open thread – August 18-19, 2023

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 1,057 comments… read them below }

  1. OofandOuch*

    I’ve been in my new job for about 4 months and I’m struggling with something If never thought I’d struggle with… it’s too calm. My last place was toxic and crazy and all hands on deck to do all the things all the time. I was begging for resources because my team simply couldn’t get it all done. I was constantly in meetings to free up my team to actually do work, so my to do pile was always insane and I was sneaking my individual work into whatever 15 minute slots I could.

    Now I find myself with huge chunks of time to do work, but I feel like I’ve forgotten how to do that. Like I was in battle mode for so long that my brain cannot figure out how to take more than 30 minutes on a task and I’m working in these short bursts but then I have all this time that I can’t fill. I’ve tried to fill it with work related things, but I’ll be honest I find a lot of “extra training” or “professional development” completely mind numbing because it’s a lot of the same stuff over and over again, so I end up reading on my phone or scrolling through random company webpages just to fill up the time. My job is kind of cyclical so I’ll have a week where I’m pretty busy followed by two where it’s dead. Unfortunately I can’t get ahead during those two weeks because I need data that’s not available until the beginning of the busy week.

    I think in the whole this is a much healthier place, but I feel guilty, like I’m stealing from my employer because I’m not working like crazy all the time.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This is a new twist on “crazy jobs changing your ideas of what normal is” that Alison writes about quite often.

      Have you considered creating a detailed schedule for yourself? I don’t mean something with arbitrarily short deadlines in order to force a false sense of panic or anything. Just something that prompts you to task-switch – like a class schedule in college. Have it include those “read trade magazines & company website pages”.

      1. Ama*

        Yes! For me I didn’t need to change jobs, but I had about 2.5 years of intense stress (I was doing work designed for three people for about 18 months, then we finally filled those positions and I had another intense year of training them). When I finally came out the other side and actually had time to breathe it felt all wrong, I would have anxiety attacks if I realized I had spent the entire morning on AaM because I didn’t actually have to work at 150% capacity all the time.

        I count AaM as a big part of my professional development — I am also my employer’s primary representative to a professional association in our sector that has a pretty active list serve so catching up on that a few times a week is extremely useful to keeping an eye on what’s going on in the sector at large.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I’ve been at my current job for over 15 years and I still feel like I’m cheating when I use PTO (of which we have plenty, and which we are actively encouraged to use) because PTO at my previous jobs was so stingy and so utterly impossible to schedule.

      So . . . I don’t know how you get over that but you’re at least not alone.

    3. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      Acknowledging the change and that you’re out of the bananacrackers is good! Give yourself some grace and let yourself adapt to the new environment- I always feel like I’m not very comfortable in the job and surroundings until about a year in, so theoretically, this is part of that. Also, recognize that if your boss and coworkers are happy with what you’re doing, you should go with that and allow yourself to decompress- that way you’ll be ready for the next batch of data.

      If you are truly not busy enough and feel guilty, you can ask to take on more, especially if it’s little bits and bobs that you know you can easily fit in and they’re related to your job.

    4. Jess R.*

      That’s a really rough transition! Like you said, it’s a better and healthier place to be, but it’s still hard to switch off.

      I think a couple things are worth considering: (1) Working in 30-minute bursts is totally reasonable. Let yourself work like that for awhile and just switch between tasks as needed. (2) If professional development stuff isn’t your style (fair!), can you use that time to play with your processes, your spreadsheets, poke around the company shared drive and see what all is being done to get a bigger picture in your head? And (3) Most importantly, you are not stealing from your employer. You are doing your work, and you are being paid to be consistently available to do that work so that when it does come in, you’re ready. It’ll take time to let your body-mind adjust out of panic mode. That’s totally okay.

        1. Jess R.*

          Super fair! I didn’t know how much you’d looked at, etc. I know when I have downtime, I tend to focus on making SOPs (better/clearer/exist at all) and improving processes, but I don’t know how relevant that is to your work.

        2. jasmine*

          Not sure if this would make sense 4 months in at your job, but you can also do shadowing as a way to fill in the time. Like asking a coworker to watch them as they work so you can learn something.

    5. Morgan Proctor*

      This happened to me at my last job. I decided that I hated it. I didn’t miss the toxic parts, but I did miss the feeling of being needed and never feeling bored. Also, I completely break down emotionally when I have nothing to do at work. It’s a far worse feeling for me than the stress of being overworked.

      I also thought my quiet, calm last job was “healthier” than my previous toxic job, but it turned out that everyone was just kind of cowed into submission. I ended up going back to my “toxic” job with a new attitude and perspective, and I’ve never been happier. This route isn’t for everybody, obviously.

      1. OofandOuch*

        Yeah the toxicity in the last job partially came from everyone being cowed into submission lol. Like no one wanted to be there and everyone was miserable. There were a lot of blame games and people would get absolutely railed on in meetings in front of everyone.

        At this new place people sometimes get frustrated, but it seems like normal frustration. Thus far everyone seems to treat everyone with respect, and performance issues are handled privately, so yeah I’m going with it’s healthier here lol.

        I don’t know if I actually miss the craziness or if my body/brain were just used to the craziness and I’m going through some kind of weird withdrawal

        1. Tinamedte*

          Withdrawal, not impossible. Adrenalin highs are a thing. Takes some getting used to when you don’t get them all the time anymore.

        2. Not Jane*

          I feel you, I think it’s a trust thing too, I worked in a toxic environment that sound ike yours was, I managed to escape through a secondment for 3 months and the workplace was literally the greatest workplace I’ve ever worked, the people were so wonderful and it was literally all genuine, but because of where I came from I didn’t believe it at first and had to ALLOW myself to believe these people were being honest.

    6. ecnaseener*

      I feel you on mind-numbing trainings! Are there any process-improvement projects you can think of to tinker away at? Making checklists, writing documentation, saving template correspondence, quality improvement, writing macros to automate things…

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      but I feel guilty, like I’m stealing from my employer because I’m not working like crazy all the time.

      I think, to a certain extent, you’ll feel what you feel, but you might be able to stem some of this a bit by just focusing (as we often tell managers to do) on actual measures of productivity (instead of proxies for them, like sitting in front of a computer and typing). What are your performance reviews going to be based on? What metrics (if any) are you and your team judged by? If you’re meeting (or even exceeding) all your goals, you aren’t stealing anything. Unless you’re non-exempt, they’re paying you to do the job, not to do a specific number of hours on your job.

      I’ve tried to fill it with work related things, but I’ll be honest I find a lot of “extra training” or “professional development” completely mind numbing because it’s a lot of the same stuff over and over again

      Could you just learn stuff that’s interesting to you that’s only semi-tangentially related to your work? It doesn’t have to be actual training or actual “professional development.”

      1. OofandOuch*

        I think part of my problem is that I don’t necessarily find my work super interesting, especially if I’m reading about it rather than doing it. I’m good at it because my brain works in weird ways that apparently other people’s don’t, I make good money doing it so I’m able to live my life and do things that do interest me in my free time. I enjoy my job when I’m actively doing the work, and I get into a kind of rhythm and I feel a sense of accomplishment when things go well and get done, so I don’t honk I’m in a bad fit or anything.

    8. Nicosloanica*

      Oh man this reminds me of the next relationship after you get away from something really twisted and intense. You have to almost re-set your attraction to a sane, normal person after a toxic one … but it does happen! As long as you don’t panic about “not feeling it” like your ex …

    9. Overeducated*

      My job has some very very busy and some very very quiet weeks, so I also feel like I should be able to do a lot of really focused work in the quiet weeks, but have trouble keeping my attention on one task instead of jumping between them every 30 minutes.

      It helps me to block out the time I plan to spend on a project that takes more focus so I can mentally brace for this Friday being writing day (…yes, I’m on AAM, I told you I struggle with it!). And I need to set a specific goal for what to accomplish in that time, not just vague “work on X.”

      It also helps to set up a good environment where you’ll be comfortable for a while. For me this means actually moving to my real desk if I’m working from home instead of never leaving the kitchen table after I made morning coffee, and usually turning on music to keep my brain juuuust occupied enough that it doesn’t look for other distractions.

      I hope these help! Cyclical jobs can be tough, every day is different.

    10. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      Have you tried the Pomodoro technique? You set an alarm for 25 minutes, work for those 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break (even if you want to keep working), and set your alarm again. You can adjust the exact timeframes for what works for you and your workload. I’m just thinking, if you’re consciously taking non-work breaks during your downtime, it might help with some of the guilt?

      Also, one thing I’ve learned from personal experience is that if my brain is in a disorganized place where it doesn’t want to work when I want it to, I’m productive enough that I don’t need to feel guilty or try to force it back to firing on all cylinders at once. I gently try to get my momentum back a little at a time, trusting that things will sort themselves out, and that I’ll be more productive in the long-term by working with my brain rather than against it.

      You’ve been through a stressful experience, your brain is reacting to that stress, and guilt will be another stressor that will delay the recovery process. If you’re actually getting the mandatory work done, I wouldn’t focus on short-term productivity like professional development, but long-term productivity in the form of conscious mental health breaks. Your employer wants you productive in the long-term more than it wants you filling up every hour of time this week!

    11. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      Saaaaame. I used to burn out with all my tasks and responsibilities. My team has grown over the last 3-5 years, and we’re a lot more specialized than we used to be. I used to wear seventeen different hats and now I wear…one. Yet, I keep getting glowing reviews and raises and bonuses. It makes me feel guilty to do less and yet keep advancing. I’ve tried coping with the guilt in a few ways: One, reframe it as “I paid my dues when I was younger and now I can enjoy the rewards of having a solid reputation by not running around like mad all the time.” Two, I carve out some time each week to keep up on the latest trends in my industry. Three, I try to do more long-term strategic planning in my role. Most of my plans never come to pass due to shifting priorities, reorgs, and budget constraints, but it does force important conversations I think my team needs to have about the future, and my higher-ups eat it up that I’m so strategic and think beyond the day-to-day. I still feel the guilt creeping in now and then, like it’s all performative and not “real” work, but I do care about my reputation and our customers and I figure I can’t be that much different than anyone else. So I try to let it go.

      1. OofandOuch*

        I think I could be there in like 5 years, I’m just too new at this company to have any sort of credit/reputation built up. I’ve only gotten positive feedback so far, but the imposter syndrome is so so real, and so terribly when you already feel like you’re not doing enough lol.

    12. New Mom*

      I think it’ll take time. I had a really horrible manager that really beat down my self-esteem and it probably took me six months to a year to finally get my professional confidence back after he was let go. I had spent so much time being afraid of the person I interacted with most that it took me a while to adjust. I think that can be true at a normal job after a toxic one.
      See if there are any interesting professional development work that you can do, and if not, any books you want to read? I’ve made a goal of listening to eight books this year on audible and I can even listen to some of them while I’m doing straight forward data entry.
      I’ve been into start-up books and I really enjoyed Hatching Twitter and I’m listening to Super Pumped now, which is interesting but not as good as Hatching Twitter. Bad Blood was so well written too.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Ooh thanks for these recs! I loved Bad Blood.

        (OofandOuch, I have nothing to add to the wise commentariat here but I wish you the best – my guess from over the Internet would be that this is a transition/readjustment period and will get better with time, so good luck!)

    13. Paige Danger*

      Google the Pomodoro Method. A therapist recommended it to me once. I haven’t found sustained success with it, but other folks say it works for them, so it might be worth a try.

      In the most common version I’ve seen, you do deep focus work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. But, you could reduce the work time down to 20 or 15 minutes if you need to, whatever works for you. After 4 cycles or so, you take a longer break (~15 mins). There are free apps you can download to do the timekeeping for you, if that’s easier. Essentially, you are breaking up long blocks of time into finite bits and giving yourself permission to take breaks.

      1. OofandOuch*

        I’m not really sure how that would help here since my issue isn’t with breaking down long chunks of work, it’s with finding work things to do with long chunks of free time.

        1. Skylight*

          could you spend down time learning a foreign language, especially if there’s one that would be useful in your industry?

    14. Panda (she/her)*

      I left the same situation about a year ago. It took me probably 6 months to slow down enough to actually trust that I didn’t need to be 110% productive for 8+ hours a day anymore, and reachable at all hours of the day. The time has allowed me to work on myself and adjust my expectations for what work should be, but I realized recently that I do need something a bit faster paced to actually be happy. Keep working on your feelings, ask your manager for feedback if you need to get some validation that you’re doing well, and give it time to adjust.

    15. Elevator Elevator*

      This happened when I started at my job, and I had to be reassured by a coworker (who had also come from a constantly-hectic workplace) that it was normal, that they wanted us to be able to take our time to be thorough and careful and do our work well.

      Of course, then four months later he moved away and I’ve been doing double the work ever since, so…appreciate it for as long as it lasts! As long as your manager is generally aware of the situation don’t feel guilty about it – if there’s a project or something they want you to work on during the slow weeks, they can let you know.

    16. I'm fabulous!*

      I feel you. Maybe create a daily/weekly priority task list. Or check in with your boss? I had this experience, too. I left a toxic mean girl company (with people putting me down almost all the time) and I think when I went to my new employer I was acting out over the past drama. I still get nervous when I start a new job and I left that first company in 2007.

    17. Another Michael*

      Four months is also not that long! I definitely wouldn’t expect a new employee to be fully integrated into independent work in the first four months and I expect you’ll get a greater sense of the ebbs and flows of the organization with a little more time. If you’re getting generally positive feedback and meeting expectations I’d say just be kind to yourself in this transition.

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        This, 100%

        When you have been in the role longer, some of the time fill-in stuff will come.

        1. (Not So) New Here*

          Agree with this – I remember early in one job wondering why I wasn’t in as many meetings, but it was really that I hadn’t been in the role long enough for me to contribute substantively (though if you’d asked my younger self, I would have been confident I could add value – the hubris of youth!) it would be worth finding out what projects are on the horizon that you could join – it may be that your manager isn’t sure yet where to integrate you into a process.

    18. learnedthehardway*

      In addition to what others have suggested, it would probably be a good idea for you to talk to your manager and explain that the transition is tough – in a good way – but still tough for the reasons you mentioned, and that you find you have some time on your hands now that you have transitioned into the role. Perhaps the manager is waiting for you to be ready to take some additional things on, or they may have some special projects you could work on. Or, they may have some suggestions for learning or even some constructive criticism to offer (eg. you may be missing process elements or not doing something that you should be doing).

      I would consider doing this, at any rate. It’s likely to impress the manager that you have the ability and capacity to get things done.

    19. Donkey Hotey*

      No advice, but definite empathy. I’m in a very similar boat from Last Job to Current Job. For me, I chalk my shift up to moving from family businesses to actual corporations (corporate inertia is a thing.) For me, I find myself (with my boss’ blessing) able to explore stuff and dig in to learning something that I’m curious about.

    20. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      You’re getting good advice here. I’m chiming in because it sounds like we have similar attitudes to our jobs and what we want out of them. Maybe the way I reframe this will help you and maybe not; no pressure.

      I think of this kind of time as “productive boredom.” Boredom gets a bad rep – it’s actually one of our more useful mental states (when not overdone) because it’s what gives our minds the time to rest and discover connections between things. Part of your value to your employer is the atypical mind you describe yourself as having. Give that mind a chance to do its thing.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I like this idea – thank you! Off to read more about it and recommend it to my team.

    21. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

      Embrace it.

      If you can, try to find something that’ll hold your interest for brief periods of time whether that’s something to read or some kind of brain-teaser or other stimulating game. Even if it’s not directly related to your actual work, it can still be nice to feel as if you’re doing something to keep your mind and attitude fresh.

      1. amoeba*

        No idea whether that’s at all something that would be relevant to the OP, but I love coding exercises for this! Much more stimulating than just watching/reading material…

    22. Busy Middle Manager*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this actually, unless you really like it. I actually left a job after a few months after this sort of chain. The work I was doing in my late 20s was considered super duper senior level at the new company so it started to feel like a slow brain-rotting demotion even though on paper it looked could.

    23. AnonNow*

      I relate to this also. How about discussing additional projects with your manager? Preferably something that can be done on a relaxed timeline and which fits into your schedule.

