unique situation because I was teaching overseas.
      Jobs 2-3 – Part-time, underpaid, exploitative while I was in my MA program.
      Job 4 – I liked the people (mostly) and the work, still underpaid, no room for advancement.
      Job 5 – Started off great, management changed, then it was bad. The work was fine but the team was not. Really affected me negatively.
      Job 6 (now) – Absolutely great. Well-paid, flexible, accepting of me because of how I am (ND and Black) not in spite of it, and I really like my coworkers.

      So, I liked parts of all my jobs, only fully bad was the part-time ones but that was sort of expected, and then bad management at the last one, which really came down to two bad individuals and a few other miserable colleagues. But I also have a lot a lot of degrees so certain things are open to me that aren’t to everyone so I’m obviously in a specific situation.

    10. A Girl Named Fred*

      If we’re just talking work environment/culture, I’d say…
      Job 1 – Fine, but some “small business” issues
      Job 2 – Pretty good, though I didn’t appreciate it at the time
      Job 3 – Toxic AF (from leadership)
      Job 4 – Somehow even more Toxic AF (from leadership)
      Job 5 (current) – Great

      I sometimes look back at Jobs 1 and 2 and the reasons I didn’t like the environment and think, “Sweet summer child had no idea what a dysfunctional workplace actually looked like, but (Jobs 3 and 4) cleared that RIGHT up….”

    11. A Penguin!*

      1 – Toxic, but only obvious in retrospect. Would have classed it as ‘fine’ at the time.
      2- Disorganized mess, but surprisingly ok despite that.
      3- Good to excellent
      4- Fine
      5- Fine within my team; toxic outside it
      6- Bad, but not exactly toxic
      7- Amazing++
      8- Fine (current)

    12. Wordybird*

      Job 1 (temp): project-based with no benefits or ability to be FT but not bad, met lots of interesting people as I was moved from project to project

      Job 2: pretty toxic culture, decent manager (who I knew personally before taking the job), did receive raises (25-50 cents) every quarter, had to work overlapping shifts & some Saturdays

      Job 3 (seasonal): state agency, toxic culture, hours were dependent on the time of year e.g. sometimes 8-4:30 am & sometimes 8 am – 10 pm with 5+ hours of waiting around, spoke to my grandboss in the same office twice in the 18 months I worked there

      Job 4: start-up environment, boss was a decent person but terrible manager, quota-based with 3-4 hours per day of sitting at the computer “looking busy”, never received a raise, received best review in the department only to be laid off 6 weeks later because someone else had 8 weeks more “seniority” with the company than I did

      Job 5: very small non-profit, toxic managers who were in a LTR with one another, required to be in-office to man the desk but often no work to do and no one else in the office, hours capped at 30-32 so couldn’t receive benefits, decent co-workers, was given a lot of opportunity to learn things on the job and change processes as long as they weren’t “too techy”

      Job 6: first completely remote role, boss was a decent person but terrible manager, two other coworkers were favored and ran the show, good pay & good benefits although never received the title or raise I asked for, lots of last-minute project changes & deadlines to meet

      Job 7 (current): remote with better pay but worse benefits than the last job, boss is a decent person and better manager, lots of last-minute project changes & deadlines to meet but with 5x more people to get the changes signed off by, HR is trying to cultivate a good culture but most people have not bought in and/or think lots of the culture programs are cheesy or taking time away from real work

    13. Irish Teacher*

      I did a lot of subbing and most of those jobs varied from a day to two months, so hard to judge environment for those.

