open thread – July 7-8, 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.

{ 883 comments… read them below }

  1. Midlife Newbie*

    I’m an American who will be moving permanently to Ireland in the next 2-5 years. I have a masters of education from a UK university, I’ve worked in education and higher education my whole career as a tutor, a teacher, and a program director in parts of Asia and the US. My Irish husband has not lived in Ireland since he was in undergrad and he does not have a network to connect me with (he’s very introverted and has lost contact with most of his old friends) and his family lives in a rural village that we won’t be moving to.
    I’m sort of at a midlife crossroads where I don’t know what I want to do. I’d love to continue working in education but there are only a handful of universities in Ireland and the salaries for entry level positions are shockingly low (even compared to the lower costs of living/healthcare etc.) I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a project management certification because someone told me that those are popular in Ireland but I’d love some resources or ideas of what to look into, or things I can do in the next few years to make the professional transition easier. Depending on when we move I’ll either be in my late 30s/early 40s. We want to move to Dublin, Cork, or Limerick. But Dublin would be our last choice of the three as it’s a pretty long drive from his parents.
    I’ve joined some Facebook groups of Americans in Ireland but my work questions have been too niche/specific. I’d love advice for how to get work experience that will be considered relevant in Ireland so I don’t have to start at the very bottom. It was a drag after spending five years working abroad and then only being considered for entry level work when I returned to the states about a decade ago.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Ooh, similar position except British (my partner’s Irish and moving there is a possibility for us— if we do, it’ll be because of her job, not mine.)

      The big industries in Ireland outside of the public sector are tech and pharma. My plan would be to give myself six months to start networking, focussing on the space between higher education and the labour market— so, things like project management, business development, European funding, innovation, early careers development, that kind of thing. I also have lots of coaching and training experience.

      It could be worth starting to look at jobs.ie, looking at the types of tech companies in Ireland, and possibly getting your head around how European funding works? Those are the places I’d start if I were you!

    2. LadyAmalthea*

      I’m an American living in Ireland with a British spouse. I ended up taking the civil service exams once I got my Stamp 4 Visa, which took months, but I’ve enjoyed the work and look forward to returning from maternity leave.

      A warning, in general things go slower here than in the US. Immigration things can take much longer than anticipated,
      though the way long term visas are processed have changed since I moved here in 2019. Also, if you are planning on having kids, know that there is a 2 year wait for children under 1 in most creches and statutory maternity leave is 6 months, which must start 2 weeks before your due date. I was VERY LUCKY to get a place for twins at 9 months.

      I highly suggest looking through the listing on the sites jobs.ie and government jobs.ie to see what is out there. There is also a list of jobs through the State Department’s website that are considered necessary highly skilled jobs and could be a Visa in their own right.

      While socialised healthcare is a huge bonus, housing, electricity, and food costs are just as high, if not higher, than on the US, especially in Dublin, and buying a house is a slow, frustrating process. the rental market is very, very tight, too.

      I like living here on the whole. I don’t think I could have had children in the US and the courtiers of a twin pregnancy, even low risk, would have bankrupted me, even with insurance, but overall, it isn’t cheap.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Are you qualified to teach secondary/high school? If so, depending on your subject, that might be an option. Science subjects, French, German and Spanish and I think Home Economics are all in fairly high demand over here and they are mostly subjects where your backgound doesn’t matter (like an American history teacher probably wouldn’t be well up on Irish history, plus history teachers are not something we are short of).

      There is information about registering as a teacher in Ireland here, if that is an option you would consider: https://www.teachingcouncil.ie/website/en/registration/how-do-i-register-/qualified-outside-of-ireland/

      If you are a primary/elementary teacher, it’s more difficult, as you probably know, given the Irish language requirement there.

      While it’s a bit uncertain and not necessarily a full-time job, grinds (sort of tuition?) are also a big thing in Ireland. A fair share of it is being done online since the pandemic and you can basically just advertise your services online. This is a website, if you want an idea of how people advertise: https://grindsworld.com/index/tutorinfo.

      Ireland is currently close to full employment, so there is good opportunities here, but…who knows if that wil still be true in a couple of years. I have no faith in the Irish economy.

      Not sure if any of this is any use to you, but just in case.

    4. Abroad in Tech*

      Corporate training? Lots of tech there, as bamcheeks said, which usually includes some sort of training infrastructure (probably other industries, too, but that’s the one I know).

    5. PX*

      Like bamcheeks, one thing I’d suggest starting now is looking at job descriptions of anything that sound loosely interesting. I’ve often found that looking at job descriptions can be helpful to identify/articulate things I like – and sometimes found in job roles/titles that I wouldnt expect. It can also give you an idea of what kind of experience/qualifications people want so you can start to lay the groundwork for them now.

    6. Stormfly*

      Would you be up for teaching in a secondary school? Teachers earn a pretty solid middle class income once they’re not based in Dublin and they’ve moved up the pay scale a few years, and I imagine that you wouldn’t necessarily need to go in as entry level if you have years of experience in teaching elsewhere? There are a lot of shortages for certain subjects.

      There’s also the civil service as an option. Again, a solid middle class income if you’re able to get in in the middle of the pay scale. And again, since the pay scales are the same everywhere, you’re money will go farther outside of Dublin and there are plenty of jobs in the rest of the country. There’s a publicjobs website where all civil service jobs are advertised.

      As bamcheeks said, a huge chunk of the private sector jobs are in tech and pharma. The majority of the jobs in those areas are based in Dublin, but if you look for remote/hybrid jobs, a couple of hours on the train from down the country once a week would probably be bearable.

      I work in a big consulting firm, and they’re always trying to get more diversity in the backgrounds of their employees. If you can find a consulting company that has a lot of public sector clients (like most of the big name consulting companies), they’ll be especially interested in anyone who has a background that’ll give them insights that’ll help them land lucrative public sector contracts. (e.g. We hire quite a few ex-doctors and nurses.) I could definitely see them being interested in how you could help them with the Department of Education or with the universities.

      If you are targeting consulting, being able to sell yourself in an interview will be really key. They really value people who are personable, and are likely to get on well with and create a good impression on clients. Even if you don’t have directly applicable experience, being able to sell how your experience could actually be really relevant will show how you can message difficult news to a client well, and they’ll appreciate that.

      I would say a PRINCE2 or particularly PMP certification would hold weight, but I wouldn’t waste money on most others. And if you don’t have any Agile experience, I’d get yourself a Scrum Master certification. Maybe Scrum Product Owner.

    7. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I’m an American who moved to Ireland in 2016! I live in Cork. Just a note on location: Dublin is horrifically expensive and Limerick is kind of a dangerous city. I would definitely choose Cork.

      Be aware that salaries are lower here across the board. That’s true for all of Europe really. Expect to be making 50% or even lower of what you used to.

      In terms of work, I’m not in your field unfortunately. In my field (tech/data analysis/software engineering) project managers are in demand.

      I know a full-time university professor here, a secondary school (high school) teacher, and someone who works in higher education, and I’d be happy to reach out and connect you if you have specific questions for any of them. I also can talk to you about my job and connect you to someone who might be able to give you an idea of what sorts of tech-adjacent roles you might be suited for.

      Lastly, would you consider the PhD route? It would be easier to find a job at a university with one, and PhDs are only 3.5-4 years here and funded.

      1. Straight Laced Sue*

        Woah there. Limerick is not a dangerous city. This is a very old cliche, based on the fact that many years ago (80s? 90s? I can’t remember) there were 2 or 3 murders close in time to each other in Limerick that made the national news and then a national newspaper ran with the headline, “Stab City”, and that headline attached itself to Limerick forever more. Seriously, it is an old sort of joke now. Not a real thing!
        Limerick has a toughness to it, but it’s about the same level as Cork. (I’ve lived in both cities.)

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, agreed. The hype over Limerick being dangerous was over the top even at the time (like it had an average of 5 murders a year or something at one point, which was high compared to its population but still hardly shocking by international standards and even that was very much in-fighting between criminal gangs and unless you lived on one of two or three estates, you wouldn’t even know it was happening).

          And the gangs were pretty much driven out of Limerick after a man who was not involved in crime was killed for giving evidence against them (I’m sure you know that story, but for the sake of those who aren’t Irish) and now, I don’t think the crime rate in Limerick is any higher than other cities in Ireland.

          I was at college there at the turn of the millennium and even did my work experience year on one of the estates associated with gangland and never felt anything but safe there. I may be a little defensive of that area of Limerick, because its reputation is completely undeserved and caused by a handful of people

          1. Straight Laced Sue*

            A lot of people are defensive about Limerick, which I think shows how loved it is :)

    8. Straight Laced Sue*

      Would you folks consider Galway city? It’s a very small city (so you’d know “everybody” in your field within 2 years – not great) but it is hopping with a kind of bohemian vibrancy. It’s a fun city.

    9. JR*

      Maybe an educational publisher or Ed tech company would be a good fit – they tend to hire former teachers. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has an office in Dublin (or at least it did 10 years ago!), and I don’t think it was the only one.

    10. Clearlier*

      I’d get on to LinkedIn and any other networking sites relevant to you area and start making contacts now. Having this lead in time is a brilliant opportunity to build a network even before you get here. Look for people with interesting job titles in industries that you’re interested in. If you happen to have a connection ask for an introduction but if not play the numbers game. Most won’t reply but if you can get one or two then you can do informational interviews and find out where you might be able to find something that fits your skillet and interests.

      If you’re working in higher education right now it might be worth seeing if you can collaborate with someone on a paper or project which to build credibility. You will have knowledge of the US system which will be useful to someone too, if you find that person it could be a way in.

      Someone else mentioned PhD. I appreciate that you don’t want to start at the bottom but if you’re in academia rather than administration then a PhD is going to be required in many disciplines in order to enter above entry level. Having one started would be advantageous.

      Good luck with the move!

  2. TimeToo*

    TLDR: Would it be appropriate to suggest that my direct report listen to less audiobooks/podcasts at work?

    My team works at a job that is entirely reading, writing and editing, and some basic design work. I’m the manager, but we all do the same work. One employee is having some performance issues – missing basic project requirements, leaving in incorrect information leftover from previous projects, overlooking obvious formatting errors, that sort of thing. We’ve had several conversations about this, and the employee is aware of and acknowledges their issues and is actively looking to improve their performance.

    I know for a fact that this employee listens to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks. I know that I personally can’t listen to “spoken word” content like that while I’m actively reading, writing or editing. I get distracted very easily by something with a narrative like that, and have to stick to regular music or even instrumental when I really need to focus, or else I find myself making a lot of mistakes. If I’m just doing design work, I can listen to whatever.

    So, would it be appropriate to suggest the employee try listening to less podcasts and see if that helps their attention to detail? I don’t want to be *that boss* that insists because something doesn’t work for me, it can’t possibly work for anyone else. There’s also the confounding factor that this employee has (diagnosed and disclosed) ADHD, so I don’t want to take away a coping mechanism that works for them.

    That said, I wouldn’t be “taking away” anything per se – we all work remotely, and I’m not capable of or interested in checking whether the employee actually follows my suggestion. It’s more like, “I don’t want to cross a boundary/make the employee feel bad.”

    1. Feral Humanist*

      Given the performance issues and the nature of the work, I don’t think the suggestion is out of line. I wonder if you could suggest they try it as an experiment for a week –– both to see how it feels and also to see if it impacts their performance.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I like this, and further suggest you use the framing of finding spoken word distracting yourself. (I, also, can at best have instrumental music (or music in Latin, which I don’t understand) when working with words.) They are young and may not yet have pinged this connection to different background noises.

        If their work was fine I would be a strong let-it-go. But their work is poor, in a way you would expect from someone who is distracted, so spelling out what you think could be causing the distraction is both reasonable and kind.

      2. cleo*

        I just want to make sure that some of the dissenting comments show up higher on the thread.

        I think it’s a huge overreach (speaking as someone with ADHD). The OP should focus on naming the problem and not get into the specifics of how to solve the problem (unless their employee asks for it).

        1. Sal*

          I appreciate your dissenting opinion, although I may not agree.

          I think that if a supervisor has an employee that is continuing to struggle with a problem that has been discussed multiple times, it is appropriate to offer suggestions in a “leave it or take it” type fashion. Whether or not the employee chooses to follow the suggestions is absolutely up to them. That is the helpful sort of guidance I would want from my supervisor.

          Now if the supervisor said “this habit is definitely causing your problem & I expect you to stop doing this habit,” that would be an overreach imo.

          For the record, I am a person with ADHD as well and I also struggle to do writing/copying work while listening to anything other than instrumental music (or something similar).

          1. OldBag*

            Another person with ADHD here who would appreciate the suggestion. In fact I’d be furious to find out later someone had this idea and did not say anything out of some sort of misguided “respect” context. Part of my condition manifests as missing what should be / is completely obvious to others. I can totally see myself listening along and even typing phrases I’m listening to as they cross my ears… and never once realizing “oh thaaaaaat’s the issue!” It’s why I have a very hard time in online discussion groups with rules like “don’t suggest someone look into / might have / may want to try…” because if people had never done that for me, I would never have been diagnosed. I felt very betrayed as it was when I did get help. I spent way too many years floundering and miserable in no small part because people have this idea (least in my friend group) that if someone wants help / suggestions, they will ask for it. Well that doesn’t bloody well happen when a person is convinced this is just how things are, or has it drilled into their head that they’re just a lazy procrastinator with ambition deficit disorder, now does it? It felt cruel to me that people were watching me, suspecting this, and no one said *anything.* I still get crotchety about it sometimes and have to bite my tongue to avoid personalizing similar situations.

            1. abcde*

              Woah, this is a super emotional response, and I feel you may be bringing in lots of anger about your personal situation with friends that may not be as applicable in a workplace setting.

            2. Irish Teacher*

              I think it’s less about “respect” and more that people may suspect something but they usually don’t know and most people are reluctant to make suggestions like “have you ever been tested for ADHD?” because they are likely to be wrong more often than they are right and might offend people or cause unecessary anxiety for people.

              I can see that it is hard to make a blanket rule because there are definitely situations where somebody would benefit from some advice, but it can definitely do harm too.

              I have been in a situation where a colleague who I am pretty sure has ADHD made what felt like a leading comment, but I still have no idea whether she wanted me to suggest the possibility of ADHD or whether she wanted to know what I thought (I am a learning support teacher and she does know I have an interest in autism and ADHD, so it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that she would be interested in my thoughts) or whether she knows full well she has ADHD and was hinting at it to me or whether she just wanted me to say “ah, sure, that’s no big deal” or just wanted me to laugh the whole thing off.

              I do wonder if I should have said something because I know I have often wondered if other members of the learning support department think I could be autistic. But on the other hand, if she wanted me to laugh it off and reassure her that there was nothing wrong, I could have just caused her to worry.

              And a lot of people give very bad advice. People with autism or ADHD will often be advised to stop fidgeting and concentrate, when fidgeting helps them to concentrate (for some anyway), so it’s not like advice is always or even usually helpful. There are more people who will give bad advice than good advice because most people aren’t that knowledgeable about neurotypes.

              I think those rules on websites are generally to stop people giving harmful or even dangerous advice. It’s not uncommon for people to suggest that people displaying toxic behaviours could be autistic/ADHD/bipolar and that can contribute to discrimination against people with those conditions. It’s also quite common for people to recommend quack cures that are pointless at best and harmful at worst.

              Yeah, the rules may also prevent some people from getting good advice but the alternative really is people giving very dangerous advice.

        2. Feral Humanist*

          It sounds like the diagnosis is recent and they might not yet have found their coping mechanisms. I don’t think it’s overreach to suggest they try some different strategies for background noise (words, no words, music, white noise, etc.). They are performing poorly in a way that is going to impact them in the longterm; it is kinder to try and find a way to fix it than to let the employee flounder and get a bad performance evaluation or PIP’d or even, eventually, fired.

      3. I*

        I think if it is done respectfully and as a conversation and not a direct order yes, a week trial might be a good idea. I will say try giving them another option. So instead of listening to podcasts could they try listening to music like jazz or even some white noise music. The headphones thing might be a legit coping mechanism for him.

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

        I would say have a conversation with him and maybe offer another solution besides podcasts. Like maybe instead he can listen to music like jazz or some sort of white noise. I wouldn’t tell him that he can’t use headphones at all because having noise might be something that he needs as a coping mechanism.

    2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      I think it could be appropriate to suggest as an option, at the very least. Something along the lines of, “Have you considered changing what you’re listening to for work that needs attention to detail? I know I can’t process spoken and written words simultaneously very well, so if I need to focus, I’ll listen to instrumental music.”

      Saying “You have to X because Y doesn’t work for me” feels like overstepping, but I think sharing your own experience as a possible solution is entirely reasonable, if you then listen to the employee’s response.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        I agree with this approach. You’re not requiring it, you’re suggesting it.

        1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

          Also if their performance does not improve with this change then you have other issues to address!

      2. ecnaseener*

        Yes, I like this script – coming from a manager, you need to make it crystal clear when it’s just a suggestion vs an instruction. (And you’re right in thinking it shouldn’t be an instruction, because this does work for some people.)

      3. TimeToo*

        This is helpful, thank you! I still haven’t made up my mind on whether to bring it up (still digesting all the comments), but if I do, I’ll be careful to phrase it as “Have you considered” not “YOU MUST DO.”

        If I bring it up, I’m also going to divorce the conversation from ADHD (so, will try to work it in during one of our status meetings when we’re talking about their work that week in general, rather than as part of my employee’s “Here’s what I’ve discovered about ADHD this week” updates…please note I have not asked for these updates, which is a whole ‘nother thing). It’ll be easier not to overstep this way, plus, honestly, I’ve realized that if another employee was having similar issues but didn’t have an extenuating diagnosis, I’d bring it up to them.

    3. MI Dawn*

      It’s understandable that you don’t want to remove a mechanism that may help the employee. However, given that you’re seeing a lot of issues with their work, maybe discuss with the employee that instead of podcasts/audiobooks, they try something else because the issues are continuing and not improving.

      I can do a lot of things (coding) listening to my iPod that I can’t do with audiobooks/podcasts because with the books I’m trying to follow the story and with the music, it stays in the background.

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Have a conversation now! Ask “how can you read and listen to a book at the same time?” and see what they say. This is actually sort of ridiculous IMO. I code and even when I try to listen to a low-key non-intensive interview, it’s too much distraction, you feel your brain going back and forth and back and forth between the two every ten or twenty seconds. It’s tiring.

      Also I am confused how doing two pretty intensive things at once would be a cure for ADHD? I mean, I thought the whole point of bringing up ADHD at work was to get LESS distractions and overload, not more.

      1. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

        Some background noise can occupy the part of the brain that wanders so that it doesn’t pull the productive part away. It’s kind of like white noise. I find that having certain kinds of TV shows or movies on low in the background actually helps me concentrate on what I’m writing. Netflix thinks I’ve watched Madame Secretary about five times all the way through, but I don’t think I could tell you a single character name. On the other hand, music will absolutely hijack my entire attention. Brains are weird.

        1. Somewhere in Texas*

          I think I might be ADHD, so I’m similar, but my background noise has to be things I’ve already seen/know–especially when I am doing repetitive tasks. Having NCIS or Gilmore Girls on in the background when doing data entry kept me *just* engaged enough to keep rolling.

          If it’s something new that I am interested in, I have to focus on it.

          1. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

            Exactly! Old original Law & Order is my ideal background. I find that action movies are surprisingly good for this too. I have a whole elaborate set of rules and criteria. But my number one rule is that the minute I find myself paying actual attention, I have to switch to something else. I actually found several great shows that way and watched them after work.

          2. JustaTech*

            What’s really interesting is that people with ADHD can have completely opposite experiences with background sounds.
            If I’m writing something the most I can listen to is strictly instrumental music. If I’m say, watching something while I’m cooking and my husband wants to talk to me I have to stop the video or I won’t be able to process what he’s saying.
            My friend also has ADHD and he does his best work listening to NPR.
            I love podcasts, and I need them to run, but there’s no way I could do even simple spreadsheet analysis and listen to a podcast.

            (For me a TV is a giant black hole – no matter how not interested I am in whatever’s on the screen, it will consume all of my attention. I hate it.)

            Brains are weird.

        2. Hush42*

          Yes this! I don’t have diagnosed ADHD (although one of my employees who does have ADHD is convinced I have it based on working with me for 2 years). If I need to focus on something I *have* to listen to audiobooks in headphones, music often makes it worse. If my brain doesn’t want to focus and I put music in my headphones I will just start daydreaming and making up my own stories. Whereas an audiobook occupies the part of my brain that I think of as a hyperactive toddler so the rest of my brain can focus on what I’m doing. If the project that I am working on is intensive or it needs a lot of attention to detail then I will put on an book I have read before. I tend to re-read books a lot anyway and listening to something familiar means my brain is distracted enough that I can focus but that if I miss parts of the audiobook it doesn’t matter (I can quote half of Harry Potter at this point anyway).

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      Hmm. It seems like you’ve done the important thing, which is to address the problem at hand and the fact that you need to see improvement. I think rather than say “try not listening to podcasts and audiobooks,” (which, ironically, may HELP this person focus), it might be better to approach it as collaborative problem solving: ask your employee what they think might help. It’s important to remember that it’s not all on you to come up with HOW the person needs to manage their improvement. Your role as manager is to set clear expectations and consequences if those expectations are not met–and, if your report makes a reasonable request of you for something that would help them to meet those requirements, you should grant it. For example, if they ask you to provide instructions in bullet format instead of in narrative format–something like that. So maybe prompt questions like “is there anything when I can do when giving you instructions for an assignment that will make it easier for you to keep track of them?” would be helpful.

    6. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I don’t think it’s out of line to suggest this since she is having issues. I love podcasts and have ADHD, but like you I can’t read/write effectively if I’m listening to one. I have to listen to instrumental, but there’s pop/modern instrumentals, electronic, so it’s not all classical.

      You could frame it as you find listing to X helps you focus better than podcasts and suggest maybe she try that and see if it helps.

    7. HannahS*

      I know you’re well-intentioned, but no, you shouldn’t say it.

      When someone is struggling with something that is a core feature of their illness (whether that’s attention to detail in ADHD, mood in depression, pain in arthritis, migraines in, well, migraines,) it’s very rarely well-received for someone without that condition to suggest what works for them the person without that condition.

      When I have nerve pain and have trouble walking, the last thing I want to hear, “Have you tried YOGA??” Yes, thank you, I’ve heard of yoga. The issue that gives me nerve pain also makes attending a yoga class a very bad choice for me. Similarly, when I was pregnant, I was zero percent interested in hearing my boss, who has never been pregnant, tell me that they find ginger candies helpful. I get that they’re trying to help, but really, did they think that I hadn’t tried anything? Or used google? Or talked to my doctor? Like, I was on multiple medications. It comes across as really minimizing.

      If this person is messing up their work, talk to them and tell them that the quality isn’t acceptable. Instead of making suggestions, ask them to think about what would help them make fewer mistakes, and to let you know how you can help.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        This isn’t really true though and I feel the “have you tried yoga” is an exaggerated example that isn’t based in real life examples. Not to mention that yoga is a legitimate solution to some of the lower back pain stuff I hear mentioned in the office all of the time, so is not some crazy thing to bring up, to begin with. Many of us have dealt with various ailments or worked with people or are related to people with different issues so can speak about them.

        You’re also ignoring the specific case here. Someone has a diagnosis, the very crux of which is “trouble concentrating” so they are doing two things at once that require full focus? I’m not sure how you even relate that to “bad medical advice ocassionally given in offices”

        1. JustEm*

          I think you are making HannahS’s point. For you and me, people without ADHD, doing two things at once that require focus would make it hard to focus. For people with ADHD it is literally recommended to help their symptoms.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Yes, this. And also “have you tried yoga?” is TOTALLY a real-life example, people do that all the time (a friend of mine just did it to another friend of mine she’d just met when we ran into her unexpectedly). It might come from a caring POV but it can be exhausting when you are in pain and half the people you encounter ask if you’ve tried yoga. So that’s why TimeToo really should tread carefully here, because the employee might not have thought to try listening to something other than spoken word recordings but also might have tried it before and found it to not work for them and is tired of other people suggesting it. In this case, though, I think it is within reason for TimeToo to say something about it, but perhaps mention that it’s possible the employee may have already tried it.

            1. The Shenanigans*

              Yup I have an autoimmune disease that causes chronic pain. I’ve gotten the have you tried yoga suggestion so many times. It is, in fact, NOT recommended for my kind of pain.

              That said I don’t think this is quite the same. “Hey I’ve noticed your attention to detail on XYZ is slipping. I’ve noticed that my attention dips when listening to spoken word stuff. What about trying to listen to something different and see if that helps you?” isn’t at all an overreach. The employee may have a reason for podcasts vs music and they get a chance to explain that. If they don’t, well, coaching is part of a manager’s job. No reason to get offended by a manager doing their job.

              1. Rose*

                Your last two sentences are EXACTLY the point that I think some commenters are missing. Is the better alternative to continue let the employee fail because oh well, didn’t want to offend?

          2. NeonFireworks*

            Agree. I have a colleague who started doing far more things at once and their performance improved markedly. Then they got an ADHD diagnosis.

          3. Prospect Gone Bad*

            I’m not proving their point, their own strategy isn’t working since they are bad at their job. I’ve noticed the “you can never tell someone anything about how to improve if they have any sort of condition” which was originally well-intended has gathered steam online to a point where it’s jumped the shark and no longer serves the original purpose. It’s now getting used to shut down conversations on helping people. Hannah set up a fake example to strawman giving advice, to create the illusion that all feedback or advice is bad and therefore should not be given. Very unrealistic in the real world. In this case that leaves OP in the lurch and an employee who is bad at their job and eventually may get fired. So what would you do?

            1. carcinization*

              Agreed, as a person with chronic nerve pain (which I require medical management for as well as other support) who benefits from daily yoga!

              1. carcinization*

                (I don’t recommend yoga to other chronic pain patients, to be clear, but it’s definitely not a blanket truth that it doesn’t help folks with chronic pain.)

            2. The Shenanigans*

              Agreed. It can also become infantalisng SO easily. I have disabilities, including ADHD. I don’t need kid gloves. I need my managers to tell me about my performance and make suggestions. As long as they approach it as a question, and really listen to me if I respectfully suggest something else or explain why their idea won’t work, we’re good. Just treat me like a damn adult ugh.

            3. Irish Teacher*

              I think it’s less “you can never tell somebody how to improve if they have any sort of condition” and more “you shouldn’t give advice on how to deal with a condition if you are not qualified to do so.” I think it is quite possible for TimeToo say “I need you to give your full attention to your work” without commenting on their use of podcasts, etc.

              Not having ADHD or being a qualified professional in the area myself, I can’t say whether their attention to detail would be better or worse without the podcasts and TimeToo can’t either, so best not to mention that.

              And I think Hannah’s point was that even advice that can be good for some people may not be helpful at all for others and people know their own situation best. I doubt she meant all feedback was bad, more that giving advice on how to deal with a medical condition when you are not qualified to do so is rarely a good idea, because each person’s situation is different.

              I think the fact that yoga can be helpful to some people was her point; it’s helpful to some but not to her, so giving her advice based on what helped others would not be useful.

          4. JustaTech*

            Hi, person with ADHD who also can not listen to the spoken word and type at the same time. But my friend with ADHD does his best work listening to NPR.

            So it’s very much an individual thing and absolutely worth suggesting as an experiment to address the performance issues – just like you might suggest an ergonomics evaluation for someone with back pain.

            You’re not stating “this is the solution” you’re saying “let’s look for a solution, can we start with this thing”.

        2. My ADHD brain is better than yours*

          Removed. You cannot speak to other people here that way. – Alison

          1. The Shenanigans*

            Actually, what’s ignorant is assuming all ADHD brains work the same way. I CANNOT focus on podcasts or audiobooks when writing, editing, or doing detail work. Even conversations going on around me distract me no end. My attention to detail absolutely suffers. I need music or tv shows/movies, preferably something I’ve seen a hundred times before. But that’s my ADHD brain, not yours or someone else’s. I don’t speak for you. You don’t speak for me.

        3. Sharks are Cool*

          “Have you tried yoga” is a 100% true to life example of things people say to people experiencing chronic pain. I’m not sure it’s exactly analogous to the podcast issue, but HOLY SHIRT do not tell people experiencing debilitating chronic pain, especially nerve pain, to try yoga. A thousand well-meaning acquaintances have already told them to try yoga, I promise. It’s better to trust that they are talking to their doctors and doing all they can.

      2. cleo*

        +100.

        Stick with naming the problem, don’t get into specifics about how to solve the problem.

        1. Mztery1*

          I agree – I would see if the listening to podcasts comes up organically as you name the issues.

    8. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      it would be cool if they did their work to music versus podcasts and saw which was better. but paying attention is not my forte!

    9. CheesePlease*

      Saying “this causes me to lose focus and therefore is the source of your performance issues” is a stretch IMO

      I can listen to audiobooks or podcasts and complete all my work tasks. I would focus on the specific tasks, deadlines etc and then say “if you want suggestions on how to improve your work style to achieve these goals, let me know and we can discuss. But I really need to see you decrease the number of errors that are occurring on the finance reports” if you want to eventually have a conversation.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        I think it’s more like saying “most people, including people with ADHD, can’t listen to words while editing other words.”

        1. ADHD management*

          Do you have any sources to back up this claim? It’s at odds with my own experience, the experiences of many others I have encountered with ADHD, and everything I’ve read about ADHD in the last fifteen years, so I’m just curious!

          1. Spearmint*

            There are many studies that show that students who do homework with the tv in the background perform worse than those who don’t. I can’t link them because the comment will be sent to moderation, but they’re easy to find. There’s also plenty of scholarly evidence that we as humans cannot multitask, at least not on things that use similar parts of the mind. I see no reason why people with ADHD are special exceptions on this.

            Can you listen to audiobooks and complete tasks that involve reading novel material, writing a detailed document or message, critical thinking, editing, etc.? Or does your job mostly involve other kinds of work? Because that’s the kind of work the OP is talking about.

            I have ADHD as well. I find audiobooks and podcasts are very helpful for focusing on work that doesn’t involve too much of the “language” part of my brain, like data entry or something physical, but doing so will absolutely hurt my performance doing work like close reading, editing, or writing on detailed documents or technical topics.

          2. The Shenanigans*

            Well, it’s just my personal experience with ADHD, but I have a much harder time concentrating with podcasts or audiobooks or even conversation around me than tv or music. But hey ADD/ADHD/AuDHD is a spectrum. Not everything works for everyone. :)

          3. Prospect gone bad*

            This thread is borderline fascinating me. Do we actually need sources that somebody can for all intents and purposes read two books at the same exact time? Is that really something that’s so outlandish that it needs to be sourced!

            I feel like everybody’s trying to hard to break stereotypes about ADHD that they’re circling back to claiming all ADHD folk have super human powers

            I mean, most people out in the world People barely read and if they do, can barely concentrate on one book at a time.

    10. Janeric*

      I think probably they’re the best arbiter of how to manage their disability. I’d be cautious of telling them how to control their attention for optimal focus.

      My husband has ADHD, and he uses podcasts for focus work because when he gets distracted he focuses on the podcast instead of: dinner plans, emails, other projects, how closed the blinds are, the sounds of pipes and wires in the walls, the sound of me breathing — it means that he’s only switching between two tasks.

    11. TimeToo*

      Appreciate everyone’s perspectives here! Given me a lot of (helpful) things to think about. One thing I maybe should have mentioned as that the ADHD is a very recent diagnosis, and with this new information, the employee is actively exploring coping mechanisms and strategies for improving performance using this new information. So, it’s not necessarily a situation where the employee knows exactly what works best for them work-wise…yet. We’re working to get there!

      1. TimeToo*

        Said employee is also quite the overshare-er and honestly I know way more about their diagnosis journey and current medical status than is probably appropriate – although I appreciate the basic info about their diagnosis and status as it allows me to give them grace where I can. But, as mentioned, I don’t want to overshare/overstep right back!

        1. HR Manager*

          Quick question – as the employee has divulged a medical condition that may require an accommodation, have you or your HR team started the interactive process required under the ADA? It will help you to better understand what your employee may need to better perform their tasks, and will help protect you and your company.

      2. I edit everything*

        Taking into consideration all the comments above, I do think it’s worth bringing up. I cannot do two different word things at the same time, either, but I also understand the “just enough sound to help” idea.
        How about asking something like, “How do the podcasts and audiobooks interact with your editing work?”
        It’s less “Have you tried yoga?” and more “Tell me more about how your brain works so we can find a solution.”

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. I don’t have ADHD, but I’m a translator so I basically write for a living. Translating involves processing two languages more or less simultaneously (or at least concurrently) in your mind, there’s no way I could listen to a podcast or audio book as well!

          When I was in high school, I used to listen to music when I did my homework. Vocal music in languages I know worked as long as I listened to a tape I already knew by heart. New music, or old songs in an unfamiliar order, didn’t work for me.

          Like someone else commented below, there’s also a huge difference between focus (staying on task) and accuracy. I don’t do my most accurate work when I’m in a flow state. I touch type and when I’m enjoying that deep focus I just type away and ignore all the typos. I can keep that up for an hour or two when the mood strikes me. But when I’m distracted enough that I need a micro break every five minutes, my error rate goes down to nearly zero and I get things right the first time.

    12. Hermione Danger*

      Given that the same part of the brain processes both spoken and written language, writing, editing and proofreading is always going to be difficult to do well when listening to a podcast or an audiobook. The language processing centers will be overwhelmed.

      I have ADHD too, and while I can listen to spoken word stuff when I’m working on visual designs, if I have to write or edit something, I can’t focus on the words in front of me and listen to someone else’s at the same time. Even if I’m in the depths of hyperfocus.

    13. Mill Miker*

      I know personally, I’m about 50/50 on whether something like a podcast helps or hurts.

      Sometimes there’s no “Only focus on one set of spoken words” option, at least not continuously. So the second set of spoken words is either going to be something I’m listening to (which I also won’t be able to focus on continuously without switching back to the task), or my own inner monologue (which will keep changing enough that I never feel the need to switch back to the task). So in those situations, a podcast is the best thing for focusing.

      Other times I absolutely need some kind of pumping beat with no lyrics to just keep the momentum going. If I’m too tired for that, however, it feels less like “traveling with a tailwind” and more like “being dragged by my ankles”. I do tend to have different types of playlists for different types of tasks, to help get into the right headspace faster.

      Other times, silence or rain sounds on loop are what’s best.

      Almost always, however, it’s not the type of task as much as it is my own energy levels that matter.

      All this to say: If they’re listening to the same stuff all the time, it might be worth encouraging them to experiment with more things to listen to rather than suggesting a specific change. I know it took me a while to get away from “only high-bmp electronic music helps me focus”

    14. Hillary*

      If they’re looking for ways to improve their performance, this might be part of a bigger collaborative conversation. You can lead them through brainstorming and include how folks are differently impacted by distractions. A lot of folks have mentioned that they can’t write or code with words on (I’m one of those most of the time), but I’ve also known folks who worked better with Friends on in the background or needed the low-level buzz of an office and couldn’t stand silence. This might not be the answer, a standing desk or chair with more movement might help, or maybe time blocking and scheduling time to step away.

      Your goal isn’t to solve for them, it’s to help them think through solutions. It’s no different than talking about tactics to stay organized or handle a challenging customer.

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

      ND person here, and I feel like maybe a helpful reframe is that you’re actually looking at 2 separate problems here: focus (staying on task) vs. accuracy. The podcasts may legitimately help this person stay on task while simultaneously interfering with their accuracy. I know for me that I can only clean house if I’m listening to a podcast, and then I can do it literally for hours… BUT, I also am about 30% likelier to enter a room and not know what I came in there for. So it helps me stay on task and be way more productive than I otherwise would be, but there is a definite cost to my accuracy/detail-oriented focus. For me, the cost is fine because when it comes to housework, I am my own boss and only I am going to get mad when I realize, yet again, that I have NO IDEA where I tidied away the charger for my bike light. But for your direct report, since they are obviously already curious and enthusiastic about learning more about how their brain functions, it could be useful to talk about staying-on-task vs accuracy and asking how they feel about experimenting with what can support them more in the latter. Possibilities might include a 2-step process where for their first “heavy-lifting” pass-through of a document they have a podcast playing but for the second “detailing” pass they have it turned off.

      Anyway, hope this helps! Best of luck to both of you, and thanks for obviously putting a lot of thought and sensitivity into this!

    16. Lavender Menace*

      Everyone is different, and everyone has different needs and ways their brain works. I am a writer with ADHD; having something that makes noise while I am doing some brain work is just enough of a hum I need to really sink into the work. For me, the sweet spot is music – I listen to music continuously through most of my day when I’m not in meetings (I am in Spotify’s top 5% of listeners apparently lol). But the music does have to have lyrics – instrumental music will jar me out of it.

      Podcasts can also live in that sweet space, and I have absolutely listened to podcasts while doing deep work. For podcasts I am familiar with, the voices become enough of a drone in the background that they provide that ‘noise’ foundation I need to slide into focus. I also know people who read or write with the TV on – in fact, I can read in the same room that my husband is watching TV. They just kind of slide into the background, and in fact it takes considerable effort for my husband to get me to realize he’s talking to me, lol.

      So rather than suggest it, I’d suggest that you ask about it. “I notice that you listen to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts while you work. Do you find those helpful for your creative process?” or something. You could be right, and the question could spur her to examine her listening habits. But she could also be pretty self-aware that that part isn’t the issue.