    24. Kabocha Mocha*

      It’s possible this is you adjusting to not having those adrenaline highs every day. But it’s also possible that you just prefer being busier than you currently are. You can have a day that feels more active within a healthier environment.

      I also like being busy, and also get bored with most professional development. If I were you, I would probably look for more work to do during the quiet weeks. Either by looking around and coming up with a suggestion or by asking my boss directly what I could help with. Or join some kind of culture committee. You might find that you adjust over time, or you might find that you really do need a new job where you can be busier, but healthy busy.

  2. Reimbursement?*

    Although I am fully remote, I do not submit reimbursement request for the mileage between my own and the office that I go to once every other week for a staff meeting, because it is the administrative headquarters. A few months ago, it was requested I stop by the Post Office on my way to check our mail (I don’t know why the PO box is in a different neighborhood than our office; presumably because we moved offices). This is not really a departure from my route at all, although I may end up circling for parking – fine. Then, it became a request to drive the checks to the bank and deposit them – the bank is NOT on the way to the office, probably 10 minutes out of the way, so if I make a separate trip, I submit for mileage reimbursement. Lately, the staff meetings have been canceled for the summer, but I am still being asked to pick up the mail and deposit the checks. I believe I should now be able to submit all this mileage for reimbursement, but I worry they’re going to claim our PO box is somehow also administrative headquarters. I already feel a little weird submitting very small mileage requests (it’s like 5-10 miles round trip; we are in an urban area so the distance doesn’t reflect the time) – but since it’s once or twice every week, it does add up, and it’s the principle of the thing … I could easily get rear-ended, drive over a nail, or get a parking ticket while I’m driving around for them, so I at least want a couple bucks for the gas.

    1. Trina*

      Have you pointed out to the person that asked you to do the errands that circumstances have changed and they are no longer “on your way”? If they still want you to do it, you can mention the reimbursement change then, just as a heads-up.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      If it will give you peace of mind, you can ask your manager (“hey, when the staff meetings are cancelled, can I submit milage reimbursement for driving to the PO box and bank?”) or you can give your manager a heads-up (“hey, when the staff meetings are cancelled, I’m going to start submitting reimbursement for driving to the post office and bank”).

    3. HonorBox*

      I’d definitely recommend requesting mileage reimbursement. If someone asks why since you hadn’t before in some cases, you can point out that while the PO Box was “on your way” for meetings, since you’re not scheduled to come in, this amounts to a special trip for you to cover that. And for the bank, it is definitely out of your way, and while you’re happy to do it (assuming you are), it does cost you money to run those errands.

    4. Nonprofit ED*

      You should not feel weird about submitting mileage. If you are putting miles on your car that you would otherwise not be putting on your car to take care of these things you should get reimbursed. The only thing you should do is request the mileage from the office address to the post office or the bank and back to the office if you are doing on days you would be going to the office anyway. You should not use your home address because you would be driving to the office anyway and you can’t claim mileage for driving to work.

    5. WellRed*

      Is this even part of your job? I ask because it sounds like a bit of job creep. First the post office, now the banking. Unless it’s within the scope of your job, get ahead of that. Definitely submit for mileage.

      1. ShysterB*

        Also — check your auto insurance. If something happens while you are on a business-assigned task/errand, depending on your policy, you might not have coverage.

    6. cabbagepants*

      Is this sort of admin work within the scope of your job? if not I’d start pushing back that it’s taking away time from your regular duties and you can’t do it anymore.

    7. Malarkey01*

      What is your arrangement for coming in? Is it a clear I only come in for meeting days or is it a hybrid where they say you need to come in on this day but if there’s no meeting it’s sort of understand that you can stay home?

      If there’s a chance they could change this to oh you need to come in on those days even if there’s no meeting now that you’re submitting reimbursements, I wouldn’t think it was worth if for the $5 bucks or so you’d get in mileage.

      It’s worth mentioning to your manager before you put in for reimbursements the first time though.

    8. Orangejuice*

      I used to submit miles for small trips too, just for the principle of the thing, and also because I made basically nothing so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t using a penny of my own money doing work I should be paid for. No one had a problem reimbursing me for the 5 bucks a month or whatever it was.

  3. Good Enough Emeritus Gift*

    My boss suggested that we give an award to our former director at an upcoming gala and asked me to pick out something “suitable” as a gift. I’m a little salty about this because our organization is really strugging financially (like, they let the intern go early because they couldn’t pay her for more hours??) so I don’t think we should be buying gifts for ex-employees who left us for a competitor, although admittedly she was beloved and was basically the founder … sure didn’t leave us in a great financial situation though. One problem is I feel like, in theory, no gift is too generous for a founder – like, a trip to Tahiti wouldn’t be too much – and there are certainly nice items related to our mission in the $300 range, but I feel the appropriate budget is zero to $20, maybe “nice framed picture signed by staff” or something sentimental but essentially free. Maybe just flowers and a speech?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, I’d be salty, too. Flowers and a speech seem like plenty.

      This feels like a forced “respect your elders” situation, where someone is demanding you defer to someone simply because they were born before you were.

      1. Anecdata*

        Flowers, or photo-and-card or anything like they sound totally suitable – have you asked your manager what order of magnitude cost they are thinking?

        Also, I totally get the feeling side, but spending $300 on a one time thing is probably not significant in your org’s overall budget/wouldn’t eg. have made a difference in whether the intern got laid off. No trips to Tahiti though!

    2. NYCRedhead*

      I don’t disagree but if a tangible gift is expected, then perhaps a glass bowl (see what I did there?) or a nice vase?
      Is there s a program that could be named after them, which on one hand would be free but on the other hand is a permanent reminder? “Our internship program will now be called the Mary Smith Program for Young Leaders, reflecting Mary’s great commitment to mentoring young people.”

    3. Op*

      To clarify I’m looking for suggestions for some lower cost gift options that might feel fancy enough

      1. New Mom*

        What about getting a nice photo with a big, black frame and then get those shiny sharpies (silver, gold, etc.) and have everyone sign it? Maybe throw in a couple fond memories “Team Retreat 2010” or “Project A launch” or even a funny quote for them? I usually make going away cards and border the cards with memories and quotes from the person and people tend to love it.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          Same in my organization! We have a giant photo that’s put in a frame with a thick matting around it. People sign their names or write well-wishes on the matted border part. Look fancy and personal but is very low cost. This plus an engraved plaque and perhaps flowers as well as a slide show of pictures playing in the background looks fancy and gives the impression of giving a lot of gifts because you are (the MC saying “and now X will present Mary with the flowers to symbolize our enduring gratitude, and now a pic that everyone has signed, and now a plaque to commemorate her contributions that reads ____”

      2. Susan Calvin*

        Is their departure recent enough that most of the staff still remember her? Fondly, even? Because there are websites (e.g. Kudoboard) that will let you solicit greetings and anecdotes, as well as pictures and other digital memorabilia from whoever feels moved to contribute, and lets you turn it into a nice looking poster or book with very little effort. Not sure about the cost for printing, to be honest, but can’t imagine it will break the bank!

        1. Bart*

          We did this for a president who was leaving. We solicited photos and written memories. I heard through others that any time someone from our school visited the former president, the book would be brought out to share. I thought it was nice but also low cost.

    4. OtterB*

      If I understood correctly and the former employee was a founder, a framed pair of “then and now” photos (original office/staff and current office/staff, or something of the sort) might be fun.

      1. Marz*

        Yes, that’s along the lines of what we did for my (reviled amongst the staff, but well-liked and well-connected in the community) boss when he (finally, thankthelorax) left for a competitor. We didn’t feel like we could do nothing, so I, using work time, worked up maps that showed the then-and-now impact and someone else either bought or brought in an extra frame and we presented it to him with some amount of formality, in genuine gratitude (for him moving on, and the work we did WAS meaningful to all of us). It was just the right amount IMO that we could offer genuinely and wouldn’t feel resentment about it.

        1. Sparkle Llama*

          We did something similar for a departing beloved director (in addition to a gift card). We did a Shutterfly book of pictures from his time working here and had people sign that and then made a frame collage type thing with photos representing the work in each decade he worked here. Both parts were very well received and the cost was very minimal. Depends on whether you have pictures available. We have since made more of the Shutterfly books for other departing long term employees and our old photos are much more organized now and we take more photos and promptly save them after events.

    5. Rex Libris*

      Go with flowers and a “In appreciation of your years of service” type plaque. Those are fairly cheap and gives them something durable for their vanity wall.

    6. Yes And*

      Go back to first premises. Presumably the point of honoring this person at a gala is to induce attendees to donate generously in honor of a beloved founded. What gift will best accomplish that purpose? What does your audience want/expect to see? What will move them?

      1. Hotlanta*

        that is a good mature way to look at it.

        it’s not “a gift for this person,>⁸ to thank them”

        it’s a gift for the organization to show their values to the audience, that happens to go to this person.

    7. fhqwhgads*

      Gift should be something like a glass thing that looks like an award but is basically a paperweight.

      1. Jaydee*

        Yes to this. A tastefully fancy thing that can go on a shelf in their new office. Blown glass is pretty. A glass statue thingy or plate or bowl. A desk clock. have the item or a stand for it engraved with their name, and something like “In honor of your years of service to….” whether that’s the company name or the community you serve or whatever.

        If you have an awards and engraving shop in your town check out their catalog.

  4. Samantha P*

    Has anyone taken a job where your past experiences are from highly evolved companies, where they have in-depth reporting and full understanding of data and analytics, to an established company where the majority of people don’t have the technical/professional experience. Or I guess similar to going from an established company to a start-up. Not necessarily that they are incompetent, but you just have much more experience than them? How do you deal with this?
     
    I wrote last week about my experiences in a new job where I’ve noticed my boss’s limited understanding of our work and his challenges in retaining information; time management, clarity in priorities, and lack of knowledge with technical aspects. Apparently he worked at one of the sub-brands of ours that was a start-up, and when our main company acquired that start-up, he was promoted to the director level. Our company set-up is several brands under 1 parent company, which is common in our industry. But a few years later, he still lacks the understanding on how to manage multiple brands.

    We had a meeting earlier this week with an new external vendor, and it was obvious that he doesn’t know what he’s doing with “llama grooming”. He couldn’t explain things at a high level that the vendor needed to know, I had to jump in. I have a feeling I was hired because they need someone at a high level to set the strategy of llama grooming, which should really be his job. They probably didn’t want to get rid of him. While he does have skills, he doesn’t understand what he’s the director of, which is strange that he hasn’t figured it out after a few years. I can continue say, “we need to group apples and oranges together, and measure the color, not shape”, but he doesn’t grasp the concept.

    Sorry, I’m kind of venting lol. How can I better set my expectations? I’d like to stay for a few years.

    1. Just a Manager*

      I’m in the same spot with a boss who was put in the position with not experience or education, whereas I have a Master’s and 20 years of experience. I don’t have any advice for you. I’m frustrated. I’m curious what other people say.

    2. New Mom*

      Is it a situation where he and the organization want you to step in and take over while he is more of a figurehead? I could see this going two ways (both could be annoying but one is way worse) where he steps back and lets you do everything while he collects the bigger paycheck or where he micromanages and challenges you, and it’s a daily struggle while he collects the bigger paycheck.

      1. Samantha P*

        Luckily he doesn’t seem to be a micromanager or actively say wrong information, he’s just kind of “there”.

        He is more of the figurehead, the company is doing well so I don’t see a situation happening where I have to do everything while he does nothing. That said, there have been a few instances where he’s asking me for stuff (like with setting OKRs) where I’m thinking, “this is something you should be telling me”. Also, this role is a slightly step down from my last role, but I was laid-off and desperate for a job, and this one popped up quickly and I didn’t have the energy to job search.

        I don’t want to to be a frog in boiled water situation, so I’m not sure what to say when he tries to ask me for things (like strategy or a timeline) he should be doing at his level.

        1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

          Are you able to just sit back and let him figure it out? Sometimes we have to let people fail.

          1. Samantha P*

            How do I do this? lol. especially if he asks, should I just say, “I don’t know, what do you think?”

        2. AnonNow*

          I’d say go ahead and do these things. There’s some job security for you in that he won’t want to get rid of someone who is actively doing his work. But at the same time, I’d be looking for a job with better pay and recognition. I can get why it’s annoying, but it also doesn’t sound like a situation you need to flee.

    3. Phoenix*

      Can you mentally reframe this job as an opportunity to show you can do Director-level work? Yes, your boss is asking you to do his job for him, which is extremely unfair. But if you’re able to successfully do his job for a year or two, then you can apply for Director-level roles elsewhere and point to your achievements as evidence that you’re a great candidate.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        This, plus for my own sake I try to think of the things I definitely don’t want to do in my role/salary, and then either be grateful he is doing them instead of me, or make sure that I do not end up doing those things for him. Is it that you don’t want to deal with the politics of the higher-ups? Have to handle pushy stakeholders? Go to boring galas and award receptions to woo donors? You may be able to carve out the niche of “his” works versus your own stuff that you actually have some career reasons or personal interest to engage on.

    4. Donn*

      I’m late to the party, but is it possible the parent company had to promote the boss and keep them on the payroll, as a condition of acquiring the startup?

  5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    I’ve been trying to avoid this conclusion, but it keeps slapping me in the face:

    My company’s load bearing personnel are also the guardian angels of our broken stairs (i.e. they persist under the protection of or to the benefit of our irreplaceable key personnel).

    Is there anything a grunt in the trenches can do to salvage such a situation? Or is it just a matter of when to jump ship?

    1. Another IVF mom*

      Had to re-read this a couple times due to all the metaphors! And sadly no, probably not.

    2. nope*

      Aside from trying to convince the load-bearing personnel that the missing stairs are actually a problem (which is tricky and can get you labeled as a troublemaker and make your work life hell), nope. Just GTFO.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      You know, I’m a random stranger on the internet. But I’ve read various posts of yours (most recently on the burnout discussion this morning) and thought “that doesn’t sound like a good job”. If I can recognize it from across the internet, it’s probably time for a new job.

      Maybe not jump ship right away. But get your sea chest packed and start looking for a nice berth on a well run ship.

      1. Rex Libris*

        This. The problem with just jumping ship is all the darn sharks. Probably time to plan an orderly transfer to the U.S.S. Sanity though.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        But I’ve read various posts of yours (most recently on the burnout discussion this morning) and thought “that doesn’t sound like a good job”. If I can recognize it from across the internet, it’s probably time for a new job.

        You’re not wrong; I honestly want to claim that it’s a decent job… I was a curious fit initially and have moved in the wrong direction (i.e. I’m a worse fit today than I was five years ago) and some of those comments are rooted in previous jobs in the same industry. And there’s an element of “knowing now how the sausage is made” at play as well.

    4. Jane Bingley*

      I worked at an organization that was toxic in a lot of ways, most significantly a high level of tolerance for a senior person who was wildly inappropriate. When I became a supervisor, it became clear to me that I couldn’t tolerate their misbehaviour, and the next time they crossed a line, I helped elevate it through formal policies that were previously ignored in relation to this person.

      The good news: the organization took it seriously and treated the senior person like a problem for the first time ever. Their focus was isolated to the specific issue I raised, but it resulted in real action.

      The better news: the toxic person left shortly after, of their own volition, likely because they realized they wouldn’t get away with it anymore.

      The bad news: they received a promotion in their next role. Not my fault or my problem, but they’re definitely someone else’s problem now, and that’s a real shame.

      The worst news: others within the organization who had previously protected the toxic person who left blamed me for their departure and life got miserable for my department.

      I left a few months after the toxic person, for other reasons, but it was a relief. From what I’ve heard, they’ve never been able to replace toxic person properly because their former defenders continue to drive replacements out of the organization.

      I had assumed, before stepping into a supervisory role, that other people disliked this person but were protecting them because of the quality of their work. When I finally challenged the organization to do something about them, it turned out that they were protected by a ring of toxicity that supported, and actively cheered on, their most toxic behaviour.

  6. Jess R.*

    Work joys!! What’s been lovely and great for you at work this week/recently?