      For the jobs I’ve spent a year or more in:
      Work experience during college: Very hard to explain. Pretty dysfunctional, but not entirely in a way that made it unpleasant to work there. Basically, there were only two full-time members of staff (in our workplace; it was part of a larger organisation), along with some part-timers, volunteers and work experience students and the boss was…a very nice person but probably had some mental health issue in a era when such things were less well-understood and by that, I am talking things like pathological lying and having days when she was completely hyperactive (that’s not even the right word but I have no idea how to describe it) to the point that you couldn’t get anything done if she was even in the room as she’d start responding to stuff with nonsense and other days when she was in a bad mood and would criticise everybody and everything (each of these were maybe one day a month, but still). It was a weird environment and the small staff combined with the nature of the work meant the personal and the professional got more intertwined than was necessary. One of the part-timers was a bit of a Del Boy and if you mentioned you needed anything, would offer to get it for you, cheap. (OK, this is sounding pretty dysfunctional and more so than I realised at 19/20).

      Retail job: A company that was noted for its poor treatment of staff, but our manager and deputy manager were pretty decent and very supportive. There were issues due to not enough staff and stuff.

      Current job: Brilliant. Most of us genuinely get on well, without it being a “we must all be best friends!” sort of place and when I told my bosses I needed time off for surgery, the response was “well, the job comes a long way down the line after your health.”

      Correcting: This is a job I do for a month each summer and have since 2007. We work from home and it is very flexible and well-run. It has to be, given the profile of the state exams here.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Ha, it must have been pretty entertaining to work with a Del Boy type, even though the rest of that work environment sounds difficult.

    14. WantonSeedStitch*

      Mine is surprisingly short for my age because I haven’t moved around much.

      Job 1: long-term temp job after grad school. Less than a year. Fine.
      Job 2: first permanent job. Horrific. I quit without anything lined up because I was on the verge of a breakdown.
      Job 3: found after some temp work. Been here over 16 years. Most aspects of it have been amazing all that time. There were a couple years when some stuff got rough, but they’ve been followed by the best time yet.

    15. Mill Miker*

      Sticking to jobs in my field:

      Job 1: Nice people, no business sense, hard not to take on that stress
      Job 2: Decent business sense, morally questionable management. Tried to make up for bad management with gifts.
      Job 3: Toxic, bad, awful. Still talking about it in therapy.
      Job 4: Started great, got worse and worse as the workload outstripped the team’s capacity. Also comes up in therapy a lot.
      Job 5: CEO was pretty great. Department started not great, got really good, and then started down the same road as Job 4 when the workload picked up (although I don’t think it would have gotten as bad).
      Job 6: Bad fit. Short-lived job. They already had some of the problems Job 4/5 developed, but hid it well in the interviews.
      Job 7: Pretty good, although the workload is starting to outstrip the team’s capacity, and I’m getting nervous. They’re responsive to feedback though, so here’s hoping.

    16. NotBatman*

      Job 1 — Fine, great managers but terrible customers

      Job 2 — Fine/good, great managers and inoffensive customers

      Job 3 — Boring environment, but with great coworkers

      Job 4 — Good environment. Underpaid, and there was some drama among other departments, but the work itself was fulfilling and I’m still friends with most of that team.

      Job 5 — Atrocious. Dysfunctional power structure, overworked staff, bad pay, tolerance for homophobia, the most dishonest CEO I’ve ever experienced, and constant demands for us to (badly) do things that weren’t our jobs and we didn’t have the training to do well.

      Job 6 (current job) — Wonderful. Pay’s still meh, but I’m doing work that I love and there’s a ton of flexibility and support at the same time.

    17. Miss Thymia*

      My job history is extremely fragmented, but here goes:

      Job 1 – fine for me, but in retrospect I wonder how problematic it might have been for others (I was a teenager and working with my mom and two other extended family members, one of whom was the owner, and about 15 additional employees)
      Job 2 – terrible work with little to no support, but not toxic
      Job 3 – first really great office environment (small team, everyone was respected and valued, and the overall boss was a little peculiar/eccentric but not unreasonable once I got to know her work style)
      Job 4 – not an environment as much as a solo endeavor, but a truly amazing opportunity and experience (overlapped with Jobs 3 & 5)
      Job 5 – great mix of work plus people
      Job 6 – first post-college and only full-time job, and SUUUUPER toxic; this was a similar environment to Job 1 and was what made me curious what the family dynamics might have looked like from the outside (though this one was a husband and wife on a team of 5, and husband/boss had other issues as well)
      Job 7 – mediocre work with good people
      Job 8 – current job, great work, great people

      Very interesting to look back on, especially as I’m considering pivoting into something new and more sustained.