  3. Green Goose*

    I had a really rough June, like so rough. A series of unfortunate events that made me wonder if someone had put a curse on me (jokingly but half serious). It involved identity theft, a huge unexpected expense (minimum $15,000 out of pocket), a threat of being sued (unrelated to the other two), being rejected from a job, and little kid sicknesses, and literal days of being on the phone with banks, insurance, police, and city hall. I was really overwhelmed and it was increasingly hard for me to concentrate at work.
    I’m a verbal processor and it helps me to talk things out. At work, I have two direct reports and then another team that we all work with. People are very caring and we’re close colleagues so I found myself talking with my coworkers during the craziness of the past few weeks. I was so overwhelmed and definitely overshared about my situation. Now that the dust has finally started to settle and I can breathe I feel really embarrassed and ashamed about how much complaining I did with my coworkers, and worse so that I talked about it with my direct reports, who due to power-imbalances couldn’t be like, “I don’t care” or “I don’t have the time/energy for this”. I feel like I emotionally dumped on them and feel terrible. I know I won’t do this again, but should I acknowledge it and apologize? Would that be more awkward? Should I say nothing and just never do it again?

    1. Robert Smith's Hair*

      Firstly, I’m so sorry. What a crap month, which is an insult to crap. I hope it’s getting better! As for your coworkers, I could see either approach: saying nothing or saying “hey, I had a really rough month and I probably overshared/talked with you about my life. Now that things have settled, I’m feeling a little sheepish and wanted to apologize if it made you uncomfortable but also thank you at the same time for allowing me the space to talk. It’s certainly not part of your job and I recognize that I leaned on you too much. Again, I apologize and thank you so much. Now, let’s talk about those TPS reports…”

      1. Tio*

        I would add something like “Please let me know if you see me do this again – I don’t intend to and I will be working on it, but you’re ok to interrupt me if you need to get back to work and I won’t hold it against you.” Just to possibly address some of those power dynamic issues you’ve identified

        1. Triplestep*

          I appreciate the sentiment behind this, but since they are not likely to actually do it, I would not even say it. Maybe for a peer, but with direct reports it kind of goes back to that power imbalance. It’s not their job to keep hold their manager to her word about not oversharing again.

        2. Budgie Buddy*

          It sounds like when OP was sharing it was about some traumatic stuff that was happening to her. People who would have no problem shutting down a boss who goes on tangents on trivial matters might feel too bad for her to say “Ok now you’re over sharing about how worried you are about your sick kid – let’s get back to work.” It’s probably better of OP can reel herself in and change the topic.

    2. Edna Mode*

      I have been in your shoes as well as in your direct reports’ shoes. It happens, so let’s be gentle with ourselves.

      I do think a matter-of-fact apology is in order. The way you laid it out is perfect. Explaining the situation, acknowledging the harm, taking responsibility, the steps you’re taking to not repeat it. And not going over the top beating yourself up to the extent that they need to be reassuring you.

      I’m glad things are getting better for you.

    3. Aelfwynn*

      I think if you’re concerned about it, it wouldn’t hurt to say something like “I was really overwhelmed last month, and in my frustration and overwhelm, dumped a lot of my personal emotions onto you folks. I just wanted to say I’m sorry for doing that. Things are better and clearer now, and I promise to keep it more in-check in the future.”

    4. T. Wanderer*

      I’d acknowledge it! That tells them that you know it wasn’t great, and you’re “my manager who had a rough time” instead of “my manager with yikes oversharing habits”. It can be a brief line at the end of a check-in: “I’m sorry for how much I’ve been complaining to you about my personal life — it was a complicated and overwhelming situation, and my judgement wasn’t ideal. I shouldn’t have put that on you, and I won’t do it again.”

    5. sennbo*

      I think you should acknowledge it and apologize. If I was your direct report, I’d appreciate you being self-aware enough to acknowledge it. Even if it hadn’t bothered me but you had mentioned the power imbalance in your apology, I would appreciate your thoughts around it and I would respect you for realizing it. I say bring it up once, apologize, and then show through action that you won’t do it again.

    6. Bitsy*

      Another reason to say something is to role model appropriate behavior for your staff. Someday some of them may become managers, so it may be helpful for them for you to draw clear lines around appropriate behavior.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m sorry you’re having such a sucky month; it can be overwhelming, and I am guessing that your colleagues get that–if this is out of the norm for you, it’s because you’re having experiences out of the norm.

      My first plan would be to not apologize, and to just do better going forward. Actions are more convincing, and an apology can land as “Reassure me that is was all fine!” especially when there’s a power imbalance, so the report may not feel they can accept your apology.

      There are social groups where “Name the thing, apologize, state what you will do going forward” would work really well; I suspect those groups are more common with flat power dynamics.

      1. Observer*

        My first plan would be to not apologize, and to just do better going forward. Actions are more convincing, and an apology can land as “Reassure me that is was all fine!” especially when there’s a power imbalance, so the report may not feel they can accept your apology.

        The problem with this is that employees are stuck with an over-sharing boss who, for all they know, thinks that this was FINE. And that’s a difficult environment to work in.

        You do have a good point about people feeling pressured to “accept” an apology. So the OP needs to do it a way that doesn’t tend to elicit an apology.

        So maybe in an email that they make clear that they don’t expect a response to, or at the beginning of a meeting where they can immediately pivot to the subject of the meeting, or something like that.

    8. Be kind, rewind*

      As a counter point, if my manager had a bad month and overshared, I would find an apology awkward. It almost seems like more of a required emotional investment on the employee’s part to assure you that you weren’t that bothersome. What else are they going to say? “yeah, you were insufferable, don’t do that again.” No, they’re going to feel like they have to say, “it’s OK, no big deal.”

      As long as this isn’t your regular way of operating, they’re probably not going to think much of it in the long term.

      I would lean towards say nothing. If anything, to your coworkers you could just say “thanks for supporting me during the difficult time.”

      1. ecnaseener*

        I do think it’s a good idea to acknowledge it and say you don’t intend to do it again, though. It doesn’t have to be a Serious Apology, and you don’t have to leave space for them to reply – something like “I just wanted to mention that in hindsight, I definitely dumped too much of my personal problems on you last month. Sorry about that – won’t happen again!” and move on.

    9. Chris too*

      If I had a boss who did this *all* the time, over small things, it would be annoying, sure – but a boss who did this for a month while their life was weirdly cursed? I’d feel glad she felt safe enough to vent around me. Our shared humanity trumps “oh I must always present a glossy and polished professional image to the world.”

      If the boss were to say afterwards, gee, thanks for putting up with my venting while things went weird, I appreciated it. Let’s hope it never happens again! That would be great, I’d appreciate it.

      “It was inappropriate for me to overshare with you,” would hurt my feelings just a bit. Studies have shown a sense of psychological safety is an important part of a well functioning workplace and that should definitely include being able to show one’s humanity in times of stress for both bosses and workers.

      1. Bike Shorts*

        I think this response is perfect. It also follows the advice of “say ‘thank you’ instead of ‘sorry'” which I’ve heard suggested for us over-apologizing types. And it doesn’t force the recipient into “there there it’s alright” mode, thus upping the awkwardness

      2. Observer*

        If the boss were to say afterwards, gee, thanks for putting up with my venting while things went weird, I appreciated it. Let’s hope it never happens again! That would be great, I’d appreciate it.

        This is excellent language.

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          Yes, this is perfect. I tend to apologise if I feel I’ve overstepped or otherwise done something wrong, because I think it’s better for my direct reports to know that I don’t think the behaviour was okay. But I know some of them find the apology problematic in itself so this wording solves the problem I think!

    10. Ellis Bell*

      I believe you when you say that you overshared and that in hindsight it was a bit too much, but I am struggling to see the problem as being as severe as you think it was. It was one month! They will have previous experience working around you to compare it with and will have known it was not your S.O.P! Even from a higher power dynamic, it was also probably really helpful context if your work was affected; otherwise everyone would have been wondering why the captain was a bit rudderless. Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone; I’m just one of those people who prefers to know what’s going on. If it was just you letting people know the situation, even if it was in a too-detailed way, while briefly venting, you might be fine. If people were growing beards and their expressions were glazing over while you composed narrative structures about your woes, then yeah … maybe one on one apologies and resetting of relationships are in order. If you’re not sure either way, I might consider in your shoes just making a sort of apologetic joke about it. Apologetic enough that they know the venting season is over, but light enough that there’s no response really required from them and they don’t have to soothe your feelings about it. I might also fold in something that implies a thanks for their graciousness too. So, along the lines of: “You’ll be glad to know my month of disasters seems to be over and I don’t have any venting for you at all this week. Seriously, you were very sweet to let me overshare all month and I’m going to be knocking it off from now on.” But said in a way where you can then easily segue with an “I just wanted to say that. Anyways….”

    11. WellRed*

      I wouldn’t worry too much that you’ve done any harm. I mean, identity theft is pretty major itself and I’d get the need to vent.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      Ugh, what a literal shitstorm. I’m so sorry you had to deal with all that!

    13. Maggie*

      Just bring in donuts and kinda make a joke about it and then be mindful to do it less, we’re all human after all.

    14. Lavender Menace*

      Honestly, I’m not sure I would sweat it much. My direct manager has occasionally gotten to that place where they are just so personally overwhelmed that they need to vent, and there aren’t many people they can vent to. This is not an ongoing pattern of behavior but just something that happens when they’re overwhelmed, and I don’t mind at all talking to them or listening to them about it. I also had a peer go through a period like this and it was awful for them and I was quite fine (and sometimes happy) with being a listening ear.

      In both cases I’ve had folks apologize to me. It didn’t make it awkward; I didn’t feel they needed to, but in both cases I respected them more for recognizing that they did something potentially awkward and overbearing and that they wanted to prevent it from happening again.

  4. Scout Finch*

    Needing advice, please.

    My present technical role (for almost 18 years over 2 institutions) supports an ERP system in higher education in the US. (Those of you in higher ed probably know the system & have my utmost sympathy). The system has become increasingly challenging to support over the last 5 years, with major upgrade issues. It’s like the vendor fired the entire QA department. I am exhausted from the chaos that accompanies each release.

    I would like to move to a role (either in the database/infrastructure area of my institution or in another industry completely) that is not tied to this ERP system.

    While I could retire with a reduced state pension now, if I can last 2.5 years at my school I will get a much better retirement check. Either way, I plan on working after I start drawing my state retirement. I cannot afford to just retire with no other income (I am 5+ years away from full Social Security benefits).

    What certifications/training should I look at to get me out of higher ed (or at least out of supporting this ERP)? Most of my work has been in Linux and Oracle. I have been at this so long, I am not sure how to approach this. Is changing roles/industries even possible at my age (61)?

    I have thought about SQL Server & Power BI – and maybe even an OCP or OCA in Oracle databases (I am weak in Oracle tuning, but can do some work in Oracle database). I know Microsoft has some free training & I have access to Lynda. I would like to be able to finish this within 6-12 months.

    Thank you for any ideas or success stories of encouragement.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Have you looked at open-source databases like Postgres and MySQL? Sounds like you have a lot of solid DB experience – smaller organizations tend to use those two rather than Oracle & SQLServer. There’s always demand for people who can do optimization and administration work.

    2. June*

      Could you try to get certified/training in an updated version of the ERP? I used to work in PeopleSoft and I transitioned to Workday.

      1. Scout Finch*

        What I am supporting now is the latest & greatest version of this ERP. I really want nothing to do with anything that this vendor creates. Some institutions are transitioning to Workday. So far, I have heard positive feedback on WD. So maybe there is a chance we could go to WD or PS on the next RFP.

    3. Goddess47*

      It’s tangential to the ERP but look at Business Process Analysis. You know perfectly well that 90% of offices do not write down their business processes… knowing the ERP actually helps here, because you have knowledge on what the system will and will not do…

      Good luck!

    4. Pam Adams*

      Currently, I’m cussing both PeopleSoft and EAB, so there are multiple possibilities…..

      1. Scout Finch*

        Glad to see that other ERPs are equal opportunity on the frustration factors. Thank you for the smile.

    5. Hillary*

      What other systems does your school use? Are there tools/dbs that already interact with the system you support? Those can be a nice pivot, or maybe you can start working with them too and get some new & interesting projects.

      If there aren’t a lot of other folks on your system, the trick is going to be showing your management that you’re more valuable on the other system than supporting the ERP. It’s risky (probably less risky in a public university than in the private sector), but one option might be pointing out that they should be doing succession planning for your retirement and they should begin the process of getting someone else working with you. Teaching someone might give you enough change and fun to get over the finish line to full pension.

      I’m sorry to say changing employers might be challenging. There are a lot of good techies available right now thanks to all the layoffs and you’d be competing with folks who probably have more experience on those tools. You’d also be dealing with stereotypes about public employees and potential age discrimination.

      1. Scout Finch*

        As far as other systems, I may look at our research/infrastructure areas. I am the only person that supports this ERP. If I bail tomorrow, they would probably just get a contractor for critical stuff. We are so swamped and short staffed that cross training is not really an option. I document everything I do, so hopefully that would help if the truck or the lottery come for me.

        Good techies tent to avoid higher ed jobs once the salaries rear their ugly heads.

        Thank you for your response.

  5. Alice in Blunderland*

    Hi!

    I recently accepted the job of Administrative Director for a restaurant group. My job description is quite vague, but as I’ve settled in, it is looking very much like I’m the go-to HR person on the team. In the past three months I’ve mediated conflict between employees, implemented several performance improvement plans for folks who are struggling in their roles and hired several people. I’ve also fired a few people both for issues that were outlined in performance improvement plans and for egregious offenses like sexual harassment.

    I’ve never had this type of job before, although I have a lot of experience managing people. In my 10+ years in the industry, I have learned so much about the value of clear and empathetic communication.

    I’m aware that HR is often a tool of a company to enforce the perspective of management and owners, and rarely is a benefit to the workers. But in this case, I was specifically hired to be an advocate for the folks who work for us, and to facilitate communication across the board. I’ve never heard of anything like this (especially in a restaurant setting!) so I am very conscious of the fact that this is uncharted territory and I would very much like to get this right.

    My question for you– do you offer or know of any resources that could assist me in this job? I feel like I have such an opportunity to be a true worker’s advocate here, and I love the thought of working to change the harmful norms of the restaurant industry from the inside. But I want to do it right, and I want to take every opportunity to minimize harm. Do you have any suggestions as to how I could further my education in this field– HR certification courses? Conflict mediation courses? I’m all ears!

    PS I should add that a huge portion of my education on this subject has come from Ask A Manager, and for that I am so very grateful!

    1. longtimeHR*

      The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) might be a good place to start. But there are plenty of free HR resources like HR Morning, groups on LinkedIn, HR411, HR blogs, etc.

    2. Yes And*

      I would second SHRM. Like you, I fell into HR when it was added to my job description, and I’ve found them an invaluable resource. And I just passed my SHRM-CP exam!

      I also wanted to add that while HR does have a responsibility to reduce/mitigate employer risk with respect to legal liability, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re always taking the employer’s side against employees. In fact, making sure that employees feel safe, respected, and well compensated can go a long way toward accomplishing those risk mitigation goals. At its best, HR facilitates a collaboration between management and labor, rather than taking sides in an adversarial relationship.

      Best of luck!

      1. Rosyglasses*

        I agree completely – when I moved fully into HR I went through a SHRM certification course and passed my exam – and I learned so much about the context of HR in business strategy and has allowed me to navigate through leadership coaching, strategic discussions with the executive team, and be proactive with employee issues and advocacy.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Love your username first off!

      I’ve always had HR responsibilities, with no training, but in different industries. I don’t have any resources to refer you to, but I hope the guidelines I try to follow might be helpful. I think a lot of the ‘official’ resources I have seen are more about protecting the employer than looking at things from the employees’ viewpoints and while I do have to protect the company, there’s so much to do from the employees’ view.

      I think the main ways I’ve tried to look at things from an employee standpoint is:
      1. Is it fair across the board?
      2. I review all compensation – is it fair and within range in each job description for each person at each seniority level? Fix this proactively if it’s not
      3. Are the company’s policies applied fairly across the company? (are you sensing a theme here ? lol) And do those policies make sense? Think of the difference between providing lunch as a reward for people who come to the office vs WFH. I love how Alison has addressed all those letters saying this isn’t fair, but it actually is fair if you look at it high level.
      4. Review the policies. Do they make sense in the context of the company and in the environment in which different groups of employees work? You may need specific policies for different job types.
      5. What is the hiring process like? Make sure it is fair and similar across the company and roles. Doesn’t have to be identical, but just make sure it’s consistent for a role (i.e. one interview with the manager for a server position, three interviews for a manager role with x+1, 2 and 3 managers, etc) Look at your hiring of minorities vs non minorities as compared to who applied for the jobs and make sure it “smells right”
      6. When dealing with employee disagreements with each other, I always channel Alison and hear everybody out as well as try to get additional viewpoints from possible other parties.
      7. Be kind. Whether I’m hiring, firing, putting someone on a PIP or just delivering some feedback, I always strive to be kind. I am pretty direct, but I’m kind.
      8. PIPs: make sure these look the same across each role.
      9. Incentives and rewards: do the employees feel these are truly motivational and rewarding? I think we’ve seen SO many totally tone deaf “rewards” on this blog. Also, is the company asking employees to upsell or some other stupid thing that is really turning off the customer base?

      Good luck and it sounds like you’re already doing an amazing job!

    4. Lady Danbury*

      As part of your job is to advocate for the workers, it might be helpful to seek out union resources/training. I don’t have specific suggestions, but there I’m sure there’s some alignment there since that’s also one of the goals of unions.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        This and… many times a similar role is called an “Ombudsman” or “Ombudsperson”. Perhaps looking for resources for Ombudspeople roles will help you find what you’re looking for.

        As a suggestion, if your college or university has resources to help alumni, this sounds like the sort of thing that an alumni career center or even a reference librarian who can help alumni would love to take on.

    5. Monty Burns*

      I am in HR, and I understand your desire to positively change the culture. When I first started getting passionate about that, I read a few books on workplace culture, so I would suggest you do the same. It can give you great ideas, although you may need to be creative on how to translate some of those ideas to the restaurant industry. Here are the two books I liked the best, but I read them over 10 years ago, so there are probably more modern books out there by now:

      * The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace by Ron Friedman

      * The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace by S. Chris Edmonds

      Also, maybe it would be helpful to read something like Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. That book is fascinating and funny, and gives you an inside look into restaurant culture and just how alien it is (in my opinion) from a traditional workplace.

      From the HR perspective, if that will be your responsibility, I would strongly suggest pursuing either a PHR or SHRM certification, as it will force you to learn about standard HR practices and become familiar with employment laws you may have never had to deal with before.

      1. Alice in Blunderland*

        These are great suggestions– I will put the first two books on my reading list for sure! As for Kitchen Confidential, oh boy am I familiar with THAT book and while I think it’s impossible to work in this industry without a certain reverence for Anthony Bourdain, the type of work environment he describes is EXACTLY what I’m working to change here. Although things have changed a little since KC was published, they haven’t changed enough for folks in the industry to universally feel safe and valued. Especially if you’re anything other than a white man. It’s still quite a mess in here, folks!

    6. Anna Badger*

      I am an ex colleague engagement bod so I may be biased, but it’s worth skinning up on good colleague engagement practices as the single quickest way to spot problems before they escalate, particularly in a high risk environment like a restaurant. the tldr is that you want to make it low risk and a normalised part of the culture for employees to tell you what is going on in their working life, with a good level of trust that you will act on that information to improve what is going on (both stopping the bad stuff and extending the good stuff.)

      apologies that I don’t have any particular resources to recommend because I learned mostly through bespoke training, but it’s often underlooked as a practice so I wanted to mention it.

    7. Anonymous Cornellian*

      Since you asked for specifics, I’ll risk sounding a little rah-rah here. Cornell University has an extensive program of online certifications, including from the college of Industrial and Labor Relations.

      I’ll skip the exact URL to avoid additional moderation task; search for HR certificate programs at ecornell.cornell.edu.

      I was not an ILR student, just took one of their personnel management courses for non-ILR stidents, but boy has it been relevant.

  6. Stephanie*

    Hello! I do still read, just comment much less. But I have a question for the commentariat this week!

    So I received a tentative federal government job offer (I’m US-based). Offer is a 15% pay cut from my current private sector salary (was offered Step 1 in my pay band). My current salary is in the GS pay band, albeit 5 or 6 steps higher. Is there a way to negotiate a higher salary? How is this done for federal jobs?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Hi stranger! Welcome back. :) It’s good to see you!

      My partner successfully negotiated a federal government salary. It was a lot of back and forth and a lot of paperwork, but he was able to go much higher in the pay band than the initial offer. In his case, he had to provide proof of his other offer, which you don’t have here. However, I would be surprised if you couldn’t ask about your salary meeting your current salary– I don’t know if you would be able to get more, but those 5 or 6 steps can have a lot of impact. You can definitely ask about it when the offer comes, and be prepared with proof of income (like W-2s and paystubs).

    2. Angry Arcade Kitten*

      As long as you negotiate before the final offer you are definately able to point out that accepting the role is a pay cut. Now is the time for negotiations. If they dont budge on a higher step to start with Id be surprised as I have seen it done. Email the HR Recruiter or POC from the office you applied with about the request.

    3. jillianajones*

      I successfully negotiated a step increase in my pay band, but I did have to provide pay stubs and W2s, as well as a statement as to why I was requesting the increase, proving that the step increase would bring my pay more in line with what I was already making. It also added several more weeks to my onboarding unfortunately, but please be patient. I’ve been in my current federal position now for over a year and the time it took to onboard was so worth it. Best of luck!

    4. Henrietta Gondorf*

      Yes! Most importantly. You have to negotiate before you accept the tentative job offer. If this is a ladder position, ask for the higher grade and explain your qualifications to be considered at that level. (Use the job announcement to specifically point to how you’re qualified.). If it’s a just a step increase, Look at OPM’s website. There is an FAQ about superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority that explains what they consider in giving you a higher salary.

      Good luck!

    5. Over It*

      Negotiating pay with the government is a real PITA, but it can be done. I work for a non-federal jurisdiction, but our system models the feds pretty closely, so take what I say with a grain of salt that this might not be 100% accurate. For us, HR always offers the floor salary (step 1) like what happened to you, but you can negotiate step increase so long as the position is budgeted for higher than step 1, your negotiations don’t exceed the top of the grade band, and the amount HR can offer you can be no more than 10% of what you currently make (in my jurisdiction if you take a gap between jobs, you’re SIL on negotiating). You will need documentation of your current salary, and if your compensation is anything other than straight salary (e.g. commission, bonuses, freelance work) that will make it even more of a pain. Expect the negotiation process to be very slow and to delay your start date. But in your case negotiating seems like the right move and I wish you the best of luck in the process! Also know that starting higher than step 1 will cap your salary increases sooner since most people get an annual step increase until they max out a certain step, but that’s a very worthwhile tradeoff for a higher starting salary.

    6. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      If I’m understanding you to say that your current pay is in the same grade but a higher step, I think you have a lot of room to negotiate within the grade. Going up a grade may or may not be doable depending on the job description but that should have been in the ad (e.g. if was advertised for a grade 10 or 11 and they offered you grade 11, step 1, you probably can’t go to a 12, but if they offered you grade 10 step 1, you might). I know people who negotiated federal salaries successfully.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yes, correct. Current salary is within grade, but on the higher end. Was offered Step 1.

    7. M2*

      Try to negotiate and see what happens. You get paid more in private sector that’s how it (usually and should) works. In federal government you usually get better healthcare and if you work your years a pension.

      Let’s not all forget federal and state salaries and benefits are paid for by the taxpayer, it’s not government money it comes from actual
      people!

      1. Texan In Exile*

        And I as an actual people am happy to ensure that public servants are paid what they are worth.

      2. Random Academic Cog*

        Yes, it’s taxpayer money, but that doesn’t (or shouldn’t) mean that the work is not valued and people paid accordingly. This is why we have so many critical shortages and slack employees in government roles. The good people decide they need a fair wage and leave. It needs to be recalibrate across the board.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I was on a library board. Our director has been trying for a few years to get PT jobs converted to FT with benefits and to increase salaries, especially for children’s librarians. Kids need consistency, he said. They need to see the same librarian.

          He also noted that there was high turnover for some positions because of the low wage and it would be better to have consistency in those positions as well.

          The director is right and the board supported all his requests for pay increases and position changes, which helped convince city council, who hold the purse, approve them.

          People deserve a fair wage.

      3. connie*

        And I want the people who administer all the rules, regulations and infrastructure of my life to have well-paying jobs. I love that I can pay people to do things that are so complex or detailed I’d not want to do them myself, and I want them to like their work lives.

        PS they pay taxes too.

      4. The Shenanigans*

        Yes that’s how it works in a functional society, and taxpayers also include the OP btw. So I’m not sure what you are getting at here.

    8. Just a Name*

      Also negotiate for extra leave based on your work experience. If you have been working in the private sector for more than a few years (3, iirc) you should be eligible to earn 6 hours of annual leave per pay period rather than the 4 hours they start newbies at. If you have 15 years, you can earn 8 hours per pay period of annual leave.

    9. Policy Wonk*

      Tell them you want a higher step based on “superior qualifications”. Provide your current pay stubs to show that you are currently earning more than they are offering. If you have an SF-50 showing prior pay at that grade with a higher step, include that. That is the easiest way to get additional steps.

      Otherwise, if you exceed the qualifications in the job announcement, you can ask for additional steps based on that (where the shorthand of superior quals comes from) but that kicks off a personnel process that can take a long time.

    10. Stephanie*

      Thanks for all the comments! So I spoke with my HR contact. If anyone is a similar situation, here’s what I was told to do:
      -Accept tentative offer
      -Email HR rep with the desired step in the GS pay band
      -Send last three pay stubs of my current role (or another offer letter, if I had it)
      -Include a summary of how my past experience met superior qualifications

      HR said would take 2 -4 weeks. May vary by agency, but sounds like this is the general process.

  7. Robert Smith's Hair*

    I’m looking for advice on how to help new staff in remote environments, especially for those who are new to office work. I’m in my mid-40s and learned from watching my peers on how to “be” in an office and understand the culture and I can connect over zoom with no issues. But that’s not the case for our 20-somethings. Looking for ideas and advice on how to help with this! Happy Friday, y’all.

    1. Elle*

      I do a daily check in the same time each morning. Sometimes it’s quick and sometimes it’s longer. We go over any important emails/Teams messages (including all staff emails from HR/ED), see how they’re doing with deadlines, maybe chat about personal stuff. I think this brings them into the company culture so they don’t feel isolated and understand the norms.

    2. Sneaky Squirrel*

      With new hires, I connect with them via teams meetings at a level that seems appropriate. Webcams don’t work for everyone’s needs but I highly recommend them when they do and I try to go on webcam whenever I meet with new hires so that they have a bit more of a connection. With new hires who just started and have little experience, we may meet once or twice a day depending on the level of training involved. As we get more comfortable, I dial it back to 2x a week, then 1x a week, then every other week as needed. On days that we don’t meet and don’t have to connect about anything, I usually at least send a friendly teams chat just saying ‘hello, I hope you’re having a good day’ or a ‘hope you had a nice weekend’ so that they’re aware that they can still come to me in those times too.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I suggest assigning them a mentor, someone who is on their team but not their manager. I was a mentor for remote interns during the summers of 2020 and 2021. Our company put together some guidelines for mentors, some of which will track well with full-time employees and some of which won’t. What I can remember off the top of my head:

      – meet every week or every other week
      – share your job/professional history with them
      – ask about their major, year in school
      – ask what they want to get out of their internship
      – halfway through internship: follow-up to see if they are on track to meeting their internship goals
      – end of internship: discuss how well they did meeting their internship goals (this and immediately above bullet point were much less formal than a performance review with a manager)
      – throughout: ask if they have any struggles, need advice, want introductions to other people in the company

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I feel like it depends on the industry. Part of the issue is that stuff has changes so much in the last 15 years. For example, younger people used to “be seen not heard” because they had alot of paperwork and filing to do. Nowadays, we rely on them to do more technical stuff and to research more complicated issues at an earlier age, and welcome more feedback. Most offices now generally have less people per department than let’s say 20 years ago, so people are responsible for more areas. So speaking up in a meeting at 23 is now fine, when 20 years agom you’d have gotten side eye from the boss. Another norm out the door.

      so it really depends on what norms need to be taught in your organization

    5. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I read this as meaning how to act on Zoom calls, eg (like, don’t vape!) If so, I’d suggest writing up a guide to Zoom etiquette in your office culture (clothing, things like vaping or eating, mic muting, cameras on or off, and anything else you’ve seen that’s an issue) and share that. Or potentially, if you have a big group and you have team meetings, you might go over that verbally. As you get the list together, give it to new hires proactively.

    6. Spearmint*

      My last job was my first non-internship, non-temporary office job, and I started six weeks before COVID so it was mostly remote.

      My boss handled it well. We met twice a week for an hour (sometimes more) going over all the work I had done and was going to do. Not so much reviewing it, but giving me an opportunity to ask questions, for my boss to give advice, etc. It also helped that my boss welcomed questions and never made me feel like there was such a thing as a stupid question.

    7. Educator*

      I’ve done some work with fully remote younger hires, and the most important thing is really explicit expectations. Say the things it feels silly to say, like “during the hours when you are clocked in, it is important to be at your computer and available,” “in our company culture, people still dress up a bit even to work from home,” “I want to make sure that you are on time for our weekly team meeting so that you don’t miss anything,” and so on. It is really a kindness to think about of those norms we older folks saw in our first office and just say the current version out loud.

      But I also want to respect that the way work happens is changing, and I love learning from younger folks (and all new hires) about what works for them. Would they rather comment asynchronously on a document than have a Zoom call to review it together? Great! That accomplishes the same thing.

      So it is a balance–clear expectations when things need to be reset, flexibility for how people work best, and lots of clear communication about all of it!

    8. Lavender Menace*

      To the extent that you can, try to be proactive with helping your new employees connect with existing employees. They can’t spontaneously run into the old heads anymore in the break room or whatever. I would give my newbies “excuses” to talk to a senior person – “you know who would know a lot about that? John. Set up a meeting with him to ask” – both so the meeting request felt more like a work-related task I’d assigned them to do than some random thing they’d come up with AND so that they had a built-in thing to talk about. In cases where those folks were a bit farther afield in the organization, I would often make the connection myself.

      Check-in with them semi-frequently on your business chat app of choice (ours is Teams), to lower the barrier of entry for them to do the same for you. I found that especially in the early days my new folks didn’t want to “bother” me even if I told them it was fine to send me a Teams message whenever.

      Talk about the culture and workplace behaviors explicitly. Honestly, I tried to do this a lot even when I was in the office, as not everyone picks up on everything innately. But it’s vital now. I sometimes schedule debrief meetings with my newbies to talk to them about what happened in a meeting, or we’ll use their 1:1 to deconstruct some particularly tricky politics or a memo that got sent out or why everyone’s acting so weird about that new policy. I use this as a way to teach them not only the nuts and bolts but the human nuances that power the entire enterprise.

      Spend a little more time than you possibly would’ve before talking about personal life and chit-chatting. Again, we don’t have those spontaneous water cooler discussions that help strengthen weak ties, so we have to be more deliberate about making connection. Sometimes we would spend their entire 1:1 just chit-chatting about whatever they wanted to talk about. It helped build connection and trust in a way that getting straight to business doesn’t always do.

      I also had shorter but more frequent 1:1s with some of my folks since, again, they couldn’t rely on just running into me or catching me in the hallway or something.

  8. Temp-to-hire job history*

    Has anyone struggled with job history when you’ve been temp-to-hire? My last job involved 2 years as a Robert Half employee contracted to Blue Widget Inc, then my contract was bought out and I become a FT employee at Blue Widget Inc. From my perspective, nothing changed other than the way I got paid, but I’m getting a lot of flack in my current job search. Recruiters/HR who are verifying my job history are acting like it’s deceptive to list 2016-2022 Blue Widget Inc, and saying I should instead list Robert Half 2016-2018 and Blue Widget Inc 2018-2022. Am I off base for thinking this is nitpicky and unnecessary?

    1. mouse*

      I got this to when I went temp-to-perm. In the end I just put a bracket after the date to make it clearer eg:

      Llama Groomer
      Llamas-R-Us
      2016 – present (2016-2018 via Recruit4You Temp Agency)

      It seemed like a faff but it avoided any accusations of dishonesty.

    2. MI Dawn*

      I had a friend with the same temp-to-hire issue. She resolved it by listing it separately:

      2016-2018 Robert Half (contracted to Blue Widget Inc) (duties)
      2018-2022 Blue Widget Inc
      In my XX years at Blue Widget Inc, both as a contractor and as an employee, I did XXXX

      1. Bagpuss*

        I’d do it this way round because it means that the dates that Blue Widget will confirm for your employment dates will match what you have set out.
        And yes, it’s irritating and picky

    3. londonedit*

      I think it’s nitpicky of them, but if you’re getting enough flak about it then it might be worth changing it to something like ‘Blue Widget Inc 2016-2022 (under the name of Robert Half 2016-18)’ just so the company change is listed somewhere.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      You can downplay it like “Blue Widget 2016-2022 (via Robert Half 2016-2018)”, but yeah, if someone calls Blue Widget HR, they are going to say you became an employee in 2018. You just want things to be as seamless as possible if you get to the stage where someone is confirming your past employment.

    5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      In that scenario, I have listed it as “2016-2022 Blue Widget”, with “Contractor through Robert Half: 2016-18” as the first supporting bullet point.

    6. Sneaky Squirrel*

      On a resume I might list it your preferred way, on a formal employment application where employment might be verified I would list it the way recruiters/hr is recommending.

      To you it’s just a change of where you got paid, but if I were a recruiter contacting Blue Widget Inc to verify your employment, there is a strong chance that Blue Widget Inc will have no record of your employment between 2016-2018 even though you were working with them through Robert Half.

    7. Peanut Hamper*

      This is not nit-picky. You were not an employee of Blue Widget for those first two years, so it is not ethical to say that you were, for all of the reasons that you point out: it does not match your actual job history.

      It is deceptive, and if I ran into this, it would raise my eyebrows about a potential candidate’s ethics and/or awareness of what a job history actually is.

      1. Temp-to-hire job history*

        I DO show as an employee for Blue Widget Inc. from the original hire date of 2016 in The Work Number. So Blue Widget does consider me an employee for the full breadth of time, at least according to my official employment history through ADP/Equifax.

        1. Can't Sit Still*

          How Blue Widget calculates seniority internally doesn’t change the fact that you were employed by Robert Half from 2016 – 2018. Conversion is a very positive sign in a candidate. The company liked you so much that they hired you! That’s great, that’s a selling point! Hiding it, well, makes you look like you have something to hide.

          1. Temp-to-hire job history*

            I may be using the wrong wording, maybe that is part of the problem. Maybe contractor is a better word than temp? I was not a Robert Half employee who happened to be sent to Blue Widget. The job listing was always directly for Blue Widget, and when I applied, they told me I had to go through Robert Half to get it.

            Just trying to make sure I am communicating clearly.

            1. Peanut Hamper*

              Who issued the paycheck? If it’s Robert Half, then you were a Robert Half employee. If it’s Blue Widget, then you were a Blue Widget employee.

              1. Betty*

                It’s not always that simple. I work for a small business that contracts with a big company to do benefits/payroll/hr stuff. Technically my paycheck and benefits are through Big Corp, but I’m an employee of Small Biz, and if you called someone to verify my employment it would be Small Biz.

                1. Retired Accountant*

                  I worked as a leased employee when my company was acquired by a non U.S. company that did not want to get in the weeds of US employment stuff. My resume lists the acquiring company as my employer, not the leasing company that issued my paycheck. (In fact I forgot all that until this moment.)

      2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        I agree that it’s not nitpicky, because they need to know where the applicant worked to check references. The rest of what you’re saying is overwrought. It’s not “deceptive” for an applicant to say what kind of work they did and where; it’s just confusing. People make mistakes or don’t have all the information sometimes, and this one seems obviously unintentional.

      3. Redaktorin*

        The ethics thing seems like a stretch. Despite the law, many companies make very little distinction between temps and regular employees. When you spent the whole time interacting with the same people in the same way while doing the same work, it seems reasonable at first glance to just say you worked for Blue Widget.

        Obviously, this doesn’t work for background checks, but it’s an understandable mistake and not some huge ethics breach.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      You are off base. You worked for Robert Half 2016 to 2018 and for Blue Widget 2018-2022. That’s what your job history is.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      People care about it because it affects how they reference check you, check dates and chase down your paperwork. I had a similar situation and phrased it Robert Half (contracted to Blue Widget Inc) 2016-2018 and Blue Widget Inc 2018-2022.

      1. Recently retired*

        Referenes. As if! In the two years I worked for Blu Widget Co. via a contracting company I never spoke to the same contracting company person twice. Other than automated timesheet reminders (and automated paychecks) I had zero contact with the contracting company for months on end. References for that job were 100% my supervisor at Blu Widget.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Sure but the automated and bureaucratic stuff is sometimes what they’re looking for. If they want a character reference or for someone to speak about your work, they’ll speak to your supervisor. If they’re just checking the dates and paper trail outside of names you’ve given them they’ll be going straight to HR admin, to someone who doesn’t know you. If that person tries looking you up in the system as a permanent employee, on dates when you weren’t, it will look like you’re lying about you’re dates.

  9. Please leave a message after the beep*

    Recruiters / Hiring Managers:

    How do you handle job candidates with just terrible phone etiquette?

    I work in HR for a blue collar environment. As part of that I handle hiring, primarily entry or mid-level jobs. Increasingly, I am having candidates who after I emailed asking for their availability for a phone screen instead call me. And call me. And call me. For example, I just had someone who called 6 times while I was in a half hour meeting.

    I’m not sure how to handle these. On one hand, phone etiquette has nothing to do with the job so I don’t want to just dismiss them. On the other hand, it just seems so rude. How do I think anything other than “you’re the one who called me 23 times in 24 hours without leaving a single voicemail”*

    * I know it’s petty but I wasn’t away from my desk and could’ve answered one of those but after the first few when I was away, I kinda just wanted to see how many times they’d call before leaving a flipping message.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Personally, I’d reply to the email again and say very blandly. “I see you tried to call me. Please pick from the following times to schedule an appointment.” and then offer your own availability instead of asking for theirs.