    I was promoted to manager a few weeks ago, and yesterday I got to move into a proper office, shared with my peer who co-coordinates our program with me. It’s not private private, but it is *so* much better already than being in the same big not-even-cubicles just-desks room as the rest of my team. Now they have to think if their questions merit walking over to my office or if they can figure it out themselves rather than just calling out to me every 30 seconds.

    Plus, I have natural light! A huge floor-to-ceiling window right behind me! *heart eyes*

        1. Dust Bunny*

          It really is. We’re a smallish nonprofit and had some rough years for various reasons both internal and external, but our last two EDs seem to have gotten us back on our feet.

          1. Downward facing llama*

            I’m in non-profit and we received a 5% COLA. Never seen that in my 23 yrs of public service.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      A couple of weeks ago, I finally secured a prestigious and highly sought-after local event venue for an event next year! I’ve been trying to book this venue for more than 2 years, but our event dates have never lined up with their availability till now. It’s going to be more expensive and a ton more work to use this venue, but I’m up for it and I’m very, very excited that it all worked out!

    2. Justin*

      Awesome. I don’t have an office office but my cubicle is in the corner next to the window and so people have to truly make a trip to come find me and given how few people are in the office, it’s fine.

      As for me, I’m showing off all the work my small team (just me and my intern) has done for my larger team next week and I really think my colleagues are going to be happy with everything we’ve created. So I’m really looking forward to that.

    3. Overeducated*

      I had a new specialist start on my team to take on a project that’s been simmering in the backburner for a year since the last specialist left (yes! a year!). This person has done great work elsewhere, including in another division of my organization, and I’m excited to work with her and finally make progress on this project.

    4. KittyGhost*

      My grandboss gave me a pet project that is exactly up my alley and a chance for me to do all kinds of fun designy BS that I don’t get to do on other office projects. Like he explicitly asked for the designy BS. I’m having so much fun with this and I love that this is a thing I get to do.

    5. Mimmy*

      I teach a specific skill to blind and visually impaired adults. Most of our students have at least some past experience with this skill, even if it was prior to losing their vision. One student who started last week has almost no experience and their vision loss is relatively recent, so I am teaching them from scratch. It will take a lot of time and patience on both our parts, but they said they are really enjoying the class. A lot of times, these students with little experience are older and have difficulty grasping the skill. I cannot wait to see how far this particular student goes and to see how much it will benefit them in future employment opportunities.

      1. Duckie*

        What skills do you teach? I’ve recently started as a rehab teacher for the blind and would love to connect with others!

        1. Mimmy*

          I teach keyboarding. I focus on touch typing and orienting the student to the full keyboard. This is required of all students in my program before they begin instruction on using assistive technology, which involves learning to execute various commands using keyboard shortcuts rather than the mouse (both general commands and ones specific to the AT they’ll use). Thus, they will need to know where all the keys are first.

          I should mention that I am job searching with the goal of transitioning to postsecondary disability services or closely related roles. Still, I love this population and would be more than happy to connect!

    6. LemonToast*

      Congrats! Natural light is so precious. Part of what is making me drag my feet on getting another job is that my current office building is young, has tons of natural light, and I’m on the third floor next to giant windows where I get to look out at trees and a park.

      Something good that has happened at work this week is that my team closed out 3 major projects, and the customers for those projects are very happy with our work. A couple of them were grueling – took longer than anticipated and ran into several issues – but my team did a great job in overcoming those challenges. Now I’m sitting here feeling kind of empty because we don’t have a major, pressing project to work on. But I’m trying to enjoy that. Because we all know it’s just a matter of time before the next one comes along!

    7. New Mom*

      I submitted an op-ed months ago and never heard anything but then I got an email last week that it’s being published. I wanted to be a writer in my younger life so it feels good to have ways to incorporate it into my non-writing career.

    8. Nea*

      I got a window too! I’ve wanted a window seat for 12 years!

      Also, whoever was controlling the thermostat set it several degrees above “meat locker” at the beginning of the month and I’m incredibly grateful.

    9. Well...*

      I just started a new job and my office is huuuuge. First time not sharing an office \o/! The window is enormous with tons of sunlight coming in all day, direct light only ~6pm this time of year.

      Best part: I heard from facilities that space heaters aren’t allowed but are wink wink commonly used, and you’ll only lose it if the fire compliance person notices and takes it away. I can be warm and productive in peace for the first time in my work life (aside from wfh, which presents other productivity issues for me personally).

    10. Princess Peach*

      Classes start on Monday. I don’t think I’m supposed to admit this on the internet, but I’m excited. The students having been moving in all week, campus feels alive again, and their back-to-school / off-to-college vibe is so wonderfully optimistic. I’ve made some changes in my teaching methodology for this semester, and I’m really looking forward to it.

      1. chocolate muffins*

        Hello, fellow academic person! I too am looking forward to teaching and professor-ing this fall. Do you feel comfortable saying what field you’re in?

    11. Anxious Bee*

      How do you deal with burn out when you know improvement is coming but it’s slow to get here?
      I work as a nurse at a newly unionized hospital- we’ve been at the barganing table for almost a year and we are so close to getting the contract we need to safely staff our hospital. But close still means maybe a month of bargaining and then the long work of actually implementing what we’ve worked for. I’m not officially union leadership, I’m not on the board, but I am the go to resource for my unit and I bet I’ll be the only nominee to make me our official rep once we actually get the contract. Several of our organizers have credited me with the improved involvement of my unit, and when we had a two day strike we only had ONE member of my unit cross the picket line. So I know I am making an actual difference but I am so. Tired. I am constantly angry with administration chosing profits over patients and I still have my actual nursing job to do on top of the union responsibilities, plus I’m still a new nurse as my one year anniversary as a nurse was this May. My partners are worried about me, and have not so subtly pushed me to return to therapy- which I am doing. Leaving is not an option- not when we’re so close and this is a justice/patient safety issue. How can I keep myself healthy?

      1. Anxious Bee*

        oh so embarrassing I didn’t mean for this to be a reply! so sorry- happy about your office though

      2. union yes*

        I was actually going to say my work highlight was being nominated for my union’s unit chair! it feels good for people to give a vote of confidence like that. I’ve been in our leadership for around a year, though – I think it’s important to focus on the fact that you’re the one trying to make things better, and doing literally the most you can. To be the best nurse you can for your patients, the best resource for your coworkers, and the best advocate at the bargaining table, you also need time to disconnect and take care of yourself – that’s hard enough when you’re “just” a nurse, so you really need to make the time when you’re also a Union leader.

        Another key thing for me is just … make it fun. I love picking fights, being petty, and proving people wrong, so filing grievances and poring over contract language is fun for me!

        Recruiting other people to the team – not just as supporters, but people who are willing to fight actively with you, too, is crucial. Then you all do the stuff you think is fun, and have time for rest.

        Congrats on making it so far!

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      One of my fellow managers is departing shortly and I am picking up her team to basically be their interim manager, in addition to my own usual team. I THINK this is a sort of trial run to see if we can long-term keep these two teams (which are separate but related) under the same manager, because there’s going to be some potential areas of overlap in the not too distant future. It’s going to be more work, of course, but I’m pretty pleased that I’m the go-to for this sort of thing and I’m pretty confident that it will be doable. (Each team has two leads in addition to the ICs, which helps.)

    13. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      I had a co-worker come and tell me they really appreciate me. This was really nice especially because our boss is always dropping the ball and I am fielding it so that she doesn’t get lost in the trenches as she is new to the job and is a smart and competent co-worker.

    14. Anonymask*

      Gruntman got moved to another part of the building! I literally felt my stress levels drop once he took his last box and moved. No longer do I have to hear his hot takes on sports/politics/his wife. No longer am I trapped in my desk when he and his bros stand behind me and block my exit. No longer will I have to shout to be heard on a training I am conducting. No longer will my desk shake because he slams drawers.

      There’s still A LOT I don’t like about this job and why I’m working to get out, but… This thing helped.

    15. DrSalty*

      My direct reports are doing so well with some difficult projects, I’m so proud of them. I am a new manager and delegating personal control of projects to more junior folks was the aspect of my new position I was most nervous about, and they are just knocking it out of the park.

    16. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Congratulations on your promotion! Much to my surprise, I was promoted to Director yesterday! My manager started off by saying he hoped I knew how much he and leadership valued me, etc. and I honestly thought I was being laid off or moved to another department (so did by husband, who happed to be home and hovered in my office door while I was on the speaker call.)

    17. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

      A little under a month ago, I’d set a goal to complete at least one training module/video/exercise per day to study for a professional technical certification and be ready to take the exam by Labor Day. I’d been battling some computer troubles as well as a minor nasal infection which lasted almost a week but I’m still on track and today, my manager told the team that the VP wants us to get certified by the middle of September so I’m proud of myself for being one step ahead and am as motivated as ever knowing my employer’s full support. I can’t lie, I’m also looking forward to sharing the news when I pass on LinkedIn.

    18. Em*

      Was able to get someone who was on a month-to-month contract moved to be guaranteed through the end of 2023. (I’d love “permanent” but I’ll take “better” in the meantime!)

    19. Wordybird*

      One of the higher-ups in my organization who is notorious for being incredibly nitpicky and generally unable to leave well enough alone told me I did a great job on a project this week. That was a huge win for me.

    20. The Cat’s Ass*

      I’m in that weird liminal space where I’ve given notice at This Job and am onboarding in my spare time with Future Job, and also telling people about it and they’ve been lovely. Many of these folks (patients) will follow me over to new job. I’m awash in cards, homegrown eggs veggies and wine ( gifts) and tears (mine).

    21. Honorificabilitudinitatibus*

      I‘m currently heading a hiring process. One person sent in a fairly middling application and frankly, was only invited to interview because I still had an open slot.

      They aced both the interview and the practical assignment. Turns out they are great at the skills needed for the job, just not so great at writing job applications. Looking forward to talking to my boss on Monday, then offering this candidate the job.

    22. Irish Teacher*

      We just got our details for going back to school the other day. So far, my classes look fairly nice and it looks like I don’t have to start at 9am the first day back (just a planning day and the first meeting doesn’t include me).

    23. WheresMyPen*

      Being reminded that my boss is a lovely person. I made a mistake a few weeks back and had been worried about bringing it up, but reminded myself that the anxious tummy was only going to go away once I had, so I brought it up during another catch up and she was really reassuring and fine about it :D

  7. Anecdata*

    Looking for stories and insights about what worked (or failed catastrophically!) for you:

    When you’re looking for a job /before/ leaving your old one, how have you activated your networks? One on one convos? Asking people to keep it on the down low? Any particular dos and don’ts?

    1. Magpie*

      When I’m looking for a new job, I usually scan LinkedIn to see where everyone I’m connected to is currently working or has recently worked. If any of those companies are ones I might be interested in, I’ll check their websites for job openings and apply for anything that looks interesting. Then I’ll message the person I know saying I’m applying for a job and ask them about their experience at the company. This way, I’m not explicitly asking them to do extra work on my behalf but a lot of times people will offer to put in a good word for me with the hiring manager or offer some advice on the recruitment process. The industry I work in is also heavily reliant on third party recruiters to fill a lot of roles so I’ll usually reach out to two or three recruiters I’ve worked with in the past to see what roles they’re currently trying to fill. But I know that’s not typical in every industry.

    2. New Mom*

      Hiiii. Same situation. I’ve started telling some very trusted former coworkers, and a few trusted people I know outside of my company. I’m still a little nervous doing it because for financial reasons I don’t want to be pushed out earlier than I’m ready to leave. I’m going to an industry conference soon and I’m trying to think of ways to hint to people that I might be available soon without outright saying I’m leaving. I’ll check the responses you get later.

    3. Ashley*

      If you are worried about word getting back and your manager not understanding why you may want to leave, the few trusted network is helpful. Make sure you keep an eye on websites of companies you respect to see if they post directly.

    4. anonymous for this*

      I have always activated my network with 1:1 conversations with friends, college classmates, contacts, and recruiters. Other than that, I’m definitely sending all the good vibes and luck for your job search!

    5. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

      In the past, I’d kept it all under wraps where I was still employed but would tell almost anyone else.

      If there are former managers/supervisors/mentors/coworkers you’re hoping to use as a reference, it depends on how comfortable you feel approaching them but if you’re serious about finding a new role, I don’t see anything wrong with reaching out to tell them shortly after you begin your search so they’re aware they may be contacted. Of course, you may see it more appropriate to wait until you’re on the verge of accepting an offer.

    6. Generic Name*

      I started my very recent job search by texting former coworkers and letting them know I was looking to move on. A few of them I asked if they could be references. Others, I asked if they could let me know if they heard of anything they thought could be a fit for me. I reached out to a few others via LinkedIn. A couple of others I let know when I met with them in person. I had face to face meetings with several colleagues. A couple were just to catch up, a couple more of an interview for their company, but those we mutually decided it wasn’t a fit for what I was looking for. A couple of colleagues forwarded my resume to some of their contacts, which resulted in some informal interviews. The job I ended up accepting I initially reached out to a colleague on LinkedIn I had worked with on a project in the past and really enjoyed the work. I had a couple of interviews and got an offer.

      Don’t discount applying for jobs on job boards. I got several interviews that way. One word of caution, if you work for a small company, see if you can find out what job board they primarily post jobs on. Most job boards will make your resume searchable by companies who are hiring, and you wouldn’t want to inadvertently tip off your company that you are job searching by someone you work with coming across your resume as a job seeker. I knew that my company uses Indeed, so I just searched for jobs and then applied from the company website. It probably would have been faster for my resume to just get blasted out there, but the company I work for is small enough that it would have caught attention if HR came across it, so I didn’t want to risk it.

  8. ThatGirl*

    In light of the nude sunbather this week, I’d love to hear about weird/wild/highly strange things you’ve seen at work.

    For instance, in April I happened to look out the window to the parking lot and saw a man practicing ….something…. at the edge of the parking lot. Still not sure what it was, but he had some kind of nunchuck or rope with a flail or other medieval looking weapon, and was throwing them in a controlled/choreographed way. We watched mesmerized for several minutes.

    (And if any of you know what he was doing I’d love to hear it!!)

    1. HonorBox*

      Two stories, one of which isn’t directly at work, but occurred during the work day:

      1. I took a walk on my lunch break, and as I walked past an apartment complex, I saw a woman sunbathing (in appropriate attire, as opposed to the dude earlier this week). Not weird in and of itself, but she was sunbathing directly on the asphalt parking lot. I was marveling at how uncomfortable that must have been.

      2. At an old office, there was a public expo grounds across the street. Brick pavers, decorative lighting, a little bit of greenery, and some low handrails and fences. There were two guys doing parkour, throwing themselves over the handrails. Like you, several of us stood and watched for longer than we probably should admit to.

    2. cardigarden*

      Very in the vein of the nude sunbather: my office is ground level and about a year ago I happened to glance out my window at the exact same time some guy was answering nature’s call– in my direction and everything.

      1. Well...*

        I saw someone pull over, get out of his car, relieve himself on the side of the road, get back in his car, drive away from my office window once. It was widely in view of many people, but I guess he didn’t care and really needed to go? Definitely a weird moment in my line of sight that, by the time I figured out what was happening, felt I’d already seen too much of.

      2. OtterB*

        If the office windows are tinted or have a reflective film, it’s not obvious to someone outside that they can be seen from the inside. Not that they should be answering the call of nature in the open anyway, but it probably looked to them like they were in a sheltered corner of the building.

        1. connie*

          I’m not sure that’s true? Is not the whole point of those tints to reflect light off the outside while also allowing the people inside to see out?

      3. Hermione Danger*

        Long, long ago, I sat next to the reception desk for a firm on the ground floor of a downtown building in a major American city. The reception desk butted up against the floor to ceiling windows at the front of the building. Directly on the other side of these windows was sidewalk.

        One morning, I heard the receptionist gasp and then she started to giggle and called my name. I peeked around the divider, and strolling casually along the sidewalk was a not-completely-naked man. He was ONLY not-completely-naked because he was wearing shoes.