    18. RagingADHD*

      In a job history stretching back to the late 1990’s (which is all I claim on my resume), I have had zero job environments that were toxic. I have one stint on there that was pretty disorganized and not on great financial footing (the partners eventually split up), but the people were nice. I have had a few annoying people in my periphery, and a few clients who were higher-maintenance than they were worth.

      I had a few banana-cracker-eating places when I was a student or new grad. That was as much about not knowing how to screen as anything else.

    19. Tio*

      Job 1: Fine, liked the people, just couldn’t get better pay.
      Job 2: Felt fine, but was low key dysfunctional, and then imploded spectacularly causing me to leave
      Job 3: Good, probably would have stayed if I hadn’t found a better job
      Job 4: Actually doing great so far

      I feel like part of the reason that we think the percentage is off, is because so many people have at least one bad job in their career, that we forget that is only a portion of their career. Everyone’s got that one story, you know?

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I definitely agree with your comment about perception issues. I think it’s partly because really negative or outlandish stuff just tends to live longer and more vividly in our memories than the normal, boring stuff. I’ve been on the receiving end of workplace bullying twice, but those two situations make up a tiny percentage of my overall work history, time-wise.

    20. Sigh it's OK I guess*

      I have only had 2 jobs since graduation college, and have now spent almost the same amount of time at each. It’s a niche field so I don’t have much in the way of choices in the first place.

      Job 1: Toxic, family-owned business that made me cry at work more that I would like to admit. I was young and came from a verbally abusive family and thought that it was MY fault that it sucked to work there. Leaving that job was the best thing I ever did.

      Job 2: Still family-owned, but not toxic and is pretty good as far as jobs in my field go. Still has some glaring flaws that grate on me, but I don’t think that I could get the additional hybrid work that I would like at a different job without losing some of the benefits I have at my current job.

    21. fhqwhgads*

      Job 1: fine
      Job 2: disorganized and dysfunctional, but no abusive just frustrating as hell
      Job 3: first 3 years – great; last 3 years – ridiculous, with a handful of completely breaking certain states’ labor laws despite having had employees there for 10+ years and claimed ignorance and didn’t seem remotely concerned enough when it was brought to their attention
      Job 4: mostly fine, save a couple higher ups who are terrible at leadership and that’s their whole job – they make things inefficient but are not unkind or offensive

    22. J*

      Job 1 – Fine, basic retail

      Job 2 – Really nice, college office job with lovely teams

      Job 3 – Okay internship, helped me realize I didn’t want to go into that line of work. Got cancer in the middle of it so that was kind of my bad too.

      Job 4 – Okay. Didn’t remember what they hired me for. But decided to pivot my career a bit. Turns out the work I did here made me great for jobs 8-10.

      Job 5 – Liked it, helped me realize I didn’t want to go into that line of work but it was good for being back in school.

      Job 6 – Dysfunctional but good enough. This is where we go downhill. Good in the sense of being capable and I loved the work, adored most colleagues. Bad in the sense that the boss was sued by half the staff the week I joined (for discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation and refusing to accommodate a disability) and I was a witness to an assault by the head off the office on a candidate and a fellow employee smeared poop on the walls but couldn’t be fired because he was a nepo baby. I stand by my description but that might be a trauma response.

      Job 7 – Dysfunctional but launched my career. I finally got a job in my industry but criminally underpaid. The boss was a mess, exposed himself to a colleague, stalked an ex, later had an arrest and had to resign his job very publicly. Lifelong friendships though. Again, probably the trauma bonding of it all.