      I know it’s annoying and your pettiness would also be my first reaction, but I can also see how asking for their availability might make someone who doesn’t do a lot of this kind of “professional” exchange think the ball is in their court and they should just call. Switching to offering appointment times proactively might head it off a bit.

    2. Gyne*

      Oooof, I think if they’re not yet your employees it really isn’t in your scope to teach them professional norms. I’d just follow up with them and say thanks for applying, but you won’t be moving forward with their application. Or whatever you do when you notify people who aren’t selected for a job.

      Phones really are not new and aren’t really the province of white collar roles, so repeatedly calling feels different to me than, say, an email with poor grammar or overly casual language, which I would be more easily able to overlook.

      1. amoeba*

        Hm, I don’t know – I mean, I’d probably just write an email instead of calling, but if I did call, I’d also rather try again than leave a message. Like, similar to a doctor’s office or certain public offices – at least hereabouts there’s no sense in leaving a voicemail, you have to keep calling until you finally reach somebody. So I could definitely see them proceeding like that!

        I’d either just call them back or email again like suggested above.

        1. ecnaseener*

          When you’re calling someone’s direct line, it really reads as so rude to call and call and never leave a message. Like you won’t bother to take 30 seconds to tell me what you’re calling about so I can look into it and call back when I have time, but you’re fine with interrupting my work over and over.

    3. Rex Libris*

      Assuming the directions were fairly explicit, meaning your email stated please respond to this email, or please leave a message at x number, it would probably take them out of the running for me.

      It’s not really about phone etiquette. I mean, if they can’t follow a very simple first instruction, I’d be dubious about them following any others. It would read to me as either they’re A)unable/unwilling to follow directions or B)excessively pushy/attached to doing things their way.

    4. ursula*

      I would mentally flag that it as a potential issue, but not a determinative one. And then observe their other behaviours closely in the interview – if it forms part of a pattern, then it’s bad. If there are no other weird signs, then maybe it’s just a quirk or inexperience.
      However!! I think your two examples – calling 6 times in a half hour, and calling 23 times in 24h without leaving a message – are both objectively obnoxious and signs that someone has weird and bad judgment. Perhaps I am being too harsh as someone who hates the phone, but…. yeah, I don’t know.

    5. Are they desperate*

      Not to excuse it, but maybe these people are absolutely desperate for the job

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I am also inclined to give the benefit of the doubt. I know some industries are thriving for employees and job seekers right now – but a lot aren’t.

        1. Be Gneiss*

          Especially entry-level blue collar jobs. I think if our manufacturing team found out that our HR people were passing up on interviewing available and interested workers because they had annoying phone etiquette, they’d be understandably upset. Being chronically short-staffed on the production line is at least as annoying as having your phone ring too many times.

          Maybe it’s not the point – and I’m as petty as the next person – but if I was trying to get a job and found out the HR person was sitting and watching their phone ring and laughing at me… ew.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I agree with your last paragraph, but on the other side if someone was actively annoying me I’m not sure that’s the mindset I’d want to enter a phone screen with. Especially in a situation like this where I’m not 100% sure how much this kind of etiquette matters or how I’d address it. I appreciate OP taking a breath and asking for advice, that’s probably more fair in the end.

          2. Please leave a message after the beep*

            For what it’s worth, I’m not “sitting and watching…and laughing”. I’m actively working on things that I would set aside if it was my boss, or the production manager, or that candidate I’ve been playing phone tag with. Is it worth breaking my concentration for person who I don’t even know who they are without trying to match the phone number each resume?

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              “I could have answered but I kinda just wanted to see how many times they’d call before leaving a flipping message.” does read more on the sitting and laughing side than the too busy to answer side. You acknowledge it as petty and as I said above I’d much rather someone take a breath and ask for advice once you’re at that point…but if a job seeker or colleague learned you handled it that way it would not reflect well on you.

              1. OldBag*

                Really? to me that phrasing reads as being infuriated and aggravated. Not remotely “laughing”. I’d be borderline angry at such behaviour. It shows clearly the person cannot follow the most simple and basic instructions, and I cannot imagine working with anyone in any means, physical warehouse work or office work, who was so obstuse as to not realize how intrusive and annoying it is to call that many times in a short time frame and never leave a message (especially after being told to do something else entirely).

    6. Lissa Evans*

      As someone who also doesn’t like talking on the phone or people who don’t follow directions about emailing vs calling, I would still ask if you will be removing really valuable candidates from contention for a job that is unrelated. If these are blue collar jobs, and you get someone old school who calls a million times so they can talk to you directly, but they are also extremely skilled and experienced at that job, wouldn’t it be worth it?

    7. kiki*

      If it were me, I might double check my messaging to make sure there’s nothing about the email I’ve sent that’s unclear (like, if they are somehow getting the impression that you want the phone screen to happen in that day or in that moment). That’s probably not the case, so in milder cases I assume some of this is just poor etiquette/ lack of understanding of norms. But somebody calling 23 times within 24 hours or 6 times within a half hour seems wildly out of sync with expectations. Unless you know they’re a stellar candidate, I think it actually safe to exclude them from the running. That amount of calling back conveys a lack of patience and, to be honest, poor problem solving skills? Like, if you’ve tried calling somebody a couple times, you should think that leaving a message or sending an email is a better plan than sending 20+ messages throughout the day.

      1. cabbagepants*

        I agree with this. Best case, if this person is hired their new manager will have to train them on How To Be.

    8. theletter*

      What if you made the process much more anonymous on your end until they pass the phone screen? You could send them a google form from a generic comepany email address (like ‘recruiting@MyComp.com’) and make it clear that YOU will call THEM at the number they provide at the appointed time. Do not provide them with a number to call you.

    9. cabbagepants*

      Maybe I missed it in your post but how are these people getting your number? I’d set up some kind of firewall where people literally cannot call you first and you have to be the one to place the call.

      1. Please leave a message after the beep*

        It’s in my signature. I have current employees who are really, really not technology people so I’m hesitant to remove it completely.

        1. Nesprin*

          Outlook allows you to setup a separate signature for inside communications and outside communications.

          That or setup a google voice number for recruitment.

          1. Ama*

            Yes or just a separate signature option — I have one titled “no phone” that I use when I’m responding to grant applicants asking questions (as they do some of the same behaviors noted here — although weirdly they will often leave messages, but they’ll leave the same message between 5 pm and 9 am the next day or over the weekend, like I’m supposed to be a 24/7 hotline).

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Try labeling that number as voicemail instead of phone. It’s subtle, but it preps the caller to leave a message.

    10. Can't Sit Still*

      Lots of people now believe it’s rude to leave voicemail, so they call back repeatedly instead.
      Therefore, you need to give them explicit instructions on how to respond to your email. Either ask them to leave you a voicemail when/if they call or to only respond to you using email.

    11. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      If your message is not explicit, I’d make it explicit.

      E.g. If your email says “Please respond to set up a phone screening,” say “Please email your availability for a phone screen by responding to this message. No phone calls, please.”

      My guess is they are calling in order to get the earliest available slot to better their odds of getting the job.

    12. AnonRN*

      Just speculating, but does your outgoing voicemail clearly identify you or is it a generic message? Calling 6 times in 30 minutes is what I would do if I was hoping to catch someone at their desk and they didn’t have voicemail. Callers might not realize they’re calling your & direct line with a mailbox dedicated to you and instead think they are, like calling the factory floor and the mailbox will never get checked.

    13. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Some blue collar workers are self-conscious about e-mail and other written communication because they have lower literacy skills, and prefer other forms of communication. “Avaiability for a phone screen” might be a phrase they’re not familiar with – can’t you be less stuffy and ask “”When is a good time for you to talk with Manager X by phone?” Your phrasing and expectations seem perhaps a little classist.

    14. Ellis Bell*

      Personally, I loathe people leaving me a voicemail (I call back every number that calls me without listening to it and ultimately disabled it) and I’ve only ever worked in industries where it was desirable to speak with people as soon as possible. I completely see why you would prefer the waiting for an appointment system, but I don’t think it’s the obvious etiquette you think it is. At least, it’s not obvious to this demographic you’re dealing with. I think you can probably make it more obvious to them, what the set up is. I know you’ve emailed asking for availability, but when you’ve included your number as well, that just reads like you want to speak over the phone whenever they are next free. Why provide a number you don’t want people to use? You also can’t rely on non office workers using email. I can tell you as a teacher a significant number of very hard working people with dyslexia will never feel confident about a written medium being their first impression. I would either request their number, removing your own from the communications, or I would provide a daily time when you’re reachable and warn them that your phone is switched off for meetings at other times. Explicitly say you monitor your voicemail and will call them at that time, too. Too many people in less desirable jobs get used to their communications being lost or ignored. Simply letting people know you’re unavailable and hard to reach at X time, but that you’re reachable at y time, will cut out a lot of this; the constant calling is because you seem hard to reach and these people don’t know when the best time to catch you is.

  10. Eldritch Office Worker*

    Can someone who understands the nuance of educational systems better than I help me out?

    My husband was offered severance from a private school teaching gig and the letter includes a confidentiality clause. In my world, that’s a no-no now because of the NRLB rulings earlier this year on NDAs. I know NRLB doesn’t usually cover public school teachers – but does it cover private school teachers? I’m trying to help him navigate this.

    (We are speaking to a lawyer I’m just hoping to set my expectations/crowdsource some wisdom)

    1. sleepy professor*

      Can you elaborate on the contents of the confidentiality clause? Is it just reiterating that typical privacy and confidentiality regulations over student records (e.g. FERPA) apply after leaving the position or are they asking for something more?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        “any and all information not generally known to others” is the language used.

        Which is broader than I can even wrap my head around tbh. It goes on to specify “but not limited to …. ADA, HIPAA, employee confidentiality…” and then something that sounds a lot like non-disparagement but is a little more loosely worded than others I’ve seen. I’ve seen a lot of severance agreements and it doesn’t sit in my gut right.

        1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

          These are typically to protect from PR problems, is the severance related to something that is going on at the school that could result in poor public opinion of the institution if revealed?

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            That argument could be made, but not overtly. We’re not talking about discrimination or (current) union-busting – more like crappy practices that probably matter more to fellow teachers than the community at large. Nothing the news would pick up, but this place is sensitive about image.

        2. Glomarization, Esq.*

          Without knowing more, that sounds unenforceable, yeah. However, it’s better to never sign an unenforceable contract in the first place, rather than sign it and end up having to defend oneself in a lawsuit. Hope he can work out a solution!

        3. Cj*

          I’m not sure what they’re trying to get at with some of this wording.

          for instance, regarding the ADA – has the school violated this in some way and they’re worried about it getting out? if that’s the case, it’s probably something people *should* be talking about. or do they not want your spouse to discuss accommodations that they or other employees have? I don’t think you should be prevented from talking about your own ADA accommodations, but I don’t think it’s ethical to be discussing other people’s accommodations whether you have an NDA or not.

          why are they even mentioning HIPAA, when it doesn’t apply to the school since they are not health care providers (other than maybe the school nurse)? if they mean you can’t disclose information that would be covered under HIPAA if it applied to them, then that is the way they should word it. if they don’t understand what HIPAA actually is and who it applies to, that would concern me.

          what do they mean by employee confidentiality? if you know something about employees that needed to be kept confidential while you were working there, like if you’re in HR (which your spouse is not), you should still keep it confidential after you’re gone. on the other hand, if they’re talking about things like not being able to give former co-workers references because you would be revealing information about their work performance, or disclosing employees salaries that were freely shared with you with no expectation of privacy, that is not okay.

          I think the not making disparaging remarks is the most troublesome, both because of the recent ruling, and because it seems to be the thing you would most likely get sued over for violating. it’s pretty normal conversation to say things like that teacher sucks or something similar, including while you’re still working there. it would be even more tempting/likely to do so after you’re gone.

          unless these questions, as well as any other that might come up, were answered to my satisfaction, I would be extremely hesitant to sign it. even if they had good answers for some of the things I mentioned above, I’d worry about the disparagement clause, and how broadly the agreement is written.

          I had to sign an NDA years ago in relation to a settlement I received from my former employer after I got fired, and my firing was a violation of FMLA. Not only was I forbidden from telling anyone I got a settlement and why, I was forbidden from even saying there was an NDA. which was really fun when future potential employers asked me why I left that job. I couldn’t even say I can’t discuss it because I have a non-disclosure agreement. it’s been long enough now that I no longer get that that question about that job, but it really did suck for a while.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      The NLRA (the law itself) covers private employers, so a private school is likely subject to the provisions of the NLRA.

      Per the recent guidance, a confidentiality clause may be enforceable if it concerns proprietary information or trade secrets, and if the clause is narrowly tailored to protect the employer’s interests in the information or secrets. Or the employer could offer the employee a larger payment specifically in exchange for their reciprocal promise not to talk about or disparage the employer. Otherwise, the employer will have an uphill battle to win if this goes to court.

      If your husband signs, and if the case goes to court, then, yeah, he may prevail. But it will be expensive to go to court, even if he wins and even if the loser pays his costs and fees. Maybe he’d have success here by pointing out to the school that he thinks the clause will be unenforceable, hand him a copy of the guidance (search terms: non-compete agreements that Violate the National Labor Relations Act Memorandum GC 23-08) so how about they ctrl-X that clause before everybody signs.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      NDAs aren’t okay? I thought it was non-competes, which I understood to be different.

      Non-disclosure agreement: you can’t disclose our private proprietary information.
      Non-compete: you can’t work for any competitor

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        As of this spring they ruled against NDAs and non-disparagements. There’s some nuance there-in, but it’s not about non-competes.

    4. Rara Avis*

      Private school teacher. My contract includes language about not sharing confidential information about students (medical, behavioral, grades, etc.) while we are employed and after. It also says if we leave we can’t recruit former colleagues or students to leave the school and follow us to our new place of employment (for a year, I think?) I don’t know anything about whether it’s enforceable or not.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        No contract here. Standard at-will job offer like you’d see in the private sector.

    5. Dumpster Fire*

      I’d suggest that, in addition to the usual non-disparagement expectations and not talking about confidential student or personnel stuff, it might also include any curricular materials that were developed within that school or school system.

    6. Cj*

      I’m not sure what they’re trying to get at with some of this wording.

      for instance, regarding the ADA – has the school violated this in some way and they’re worried about it getting out? if that’s the case, it’s probably something people *should* be talking about. or do they not want your spouse to discuss accommodations that they or other employees have? I don’t think you should be prevented from talking about your own ADA accommodations, but I don’t think it’s ethical to be discussing other people’s accommodations whether you have an NDA or not.

      why are they even mentioning HIPAA, when it doesn’t apply to the school since they are not health care providers (other than maybe the school nurse)? if they mean you can’t disclose information that would be covered under HIPAA if it applied to them, then that is the way they should word it. if they don’t understand what HIPAA actually is and who it applies to, that would concern me.

      what do they mean by employee confidentiality? if you know something about employees that needed to be kept confidential while you were working there, like if you’re in HR (which your spouse is not), you should still keep it confidential after you’re gone. on the other hand, if they’re talking about things like not being able to give former co-workers references because you would be revealing information about their work performance, or disclosing employees salaries that were freely shared with you with no expectation of privacy, that is not okay.

      I think the not making disparaging remarks is the most troublesome, both because of the recent ruling, and because it seems to be the thing you would most likely get sued over for violating. it’s pretty normal conversation to say things like that teacher sucks or something similar, including while you’re still working there. it would be even more tempting/likely to do so after you’re gone.

      unless these questions, as well as any other that might come up, were answered to my satisfaction, I would be extremely hesitant to sign it. even if they had good answers for some of the things I mentioned above, I’d worry about the disparagement clause, and how broadly the agreement is written.

      I had to sign an NDA years ago in relation to a settlement I received from my former employer after I got fired, and my firing was a violation of FMLA. Not only was I forbidden from telling anyone I got a settlement and why, I was forbidden from even saying there was an NDA. which was really fun when future potential employers asked me why I left that job. I couldn’t even say I can’t discuss it because I have a non-disclosure agreement. it’s been long enough now that I no longer get that that question about that job, but it really did suck for a while.

  11. Elle*

    I’m looking for advice from those who do live, virtual trainings. How do you track attentiveness? I use Go to Webinar and post questions throughout the training to ensure people are there and understanding the material. I know Go to tracks if people have other computer windows open but is it condescending to say this to attendees? If it helps I’m training people how to use software. They need to take my training to get access.
    Personally it stinks to do a training and see that several people are not paying attention. I try to make it as interactive as possible but it’s not the most exciting material in the world and people are busy.

    1. Tuckerman*

      When you attend meetings, what leads you to keeping just the meeting browser open and 100% focused on the training? That might be a good place to start.

      Do they really need to be 100% focused on the training (like, are they constantly coming to you afterwards with questions you covered in the training or do people generally adopt it pretty seamlessly?)

      And does it really need to be a live training? Vs. recorded video or short manual?

      In my experience, I’m fully engaged when I feel I can contribute and I’m interested in contributing, or learning about something that is relevant to how I use the technology. I rarely have an entire training where I’m not zoned out at some point because that information isn’t useful for me.

      1. Elle*

        My bosses want the training to be live so I’m stuck there. The training is showing them how to use the software and I make the best effort to keep it to information they need to know to get the job done. I pause after every section to see if there’s questions and ask those review questions. Following the training people do ask questions on how to do stuff, which is fine but some of it is very obvious and covered a couple of times in the session to ensure it’s understood.
        Is it wrong to not give access to the software if I can see people are not paying attention?

        1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

          If you have concerns about the actual real-world consequences of them not paying attention, like violating laws, harming people, then yes, it’s worth flagging the issues and holding off on access until they can pass a test indicating they will not cause harm.

          If it’s just that it’ll take people longer to figure out how to use the software once they get hands-on with it, no, you shouldn’t deny access just to apply the most rigid application of a “rule”. People are adults and should have what they need to do their jobs. I have fought to keep my team from using certification as a barrier for other teams to use software that they’re perfectly capable of figuring out as they use it, even if they can’t pass a test on it going into it. No one will die if they have to refer to documentation and click around a little longer before they figure out how to export the TPS reports.

          If you’re concerned that you’ll keep having to field questions after the training–that’s what documentation is for. Even for people who were paying 100% attention, they should have a written manual they can refer to later.

        2. Sparkle Llama*

          Are the trainees internal to your company? If so you could have supervisors be clear that they don’t expect/want people replying to email, working on other things during the training.

    2. Stephanie*

      I’ve had trainings where the presenter will send out poll questions. That can help keep people from multitasking too hard. I wouldn’t go too crazy with it — I had a training where we had a question a minute (and we were required to answer all 75 questions) and it was awful.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Jeez how does that even work logistically? Do they just not move forward until everyone answers? How do they do that and keep that pace? That seems like a nightmare from all angles.

        1. Stephanie*

          We used Slido. It’s decent in theory, but a question a minute was overkill. I was like barely able to even go to the bathroom during this training haha.

      2. sleepy professor*

        That sounds like too many questions, but I use tools like slido or poll everywhere in my classrooms to monitor engagement and understanding, and they can be really helpful!

        1. Stephanie*

          Yup, we used Slido! I think it was useful in theory, they just went too hard on the Slido.

      3. Elle*

        This would give me so much anxiety. I do five to eight questions over an hour depending on how things are going.

    3. Alex*

      Wow, I *always* have multiple computer windows open no matter what I’m doing, so I wouldn’t take that as a sign that they aren’t getting what they need out of the training.

      Are you being held accountable for their attentiveness? If not, I’d be tempted to let it go. These are grown ups and if they want to F*** around in their training, they will reap the consequences of that later.

      On the other hand, I find I learn best when there’s a story. So if you are demonstrating software, is there some way you can make it about an example that you can go through, and then ask questions to your trainees? Like, say, the example is an apple farm and how they would use the software. “Ok, so here we input the data about the apples. Can anyone tell me how to change the apple variety?” or “Oh no, we’ve had a big storm and lost some of our apples. How do we put that into the system?” If you are looking for ways to engage, that would be my tip.

      I think using tricks to make your trainings a bit more dynamic and with audience participation would be a better use of your energy than tracking whether or not people are actually being attentive.

      1. Elle*

        I do have a story to build the training around with real life trouble shooting examples based on questions I frequently get. My bosses would like to hold people accountable but I’m not sure there’s a good way to go about saying that to attendees. It makes me uncomfortable.

      2. CTT*

        Yeah, I LEAD a webinar training and had multiple windows open because I had work I’d stopped in the middle of and didn’t want to have to go through the rigmarole of re-opening a bunch of documents. I don’t think that’s the smoking gun that the software thinks it is.

    4. M_Lynn*

      I’m a trainer. I think you shouldn’t track this. It sounds like the requirement is that people attend the training and then get access. Setting up punitive measures would be circumventing the established process, and as you note, there is no way to actually measure attentiveness. If there is an indication that after the training, your staff don’t have the knowledge/skills to use the software, that’s a separate issue. In that case, it’s about the participants skills, and not their attentiveness. Training efforts are most effective when they benefit the participant and help them do their job better. Their attentiveness is only a proxy measure for what really matters.

      As the trainer, I encourage you to just accept that some folks may be multitasking and let it go. Keep your focus on the goal (their knowledge and skills) and not their behavior, which only affects you.

      1. Elle*

        Thanks for this! That’s a great way of framing it. I also think mentioning attentiveness starts the training off with a negative vibe.

        1. nope*

          As someone with ADHD, mentioning attentiveness would cause me to focus ALL my attention on maintaining my facial expressions, nodding when appropriate, etc.

          Which means that I won’t learn a single thing, bc my brain power is being used on looking like I’m paying attention instead of actually processing your training.

          1. Tired*

            Me too! I listen much better with other things going on – I play a simple game or crochet or whatever, also track & respond to email – most training is too slow to keep my attention, & I much prefer documentation so I can hop around & use it when I need it. My employer uses a lot of video trainings which I can’t speed up (how I usually cope with video) or in person where I’m far more concerned about the facial/relational stuff & can barely listen… maybe some of your attendees are just doing the best they can to take in info in a mode that doesn’t suit their brains?

    5. uncivil servant*

      It’s hard when you can’t give them access first. I take it there’s no training environment on the software? I find that when I get software training I just make note of all the things I can and should be able to do, then figure out how to do them once I get my hands on the product. But I’m very careful not to go back to the trainer and ask for a new training once I get started!

      A session that allows me to complete small tasks at the end of sections is really helpful. Somewhere between “now click here” and “go do your job.”

      What’s your boss’s standing with the participants? If they’re so concerned about people not paying attention, are they able to give a polite warning to the participants’ bosses that follow up training is limited so they need to ensure they understand basic tasks following the session?

      I don’t want to make it sound like I think the problem is your training – not absorbing training perfectly is one thing, but not paying attention at all is another.

    6. Monty Burns*

      I can tell you what helped me as a student. Years ago I had to take a bunch of software training for an HR/business intelligence software, and we had little assignments throughout the live class where we actually used the software to complete specified tasks. The tasks would build on each other throughout the class, so if by the time you got to the end your product didn’t look like the instructor’s, then you had a chance to troubleshoot and ask questions to see where you went wrong. Is it possible to have them interact with a sandbox or live version of the software DURING the class for activities?

      I actually teach live virtual trainings myself on a regular basis (management type training), and our strategies to help with engagement include *strongly encouraging* everyone to have their webcam on, encouraging people to unmute and speak when asking questions and participating in discussion, and peppering polls, break out groups, and other interactive exercises throughout the training. However, I’m not sure if Go to Webinar allows people to have cameras and such (we use Zoom for our trainings).

    7. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I haaaaate that tracking other windows thing! Once had a horrible boss who would call you out in the meeting if GTM wasn’t your active window. She once asked me something in a meeting and I said “I don’t know that off the top of my head, but I’ll look it upright now”
      And while I was looking it up in the spreadsheet, she chastised me for being “distracted” because the meeting wasn’t my active window!

    8. Nightengale*

      I can’t really learn to use software through any kind of video interface (live or recorded) because I can’t follow moving things on a screen and also have difficulty integrating verbal and visual information at the same time. So if I had to sit through a live training I would probably have other windows open trying to find the information in a way that is not moving. If the slides are provided (and please please please provide slides ahead of time) then I will be reading the slides rather than looking at the screen.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, me too. I have some verbal processing issues that mean that anything I see/read will always trump anything I hear. Live trainings are bearable if there are opportunities to ask questions, but I despise video trainings.

        I learn best by reading, and then by doing. Having to prove I know a piece of software before being able to try it would be a nightmare for me, I’d much prefer a training/demo environment to show I’ve learned something.

        And yeah, I’d hate to be policed for how I’m paying attention to a training.

  12. Treetop*

    Yesterday while I was making my lunch, I was talking with another coworker. She was showing me something on her phone. We were discussing a situation that happened at work the previous day.

    The manager “Mary” who is not my manager, but works in my department, came over and started talking to me. “Mmm your food looks good!” right in the middle of my conversation with my coworker.

    Whenever I am talking with someone, Mary always has to inject herself into the conversation. I’m not sure if she is nosy and wants to know what we’re talking about, if she’s insecure and thinks we’re talking about her, etc.

    Regardless, I find it rude and annoying. I have never done this to her. I talk during my lunch and breaks, so it’s not all the time or interrupting my work flow. (I’m not slacking off.)

    It’s confusing because Mary and some others call me quiet and say I need to talk more, but then seem upset when I do. I don’t get it.

    How do I handle this when it happens? Is there a polite way to deal with this?

    1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      This sounds clique-y on Mary’s part. Am I correct that she’s only upset about you being quiet because you’re not talking *to her*?
      For the example you provided, I would have given a bland thanks and then gone right back to your conversation with your coworker.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      It’s not actual a social faux pas to make a passing comment like Mary made? Not sure why you are treating it as if she committed a big no-no. Just say “thanks, took forever to cook” or “thanks, got it at Maxine’s” then go back to work or throw on a “we were just talking about how data from the third party is missing fields” or whatever the discussion is.

      Calling someone quiet = “I’ve been struggling to get them to engage with me”

      Only mechanism to deal with this is proactively include Mary in conversations instead of making her think up ways to include herself

      1. Treetop*

        Why do I need to always include her when she never includes me. Plus she only seems to talk to me when others are around. Otherwise she ignores me.

        1. Nea*

          Interesting – that suggests that she’s making a point of being seen talking to you (and/or interrupting your conversations) rather than trying to make some kind of connection when the two of you are alone.

          I think you’re safest just saying something in a polite-to-neutral tone that gives Mary the shortest possible answer – “Yes, I’m looking forward to this lunch” and then go back to your original conversation.

          If you feel that Mary is trying to stop your original conversation, you could go with “Thank you but also excuse me, I need to keep talking about llama wrangling after yesterday’s stampede” or whatever.

          1. Nea*

            Alternative script: “Thank you and I’ll be happy to talk to you about meals later, but first I need to finish this conversation about llama wrangling…”

        2. Prospect Gone Bad*

          She tries talking to you but “never includes” you? that’s confusing to read? What situations do you feel left out of? Maybe she is expecting you to join whatever situation or conversation you are referring to? TBH it now seems like you have a personal beef with Mary. I’ve been in an open office for 12 years and people do all sorts of things that get labelled as big no-nos by people online, but no one actually cares, because we’ve generally gotten along. If you are this annoyed that Mary didn’t include you in a conversation, but you also didn’t put any effort into joining the conversation, maybe it’s more the principle of her not including you than you actually wanting to join it? Which may be annoying you more than it should since you just don’t like Mary?

          1. Treetop*

            Mary only talks to me if others are around like she wants to be seen talking to me. If I’m at my desk alone with no one else around, she won’t talk to me.

            Once I tried to chime in during her conversation with a colleague and she seemed annoyed so I stopped. (We all sit in a small room together.)

        3. Ellis Bell*

          Mary is a group talker, you are a one on one talker. She wasn’t upset that you were talking to your colleague, she was happy to see you both together and that’s why she joined in. However, because you a one on one talker you perceived this as rude and thought she was making some kind of annoyed statement. If you want Mary to have one on conversations with you instead, you’ll have to initiate them, because that type of conversation is your preference, not hers. She was trying to initiate group conversation because that’s her preference. You don’t have to accept what she’s initiating though: you can just say “Thanks, I think it looks good too!” and go right back and continue your conversation with the colleague. Or you could try: “Thanks! I was just talking about that situation the other day with Cagney; what’s your take on it?” if you feel you do want to accept the group conversation she’s offering. I think you might have to accept that people will try to join in conversation if it’s happening in a social area; some people really enjoy talking as a group and putting all their social energy into multiple people at once. However your preference is far from rare, and people should be able to pick up on hints that you’re actually just talking one on one if you don’t respond eagerly to small overtures from others.

          1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

            I’ve never thought about “group talker” versus “one-on-one” talker, but this framework explains a lot!

      2. kiki*

        It sounds like Mary is interjecting a derailing a conversation LW is actively in with a coworker while one of them is talking. That’s a bit rude , in my opinion. Especially if it’s happening frequently and not an occasional, “Oh I just smelled this exquisitely delicious meal and couldn’t contain myself, but sorry keep talking” type of comment

  13. practical necromancy*

    I am struggling working with a project manager in our creative department, and I need advice on how to proceed. The project we are collaborating on was launched in January and supposed to launch in May. Now its July. They missed deadlines without updating us, hired a vendor and didn’t tell us, fired the vendor and didn’t tell us, and ultimately didn’t incorporate the key features we asked for multiple times (from the start).

    A few weeks ago, we were finally told that we weren’t getting those key features and those goals would become “wishlist” items for post-launch. They wouldn’t take accountability and kept saying that it was “disappointing” things didn’t work out with the vendor. I told them that wasn’t as disappointing as the lack of communication, because if they had just talked to us, we could have used our own vendor MONTHS ago.

    Since then, they have hustled to get things done, but the project manager is giving us too-quick deadlines to review the work, and last week was expecting a 1-day turnaround for notes (the Friday before the big holiday weekend AND while we had an event). We are also wrapping up the fiscal year and do not have the same availability. I explained this and said we could extend the deadline to accommodate our schedules (and their team) and was met with radio silence. And frankly, I don’t want what should have been months of work rushed into two weeks!

    Any tips for getting me through this next month/month(s)? At this point, I dread interacting, and I don’t trust their expertise.

    1. longtimeHR*

      can you go over their head and discuss with their manager? I would share, factually, all that’s happened and ask how this will get resolved.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I agree – it sounds like the project manager is failing at their job and making their self-made emergency your problem. I don’t know that there’s anything you can do now if they’ve been unresponsive for months, other than escalate it.

      2. The Araucana*

        I agree with longtimeHR. I had to recently flag a disastrous project with our creative department. (Maybe we work for the same company?) Thanks to my email records, I was able to provide a detailed timeline of the project issues. When you escalate, the important part is to stay factual and not introduce emotion into it! My bullet points were things like: “[DATE] – Check in email sent to PM about project status; [DATE] – Update from PM that they are doing X and expect to deliver Y on [DATE]; [DATE] – Meeting with PM about issues A, B and C.” It looked pretty bad with all the facts arranged chronologically, and I didn’t have to explain how mad I was since the facts were so clear.

        In the future, if I were you, I would definitely start making sure I was documenting everything and trying to keep most communication on email for record-keeping.

    2. juneybug*

      I am all about bringing things out in the open so here is a game plan that might work for you –
      1. Meet with the other project manager and discuss current problems, how the two teams can work together in the future, best ways to communicate, etc.
      I would not discuss how her mistakes/poor planning affected your team because I don’t think that will motivate her to do better.
      2. Document, document, document the issues to cover your assets (because you don’t know what she is telling her boss or others).
      3. Bring this to your boss’ attention if the problems continue.
      4. Let your team know what you are doing so this doesn’t tank their morale.
      5. Repeat steps 2 – 4.
      If you want to go the snarky route, you could hang up a project status board in a public area. But you have been professional so far so ignore my inner 12 year mean girl.
      Good luck!!

  14. Lady Maybe-Plumber*

    I’m young and female and got good grades, so everyone assumes I want to make a career out of doing knowledge work. But I’m actually much, much more interested in blue collar jobs. My brother, for instance, is a plumber, and the physicality and high/stable pay of that “genre” of career really appeal to me.

    Because I’ve been dissuaded from that sort of job for my entire life (“why would a good girl like you want to do HVAC repair?”) I have no idea what the landscape for “trade school” jobs is, and in particular which if any of them are not totally hostile towards women. Is there a particular job of that ilk that isn’t in my mental map of the blue collar world that would actually be very inviting towards someone like me?

    1. Ranon*

      Arborist? The arborist that does our trees has a number of women employees, both doing the hanging from the tree work and the business/ treatments side

      1. Sloan*

        I was thinking the landscaping designer too. It’s very in-demand where I am at least.

    2. ruthling*

      Drinking water treatment seems to have more women than wastewater, plumbing and other trades. But it’s not a job where you can make your own clients/hours. Check out the literature of trade schools, and see which feature any girls or women on their materials. Maybe even call some women who advertise in trades and see if they’d be willing to talk to you.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I was skimming and absent context, “more women than wastewater” jumped out to me as a particularly entertaining phrase. :)

    3. Whomst*

      I don’t work in more blue collar jobs, but I have friends that do. The only times I’ve heard them complain about working with women isn’t actually specific to women. They just make fun of and dislike working with anyone who often needs help lifting/carrying things, which has unfortunately been women more than the men. I’ve heard that from the mechanics, plumbers, and general construction guys that I know. If you’re jacked, that shouldn’t be an issue, and if you’re concerned about it, I imagine that electrical or locksmithing wouldn’t require lots and lots of heavy lifting, though I’m sure there are more besides.

    4. new year, new name*

      As someone who was once told “you’re too pretty to be in construction,” I just want to say I feel you! (I was actually doing soil testing/environmental compliance at the time, albeit at a construction site — that field does have a fair amount of women, but in my experience the pay is not super great.)

      I know someone who does the measurement/design side of custom closet and bookshelf installations, which always seemed like a cool job to me. She goes around to people’s houses and figures out what kinds of things can be built to fit their spaces and budgets. While she doesn’t do the actual installation work, it is still a fairly physical job. I have no idea how well it pays, though.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I wish I could help with the accepting-of-women side. However, I’ve gotta say that on the stability/pay side the trades are really good–you can’t outsource tree removal overseas, or have it done by AI. And there’s a wave of retirements that is leaving communities short on these specialties.

    6. Feen*

      Hi, try looking online at the different programs trade schools/colleges have to offer. My son majored in Aviation Maintenance Technology and now works as an airplane/aviation mechanic. The program also included two FAA certifications (if you pass the tests (he did)). Don’t know your stage of life, but this a blend of both worlds, a 4 year degree but in a trade. Perhaps that would appeal to you.

      1. HBJ*

        For the record, it does not take a 4 yr degree to be in aviation maintenance. The A&P certificate takes one or two years of education at a CTC (depends on the program. Most programs are two year on a normal college-like schedule. One year programs are very intensive and are basically the equivalent of working full-time hours for an entire year – no summer break, spring break, etc.). Or you can do an OJT/apprentice-type route that takes longer.

        There are women in the industry, but not a lot. Women/smaller men are often desired as it makes it easier to fit into cramped spaces for certain work. It does tend to be cleaner and “nicer” than, say, being a diesel mechanic, for example.

    7. Tex*

      Think about electrical work or control systems work (in plants or for suppliers like ABB). Or try large HVAC companies (like Honeywell). The large companies are trying to attract more women, their entry training programs will have you in the field. But the ultimate goal is probably to have you take on a role that straddles office and field (overseeing projects in the field or technical sales) but you could always choose to stay out in the field.

      The other suggestion I have is to follow Matriarchy Build on instagram. They are a loose org that cobbled women owned small construction trades. Maybe some of them can offer internships or advice?

    8. Elsewise*

      My advice would be to look and see if your area has a tradeswomen organization. They can connect you to women in the trades, help you get training and certification, and often they’ll know which fields or companies are known for treating female employees well.

    9. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I have a friend who’s been an electrician for 30 years, and she’s never told me about not being accepted by customers and coworkers because of her sex. That field also rewards people with some knowledge skills, too, because there’s a lot of planning and problem resolution that goes into, eg, rewiring 5 floors of an existing office building.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        OTOH, my neighbor was a career electrician and she has tons of stories about how much bullshit she went through how much resistance she got! Yes on the planning / problem resolution — she did big commercial work and creating systems was where she excelled.

    10. Goddess47*

      My very-bright (earned a full scholarship to college type bright) finished the 4-year degree (in Math!) looked around at jobs and didn’t find anything interesting. Her younger brother said, “Hey, I’m at the community college taking machine-shop-courses and I just started and already have like six job offers”. She shrugged her shoulders, took the machine shop courses and loved it. She had the same handful of job offers before she finished, worked like no time on a ‘floor’ because of how bright she is and is now managing parts of the machining process.

      TL;DR – check out the local community college and see what kind of hands-on degrees they have, see what you think you like and go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re wasting your time. (At the very least, you can put them off with “I’ll go back to school when I’ve saved up enough money for it because I’m not taking out student loans” — which should silence like 95% of everyone.)

      Go for it and enjoy!

    11. PX*

      From experience:
      – Aviation will offer a mix of office and blue-collar type jobs and is likely to be quite open to women depending on employer and site (one of the challenges will be that while the large corporate entity may have lots of good intentions towards increasing the number of women on their sites, the ground level, day to day experience may be quite different, so if you want to get into it, do a lot of talking to people *where you are actually going to work* if you can). Also look for jobs with the FAA, not just airlines/manufacturers. Technically the military as well, but uh, not sure I really want to encourage anyone there tbh.