        1. Alisaurus*

          I was once a receptionist with a desk that looked out into the small parking lot that wasn’t easy to turn into, either, so any cars coming in were very purposefully pulling in. One morning, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a car pull in. When no one came in shortly after (again, our lot was a little out of the way, so we rarely (if ever) got people just pulling off the road to check their phone or whatever), I looked up just to see what was going on.

          And realized the parked car was occupied by a young couple making out quite passionately.

    3. Rosyglasses*

      Haha – do you happen to work in Scranton, PA where a beet farmer in drab brown suits might be working across from you? :-)

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      I didn’t witness this, but at one of our annual conferences, someone stole a medical simulation mannequin (anatomically accurate life-size model, in this case of a human torso, used to train medical staff) from one of the exhibitors. It was not a small item and was worth quite a bit of money.

      I suppose it’s possible that someone could have packed it away with their stuff by mistake and just not said anything, but if it was stolen, I’ve always wondered what the motive could have been. Re-selling it? Using it for their own personal medical training? Halloween decoration? It’s so strange, and I’ll never know the reason!

          1. ThatGirl*

            Also possible, I think I came across those when I was initially searching after seeing him.

    5. t-vex*

      My office is near the air force base and we got to see a very cool air show last year with jets swooping around just overhead. Bad for productivity, great for morale.

      1. WorkNowPaintLater*

        Used to work in an office on an air force base and any day before an air show was a definite almost no productivity day.

    6. Tio*

      At my first office job, we were sitting outside for lunch because it was a nice day out, and a man rode up to us on a bicycle with some plastic shopping bags hanging off the handles and offered to sell us some meat. Not precooked meat or anything, just like… meat from a Target grocery section, except we suspect it was not particularly fresh. We declined and he rode away.

    7. Brownie*

      A few years ago an emergency stay indoors was broadcast to my entire building because a black bear had been spotted in the neighborhood. It was amazing to be able to track the bear’s progress around our building by all the people crowding the windows to watch it. At one point it walked through the covered walkway outside of the row of manager offices. There was at least one person who was on camera and was oblivious to the bear walking through frame behind her until people in her meeting started shouting about it being outside her window.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I’d love to have seen a bear outside our facility – and it was in a woodsy area that certainly did have bears, at least in some seasons. But the most wild of wildlife encounters that I recall was the time a bat took refuge on one of the window ledges, clearly visible from inside; people kept drifting by to get a look at the little thing, just one pane of glass away…

    8. Lizabeth*

      If it’s a medieval looking weapon it might be a Society for Creative Anachronism (sp?) or SCA for short, person practicing. They selectively recreate the middle ages by doing it. I believe Pensic Wars are going on in PA somewhere right now. And I’m glad I’m not there in this weather!

      1. ThatGirl*

        That did occur to me – we do have a Ren Faire not toooo far away. He was far enough away that I couldn’t really see if it was a ball or a flail or something else on the end.

    9. Kari From Up North*

      I work at hospital and my office is near the main lobby. A few years ago, a ‘Royal Dansk’ cookie tin had been left in the lobby for a few hours. I brought it over to the information desk so I could open it others around and see if we could figure out who it belonged to.

      Instead of sewing supplies, like every Midwestern grandma has in her Royal Dansk tin, there were 100 condoms and 50 funeral bulletins.

      I should start an anonymous blog about hospital waiting areas.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Your last sentence reminds me of the episode of Scrubs where Carla kept trying to find out who had left an unlabeled urine sample on the front desk. “I officially no longer care whose pee this is” is a line I recall from that episode.

        1. WorkingRachel*

          I once found an unlabeled urine container, the big kind that can hold a whole day’s worth of pee, unattended at school. It had liquid in it. After some discreet inquiries, worried that some slightly batty parent actually intended their child to collect a medically necessary urine sample during the school day, I found that a teenager had brought it in as a joke (of course) and put water in it (of course).

    10. FearNot*

      I used to work next to a fire station and they often used a field behind our building to run laps with their shirts off. The break room had a giant glass window that overlooked the field. The boss (good naturedly) ended up having to make a rule that you weren’t allowed to hang out in that room longer than it took you to get your snack or whatever. A great time! Our office staff were so thirsty, haha.

      1. Sc@rlettNZ*

        A long time ago I worked in an office that was on the route our provincial rugby team used to take to go to practice. These are the teams that are one step down from the All Blacks, and in fact many of them contain All Blacks (for those of you not from New Zealand, the All Blacks are our national rugby team). They used to trot down from Carisbrook to Bathgate Park and we could hear their cleats tapping on the pavement, announcing their approach. Every woman in the office would race to the window where we would press our noses against the glass to watch the gloriness go past :-)

    11. New Mom*

      This was weird in a bit of a spooky way. We used to allow dogs at the office (I miss that so much) and we had three dogs in that day that were all old, calm, and non-barkers. They were also three regulars and very used to the office. Our particular office has different people from all walks of life coming in and out often and the dogs didn’t take notice of anyone until…
      This guy came in to do a diagnosis of our printer and every single dog in the ENTIRE office went crazy. They were all in separate offices but the offices had glass walls so you could see the dogs barking so much and flailing around like they were sounding an alarm. One dog was an ancient pug who pretty much slept all day and he was barking so much that his body was rocking from side to side. The guy had headphones on and never noticed. It gave me a chill and I thought hmm what are these dogs picking up on?

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        We had a Sears repair guy come to our condo a million years ago. We had two extremely chill pitbulls who absolutely lost their minds over this guy. I was so glad my husband was home and could “supervise” the guy while I retreated to the bedroom with the dogs, who continued to try to tear down the door so they could tear down the guy!

    12. Well...*

      We had a dude at one of my previous jobs who was big into walking around barefoot everywhere. He worked in a lab, so eventually he got shut down after a lot of back and forth. I still saw him outside walking around barefoot fairly often.

      He also liked to bring a guitar into work and play it loudly during the day, so I wasn’t his biggest fan before the foot drama started.

    13. Elsewise*

      I may have told some of these stories before, but I used to work in a downtown office on the tenth floor. Right next to our building was a hotel and the people staying that high up didn’t always think about the fact that there were other tall buildings around. We saw quite a few naked people, including a woman who was doing a sun salute and posing in front of the window, turned her head and saw us, and hit the floor and disappeared from view, only to emerge about half an hour later fully dressed. My favorite, though, was a guy standing in the “town square” sort of area right by our building wearing a giant sandwich board that said “I need a wife”.

    14. Csethiro Ceredin*

      My third-floor office has a sliding door type window that overlooks the trees around a golf course. It’s lovely, and there are bald eagles and other beautiful spectacles, but I’ve also seen two men having an… intimate moment in the shrubbery, as well as multiple golfers completely losing it, throwing clubs, screaming, and so on.

      I’d really enjoy the martial arts display!

    15. TX_Trucker*

      A pair of vultures created a nest on our deck. Since they are migratory birds and in the USA protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, we let them be. And they hatched these white fuzzy chicks. They were cute and hideous at the same time, and looked nothing like adult vultures. Everyone is hoping they come back and nest in the same spot next year.

    16. ThursdaysGeek*

      I worked in a place next to an empty field, and on nice days, I’d open the back doors to get a breeze. One time a sage rat (small ground squirrel) had entered the building and walked halfway down the main hall, nearly to the main entrance. I helped shoo it back home. (They nested outside in the field, but I didn’t realize they’d join us in the office.)

    17. dot*

      I work at an airport that sits in the middle of a bunch of open country land. We had a stampede of escaped cows come through our parking lot once. I’m sure the property managers had fun cleaning up after that one.

    18. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My mom used to regularly have the local high school cross-country team running through the field outside her office window. There was a pond out there that was very popular with Canadian geese, which are absolutely disgusting. She said there were always a couple of them running shirtless the first week of the season, but when not a single practice day went by that someone didn’t end up slipping and flat on their back in goose poop, they all started wearing their shirts.

    19. Shiba Dad*

      At an old job our office was beside basketball and tennis (now pickleball) courts owned by the borough. There were three of us in an open office area on that side of the building. We could usually hear anyone who was using the courts. We had a couple of windows there, but they were high enough that you had to make an effort to look out the window.

      One warm late winter day some boys men played basketball after school, as they would often do. We couldn’t hear the boys playing anymore, and one of my coworkers looked out a window. He more or less said “what the hell?”. I then looked out the other window.

      There was one guy on the court. He had pulled the front of his gym shorts forward and his other hand was in his shorts. The motion of his arm suggested that he was the master of his domain. Thankfully we couldn’t see any part of him that we shouldn’t see.

      I mean, WTH?

    20. Donkey Hotey*

      I will say for the record: you asked for it.
      ALL THE CONTENT WARNINGS

      For 14 years, I worked for a company in the industrial part of Seattle (for those familiar with the area, about a mile south of the baseball field.) When I started, I was drawn to the double tall, floor to ceiling south facing windows (that looked out on a dirt parking lot.) I worked in the second floor, which meant that most folks in the lot would only see the boarded up windows on the main floor, not think to look up to the second floor.

      Even before cannabis legalization, it was common to see people hot boxing in their cars before a game. But the lot gave rise to other activities, including one 24 hour period where I saw someone shooting up IV drugs, another person defecating against a fence, and the bouncing buns of a couple enthusiastically copulating in the front seat of a small pickup truck.

      When that job ended, I was interviewing at a place and the interviewer said apologetically, “I’m sorry, but your office will be in an area with no outside windows.” I said, “I’ll take it.”

    21. Honor Harrington*

      I was an IT consultant, and was escorted into the server room of the small-to-medium sized business. The server room was great – neatly cabled, clean, well lit. But there were tarps draped over every rack. They said the sprinkler system malfunctioned once a week but the owner said it was too expensive to fix.

      I documented the heck out of it, because I had to CYA in case the next sprinkle caused a malfunction they might try to blame me for.

    22. pally*

      The nooners:

      Workplace was in a building next to a creek. This creek was located across from the parking lot and through some tall bushes running the length of the parking lot, hiding the creek from view of the building.

      If one cut through the bushes, one discovered a grassy area where a picnic bench was placed. It looked like an intimate little park. Because of these bushes, many folks didn’t realize how close we were to the creek.

      Our admin had a windowed office where she could see all the comings and goings of cars in the lot. She was quick to spot anyone new. And that is what started the gossip.

      As the weather warmed up, we talked about having lunch outside. Someone suggested lunching at the picnic bench by the creek. As we talked about actually having a picnic out by the creek, the admin suggested that we might rethink our plans.

      “You don’t want to run into the nooners,” she cautioned.

      “The nooners?”, we all asked, intrigued.

      She explained. A couple of times a week, a very professionally dressed couple park in our parking lot, exit their vehicle and head straight through the tall bushes towards the creek. One always carries a blanket. And, after a time, they return to their vehicle and drive away.

      “Maybe they are eating their lunches out there,” one surmised.

      “The don’t seem to ever carry any food with them, “she explained. “Just the blanket.”

      Ahhh! Good point!

      So now everyone is watching the parking lot for “the car” and “the couple” with “the blanket” carrying no food with them. And the whole lab buzzed with gossip when they do turn up.

      I think this lasted the entire summer.

    23. Head sheep counter*

      At the prior job, we were working on a new building. However, we did not account for the gentleman living in the wild in the space next to our building space. He soon brought this oversight to our attention by standing on a grass knoll nude but for the sword he had (actual sword like item… the other was there too) that he waived about whilst telling us he was the prince of denmark and we needed to stop construction. Reader, we did not stop construction but we did call this to the attention of the authorities out of concern (see sword). Evidently there was quite and advanced camp set up near the creek below this knoll complete with a generator of sorts. I’m unsure what happened in the end to the prince but I hope he got help.

    24. AVP*

      My favorite was – my small video crew was filming a branded content piece about a university, and we were interviewing one of the students in her dorm room. She was sitting on her bed in front of the window, facing into the room.

      We were filming, everything was good – until suddenly a window washer dropped down right into the middle of the frame, from outside the building! Everyone made surprise eye contact and jumped about a mile into the air – but then we realized it was hilarious!

    25. Captain Vegetable ( Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      Weird, but in a highly depressing way:

      Our lab had a small metal shed where we locked up our hazardous waste materials in between our weekly pick-ups. The number of people who just happened to be wandering through an industrial park who would knock on the door to offer to dispose of “our scrap metal shed” was astounding. Oh, you mean that scrap metal shed with all the really clear biohazard signs slapped all over it?

    26. LocalCapybara*

      Not me, but a coworker – we work in student housing, and one year someone saw a student bringing a BDSM dungeon wheel into their dorm room while moving in. I sure hope it was a single room… And how would they fit that in there anyway?!

      1. Anonymask*

        I miss working in student housing, but I don’t think I could go back now that I’ve gotten older lol. We had a student bring a 6ft glass bong. And a digeridoo. And a duffle bag of alcohol.

    27. Lucy Eyelesbarrow*

      When I was working retail I once rang up purchases for a guy in a full Spider-Man costume. He said he did kids parties and had just come from one.

      1. Dawn*

        In Los Angeles, that sort of thing would be a common sight. I used to tell people that Wolverine could get on the subway here, and no one would bat an eye unless he actually went after someone.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          My niece used to entertain at parties. She once had to deal with the police (someone hit her parked car) while dressed as Snow White.

    28. Smap*

      My favorite unexpected person to show up in our office park was the bagpiper. He was so gosh darn polite! Bagpipes are LOUD, and this guy was considerate enough to go to the farthest possible edge of the massive parking lot to practice. That being said… it was still pretty hard to miss when he was playing. I really enjoyed the lunchtime serenade, though!

      1. The New Wanderer*

        We have a neighborhood bagpiper! He’s pretty good, and every few weeks comes out when the evening is nice and plays a few songs. Long enough to enjoy if you missed the first few minutes, short enough not to disturb people who aren’t as into it.

      2. CatMintCat*

        My son is a piper. When he lived at home, he’d go out into the middle of the grape vines to practice. Hopefully, grapes like pipe music.

    29. J*

      Cookie Monster. I was in a coworking space and an education startup had an official licensed character come. He was just sitting around and wore a name tag like everyone else. There were no cookies.

      A drunk man crashing a drone. This was my boss at a company party. He flew it into a pole and ran away. He didn’t return to my office location (a satellite from his office) for 3 years after that.

      Naked man on a pool deck. The naked man turned out to be a police officer and we were all attending a conference on sexual assault prevention.

      Assault. An elected official I once worked for (not the one who had a DUI and resigned in disgrace) punched a candidate for office who was witnessing a demonstration we were legally obligated to perform because the candidate asked a question. The video taken by the candidate is on youtube somewhere. The police declined to intervene when called, which isn’t really a surprise if you read into this incident, the parenthesis, and the incident above.

    30. ZugTheMegasaurus*

      I worked for a small local grocery store when I was in college. Literally on my very first day of work, I was in the back of the store training in the deli. Every so often my supervisor would have to run to the kitchen to take care of something, and I would just stand behind the counter and wait for him to come back.

      So I’m standing there by myself and see a man walk in wearing a bathrobe. He walks through the produce department, picks up an apple, and starts eating it while he walks down the aisle toward the deli. Right in front of the deli was a refrigerated display of Odwalla juices. This guy stops, grabs a bottle, and starts drinking it as he walks toward the front of the store. He is making no attempt whatsoever to hide what he’s doing, like it was the most normal thing in the world.

      It was so bizarre! Of course, the moment my supervisor came back, I immediately told him about it pretty much exactly how I described it here. HE DIDN’T BELIEVE ME. I insisted over and over again that I wasn’t making it up and this weird dude really did come in and shoplift in a very brazen and conspicuous way, but he thought I was just very dedicated to a first-day prank. (Somehow, nobody else had noticed him either.)

      Several hours later, nearing closing time, I was cleaning out the cold food case when I look across the store, and THERE’S THE SAME GUY. Same bathrobe and everything, moseying through the store. I jumped up and ran into the back to find my supervisor and told him, “That bathrobe guy is back! Come quick before he leaves again!” He still didn’t believe me and thought I was going to go “GOTCHA!” once he came out to look, but I think I was getting annoying enough that he just followed me anyway to get the “prank” over with.