      Job 8 – Great until it wasn’t. I had a great job but didn’t realize the abusive nature of the workplace until far too late, like a lobster boiling in a pot. Stayed here for years and was crying in the car daily by the end. I gained so many skills here and became an expert in a super niche industry that was no longer a good fit for the employer.

      Job 9 – Dysfunctional at best. My boss and I left the same week. We left behind the worst colleagues ever. Criminally underpaid.

      Job 10 – Dysfunctional but into overpaying me and it’s remote so I tolerate it. I’ve clearly seen worse. I’m getting even more niche skills that are in short supply so I’m hoping I’ll have options when I’m ready to leave. This will either end in the company shutting down because of cashflow issues or white collar crime charges for the C-suite, though I’m timing my exit to watch from a distance.

      I had a conversation with my husband about how he’s never had a dysfunctional job. He’s survived two mergers, we actually worked together at 2 employers (1 and 4) and somehow he just has a nice boring career. I clearly can’t imagine a life like that and I think it’s because my two niches (law and startups, but also previously government serving elected officials) put me with crazy male bosses with ego issues.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        It’s so interesting that certain career areas tend to have dysfunctional work environments, whereas others you can just spend your entire working life in fine, normal, boring organisations! I think the ego issues you mentioned are definitely a factor, as well as careers that are highly competitive, because there’s always a new supply of employees/victims.

    23. WorkingRachel*

      Ooh, this is fun!

      Job 1: Started out chaotic with my boss quitting with no notice, but generally fine.
      Job 2: Toxic AF. Got out in less than a year when it started to affect my mental health.
      Job 3: Dull with mild dysfunction, though not on my team. Got a great boss in year 5 so it went from meh to stellar.
      Job 4: Started out crappy and gradually traded up my coworkers until by the end I was working with an amazing and very functional team.
      Job 5: Only been there a month. Fine so far?

  43. Warrior Princess Xena*

    Looking for some short Zoom/Team game suggestions!

    For context: my workplace has a once a month department meeting which has traditionally ended with “Game Time” – a five minutes fun little activity that can be done online. I ended up taking over the role after my coworker burned out. And before people can get worried, I can assure you that A) most people enjoy it and B) it’s always at the end and strictly optional, so no one’s being penalized by leaving!

    So far I’ve relied pretty heavily on Sporcle quizzes, but we’ve got a workplace with enough range in background, interest, and English speaking skill that finding things that will be equally accessible for everyone can be a challenge. Most of my research in Teams/Zoom games has pointed me to things that would take too long or are WAY too personal (I refuse to enter myself into Mortification Week with “I started a game of Two Truths and a Lie in the office”). If anyone has suggestions for something that can be done in 5-10 minutes, is mostly virtual, and is accessible to the vast majority of people I’d be grateful!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Maybe a quick round of Pictionary? Teams has a whiteboard function. I haven’t used it much, but I think anyone in the meeting can “draw” on the whiteboard. Or the person drawing can just share their screen and draw in Paint or a similar program.

    2. lurkyloo*

      Have people show their favourite thing on their desk (depending on team size)? Mine would be the collection of Koodo guys that my son bought me for my workspace years ago! El Tabador if you want to look it up. :) Canadian cell company

    3. SereneScientist*

      A few of my favorite virtual Zoom games:
      – Drawosaurus: https://www.drawasaurus.org/ basically Pictionary but online browser-based so easy to use for teams spread across offices
      – Scattergories: specifically: https://swellgarfo.com/scattergories/ – just a nice interface, feel free to make up your own rules for scoring/# of rounds etc
      – Spyfall: https://www.spyfall.app/ a nice browser-based version of Mafia
      – Gartic Phone: https://garticphone.com/ a variant of Telephone with drawings, a bit more complicated to set-up and learn but very fun

    4. Shannon*

      We’ve played an office space scavenger hunt kind of thing a few times, and it can be fun. The leader has 5 items in a list, the person with the most of those items wins. Entries have included
      – the largest book (someone had a medical tome that was easily 1000 pages)
      – oldest technology (someone had and still used a paper rolodex)
      – fluffiest animal
      – largest cup/mug/glass (did you know they made 100oz water bottles?)
      – most sharpies

    5. Sparkle Llama*

      I enjoy several of the games from Jackbox. You do need the ability to share audio which not all platforms support. Some have family friendly modes which would be helpful for work. Drawful would probably be the best one for work.