      – Anything environmental/plant/sustainability related – I feel like this is the most female oriented field which is both blue collar/outdoorsy and has good job opportunities

      – Carpentry – at least where I am, there are a few
      – Moving companies – same as above, there are a few female owned/only moving companies – but not sure about the pay/stability here.
      – Mechanic – I only know this from an instragram person I follow, but there are female owned/queer car repair places – probably a fairly steady field and if you find the right employer, probably a welcoming environment

    12. Lizabeth*

      Check out the This Old House website – they did a program in the past about getting young people into the trades and there was a lot of women in the show. They might have some resources you can access about it.

    13. spcepickle*

      I am a women who is a Civil Engineer – A degree in civil engineering opens lots of doors to trade adjacent. I spent a couple years as a field inspector which was great fun (and there is something about a women asking a man – tell me more about what you are doing – they will always show you, which makes reporting and inspecting easier). But with the degree I could work my way up to management (which I really love).

      There is a Women of Asphalt organization that might be a good place to start if you are interested in road building. There is also the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) if you want to talk more broadly about engineering.

      Also look into Surveying – They are DESPERATE for people right now – it is math and computer heavy (and the place many companies are putting their drone programs!) but also outside and very hands on. Because surveyors work often work by in the field by themselves or with one other person it can both be scary and means you don’t have to fit into a whole team.

      1. KeinName*

        I was going to recommend civil engineering. Met a woman once who was mid-twenties, just finished her degree, co-managing very large budget road builds, only woman in her very big company, and she was really enjoying it. Felt very proud when passing motorway bridges she was responsible for.

      2. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

        I want to also second engineering – there are a lot of subfields that are very industry-based, and you can be very hands on. My husband is a chem-e who works in plants, so while he does more of the design the system / troubleshoot the system than he does running the machines it is still pretty hands on. He has friends who went into mechanical engineering or other industry subfields of chem e (like plastics) who are also very industry based. Engineering as a whole has a rep for being a boy’s club, but it has definitely improved from what it used to be like.

    14. yesterday's giraffe*

      So, on the one hand blue collar work is always going to have a bit of a macho vibe to it, so in some sense the road won’t be perfectly inviting. I’d contact your local trade school and see if there is an association for female students, or see if you can contact one female student in each of the trades you are considering. Then do an informational interview with that student, if you can – invite them (and pay) for coffee, and see how welcomed they feel. Then see if they can put you in touch with other female students. Then see if you can find any local women working in that trade, and do the same thing.

    15. Laika*

      Just another comment of encouragement for you :) based on my grades and post-secondary success everyone (including me) assumed I’d end up doing something…idk, academicky/lawyery.

      In my 30s I went back to school at a Polytechnic, got a diploma in a trade-adjacent field, and now I work at a construction company and I love it. I am still on the office side and not on site, but from that end I can say there’s not too many issues with sexism (though there are definitely still a few, and while I’m female-presenting I’m actually non-binary but not “out” at work so there’s some weirdness there etc). I really had to work on developing a thicker skin at my workplace but to be honest I think it’s made me a better person for it

      All that said, my sister is a heavy machine operator and most of her stories about being treated differently as a woman are generally more about ineptitude/ignorance rather than open hostility.

      Good luck!!

    16. Sylvia*

      I knew two young women who were diesel mechanics. I didn’t know them well, but they seemed to like their jobs.

      I’ve owned three houses in three different cities, and in all of them it has been a problem just getting contractors to call back or show up at all. It seems like a person who returns phone calls, shows up, and gives reasonable estimates could do quite well, male or female.

    17. Aphrodite*

      Something off beat is Marine Diving Technology offered at my college employer:

      ” . . . the Marine Diving Technologies Program to continue to provide the highest quality divers and marine technicians worldwide. The program serves the needs of entry-level students as well as employees currently in the workforce. Graduates can pursue multiple marine career paths in marine and underwater technology, working above and below the water with many types of sophisticated marine data collection instruments, diving and life-supporting equipment.”

      You can find out more about it here: https://www.sbcc.edu/marinediving/

    18. Nesprin*

      If you can handle training/education, specialist trades could suit! i.e. drafting + CNC milling or high end tool and die work and electrical are the two that come to mind immediately.

    19. Angstrom*

      A machinist — mostly CNC these days — can be a good mixture of hands-on and knowledge work. It can involve the design and CAD side, process development, metallurgy, etc. There’s a lot of satisfaction in producing beautifully machined parts.
      If you want variety and problem-solving, most larger colleges and universities have a machine shop for producing experimental lab and teaching equipment for professors. You’ll rarely make the same thing twice.
      Welding can cover everything from big structural steel to very small, precise work.

    20. Bob Howard*

      You could also look at High Voltage Electrical Distribution Engineering. Mix of site & indoor work. The analysis of current flows and fault level will get very math-heavy if you like. Everywhere is renewing their networks to accomadate increased demand and the migration to solar + wind, so should be plenty of opportunities.

    21. captain5xa*

      You’re over-thinking it.

      If you decide you want a job in the trades, get one! But your attitude has to be, “I’m Lady Maybe-Plumber and I’m a plumber. (Oh, and I’m also a woman.)” And if you always think of this as “woman first, plumber second” then you’ll have more problems because people will sense that in your attitude.

      Back in the early 80s, I got into an extremely small and very, very male dominated field. (When I got my certification in my field, I was the eighth woman in the USA to do so.) I had been interested in working in this field since middle school. When I did a science project in high school about this field, I ended up speaking with a man who was the manager at a facility. I kept pestering him / asking him questions / borrowing books until he finally hired me as a technician / gofer.

      My coworkers included two men in their 60s, a man my own father’s age, and two guys about five years older than me (the two younger guys were also in training). Once they all realized that I was totally serious about learning every possible thing they could teach me, my gender ceased to be a focus. If I wasn’t working on a task, I watched the older guys and learned by watching and asking questions.

      I’ve always had that attitude. “Hi! I’m captain5xa and I’m a llama herder.” If the person says something about my gender then I say, “Yep,” and move on. Once the customer sees my skills, they don’t think much about my gender.

      Regarding being weaker / needing help as a female, I’ll relate an amusing story. Every month our facility received 20 hundred-pound bags of a material on a truck and we all were supposed to help unload it. I’m not very tall but I’m not a weakling. So I unloaded my share of the bags. After about three deliveries, one of my coworkers came to me and asked me to PLEASE! STOP! HELPING! He said that they all knew I could lift them and that they knew I was being a team player, but it made them all feel like it was a very silly thing to do since they were guys and they were taller and stronger so PLEASE STOP! I did.

      That’s my advice in a nutshell: profession first, gender second.

    22. Dragon Hoard*

      There are a lot of specialized craftsman trades that never come up when people talk about trade work and are fading out due to a lack of younger people learning the professions. I think a lot of it is due to whether or not you can easily go to school for the thing– people will often bring up things you can go to community college for or have clear certification processes, like electrical work, but trades without licensing that are primarily learned on the job through apprenticing feel less secure.

      For example, an incredibly talented tailor told me she and other tailors she knows have all been trying to find people interested in apprenticing under them for many years. mostly without success. There is a widespread concern that a knowledge is going to be lost as folks retire without having passed much on to younger tailors.

    23. Random Academic Cog*

      My daughter graduated a year early and ended up taking an opportunity to work for one of the local electric companies. They basically had her apprentice in multiple areas of a generating station, adjusting her work hours every semester around her classes (which they scheduled and paid for). When she graduated, she got a job with one of the contractors for a few months, then got a full-time position at the plant. After a few years, she switched to an office role where her first-hand knowledge of working in the field has been very helpful. Agree with some of the other responses – she definitely had to develop a thick skin working in male-dominated spaces. But she’s thriving (and making good money).

    24. Jinni*

      Would you consider becoming an airline pilot? I have women friends in that job (albeit around my age – 50s). But there’s a huge need. It combines knowledge and hands on work. And you no longer need to join the military to get training. Many airlines are offering training. Long haul offers far better pay than regional pilots and better scheduling.

  15. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    Is it normal to have infrastructure operating budget and infrastructure salary budget come from rigidly separate pots, so that if a large amount of money is saved on the infrastructure side by causing the technology to run more efficiently, that money can’t be used for a new infrastructure engineer hire for which everyone agrees there’s a documented need but no money?

    1. Admin of Sys*

      Unfortunately yes. At least everywhere I’ve worked personnel and non-personnel costs are entirely separate buckets and can never be shared. Mind you, in a good company, the buckets may be able to be readjusted for the future – but that’s very much in the realm of ‘business now shows we can expand personnel next year’ rather than ‘department x saved money and that money can now be used to hire someone’.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        Okay, thanks, good to know! We don’t even have ‘business now shows we can expand personnel next year’, which is what I was hoping to get.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Yes I think it’s fairly normal. Absolutely the rule for government.

  16. Am I The Crazy One*

    Can people share stories of workplaces where the communication is extremely passive or where there is a baffling lack of accountability?

    I just started a new job, and my last two places were like this, and I think it warped my view. Here are some ugh stories of mine for those two companies:

    – People showing up more than 10 minutes late, or not at all to mandatory meetings. If the lateness, or not showing up is reoccurring, instead of trying to determine a better time or asking why the person is late/not showing, the thought process is “it is what it is”

    – Once I had to chat “Jen” and “Jill A”, so I added Jen and Jill B in the chat. The first time, Jen and Jill B both ignored my question to them in the chat message. The second time, Jen told me I added the wrong Jill

    – I had to send a group of people (probably 4-6 people total) emails regarding the final performance of a project, I had to do this for about 5 – 6 projects. Each time, NO ONE responded. I tried making the points as simple as possible with the key points in an easy to understand way. Later on I was told I was giving too much information by a VP , and I thought, why didn’t anyone say anything? Because earlier I was told by my boss (director) I didn’t give enough information! That place was absolutely horrible for several other reasons. It was very much a place that never gave directions (even after asking), but the “correct” way would have always been told after I already did it, which was somehow always the opposite way…for example If I brought up a basic idea to my boss – “well, where are the numbers? Put some thought behind it”; and if I put together a brief written proposal before pitching her the idea – “in the future please talk to me before putting together a proposal”

    – If someone was asked to do something and they did it wrong, the task would be given to someone else, instead of correcting or training that person

    – Finding out months later I wasn’t bringing something to my boss’s attention (that she never told me). Then after asking her why she never said anything, being told I was the passive one LOL

    Or has anyone experienced something similar?

    1. Henry Division*

      Yeppp, my old job was like this. My boss was very good at vouching for his own team and having their backs, but was pretty terrible at communicating bad news / pushback / uncomfortable conversations with anyone, internal or external. So was a lot of the company.

      (I have to be vague, but I more or less worked at a recording studio.)

      Most egregious was when one weekly client was going to leave to do the same thing at a different studio when their contract with us was up. It was a better deal, etc. I knew my boss was pretty miffed about it, but he didn’t say anything . . .

      The client came in to record and nothing was set up — my boss had basically decided he wasn’t going to spend his employees’ time anymore on this client who wasn’t renewing the contract. But he hadn’t SAID anything about it to me OR the client until she arrived. He agreed to let us do one more record since everyone was already there, and while in the studio, the client said to me, “[expletive] like this is why we’re leaving.”

      It wasn’t why I left, but it definitely didn’t help keep me.

    2. Samwise*

      Some of this is bad and some of it is eehhhhh. I think the minor stuff is chapping you because of the big stuff. You need to let the minor stuff go, or at least not see it as aggressive or on purpose.

      Meetings: If they are not your reports or their presence/absence at the meeting doesn’t affect your ability to get your work done, why do you care? (that’s a real question, not snark)

      Chats: is this the main/expected way to get info from colleagues? We have chats and sometimes people don’t answer because they’re doing something else and it falls down their list of things to do. Jill B instead of Jill A — maybe no one noticed at first.

      No one responding to emailed reports: are people supposed to respond? how are they to respond — acknowledge receipt (you can put a receipt on your emails)? Specifically say, “I approve” or “Please revise section 2”?

      Task given to someone else rather than training: does this affect your ability to get your work done? are you the person getting the tasks dumped on them? If not, why do you care (again, real question)

      Now your BOSS was a piece of work and was playing nasty mind games. But you gotta let the other stuff go.

      1. Am I The Crazy One*

        Meetings: It impacts morale if you have teammates skip out on mandatory meetings that you attend, where their stuff is supposed to be talked about, and then you have to wait at least 5 minutes to see if they will join. I don’t understand why the managers find this okay behavior, or why they don’t at least have the curiosity to find a better time, or why this person isn’t attending. More of the culture where there is a lack of accountability of people doing their basic jobs

        Chats: is this the main/expected way to get info from colleagues? Yes. So you’re telling me if you messaged someone and they were the wrong person, you’d prefer them ignoring you instead of quickly saying, “I don’t handle this”?

        No one responding to emailed reports: are people supposed to respond? Well, any responsive! Any observations, questions, etc. If I’m being told to email these people and don’t hear anything, it’s a waste of my time. And then later on to be told I give too much information, that feedback would have been appreciated later on

        Task given to someone else rather than training: does this affect your ability to get your work done? are you the person getting the tasks dumped on them? Because the tasks are getting dumped on me, and again, why aren’t people being held accountable

        1. Laura Charles*

          You are assuming everyone sees things the way you do, and they don’t. I am 100% not going to automatically respond to an email that doesn’t ask any questions or doesn’t specifically request a response, and there are a LOT of people like me (I’d argue more people tend to reply less often than more).

          I have a couple of coworkers now who explicitly *want* responses to emails, even the ones that I think of as purely FYI that shouldn’t need a response. Now that I know what they want responses to everything ever sent, I make a point to send lots of “Dear X, Thanks for letting me know. Regards, Laura” responses.

          YOU need to be better at communicating. YOU are the only person who can fix this. Ask for acknowledgment responses in your emails; ask regular correspondents to reply to literally everything, whatever. If you’re not getting what you want, ask for it already; you don’t work with mind-readers.

    3. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

      This gave me flashbacks so hard I wanted to hide under my desk. It sounds so much like a place I used to work, especially the boss *shudder*. Just letting you know that you’re not alone, and you’re not alone in finding it baffling and exasperating.

      1. Ryan Howard's white suit*

        Same! It’s making my skin crawl with recognition. I am so sorry, OP. It really sucks. In my case the job was temporary with a possible path to permanent and when my boss told me it would only be through the original date I was so relieved.

    4. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Oh yes. My last company had many, many SPECIFIC ways of doing things, mostly behind-the-scenes things like access to databases, software, and that kind of thing. But no one tells you this! I was there 5 years and not once was I told I was supposed to be posting something on a sharepoint that I didn’t even have access to. Crazy. Many people were also passive-aggressive in the way you mentioned, you were never told a “right” way to do something, but were jumped on if you did it wrong after the fact. Same thing with the “we need more information and updates,” but then being told you “over-communicate and it’s too much.”

    5. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is so common in administrative roles. My entire HR slack complains about this constantly. I also hear it from finance, office management, etc.

      I think it comes down to other people’s priorities. You can’t force people to care about what you care about….but you can make ignoring you more annoying than answering you.

    6. Amber Rose*

      I got permission to do a mass renaming of all our inventory. I sent out company wide emails asking for feedback. I sent out emails with the new system. I sent out one month, two week, and one day warnings for the change.

      The change happened and people went effing nuclear in despair because they “knew nothing about it.” And I’d “ruined everything.”

    7. Anon For This One*

      Current workplace is like this. Small example:

      I received a particular certification 8 months ago; it’s required in order to get escalated system access privileges. There’s an additional agency training that is required prior to submitted the escalated privileges paperwork, which I wasn’t assigned until approx. 3 months later. (I’m a government contractor, so a government employee has to assign me the agency training. And submit the paperwork for the escalated privileges.) I completed that training within a day or two of it being assigned.

      Four months later: I’m still waiting for someone to submit the escalated privileges request. In that time, our team has had four different government employees as interim managers. None have submitted the paperwork. Current person just routes it around to another team member who is… another contractor, who just like me is unable to submit the request.

      This means we only have one person with escalated privileges on the team, so he’s the only one who can create accounts, assign permissions, and do troubleshooting. It’s ridiculous.

    8. Knighthope*

      Ah, the old managing by expecting mind-reading! My principal alerted me to a change in the test proctoring schedule, which I was fairly sure I hadn’t even been assigned to assist with. I literally had one foot in the school door, so I doubled checked when I got to my classroom and had a colleague verify. Nope, never on there. When I questioned the principal about it, she breezily and in all seriousness replied, “Oh, I guess I DREAMED you were on the original list!”

  17. Stuart Foote*

    Has anyone had any luck with dealing with stress/anxiety besides therapy (which I have done)? I worry constantly…about my career path, my job performance, my non-work goals, relationships, everything. Like, I think my career path is more or less where it should be and I’m probably in a good place, but also I can’t know for sure so maybe I should be working harder to get a better role. Likewise, my manager is pretty blunt so I’d imagine he’d tell me (likely in no uncertain terms!) if my performance is lacking, but maybe…you get the idea.

    Anyone had any luck dealing with this?

    1. Zennish*

      Mindfulness meditation worked for me, though it isn’t a quick fix. You have to keep at it until it really clicks that your thoughts aren’t actually reality, but just something your brain does. After that, it starts to get easier to realize what’s happening when you get all caught up in the thoughts, then pause and talk yourself down. In my experience, anyway.

      1. amoeba*

        Seconding meditation! Although the classic model does not work for everybody (I hear that it can actually make anxiety worse for some), for me it’s been great. I used the app headspace and after the initial basic course, I went straight for the one on anxiety in a time where I was super anxious about loads of things. I also did a meditation class at my yoga studio that was quite good.

        Also, the usual lifestyle stuff – for me most of those actually work if I manage to implement them, although I’m sure you’ve heard them before:

        – Exercise (both outdoor/cardio stuff and yoga are great, but also anything that you enjoy, for me, that’s martial arts)
        – Journaling – I like including “write 3 good things” at the end so it doesn’t just become me moaning, haha
        – Less phone/screen time (that’s a big one, actually) – when I’m anxious, it’s super hard because I use my phone to numb myself to it, but of course that makes it 100x worse in the long run. For me, a “social media fast” for a month or so is really the only way of reducing, gradually doesn’t really work.
        – Reading (just for fun) instead of screen time is a great replacement that calms me a lot!

        (And of course, at any given time, I manage probably maximum two of these at the same time, haha! But they do help me a lot if I can get myself to do them.)

      2. amoeba*

        It can actually be helpful in the moment as well! At least for me – when I had a few weeks/months that were really bad with anxiety last year, sometimes a 15 minute guided meditation on an app like headspace really calmed me. And they were, like, the only thing that worked. To have lasting effects, obviously you need to keep at it, but it definitely also brings me short term relief!

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’m always anxious. the doctor has given me medicine and that helps. There are books on ACT which are good ( right now I’m reading the happiness trap). People say you should do cardio or yoga. Yoga doesn’t help much but it’s important to stay limber so I do it

    3. Whomst*

      Here’s some basic principles to try and practice regularly that could help with your mindset:
      Stop trying to please other people.
      Stop trying to be perfect and optimize everything.
      Say NO more often.
      Stop comparing yourself to others.
      Spend more time on things you enjoy.
      Try out new things you’ve thought you might enjoy.

      Hopefully some of these are things you’ve talked about in therapy, and are easier said than done. But generally I find trying to build a better relationship and understanding of yourself is a great way to start feeling more stable emotionally. If you don’t know what you want out of life or what you’re capable of, the question “Should I be trying harder to get promoted?” is much more compelling and impossible to answer.

    4. Elsewise*

      I really hate that improving my mental health has turned me into the “try exercising! Have you done yoga? Journaling is so helpful!” person, but unfortunately, those are true. For me, it’s important that I get enough exercise (*gags, spits*). I’ve found that I get really restless and anxious if I haven’t moved my body enough. If the gym isn’t a financial option for you, there are lots of easy exercises you can do at home, or go for a run, or even just dance around a bit.

      Meditation and keeping a journal have both helped me a lot. My partner saw some advice online that was essentially when you’re feeling extremely anxious, try tightening every muscle in your body and then letting go, to convince your brain that the danger has passed. Hasn’t worked for me, but works for them. I’ve also started taking CBD to deal with acute anxiety (it’s non-psychoactive, but I’m not sure of the legality everywhere, and obviously don’t take medical advice from a stranger on the internet).

      Unfortunately, none of these are really quick fixes for long-term anxiety problems. (Honestly, not sure that anything is. Even therapy takes ages!) But it does get better with time!

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The tighten and relax is called progressive muscle relaxation. this will help op google

    5. amoeba*

      Just wrote a long comment and the site ate it!

      So, in short – yes, meditation is great (though not every form works for everybody, but mindfulness meditation is a good way to start for a lot of people). Also, all the things you already know, probably, actually work for me – exercise, fresh air, yoga, journaling, less screen/phone time (that’s a big one! I really tend to need a reset/”fast” for a month as reducing is so hard), reading more books instead…

    6. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Unfortunately there is no passive fix for this, it is only changes through active attempts to alter the thought process and ANS response to the stimulus (I am a therapist). Medications can help as serotonin is directly related to depressed and anxious mood. If there are underlying issues related to your triggers CBT, DBT, or EMDR may be helpful.

    7. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      For me, the only treatment for anxiety is action. So if I start feeling anxious about something, I have to work to address it. The only examples I can think of are for work:

      -Once every 3 to 6 months, I take on an extra “stretch” project or training course. This can be something like managing our team’s Halloween event, helping out with creating material for a different team, signing up for a minor certification or conference, etc. They don’t have to be big time commitments, just enough to remind your boss that you’re a team player and will go the extra mile (sometimes). By choosing them in advance, it also gives me the ability to pick a time frame that works for me, and gives me more leeway to turn down extra projects at times that don’t (ie I have more social capital if I’ve just done a project because now it can be someone else’s turn).
      -Create a “wins” folder where you save emails, messages, any kind of positive feedback. This is good to look at when you’re feeling inadequate (and also helpful at reminding your boss of your successes when you want to negotiate a raise).

    8. spcepickle*

      For real – Dig a hole. An actual hole in your yard or a park or something – Fill it in – Dig another hole.
      I started dealing with really bad anxiety about 5 years ago and the best thing I have found to stop the spirals is outside dirt based project. I have built a several retaining walls in my yard, done some concrete projects, and moved so much mulch around. But it helps short circuit the doom thoughts in a way nothing else did, helps me sleep, and I have a nice stop to relax in now.

      If you don’t have a yard get involved in your local community garden or trail cleaning crews.

      My therapist told me to wrap cinder blocks in ducks tape and just move them around as a back up idea.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I find weeding really helps too. I’m outside, I can see the real progress, hear the birds and just commune even if I’m still thinking anxious thoughts.
        If I have things to plant, even better! because I can dig holes too

        And maybe stop comparing yourself to some imaginary “better” people? I mean that in all kindness. We are all where we are at, in our own particular situations, and doing the best we can. Maybe make a list of why your current role is perfect for YOU?

        Good luck!!

      2. Ama*

        We bought our first house this year and I finally have a real garden (not just pots of plants struggling in an underlit apartment) — it’s amazing what the act of garden maintenance has done for my anxiety. I think it’s partially getting some fresh air but it’s also that deadheading plants or weeding takes just enough focus that it pulls me out of my head, gives me something concrete to “accomplish” (a lot of my work anxiety is triggered by things I either can’t fix or have to wait to try to fix), and reminds me that I am not my job.

    9. Fives*

      I obviously can’t do this at work but Legos and puzzles help me a lot. I was surprised how relaxing I find Lego builds. Doing either of those details my thoughts (in a good way) and redirects my mind away from the anxiety.

      1. Angstrom*

        Are there any physical tasks you can do at work? I find that if I’m getting frustrated and anxious dealing with screen stuff, it helps to go into the lab and do something physical. At the end of the day I have accomplished something tangible instead of just pixel shuffling.

      2. allathian*

        We always have a puzzle going in the break room at the office. Mindfulness doesn’t work for me, the two times I attempted it I nearly had a panic attack, so nope. Puzzles do work for me.

    10. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I had a horrible year last year with a death and horrible new manager who was sabotaging my work. Needless to say I was an anxious mess. I had never been that with anxiety before, but I was driven to get a therapist (whom I saw online) and began taking a low dose of Citalopram. The two things together really helped. The Citalopram was just enough to take the edge off the anxiety, help me sleep better, and help with the depression from the personal loss. Maybe that’s not what you want to hear though, as it’s a standard path?

      The only other things I was told by the therapist were self-guided meditation type videos, some of which did help me calm down and release anger, and the other standard of just getting outdoors and getting exercise via walks, bike rides, and the like.

    11. Lady Danbury*

      The “worry time” technique has been super helpful for me. Basically you have a set time every day to run through all of your worries in your mind. For the rest of the day, whenever a worry crosses your mind you just tuck it away for worry time. It helps because your brain knows that you’ll get back to that worry later, instead of just trying to suppress the urge to worry. It definitely takes practice but can make a huge difference once you get into it.

      1. Rex Libris*

        I’ve also had success with making worry appointments in my day planner… “Monday, 9am, worry about the X project.” I read somewhere that once you take definitive action on something, even just writing a note about it, your brain labels it as handled, and it’s easier to let go of. Works for me, anyway.

      2. Anon. Scientist*

        Related, I just accept that my brain will chew on stuff and I will wake up at 2 AM with a whole bunch of stuff I may have messed up or forgot. I get up and write it down and then I can mentally move on from it. May take a .couple sessions of going to bed, lying there 10 minutes, and thinking of something else and then getting up to write that down.

    12. LemonToast*

      One of the things that has helped me recently is crocheting. Crochet is great because I get little happy-chemical hits while I do it – I am literally seeing progress before my eyes as I make each stitch. After a couple months I reached that point of mindless flow where I don’t have to pay attention too hard to what I am doing. I would say I am almost addicted to it at this point – it’s how I relax at the end of the day, and I feel the loss when I don’t get to do it. I don’t make anything really difficult or exciting – basically just easy blankets – but it’s nice to have a low-stakes creative hobby that does not require extensive set up (like sewing), because transitions are also hard for me to get over and it adds to my anxiety to think about involved set up/tear down activities. With crochet, I just pick up the hook and go. It gets me into a better headspace to then think about all those important things. :)

    13. Redaktorin*

      Not sure if you’re still reading, but I went on a psychobiotic. (This is just a word people made up for the probiotics that show improved neurological function in trials.) Due to exceedingly weird brain and body chemistry, my daughter and I have contraindications to and horrible results on most of the prescription drugs for our condition(s), so I was pretty desperate before I tried this.

      FWIW, since I went on PS128 I sleep like a baby and have almost no intrusive thoughts about how bad I suck. The results for my mental health were so good that I stuck out a month of headaches while my body got used to the drug. Now I feel fine. The drawback is that these things are expensive and not covered by insurance at all, so I need to spend $200/month to keep my kid and myself on the only medicine that’s ever worked for us.

  18. TeenieBopper*

    Just want to thank the people who commented on my post a couple weeks ago about doing Co tractor work for an old employer. I’m still waiting on the xo. Tract, but they agreed to a rate almost 3x their initial offer. I was never going to take anywhere near the initial offer but the “your old employer doesn’t give a shit about you” and “don’t screw over other contractors by taking a low rate” comments helped steel my resolve in demanding more money.

  19. Needing More Opportunities*

    My current job and company isn’t providing the opportunities I need to keep skills current and develop. I haven’t looked outside the company yet other than a vague, passive search because there’s a reasonable chance that things will develop in the future and provide more opportunities (this is a rational possibility, not just wishful thinking), but it is dependent on how things pan out for the business.

    I have had very direct conversations with management of various levels above me and expressed my concerns. It has become clear that those opportunities aren’t there at the moment.

    If it seems like the right time to leave I will start looking, but right now that seems premature. So I want to keep my skills up to date and branch out with experience in related areas. I have been doing a lot of courses and qualifications.

    Questions:

    The company has a “second jobs and freelancing etc must be approved first” policy. Is it reasonable to ask for permission to do freelance work of the same type as I do (or should be doing) at this company and state openly that it is because I need to gain and maintain broader experience as the company isn’t providing it?

    Is it acceptable to openly use the “open to work” branding on Linked in? I have my colleagues and management as connections on there. I am open to passive opportunities and the company must surely realise that (I have also been as explicit as I can without quite saying “I’m looking”, but I’m sure it was clear).

    The company would want to retain me and probably wouldn’t say “there’s the door”, although it’s unclear what they can offer.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      It’s absolutely acceptable to request permission to freelance! They don’t say “no freelancing,” they say “ask first.” And you can show you made a good faith effort to find opportunities to do this kind of career-developing work within the company first, but that it wasn’t there. I might recommend leaving off the “open to work” branding until you get permission to freelance, and have added freelancing info to your profile. That way if your colleagues or management ask, you can say “oh, I’m open to freelancing work, which I got permission to do!”

  20. Just Here for the Cake*

    I’ve been finding that I bounce my legs a lot when I am trying to concentrate at work. It helps, especially with Zoom calls, but I also feel like I am bothering those around me when I’m in the office (its a lot of bouncing). From working in elementary classrooms before, I know there are things like kick bands, but those won’t work for the type of office chair I have. Does anyone know of any alternatives that might help?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Standing desk? One of those kneeling chairs for people with back problems?

    2. LemonToast*

      A standing desk is good, because I can stand up and wiggle my legs or move around more. Also, if you just need something to do and it doesn’t have to be your legs moving – I like to keep polished rocks with me and just play with them. I love how they feel and it’s soothing to just play with one in my hands, especially when I’m trying to focus on a meeting. It’s those little rocks you find at all the museums and stuff where you can fill a bag for a few dollars. They are a lot less noticeable then things like fidget spinners, and they are also silent.

    3. Sparkle Llama*

      I shared a cube wall with a knee bouncer and putting a pillow under his foot was super helpful.

    4. Anon. Scientist*

      Hopeless leg jiggler here, particularly if I’m concentrating and then it’s unconscious (I come home thinking, man, my leg is tired). Find something solid that’s not going to rattle that you can prop your foot on (I have a big bin on carpet) and make sure it’s not touching the wall or the side of the cube so your vibrations aren’t transmitting.

  21. June*

    Everything in here is heavily modified, because we’ve been strictly warned against talking about it in public lest it make the company look bad. The actual situation has literally nothing to do with animals of any sort. If you think you recognize this, a) no you don’t and b) I’m not using any names unless you do.

    My organization takes care of any animal that shows up until we can get it into a long-term home. We are legally required to take any animal, from hamsters to tigers; if it shows up on our doorstep, it’s ours until we can rehome it. No one is assigned to care for specific animals – that is not part of our organization and we have had several people threaten to quit if we start assigning tasks. So if all you want to do is work with hamsters, you can work with hamsters all day, every day.

    People are getting hurt* caring for dangerous animals that get brought in – tigers and the like. The organization is essentially claiming that it’s not responsible because it said to only do that if you had the equipment to do it safely. But 1) we’re legally and morally required to care for these animals until they can be transferred out, 2) the equipment’s expensive and not something an individual can really source, and 3) they won’t provide it or hire someone who already has it. Someone has to feed the tiger, both legally and morally, and it was never going to be someone with the tools and training to do it safely. By not assigning anyone the dangerous tasks, they’re absolving themselves of any responsibility for the fact that they are de facto making some untrained, unprotected person feed the tiger.

    Is there a solution to this? Is there some way to make the higher-ups see that “we didn’t make anyone specific feed the tiger with no equipment or training” is not as protective as they think it is? For all I know it’s fine legally (our legal department says it is, and they’d know better than I would), but morally it feels awful.

    *The hurt here is not in a sense where you can file a worker’s comp claim – think PTSD, not missing limbs. If people were literally regularly getting bitten by tigers at my workplace, I’d be talking to OSHA.

    1. Sloan*

      Oh man, sympathies. The obvious solution would be to create a “senior animal wrangler” role that is better compensated and gets assigned the tigers, but I’m guessing there’s internal reasons they don’t want to do that?

    2. HannahS*

      Honestly? I don’t think there’s a future way out other than talking to the media, quitting, or both. I’m not trying to guess at what field you’re in–and I don’t live in the US anyway–but I certainly could see something like that happening in long-term care homes in Canada. In fact, things like that were happening here. It got looked at on the provincial/national level as a result of public outcry, not through any internal procedure.

    3. Chipmunk*

      What would happen if people refused to deal with the tigers until they had training and equipment? Would they get fired? Would the company or the individual be legally responsible?

      I know that’s ignoring the moral aspect of care.

    4. Baeolophus bicolor*

      A couple of thoughts:
      1) Is this a situation where everyone can just… refuse to feed the dangerous animals? Not asking about your specific industry, but unless that’s going to get people killed, I’d see about getting everyone on board with a list of demands (PPE and proper tiger-feeding training and equipment) or the tigers don’t get fed. I think that might be the quickest way to get them to fix the situation.
      2) Can you prove somehow that the refusal to provide appropriate equipment, training, and compensation is or potentially is more expensive than just providing it all? Eg explaining the situation forthrightly, then talking about the costs of turnover, impact on results, what happens if the public finds out (though be careful there so it doesn’t look like you’re threatening them)?

    5. AngelicGamer*

      I fear this falls under the “your bosses suck and are never going to change” part of AAM. Honestly, I would look up whistleblower laws and get this to the appropriate agency. I think they only way they’re going to change is if they’re forced to change. Also, you can report a company to OSHA for creating a mentally unsafe environment but I would look up the ins and outs of it.

    6. Alex*

      If you are legally required to feed and house the tiger, but are being denied training and equipment to do so, that is a serious problem that warrants reporting to the appropriate authorities. Your management is completely failing, and from the nature of “legally required to accept all animals” I assume this is some kind of government agency? Yeah. Report that and get it out in the open. Someone needs to be held accountable, and it isn’t the tiger feeder.

    7. Angstrom*

      I believe that your employer is required to provide the appropriate PPE for any required task. Not doing so is an OSHA violation.
      There may not be standards for PPE or equipment for feeding dangerous animals, but employers should have evidence that they have done a risk assessment and have appropriate procedures in place.

    8. Zephy*

      That really sounds like a liability issue, despite what legal says – if you’re routinely being required to provide a service to a population with special needs, but no one on staff is actually trained to do that in a safe way, you’re right, “no one told Wakeen to feed the tiger with his bare hands,” is not the airtight defense your leadership thinks it is, and when something inevitably escalates, they will not emerge unscathed.

      It sounds like you’re on the front lines as opposed to part of leadership, though – if that’s the case, all you can do is protect yourself, which unfortunately probably means that you need to get out of there. If you don’t have the ability to get the training and equipment you need to serve this population safely, and if you don’t have the authority to start assigning work and call the bluffs of the ones threatening to quit over that (a separate but still pretty serious issue), you aren’t going to be able to change anything at this company as an employee. I’ll +1 the suggestion to consider a report to whatever body might care – OSHA, some kind of industry licensing board, government regulatory body, etc – because it’s not fair to the tigers, either, if the people trying to feed them don’t know what they’re doing.

    9. Mill Miker*

      My gut says this only gets resolved when the appropriate people outside the company learn about one of the following: A) the company is using word games and gotchas to avoid actually taking responsibility for feeding the tigers, B) an incident of an employee getting seriously hurt feeding the tigers, C) An incident of a tiger starving to death.

      And B and C are really just roundabout ways of getting to A.

    10. OldBag*

      I helped a friend file a report with the state licensing board for animal housing when she worked at a place like this that was taking in Tigers without bothering to either recruit or train anyone to have Tiger Feeding Skills. In her case, while they were required to take in ANY animal, they were also required to get insurance set up for each animal FIRST as part of intake, and they were not doing that correctly either, so it ended up combining the two to get a compliance beat down on the agency she worked for. It was an agency contracted with the govt to provide animal husbandry and housing services for all animals. Altho these measures were not intended to solve the lack of training issue (because yes their hurts were also PTSD related — the animal care they provided was more like rewilding animals who say, licked their paws too much or chewed their hair off or could not be trusted to not drink excessive, as in harmful amounts of water — many of my friend’s coworkers were also were former excessive water ingesters and paw lickers, as is common in her branch of animal husbandry and housing, so it was very triggering) directly, they indirectly resulted in solving the problem. Not sure if there’s any way to apply those sort of animal care oversight methods to your branch, but that’s how we helped.

    11. Anna Badger*

      does your organisation have a legal team, and if yes, has this practice definitely been past them? if this setup has been homebrewed by management without legal oversight, get your most plausibly fake-casual talker to “accidentally” come across your most senior legal person at the coffee station or in the smoking area and slip it into conversation as though of course the legal person knows about it, and they might well take it from there.

      (I used to work at a place where the word on the street was that the chief financial officer smoked mostly for this reason, and I am told he was greatly relieved when vaping was invented.)

  22. EMT Wannabe*

    I have been in a real career rut, and I’ve realized I probably made a mistake going into office work. I want to switch gears after I finish paying off my loans and go into something like being an EMT. I think with my husband’s salary we can do this, and it looks (?) like some EMT jobs offer insurance. My plan is to start with some informational interviews – I have a friend of a friend who does it – and maybe a ridealong if I can get one, to make sure it’s something I’d be good at, before taking the courses. Does anyone here have experience in this field? What are the biggest things I should know, and any tips as I start thinking about making the change?

    1. Zephy*

      My husband is an x-ray tech and his parents are surgeons – not exactly emergency medicine, but adjacent. I am assuming you are American.

      First, the obvious: you’re gonna see some shit. EMTs don’t get called out when things are fine and life is beautiful, your day-to-day work is going to be dealing with people on possibly the worst day of their lives. That can be really hard to deal with day in and day out, so it’s important that you have some kind of support system in place to help you process what you see.