      We got back out to the front and fortunately, the guy was still there, standing in front of the dairy case. As we watched, he picked up an entire gallon of milk and put the whole thing in his robe (this was not an effective method of concealment). My supervisor’s jaw dropped. He immediately apologized for not believing me and called the store manager, who took the milk back from Bathrobe Guy and told him he was banned, which didn’t seem to faze him in the slightest as he just strolled casually out the door, never to be seen again.

    31. Can't Sit Still*

      I used to work in an office tower that was across an alley from a high end hotel. We saw a lot more nude hotel guests from the board room than we wanted to, that was for sure. On one memorable occasion, there were 3 at once! On different floors, no less, so it didn’t seem to be choreographed. Pointing & laughing generally got them to retreat from the window and/or put on a robe.

    32. Odge*

      A turkey crashed through a window of my old office, ran around the building for a bit, and exited by crashing through a different window.

      We were on the 5th floor.

      (IIRC, the turkey survived without major injuries.)

    33. GoryDetails*

      Re the weapons practice: Many years ago, some friends of mine spent their lunch hours out in the company parking lot choreographing a sword fight for an upcoming live-action roleplaying weekend. Those of us who worked in the same facility (big software development company) would sometimes go out to watch. We wondered what the rest of the employees thought, but as RPGs and general weirdnesses were pretty common among software developers at that company, I suspect nobody batted an eye! (Though I dimly recall that security may have turned up once to ask them what they were doing, and upon being told, said “OK then” and wandered away.)

    34. Knighthope*

      A deer jumped through a window into a middle school lobby in a state not particularly known for hunting. But fortunately, the principal was a hunter and wrestled the deer into submission until the Department of Natural Resource guy showed up. A few years earlier, DNR had to be called because when a teacher returned from leave, she moved a papier maché volcano and tiny baby mice ran out. She told the students not to touch them, but of course one genius picked one up and it bit him.

    35. SemiAnon*

      I was walking to work one day, on a large university campus. Was crossing the big green space in the centre of campus, and looked up to see the convocation hall draped in two storey tall swastika banners, with a bunting-draped reviewing stand in front of it.

      Fortunately, I soon figured out it was for filming a movie scene – later that day they had people in period costumes milling around.

    36. OMG, Bees!*

      I commented this story on that post, but I’ll reshare it here:

      At a previous company, our office was in a converted apartment building (bathrooms very much like residential ones, with showers still). We shared our floor with, I think 2 other companies at the time, but still needed keys to get into the building and also the floor, with doors locked all the time.

      And yet for months someone was taking showers in the morning before we all got it. No one knew who it was, but nothing was taken. Additional gross part, the towels weren’t cleaned, so the mystery showerer used the same towels for months to dry off until stopping just as suddenly.

    37. WheresMyPen*

      My building overlooks the Thames, and I’ve seen people floating down it in a hot tub boat. That was quite entertaining :D

  9. Strict Extension*

    I’m puzzling on an equity question, not so much from the point of view of what’s legally obligated, but what feels right.
    I work for an organization that periodically distributes branded shirts free-of-charge to employees with the expectation that they are worn on certain days (which are very frequent during certain seasons, but never two consecutively).  Officially, this happens once a year right before the busiest season, but there are also occasionally bonus distributions.  Each distribution is done by making a bulk order and sending out a staff email telling people to come to the distribution point to pick up a shirt.  Additional populations are given shirts as well, so the bulk order usually covers everyone’s sizing needs, but if anyone is really pokey about picking theirs up, they may find themselves forced into a different size (usually larger) than they want.  There is nothing that ensures everyone gets a shirt, only that they have access to.  We also sell a larger variety of different branded shirts, which employees get a discount on, but the free shirts are always unique to staff.
    Recently, we hired someone whose religion does not allow her to wear shirts that expose her arms.  The yearly free shirt is always a short-sleeved T-shirt.  She was hired after this year’s distribution, so when she was offered the remainders, she selected a baseball shirt that was from a previous bonus distribution, but that is literally the only free staff shirt design that has ever been sleeved.  
    So what is the best path forward?  Do we make sure there is a sleeved version of the T-shirt for her going forward?  Send an open invitation to anyone who would like to request a sleeved shirt for any (or no) reason?  I doubt going all sleeved would be a popular move as the season we wear them most, it’s also usually very hot and humid.  Do we give her one of the sleeved merchandise shirts instead of the free ones, knowing they are generally higher quality and everyone else would have to pay for one?  Do we say that she has the same access to the T-shirts as everyone else and it would be fine if she wants to wear a sleeved shirt under it?
    Bonus question:  We also typically do a yearly branded shirt as a fundraiser that is only available to our staff.  This is a unique design that expresses support for the cause.  Would we want to also offer a long-sleeved version of this?

    I want to make sure we are not making her feel othered while also meeting her needs, which I know we can just ask her about, but I’d like to also get some other thoughts, since she isn’t the only person we might hire with this restriction.

    1. Educator*

      Can she wear short sleeved shirts layered over the long sleeved shirt of her choice, or under the sweater/sweatshirt of her choice? Allowing layers seems like the easiest accommodation here.

        1. Roland*

          She’s going to be wearing long sleeves in the heat anyway so I don’t think the heat is a deal breaker on layering. That’s what Jewish women I know who keep tzniut do, wear a long sleeved “shell” under whatever short sleeved shirts and tank tops they get.

        2. Samwise*

          I wear long sleeve t shirts pretty often when it’s hot and humid to protect against sunburn and mosquitoes. And because my office can be over-airconditioned.

          Best solution for yiu OP is to just give her one of the nicer shirts with long sleeves. Employees could buy them, so no one’s going to know she didn’t just buy one. You/your employer is already spending a good bit on free shirts, the cost of one premium shirt being given out for free is not a big financial deal.

          It sounds like employees can wear any free shirt almost any time, so who’s going to know why and how this employee got her premium shirt?

          I think it’s a molehill, not a mountain.

      1. Strict Extension*

        Yes, layers are definitely allowed. Our dress code is generally “if you wouldn’t be embarrassed to wear it in front of a kindergarten class, it’s probably fine.” I am not her supervisor, so I didn’t have the conversation, but my understanding is that when she was offered a T-shirt, she asked if there was anything with sleeves, and there happened to be one from a previous batch available. (I don’t think that will be the case going forward, though.) Because a sleeved shirt was available, layering did not come up.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I’ve seen plenty of Muslim women wear layers with a longer-sleeved shirt under a shorter one (I’m assuming, but my answer is the same either way) but honestly, I do think you should ask her which she would prefer. If you’re willing to order a sleeved version for her – or for others – that can be an option, but I’d want to know her preference.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup, ask her. Most women I know who must cover their arms entirely wear long-sleeved shirts under t-shirts or short-sleeved shirts. She’s likely encountered this before– just check with her.

    3. Lore*

      One thing to think about (which surprised me to learn): apparently long-sleeved T-shirts are substantially more complicated to order in bulk and a variety of sizes–fewer vendors, higher prices, and logistical challenges. (I learned this because my company used to supply custom shirts for a volunteer event every year that involves food repacking for City Harvest; the pack room is chilly so everyone always ended up wearing layers over the shirt which defeats the purpose of having it custom designed. So one year they thought to do long-sleeve, and the next year back to short-sleeve; I asked why and the rep said it got too complicated! So I would recommend either a sleeved shirt underneath it, and maybe offering to reimburse her if she doesn’t have a suitably thin sleeved shirt, or offering her the merch shirt. It depends on whether the branding or everyone having the same shirt is more important.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I couldn’t say why, but I’ve definitely observed this. I enjoy buying quirky graphic Ts off of Etsy, and finding long sleeves is sooooo hard. There is a particular label that fits me really well, but maybe 5% of the sellers who use that brand offer the option with sleeves. The wholesaler clearly makes them with sleeves as I’ve seen / purchased them, but sellers don’t typically them. I’ve often wondered where the glitch is. I can’t imagine that no one wants sleeves ever.

        1. Gathering Moss*

          Maybe fit issues? I have unusually sized biceps, from using crutches permanently, and I can’t generally fit into long sleeved shirts comfortably. It could be that adding the extra tube of fabric makes fit harder in general, not just for oddities like me, I suppose?

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            Definitely the lack of sleeves in fashion (on the women’s side) is related to fit and cost — it’s harder to set in a good sleeve, it takes extra fabric, arm length varies, etc. It simply costs more to make them in labor and material. A lot of sleeves are too narrow for my arms as well.

            What surprises me is that this wholesaler/manufacturer makes them, sellers don’t offer them…or maybe the mfr just doesn’t make very many? Or charge a whole lot more? Like in Lore’s story, they were available but somehow “complicated”. Who knows.

            1. GythaOgden*

              Yeah. I once asked a friend who knows a bit more about dressmaking than I do if it would be possible to cut down the sleeves on a long-sleeve blouse to get a short sleeved one, because the cuff was fraying away from the seams and I didn’t want to lose the shirt.

              She explained that long sleeve shirts have a different construction at the shoulder and it would be a bit difficult to actually alter the shoulders to fit the necessary shape of the sleeves. I can’t remember the exact explanation why, but I deferred to her superior wisdom in the matter and sadly cut the shirt up for the rag bag.

    4. Angstrom*

      I’ve found that wearing sun sleeves with a short-sleeved shirt is a more comfortable hot-weather option than a long-sleeve shirt. Would that work for your employee? If so, you might consider a run of logo sleeves for all staff. That would accomodate her without othering her.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I would love this! I have no religious reasons to cover my arms, but I sunburn easily & prefer more coverage than many people.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, me too, and I hate the feel of sunblock on my skin. I do use it, but I prefer to minimize the skin area that requires it. I also use public transit and as fat person I absolutely want at least one layer of cloth between me and whoever’s sitting next to me on the commuter train. Rubbing shoulders with strangers is sometimes impossible to avoid, but I don’t want it to be bare skin.

          The most comfortable hot weather clothes I’ve ever worn resembled Pakistani shalwar kameez, although the cut was obviously Western.

    5. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Maybe alternate years with sleeved shirts, since you have had at least one year of sleeved shirts before? She may very well choose to wear a sleeved shirt under or jacket/cardigan/etc. over the short sleeved shirt, but this would make it not such an obvious othering. It’s probably a good idea to mix up the styles of t-shirt if you offer them all the time and hold onto the older versions.

      For the fundraiser, as long as it doesn’t cost more to also offer a sleeved version, I would.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Everybody I know who dresses to cover elbows also has a variety of clothes in their wardrobe to meet their own requirements. It is not uncommon for people who observe this rule to be in various work situations that issue uniforms: scrubs, company button-ups, polos, etc. The usual practice that I see in the world is to layer.

    7. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      I have a long-sleeved undershirt that cuts off at the chest level. It’s made for when you want long sleeves under a short-sleeved shirt, but you don’t want a whole other layer.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        on a similar note, I have several … I don’t even know what they’re called, but they’re long-sleeves (with thumb holes!!) in black and white and the only material to them other than the sleeves is just a strip across the upper back/shoulders, so they add almost no weight/bulk to the rest of the torso.

        1. Admin of Sys*

          That was what I was going to suggest – they’re sold as uv protection sometimes, along with standard style or religious covering. The general shape is sort of a bolero shrug with tight sleeves.

    8. WellRed*

      As someone completely sick of our tshirts for everything, does she have the option of just .., not getting a shirt if she doesn’t care? Obviously you need to make it clear you’ll accommodate whatever option she chooses. I’ve occasionally taken the damn shirt and thrown it out when I got home.

        1. WellRed*

          Oh I thought it was voluntary! In that case, OP definitely give her some good options and follow her lead.

      1. t-vex*

        Same. I don’t have an religious restrictions but t-shirts that are not cut specifically for women do NOT fit me and I refuse to wear them.

    9. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I worked at a modern orthodox school. We got short sleeve shirts. Women wore different kinds of under shirts (not undershirts). I think you are fine to continue to offer short sleeved t-shirts.

      My fav company for lightweight shirts to wear under other clothing is Half-Tee.
      they stop just below a bra and can be any length sleeve and scoop or cover the collar bones.

      I wore them for all kinds of things, not just when I worked at that school.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I should have added, we are in a very hot and humid part of the south and the Half-tee shirts under a short sleeve T were much more comfortable than a long-sleeved t-shirt!

        1. ZugTheMegasaurus*

          OMG thank you so so much for making me aware of Half-tees! I’ve been looking for something like this for *years* but couldn’t figure out how to find it; I’ve bought so many independent sleeves/armwarmers/etc. that were never quite what I was looking for and never thought to search for a partial shirt, haha.

    10. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Could you purchase a medium sized run of long sleeve shirts (like 10-25% of your normal employee shirt order) and then keep them around as a second option over several years? I’m thinking that would let you always have a long sleeve option, without needing to do a separate special long sleeve order. If they turn out to be really popular, then maybe you have your answer that long sleeves are actually of interest.

      Alternatively, would it be possible to include a small number of long-sleeve shirts in every order, just like you might include a small number of odd sizes to accommodate either end of the body shape bellcurve?

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I think asking her is still the best idea, but another option might be a lightweight jacket. It has sleeves, more sizing options, and might still be useful for rain, if you have rooms that are cold bc of too much a/c, and easily removable for people who want to wear them over tshirts, etc.

    11. Modest dresser*

      I cover my arms for modest reasons. The key here is to allow her to use items of her wardrobe that will help her do this without making her feel that it’s against some weird rule.

      So, allowing long sleeves underneath, or an open front top (like a button up or cardigan or something) to be worn over the tshirt. Or even having a pin with the logo that could be attached or clipped to her clothing.

      Nothing is more frustrating that being told you have to wear a tshirt and jeans (and a very flimsy immodest tshirt at that) when the work can be done just as well in a dress or skirt that isn’t restrictive and long sleeves.

    12. Hotlanta*

      could your organization work with a website where people can order their own company gear? you can pay ahead of time or something, there’s a few sites like this in the US. why not many options for a company shirt?

  10. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Thanks guys. I took a day off and nothing terrible happened! my boss was even like ‘ oh how many days are you going to be off?’

    1. Generic Name*

      Good for you! It does feel good to be needed/feel indispensable, but humans need an occasional break.

  11. Grits McGee*

    Does anyone have recommendations for how to give my boss feedback that I need her to not interrupt me when I go to her with a problem? My boss has a habit of jumping in with solutions before I’ve finished explaining a problem. Conversations will go like this-

    Grits: So I’m having issues booking the hotel for my work trip to the llama site because-
    Boss: Ok, let’s pull up Google Maps and see what your options are!
    Grits: I’ve already researched hotels, the problem is that all of nightly rates are over the expense limit or noncompliant with policy-
    Boss: Oh, in that case you need to email Fergus and ask him to give you an exemption!
    Grits: Yes, I did that, and he said there were no exemptions to the policy. Given that, I was wondering-
    Boss: Wait a minute, XYZ hotel on Google Maps is within the budget-
    Grits: Please let me finish. And, I looked into XYZ hotel, Fergus said I couldn’t book it because it’s not refundable. Anyway, I wanted to know if I could ask the llama site to pay for my hotel since I’m doing this trip as a favor to them?

    I don’t love this conversational dynamic where I’m having to constantly rebut and/or interrupt my boss, who is lovely in pretty much every other way. I’m very thorough, so if I’m having to go to my boss with a problem it’s usually something unique/complex and I’ve already done a lot of research on and tried multiple approaches to resolve. I’ve worked with my boss for 4 years, and she knows that I’m not someone who needs a lot of hand holding.

    My annual performance eval is coming up, and my boss always asks if there’s anything she can do to on her end. What is the most polite/helpful way to say “Please stop interrupting me when I come to you with a question; if I’m giving you background info it’s because you need it to understand the problem”?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m assuming these conversations are in person or via video– any way to switch to Slack or email? That way you can lay out your entire issue without getting interrupted, plus you have a written record of any approvals you need.

      1. Jinni*

        This was my suggestion as well. Maybe even if you want to talk about it in person, send an explanatory email first.