    6. Rick Tq*

      Use Kahoot to do little fun quizzes at the end? My experience is they only take a few minutes and you can make the questions fun or to be a review of something to take away from the meeting. It is a paid app but not hugely expensive.

    7. zucchiniplayer*

      Can’t link right now, but you should check out codenames! It does require 2 ‘teams’, and is usually played in the span of maybe 15 mins, but I think you could set time limits to speed round it.

    8. trilusion*

      great browser game for work colleagues imo:
      – geotastic (try different modes, the “country battle” is the most popular where I work)
      – seconding garticphone (also try different modes, the “knockoff mode” has proven to be hilarious)
      – skribbl.io

  44. Jess R.*

    What are your work joys this week?

    We had two big meetings in our office for folks who work elsewhere around the state, so even though I wasn’t involved in the meetings/trainings themselves, I got to meet in person some people I had only ever emailed, which was neat! Also the big meetings mean they ordered lots of food and had plenty of leftovers :D

    1. I gave Barbie the color pink*

      Our interim Dev/Comm Director and our interim Comm Coordinator successfully launched our Quarterly Report. They’ve only been on deck for a month since our last Comm Mgr left. It’s been hecka for them. We’re already getting donations from it.

      I had lunch with recently departed Comm Mgr and she loves her job, and it was great to catch up with her.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      State Examinations are corrected and without any hassle despite it being our first time to do it online (instead of correcting the physical papers, they were scanned so we could correct them online).

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Is this/will this be a regular weekly post? If not, it should! Sadly I have nothing to report this week. I’m caught up in this anxiety loop so things are meh.

      1. Jess R.*

        It could be! I’ve been having a deeply crappy week at work (not work’s fault, just timing + workload + been sleeping like garbage due to medication fuck-up) so I was like, hmm, what’s good about my work week? I’m sure I can find one thing. And apparently the answer was Olive Garden and Panda Express.

        Well, and meeting some coworkers :D

    4. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I got glowing reviews on my first deliverable in my new role. This role is such a bad fit for me, it means a lot for something to go right!

    5. Justin*

      Some of my major projects are coming to fruition and everyone is impressed. It’s really a nice feeling. I’m not a workaholic but I do like my work to be appreciated and it is, now.

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      I had my midyear performance review, and it went surprisingly well! I wasn’t expecting it to, since we’ve had a ton of turnover including management. My new (interim) manager had asked the previous manager (who got promoted to another role) for feedback so she wouldn’t be reviewing someone she had only managed for 3 weeks. I didn’t feel I was at the top of my game so far this year due to all the changes, so it was really encouraging to hear that Interim Manager recognized the challenges.

    7. WorkNowPaintLater*

      I ran a training session for a small group. And got complimented.

      Considering I haven’t trained anyone somewhat formally in a couple of decades I’ll take that as a win.

    8. BigMove*

      I rarely meet clients in person, or visit colleagues in other offices. It is always interesting to get to meet them!
      This week was personally hectic and my boss was kind enough to let me work from home a couple of extra days at the last minute. Also my team was great in handling incoming projects and following up on a few things for me. That’s not unusual but I really appreciated it this week.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      I was on holiday this week, so didn’t have to think about work at all! (Except for the brief replies I wrote in the conferences thread on Thursday.)

    10. Two jobs*

      I am currently juggling two part-time jobs, both of which have varying schedules. My supervisor for job #1 is being very accommodating to job #2, this making this whole balancing act possible.