      The less obvious but probably not surprising: medicine in general, as a field, is severely broken, especially in the US. Entry-level employees in every medical discipline are overworked and underpaid, there are a ton of missing stairs in the form of old doctors who think they’re the most important person in any room and act accordingly. There’s dysfunction in small private practices as well as big networked hospital systems. Insurance continues to be a blight on the face of medicine as a practice. There is a reason that tons of hospital systems are hiring and offering insane signing bonuses right now (over 20% of offered salary, in some cases), and it is not out of the goodness of their hearts.

      I don’t say this to dissuade you, just go into it with your eyes open, if this is what you want to do.

    2. Juanita*

      Would definitely suggest informational interviews, and a ridealong if permitted in your state—contact your local fire department and see if they can support, or ask if they can connect you with a local public/private EMT service. A few things to keep in mind:

      – **depending on your location** Some of the job is very interesting/stressful, but a lot of it is boring (e.g. a 24-hour shift with 1-2 calls). Be prepared to have a plan for the downtime. (At many EMT stations around here, it’s usually video games, but depends on the culture of your station.)
      – A lot (the majority) of calls in the rural area where we live are elderly people who have fallen in their homes or are otherwise confused/in distress. Would you be happy/fulfilled dealing with calls like this for most of your shift?
      – Again, location-dependent, but a small percentage of calls are very, very traumatic, especially those with small children involved. Gnarly car/ATV/snowmobile accidents, drownings, shootings, suicides, drug overdoses, distraught parents. Do you have a good therapist and a plan for dealing with this trauma? (Your role in these calls can be life-saving and therefore very rewarding, but sometimes life-saving efforts fail too.)
      – Similarly, some calls also involve belligerent/aggressive people. Are you comfortable and confident verbally de-escalating conflict? (Most EMTs are not authorized to carry weapons or other self-defense tools.)
      – For many, a part-time or full-time EMT role is a stepping stone to a related career, as it’s easy to burn out fairly quickly for the reasons noted above. Do you have a next step in mind? For example, nursing, law enforcement, campus police, park ranger, EMT instructor, industrial safety coordinator, etc.? (A friend of mine in the LA area went from being an EMT to getting a nursing degree and working as a set medic on tv and movie sets—he makes a lot more money and the job is easy! Lots of band-aids, less trauma.)

      Good luck—I applaud your interest in shifting careers and we need more good EMTs out there!

    3. Panicked*

      The biggest thing I’ve heard from EMT’s is that the pay and hours suck and doesn’t really get better with time. If you’re able to deal with that, more power to you! We desperately need people in the medical field.

    4. Cyndarella*

      My husband had a 25+ year career as an EMT/Paramedic. It can be a rewarding career, but often comes with long hours and unpredictable shifts. Some agencies have better benefits than others, we always relied on my insurance benefits (I work for a hospital). I would look for an Emergency Medical provider that is part of a hospital system for the better benefits packages, although some local governments have stepped up in recent years. The hospital system that I work for also hires EMTs and Paramedics as Patient Care Techs in our Emergency Department, so that’s another career path to consider.

      1. EMT Wannabe**

        Thank you! I’ve already been a bit confused by what seem to be public vs private EMT jobs posted, do you (or anyone) have any insights on the difference in terms of my likely experience?

        1. Lily Rowan*

          A friend of mine just took a couple of years in the middle of an office career to be an EMT, and so I know what happens around here is every municipality is different — the city she worked for had city employees as EMTs, but the city next door where I live contracts out. I’m not sure what the difference in experience for the staff is.

          My friend basically enjoyed it, but as others have said, there was no room for advancement (without going back to school again) and the hours/schedule were tough, since they can be required to work a double shift if someone else calls out.

        2. Random Academic Cog*

          The private EMTs are often doing things like transport runs for people who can’t travel sitting up or belted into a car. They are sometimes functioning more like a CNA.

    5. saskia*

      My friend went through the whole EMT training, finished, then realized restaurant work would both pay more and be less stressful (which is saying something), so he’s still cooking in restaurants. EMTs do an incredible service for humanity. If you’re called to serve, and you can swing it financially and emotionally, try it. But as Zephy said, keep your eyes open.

    6. negligent apparitions*

      My spouse is a volunteer EMT for our small town (they get a nominal stipend for each call – like $40 or something, but no hourly pay so it’s not apples to apples with a staffed EMT who gets paid for being on call at the station). I also used to work in hospital admin so I agree with other commenters about weird hours/low pay. Paramedics make slightly more, but still low considering the work they do and knowledge they need.

      That said, he loves being an EMT. And he has seen some shit. Depending on where you live, you will be exposed to all walks of life. He has been in dangerous situations, disgusting situations, heartbreaking situations – but also heartwarming situations, funny situations, relieving situations.

      For him, one of the hardest parts of being an EMT is that you don’t get closure with a patient once they have been admitted. He will take someone to the hospital and wonder how things turned out, that kind of thing. (That said, we live in the kind of small town that he gets updates from families fairly regularly.)

      Some towns will pay for your certification because they are so desperate for EMTs, by the way – might be something to look into.

    7. Angstrom*

      I was a small-town volunteer EMT for 10 years.
      – For us, it was nothing like you see on TV shows. True lifesaving calls were rare. Most were “elderly person, unknown medical” or minor motor vehicle incidents. Full-time urban EMS is completely different.
      -Highly recommend “People Care: Perspectives and Practices for Professional Caregivers, 3rd edition” by Thom Dick. Not a text, it deals with the emotional side of the job.
      -You will see people at their worst, and at their best. You will see good people having very bad days. Some you can help, some you can’t. You have to work and live with all of it.
      -Helping people who need help can be very rewarding.
      -The hardest calls for me were when someone had been deliberately harmed, or a child was hurt, or when you arrived and there was nothing you could do.
      -Look for a service that is serious about good training and continuing education. Checking off the mandatory minimums is barely adequate.

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

      I’ve had 2 close family members and one ex-boyfriend who all worked as EMTs, in both rural and urban environments, and here’s what I was able to glean from them talking about it:

      -It’s a great way to enter the field of medicine but not necessarily sustainable longterm (financially/physically/emotionally)

      -In times of wide-scale emergency (hurricane, flood, forest fire, riots, terrorist attack), you may not be able to just end your shift and go home.

      -if (like me) you already feel a deep, abiding fury towards people who are willfully endangering others by driving recklessly or while intoxicated, think long and hard about how you will feel when confronted by, say, a drunk driver who has gotten themselves into a crash and needs your help. And even if you can emotionally compartmentalize, be prepared to be thrown up on while performing CPR.

  23. Lizabeth*

    Need help on working up transition information for when I retire in early 2024. Besides a list of website logins of the sites I use for work and a list of what I do, what else should I include? I figure whomever takes the job after me is going to do their own thing pretty much and redesign instead of using what I have been doing (graphic designer)

    My immediate boss will probably have a heart attack when I give my notice (a month) regardless of what information I have prepared. She just about did when I “referred” to retiring in a conversation 6 months ago.

    Equipment wise I own everything I’m using for work (hardware and software…it’s another story) I do want to offer them the work files I have BUT I’m not giving them my external HD. Is it unreasonable to say “send me a 1 TB external hard drive with a return label and I’ll send you all the files that belong to you”? If they dig their heels in about it, I’m willing to part with the HD that everything is on since it’s a much older one and I have others. Could I ask for them to pay for the hard drive if they don’t provide one?

    Thanks!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m a big fan of printing out a calendar and indicating repeating tasks on it.

      “February: renew the license for XYZ software”
      “15th of every month: run the teapot report for the accounting department”
      etc.

      1. Ama*

        Yes this could be really useful — I have one that I drew up for my department when we hired a bunch of new staff a couple years ago because I remembered how helpful it was when my predecessor left one for me. Mine is basically just an Excel spreadsheet with a row for each month and columns for the different types of work we do, and then each box has the repeating work that generally needs to happen in that month. We have a lot of annual projects and a few that happen 3-4 times a year so it’s a good way to visualize how everything fits together.

    2. Goddess47*

      Do not give them *any* equipment that you paid for. If your boss can’t scrape together the money for a new external drive, that’s their loss… The other offer is “send me $X to cover the cost of the drive and postage” (and, unless you really trust them, not as reimbursement, up front!).

      Since you’re six months out, if you haven’t, start a ‘things I do’ list for yourself and add to it as stuff comes up. It’s easier to remember the yearly birthday card design for the CEO’s mother-in-law in a spare moment than having to put it on a list under pressure. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just a Word doc or a spreadsheet, however you work best with lists.

      If you have time/spoons, put together a list of ‘tools I use’ and include that with the task list. The next person may or may not want that, and less likely if the job is made different after you leave.

      And, as we have learned from Allison, give your notice and stick to it. Don’t let your boss’s problems become yours. Retire and enjoy it!

    3. longtimeHR*

      yes, it’s reasonable to ask them to cover the expense of transferring the files. Can you do any of it on DropBox or the like? I would not offer up your hard drive.

    4. Mill Miker*

      If they push back on the hard drive thing, you could make the argument that you wouldn’t want to risk shipping the originals, in case the drive gets damaged en route.

      If you keep your drive, they can try again as many times as needed.

      (Yeah, yeah, I know, those probably aren’t the only copies, but I don’t think that matters)

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Exrernal hard drives are getting insanely cheap; like $10-60. That’s potentially cheaper for then than your time babysitting an electronic transfer to server or MS Teams.

      The petty in me wants them to reimburse you for the one you already have been using for their business. And you get to buy an upgrade.

  24. LinkedIn Woes*

    I like to browse jobs on LinkedIn but I’m having two issues that I wonder if others have a solution for:
    First, the job titles I’m looking for are made up of two words that have multiple other uses; one of the words is Underwriter. For the sake of this question let’s say the other word is Role, so the job title would be Role Underwriter. Searching this brings up every job with Underwriter in the title, about 90% of which I am not suited for because I’m in a unique, specialized industry. Is there anything I can do besides using the “plus” sign between the two words, to narrow down the search to my field?
    Second, is there a way to screen out roles in certain states only? For example, I would never accept a job in Texas or Florida, but would be interested in jobs in most other states. Is there a way to exclude results from specific states other than searching each other individual state that I would take a job in?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      From a quick google, it looks like the LinkedIn search supports Boolean logic. You can put the job title in quotes (ex. “Role Underwriter”) and it should return only results that include that exact phrase. You can also use “NOT” to exclude terms. I don’t know if you can stack “NOT”s, so I would start by running these searches:

      “Role Underwriter” NOT Florida

      and

      “Role Underwriter” NOT Texas

      to see if you get better results than your current searches. If there’s another term that shows up in most jobs in your specialized industry (let’s say teapots), you can also add that in to narrow your search further:

      “Role Underwriter” AND teapots NOT Florida

  25. Disappointed from Colorado*

    I am so bummed out. I came across a posting for what would be a “dream” job at a “dream” company. I know what Alison says about dream jobs. I just mean that this job is at the most prestigious company in my industry and I have always wanted to work there. I had all the qualifications and more experience than they were asking. However although the job was exclusively remote the posting said they would not be accepting applications from people in the state of Colorado, which is where I live. I found out the company doesn’t hire anyone who lives in my state and will not allow any employees to live here. It really sucks because moving is not on the table for me.

    I know what Alison means about dream jobs and I understand that. It’s just that this was the sort of job I’ve wanted since I started in this industry. I’m on my way to an international conference for my current job right right now so for the next 5 days I won’t have any time alone and won’t get a chance to sulk in private. Any tips for getting over it. I know I should just move on but I’m really upset.

    1. Zephy*

      Maybe this helps: it’s because Colorado has laws around salary transparency that other states don’t. That’s pretty shady. Do you really want to work for a company that would exclude an entire state of applicants, even for a remote position, than do something as simple as be transparent about what they pay?

      1. Roland*

        My thoughts exactly. It’s not a fluke, it’s being so committed to NOT providing salary transparency that they refuse to entertain skilled candidates.

      2. Lady Danbury*

        This is exactly what I thought. If the company is only excluding Colarado, it’s because they don’t want to comply with Colarado’s laws around salary transparency. That says a lot about them as a company and none of it is good!

      3. Chauncy Gardener*

        It could also be that the company isn’t registered to do business in CO. My company isn’t registered to business in a bunch of US states, including CO, just because we are small and are trying not to inadvertently trigger nexus.
        Not that it can’t be what you’re suggesting, of course!

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          If it rules out a bunch of states, sure. However if you’re registered to do business in virtually every state excluding Colorado (or the other usual suspects like CA and NY), it’s probably about labor laws. I live in California and see this for us sometimes.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            I totally get that!!

            And can I use your user name for my next fictional band?

    2. Hlao-roo*

      That’s a bummer. Can you hang on to the fact that you will have time to sulk in private once you’re back from your conference? Whenever you feel upset about the job ad, remind yourself “I’m busy with the conference right now, but next Thursday (or whatever day you’re home) I will have a proper sulk about this company being unfair.”

    3. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      A family member was one really disappointed to miss out on a job with their dream employer. Shortly after, the employer closed down and family member was happily working in a much better job.
      Sometimes things work out better for us than if we’d gotten what we wanted.

      1. Zennish*

        Too true. The most comforting (and disturbing) thing it helps to learn to accept is that you actually have literally no idea what will happen tomorrow. Or ten minutes from now, or in the next breath. Once you get okay with that, it makes life a lot easier. :-)

    4. Generic Name*

      They’re not a dream company if they refuse salary transparency and other worker protections.

      1. Dubious*

        This this this! If they’re not going to treat potential employees with one of the most basic measures of respect possible, my hopes wouldn’t be high for how they treat their actual employees.

        (I do completely get the feeling bummed anyway. It’s really frustrating to be disqualified before you even apply, through no fault of your own.)

  26. WantonSeedStitch*

    Hoping for some advice on coaching/giving feedback.

    I manage two managers. One of them has less experience than the other (both in our field and as a manager). She’s really very good at both the work itself and as a manager in many ways. The biggest thing I think is holding her back is kind of weird because it’s really a matter of attitude. And the nature of it makes it hard to give feedback on. She is someone who came up the ranks from admin roles, and her position on my team (before becoming a manager) was the first time she worked in our specific field. She’s generally great at interpersonal stuff, but if she feels like she is being slighted, disrespected, or dismissed–and she jumps to that very easily, even in situations where it’s not at all the case–she gets extremely defensive. It seems to be due to a lack of confidence in herself. I feel like if she can get past this, it’ll make her a much better manager and a much better employee in general.

    Some things I’ve suggested: 1) remember not to take it personally when someone higher than you declines to go with one of your suggestions. It’s not a negative reflection on you as a person, and doesn’t mean they don’t value your contributions. 2) look for professional development opportunities in areas where you don’t feel as confident about your work (we talked about specifics) so you can feel more confident in your knowledge and abilities. 3) even if one of your reports is acting unprofessionally and you feel that they’re not respecting you as a manager, it’s your job to keep your communication with them professional and calm. Let them know you expect the same of them. Their actual opinion of you doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t define you–just hold the expectations of professional behavior for them and for yourself.

    Any other suggestions for this?

    1. PX*

      Oooh so interesting. Have you explicitly named/framed the problem in this way? From your post, it kind of feels like you’re trying to address the symptoms (how it shows up) rather than the cause (“I’ve observed this behaviour in these situations. I dont want to speculate as to why it might be, but it has X, Y, Z effect- both in how effective you are as a manager and how you are perceived. This will hold you back, can we try and think of ways to work to improve this”) or something similar!

      I also feel like this is one where a high level discussion on “what is the role of a manager, what are they trying to achieve, what is *actually* important” might be helpful to articulate that ideally, personal feelings shouldnt really come into it.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Yeah, I haven’t pointed out a pattern–probably chickening out! I worry that telling someone they’re too defensive that they’re too defensive makes them, well, defensive, and that this makes them less likely to hear me. Also, the behavior has kind of varied depending on the situation (particularly on whether she’s interacting with someone who outranks her or not). Also, sometimes it’s a bit more nebulous, in how she seems to feel about certain people.

        I think framing it as “I’m pointing this out because I think working on it will make you an even better manager and will improve how others see you–especially those up the ladder” might help. I think the next time I see her show the chip on her shoulder, I will say something about it and address it as a pattern like this. I need to find a way to say WHY it will improve things: “people feel more confidence in someone, especially in someone in a management role, who doesn’t let work get to them emotionally and who they can talk to frankly (though professionally) without worrying that it’s going to upset them.”

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I did a workshop at my job about feedback vs. coaching, and I thought it was pretty interesting. The upshot was that coaching is about asking open-ended questions and getting them to talk, vs. providing feedback about what they did (good or bad).

          So in a coaching conversation, you ask questions like:

          • What is happening?
          • What is challenging about it?
          • What have you done, tried, or considered?
          • Where/when do you feel you are at your personal best?
          • Where/when do you feel most triggered, reactive, not at your personal best?
          • Where would you like to be in your career in 3-5 years?

          • Help me understand…
          • Tell me more about that…
          • Let me make sure I understand what you are saying…
          • I’m curious about…
          • Could you describe further…

          I don’t know if this will help, but it’s a different way for you to frame the conversation for yourself, at least

        2. bamcheeks*

          We had a workshop on giving effective feedback which also asked us to reflect on our own experience of receiving feedback, how we felt about it, what stopped us listening and hearing it, and how we decide whether it’s fair and useful. It would be worth looking to see whether anything like that is available (or asking for it from HR, because it’s a perfectly normal developmental workshop for all managers), and it might help her recognise her

          But if this is behaviour you’ve observed, it’s also ok to name the pattern, and ask her to reflect on what might help her get better at taking feedback. What I’d stress is that not all feedback IS fair and useful, and sometimes people DO disrespect you, but you need to maintain that calm demeanour in the moment, take it away and reflect on it, and then decide whether it’s accurate and fair and something you can act on or not. I personally find that really useful, because it gives me ownership of the feedback— instead of being something that’s being done to me (which is a threat), it’s an opportunity for me and I can decide whether it’s useful or not. That gives me agency.

      2. Loreli*

        Instead of using the word “defensive”, use “take it personally”. And be specific. Example: “I noticed when Jane said she didn’t like your idea of using peppermint soap instead of rose soap to bathe the llamas, you later said that Jane doesn’t like you. Other times when we’re discussing things and people disagree with an idea of yours, you take it as a personal affront. It’s as if you think they disagree because they don’t like you. This is a real problem. You need to be able to handle discussions and different opinions without taking offense. Just because someone has a different idea than yours doesn’t mean they dislike you, think you’re stupid, or etc. People are expressing ideas. Your tendency to take these things personally is going to really hold you back in your career. You need to be able to have logical back and forth discussions about pros and cons “

        1. JustaTech*

          It may also be helpful to acknowledge that it can be hard to not take it personally when a higher up rejects an idea that Jane was really invested in, and this is a skill to learn. (This is a huge thing in the sciences and learning it early makes your whole life easier.)

    2. Lady Danbury*

      Does your company have an EAP? This definitely seems like something that may be more effective with professional help. You state that it “seems” like the cause is a lack of confidence, but it might be something completely different, which requires a completely different set of solutions. She might feel safer/more comfortable working through the root cause (and therefore potential solutions) with a confidential professional, versus her manager.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Yeah, and she knows well about the service. But I feel like referring her to an EAP in this case seems kind of like telling someone, “you’re coming across as snippy. Have you considered getting counseling?” Now, if she told me she was having issues that could be helped by the EAP, I’d recommend she contact them. In this case, as it happens, I’m not actually making assumptions about the confidence being an issue: she has admitted she lacks confidence in some areas and wants to skill up on those so she feels better about being able to answer questions on those subjects from her reports. I AM making a guess about the confidence being a factor in the chip-on-shoulder issue, but I’m also not going to make that guess, and haven’t done so thus far, in talking to her about it. I’ve addressed the behavior and its effects only, not causes or potential causes. I just haven’t done so as a pattern, as PX helpfully pointed out.

  27. bamcheeks*

    DILEMMA: I am running a project that really needs some major social media boosts. Connecting with and liking the project’s accounts and posts would be a good start. However, my social media is mostly focussed on a sport I do, and my reels are lots of pictures of me wearing leggings and a sports bra, and I feel a bit 0_O about making that obviously visible to my assistant, who is a man about twenty years younger than me.

    Obvious answer would be to have a separate Insta account, but then I’d lose the benefit of liking the post from a widely-connnected and obviously-active account.

    WWAMMD?

      1. bamcheeks*

        My posts are, but I usually post reels publicly so people who are the sport community find me.

    1. Haven’t picked a username yet*

      Create another account you use for work stuff. That is the easiest solution, and lots of people have multiple accounts for a variety of reasons.

      1. bamcheeks*

        So I’ve obviously considered this, but I don’t think it works because the Insta algorithm doesn’t care about a new account with no history or activity liking a post or adding an account. Whereas getting likes and responses from active accounts makes it more likely to put the post in people’s feeds.

        1. OldBag*

          Honestly I think you should just do it and not overthink it. The reels are public, right? Well, if your assistant goes on your insta and snoops around your profile and checks your reels, and then acts all weird about it, or acts like there’s something wrong with them, that makes HIM the inappropriate one– not you.

          Plus, he’s your assistant. You aren’t his. He would be very, very lacking in judgement to have any opinion or comment whatsoever on his boss / supervisor / manager / whatever engaging in athletic activity while dressed in activity-appropriate sportswear. It wouldn’t be appropriate the other way either, but he has the added incentive that not only is sexual inappropriateness a fireable offense, you (the one he would be sexualizing, if he did not know how to act right) have the power to make that dismissal happen! (Even if you don’t have the power directly, I am pretty sure any company told “hey my assistant made some wildly inappropriate comments about my rock climbing reels on insta” would at bare minimum transfer him to some other supervisor.

          I know women’s athletics are sexualized, and I know that’s how it is and not how it should be, but the reality is he could have already looked you up just out of curiosity and stumbled on the reels and been checking them out. It’s not like you’re adding him to view your private posts. Just do it and say nothing.

          1. bamcheeks*

            I’m less worried about being sexualised than about making him uncomfortable, tbh! Trying to turn the situation around, when I was in my twenties if I’d seen pictures of a senior person who I was used to seeing in businesswear in swimming kit or running shorts a vest I’d have been very oh NO my EYES about it. (These days I’d be a bit more, eh, everyone has a body.) It’s more, where does this fall on the line of “ran into colleague while wearing gym kit, eh, whatever” vs “my boss is shirtless in his staff photo” (AAM, Sept 13th 2017.)

            Very hard to take gndered out of these kind of things all together, of course, but when I flip the genders I don’t think it’s that different— I’m more worried about dignity and discretion than sexualisation, I think, amd I really can’t decide which side of the line it falls.

  28. cardigarden*

    Coffee stick update (from last week): maintenance removed a grand total of 13 (!!) coffee stirrers from the toilet. No new ones, but we’re no closer to figuring out who did it or why.

    1. Cellbell*

      Did anyone bring a kid to the office recently? I’m thinking that’s probably the best case scenario, and kids love putting random things in toilets from my experience.

  29. Friend of HR person*

    TLDR – At my friend’s employer, an accounting firm, the client service people refused to come to holiday party if HR/back office was there. They sent an anonymous letter to practice lead saying back office dumps on them. Party went on, about 10% of client service people came. Lead called a meeting, no client service people said a word.

    ——
    My friend works at an accounting firm that has been rapidly expanding. The firm has added more people in non-client service roles. The client service people were used to having access to firm leaders, now firm leaders deal mostly with HR/Firm admin, etc. Change is difficult. Anonymous letters were sent to firm leaders re all their complaints (some may be valid).

    My friend in HR says if they post a job listing for HR, they get 100s of applications within 48 hours. They have to use recruiters to find client service people and she is scared.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      To start at the bottom: “They have to use recruiters to find client service people and she is scared.”

      I’m sorry, she is in HR and scared of recruiters? Scared of resumes? What are they afraid of?

      It is a common trend for people in backoffice who never deal with customers to “Monday morning quarterback” stuff like “I would have said this” or “can’t offer that, say these 124 things on every call” with no real understanding how difficult these asks are for people out in the real world dealing with customers.

      My suggestion is to go one by one over every gripe from client services. Been there done that. I remember when some new “change manager” forced us (4 jobs ago when I worked with customers) to do things over the phone that needed to be in writing and the response was always “wait, what? uh, hold on, I am about to go in a meeting, can you email me?” After the fifth time of this, customers would be annoyed but upper management was happy for some weird reason. Maybe stuff like this is going on there

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I think the friend is concerned that it’s really easy to hire for the back-of-house staff (hundreds of applications received in 48 hrs) but it’s getting much more difficult to hire client service people (the only applications are coming from people who were approached by a recruiter, which can be expensive).

        That could be an indication that the company’s reputation among potential client service applicants is taking a nosedive. Alternately, it’s just really difficult to hire for those roles right now, so the company would founder if many of their client service people quit.

    2. Lady Danbury*

      Why doesn’t client services have access to firm leadership anymore? CS are normally the bread and butter of accounting firms. While there may be new procedures or additional layers of bureaucracy, leadership should want to have their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on with CS if only for that reason. It’s even more essential since it sounds like they’re having trouble recruiting CS, either because of the market (high demand for CS workers) or bc recent changes are impacting your reputation and CS don’t want to work for you.

      Either way, leadership needs to make it a priority to figure out out what’s going on with CS. That doesn’t mean giving in to all of their demands, but at the very least hearing them out and trying to understand why they feel like back office dumps on them, creating mechanisms for them to have access to leadership (even if it’s just one specific leader), etc.

    3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Suggest that all the employees act like adults? Why are the CS folks sending an anonymous letter with what sounds like an airing of grievances? And boycotting the holiday party? Wow. Why did the lead who called the meeting accept total silence? This sounds like some major dysfunction going on. Management needs to have actual conversations with the upset employees. It might not mean anything can change, but they should be heard out (singly, not as a group). And also told they cannot act like petulant children.

      I’m not sure why your friend is scared. Is she worried the company will go under? Or is she worried that the CS folks will target her in some way because she’s back office? Does she think she will be blamed for not finding enough candidates?

      It certainly sounds like some entitled jerks who think they are better than the admins.

    4. LedgerMan*

      I work for a large accounting firm and I would also be upset and confused if client services no longer had access to firm leadership. What?? HR and the admins have important roles to play, but they have no real understanding of the accounting work we do. It makes no sense to have them as a layer in between; further, it sounds like these folks are not appropriately supporting the client-facing folks if they feel constantly dumped on. The accounting world is pretty active online and what happened with the party and the meeting is definitely spreading and yeah, will make it more difficult to hire in client-facing roles. There’s already a huge accounting talent shortage. Firm leadership needs to fix this, and your friend should look for another job.

  30. PX*

    I had hoped to craft this more eloquently, but didnt have time.

    Thinking of my 5-10 year career plan, and for the lifestyle I want, becoming self employed (some kind of consultant?) is looking to be the best option. I know what I like to do in a work context, but just looking for advice/support from anyone who has taken this step before in terms of how to plan/prepare/research.

    Also, what is the title for the thing I’m good at: quickly identifying common threads around problems in a company – usually related to lack of process/poor process.
    Basically, because I’m the kind of person who likes to dip my toes in various pies, I see different parts of a company. I often get to hear from Department A, B and C. They all tell me about problems they are having – and it soon becomes obvious that their problems have a common root cause even if each department sees it from a different lens. Solving the common problem would solve 3 problems in a go.

    I also do a bit of dabbling in change management (my current role basically says, when you see these types of problems, document them and think of a plan of how they should be fixed and go off and implement them – but typically at a lower level) which I dont mind as long as the right level of support is there.

    1. Amber Rose*

      You sound like the guy we brought in. His title is Control Process Consultant. He’s here to listen to us, figure out our failure points, and then help us create new processes and structures.

      1. PX*

        Yessss. This is my dream job basically! Thank you for the title, off to add it to my list of potential titles/job roles to research.

  31. A Simple Narwhal*

    My hybrid office is about to move to a hoteling set up, and as part of it we’re all getting assigned storage drawers to hold the things we keep at or in our desks. Our current desks have a large locked drawer that allow us to secure our items overnight/when we’re not at our desks, and they just revealed that our new hoteling drawers will not lock.

    They say that we’ve never had a theft issue in our office before, so they felt locks were unnecessary. To me that seems silly – maybe we’ve never had a theft problem because we could lock our things up? I don’t keep anything super valuable in the office (no family heirlooms ;-)) that would be devastating to lose, but even if it isn’t valuable or irreplaceable, I still wouldn’t want to lose anything!

    I’m probably overthinking things, but I’m in the middle of child-proofing my house, and I have a couple magnetic cabinet locks. Would it be completely nuts to put one on my new work drawer? They attach solely on the inside with command strips and they use a simple magnet to lock and unlock, so it won’t damage the drawer and it could probably be opened by someone else if they really wanted to/had to get in there. But I figure it would be enough of a deterrent to any potential thief.

    Is this a bad idea? And am I just being paranoid? I just feel like we might be inviting trouble.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The magnetic cabinet locks sound like a good work-around to me based on how you’ve described them (I haven’t seen or used one before).

      You may also want to check out the “how to cope when you don’t have an assigned work space” post from May 11, 2023 in case the locks don’t work out and you want to carry everything in and out every day so nothing gets stolen.

    2. Sneaky Squirrel*

      I don’t think you’re being paranoid at all and I absolutely think you should invest in your own lock if the company wont provide them. Depending on the work you or your peers do, it might even be illegal to not safeguard the items (for example, many of our staff work on sensitive data with personally identifiable information).

      Personally I think the excuse “we’ve never had it happen before” is ridiculous. You’d rather wait until you’re liable for a serious incident before you become serious about security than spend a few bucks on locks?

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Glad to hear I’m not being completely ridiculous! I may not have anything obviously valuable at my desk, but I know some people have company ipads, seems like they’re asking for trouble asking people to leave them (and everything else) unlocked.

        Not everyone locked their drawers all the time, but it might not have seemed worth it to a potential thief to go desk to desk to see if any were unlocked and if there was anything good in them. Now that everything is in one big row it would be crazy easy to quickly look through everything for something worth snatching. Plus it wouldn’t look out of place for a random person to be at the big row of drawers vs seeing someone at someone else’s desk.

  32. Amber Rose*

    My personal life has absolutely exploded the last two weeks and my work has definitely suffered. Part of that blow up is the confirmation that I’m very allergic to zinc, and on top of my general distress I’m absolutely cotton-headed all the time from the allergy medicine I’m using. Just this morning I’m wearing two different earrings and my shirt was inside out.

    I’m trying to catch up but it just feels so impossible when there’s SO MUCH going on and my brain is adrift in a foggy sea. I’m also trying not to overshare or bring it around with me, but that failed when I burst into tears in my boss’s office.

    I’m trying my best but I don’t know how to fight through this.

    1. Tessellated Daisy*

      That’s a lot to deal with, sending wishes that things get better/more manageable soon!

    2. ferrina*

      Hugs and love!

      Can you take a leave for a week or two? Depending on your health conditions, you may be able to tap into FMLA or short-term disability. You should definitely feel free to use sick leave while you get your health condition sorted out. Brain fog is a very, very real symptom.

    3. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      First, speak to your manager about the allergy and medication brain fog that you’re trying to work through. Second, I would ask or see if it might be possible to take a few days or a week off until your body adjusts to the medication and this clears up. You certainly have reason to take some sick time for this.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I took one day off, and I worked from home another day. I’m just taking over the counter antihistamines until I stop wanting to claw off my skin, so nothing too wild, it’s just that I never know how long hives will stick around and the side effects are extreme drowsiness.

        I’m close to out of sick time for the year, I think I have one or two days left, so I’d rather not use them.

    4. MigraineMonth*

      Medications and their side-effects aren’t personal, they’re medical issues for which you are entitled to take sick time, FMLA, whatever you need. I would also tell your boss that you’ve been experiencing brain-fog due to a medication change (to explain the recent issues), but that’s all you have to share.

      1. Amber Rose*

        The medication is just OTC antihistamines to stop the hives from getting worse, they make me super drowsy. The personal stuff is the hospitalization of my dad, some relationship concerns, and my husband’s medical issues. It’s been… a very trying couple of weeks. All together, it’s a disaster.

        1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

          I’m sorry about your personal stuff. That sounds hard.

          Since you mention these are just OTC meds, have you tried a non-drowsy type? My husband sometimes randomly gets hives for no apparent reason. His doctor recommended Zyrtec, because “it’s like Benadryl, but doesn’t knock you out”. If that’s an option you haven’t tried, maybe a change like that could at least solve the brain fog.

          Also, he gets some relief from “Bite MD”, which is a stick sold as being for bug bites, but also helps for hives. When it’s bad, he carries that in his pocket all day. Maybe you will feel less like tearing your own skin off – at least I hope so, that sucks.

        2. ferrina*

          If you are helping family members with medical issues, you may be able to get FMLA as a caregiver. My mom has intermittent FMLA (i.e., occasional extra days off rather than taking the time all at once) so she can take grandma to doctor’s appointments and care for her dementia. Definitely look into it if you need it.

        3. Lily Rowan*

          I agree with MigraineMonth! You are having side effects from medication that you have to take, that is making work difficult. You can take some sick time for that.

          Hang in there. You are dealing with a lot.

    5. allathian*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, good luck.

      If taking unpaid leave is financially doable for you, maybe intermittent FMLA would be an option for you until you get your allergy medication sorted out? If OTC meds aren’t helping, a prescription medication could be necessary. Talk to your doctor.

  33. H*

    anyone else quiet quitting? or I just can’t with nonsensical bs anymore. why do people schedule nonsurgent meetings in the afternoon on a friday? why was anything scheduled this week when so many people are on vacation? why are so many illogical decisions made?

    1. Anonymask*

      Absolutely. It’s gotten to the point that I’m passing from frustrated to zen-like acceptance of just… not caring. I’m holding onto my sanity by reminding myself of my bi-weekly (as in, every other Saturday or Sunday) DnD games, and that I’m actively job searching so one day I will get out of here and into somewhere better (with better pay!). Sending you good vibes, and wishing you a good weekend!

      1. Ama*

        Honestly I’d really like to get to the zen-like acceptance. I’ve got a side gig I’m trying to grow into full-time and it’s worth it to me to stay here until I can get enough of a steady income from it that I can quit (despite everything that frustrates me I am full time remote and they pay me well for our sector). But I think because this place used to be better I still find myself getting frustrated by the ridiculous policies our senior management keeps implementing because they refuse to listen to what junior staff actually need and want.

        1. Anonymask*

          It’s not easy to get there, believe me. I’ve just hit the wall of sexism so much that I stopped throwing myself at it. There’s no point in speaking up when I’m immediately dismissed regardless of my job experience (shrug). See last week’s post about Gruntman and my manager.

          (In fact, for those curious: manager is taking credit for the data backup despite the email thread proving otherwise. Not a fun update, but one nonetheless. So that’s kind of where it’s at over here.)

          I’m just tired, and it’s hard to be angry when you don’t have the energy for it. My energy is better spent elsewhere: with my friends, my fiance, my pets, my job hunt. No point in going above and beyond and trying to save my coworkers when they don’t want to take my experience seriously, I’ll just stay in my silo and do only my job and plan my exit.

          1. H*

            Yes! The double talk from management is the worst. Say one thing and do another. It adds to the mental exhaustion.

            I agree with finding bliss outside of work.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I wish I was better at it! I am clocking time right now, waiting for when I can get out which may be a while, but it’s almost impossible for me to turn off my brain and not care. It’s taking a lot of energy to stay in quiet quit mode when all of me (except the part that cares about money) wants to quit quit.

    3. Rex Libris*

      I sometimes think it’s because people who won’t take time off, or are too uptight and workaholic to enjoy it when they do, are resentful that everybody else isn’t as miserable, so they make a point of being “business as usual” at everybody.

  34. Dollars to Donuts*

    Hi all, I’ve been working for the same very niche company for 9 years, and every time I’ve ever tried job-searching I feel like I’m just not qualified to do anything other than this one very specific job (I know that can’t be true, I think it’s a failure of imagination). Any ideas for relevant career paths?

    About what I do:
    – I am mid/upper management, after having been promoted every 2-3 years.
    – I manage 3-5 people (most of whom also manage 1-2 people). Sometimes I help out as a hiring manager, and I love that.
    – I work in a client relationship manager type of role, where my team is the main point-of-contact relaying/translating questions and answers between clients and technical experts (example: lawyers). I am not a lawyer, don’t have any technical credentials, just good at talking to them and negotiating the grey areas. Because these clients are all over the map, I don’t have any “field” or street cred in any one industry or issue area.
    – I’m responsible for assigning work to people, based on their availability, skillsets, and interests. It’s fast-paced decision-making and requires a cool head.
    – I enjoy diagnosing problems and developing frameworks to help. For example, I’ve developed a formal criteria and decision-making matrix related my role as assigner. Another example: as a manager, my job is often to help my direct reports diagnose what’s wrong with a very confusing picture, boil it down to a few key points, and articulate a recommendation to leadership.

    To summarize: I am a highly-paid generalist problem-solver and people-manager. Is that a job?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You’re also a project manager and probably qualify for all sorts of stuff in change management, business process analysis, etc.

      Ever consider going to work for one of your customers?

    2. PX*

      I posted above and it sounds like at least when it comes to the problems and frameworks/solutions bit we are perhaps a bit similar. Titles like Business Process Consultant (or as I just learnt, Process Consultant) might be of interest.

      The bit about working with customers to translate requirements between technical/non-technical people sounds like it falls in the ‘Business Analysis’ camp, although you sound more senior than that role is often regarded.

      You definitely sound like your role is one that a generic consulting company might like, or anything related to the actual business operations of running a company.