        Or you can bring it up in a 1:1 *if* you think she’d be receptive, or it’s something changeable…

      2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Seconded.

        Also, consider inverting the way you ask the question.

        You: Can we get the llama site to pay for my hotel, since it’s a favor for them?
        Boss: What? Why?
        You: long explanation…

      3. Grits McGee*

        I generally prefer to have a phone/video conversation for questions like this because it’s much faster: 20 minutes on the phone vs an hour composing an email. Plus, once my boss lets me get out the full context, we usually need to do a little Q&A so that we can figure out what the correct course of action is.

        Also, sometimes these are conversation/issues that I don’t want to put in writing….

        1. Grits McGee*

          Like, “Hey boss, I just got off the phone with the llama site manager and he said something that made me wonder if they’re going to set the llama barn on fire to collect the insurance money” kind of conversations…

          1. Green beans*

            for stuff you can put in writing, can you just send her a list and ask to discuss?

            like “when you have a moment, can we call/video about hotel bookings? details below.”

            and then just put:

            no refundable, affordable hotels w/in 30 minutes.
            policy says must be under $X and refundable
            Fergus says no exception to either.
            potential solution: other site pays?

            for the other stuff, “hey this is a little complex – do you mind letting me get through it before asking questions? it helps me keeps my thoughts organized.”

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Wow, that’s super frustrating. I have a boss who’s an interruptus and I have recently realized that she doesn’t mind being interrupted so I often interrupt her when she’s going on about something she’s already explained in enough detail and we don’t need her to keep repeating herself. She doesn’t seem to mind or maybe even to notice. Not sure that’s possible in your situation, but could you maybe start with the more dire details first? As in, “I already asked Fergus for an exemption because all the hotels I found via Google were above the expense limit and the one hotel I found that isn’t, XYZ, is non-refundable.” Tweaking the narrative might help.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Although it does seem like she’s a “Must Solve Problem Now” kind of boss, which my interruptus boss also is, so I’m not sure if that will help either.

        Adding to above comment: maybe also start with your final question, as in, “Do you think the llama site might pay for the hotel instead?” Maybe that will also tip her off that you’ve already done the research she’s about to try to do for you.

    3. HonorBox*

      I think it is fair to say, “Recently, I’ve come to you with a question that involves some context. Before I can get to the meat of the question, you’ve offered solutions. It would save us both time if I can provide the context and ask the question.” Offering it as a time savings for both of you versus a critique might help you.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Agreed. Also, can you start the conversation by listing all the things you’ve done to try to solve the problem. “Boss, I’ve looked at X, Y, and Z. I’ve called Jane and Fergus to investigate further. I explored adjusting A and B. None of these things worked to help me figure out a way to do Thing. What else can I try?”

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I second the suggestions others have made. Just wanted to add, is there anyone you work with that *needs* this kind of interrupting, because that might be why your boss defaults to it.

      It can be hard to retrain yourself to not guess-interrupt when you’re used to dealing with someone who takes FOREVER to get to the (obvious) point. Not trying to excuse what she’s doing, just trying to offer a reason why, in case that helps it feel less frustrating.

    5. Overeducated*

      My boss is a bit like this, but will interrupt to ask questions, like “ok but did you consider this?!” or “but what will the measurable results be?!” Then I’ll have to pause to say how we considered that a year ago, or that I’m getting to the measurable results. It’s quite frustrating when you think the core question is X but you have to go back to A,B,C and by the time you pull the conversation back to X you’re 30 minutes over you’re meeting time.

      I try to remind myself that my boss wouldn’t ask these questions if he didn’t need that info, so part of it is just my job to follow his mental path even if it’s retreading old ground for me. I could put it all into an email, but he’s overwhelmed and probably won’t read it carefully. I could ask him to wait until I finish to ask a question, but his brain is probably going 100 miles a minute too, and he might not get it all and we’d wind up repeating it anyway. So I think a lot of the responses above have good ideas, and you can try addressing it with your boss in your performance eval, but maybe also think about the extent to which this is just part of “managing up” and it makes your boss’s life easier to have these conversations even though they’re irritating for you.

    6. JSPA*

      frame your question to focus on the process, and hold back on the topic.

      “I’m deep into a complex process on what should be a simple problem. Because there’s nothing in the price range, and no flexibility on the price limits and booking rules, the only solution I can come up with for the September trip is to ask the Llama site to pay.”

      [interruption expected here]

      “Yes, but as this trip is for their benefit, and they have different booking rules, it seems appropriate at this point to run it by them, unless you’re strongly enough opposed to overrule Fergus’ hard no.”

    7. Janeric*

      What happens after you finally get everything out? What does she say? Does she acknowledge that she derailed the conversation several times?

      1. Grits McGee*

        We do eventually get to the point where she has enough info to give a relevant answer to my question. (In this case, the answer was “We’d have to go consult grand-boss if llama site pays for your travel, and she’s not going to approve that.”) She doesn’t acknowledge the derailment, and tends to be a rambler/conversation dominator/story re-teller in general. I think this is just a personality quirk, which is kind of why I want to have a big picture conversation rather than trying to find ways to trick my boss into learning the necessary background.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          If this is just how she talks, I think your best bet will be experimenting with different ways to frame the same info – like other people have suggested. Right now, you’re taking her through your whole process from the start and in detail. Try starting from the end, or limiting how much info you provide up front – “Hey boss, for the llama site trip – I’ve looked at all the hotel options and they’re either too expensive or nonrefundable and Fergus said there are no exceptions. Can I could ask the llama site to pay for my hotel since I’m doing this trip as a favor to them?”

        2. Janeric*

          Oh that is frustrating — is she possibly transitioning from managing early-career people to more experienced/independent professionals? I don’t want to pick your example to death but the pulling up the map mod-conversation speaks to a pretty interventional management style — could that be the case? Does she have experience managing people who have their own problem-solving resources?

          1. Janeric*

            * red flag is the wrong term. The map thing indicates she’s used to being more of a hands on manager. If that’s the case, this is a relatively low-ego framing for issues you’re having with these interruptions, micromanaging, lack of understanding independent action etc. Otherwise I’m afraid it’s a personality quirk and I’m not sure I could bring it up without getting acerbic. Maybe “do you find I bring up a lot of extraneous detail? Because I don’t know if you realize that you interrupt me a lot when I’m explaining a problem, and it throws me for a loop.””

      1. saskia*

        Exactly. Question first, context second. Then your main point is already on the table, and from that point, you talk as long as you can until the boss gets tired of listening ;)

      2. Grits McGee*

        Unfortunately, a lot of the time the question is meaningless without the background. Once there’s a crumb of information to latch on to, my boss takes off, and I’m in the same position of having to stop her, redirect, rebut, ad nauseum.

        1. cabbagepants*

          I don’t think it would be rude to start the conversation with a little prelude — “boss, I have a question about the llama project. I want to give you some context to my question. could I ask to to wait and hear all the context before you start responding? I’ll let you know when I get to the question itself.”

        2. River Park*

          Start with the question anyway. Immediately follow the question with, “The background is…” or “I’m asking bc…”

        3. Green beans*

          I wonder if you’re a little too in the weeds and she’s a little too problem-focused.

          because in the above example, “hey boss, none of the hotels for Y trip fit our booking policy, and I can’t get an exemption – can we either ask the other site to pay or get higher level approval for an exception?” conveys the information she needs to know with far less details and gets the point across before she has anything to fixate on.

          I really do think you need to start with the bottom line up front and then offer details as relevant. Not everyone contextualizes information the same way you do, so trying a few different styles – even if they don’t make the most sense to you – might make a huge difference.

          For what it’s worth, I have a work friend who I suspect has a very similar communication style to you. It can get exhausting for me when I’m trying to follow a step-by-step replay. It makes her very good at her job! But it’s something multiple people have remarked: she puts in a lot of details that, while relevant, aren’t always key.

        4. allathian*

          You think it is, because it’s at the top of your mind.

          She’s an interrupter, and that means that she’s never going to let you finish before jumping in. So you need to modify your conversational strategy to take that into account. Fortunately, most interrupters don’t have a problem of being interrupted right back, because to them interrupting is the main way that they show engagement in a conversation. But it can take a while to internalize that if you’re used to people letting you finish before making their contribution. So you just have to accept that a conversation with her is always going to include interruptions, redirections, and rebuttals.

    8. saskia*

      How about something like…
      We’re both very busy people. So please know that whenever I come to you with a question, I’ve already done all the legwork I can. You know I don’t need much handholding! Can you trust that when I need your help, it’s because the issue is truly complex and has no easy answers? That means I require time to explain the scope, and I’d appreciate just a little more uninterrupted time before you jump in. It’d be so helpful to both of us. For my part, I’ll try my absolute best to keep it short and sweet.

      (FTR, I love giving context and come from a highly detail-oriented, considerate team. But my boss is a bulldog who hates long emails and long convos, so I’ve learned to go problem first, then start giving background second. Once he interrupts a few times and realizes I’ve covered my bases, then he reconsiders. Since he’s already heard my ultimate question at the start, it’s in his mind and he doesn’t get as impatient as he used to. Just my experience. Higher-ups do not always want to sit through ten hours of background info, even if you rarely bother them and take up less of their time on the whole than other employees they manage.)

    9. the.kat*

      Are you feeling like it’s necessary to prove to your boss that you’ve done the research before going to her? Because if not, maybe your boss doesn’t want all the background information before answering.

      If you do need that, reframe the discussion with your boss to ask the question first so you’ll at least be headed the same direction when your boss asks questions.

    10. Elsewise*

      I would frame it as a problem that the two of you are having together. So when she asks for feedback, say something like “I’ve noticed that we get into this loop sometimes when I’m bringing you a complex problem where we wind up running through a bunch of possible solutions I’ve already tried before getting to the main problem. For example [time that it’s happened]. I’m trying to figure out a more efficient way of getting to the bottom of these questions that will save us both some time. What do you think?”

      She may say “yeah, ask me the question and then tell me what you’ve already tried,” or she might say “whoops, I shouldn’t interrupt you as much” or maybe she’ll say “let’s try email for these sorts of issues”. But by framing it as a problem for both of you to work on, you’re removing blame from the equation and giving her input into the solution.

    11. Tio*

      Can you cut down on the details a bit? Instead of all the talk, say something like “Only one hotel has a rate that’s acceptable but it’s got other conditions that exclude it and Fergus says no exception is available.” Like, just super-condense the explanation, and maybe there will be less questions? (Or not. They may want to dive in depth into each of these points still. Some people are just… like that. But this MIGHT help, by giving her less jumping in points.)

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband does that, and honestly, at this point, after the first time he interrupts and is wrong, I just stop talking and look at him, and he gets defensive but mostly shuts up and lets me finish. :P

      For your boss — next time it happens, I’d hold up a hand and say something like “Hang on, let me finish giving you the backstory real quick so you know where we’re ultimately going here.” After that –

      “Oh, you can get an excemption from –”
      “AND we’re still working on the backstory. Let me finish please?”

      1. GythaOgden*

        Same with my mum, but you don’t want to make your boss defensive and awkward. OP isn’t going to change their boss, so you have to moderate your approach to her.

        It got so much easier for me when I realised my supervisor was more interested in how rather than why. I’m a very ‘why?’ person. She’s the poster child for ISTP (Myers-Briggs is a blunt instrument but I work with/know some people who fit some of the categories almost perfectly, so it helped enormously to learn it) so she needs to know which screw she needs to tighten rather than why it needs tightening (sometimes literally).

        While you can change your partner and he can change to suit you, OP is a couple of steps removed from your boss and her personality and need to be able to work with her. I think it’s more worthwhile for OP to focus on what they can control — the way they ask the question — than on trying to fix the other person.

    13. Awkwardness*

      Maybe try to put the problem upfront?

      “I wanted to clarify if it was appropriate to ask the llama site to pay for my hotel, because I could not find any that.. xyz”
      If the boss makes suggestion, you can tell about everything you tried.
      If you put relevant info into the first sentence, she has the right framing for additional information. I structure my emails like this too.

      1. Awkwardness*

        I know the feeling that you want to give aaaaall the context. My boss is quite busy and I am happy if I can reach him for 2 or 3 min on the phone before his next meeting starts. I need to bring the point across rather quickly – or I need to wait until our regular meetings.
        And I can say that it is learnable!

    14. HalloQueen*

      I have this with my boss all the time! We’ve evolved to a good dynamic where 1) he knows it’s an issue that he’s working on and 2) I give him some leeway, but if/when he interrupts a third time, I have a Look that I shoot his way and say “Hang on, let me finish…I’ve already solved this/you need this background/this isn’t the part I need help with yet” and he acknowledges that he’s been interrupting and stops until I finish.
      I think it’s the “hang on” part that works for us – it acknowledges that I know he wants to help, but like you, I don’t need a lot of hand-holding, so if I’m bringing it up, I do genuinely need his help at some point. The first time I said it, it was out of exasperation and now we’ve agreed for me to preface the statement with the Look so his brain catches up in time (he’s told me he’s been diagnosed with ADHD, so I know it’s not intentional)

    15. theletter*

      YOu might be better off just trying to work with her personality.

      I’ve noticed for myself and some others, we seem to get ‘backed-up’ mentally, so it’s easier to just jump at the first hint of instructions so as to be ready for the next bit. Having to mentally keep track of a long list of tasks that expand exponentionally can be very frustrating for some people.

      Hearing ‘I’m having trouble . .’ to her might sound like ‘I have no idea where to start . . ‘.

      But if you start with ‘Here’s the main thing I need (accommodation reimbursement from Llama site)’ because of this core reason (none of the hotels in the area comply with Fergus’s policies)’, it’ll compute as one specific task: call the Llama site (or Fergus, if Fergus can be made flexible).

      That should make you sound more confident and proactive as well.

    16. There You Are*

      Start with your actual question: “Hey, Boss, I wanted to know if I could ask the llama site to pay for my hotel since I’m doing this trip as a favor to them.”

      She’ll be confused because she has no context and might slow down long enough to listen to your explanation.

      Also, that way you’ve already asked the thing you intended to ask.

    17. Synaptically Unique*

      I wrote a long response and then erased it. I’m going to retell this story from the other side. I would ask you to thoughtfully consider how often her “jump to conclusions” style is effective and efficient vs MORE time-consuming.

      My employee brings issues to me with excruciating detail of everything she’s already tried, and often a potential solution for feedback/permission to move forward. Sometimes there’s a step she missed or didn’t know to take, a misunderstanding inherent to the ask, or a quick solution she doesn’t know about because this is rare but I’ve dealt with it in the past. I know she takes offense when I interrupt her, but I need to jump to the end and work backwards to spot any areas we need to revisit – if my experience and different knowledge doesn’t immediately result in a solution without all the discussion.

  12. Anon for now*

    I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch but I’m in the top candidates for a new job. I’ve had two interviews, agreed to a background check and provided two prior supervisors as references.

    I’m giving up time off and flexibility, at least for a couple years, for more money and management experience. I’ve never been a manager before. We’ll see how it goes!

    1. chocolate muffins*

      Congratulations on making it this far! A bunch of Internet strangers are rooting for you.

  13. Justin*

    Minor identity crisis: I don’t believe that One Is Defined By One’s Job, but as I have succeeded at my current role and really flourished professionally, I have started to receive some of the trappings previously alien to me. I got a bonus, a title upgrade, more and more trust in the organization, the things that are supposed to happen if you do a good job.

    On top of this, we have additional “spot” awards where you can get an additional dollop of cash for peer-recognized performance. And I find myself wanting to achieve this, whereas in my heart I am not competitive (at the same time my academic work is up for an award, and that’s not why I wrote it, but I would like to win).

    I don’t like hierarchies or competition in my heart of hearts, nor do I like our economic system. Has anyone else found themselves wanting something “traditional” they didn’t expect to want professionally?

      1. Alternative Person*

        This. A couple of peers I don’t see so much thanked me for some work I did a while back that most of my regular peers kind of just brushed over. It was so lovely to hear after the BS I’ve had in the past few months.

    1. Overeducated*

      Yes. As I get older, I want more money. That was never a motivating factor for me, but it turns out not having much of it also means you wind up thinking way too much about money.