      One thing I’ve found can be helpful – if you can find a decent/reputable recruiter/recruitment company – sitting down and having a conversation with someone where you just explain what you do – and then compare it with your CV and some job descriptions can be really helpful in terms of understanding how your skills really are transferable (and how to pitch them).

    3. ferrina*

      Yes, but the way it aligns to each individual business’s objectives will vary.

      As you are looking at job postings, apply if you meet 70% of the criteria. A lot of your skills are soft skills, which are really hard to list in a job description. Most companies will do a terrible job.
      Maybe look at jobs in project management, product development, even communications. Good luck!

    4. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      You sound like a Business Analyst to me. And also a Project Manager. Client Services is also a career field.

      Correction here: “Because these clients are all over the map, I have street cred across many industries and issue areas.”

    5. pally*

      Might look into Quality Assurance. Visit asq.org

      Problem -solver, communicating best ways to do something and management of people and projects are all things that a QA department does.

    6. saskia*

      Sounds like me, hah
      Account manager/business development in an adjacent field are two jobs that come to mind. More broadly, you may want to look into Operations roles. They tend to be in several different, somewhat unrelated categories and vary from company to company, so you have a better chance of finding a job that fits you. Look for them in any job/field that strikes your fancy to see the types of requirements they need.
      If you want to do training before job searching, I’m thinking a project management cert or even six sigma…? Or if one technical aspect your clients need seems especially interesting/doable, why not try it out or see if your company would pay for an intro course?

  35. Justin*

    Huge work win this week, completing a big “curriculum guide” that represents basically a year of work and has gone over well. Sometimes I doubt myself because I’ve not done as well at previous jobs when I was masking (not covid mask, neurodivergent mask), and to not have that extra stress has allowed my brain to actually be put to use effectively.

    I am actually starting to be able to think long-term career wise, though I have no desire to leave the org anytime soon. So, when things are going well for you (if they ever have – this is basically the first time I’ve been supported and well-paid), how far ahead do you allow yourself to try and plan career-wise? I’ve never really been able to look past the next few months.

    1. Janeric*

      I usually keep a couple of potential career paths on the table — and I keep a weather eye on people one level and two levels above me, and try to work on skills that seem important there. Maybe 3-5 years of concrete plans and 5-10 years of more nebulous planning?

    2. saskia*

      That is awesome, congrats! Very curious for many reasons — and you certainly don’t have to answer this — but what are you doing differently now that you’re no longer masking vs. at previous jobs?

  36. lostclone*

    I’m not looking for advice on this one I just… need to tell someone.

    We recently moved into a smaller office space. In the before times my company was very against working from home but, since COVID, we’ve settled into a hybrid working schedule and, thus, we have fewer desks than people.

    One guy (we shall call him Don) was particularly unhappy about no longer having an assigned desk. Once we moved, Don chose the best desk in the office (nice corner desk, near a window & the printer), decided it was his, and makes sure he’s in first on all his days so he can sit at ‘his desk’.

    But it’s not good enough that Don sits at The Desk every time he’s in. No-one else should be sitting at his desk! He started by leaving all his stuff out until, in a fit of practicality, one of the senior managers moved it all to a cupboard so other people could sit at The Desk. (No, of course no-one talked to Don about it, what madness is that?)

    It worked for maybe a week until Don decided on a different strategy – now he’s leaving dirty cups and plates on The Desk on the supposition that no one dares to move them lest they become liable for washing them up. He’s correct – no one but Don has sat at The Desk since.

    Of course, still no-one has talked to Don about it. I’m still not sure if it’s smart or incredibly gross.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Evil thought: What happens if you leave your dirty dishes on Don’s desk on the days he’s not there?

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Don is an ass and management needs to have a serious talk with him.

      I would have no problem dealing with Don.

    3. Panicked*

      1. Your management needs to grow a spine and set expectations with this guy.
      2. Get a box, put the dishes in there, and leave it on the desk when you leave for the day.

    4. Anonymous 75*

      I’d be very tempted to just throw the dishes, etc out, especially of their his personal items.

      1. lostclone*

        They’re not personal, which I think is why people are worried about being stuck cleaning them.

        1. Ama*

          Honestly I’d be tempted to put a big sign on them that says “Don’s” and move them to the kitchen (or wherever the sink is) — then the next time he came in say “oh Don you left your dishes on the desk by the window so we moved them to the kitchen so they wouldn’t get broken when someone else was sitting there.”

          I used to have a passive aggressive roommate — I learned pretty quickly that the only way to deal with people who try to manipulate you like that is to name what they are doing and not let them get away with it.

    5. Clisby*

      No one dares to move dirty cups and saucers? Can’t people just … put them in the kitchen/break room? Or bring in a cardboard box and put them there? I don’t see why the only choices are (1) leave them on the desk and (2) wash them.

  37. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Talked to boss. Apparently I’m doing fine and get a raise. Shrug I guess?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Would you prefer they tell you you’re terrible and they’ll never give you more money?

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I’d just like to hear ‘ oh this is good because x,but you can improve on y.This is how y is improved. ‘ I always want to do a good job instead of muddling around

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Then ask. “Is there anything I can improve on?” If the answer is “no, you’re doing well”, then work on accepting that.

  38. dot*

    There’s a new-ish young guy in our office that keeps wearing a backwards baseball cap (in our semi-casual office) and it irrationally drives me a bit nuts. That’s all.

    1. Silly Hats*

      You’re not alone, dot. To me, unless the wearer is (a) kneeling behind home plate, and also wearing a chest protector and catcher’s mitt, or (b) giving their subordinates the “Up periscope” order, backwards baseball hats just look … kinda sad and pathetic.

    2. HahaLala*

      I have a coworker who wear a baseball cap everyday in our semi casual office. I never thought much of it, but then another coworker mentioned he only started wearing it after he had brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. His head is now extra sensitive to cold and I imagine there’s a good sized scar that he might be a touch self conscious about. He wears the hat everyday because it’s more comfortable for him– not saying that’s the case with your new coworker, but you never know!

      1. dot*

        It’s not necessarily the baseball cap I mind, we have a lot of those here and it’s totally acceptable. It’s just the fact that he wears it backwards that looks so incredibly juvenile to me and I want to just tell him how goofy it looks (though I would never).

  39. In Bear Country*

    How to know when people are just coasting on other people’s efforts?

    I have a senior technical person (bear wrangling) who was hired from an adjacent industry (llama wrangling) and we have been very accommodating with people to help with the new tech and show them the ropes. But the quality of work/effort I am getting is not up to senior standards. They say they are new to the field (so I knew in advance that they would need llama wrangling help), but they are missing some very basic, general animal care issues so they are leaning pretty heavily on others for help.

    My boss suggests they need more training; I think they can’t do the work. I don’t know how to navigate this as projects have multiple people on them and top management is never going to let a project fail.

    1. ferrina*

      Make a training plan with benchmarks of what they will be able to achieve at each step. Include what training you are giving them, what resources they’ll be able to reference, and what they’ll be able to achieve.

      Show it to your boss for sign off. Make sure your boss reviews and says “yes, this is a good plan with reasonable expectations”

      Then enact the training plan. Check in with your boss after a couple weeks. If they are getting up to speed, great. If they aren’t, well, go back to your boss and say “hey, even after the trainings they are still behind where we need them to be. What are the next steps?” If the boss tries to say “More training!” point out that it’s not feasible to train indefinitely, and ask for concrete steps. It might be time for a PIP (I’ve put someone on a PIP after less than a month; turns out he’d lied about experience on his resume).
      Note that the training plan is already quietly setting the grounds for a PIP- you’ve already documented that he’s not meeting expectations when he didn’t meet the expectations from your training plan.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And it’s REALLY not feasible to train and train and train. I train where I work, and there are some people who simply cannot get the hang of the job (it seems like an easy job, but there’s lots of codes and things to memorize, you have to type and talk at the same time, and so on.)

        After each training session, I check in with my manager (who runs the phone center) with an update as to whether they have X down or need more time on it tomorrow, things like that. But I have had a couple of trainees where I had to say “They just aren’t getting it and it’s becoming more trouble and cost than it’s worth to keep going.”

        It was never because the person was dumb or refused to try, but just a fundamental mismatch of person and job.

  40. NeutralJanet*

    I’m in grad school and recently got a new supervisor, and I do like her quite a bit, but she has this annoying habit of always saying “we” instead of “you”. For example, she’ll say, “How are we doing with our classes?” and “Have we started working with our new caseload yet, or are we going to do that next week?” It’s obviously not a big deal, I can live with it, especially since I only have to meet with her until September, but it’s rubbing me the wrong way every time.

    And of course now I’m concerned that I have random little speech habits that drive other people batty, I tend to refer to inanimate objects as “she” rather than “it” a lot which is probably on the annoying spectrum for some, so I suppose I should give my supervisor some grace, but…we don’t have classwork, I have classwork!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh that’s especially annoying for somebody in grad school, because it sounds like the kind of thing a nanny or a preschool teacher would say!

      1. White rabbit*

        My trick for annoying habits from other people is a (strictly internal!) bingo card, so I actually kind of look forward to them exhibiting the behavior. If it’s just one thing, I predict how many times it will happen that day and see how close I get.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Vindicated, that would drive me bonkers. My husband refers to everything as THE (whatever) – it’s never “my iPad,” it’s “THE iPad” (never mind that there’s four of them in our house), which is annoying to me in the same vein.

    3. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Oh god that would drive me batty. Somehow it feels condescending or infantilizing, though that might be unfair – it reminds me of a teacher talking to young kids.

      I’d be biting my tongue all the time so I didn’t say “oh, do you have classwork too?”

      1. Hazel*

        Ooh I would say that! Innocently!

        It is annoying and patronising and is likely making you feel it is ageist which is why it grinds your gears.

        In the same way, referring to objects as ‘she’ can come off as very sexist, especially if it is eg a malfunctioning copier. So maybe don’t do that.

  41. Wh_web*

    Looking for advice to navigate a project with someone I’m not fully fond of!

    So there’s a UX designer sometimes has attitude issues. We’re not a big team and her manager (my peer) just went on maternity, so she’s the only UX person now.

    We’re in complementary roles that tend to collaborate, and we’re almost there same age but because she made a mid-career switch she’s in a more junior role than me.

    She’s tends to expect people to tell her what to do and doesn’t really take initiative to be more proactive. On the other hand, it feels like she wants to be treated like a peer, and be given autonomy. She’s talked back to both me AND her manager this year, so before this my main strategy was just to avoid working with her.

    Now I don’t have a choice, and I don’t really know how to handle her. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t actually pay attention to the rank game so long as you actually put in the work (i always collaborated with her predecessor because she was proactive and could take her specialty at run). But she wants to be told what to do on top of being treated like she should have autonomy… like… what??

    Recently we started a project together, and when we had a huddle after a week, she just showed me a bunch of uninspired wires with little thought behind them. I had to go back and build a direction, send her examples, and tell her what to do! All my other projects suffered because I had to put in the extra effort, and she couldn’t even ping in between to ask about stuff (her workload is less than half of mine).

    Her work style is very conflicting with mine, and her attitude irritates me. She’s also working remotely now, which I can’t tell if it’s a good thing or bad thing.

    Does anyone have advice on how to handle this? I’m ok with being told to put on my big girl pants, because I do know I should be trying to be the bigger person. But I really need strategies on how to deal with her workstyle and her attitude, so I stop feeling so frustrated.

    1. ferrina*

      She sounds really frustrating! Ideally you would have consulted with her manager before the manager went on leave. Who is currently managing this UX designer? This is a serious performance issue.

      For what to do- depends on your project’s timeline. If it’s more flexible, continue to send her back to the drawing board. Make her do the lift (find some example from ABC) and set a LOT more meetings to check in. If it’s less flexible, do the lift and again, a LOT more check-ins.

      I recommend check-ins early on to “make sure we’re on the same page”. I usually have a look of wide-eye innocence and enthusiasm that distracts people from the fact that I’m actually managing them very closely (I’m also a petite bubbly white woman who looks 10 years younger than I am- I weaponize people underestimating me because it happens so much).
      Be ready to do way too much emotional management. Give compliments when you can. Occasionally make it sound like she’s doing you a favor or flatter her in some way (“I really need to see this more fleshed out so I can picture it. Thank you so much for understanding!”). This doesn’t work long term, but it can make the short term more bearable until the manager gets back.

      And document her poor performance. Write in email what your ask is, even if you’ve already stated it in a meeting (you can frame it as “I find it really helpful to send emails summarizing my meetings- it’s like built in notes I can refer back to!”). Don’t tell her what you’re doing, but do gently flag when there’s inconsistencies between the ask and the delivered product. Ideally, you’d state the inconsistencies in a bubbly way to minimize the chance of her feeling attacked. You’ll be walking the line between pointing out the issues and having her get defensive- it’s a horrible thing to that you need to do it, but the first question on your documenation will be “how did you address it?” You want to be able to say you flagged it and offered her support.
      Bring the documentation to her manager when the manager returns. Have a sit-down meeting to talk through your concerns. Include how the extra management of the designer impacted the project and your workload (how many extra hours did you put in? was there delays in the project?) This designer’s work sounds really, really bad. You shouldn’t feel like you need to avoid her and she shouldn’t be giving you subpar work. Hopefully this gets resolved.
      Good luck!

    2. Goddess47*

      Start with the talk and make it direct and measurable. “Elsa and I used to do X together and she would do the Y parts. What parts of Y can you do?” Get her to commit to what she can and cannot do. You don’t care how it gets done, just that it gets done. Give her examples of what Elsa used to do and ask her what parts of that she can and cannot do.

      (I also don’t know the legalities about maternity leave wherever you are. Can you call Elsa and ask her how she handled Greta?)

      Talk to whomever is supervising her now. They may or may not know a lot (Elsa likely did the heavy lifting) but document, document, document.

      Make it a business problem. “I need Greta to do X and she has not. This is the work I received from her. If I do the work, that means I will not be able to complete A, B, C on time. How do you want me to pursue this?”

      After all the talking, worse case is to let something fail. Document it all. You asked for K, got M, asked again, got M again, project is in trouble.

      Won’t be easy. Good luck!

      1. Optimus Prime*

        I would not bring up her predecessor – seems passive aggressive. Just be direct on what you expect from her. Set clear expectations, deadlines, the type of designs you want to see etc. and hold her to them.

        Her mama fee may let her get away with not being proactive so she might not have a baseline. Spell out the things you want to see her do without being prompted and set up checkins.

  42. new year, new name*

    Does anyone have ideas for workarounds/accommodations for knowledge workers who have trouble with writing? Not in a skills sense per se — recently I have been dealing with some cognitive issues that, in part, manifest as severe writer’s block (for anything serious, of course not for writing internet comments, LOL). A big part of my job is writing things like blog posts, research articles, reports, etc. The end results are typically still ok, it just takes me massively long amounts of time (and also massively large amounts of anxiety/procrastination) to actually DO it. It’s like I open the page and my brain just shuts off.

    Things I have considered include talking into a speech-to-text program, asking someone else to write a first draft, using ChatGPT… What’s worked for you?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Two things that usually work for me (can be done together or separately):

      (1) Write stream-of-consciousness for a few minutes. It’s always easier to edit a page of words than to start with a blank page, so start filling the page with words. I usually start with “I don’t know what to write I have to write a blog post but I don’t know how to start it…” and so on. By the end, I may have a few sentences I can use for the actual blog post (or other writing deliverable), and then I can start writing around those sentences.

      (2) Writing on paper. My brain is less likely to completely shut off when looking at lines notebook paper than when looking at a blank Microsoft Word document. Bonus: you can doodle on the page before you start writing or while you’re writing to keep your hand/brain engaged while waiting for the words to arrive.

    2. Goddess47*

      Go for a walk first and blow off the dust. So that maybe whatever is causing the writing block can be lessened. And the physical activity can help.

      Write differently. Change your font, use crayons, make lists instead of sentences, write it deliberately badly, put on loud music, come up with all the worst clichés you would never use, write standing up, promise yourself a treat after you’ve outlined one thing.

      You have words in there somewhere… let them ooze out differently.

      Good luck!

    3. Try This*

      Yes – you should definitely use ChatGPT as a resource/tool for creative inspiration. You can do a search on efficient ways to prompt the model and really leverage it to reduce the amount of writing time you are investing in your job. Ideally, you would be able to focus more on editing the text that is generated rather than doing everything from scratch.

      1. Laika*

        But grain of salt if you’re a subject matter expert – ChatGPT will never get anything right for my line of work, and will only ever produce generic (and sometimes just flat-out wrong) scripts.

        I’ve found ChatGPT most helpful only after the content itself is done and I’m in the editing phase. Sometimes I get stuck on rewording something and in those cases AI is a blessing.

      2. Dr Fresh*

        I was actually going to comment that this might be the one way to use ChatGPT. At least as a first draft.

    4. Laika*

      I wish I could be helpful here but I struggle with the same thing (and a lot of my job is writing!).

      Talk-to-text has never worked for me, I just get frustrated fighting with ChatGPT, and while I would love to have someone do a first draft for me, that’s not usually realistic in my role. So unfortunately the only thing that gets me moving is to just write a bunch of garbage first.

      I spend just 20-30 minutes to get literally ANYTHING on the page, then I set it down and return to it the next day. This gives me a working starting point (it’s the baby version of someone else drafting it for me), and it’s less of an emotional battle with myself to get moving. That way, I can read whatever is there, even if it’s just a single trash paragraph, and say, “oh, well, that’s not quite right” or “I didn’t capture that exactly”. Then I’ll start editing that. This usually helps me to overcome the initial bout of paralysis when facing a blank page and blinking cursor.

      By committing some block of time to just writing garbage and then walking away, it also means I’m not wasting 6 hours of my working day just grappling with writer’s block, which can be a huge time and energy black hole.

    5. WellRed*

      I’m a reporter so slightly different type of writing but the advice I always give is you don’t have start at the beginning. Like, maybe you already know how you want to close the piece. Get that on the page!

    6. Junior Dev*

      When I had a job that involved more writing I’d try different visual/physical approaches. One I thought worked really well was to write up a bullet-pointed summary of my thoughts, print it out (formatted with space between the bullets), cut the printout up so that each piece was a single idea, pin them to a whiteboard with magnets, and try arranging them in different orders with different ideas for connecting statements/transitions between ideas written in dry-erase marker.

      I also find it helps sometimes to turn on an audio recording program and just sort of talk as though I’m explaining why I think something is interesting or important or what my ideas about it are—not trying to construct anything in the structure or style that I want the end product to have, just getting ideas out.

      1. Indolent Libertine*

        I used to do that in school, except it was with lined binder paper that I cut up with scissors and moved the pieces around like a jigsaw puzzle.

    7. tab*

      What works for me is by starting with a bullet list of points I want to make. Then I can group them into paragraphs and start writing.

    8. Spearmint*

      I find writing bulleted lists, where I tell myself just to get all my thoughts on the page regardless of whether they’re good or not or well-written or not, really helps. Then it’s a matter of refining them and piecing them together into a longer piece.

    9. Thunder kitten*

      Im sure you’ve considered breaking the writing into pieces and just tackling the “easiest”. Maybe thats creating a figure, or writing up a protocol, or listing references.
      I struggle with freeform / creative style writing – either I sit down and got the flow, and it works… or I stare at the screen for an hour and have 4 words to show for it.

    10. Cedrus Libani*

      My personal block is that I have a hard time getting out of “edit” mode long enough to put words on paper. The thing that works for me is writing an aggressively bad first draft. Not just unpolished, but outright deranged, such that there is no possibility that anything written in this draft will make it to the final product. I like to write by hand, in pen, using an illegible cursive scrawl that I can only read because I more-or-less remember what it says, and in a language that’s less English and more “LOLcat on a bender, but with even more expletives than you think”.

      Once I’ve gotten the points I need to make on paper, I can sit down at my computer and translate this gibberish into a coherent final draft, editing for logical flow as needed. It’s just the first draft that breaks my brain.

  43. Nusuth*

    Soooo…. my old company owes me $600 that I’ve been chasing down for five months and I’m starting to get really frustrated. In March, I got laid off and my HR contact said they would mail me a box for my laptop and a package with all my things (it was a hybrid job and I came into the office sometimes – I could’ve gone downtown and gotten it but it didn’t occur to me). Two months go by while I’m spiraling about finding a new job and then settling in at my new job before I realize they’ve sent me neither. They promptly sent the laptop box but my stuff never came. Two months of near constant pestering emails returned with nonresponses or “We’re looking, I’ll let you know by the end of the week” turned into my contact fessing up to losing my stuff and now another month of “we’re working on it” messages about sending me the $560 my stuff is worth (a bunch of back issues of a fairly expensive industry publication and two pairs of nice work shoes, if you’re wondering – not to mention the irreplaceable sentimental mug). I just sent my fourth email into the void since my HR contact said on 6/26 that she would let me know by 6/30, and have plans to call (again!!) this afternoon if I still don’t get a response. I’m beyond frustrated and feeling so soured on this company (unrelated to the layoff, which was expected and cordial!). What more can I do? Has anyone dealt with this and can suggest a course of action, or something to say? It was a big company and I have no idea who else she works with, but I can start emailing any HR professionals whose emails I can find!

    1. Panicked*

      You need to escalate above the HR rep. Can you call the main line of the org and ask to speak with their supervisor?

    2. ecnaseener*

      Small claims court maybe? Idk if it would be worth it to you, but at some point that’s the next step.

    3. Hillary*

      Do you have a good relationship with a manager who’s still there (not necessarily yours, just someone who manages people)? Reach out to them and ask for help. They can escalate it through their channels.

  44. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

    Hi! Can I get some stories of people who have successfully come through a PIP? I got my first one yesterday, and I genuinely do not know how to cope with being in this much trouble. The way my company does it is we get three strikes: 1 verbal warning, 2 written warning, 3 termination. I do not need any kind of negative comments or feedback, my mental health is already bad enough (I wasn’t all that excited to finally listen to “Speak Now (TV)” and I’ve been counting down to this for literal months).

    This does kind of come as a shock, because I had my performance review the other day and it went totally fine. There were things I needed to work on, but we talked about what I could learn once I am off qc, etc. I was moved to this team at the end of last year, and I was not asked if this was something I wanted (and I would have preferred to stay on my original team). I don’t think that this role is the best fit, and it’s definitely a lot more black and white than other jobs I’ve had, and I’ve been learning a lot about myself. I cannot mentally go through another job hunt – getting this took the better part of a year. But I would look into moving to another team as soon as I reasonably can.

    I’ve also been working with one of my coworkers in person, and that’s been a huge help. There have been a decrease in my errors, as well as the severity of them. But I honestly think leadership just cares that I am still making them. I wasn’t expecting to go from 10 errors a week down to 0 seemingly overnight, but I guess they did. I wish I would have had more time to work with my coworker before this PIP was implemented, because I had been having these issues for months and now things finally felt like they were looking up, and then this happens after only a few weeks.

    Anyway, I do plan on taking this seriously, and I sent leadership an email saying that, as well as a couple specific examples on how I can improve. I wasn’t given any kind of a “due date” but was told that we’d be meeting weekly. Leadership does seem to think that this will be the wake up call I need and that I won’t make it to strike 2.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      It doesn’t sound like your PIP was handled well! It should NOT come as a surprise: it should come after you’ve already received feedback on things that are going badly and what you need to do to improve. It should PROVIDE you with details on the things that need to improve, and on how that improvement will be measured, not require you to come up with suggestions for ways you could improve. If you got a decent performance review followed by a PIP only days later, something is wrong with how your management is handling feedback and coaching. I think that making sure you know what their expectations for improvement are, and that you know how they’ll decide if those expectations are met, is the most important thing you can do right now. I’d be asking those questions ASAP. Get the answers in writing. And if they can’t provide any clear answers (which wouldn’t surprise me), just do your best, and start looking for another job, because even if you get to a point where you can satisfy them, you’re dealing with a place that doesn’t sound great, frankly.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        yeah so the things i have to do in this PIP are kind of vague and the things we have been talking about all along, which clearly aren’t working. ex: i should be asking more questions. but they also want me to gain confidence…. so one of the things i said in the email to leadership was that i’d be asking my coworker about specific situations we encounter. i guess in the email i was trying to show that i’m taking this seriously.

        in retrospect, i wonder if them not giving me a set date for this would work against me. they want to see consistent improvement, but if i for whatever reason kind of fluctuate, i’m worried they will be like “well jk you’re not improving, you’re moving on to strike 2.”

        but honestly, even if i do pass, i’m probably going to look to go on another team. from the start this has been a struggle – partially due to miscommunication. like as an example, at the beginning, i was taking my time with the work. my leader called and asked what was up, because i was performing way under. i didn’t know what the expectations were….

    2. Jazz and Manhattans*

      I was put on a PIP when leadership was mucking about on my project without my knowledge, it was causing issues and I was the one thrown under the bus by said leadership (stakeholder complained to Leader and even though Leader knew they were the issue they gladly agreed it was me). I was given specific things to work on that I was not doing anyway. At the end, I sat with HR and my boss and was told people were very happy with the change. I told them straight out that I absolutely did *nothing* different. Boss said, that’s ok, they think you did. Sigh. OK. I quit a month later and when I told HR, why are you surprised when you treat people like I was treated? She said, yeah, we get that alot. Um…yet you allow the bad behavior to continue. Ok. So yes, you can make it through a PIP but do think overall if the culture/reason that would put you on the PIP is what you want to continue to deal with but in your case it sounds like you have it in hand a hopefully all will go very well for you!

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        thank you for sharing! your HR sounds like something else….. i’m glad you’re out of that job!

    3. Justin*

      I made it through one. I had to sacrifice some family time to buckle down on errors I was making, all of which in retrospect were undiagnosed ADHD so I’m pretty mad about it now, but yeah I just went above and beyond for a few months and then they left me alone. It sucked.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        that’s what i am hoping to do, just buckle down and get them off my back. i’m sorry you had to go through that, though, even if it “worked out” in the end.

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t love how your company has handled this.

      I’ve recently had two employees come through PIPs. One totally buckled down and made real improvements, used every resource we gave him, came up with game plans in the areas he needed more help than we could offer – just really made it through. I can tell he’s still on edge but he’s on the other side of the experience.

      The other….did the bare minimum, pushed back at every step, has a generally bad attitude. But she has the raw skills that leadership wants to see her succeed. So. She still passed.

      There are a lot of different flavors of getting through a PIP. I’m encouraged that yours seems to have a foregone positive conclusion. But the fact that you were caught off guard and are struggling to grasp the details doesn’t speak well of how your company handles disciplinary action. Which is not a strength for a lot of companies, but I want to at least validate any frustration you’re feeling here.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        i appreciate the validation! i am frustrated – like i know i’ve been having real issues, but they’ve been getting better, especially since i started working with my coworker. to then have this happen weeks after we started working together, after having said issues for months, feels like a slap in the face. especially after a generally positive review literal days before. and when i wasn’t even asked if i wanted to be on this team in the first place….

        anyway, i do hope that i am more like your first employee – that’s definitely what i am trying for! i’m worried that management will only care about the errors i am making, not the work i’m putting in. we’re all remote – except for me and my coworker – so they can’t see the effort i am putting in, or the errors i catch on my own.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Remote definitely makes it more difficult – but remember these optics work both ways. Because they’re monitoring your PIP right now, they simply might be commenting on the errors because that’s the scope. The same way you didn’t hear much before, you’re not hearing much now except what’s under a microscope.

          But keep track of these things you wish they’d seen or commented on. Keep your own notes. When you reach the end of your PIP period send a reflection about your progress and call out all those other things. I think that will make you feel better and help them get some context on the bigger picture.

          1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            Thank you for this comment! I’m keeping a log of the mistakes I’m making, but also how I’m making changes so they don’t happen again.

            I also like the idea of keeping a general log of how I think things are going in this process. And what I wish they’d comment on – like even if I make mistakes, there’s a lot I’m learning too and not doing anymore.

    5. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

      Thank you, everyone for your responses! I’m so glad a PIP doesn’t have to automatically mean termination.

      However, I have come to realize there’s a lot of miscommunication from my direct boss. As an example, I’ve been working with my coworker, and my goal for this process was to get my errors down. But in the verbal warning, they (boss and grand boss) told me that I have to hit a certain accuracy %. That would have been really nice to know much earlier than this. I thought getting my errors down was enough but if I knew I had to really get a certain %….

      Or the fact that things that didn’t used to be/count as errors suddenly were being counted. I get why, but there was no conversation or even a heads up, they were just suddenly being added.

      I feel like just in general, I’m being held to expectations and standards that I don’t know about. So, when I pass this PIP, I’m going to be looking to move to a totally different team. I think I’m going to make that my ultimate motivation for this. Like yes it’ll be great to get leadership off my back, but I want to move.

  45. Soon to be parent*

    I just started a new job in March, and I am fully remote. I am now pregnant with my first child-yay! But I’m am unsure when to tell my supervisor. It’s still early. I’ll finish up the first trimester at the end of July, but I’m planning ahead. When do you think I should tell her? I want to make sure she has plenty of time to get coverage for my clients when I’m out on my paid 6-week leave. And I’m a little nervous since I’m so new. I feel very fortunate, and I want to make sure I do the right thing here.

    1. ferrina*

      I vote late in the second trimester or when you hit the third trimester (assuming all goes smoothly with the pregnancy- sending good vibes your way!)
      2-3 months is usually plenty of time to get coverage. Rule of thumb is to not tell earlier than you need to unless you really trust the person, because the stigma and discrimination is still real. I made the mistake of telling my boss at 4 months, and for the next 5 months I had no growth opportunities because “you never know when you’ll need to go out”. He assigned me the lowest priority work because “stress is bad for the baby”. You’re still new, so you don’t know how your boss will react.

      1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

        Yes, the trust part is key – for both my pregnancies, I informed my supervisor right at the start of the second semester so there would be plenty of time to plan for coverage. I trusted my supervisor, and both times, it worked out really well for me (and the office, too).
        I also had a direct report tell me during her first trimester, because of all the morning sickness she was having and she needed help with an event during that time.
        More notice is better, but ONLY IF you trust the supervisor/office to handle it well.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Congratulations! Anecdotally speaking, I waited until I’d received the results of NIPT testing (prenatal genetic testing) before telling my job about my pregnancy. This was shortly after the end of my first trimester, and I felt comfortable talking about it then because I could be reasonably sure there were no serious problems that would make me hesitant to try to carry the pregnancy to term. I would definitely wait until at least the end of your first trimester.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Oh, and in addition: if you’re going to need time off for repeated appointments before you are comfortable telling your boss about the pregnancy, the whole “I’m going to be needing a number of medical appointments coming up–my health is fine, so don’t worry” script works nicely.

      2. JustaTech*

        Yes, I waited until after the genetic testing (woo being old means you get all the tests covered!) and then told my boss and his boss. I actually told my coworker first, because she told me *she* was pregnant first, about a month ahead of me.

        I waited to tell the rest of the office until week 20, when we did our big “tell everyone” announcement. We were all working in-person so I assumed everyone had noticed, but no, no one had noticed!
        Congratulations!

    3. 29 weeks*

      Congrats!! I told my manager and HR when I was around 16 weeks, and in retrospect I wish I’d told them a little earlier. I was really anxious about something going wrong with the pregnancy, and on top of that, we didn’t have a documented maternity leave policy (I know, wth) so I was putting off telling them in case they gave me something out of line with my industry. I was ready to walk if they did, but it would’ve been such a hassle. Of course, had I gotten bad news on that front, more time would have been better to job search. I was just giving in to anxiety!

      It’s true that there’s still discrimination against pregnant people but remember it’s also illegal! You’re more protected after you tell them than before.

  46. Jazz and Manhattans*

    HR peeps – is there a standard that is given to show how much it costs a company when people leave and you have to rehire? So the cost of people leaving essentially perhaps as a percent of the salary? For example, if the average salary in a group is $50K would it cost that and an additional 10% for all the work it takes for the hiring and training process? It seems to me that organizations (leadership?) don’t take into account how much more it costs an org when people leave due to dysfunction. They would rather just keep the hiring and leaving rather than acknowledge the hard costs to keep doing that.

    1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Do you think any number would actually be accepted by the ones causing the dysfunction? I would bet it would be challenged/disregarded/argued that it wasn’t relevant to the org. Dysfunctional people are going to keep dysfunctioning in the fact of cold hard facts … and a steady stream of people leaving, and leaving after (presumably) short stints should be a large enough red flag!

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I generally use 2.5x the person’s salary as a minimum, depending on what they do.
      So for a delivery person (one that was performing well) it the opportunity cost of the revenue they don’t deliver while the position is unfilled + revenue not delivered while the new hire is being trained + any recruiting costs + the cost of everyone (say, in management) to interview for the position and manage the hiring and onboarding process + anything else you can think of
      In my experience, it is way cheaper to listen to employee feedback, be ahead of compensation adjustments and try to build a company with a great culture than to backfill roles because the company is being shortsighted and stupid

  47. Seema*

    I am in a shameful state at work and could really use some advice. I was promoted from a customer service position which I was fully burning out of, into an admin position that is (in theory) an AMAZING opportunity (same company). Didn’t get much guidance and it’s mainly self-directed. This was at the end of last year.

    Since then, between several months of working through multiple bouts of COVID and a massive increase to my responsibilities, I am so far behind that I am paralyzed. It’s a double headed issue – my workload is big and poorly defined, and I’m not really getting through any of it because I just can’t even engage with how far behind I am. I can’t even say ‘I’m working hard, but there’s too much to do’ because sometimes I am barely doing anything. I’m working to support my colleagues , so they are the ‘clients’ who are slowly getting annoyed. My boss is really hands-off and doesn’t seem to notice, but I know he would not be happy about how ineffective I’m being.

    I feel just awful about it, totally disgusted with myself, but I’m frozen with fear. When I look at my work it’s like it’s staring back at me. I’ll need to reach out to a team for help with one project, but I know they are waiting on my follow up for another project since FOREVER and I just can’t face it. And at the SAME time, most of my friends are working retail or manufacturing and I just can’t believe how I’m wasting an opportunity like this.

    I don’t know how I’m supposed to respect myself, this is really upending my self-image and ability to enjoy any other part of life. I have always struggled with severe executive function and guilt issues but usually I power through at work and at least work HARD. It’s like the spell broke and I don’t know how to get that back. I can’t admit to anyone how lazy I sometimes am at work because I feel like they would never respect me again. This has been going on for months now and it’s really killing me. If anyone has advice I REALLY need it. Thanks so much!

    1. ferrina*

      So many hugs. First, know that this is not a reflection of you. This is a perfect storm of life circumstances that no one could come through unscathed.

      To recap- You burned out. You moved to a position where you weren’t given much guidance. You had a dramatic increase in responsibilities without much support. You’ve always struggled with executive function, and you’re suddenly in a position that requires a high level. Plus, you had major health issues.
      OF COURSE YOU’RE STRUGGLING!!
      Again, this is not a reflection on you!!! You are not lazy, and I forbid you to call yourself lazy ever again! You wouldn’t be mad at someone who was sick because they weren’t running a marathon. So why are you blaming yourself when you are clearly struggling?

      So what to do next. Ready?
      1. Make a list of all your projects. Prioritize them into Top Priority, Middling Priority, and Eh, I Can Pretend This Doesn’t Exist.
      2. Make a 3-month plan for what needs to get done. Plan to work 6 hours each day. That leaves some wiggle room for things to come up.
      3. Clear your social calendar to only things that bring you joy. Let the housework go. The next few months are going to be exhausting so be really, really gentle on yourself.
      4. Get thee to a doctor. There may be underlying causes here (anxiety? depression? ADHD?), and medication can be a great tool. If you get a diagnosis, you can also tap into other networks for folks with that diagnosis and learn new tricks.
      5. Break your list into manageable tasks, and reward yourself often. If it helps to gamify your to-do list, do that. Put on your favorite motivating music, wear your lucky socks, eat your favorite foods (no guilt allowed). Don’t have stretch goals; have very gentle, very achievable goals. Build up some wins- I promise, it will get easier.
      6. Keep a journal of achievements. Every night, write down what you accomplished that day. This can be as little as you want- “I sent that email. I had a meeting. I washed the dishes. I delegated” (delegating is sooo good!) Right now your mind is stuck looking at what you didn’t do. You need to re-teach it to see what you did do.
      7. Accept help when offered. If someone offers to extend a deadline, say yes. If you can delegate something, do it. You don’t need to ask your boss for help if you think he’ll have a bad reaction, but if someone safe offers to support you, say yes. I promise, you aren’t a burden (even when your brain tries to convince you otherwise).

      I have been in your shoes. After burning out, going through a personal crisis and switching to a new job with negative onboarding (I didn’t even know you could go into negatives with onboarding!), I hit a really bad patch. I could barely function. We’re talking a max of 2 hours of work per day. My work was suffering horribly. I’m usually highly driven and navigated some really tough roles, but this time I just….couldn’t.
      It turns out I had Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). It’s a common form of depression. My only symptoms were exhaustion and a major mental block (the “I can’t”ness). My doctor started my on medication. Luckily we found a good medication on the right try. It wasn’t a silver bullet, but it gave me the little push I needed to be able to make it through the day and access my brain again. From there, I was able to get myself back on track. It was hard af. I constantly doubted myself. I used all of those tricks that I listed above to get myself through. Like you, I had also struggled with executive function for most of my life (I’m ADHD). I tapped into the How To ADHD community on YouTube, and learned so many great tricks that I was able to use.
      I’m doing much better now. I still have quiet days, but I more than make up for them. I’m now able to recognize when I’m hitting a wall, and I’m able to be gentle with myself and give myself a little boost to get me over that wall. It slowly gets easier.

      You can do this. It won’t be easy or fun, but you will get through this. We’re cheering for you. Hope this helps!

      1. Seema*

        Thank you very much for such a detailed response! This is really helpful. It’s a good plan and it’s encouraging to know that you’ve overcome something comparable. I do have an ADHD Dx but I will look at managing it more agressively because I think that is a factor here. But just feeling that it’s doable and not like, the death knell of my worth as a member of society makes a big difference!

        1. ferrina*

          Since you’re ADHD, it sounds like you might be facing what can be termed The Wall of Awful. The How to ADHD channel has a great video on it- I felt so seen!
          I’ll attach it in a comment below.

      2. A Person*

        I love this detailed response. I also have a very simple suggestion that may help out when you are ready to work but looking at the pile – zoom WAAAAAY in and pick 1 small thing that can be worked on right now. If you can’t find anything to work on, pick 1 small project that you can’t work on and identify why not and you may find the 1 thing in that (follow up on an email that hasn’t been responded to, for example).

        I used this a lot when I was dealing with my own work anxiety as it helped quiet my “I’m not doing anything” voice long enough to get me over the hump. For me personally it turned into an obsession with a numbered to-do list because then I can always just refer back to the list and try to find the “one thing” there.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Remind yourself that *some* work is better than no work. Like, the team you need input from might be annoyed at you for the things you haven’t done, but they’ll still be glad to give you the input for the thing you *are* actively working on for them. Something is better than nothing.

    3. Can't Sit Still*

      First of all, admin work is hard and can be overwhelming. It’s never ending and the workload can expand infinitely. Are there any other admins in your company or admins you talk to in the course of your duties that you can talk to about best practices? Is there a local chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) or similar near you? Anyone who can mentor you locally? (Admins can eat their young, so trust your gut if anyone seems “off” to you or if their advice seems wrong.)

      Next, do you have access to an EAP to help with executive function and job stress? Also, you’re not lazy! You have executive disfunction, of course you’re not getting everything done in a brand new role! You can’t power through it because you don’t know how yet!

      Lastly, job advice: Make a list of everything you know you need to do. Absolutely everything. It can be on paper or whatever works for you. Categorize it if you can, and then prioritize it by deadline or whatever else makes sense to you. Set up a 1:1 with your manager and ask for help prioritizing your workload after you have a list. Set up a recurring 1:1 with your manager, which may need to be more often while you work on prioritizing your workload. You may find that what you thought was a priority wasn’t actually a priority. But you won’t know unless you ask.

      As appropriate, set up a meeting or call with the people you have to follow up with, admit that you are behind, and ask them what they need from you and get explicit deadlines from them on their projects. “I apologize that I got so far behind, and now I’m working on catching up on everything.” Some honesty will go a long way here.

    4. Hillary*

      You’re not lazy. Like ferrina said this was a perfect storm and sometimes life just sucks. Their plan is great.

      This sounds counterintuitive, but just own it. It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up that gets people. You know what you need to do and it sounds like fear is stopping you. Your stuff isn’t as important to folks on the other end as it is to you (as it should be, it’s your job, not theirs). I promise they don’t care that you haven’t followed up on something, if they did they would have told you. At most they’re thinking “oh hey, I wonder what’s going on with that”. I’ve been the person on the other end many times and we all get that there’s a ton going on.

      Seconding using your EAP and/or going to the doctor. Disentangling self-image from work is so hard, I’ve been working on it for years now.

  48. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    I’m curious what y’all think about this: We have a mid-senior level job open in my department and have for over a month with zero applicants. ZERO. (Well, I applied, but I’m not likely to be considered qualified which is fine.) I know a huge part of the problem is that my org doesn’t post jobs anywhere but our website and LinkedIn, but my boss and others in the org have been promoting it like crazy. My boss (a senior leader) has had 3 conversations that I know of (2 phone, 1 breakfast meeting) with potential applicants who she either knows or were referred to her by professional contacts, but even they haven’t applied!

    I guess I have two questions:

    1) Is it becoming typical for candidates to ask for an hour of a senior leaders’ time to find out more about a job without even bothering to apply, either before or after speaking to them? This is so foreign to me, I’m the kind of person where if I’m even remotely interested in a job I’ll apply right away.

    2) I get the sense there’s something about the org or, more likely, my boss in particular that’s putting people off. How likely is that to be the case?

    More details about the job: It’s a mid-senior role, but in any other org it would be highly senior (think Assistant Vice President vs Vice President) – here this person will be reporting to a senior leader but in most orgs this role would report to the CEO. This is a very in-demand field and we’ve had a hard time finding candidates at any level, but we do have specific qualifications in mind for this role. It’s very well paid, benefits and expectations in line with our peer orgs, and there are some drawbacks to our specific location vs the two or three other peer orgs in our community. My boss has a reputation internally of being hard to work for and has seen almost 100% turnover in her team last year, but I always thought externally her reputation was strong.

    I’m so curious to hear any thoughts or perspectives on what might be going on!

    1. Up and Away*

      My only thought is that it seems odd to me that the only place the company is recruiting is your website and Linked In. In my experience, those are the two LEAST effective methods. Are there any trade-specific orgs that have job boards that you could try? And I wouldn’t rule out job boards either. I think at this point, with zero applicants, these would be worth a try.

      1. Ama*

        Yes I’m not sure how people who aren’t on LinkedIn and don’t know about your company are supposed to know you have openings! Since it seems like you are a nonprofit I’d highly recommend at least posting on Idealist which is a very common job board for nonprofit work.

        But yes if your boss has had multiple conversations with people she personally invited because she thought they would be good candidates and no one has applied I would guess either her reputation is getting out there or there’s something about the way she’s handling herself in the meetings that’s making people realize they wouldn’t enjoy working for her. I’ve definitely had some chats with senior nonprofit leaders at conferences and thought “I see why they’re good at their job, but I don’t think I’d like it if they were my boss.”

    2. ferrina*

      1. That’s not abnormal when it’s a friend or personal contact, and it sounded like your boss agreed to an informational interview. That kind of thing is fine. They’re learning if they’re interested in applying, which is a wonderful luxury to have! I’ve done it myself. If the candidate were cold calling, then it would be weird.

      2. Yep, that’s almost certainly what’s happening.

      Also, seconding Up and Away- only posting on LinkedIn and the company’s website are terrible recruitment tactics. They should be hiring a recruiter or posting on a larger job board.

    3. Alex*

      I think companies were really used to employees flocking to them–just post a job anywhere and you’d get people–but now the tables have turned. I’m sure it is a combination of everything you’ve said–limited scope of job posting so it doesn’t get in front of as many people, a highly coveted skill set, a bad location, and perhaps the difficult reputation of the director is less secret than previously thought.

      Has your company considered hiring an external recruiter? They have their problems but could perhaps help.

    4. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      1. It can be fairly normal, especially for nonprofits or if the use of LinkedIn recruiting where the people inquiring might already be contacts.

      2. Either it’s the PAY being ridiculously low for the qualifications demanded, OR there is something about your boss and they way they come off in phone screens or interviews.

      Also: have you checked the reviews on your company? Possibly, there are bad reviews there influencing people.

    5. Stephanie*

      Not quite the same thing, but we had a job in my department that was difficult to fill. My company usually promotes internally and usually a bump up to first-level manager would have lots of applicants. This job required relocation because it couldn’t be done remotely, so there were almost no applicants.

      Was a little different because all internal searches, but I did #1 for this job after I was recommended. I never applied.

      I would say maybe you need to check everything’s in line with the market — might be that something may need to be recalibrated or you may need to be more flexible to get candidates.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      For the first, if they’re being approached about applying, a discussion before they go through the effort of applying sounds very reasonable. If, after that hour of discussion, they don’t want the job, then they won’t apply.

      For the second – the job is mis-classified as lower rank compared to industry standards, the boss is difficult to work with, and the boss’s team has had 100% turnover in a single year? That would be a job to approach with caution even in a slow job market; if better options are readily available I’m not surprised no-one is applying even without the issue of where you’re posting.

      FWIW, if your boss is difficult, and you’re in a fairly connected field (as you’re talking about peer orgs) I wouldn’t be at all surprised if her reputation has spread, particularly from the team members who fled her supervision.

      It sounds like your boss might be stuck in their point of view. They’re using techniques that would have gotten them multiple good applicants some years ago, and they’re not able to adjust to the new situation.

      1. HoundMom*

        I keep an eye on the job boards, even though I am not looking. There are certain roles that are open every six to nine months. No one who is aware applies for those jobs. There are reasons those roles are open so often.

        I would think the reputation of your boss plays into this as well. I had a client with a very difficult person in a lead role. They could not get people to work with her, even at very high levels. Once she left, the difficulties disappeared.

    7. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Honestly it must be a very flawed job in some way — the org itself, how the listing is defined/written, the location, or yes the boss — if there are zero applications. Either that or your ATS is eating the applications. (Do check that out.) Even if all they ever did was put it on LI, that’s a really big pool! There are tons of people looking for work in all sectors.

  49. kiki*

    My company promotes heavily from within, which is really great, but they aren’t great at training and onboarding new folks. Our company also tends to be understaffed. It’s a common occurrence for somebody to ask for help doing something, like running an SQL query on data for a client, then have someone say, “Oh, John used to do that, go to him for help!” But John is no longer just a customer support agent who happens to be talented at SQL, he’s now the Senior Product Manager. He’s been out of customer support for years and years. It’s actually pretty inappropriate to jump straight to him for this sort of request. John’s always nice about it, but people really shouldn’t be going to him for these requests. He’s stopped assisting, generally, but he’s still the first person other folks recommend. I always interject and redirect when I witness it happening, but I know this happens when I’m not around too. What makes it harder is that there isn’t somebody at the company right now who is great at SQL like John was. There 100000% should be and I can identify the folks who should be able to do this based on their role, but they struggle and often end up taking a long time or being less-than-helpful.

    What’s the best way to make sure people stop recommending John to assist with things that are, frankly, well below his paygrade and that somebody else should be trained to do at this point? I’m thinking I should talk to the manager of the folks who *should* be doing this, but that feels a little above my paygrade.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Is it possible to write up a doc for the most common things people need John for? That way, people can just be directed there (and John should as well if someone gets to him) and hopefully, that will eventually become the default.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Documentation can really help, if it’s consistently referenced and updated.

        I once put together a wiki page explaining what technical details I would need in order to troubleshoot. It was a large initial time investment, but it saved a ton of time in the long run. Anytime someone sent me an email without the required information, I just emailed them a link to that wiki page.

      2. kiki*

        There is a doc for common questions and that has helped! I think the issue is that the type of questions that still come to John really just need somebody who knows SQL fairly well to spend 20-45 minutes poking around the database documentation to figure something out. And then slowly but surely over time those people will become experts the way John was. But they’re really quick to reach out to John for everything.

        I’m not in this department or above any of these folks in the hierarchy, so I don’t feel like I can really say, “Hey, it’s really your job to figure this out yourself,” or tell them that they need more training. I’m just kind of watching John continually get these sorts of questions.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Are these company-specific queries? Or just general SQL? If it’s not company-specific, there’s no reason to bother John. Have people take a SQL online course or something. Or read a book.

      That said, yeah, there should be more documentation. Unless you’re able to make that change yourself, though, it may just be something you’re just frustrated by from afar.

      1. kiki*

        So it’s a bit of both. A lot of the people asking for the data just flat out don’t know SQL and for their roles and pay level, I wouldn’t really expect them to. Then there are people who do know SQL, and maybe should be a bit better at it, but their biggest blocker is lack of familiarity with the databases and fields. This group could poke around and figure these things out, but they’re very quick to ask John for help because it’s faster.

        The folks in the first group should be asking folks in the second to run SQL queries for them. But John is faster, so they keep trying to go to him. And then the second group will immediately reach out to John the minute they’re uncertain about anything. I’m not a manager of any of these folks or in the same department, but the nature of my job means I see this happening. If I were a manager, I would require folks to get necessary training and tell them they need to reach out to me before they reach out to John, but I’m not in that position.

        1. Fran*

          Is there someone you can point this out to? Like John even? I notice this happening but it is not my place to implement this- do their managers know it is a problem they lack? Does John think it is an issue?

          1. kiki*

            I’ve pointed this out to my manager and to John. John thinks it is an issue, but also doesn’t really know how to stop it besides stopping doing the requests (which he has done, for the most part). I don’t really have a relationship with these employees’ managers, but am willing to reach out if that’s the best next step. It’s one of those things where I feel like I should say something because I see it happening, but it’s also sort of none of my business. I think best case scenario is that John or John’s manager or my manager would reach out to the employees’ managers, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.

            1. AcademiaNut*

              If John isn’t answering questions, who should they ask? The people who don’t know SQL need someone to help when they need it, the people who should be better as SQL should be spending more time troubleshooting themselves, but still need an expert for when they’re genuinely stuck.

              If there’s no-one else they can be redirected to, I can see why they keep reverting to John.

              1. kiki*

                See, it’s not my department. I am not an expert at how these things should be run, I don’t know who the SME should be, but I’m also certain that this person should not be John. If he has to help out in an emergency once in a blue moon while the new SME (whoever that may be) transitions in, I think he would be fine with that. But John is busy with his own new, more senior job in a whole separate department– he can’t be doing both his old job and his new job indefinitely.

                1. kiki*

                  And a lot of the time, with time and effort, the group of folks who should be better at SQL figure out how to do what needs to be done– it just takes a while.

  50. Box of Kittens*

    Has anyone had anything like this happen before? My husband is changing careers and so is looking for a more flexible day job while he gets his new-career credentials. He applied for a sales/retail job with an internet/phone provider in our local retail store. The application process seemed pretty automated in that it had him do one of those personality tests after his submitted his application, and then prompted him to select a time for an interview. He selected a date and time, but then when he showed up for the interview the store manager didn’t even know this was supposed to be happening. I’m super disappointed and frustrated on his behalf. Is this common in retail-esque jobs like this???

    1. boop*

      I hired for retail and this was not how I did things at all. That’s really unprofessional of the company and they need to improve how they do things.

    2. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

      It happens in non-retail jobs, too. Someone once called me and asked me to come in for an interview after reviewing my resume. I showed up, and everyone was surprised to see me. They all acknowledged that they had a job opening for the position that I was interested in, but they had no idea how I found out about it. I gave them the name of the person who had called me. They said that she wasn’t in that day, and she hadn’t told anyone that she had scheduled me to come in, and no one was able to see me that day.

      Another time, I had an excellent first interview, and I was asked to come back for a second interview. When I showed up, the interviewer said oh gee, she had thought that the person who had to see me for my second interview would be there that day, but he wasn’t, oh gee. I agreed to return. However, before then, I was hired by another company, so I gleefully called the first company and cancelled the interview.

  51. SophieChotek*

    Someone sent an email at work to many many people.
    Someone replied all.
    Other people replied all.
    Others replied all to tell the to stop replying all.
    Others replied all but changed the subject line. – so my email rule is not catching those
    Others also replied all but changed the subject line. – again my email rule is not catching those

    I think I’ve received almost 600 emails in the last 30-45 minutes and have had to create 5-6 rules so far.

    Fun times.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I think the only reasonable response to an email storm is to make some popcorn and just watch people lose their minds in an extraordinarily predictable fashion.

    2. Meep*

      My favorite email story is when a guy who graduated from University in 2005 (mind you this was 2015) got p*ssy when a campus wide email went out saying he never authorized receiving this email. Of course, he sent it to all 40,000 people on campus. The replies (all) that boy got clowning him…

      Can you mute your email for the rest of the day? I am sure it will be understood.

      1. Friday Person*

        Boy did it take me a minute to correctly figure out which vowel that asterisk was replacing.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      The dreaded Reply-all-pocalypse! You have my sympathy. Our firm limits the ability to reply all if there are more than a prescribed number of people on the email. I don’t know how they set it up, but it’s one of the best things my company has ever done.

      1. SophieChotek*

        That would be an awesome fix.
        I appreciate people wanting to tell original person they don’t think they were the intended recipient but….

    4. Cordelia*

      in 2016, a contractor somehow managed to send a test email to everyone in the NHS email directory. Everyone. Well over a million people work for the NHS. Then a number of those people started doing Reply All to say this email wasn’t meant for them. Then a number of other people started doing Reply All to tell people to stop Replying to All. I just looked it up out of interest, apparently about 186 million emails were sent. Obvs the whole system crashed, and was down for days.
      You’ve got a way to go to catch up with us!

      1. SophieChotek*

        I do! I cannot imagine what we would do with 186 million

        I think we finally stopped at just over 1,100…

  52. formerly corporate*

    This is a long one but I’ve had *quite* a long week, so it’s fitting.

    I work at a nonprofit headquarters. I’ve been here for 2 years, as a manager. 
    A new director, Ann, started on Monday. Ann comes from the corporate world. I know this because Ann has mentioned it multiple times in every single meeting we’ve been in so far. Ann explains her background in a very condescending way, explaining what “corporate” is like and how “behind” our nonprofit is. I’ve seen at least a few directors looking miffed at these comments – most (if not all) of our directors come from a corporate background as well. Many of our managers and coordinators, including myself, have also worked in corporate. Our organization runs very differently – we work with quite limited resources, and our culture is very mission-focused and incredibly respectful. I’m surprised at Ann’s condescending comments, since she worked in a similar nonprofit for about a year. 
    Since she’s only been here five days, and I was very excited to work with her (she does not manage me or any other staff, but our work intersects), I really tried to brush off her condescending comments… until today. I had a meeting with her and another director, Rob. Rob showed Ann some of the plans he’s been working on. She looked at the plans with clear disgust, to which Rob (tactfully) asked for her input. She laughed and said “I mean… it’s good that you’re trying to do this! It’s just so boring. I can try to level it up… it looks a bit like a fourth-grader put it together.” Rob and I were totally taken off-guard by the rudeness of her comment. Rob is highly experienced (and yes, he comes from *corporate* too) and the plans he put together were honestly great for our budget and resources. But even if they were terrible, my bigger concern is that she childishly insulted Rob’s work with absolutely no tact or professionalism, on her fourth day, in front of another staff member. Rob took it like the professional he is, but I know him well enough to see that he was quite unhappy. Then, she saw a part of the project that I did, and said “Ohh, whoever did that work must hate it.” I didn’t say it was my work. Instead, I asked her to elaborate, but she only said that it’s not what she would have done. I later checked with another director who is known to be brutally honest, and he told me directly that my work was perfect and precisely what he’d asked for. So honestly, I don’t know if Ann was just making some weird power move or whatever, but it was also entirely unhelpful. 
    I think Ann’s calibration of what we can feasibly accomplish is pretty far off. Rob and I are probably the most easy-going staff in management, but I can see this becoming a nasty situation if Ann disrespects someone who doesn’t brush things off as easily. My question is, is there anything I should say or do? I’ve already shared these comments with my (excellent) manager, and she was flabbergasted at Ann’s lack of professionalism. She felt like the best course of action would be to let it play out a little more, loop in HR if needed, and touch base with Rob in a few weeks. Should I say or do anything more? Tips on handling interactions with her?

    1. formerly corporate*

      I should add that two other managers came to me, unsolicited, to tell me that Ann had made similarly rude and condescending remarks to them.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Oof, doesn’t seem like Ann will be lasting very long there if she is likely to piss off someone less easygoing than you and Rob, but you probably should let your manager know if you hear Ann saying anything else terrible like what she’s already said. Who says that something looks like something a fourth-grader put together??? That’s awful, you shouldn’t say that to anyone, adult or child, and definitely not to a colleague at your BRAND NEW JOB. I really don’t see Ann lasting longer than another week there, hope you can update us next Fri that I am correct!

    2. Thunder kitten*

      make bingo cards of everyone she would interact with in her role and cross each square off when you see her insult them ?

    3. Panicked*

      Do not wait to loop in HR. The first few weeks of a new job should be when a person is on their very best behavior. Ann will only get worse.

    4. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Woah! Definitely not how one should act in their first two weeks at a new job.
      Honestly, how did she get hired there? Who interviewed her? Did she not exhibit any of these attitudes or traits during the interviews?

      If someone were like this in their first few weeks, honestly it would be best to cut them immediately as not being a good fit. I would have serious concerns about the lack of tact.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I do not understand people like this AT ALL. I’ve encountered them in my professional life as well as my personal life, and it is so frustrating. Most people I know who are new to a group try to put their best, most positive foot forward, at least at first. Ann’s hostility is just obnoxious.

      I think your current plan of action is a good one. I don’t know if there’s much else you can do, though you can try explaining to Ann that often your resources limit your scope. Eh. Let her fall on her own sword.

      1. TootSweet*

        I worked under someone like this for a few years, and that was exactly what happened after I left. OP, I also would love to see an update on this!

    6. Meep*

      I am not saying Ann isn’t off base, but as a female engineer, I see this happening a lot when a woman has to fight to be seen as competent, but forgets, so she tries to knock everyone else down a peg (not unlike many of the male PhDs I have met either). I think you are right that right now she is coming in strong with the power moves to elevate herself as competent.

      For interactions, I would just remember that right now Ann is a scared little kitten trying to act like a wildcat in a den full of housecats. It won’t help when she is lashing out and needling everyone, but if you look from a perspective of Ann is out of her element, it might help you give her a little grace and ignore her crass behavior.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Ann sounds like a straight-up jerk and no one should have to put up with being belittled like that. Whether it’s a conscious power move (which, why be a jerk when you don’t have to) or just her personality, the end effect is it’s obnoxious and very out of character for the culture the OP describes.

        Invoke the “no a-holes” rule. Ann is a bad fit made worse by a bad attitude, in a position to do real harm. It’s unfortunate that this wasn’t revealed in the interview (did anyone check references at the other non-profit she worked at?), but it doesn’t sound like this is a new hire worth salvaging. I hope there’s a lot of documenting going on to make an effective case to HR.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Agreed. This is far beyond the defensiveness that people who are underrepresented in their field might develop. Formerly corporate, I would also suggest that if others complain to you about Ann you should encourage them to report her behavior as well, so as to help with the documenting that New Wanderer mentions.

    7. cleo*

      I’d try calling her on it the next time she’s rude or condescending.

      “Yeah, that’s not how we handle critiques here.”

      “Ouch, that was rude.”

      “Excuse me?”

      “Wow, that was condescending.”

    8. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      She’s a jerk who is creating a very unpleasant work atmosphere.

      Her manager needs to warn her this is not acceptable behaviour and must stop immediately if she wishes to remain employed at your organisation.
      If the manager is unavailable / too conflict-avoidant to do this, then agree among yourselves to say firmly every time: “that was very rude / We don’t criticise colleagues so rudely”

      Unless she stops doing this pretty immediately, it’s time to part ways.
      Either she goes, or some coworkers will.

    9. Industry Behemoth*

      In the corporate world Anne may have had access to the latest and greatest of everything, and lots of it. Smaller outfits can have a lot less, and also be behind the times especially technology-wise.

      Not excusing her behavior at all. I’m saying she may be shell-shocked at the difference, and isn’t handling it well or properly.

    10. linger*

      You might not be able to change Ann’s attitude. But you certainly should keep calling out the work impact of her behaviour that needs to change, by reminding her, on any occasion when she fails to do so, to:
      (i) limit any criticisms to product, and NOT to ascribe poor skills to personnel;
      (ii) make any criticisms constructive (e.g. by suggesting actionable changes that would lead to specific stated improvements).
      It would be incredibly tempting to respond to her in kind (“That comment sounded like a 4th-former’s analysis!”; “That criticism obviously came from someone who hates their job!”), but obviously you should resist that temptation. Your own comments have to model the change in behaviour you want to see.

  53. Thunder kitten*

    Our org had a reasonably anonymous employee engagement survey run by a well reputed external org last fall and released the report to the managers last month. Apparently the managers are supposed to share the results (anonymized and aggregated) with their team.

    What made me laugh is that the survey org sent out a followup survey asking the teams if their managers actually did share the results and invite team members to be part of the discussion. Even more entertaining, our manager did not until actually share our dept results until after the deadline for the 2nd survey. Whoops – hope he doesn’t get dinged for that in his evaluations.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Oh yes, my org does that every year. It’s even an item on the engagement survey itself – rate from strongly disagree to strongly agree, “My manager shared the results of last year’s survey with the team.”

      We all kinda hate it because we’re a small team, so you can’t really have an anonymous discussion. It also doesn’t help that they take several months to get the results back to us.

      1. Thunder kitten*

        Have you ever seen anyone initiate meaningful followup discussions after sharing the results ? or any noticeable change from it ?

    2. Jinni*

      In my experience salary increases (COL or otherwise) are ALWAYS separate from bonus monies. If not, in a lean year, compensation can be well behind other organizations/standards. I’ve seen firms lose people who confuse bonus with salary and there are year(s!) without bonsus.

  54. Up and Away*

    Looking for some input from anyone involved in executive compensation. For those executives that receive bonuses based on annual corporate profitability, do you give them an annual salary increase as well?

    1. Bonuses*

      I have a bonus based on profitability and some other metrics and still receive annual salary increases. I’m relatively new to this sort of bonus, but so far, annual increases have actually only applied to salary and not my bonus figure.

      1. Up and Away*

        Thanks…I thought it seemed kind of weird. I was told that the owner “spoke to several people” to find out if we should be getting salary increases and was told that no, since we were also receiving the profitability bonus that should be enough. I don’t have anything to base my misgivings on though, since I don’t know anyone else who is on this type of comp plan.

    2. Angstrom*

      I’ve always thought of those as separate buckets.
      Salary is based on individual performance and cost-of-living increases.
      Bonuses are based on company performance.
      If bonuses are executive-only, I guess I could understand having the bonus replacing a raise. If bonuses are company-wide that makes a lot less sense.

      1. Up and Away*

        Bonuses are company-wide, but they are much smaller for everyone else. I’m more than happy with my overall comp, even without the bonus, I guess I’m more interested from a comp standpoint if this is standard practice. I may talk to him some more to find out who these “sources” are, haha!

        1. Angstrom*

          Not sure what is “standard”, but from a fairness standpoint I prefer profit-sharing plans where everyone receives the same percentage of base salary as a bonus. If salaries are a fair indication of value to the company, everyone should get the bonus they “deserve”.
          I worked at one company where profit-sharing bonuses were calculated based on one’s total salary over the past five years, the argument being that this year’s success was built on past work. A long-term lower-level employee could receive a larger bonus than a new manager. Nobody complained because they knew the same rule applied to everyone.

    3. mreasy*

      When I had a bonus structure like this I received both a bonus (calculated as an % of that year’s salary) and a salary increase each year.

  55. The Dude Abides*

    What would be a good script for telling candidates about something that I disagree with but cannot change?

    My team is simultaneously growing and experiencing significant turnover (adding three positions, but there has been at least one position vacant since April 2021. When interviewing candidates, most qualified candidates ask about WFH/remote work. My boss and his boss are 100% “butts-in-seats,” and are fine with losing long-time employees and missing out on good candidates because of it.

    I disagree with this (and have had a foot out the door for over a year after my negotiated WFH got taken away along with everyone else’s), but am struggling with the right verbiage to use.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I don’t think agreeing or disagreeing with it needs to come into play at all – it is what it is. Just a matter of fact – this is a 100% in person role.

      1. Alex*

        Agree–it doesn’t really matter whether or not you agree. If it is not allowed, let them know that it is not allowed. It’s not like candidates who want to work from home will be more likely to accept a 100% in person role just because you disagree.

      2. Lady Danbury*

        This. Your feelings are irrelevant here unless they can be channeled into changing it. Since you can’t then you just need to let them know what the requirements are and it’s up to them to decide if they’re on board or not.

    2. ferrina*

      Seconding Decidedly Me-

      You neutrally state the company policy. If a candidate pushes back, say “this is a company wide policy, and individual managers do not have any flexibility around this.”

      You can say it either neutrally or with a slight sigh. No need to make a big statement; the fact that you aren’t using it as a selling point or trying to talk it away is enough.

    3. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      I think for the purpose of an interview, your disagreement is irrelevant – you can neutrally state that this is the policy that comes from leaders above you, and to the best of your knowledge, it will not change anytime soon.

    4. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Don’t interject your personal feelings on the matter in any way. Just be clear in the job posting and in your conversations that the roles are 100% onsite and in-person.

      If a potential candidate contacts you asking if there is flexibility, you answer that the role is onsite and not hybrid or remote.

      Please be clear though! I’ve had jobs posted as “hybrid” but they really aren’t and the expectation was to be in every day. That’s a bait and switch, so don’t do it.

    5. The Person from the Resume*

      Luckily it doesn’t matter that you disagree with this. It’s a fact that you know you have zero ability to change the policy. So I would just make it clear.

      “This is an 100% in person position, and company policy does not allow for WFH.”
      “This is an 100% in person position, and there’s no flexibility to change it.”
      “This is an 100% in person position, and there’s no room to neogiate even hybrid WFH.”

    6. EMP*

      Seconding all the people saying just tell them the policy without voicing your disagreement. My previous manager liked to tell me how much he disagreed with our C-levels “no hybrid” policy, but since he never visibly put his butt on the line to advocate for more flexibility, it started to just sound like buck passing and hollow sympathy.

  56. Can't Sit Still*

    I’ve been on vacation this week, and with my manager’s strong encouragement, have had my work phone turned off all week. I feel like I’m losing my mind here by not checking it. It was a short week with lots of people on vacation and honestly, there is very little that could happen while I was out that needed my immediate attention. I’m non-exempt, so I definitely shouldn’t be checking my phone while I’m on vacation. But I’m so stressed about it! I need encouragement to stay strong and not turn it back on until Sunday evening.

    1. ferrina*

      Good job! You’ve got this!

      Remember, your manager knows how to contact you if something were truly on fire. And you are doing everyone a favor by demonstrating how to take a proper vacation and not check work :)

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Everything at work is fine! How’s your vacation? Did you go anywhere fun, or are you staying at home? Vacationing with family, friends, by yourself? Go strike up a conversation with one of your vacation-mates, or dive into a good book/movie/TV show. (Not questions you need to answer here, just suggestions for redirecting your thoughts away from work and your work phone and to your vacation and other non-work things in your life.)

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I feel this. I was on PTO for a chunk of time, and my boss is very much of the “I won’t bother you while you’re on PTO” mindset, which I really appreciate, but I was still checking Slack and email over vacation. I wasn’t responding to anything. I just wanted to get a sense of what was going on and what I’d have to deal with when I came back. I didn’t want to be overwhelmed upon return.

      I am exempt, though. Since you’re non-exempt, you 100% should not be checking. I’m just saying I can relate to you wanting to check.

    4. Decidedly Me*

      I AM exempt and have a job where when things go wrong, I’m one of the best, if not the very best, person to reach out to. Even still – I shut down my work stuff while on vacation. Things have gone wrong in my absence (not due to it, to be clear) and everyone survived :)

      You got this!

    5. ecnaseener*

      Stay strong! Try not to even think about work, and find a distraction whenever you catch yourself. Your employer pays for your attention 40 hours a week (or whatever your normal schedule is) – they don’t get your free time too!!

  57. Wes*

    Okay, something weird I just saw that I want to ask for help with.

    So when I first became a manager, I had this one problem direct report. He would often come in hungover and just not do stuff. I tried to coach him out of it but it didn’t work and I had to go through HR to let him go. However, he really made a big issue of it and tried to gum up the system by, basically, lying to HR about being discriminated against. For example he’d claim I said stuff about his background in meetings that didn’t happen on days we didn’t have any meetings, stuff like that. This continued after he was let go; he made legal threats to our HR multiple times, saying that I was giving him bad references when I did no such thing. Our company had a pretty standard “verify dates of employment and title” policy, and I had zero motivation to violate that.

    Turns out, I moved into the same apartment complex this guy lives in. I’ve seen him around, and every time he sees me he stops and just glares at me. I think I saw him taking photos of me once. I have no ill will against him but it’s weird; it’s not like I have had any interaction with him in years. And when I start a new account on a new app, like TikTok or whatever, I look him up and block him if I find him. I don’t want any drama.

    Do I do anything about this, or do I just try to take a deep breath and forget and ignore?

    1. ferrina*

      I’m so sorry! I think you need to take steps to protect yourself. Hopefully it’s unnecessary.

      First, I’d flag it for HR and see if they have any advice. They probably won’t, but you never know.
      Second, I’d flag it for the property manager in case he ever tries to make a claim against you. Make sure you document your interaction with the property manager (hopefully unnecessary, but just in case)
      Finally, I hate to say this, but is there any chance you can move? I know I’d be stressed just knowing that guy is around.

      1. Wes*

        I’m no longer at that company and neither are any of the HR people I knew from my time there. I could send an email and use some scary legal language, like “it seems fair to interpret this as possible harassment” just to prick their ears up (not to make them think I’m considering legal action against them!!!) I guess. But after this much time he mightn’t be bound by his severance agreements.

    2. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Do you think he may amp up and attempt to retaliate in any way? (ex. slash your tires, leave notes on your door) If you have concerns he may escalate, you may want to put your apartment manager on notice with a very quick and dry outline, so that something is on the record – but that’s assuming your apartment manager would handle such a thing decently.

      But if that’s not a concern … I would just ignore him.

    3. Detective Pikachu*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this, but it sounds like some info has left out, tbh. He’s been lying about you and the company for years, and you have to block him on every social media platform. The most charitable interpretation of his actions is that he’s really toeing the line of his severance agreement. At the very least, HR should’ve gotten involved, and told him to knock it off if he didn’t want to pay his severance back or end up in court. Lots of people would’ve looked into restraining orders for that sort of thing, too.

      I’m not saying you deserve harassment. Definitely go to your building’s management, *in-person*, and explain to them the story–you worked with this guy, he was let go, he has a grudge against and he’s been acting creepy towards you. Keep it matter-of-fact, have dates, times, all that on hand. If they’re half competent they’ll call or email him and tell him to knock it off. They might also consider declining to renew his lease, which is a double-edged sword; on the one hand he might blame you for it and you’ll then want to move too, on the other you’re not living near him anymore.

      Because of that, you should truly look into getting that restraining order. Pull up any records you have, print ’em, bring ’em to the cops. Ask your company’s HR for guidance on that; maybe they can help you out somehow with it and can give a statement like “we let Crazy Chris go for cause, he has been harassing his former manager on X Y and Z dates by doing A B and C.” At the least get a case number from the PD, that’ll help protect you from any future antics from this guy.

      I wish you all the best.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        What severance agreement are you talking about? I’m not seeing one.

        And also, based on what Wes has told us, their chances of getting a restraining order are basically zero. He’s glared at them, and “maybe” taken photos of them. The court (which issues restraining orders, not the cops) aren’t going to issue a restraining order on that. It’s just gonna make Wes look like the loon here.

        1. Detective Pikachu*

          I’m assuming there was a severance agreement because the average person on AAM works in some sort of white-collar desk/office job, and OP probably does too. The fact that his employer has a references policy shows that it’s some established organization that has structures and procedures set up for this sort of thing. While their policy is very standard, you’d be surprised at how many places don’t have that.

          And also, based on what Wes has told us, their chances of getting a restraining order are basically zero. He’s glared at them, and “maybe” taken photos of them. The court (which issues restraining orders, not the cops) aren’t going to issue a restraining order on that. It’s just gonna make Wes look like the loon here.

          “This guy who used to work for me is following me around and taking photos of me in and around my home” is certainly something you can take to the cops. While you’d look like a loon for bringing that to 911, going down to the police station for that or calling the non-emergency line is totally reasonable. It says that he’s concerned enough, and honest enough, to state that in front of a police officer, and lying to cops is a crime. Now they’re probably not going to do anything more than note it down and maybe tell him to cut it out, but it’s something, and it builds a paper trail. Building that trail is a reasonable and prudent move here.

          1. Tio*

            Ok, I’ve worked in plenty of office jobs. most of them do not offer severance to firings of non-executive employees, outside of certain layoffs.

            Secondly, the cops are probably not going to build a paper trail on the basis of “Someone is looking at me and I think they’re taking photos of me” (which the OP would have no proof of, btw.) My friend went to the cops because someone from a group she was in got her phone number and wouldn’t stop calling her, including at 3am at times. They did go over and ask him to stop, but there was no crime so they told her straight up that was all they could do. there’s no incident report or anything, no trail, and the only went and talked to him because they didn’t have anything else to do. And I don’t think having the cops come ask this guy to stop (which, he can just say “I wasn’t looking at them, and I wasn’t taking photos, I don’t know what they’re talking about) is going to do anything good for them; if anything, the opposite could be true.

    4. The Person from the Resume*

      I think you need to take a deep breath and forget and ignore. I guess be wary. But fortunately there’s nothing to report. The glaring and possible photo do not rise to anything that can be reported to police / considered harrassment. So I don’t think there’s anything you can.

  58. Anon for This*

    So I’ve determined I need to change jobs or possibly industries. I’m back office at a bank that was already restructuring before the craziness hit this spring.
    But I also have a lot going on my personal life: an aging parent who may soon need care (physical frailty, still sharp mentally), a kid in elementary school, and myself entering perimenopause while also being undiagnosed neurodivergent (likely ADHD). I’m effing overwhelmed and my job doesn’t help – we’re understaffed and micromanaged with ever-changing goals.
    This may be more of a vent than asking for advice. But what are y’alls thoughts?

    1. ferrina*

      That’s a lot! So much hugs and love to you!

      One thing that stands out to me is the undiagnosed ND. It’s not uncommon for ND folks to self-diagnose long before professionals get to it (if they every do get a professional diagnosis- I still haven’t bothered). I’m ADHD, self-diagnosed with my family med doctor confirming (I told her it was self-diagnosed, and she just laughed and said “your leg hasn’t stopped bouncing since you got here. I was pretty sure it was something like that.” I love that doctor so much)
      There is a lot more research and resources on ADHD than there was 20 or even 10 years ago. Some of my favorite resources are the book Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell (one of the leading ADHD researchers) and the YouTube channel How to ADHD. I strongly suspect that there are more resources and/or communities for ADHD women who are perimenopausal. You aren’t here alone.