      I see this as less about my identity and more about the economic system we live in. For you, enjoying and wanting professional recognition, I don’t see that as being Defined By Your Job in capitals, I see it as being a social animal who enjoys and desires social rewards in the context where you spend most of your waking hours.

      1. Justin*

        If anything I am more defined by the non-monetary influence my scholarship has been having.

        But talk to folks who have my same politics and, like, wanting to be successful at work is Bad.

        1. Hermione Danger*

          I think you can want to be successful in the work you do and appreciate being recognized for it while also recognizing that the system is broken and working to fix it. It’s much easier to make change happen when you’re not stressing about whether this month you’ll pay for electricity or food.

        2. Parakeet*

          I hear you on this. Since I suspect I have somewhat similar politics (and too am finally flourishing professionally), here’s my thought. When people reduce the inherent oppressiveness of capitalism and the need to replace it with a better system, to individuals’ attitudes toward their work within the system they actually live in, that’s liberalism (in the sense that leftists/socialists who say that mean, not in the goofy US-recent-decades colloquial sense where the only thing left of liberal is something called “very liberal” or “progressive”). It might be in tune with some sort of currently-in-vogue “antiwork” sentiment, but it’s sure not anticapitalist. It’s not engaging with the material conditions of the society we live in. The way to achieve the end of capitalism is through collective organizing (which some organizers do at work, either as part of their job role or through union organizing or participation, and some organizers do outside of their paid work). Not self-abasement at work.

          So, congratulations on your professional success! It’s great that your scholarship has been having influence! There is no inverse relationship between good politics and having influence on our actually-existing society in your paid work.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I can’t think of specific work-related instances off the top of my head, but I can certainly identify with the experience of discovering that my feelings are surprisingly more like the common expectation of the general populace, and less of an outlier, than I had considered myself to be.

      1. Justin*

        People are both extremely varied and mostly the same.

        I think I had to convince myself I didn’t care about money because my sad former salaries were so paltry and it was hard to handle.

    3. OtterB*

      I think most people like to be recognized by their peers as providing value. Some places that’s a thumbs up or the chance to display the department stuffed moose on your desk for a week. In your organization, these “spot” awards are one of the forms of recognition. It doesn’t sound like you want one so you can prove you’re at the top of the heap or better than your average bear. You want one because it’s formal recognition of your contribution.

      I do think it’s easy to buy into the more competitive systems without realizing it – e.g. you want your name in a certain font on an even program or you want the fancy company shirt.* But that’s not what you seem to be describing.

      * In the case of people from marginalized groups in your workplace, it’s sometimes necessary to advocate for their right to the font or the shirt when their non-marginalized peers get them routinely. But that also is different from wanting them because it demonstrates that you are a superior human being.

      1. Justin*

        I mean yes, as a Black doctorate holder, best bet I use that Dr, because, sadly, it makes people actually take me seriously.

    4. DrSalty*

      I don’t think not being defined by your job and wanting to do well in it and be recognized for your achievements are mutually exclusive. I like the think that’s exactly where I sit. This award right? It would be nice to have, but if you didn’t get it, you wouldn’t be crushed.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      Timely! I was just asked to consider a management position and now I’m in a place where I might actually consider it. I’ve been asked previously at a different company, but always with the undertones of “we need warm bodies and you haven’t offended anyone.” This is the first time that a manager who knows me/my skills well is saying hey, your skillset is definitely desirable and transferable for the following specific reasons.

      I never was interested before and I’m not sure that I really am now (yet?), but I didn’t dismiss it out of hand and I might go for it, just to see. There’s a four month trial period as acting manager so it does have an escape clause if it turns out to be a bad fit for me.

    6. chocolate muffins*

      I don’t think a person needs to be competitive to enjoy recognition. I’m not sure if this will resonate with you but speaking from my experience, faculty positions are very hard to get, but I don’t experience that job market as a competition. I understand that it is in some ways, but my frame on it is that the universe has enough for everyone; what’s mine will come to me and what is someone else’s will come to them. It makes sense to me to want something that other people are also trying to get without acting like you are in a competition.

      I also saw the thing below about being a Black PhD holder and hearing people who share your politics say that wanting to succeed at work is bad. And, like, institutions giving money to Black people is good … right? I get anti-capitalist politics but I’d think that at least some people with those politics would be compelled by the perspective that Black people should get money and accolades. I think for lots of (mostly White, in my experience) people, anti-capitalism is divorced from an in-depth racial analysis, but from over here it seems to me like those folks should reconsider some aspects of their racial politics. Maybe I’m missing something, though.

  14. WannabeAstronaut*

    The division I work for was just bought out by another company this week. At first glance, this new company doesn’t carry the same health insurance plan as the old company. I am entirely reliant on that health insurance plan and cannot switch to a new one without losing my entire medical team.

    I’m trying to figure out timing here– for those who have been in mergers, when does insurance change over? How much notice do they have to give? I read that companies only need to provide 30 days notice of insurance rescission and that terrifies me as someone who is chronically ill because that is not enough time to find a new job. I figure it will either change over during re-enrollment this winter or the day the merger completes, but the uncertainty is majorly stressing me out (they won’t tell us anything). I’m in the US if that helps!!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I worked for a company that was acquired by another company. If I remember correctly, the merger/acquisition officially happened in April. We kept our “old” health insurance through the end of December of that year. During the open enrollment period, the options for the next year (starting in January) were the insurance plan options of the new parent company.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Same here — we had a merger/acquisition in mid-2022, and everything was status quo for the rest of the year; during open enrollment in Nov. we were given our new options.

      2. Mad Harry Crewe*

        This is where I’m at right now. Open enrollment last December, acquired in January. They told us early that the insurance offerings were very similar between the two companies (which is a bummer, because my insurance kinda sucks and I was hoping for an upgrade) and I’m anticipating that we’ll be switching to the new company’s offerings in December.

    2. JSPA*

      Worst case, get them to work with you on paying a chunk of what it will cost you for COBRA on your current plan?

      1. ThatGirl*

        I don’t know that COBRA would apply since it’s a company switching health plans, not someone leaving a job.

        1. JSPA*

          They’re ready to leave. But thinking they need a new employer with the old plan, within the month of leaving. Whereas they need a new employer with that plan within a year of leaving, if they can swing COBRA.

    3. Magpie*

      It would probably be best to just ask your HR department this question. They fully expect to receive questions like this after a merger announcement and will be able to give you more solid information.

      1. Roland*

        Agree, you can definitely ask without adding anything about how the new one is dealbreaker for you. It’s a normal thing to wonder about for anyone! Good luck OP.

    4. WellRed*

      I feel like we finished out the month on old plan and then switched. I’d ask HR and also see if you can get more details on the new plan.

    5. KatStat*

      My company was sold off recently and the old insurance was in effect until the end of the month the sale finalized. The new insurance started day sale was finalized so had a few weeks of overlapping coverage. Sale was supposed to complete about 6 weeks after announcement but ended up taking closer to 6 months.

    6. DrSalty*

      My company was bought out at the of last year. They announced the sale in January. One of the first things they updated us on was health insurance. We did switch to the new company’s insurance fairly quickly, I think probably about 30 days. But there was a lot of communication about it prior to that (eg, meetings with HR to present the new plan, that sort of thing). There was an open enrollment period just for us that only covered a few months until regular open enrollment in the spring with everyone else. It shouldn’t be a surprise when it happens, I would proactively reach out to HR and ask. I’m sure you are not the only person worried about it.

    7. Rosie*

      You’ve probably already thought about this, but considering how important it is it would probably be worth starting a job search now in case the plans are switched at fairly short notice. It also gives you a place to direct some of the anxiety and nervous energy whilst you wait to find out! Best of luck with it all.

  15. Preventing burnout?*

    I need some suggestions for how I can prevent myself from burning out during the next couple of months.

    This week one of my coworkers had a baby (yay!). She’ll be on maternity leave until the end of November. Another coworker unfortunately experienced a life threatening medical event and is in critical condition in the hospital. They are not out of the woods yet and their recovery time will likely be lengthy.

    I was always going to be the primary person covering for the coworker on maternity leave. However, the people who were to be my backup (and would make it so that I’m not doing two jobs!) now need to cover for the hospitalized coworker. I’ll still have help but not as much, at least to start with.

    I have multiple chronic illnesses so in order to protect my health, I need to keep my stress low and prevent burnout – at least as best I can while doing almost two jobs for three months.

    Any suggestions for preventing burnout during a stressful period at work? Suggestions of past letters to read? Thank you!

    1. Overeducated*

      I think it depends on the specifics of your job, but I’d recommend meeting with your boss (and coworkers if needed) to triage the workloads. You obviously can’t do 80 hours of work a week, so what absolutely has to keep running on schedule, what can be delayed, and what can be put on the backburner and ignored for a few months? I have done this and truly, doing only 50% of your own job and 50% of someone else’s works much better than attempting to cover all of both.

    2. OtterB*

      Are there tasks a temp could help with and if so, could you ask your boss about bringing one in to head off burnout?

    3. WellRed*

      Prioritize. Do what needs to be done and do it well enough, but don’t obsess about perfection. Take time off here and there as needed.

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        And let your boss know about your proposed prioritization. Make sure they understand that some lower priority things might not get done. Ask for input on the priorities, but push back on any attempt to make everything high priority.

    4. anonymous for this*

      Oh you are exactly where I was in November 2022. My colleagues were out for almost 6 months and I did burn out doing a lot of the three jobs for 6 months, but I was already headed that way before they both left on FMLA.

      Things I wish I had done in November 2022:
      -gone to my manager and asked him that I needed prioritization of what absolutely had to be done from the three roles
      -reminded him of my ask until he did it before halfway through their leave
      -take a day off (if you have the PTO and this helps you) every 4-6 weeks, solely to rest
      -food meal kits so I didn’t have to think about dinner
      -schedule fun/time with friends/family/hobbies and make it nonnegotiable
      -lean on your partner, friends, or paid help for things that you need to let drop. We did the ‘Fair Play’ deck in early 2022 to divvy up chores, but had to seriously reshuffle when my work suddenly went from manageable to banana pants and the world is on fire within a 5 day span.
      -recognize that you will not be at your best for the next 3 months and learn to be okay with it, as long as your supervisor is understanding. I did not do this and my supervisor did not let me know that he was okay with me not being at 100%, and I deeply regret not asking the question and him not telling me that.

    5. IrishGirl*

      I think you need to take a page from what Allison says, You can do X and Y but not Z or in what ever order you can do.

    6. DisneyChannelThis*

      Accept that not everything will get done, nor will it get done in the timeframes it previously did. Talk to your managers about triaging what needs to be done, if they push back (“just do everything!”) get them to talk about priorities, what should be ranked first, second, third. Accept that the lower stuff won’t get done.

    7. Twitterpated*

      Talk to your manager ASAP and see if they can set up a meeting with the manager for the other people who were meant to be your backup (assuming that they are different people, if it’s all one manager just ask for a meeting with them).

      Lay out all your tasks, the tasks of the other employees who are also covering, and the tasks of the other employees that require coverage. Try to put rough time estimates on them. Ask the managers to prioritize the tasks from “truly essential” to “this can slip for three months and it won’t be an issue”. Fill up the plates of everyone with the big things first. When you get to a point that everyone is filled up and you’re still on things that “need” to be done ask your boss if there are any alternative resources available to you. If there are not then do your best to hold form that you only have so much capacity. Don’t volunteer to do more unless you’re truly willing to do more for the entirety of your coworkers maternity leave as well as a chunk of the other colleagues recovery period. Lots of people can do 60 hour weeks for a week, it’s a lot harder to do it for an extended period of time. If you think that’s going to be necessary and your company is open to it, ask about possible comp time. Remind your boss that this isn’t a matter of you needing to work extra hours to accomplish your workload, but that it’s your workload doubling.

    8. Purple Cat*

      First, I would meet with your boss NOW to discuss priorities and workload. Express your concerns and don’t accept a blasé “I’m sure everything will be fine”.
      Then manage the expectations with the departments (assuming internal work) that will be most impacted. “Hi Team, just letting you know that while A and B are out, we will be focusing on Y work and will only address Z if there is time. I appreciate your support with prioritization.”

      You want to get ahead of times, and get the needed support that not everything is going to happen. Is there any work that can be given to a temp? It’s horribly unfair to expect current employees to cover maternity leave unless the company was VERY well-staffed to start.

    9. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Pre-emptively decide that you have unbreakable commitments a certain number of nights a week. Announce them at the same time you’re working out the plan for coverage. One those nights, work until quitting time and then go home. The work will be there until you get back the next day.

      You need these blacked out times for your health.

      And don’t do two jobs for three months. 1.25 jobs, maybe. Make sure you know what’s going by the wayside, and that everyone agrees.

    10. Generic Name*

      I think the first thing to remember is that this is your company’s problem to solve, and not yours. Ideally, your manager would come to you with a gameplan/guidance as to what your priorities are and what can be delayed or dropped, and if need be, that gameplan might include temporary staff to fill in the gaps. If your manager hasn’t reached out to you to discuss or of they’ve said or implied that you would just do everything for 3 people, it’s time to set up a meeting and get really clear on what you can and cannot do.

  16. I'm fabulous!*

    I’ve been struggling with a contract assignment where this week I was given a company email. I registered it in through Google successfully, but I couldn’t sign in this past Monday. I kept trying and asked my supervisor and the owner of the company for help. My supervisor tried to give me extra guidance, the owner kept telling me to login as I should be doing. An IT friend of mine stepped in and it turns out that in one of the company emails they gave me the wrong spelling for my email. I did eventually log-in correctly but I feel like they think I’m an idiot. Should I point on the error on their part or let it go?

    1. EMP*

      Inform your supervisor/owner/team that the technical problem was resolved and you’re able to sign into your account (no specifics) and then let it go.

    2. Alyson*

      I’d recommend letting it go. But if you really want to point out the error, keep it breezy and say something like, “I’m logged in! Looks like I received an incorrect spelling.” Use “I” instead of “you” to avoid pointing fingers.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        Or “there was a typo in the invite email I got – all good now.”

        Sometimes passive voice is your friend.

    3. Purple Cat*

      Only if you can point it out in a very factual non-blamey way.
      “All set now. Turns out the issue was incorrect spelling on the email. Thanks!”

    4. Jinni*

      I’d let it go…unless it’s your name. People misspell my last name (famous in US history, but hard to spell?) all the time. But this has happened with IT and then people can’t find me because the spelling is wrong. So if it’s your actual name, I’d want it corrected so OTHER people can find you properly.

  17. Captain Flynn*

    I’ve seen several posts on the blog about full time people working two full time jobs, which is obviously a huge no-no because you can’t be fully present in either job for the full schedule. But what are your thoughts doing a remote part time or volunteer job?

    In my office job, I have very little to do. Maybe two hours of work every day for my 9-5 job. I’ve done all the typically suggested things: do online training, document my procedures, read through Ask a Manager archives, keep putting myself out to my coworkers that I’m available to help. My boss just seems to want me as a just in case because he only brings me things to work on line once a month. So I have a lot of downtime. I’ve been thinking about looking for online volunteer or part time work just to pass the time at my desk. The part time would still let me have time to do the little bit of work I do have to do in my regular full time but I could occupy myself with remote stuff, maybe writing or copy editing, something I can type at my desk.

    1. Panda (she/her)*

      Does your organization have any policies about working additional jobs? That would be my starting point.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think it really depends on what this part-time job or volunteer work would look like. You say you have a lot of down time where you’re just at your desk. When you have this down time, would you boss (or someone else at your job) potentially need you to randomly be available at a moment’s notice? If they did, and you were in the middle of doing something for your second part-time job or volunteer work, could you just drop that second thing immediately? Or would you have to finish up something first?

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I’ve been in a job like yours and while it might seem nice on paper to have a job where you’re not super busy, I think it limits you in a lot of ways. For instance, you might want some kind of professional growth that you’re not getting because you’re not being challenged in any way. So while yes, I think it’s fine to try to find other things to do with your time that you’re required to be at a desk (checking your org’s policies, as Panda suggests), you should probably be trying to find a new job. I put that off for far too long because I enjoyed the folks I was working with, but in retrospect I should have bailed on the org long before I did.