  59. Cay*

    Training for technical writers: My employer let me know that I can spend up to $1,000 budget for continuing education, conferences, or certifications this year. Virtual (online) training is preferred to in-person. Training in UX, usability, content development, editing, MS products, and project management would all qualify.

    Unfortunately, STC and Lavacon are out of my price range. Who else is reputable? Any recommendations from other tech communicators out there?

  60. Glassdoor Reviews*

    How do you personally use Glassdoor reviews when looking to apply to a company and what do you like to see in company replies to them?

    An ex-employee recently left a pretty bad and very detailed review. We take reviews very seriously and have already done a post mortem here. Some of it we truly believe she believed was true and some of it was outright falsifications. She was let go after a lot of coaching, warnings, etc. and was clearly angry when it occurred.

    We’re of course not looking to say anything bad about her in a response, but what is the right response you would want to see in this situation?

    Our other reviews are good, with some touching upon the same things, though not all of them, as in the bad review, but in an opposite way (hypothetical example: bad review says everyone is forced to wear uniforms, whereas other reviews comment on how they love that we offer the ability to wear whatever you want). Would one bad review, especially when very detailed, sway your desire to apply with a company?

    1. Wes*

      I’d take it into consideration, also weighting into account the person’s tenure, location, job, etc. After all, not everyone is gonna leave on good terms. Sucks, but that’s just life. TBH, I think astroturfed good reviews are a much bigger negative for a company.

    2. Meep*

      I personally go to bad reviews first, whether it is employment or giving my business to see how the company responds. You can tell when a review is absolutely bonkers and has no credence vs legitament. But if the company responds in a less than professional way? It speaks more volumes than any good review.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I agree with this. Reviews themselves rarely sway me, unless they’re incredibly recent and specific. But if I see a company handling reviews badly that’s a huge red flag. When I worked in tourism a lifetime ago, I used tripadvisor the same way.

    3. Ama*

      Honestly if you have good reviews that actually contradict hers I would just not even bother to respond. If someone is really doing their research on Glassdoor it will be pretty clear she has an ax to grind, especially if the majority/all of the others are good.

    4. ferrina*

      I start with bad reviews, but I always keep in mind that a single bad review means nothing. I’m looking for patterns across multiple reviews. That’s true of good reviews, too- a single good review means nothing, but a pattern highlighting the same things in different ways means a lot.

      Personally, I’d be a little weirded out if I saw a company respond to a bad review from an employee. I’d be wondering if the company was protesting a little too much.

    5. Stephanie*

      I’d say it depends. If it was detailed things about the culture, maybe. If it was clearly an employee with an axe to grind, no. Would also take into account the size of the organization. I work at a household name MegaCorp and employees here have experiences all over the map. Some organizations/jobs are fantastic and some will extract the marrow from your soul. One bad review at my employer on Glassdoor I wouldn’t take too much stock in.

      Would also look at how recent it was — something from 9 years ago? Ehhhh. Two weeks ago? Maybe.

      I haven’t really seen a company response that isn’t generic (“Thanks for your feedback!”) or doesn’t sound like the review is being taken a bit too personally. I think if you replied, it might not reflect super well since random visitors don’t have context.

  61. And while we’re at it…*

    My partner and I are relocating back to our former city at the end of summer. I am keeping my job (i work remote), but unfortunately, he has to find a new role.

    He has background in retail management but currently manages a medical office. He is looking for something new but finding it difficult to break out of retail. Any industries or type of work that might be good for him to look at? TIA.

    1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      are there any colleges or universities in the area? he may want to look into administrative jobs, especially with his customer service and office management experience.

      1. Wordnerd*

        This is exactly what I was going to say – higheredjobs.com if there are any colleges/universities nearby. Someone who managed a medical office would be a great department associate in nearly every part of a campus.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If he’s currently managing a medical office, have him look at non-clinical roles in bigger hospital systems if there are any around – already having medical administrative experience (especially if he learned anything about working with government/commercial payers) opens a lot of doors, bigger hospital systems tend to offer tuition reimbursement and education/cross-training options, and once you get your foot in those doors, we LOVE to promote from within. For specific roles, could try unit secretary/coordinator positions, clinic manager/coordinators, my system (16 hospitals) has a patient services unit of like 1700 people that covers customer service (both in person and phone), registration desks, billing, all kinds of options before you get into anything that requires specific certification/education.

    3. HalloQueen*

      Libraries! Many librarians aren’t fond of managing people, and many libraries are still city/county/other government jobs so they’re pretty steady and the benefits are usually good. Plus tons of variety – if he prefers more hands-on management, rural libraries would be a possibility, or if he likes variety in his daily work, a larger city library would be able to provide that. Some libraries do require a Master’s degree to be a manager, but some don’t, and libraries are everywhere!

  62. What to include in my annual review?*

    It’s annual review time. I’m struggling to provide my part of it (top three accomplishments, goals for next year, etc.). I’m an Executive Assistant, and I’ve done just fine this year, but I’m having a hard time hyping myself up when I feel like I haven’t done anything that’s outstanding or would necessarily be considered a big accomplishment. What do you do when that’s the case?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Do you have your calendar from the last year, and your email logs? Scan through them to remind yourself of anything you did that’s especially noteworthy, and especially any praise you got! You often forget the crisis after it’s done.

      Going forward, have a separate log where you write this stuff down as it happens. Then you’ve got all the material right at your fingertips for July 2024.

    2. ferrina*

      Have a glass of wine and talk to the mirror about how wonderful I am.

      Not even joking- I try to fully embrace the cockiness, because if I don’t, I tend to downplay what I actually did. I try to embody the confidence mediocre white man (as the saying goes). Later I go back and tone it down if necessary. It’s almost never necessary.

    3. EMP*

      I like to think of yearly reviews as a kind of one-year resume. Highlight the highlights, be specific where you can with metrics/numbers. It’s about showing your manager “look at all the stuff I did this year!” because it will have blurred together for them.

  63. Yes And*

    Days before we were going to let an employee go for ongoing performance issues, they were hospitalized for a non-work-related illness. Thankfully, they are on the mend, and expected to make a full recovery. But… then what? It seems enormously callous to welcome someone back from the hospital by terminating them. On the other hand, these performance issues are longstanding and well-documented, the employee has been given every opportunity to improve but resists constructive feedback, and prolonging an untenable situation doesn’t help anybody. What’s our next move?

    1. Aelfwynn*

      Ooh I was in a similar situation once and it sucked. Pretty sure they tried to sue us after the fact, based on questions I got like a year afterward, but I had documented the issues pretty well. I would talk to your legal department (if you have one) to make sure you have all your ducks in a row.

      Were they on a PIP before the hospitalization?

    2. Hlao-roo*

      PrincessFlyingHedgehog replied to you but the comment didn’t nest properly. It’s the top-level comment directly below yours. Just want to make sure you don’t miss it.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      If the issues are truly long-standing, well documented, and could not in any way be attributed to the illness, I’d proceed as normal. I might keep a warmer tone than I would otherwise, perhaps acknowledging the timing being poor, but I wouldn’t change the plan. If possible, I might do it before they officially “returned to the office” – don’t interrupt their sick leave, but if there’s a way to do a phone call or a zoom call instead of making them come in just to get fired may be kinder under these circumstances.

      What I’d put a lot of thought into is how you’re going to do messaging to everyone else.

    4. ferrina*

      Loop in Legal and HR, of course, but here’s what I’d do:

      Welcome them back with an HR meeting. Offer them administrative leave on the way out the door. Maybe you can give them 1-2 weeks of sick leave so you keep them on payroll while they recover, but they aren’t actually working and you can move ahead.

      Make sure you work with IT in advance so they know what to shut down access to and what to keep up (for example, do you want to shut down their email or leave it up while screening their messages?). Tell the employee what they’ll have access to during administrative leave (“you will be able to communicate with your manager, but won’t be able to send any other emails from your work account”).
      Also work with the manager for the messaging for the rest of the team. Coach them through what to say and how to say it. Make sure that the messaging accounts for the changes that IT makes- “Person is leaving the company. They will not be responding to emails; please forward any emails you might have sent them to me and I’ll take care of it.” Work with Legal and HR on the messaging.

    5. kiki*

      That is tricky! Not a lawyer, so definitely consult one first, but I would see if there’s anyway you could have their “first day back” happen remotely. Then have them meet with HR. Offer them generous severance and offer to keep them on their insurance plans for the next few months. If you’re not in a position to offer those things, unless they are truly an egregious employee, I would likely give them another month. If they’re not already on a PIP, I would make sure they are going forward. If the employee was already on a PIP before their illness, I think that would likely make things easier. I don’t know if anyone would take this news super well, but they at least won’t be surprised.

  64. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

    Can you let them go with severance? Provide some extended health care coverage? Perhaps delay the firing to the the week after they return? (I don’t think I would wait any longer, though.)

  65. I'm the out of touch one*

    This week I felt “old” at work for the first time and I hope the AAM commentariat can help. My industry is one where arguments, passionate conversations and give-and-take are common in the workplace and in the past it meant lots of tolerating bullies, aggression, occasional wall punching, all of that stuff. I have seen a lot of stuff but things have improved in the past few years and that’s great. The company I’m at now has a great culture compared to other places I worked and I love it.

    A couple days ago I had a disagreement with my boss (he/him, a good bit younger than me) and things got heated. I wouldn’t say shouting but it was tense and louder than necessary. I have apologized. But, he found it a way bigger deal than I thought it was so I guess I am misaligned.

    Older workers, or people who have transitioned into new offices with better cultures – what can I do to help myself retrain even more as a new generation of employees (rightfully) demand better? I know working with younger colleagues and bosses is a transition and would love some help.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      You should never raise your voice in a work dispute. If it got loud you were yelling. I’m not trying to pile on that point, it sounds like you get it wasn’t okay, but it sounds like you’re still not framing it correctly in your head.

      However it sounds like you’re asking for a bigger-picture advice outside that one incident. I’d consider taking a step back – as if you’re new to the workforce – and observing. How do people interact? How do people disagree in meetings? What does a passionate debate look like? What does an argument look like?

      Items to have in your toolbox, based on what you’ve described here:
      -Be willing to walk away from a conversation and come back to it later if it’s feeling tense.
      -Assume good intentions from others, even if you disagree with them. Have conversations from a place of curiosity, trying to understand points of view you disagree with and finding a middle ground between them. You’re not going to be able to brute force people into agreeing with you.
      -Research negotiation tactics. These may be more applicable in these situations where you’re hardwired to get angry. Treating it like a negotiation instead of a battle.
      -Ask people around you for advice. How might they have handled a situation differently. What do they do when they feel confrontational. Particularly people you notice handle conflict in a way you’d like to emulate.

      It’s great that you’re thinking about this – and to be clear, people of all different generations have different levels of skill with things like conflict resolution and managing their tempers. The difference is that more and more people are expecting a professional environment to remain professional, regardless of how people may act individually and on their own time, so learning how to react in that environment is its own skillset for success. It’s okay if it’s not something you’re great at right now, it’s very cool you want to learn to be better.

    2. Lady Danbury*

      I’m probably going to sound like a broken record today, but this is definitely something to work through with EAP, if your company has one. It sounds like you recognize that there’s an issue but you’re downplaying it (wasn’t shouting but loud, misaligned, etc.). If a friend told you that their boss found a “tense and loud” workplace disagreement to be a “way bigger deal than I thought” would you tell them that they were misaligned or would you tell them that they were in the wrong? Working with a professional can help you to identify where you’re not meeting modern workplace norms and create tools to get you there.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Have you asked yourself what the point of getting loud and heated is? Be uber-logical, Spock-from-Star-Trek about this.

      Consider:
      you: “I think we should get gray llamas”
      them: “No, we should get black llamas”
      you: “NO, WE NEED GRAY! Gosh! Why don’t you get it!?!?!”

      Has that ever actually worked? Did the other person ever say “well, I guess you’re really serious about it, ok whatever, get gray llamas.” Did that person make rational decisions otherwise?

  66. Database Developer Dude*

    I’d like a sanity check, please.

    In my firm, we have admin bosses and project bosses. They can be the same people, but don’t have to be. If they’re not, then you’re what’s called matrixed in to your project.

    So my admin boss is Victoria, a level 3. I’m a level 3 as well, and Justin is a level 4. Victoria gets promoted to level 3.5, while Justin gets promoted to level 5. Things shake up, and Victoria leaves the firm, but not before working with Justin to get me promoted to level 3.5.

    Justin then rearranges things, since I need to have a level 4 between me and him, and I fall under Tom, a level 4, as my second level admin boss. He also gives me Wally as my 1st level admin boss. Wally, like me, is a 3.5.

    My firm has business/management tracks and technical tracks. I’m on the technical track so things like business development and proposal work don’t enter into firmwide expected behaviors until we get to level 4. I just got to 3.5 and have no aspirations to go to 4.

    Tom, however, basically ignored all that and to my face questioned the validity of my promotion that I already got. I think my job is in danger.

    Would you be looking outside the firm if you were me?

    1. Nesprin*

      Go talk to Justin about Tom, (possibly in the guise of a coffee+ check in or a let me brag about recent achievements type meeting). It’s possible that Tom is not in line with the rest of management: either there’s stupid beef between Justin and Tom or Tom didn’t get the memo on why you were promoted or Tom is a stupid jerk that hates people with your characteristics or whatever.

      If Justin thinks that you’re being treated unfairly, he has the power to move you, or to tell Tom to knock it off etc. If Justin and Tom are in alignment, you should think to get out.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        One thing I forgot to mention: Justin has also left the company, and Tom’s boss is someone new. We fell under Jesse as a level 5, but now fall under Oliver.

        1. Nesprin*

          Oof that’s a mess- setting aside your matrixed organization (which is just a recipe for miscommunication/stupid power struggles/favoritism and anti-favorites) when like your entire management chain leaves that’s usually a bad sign.

          The only thing I can suggest talking to + cultivating other managers/experienced folks in both your admin chain and your PM chain- you need allies to tell you whether you’re in the right job code + whether you’re at risk of getting fired or more likely, stagnating.

        2. The New Wanderer*

          That sounds like a lot of turnover of medium-upper level bosses in what I’m assuming is a relatively short time frame. I would not be surprised if Tom doesn’t totally understand your situation, but it’s not a good sign if he’s questioning your position rather than working to gain the right understanding.

          When I worked at a company with a rotating slate of first level managers, it was definitely a sign of toxic, disengaged upper management. It took me longer than it should have for me to see the consequences to my own career. In hindsight I should have left sooner than I did (things worked out for me eventually so it’s not a major regret). So in your shoes, I’d definitely be looking around.

          1. Hazel*

            I think the commenters are right that the whole place being in flux is the real issue.

            That said Tom is understandably bothering you, but this isn’t about you, don’t let it knock your confidence. He is (inappropriately) questioning a decision made by Justin. When people question hiring/promotion decisions they are doubting management’s decisions, not yours. This helped me ace a job interview question re: promotion over peers once, so I know it to be true ;-)

            1. Database Developer Dude*

              Thanks.

              Tom is questioning Justin’s decision, but he made it clear he’s doing it on the basis of my not having participated in business development or proposal work. The problem is I’m on the technical track. Such behaviors aren’t expected in order to promote from level 3 to 3.5. They’re only expected when you reach level 4. I don’t aspire to a level 4 in this firm. At least not at this time.

  67. TestUser*

    I recently gave a talk at a conference. I prepared it in my free time, but the conference was during work hours – my workplace didn’t pay a cent for it, though.

    Now that I’m leaving my company my coworkers asked my manager to give the talk to them. I don’t want to. I don’t feel like it. I want to reuse it at other conferences and don’t want my materials to circulate in this company, especially since some people here are sketchy (hence me leaving). Quite frankly, I’m done with this place constantly “picking my brain” as opposed to hiring other competent people or training their existing employees properly.

    How can I avoid doing this?

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      How can I avoid doing this?

      If you have or are about to submit your notice, marshal your manners and decline politely.

      What are they going to do, escort you out of the organization early?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        If for some reason declining politely is out of the question, is it at all plausible to have “misplaced” your notes in the shuffle of packing up your office/cubicle/desk and so are unable to give the talk to your coworkers? Or, assuming you are in your notice period, can you be too busy wrapping up/documenting/handing off other work to have time to give the talk?

    2. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Would you be OK with doing this if they paid you an appropriate consultant/speaker fee?

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I would get very busy working on winding up you projects and documenting transition materials, regardless of how much of that actually needs doing.

    4. ferrina*

      Happen to be so busy that you can’t give the training. Immediately divert the conversation into technical details of other things you need to do. Find ways to make yourself scarce during your last time if necessary (if you happen to spend a lot of time in the bathroom during your last week, well, these things happen)

      Also love Hlao-roo’s advice to “misplace” your notes.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      Others have good suggestions for how to avoid handing something over. Personally, if asked, I would direct people to my source material, not my end product (“Gosh I can’t recall where I stored that talk but I know if you do a search on these terms you can find similar stuff”).

      But as to the potential future use, is it clearly your own intellectual property? It sounds like it is but just in case you might check on your company’s policies. Different companies have different rules about IP.

      1. TestUser*

        It’s a technical presentation based on my pre-existing knowledge not containing any details about the work the company is doing that I prepared in my free time and presented after being chosen in a cfp for a conference. I don’t see how my company can have rights to any of it.

  68. Cameraphobic*

    I agreed to lead a knowledge sharing session for another team. I didn’t know they want to record the session “for future reference”. Is there any way to avoid it other than “forgetting” to start recording at the beginning?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      What’s your objection to recording the knowledge sharing session? If it’s a general dislike of video (judging by your username), can you suggest:

      (1) taking detailed notes and sharing those, instead of video?
      (2) not turning cameras on during the meeting (so only voice and screenshares will be recorded)?

      1. Cameraphobic*

        There are some reasons why I don’t want to record it, but one of them is that I feel stressed by the very idea of being recorded and the recording being stored at this company. I’m also a minority woman doing this training for multiple men with less than stellar manners. And I don’t trust some of them not to misuse the recording.

        This is not something I agreed to, and I’d rather not do the session if it has to be recorded.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          What exactly are you going to be doing, as “leading”? Are you actually contributing subject knowledge, or are you just MC/facilitator?

          If you’re a contributor, I don’t see how you can convince them not to record it. Sorry…

          If you’re the facilitator, then hopefully your words aren’t really twistable or misusable. “OK, next on the agenda is Bob describing the new European teapot regulations.”

        2. Sloan*

          If part of your concern is capturing the live back and forth that may get out of control or you may not feel at your best, I wonder if you could offer to make a recorded version individually that’s more “controlled” – I’m sorry this is more work for you but perhaps less stressful?

        3. Educator*

          Could you record the presentation, which is more within your control, and then stop the recording before the questions and discussion? Your conferencing system might even give you the power to mute all participants during the presentation part.

          I hate that you have to work in that kind of environment. Is it worth addressing that with someone directly or inviting another guest to the meeting who might be able to shut any inappropriate behavior down? I once sat in on a presentation for a colleague who was uncomfortable presenting to a particular group, and just the presence of someone with my title kept them all in line.

    2. ferrina*

      Why don’t you want it recorded? This is pretty standard practice for virtual trainings.

      If it’s because you don’t like being on camera (I’m guessing from your user name), what if you keep your camera off? Or go into deliberately bad lighting? Ideally though, you’d have your camera on.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I really hate “you have to suck it up” advice, and I get that you have anxiety about this….but this is so standard for trainings that I don’t know if you can get around it. And I wouldn’t suggest “forgetting” to hit record. For one thing, it might not even be a realistic strategy. It’s perfectly likely someone would remind you.

      My suggestion would be turning off your own camera view so that you can’t see yourself.

      1. Cameraphobic*

        It wasn’t supposed to be a training, just a knowledge sharing session where I’d give a short informal presentation and then be asked questions and maybe have a discussion.

    4. WellRed*

      I’d be annoyed too, but I think it will be recorded, stored somewhere and promptly forgotten forevermore.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      Often someone asks if recording is okay. You can say “no.” You risk someone trying to convince you that you should allow it. Frankly it sounds like something they should honestly want to share with others who cannot attend in order to share the information more widely.

      Your concern is troubling just because that speaks to a level of unprofessionalism that you’re worried they’d misuse the recording. That speaks to being being past time to get out of a toxic company.

    6. EMP*

      I would just tell them you won’t be able to do it if they’re recording. Personally that would feel better to me than “forgetting”.

    7. Anonymato*

      I wonder if an option would be to say “I don’t want to record this session, but I will be happy to create some material later on that can be shared. That way I can incorporate questions that come up more in depth and make it a more formal/thorough document” or something similar. Perhaps saying that way it will be easier to update info in it if your area includes changes. (And then you can decide if that will be written document or perhaps just an audio recording with you sharing screen etc).

  69. Anon-mouse*

    Well I have updated my resume. Working on a cover letter for a cool job.
    I am going to apply this weekend for a new job. I just had to read thru the archives here tho to calm my nerves – applying with a group with whom my boss and team know well. so wanted to get some reassurance on the worry about them tipping off my boss. I read the article “can a prospective employer tip off my boss that I’m job-searching?’ from 2013 and also the 2016 “can an interviewer tip off your boss that you’re job-searching?”. so let’s hope the HR people and hiring manager (directly connected to my boss in Linkedin and conferences etc) do not tip off my boss.

    Has this happened to you tho? Applied for a role and had hiring manager reach out to your boss to ask about you before you are ready to leave or even tell them?

    I have a classic non functioning colleague who is boss’ pet, and who has pushed me over the edge this week. I need to get out and go on to something better. So again, thank you for AAM Alison and thank you all for this great community.

    1. ferrina*

      Prep your cover story. “Oh gosh, it just sounded so good I had to apply! Of course, I probably won’t get it and I feel a little silly- that’s why I didn’t tell you!”

      Keep as good of an attitude as you can without acting suspicious. Say yes to stuff when you can. Crappy bosses usually love to think that they are the best thing out there and claim that you can’t do better (you can definitely do better), so you might get some leeway if you pull the “would kick myself if I didn’t throw my hat in the ring, even though I probably won’t get it”.

      Of course, results will vary, so tailor to what you know of your boss.

  70. Carrots*

    A colleague was being sexually harassed by a manager. She reported it. Now it’s turned into drama where they are saying that the colleague and myself are “starting drama” because the colleague and I talk. She told me AND OTHERS that she felt uncomfortable around him and he was touching her.

    Somehow that turned into her and I trying to get the manager in trouble. I’m not the one who reported him. Just because we talk we’re supposedly “plotting” something. No- we just work together.

    What do I do? I can’t leave without another job lined up. They’re probably going to make my life miserable until I leave.

    1. ferrina*

      Talk to a lawyer. This feels like retaliation.
      If you feel comfortable (and your lawyer okays it), post this on Glassdoor. Include the part about retaliation for informing others what happened.

      For now, keep your head down. Let her know what’s going on and don’t socialize at work, but maybe grab coffee or dinner after hours so you can support each other. If you know any allies higher up, ask them for advice. If you have a decent DEIJ group, ask them for advice. Apply to as many jobs as you can- it sounds like a “good enough” job will be better than this, so think about where you’d be happy for a year before moving on.

      And kudos to her for making sure others know what he did so they can protect themselves. I know it probably doesn’t feel like it, but she’s handling a terrible situation amazingly well and she’s my hero!

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      By “they” do you mean management?

      Retaliation for reporting harassment is illegal. Saying you’re starting drama is on the gray area side of retaliation, but it makes me think there are other things they might be doing (or not doing) that qualify. A competent HR department would want to know about this immediately. If you don’t have one, a lawyer may be willing to give you a free consultation.

      1. Ama*

        Also to add here — if it isn’t management but just coworkers you need to go to your manager and HR immediately, they should be shutting that down. (I would not be surprised at all if the person your colleague reported has enlisted allies to try to spread this story to scare people from cooperating with the investigation.)

    3. Nesprin*

      DOCUMENT EVERY LAST THING THAT HAPPENS. THEN GO TALK TO A LAWYER

      This sounds so so so much like retaliation against a sexual harassment complaint, which is illegal and there’s a decent chance you’d have a legal claim. So, writing a list of what happened, with dates, times, and witnesses is step 1, step 2 is finding a sexual harassment lawyer.

  71. Chelsea Nelson*

    When do you know it’s time to start looking at other opportunities? I like my job and the flexibility it offers (hybrid, no micro-management), but at the same time I recognize that I could be making much more (50k or more) in other positions that I’m qualified for. I have one kid in college and one on their way there and am finding myself looking for part time/contract jobs to bring in more money to account for the increased expenses in order to stay in my current job and that seems ridiculous when there are opportunities for more income with just one job. OTOH, I do like my job, the work I do, and the organization. I’ve worked in miserable work cultures (related to management, not entire organization) before and am worried about leaving a position I like for one that could be much more stressful and lead to significant unhappiness. Any experience/advice would be great.

    1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Start looking and applying, and do your due diligence throughout the interview process. And start looking now! You are in a position where you don’t have to take the first (or even second) job offered, and you can ask a lot of questions and do a lot of digging to make sure that if you do take another job, it’s a good fit for you.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is incredibly personal calculus. I work in nonprofits with a skillset I know could make me twice as much in the public sector. Given what you’ve outlined here, I wouldn’t move jobs. I might ask for a raise? But that’s me. My husband is also a teacher – we knew what we were getting into money wise.

      But it sounds like the financial stress for you is real. That may be the deciding factor. Unfortunately that’s hard to advise on the outside.

      1. Chelsea Nelson*

        That’s exactly our situation: both in the nonprofit field, no hope for a significant raise for my spouse. It’s really housing costs that are getting us; we moved and pay twice what our old rent was, in addition to the new costs and the cost of everything else going up. With student loans set to go back in repayment, I am panicking a little.

    3. ferrina*

      If you feel like it’s time to look, look.

      Maybe you’ll find something better, or maybe you’ll realize that what you have is way better than what you’re finding. You can also try out a contract/part-time job and see if it’s for you.

      You aren’t committing to anything until you actually hand in your notice, and there’s a lot of steps between then and now for you to gather more information and make a more informed decision about what’s right for you.

  72. No WIFI?!*

    I just received a text from Delta for my trip on Monday to Japan.
    “Wi-Fi Will Not Be Available On Your Upcoming Flight
    Unfortunately, Wi-Fi won’t be available on your next flight while we update our Wi-Fi experience. You’ll still be able to enjoy your favorite movies, shows and more on your seatback screen. We apologize in advance for the inconvenience.”

    It is a 13 hour direct flight.
    I am irrationally beside myself.
    Could you all help me calm the f. down?

    1. ferrina*

      I feel old. Back in my day we had to entertain ourselves with a book and a deck of cards. A movie was a luxury.

      You can still download things into your device and use it without the wi-fi. I know it’s not the same, but at least there’s that? (oh gawd, now I’m flashing back to the first time I brought my CD player and headphones and that booklet of CDs on a flight. And extra batteries, of course.)

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I had the same reaction. I still don’t use wi-fi on planes, I just don’t think of it (and I feel like it’s usually bad?)

        Which isn’t to pick on you, at all OP. But there are definitely workarounds.

        1. Lady Danbury*

          I rarely use wifi unless its free, even on long haul flights. I download books/shows/movies to my device and also get plenty of sleep.

    2. Alex*

      I don’t think I’ve ever been on a plane where the wifi actually worked, lol.

      This is something outside your control. What is the burning need for wifi for 13 hours? You will be able to get wifi once you land and catch up on whatever happened in those 13 hours.

      Maybe identify what stresses you out about this and try to pinpoint why?

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        This: Maybe identify what stresses you out about this and try to pinpoint why? Try to come up with a work around for what is stressing you out about the lack of wi-fi.

        1. Csethiro Ceredin*

          Yes, I think this is your best bet. What did you want the wifi for, specifically? Can you download shows or books or whatever beforehand?

          I do have a friend with quite severe anxiety whose comfort spaces are all on the internet and she would have a very hard time with this, so I sympathize. We ended up in a hotel with no wifi once and she was very upset, but I managed to use the business centre to download episodes of a show she likes and re-watches often, and that worked for her.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I’m actually glad when my flights don’t offer wifi. Before, when they never did, I could entertain myself via reading, movies, etc. When it’s available, I feel obligated to be checking into work and miss out on the me time.

    4. The Person from the Resume*

      I never use Wi-Fi on a flight. I mostly doze. I listen to (fall asleep to honestly) podcast or audiobooks (already downloaded to my phone). I read books – either physical copies or on kindle (already downloaded to kindle). With Amazon you can pre-download content to your phone if you want to watch something, but I’m more of a reader.

      What is it that you will miss without WiFi? Internet access? Social media access? I do pick up my phone constantly when bored, but on a plane I just accept I’ll have to wait until we’ve landed, and it’s not an issue.

      I see it as a problem only requiring pre-planning of downloading content before you get on the flight.

      1. mztery1*

        I’m a little confused. I’ve never used Wi-Fi on a flight because I don’t want to expose my devices to unsecured networks. Do you not have movies on your seat back? Or can you download movies and other things to your device before you go? Just doesn’t seem like a huge issue unless I’m missing something like you have to communicate with workers or something.

    5. KatKatKatKat*

      I think that you should take this as an opportunity to examine why the absense of wifi has made you “irrationally beside yourself”. Not having wifi on a plane is a time to disconnect, destress and take time to just enjoy some time where you don’t have to respond. I try not to use the wifi on planes, even when it’s free, for this reason. I think you should bring a book or two, maybe a magazine or a newspaper, and plan to watch some movies on the in-flight entertainment system (if that’s still working without wifi) and otherwise eat and sleep. Meditate, relax and be excited for Japan! I haven’t been to Tokyo in 5 years, enjoy some tuna sashimi for me!

    6. Retired Accountant*

      I use the internet on long flights to distract from the misery of it, so I feel you. I’d download lots of things in different media; podcasts, books, movies, shows, so you can switch among them. If you haven’t watched The Diplomat on Netflix, that would be the time for it!

    7. Educator*

      Download a few things ahead of time, watch them, and then get some sleep. People who post to social media from planes are the worst, so enjoy the reprieve from that. Someone will radio the captain if anything too crazy happens down here on Earth. It will be ok.

    8. No WIFI?!*

      Thank you. Thanks for the reality check. I didn’t know I could download Amazon Prime shows to I have started to do that. I also realized that I could knit and listen to podcasts. Unfortunately I have a hard time sleeping on planes so I like to have tv series that I don’t normally watch at home to distract me. I have officially calmed down.

      1. KatKatKatKat*

        For many years I couldn’t sleep on planes, so here are a few helpful tricks :)

  73. Did a recent commenter accept the new job or not?*

    Update wanted! A few weeks ago someone posted that they had to quickly decide whether to keep their (teaching?) job or accept a new job offer. They would have made more money but had to move their family and the wife didn’t want to. It generated a large number of comments but I can’t find that thread now. Did the OP ever update about their decision?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The original was a post from Burt Macklin on the June 2-3, 2023 open thread. I’ll link in a follow-up comment.

    2. Did a recent commenter…*

      Thank you! I’ll repost with his user ID in the title and maybe he’ll see it snd let us know what happened.

  74. Kayem*

    Do temp agencies blacklist candidates and if so, do they share said blacklist with other agencies?

    This was years ago, but I was wondering about it today as I was mentally throwing one of my coworkers into the sun and fantasizing about a new job.

    Before I decided to go to grad school, I was looking for work and signed up with a higher-end temp agency on a good friend’s recommendation. Everything seemed fine, interview went well, etc. They asked me about placements that would be a poor fit. I told them while I have no issue answering phones and making calls as a part of my duties, I would not work in call centers, especially any where we did cold-calling (had enough of that in my early 20s).

    So they give me a placement and says it’s scheduling appointments and would I be okay with that? I inwardly cringe but they assure me it’s just taking appointment calls for one company. All the info sounds like it’s basically being a receptionist, so I agree.

    I go to my placement on my first day and yeah, it’s a call center. It was not set up like the usual call center, the atmosphere seemed pretty chill, and I didn’t hear phones ringing off the hook. Plus, I was desperate for money and decided to at least try it.

    I’ll spare you the details of my slowly dawning realization of this whole operation while I was being trained. This job was to cold-call people and spam them with marketing email from lists we were given. See, they insisted it wasn’t cold-calling because these people signed up for whatever list and said sign up page included a line about agreeing to be contacted by agents. And they insisted it wasn’t spamming them for the same reasons. They also said they weren’t a call center because putting six cubicles in each office on the floor doesn’t count?

    I was not okay with this and not just from the no call center stipulation. But the trainer was a smooth talker, so I reluctantly agreed to stay. Then we got to the email spamming part of it. We weren’t assigned company emails until after we signed up our personal email to their same spam list. And there was an email script to use and we absolutely had to use our full first and last name “so people know we’re authentic,” no exceptions. Our company email is also firstnamelastname (at) company.

    Dear readers, I have a very, very, uncommon name. It is so uncommon that if you googled it, only two other people would appear in the results and one of them has been dead for 97 years. The top result for my name is my web page where I keep my resume and ongoing projects. So the absolute last thing I want to do is email spam people with my real name. Especially after the trainer said we’d likely get people cursing at us on the phone for cold-calling them and nasty replies to our email.

    This is the point when I started panicking because while it’s unlikely that I’ll ever run into any of those people IRL, the thought that something like this could become attached to my name and possibly affect my future professional career started freaking me out. And having been cyberstalked when I was much younger, the fear of something like that happening from someone getting spam from me…it was just too much to handle. So I had a full-blown panic attack in the middle of training. The trainer pulled me aside and tried to convince me I was wrong about all this, while the other trainees laughed at me. I was adamant that I couldn’t do this and it was a bad fit, so I was released.

    I went home and immediately reported back to the temp agency. Explained what had happened and that the company had misrepresented the job and it was not at all like what the description. They said thanks for letting us know, we’ll be in touch.

    I never heard from that agency again. I even went in once to talk to someone in person after no one returned my call or email and they pretended to not know what I was talking about. But my friend was still getting multiple daily placement offers and I had none (we both had similar resumes). After a few weeks, I assumed I was burned and gave up.

    But I also couldn’t get call backs from any other temp agency in the city. City of millions and somehow none of them contacted me. Submitted my applications and radio silence after that. Gave up applying to any temp agency after six months.

    So am I completely bananacrackers or is blacklisting something that actually happens?

    1. Kayem*

      Sorry for the tldr, thought context was important, especially since it wasn’t the standard situation of reporting a poor fit to the agency. I assume.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Man I got anxious just reading that – I’m sorry you went through that!

      Yes blacklisting happens. I don’t know a ton about temp agencies but that seems like an industry that would blacklist – for many legitimate reasons, though I don’t see this as one of those.

    3. ferrina*

      I’m not surprised you didn’t hear from the original agency. If you say no to a placement early on (no matter how justly), it’s likely you’ll be mentally filed as reluctant and unavailable and moved to the bottom of their call list.

      I am surprised you didn’t get call backs from other temp agencies. My experience has been that they’ll happily take someone who left a different agency. Did you have Agency 1 on your resume when you applied to other agencies? In that case they’d take umbrage with you signing at multiple agencies (for the record, lots of people do it, you just don’t tell the agencies that you’re doing that)

    4. WellRed*

      I seriously doubt unrelated temp companies are communicating with each other at all, let alone sharing and updating so/called blacklists. Who has time?

    5. RagingADHD*

      A temp agency will cut you loose if you bail out of an assignment without calling them first and giving them a chance to work it out. I have never heard of them sharing info to blacklist candidates. They’re really competitive.

  75. RagingADHD*

    Okay, here’s a fun curveball I got today. Any practical advice is welcome.

    I got tasked this morning with putting on a small employee appreciation setup on Tuesday. We already have some very nice gifts to hand out, but my budget for treats/party is $1.50 per person.

    I found a fancy donut shop 5 minutes away where I can preorder for pickup and keep my budget. But how do I make it seem less sterile and ….well, chintzy?

    I’m going to set up in the conference room, and there’s speakers in there where I can run a lowkey playlist for an hour. We have a nice Keurig already for everyone’s coffee or tea.

    I already checked around and we don’t seem to have any platters or lucite sign holders to spruce up the table.

    Any suggestions?

    1. saskia*

      Do you have any budget left at all? If so… dollar store for platters and/or sign holders? $ stores can have nice stuff sometimes.
      If not, are you going to be there during the event? If so, just a warm welcome, an introduction to the drinks/snacks, a heartfelt thank you and a nice gift sounds great to me.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yeah, unfortunately no. I maxed out the budget on the pastries and went a little over on sales tax. $1.50 per person is like 1.25 donuts each. If I were having them delivered there wouldn’t even be enough to go around.

        I have no idea why head office is being so cheap about it.

    2. Hillary*

      Don’t worry about decorations. Gifts and nice donuts are plenty – folks would rather see you spent the money on food for them than on decorations.

      One nice thing would be to get some senior leaders to hang out to say thank you to folks. Them sincerely expressing appreciation can mean a lot.

      1. RagingADHD*

        We are largely remote and most of the C-Suite are digital nomads, but I think there will be a couple of the execs onsite that day. They’ll have to be at the event if they are here, since neither of them have an office and we’ll be set up in the conference room!

    3. HalloQueen*

      I second the Dollar Store suggestion! They have some decent-looking stuff that shouldn’t break the budget.

      Just curious – do you know for sure everyone on the team can eat the donuts? As the lone Celiac on every team I’ve been on (except one), it does become tough to never get to eat the appreciation snacks, since gluten is in all the good treats…

      Glad to hear you have coffee and tea, that would make it feel fancy to me!

      1. RagingADHD*

        I asked the person training me about dietary restrictions, and she said there’s one person who’s allergic to lemons, that’s it.

        She was supposed to handle this, but her baby came a week early and I’m winging everything. Apparently she knows everything and nobody else does. I had to ask 3 different people just to find out how many people work here, and a fourth to get a list of names.