      1. Captain Flynn*

        That’s me in a nutshell. My last job was very toxic, terrible people, over worked and thrown under the bus, bare minimum benefits. There is a ton I like about this job: lovely people, great benefits, interesting work when I do have actual work to do. So I don’t want to leave because there’s a lot I enjoy. But the low work load to the point of hours of boredom every week is really frustrating. I know no job is perfect, every position will have something wrong with it, but I did not anticipate boredom to be a concern large enough for me to be miserable.

      2. Watry*

        Agreed, as I’m in a similar position. I have concerns about my job hunt that I’ve gone six months with no accomplishments to point to.

    4. EMP*

      Ethically I don’t see anything wrong with this, and it sounds like the culture in your office is hands off enough that no one would notice. IANAL but I do think the company could tell you to stop/argue that any work you do belongs to them because you are “on company time” (and probably equipment) so doing something unrelated to their mission/product/domain is probably a little safer.

    5. Purple m&m*

      If you’re looking for a volunteer job you can do at your desk, look into transcribing for the National Archives. They scan in documents & ask citizens to type in the info on the page and type searchable keywords. Anyone can do it & all work is vetted by actual employees before the transcriptions are finalized. Some documents are boring but some are fascinating & give you a glimpse into niche history topics.

    6. Extra anony*

      I think it’s fine, and I’m basically doing this. I work remotely full time, regular 8-4:30 schedule. My workload dropped to about 25% of what it used to be – sometimes a bit more, sometimes even less – and I just don’t have enough to fill my working hours each day. I picked up a consulting gig because I was getting bored, to build out my resume, and of course for the extra cash. When I don’t have work to do with my full-time job, I work on the consulting project. My organization does not have a policy prohibiting working additional jobs.

      I guess I think it’s different than the two full-time jobs because there is a clear hierarchy during my working hours; if my FT job needs my attention, I dedicate my time to that and do the consulting stuff during my time off at night or on weekends.

    7. Lissa Evans*

      I wouldn’t suggest using your main job’s resources (including your computer) in order to do another job.

    8. Glazed Donut*

      Full time usually refers to the hours worked per week, not the part of the weekday worked. Working multiple jobs (full time, part time, volunteer) isn’t outright a no no unless your any of your workplaces have policies against it.
      I think, as others have mentioned, this comes down to company policy, the device you do the work on, and how responsive you can be to your job’s requests.

  18. Potatoes*

    This is somewhat a similar question to the one posted earlier today as in, who is responsible for the follow up but the situation is different as it isn’t burn out but performance.

    A few weeks ago, I was meeting with the head of my department when he asked me what he can do to help me be successful here. I was caught off guard and he said I didn’t need to answer right away and if I wanted to think about it I could let him know later. 

    So I thought about it, and I sent him an email. That was almost 3 weeks ago and neither of us has met or discussed it. We see each other almost daily and we planned to meet on two separate occasions but never got to it b/c higher priorities. I did go to him a few times with (perfectly, 10000% appropriate) questions, but once he answered, I would leave rather than sit and say “yeah so while I have you lets’ talk about the email that I sent.”.. nor did he bring it up. 

    He’s now on vacation and by the time he comes back it’ll have been almost a month since I emailed him. So….part of me is thinking the lack of follow up is an answer but another part of me is just saying to just ask. 

    Based on how my interactions with him have gone in the past (positive) and what his goals are for the department (I definitely support them) my gut is telling me to go with the latter. 

    It is possible I am overthinking it, but I figured a gut check wouldn’t hurt?  

    (PS, for sake of brevity, I didn’t include the contents of the email, but if it would change hte advice, I can share it in a follow up comment). 

    1. Potatoes*

      ahhh sorry folks, hopefully the username is obvious enough (potatoes gonna potate) im using a new browser and didn’t realize I didn’t type in the full name. Not trying to “change” or hide myself.

    2. JSPA*

      as you’re not the boss, you’re not likely to be able to set process and agenda from below, and expect a check-back.

      Especially if boss was hoping to hear “I like this brand of soda” or “casual Fridays” and you instead hit them with the sort of process-change that’s a big deal for the organization or impacts other people’s jobs. In which case, there might be a chance of movement on (say) one of six suggestions, given a few months.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        I’m gonna disagree here! I have routinely had to bring back up “forgotten” topics to senior leaders, from my boss to the CEO, and it’s never been received poorly. Their plates are incredibly full and non-urgent items often get lost in the shuffle.

        If you have a good relationship with this person, I really don’t see the problem with tacking on a quick, “hey while I’m here speaking with you, I wanted to super quickly follow up on that email I sent you about [topic] a few weeks ago. Is that something we can discuss more fully now or later?” I’ve done this to great success hundreds of times, and responses are usually:

        – Ah sorry, totally forgot about that, let’s discuss now if you have a moment.
        – Now isn’t a great time, but if you want to put time on my calendar next week, that would be great.
        – I actually can’t speak on that just yet, but we can revisit it when I am able to provide an update.

        1. Tio*

          I agree with Giraffe. I think it would even be worth it to schedule a specific 1:1 meeting to discuss the performance, ask him if he thinks you’ve improved, lay out some improvements/accomplishments you’ve seen in yourself, and ask him if he had any ideas re: that email about solutions.

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I’m confused. I genuinely don’t think he was expecting that kind of answer. For context, he has weekly meetings with everyone to go over their workflow. I wasn’t able to make the meeting, so he asked me to come in for a few minutes to discuss when he asked that. The things I emailed him about wouldn’t be monumental organizational changes I think….

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Yeah, almost certainly it’s simply fallen off the boss’s radar because they have six quintillion other things they’re dealing with and more things are incoming all the time. Send a follow-up e-mail. If you don’t hear back within a business day, then call the boss, reference “that e-mail I sent you yesterday to follow up,” and ask to get a firm time on their calendar for a one-on-one.

  19. Luocha Liker*

    Any ex-librarians here? What do you currently do? I’m thinking about getting out of public libraries because I feel like I’ve been spinning my wheels for the past 8 years doing customer service and storytime, but I also don’t have any practical experience in anything else. Trying to get into cataloging is nigh impossible here, and the lack of job security is making me nervous.

    1. LindseytheExLibrarian*

      I switched to being a receptionist for an aerospace company and so far I am loving it. The customer service and “something new every day” aspects are the same. I still get to decorate my office with plants and cool artwork (as opposed to worrying about seasonal bulletin board or displays). I was definitely looking for a change from my fifteen years in Children’s, couldn’t find anything full time in Adult near me, and decided to look outside the box which was a great plan because we were all laid off during Covid. While I had no job, I was applying to random things that tangentially made sense, receptionist, customer service call center rep, etc. and this popped up. Don’t be afraid to go for something new!

      I will say I miss the kids, but for now the benefits are outweighing the pangs.

    2. new year, new name*

      My mom is a former librarian and who now works in college/university admissions. She has been working in a similar role for like 15 years, but based on what she says about her current/former coworkers it seems like it’s also a decent foot in the door for other higher ed staff positions.

    3. Magpie*

      My sister is a librarian and has no immediate plans to leave librarianship, but she’s been getting training in project management as something to fall back on in case she wants to bail down the road. She says a lot of aspects of her job are similar to project management and there are a lot more PM opportunities out there.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      Not a librarian, but a lot of people involved in record keeping in my state government have an MLS.

    5. Pivot Time*

      Well I’m looking to leave the field after 22yrs of primarily academic libraries. I’m trying to switch to the legal field, because I find it interesting, though I’m not 100% sure where I fit in. Some of my former colleagues have gone into freelance editing, transcription, working with animals, and online reference, to name a few.

    6. Stella*

      20+ years in college libraries and I’m now working on a certificate in data analysis from a local 2 year college. I figured that I already have the skills to select and disseminate information so why not do a little retraining and try out a new industry.

    7. Anon Academic Librarian*

      When I was considering leaving the field (I didn’t leave, but I thought about it and did some interviews), I was planning on instructional design as my other career.

  20. Lalaith*

    Is there a good way to find out what holidays (or other days the company basically shuts down) a company offers when interviewing? Is it something you’d discuss during the offer stage? I’d really like to get the same days off my husband does in my next position… but I can’t imagine it makes a good impression to ask ;)

    1. Panda (she/her)*

      I would ask once you have an offer, the same way you would address accommodations or pre-planned vacation.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, I think you can just ask “can I see [company’s] holiday schedule for 2024 (or whatever year is relevant)?” the same way you would ask “can I see the health insurance plan offerings at [company]?” during the post-offer, pre-acceptance stage.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You can ask when you’re discussing benefits. Usually they’ll give you a number (“we provide X company holidays every year”) but you can certainly ask which ones. I don’t think it’s that strange, especially since I was TOTALLY caught off guard when I started at my current job and realized we don’t close for Presidents’ Day. I really wish I had asked!

      If you’ve talked benefits already and that question didn’t come up, you can ask the recruiter/HR rep next time you talk. If that’s because there’s an offer on the table, then that’s a fine time to ask.

    3. Nicki Name*

      You can ask in an interview if there are any especially busy or slow times of year, and that can tell you if the company does anything really unusual (e.g. shutting down between Christmas and New Year’s because things are so dead at that time of year, or expecting salaried employees to work less than 40 hours for a couple weeks after the one month that’s always insanely busy).

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Honestly, I don’t think you need to wait until the offer stage, but I’d wait until the later stages of the interview. I wouldn’t bring it up immediately during a phone screen, for example. But it’s perfectly legitimate to ask about benefits (including holidays)—you don’t have to wait until they actually offer you the job.

    5. Llama Llama*

      I think it’s perfectly acceptable to ask about the benefits package even during a screening. To me it’s important to know the basics of what the company offers before we go down the road of interviewing.

  21. Novan*

    Someone I interact with regularly in a service-based capacity (not a coworker or anyone I could conceivably speak to HR about) sent me a very unkind email about my underwear. Our relationship is in no way intimate. I’m trying to figure out if this is actionable or if I’m being too sensitive. Thoughts?

    1. HonorBox*

      I think it depends somewhat on the context. If it is “hey I’m not sure you’re aware of this but I was totally able to see your undergarments through your pants” then maybe there’s nothing to do about it. They may have thought they were doing something kind. If it was anything more than that, just directly replying and saying something like, “I’m not comfortable with this discussion. Please don’t bring up my underwear again.”

    2. Morgan Proctor*

      You’re going to have to give us more context here, like who this person is in relation to you, what kind of work it is (service industry?), and how they got your email. Is this a vendor? Or a customer?

      If they’re a customer, the answer is probably going to be “block and ignore,” and give your coworker’s a head’s up that you’re not going to interact with them anymore. If they’re a vendor, you can absolutely go to HR about that.

      1. Novan*

        I’m really not comfortable going into explicit detail — but it was not underwear I was wearing at the time, and it involved someone I pay for a domestic service going into my home when I was not there without effectively communicating they intended to do so.

        1. WellRed*

          Report it to the company/service and ask that person not be sent to you again. That’s perfectly legit.

        2. Annie Edison*

          Ooh yeah, I imagine that would feel terribly violating to have someone in your home unexpectedly and then make rude comments about your underwear.
          You are not being too sensitive in the slightest. I’d be pretty upset and uncomfortable too.
          Do you want ideas on how to take action, or just looking for a gut check?

        3. ina*

          Were they taunting you in some manner or implying this person would violate your privacy despite there being no proof?

          It’s hard to figure out what was said or frankly, make heads or tails of the situation, but it sounds inappropriate considering a client/vendor would not need to and should not comment on your home life or personal life at all.

        4. saskia*

          Uh, so somebody went into your house when they weren’t supposed to, then sent you a rude email about your belongings? That’s insane. If the worker has a key (how did they get in?), get it back from them or change the locks. If another person let them in, such as a family member, front desk person or hired personnel, inform them that the worker should never be let in again. Once your living area is secure, inform the worker’s agency if they have one, and obviously don’t contract with them again.

          1. Tio*

            Ok yeah I replied below thinking this was something through work – but forward that email and change your locks IMMEDIATELY. This is huge red flag behavior and the company they are employed by should know about it ASAP.

        5. Charlotte Lucas*

          It sounds like they also were in your home when the didn’t need to be. Report it all to their employer.

          If it’s a sole proprietor situation, fire them, get your keys back, & hire someone new.

          I’m sorry this happened to you.

        6. Purple Cat*

          If it’s a domestic service I’m guessing there might not be a manager to follow-up with? Sounds like instead of cleaners coming on Tuesday, they unexpectedly coming on Monday and then making inappropriate comments?

          So I would address the home entry first.
          Going forward, I expect “x” notification of coming into my home. Please don’t enter without approval from me. Furthermore, please refrain from any commentary on items you see in my home. It is unprofessional and unwarranted.”

          And in the meantime, try to find a new service provider. Their behavior was wrong on many levels.

        7. Not A Manager*

          If you hire and pay this person directly, fire them. Do not pass go. I don’t care how hard it is to replace them, do not let them back into your home, and do change the locks.

          If you contract with a company that sends them to your home, immediately inform the company in as much detail as you feel comfortable with, tell them that person is not allowed on your premises again, and change the locks. I would seriously consider changing companies if that’s a possibility for you.

          My sense of the subtext here is that there is something extremely private about these undies and you’re allowing that to color your own thinking. Whatever this person saw or might think or might say to other people, their behavior was totally out of line. You are the customer and the employer, and you don’t need to feel any kind of way about protecting your very reasonable boundaries.

        8. Anonosaurus*

          WHAT.

          Change your locks, terminate the service, and consider whether it would be appropriate to report the incident to the police.

    3. different seudonym*

      Don’t reply but do report it to a superior. It doesn’t matter if it’s “bad enough” in itself; what matters is that you get your ducks in a row in case the person escalates. Don’t expect action from superiors, either; you just want to make sure they KNOW.

    4. Tiffany Aching*

      Harassment and discrimination laws in the US actually apply to anyone you interact with in a work context, so you might be able to take this to your HR. If this person is a vendor, volunteer, client/customer, or independent contractor, or anything similar, I’d suggest at least talking to HR.

    5. Tio*

      If your work with them is through the company, the company is liable for them sexually harassing you just like a regular coworker, even if they are a customer or vendor, and thus HR would be a reasonable person to contact. The only hesitation I would have would be if you’re servicing a vulnerable population, then some risk analysis may be a good thing to think through.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Based on your description in a reply comment, this is not an issue of being “sensitive.” Creepers in your house are an immediate, high-level safety concern that need to be dealt with swiftly, decisively, and comprehensively.

      Forward the email to the agency / their employer and tell them this is unacceptable and this person is not allowed in your home, nor may they contact you again for any reason. Also a good idea to change your locks. If it were me, I’d go ahead and terminate the service immediately and find another one, but IDK how many options you have.

      Just because they mentioned your underwear doesn’t mean it’s the only thing they may have interfered with. Having been burglarized before with some very gross behavior involved, I would also launder all my underwear, change/launder my sheets and towels, check my home for hidden cameras, missing items, and any other signs of unauthorized entry / activity.

    7. WorkingRachel*

      The context you shared in your reply makes it clear this is absolutely not okay. (I initially wondered if it was an awkwardly phrased, “Hey, we can see your underwear when you lean over” kind of comment, which is pretty much the only time someone you’re not close to should mention your underwear.) Please report it to whoever it can be reported to and bar this person from your living space.

  22. New Mom*

    Personal business cards at a conference?

    Hi all, I’m trying to get out of my current job. I’m also in my busy season and have two little kids that don’t sleep through the night so I’m a bit of a zombie at the moment. I’m going to an industry conference in about two months and I’m planning on hyperdrive networking there to get out of my current situation. I can’t outright tell everyone that I’m looking to leave my job because it might get back to my company and I don’t want to get pushed out before I’m ready for financial reasons.
    My parents recommended that I make my own business cards and hand them out at the conference with my name, number and email, and I’m guessing some sort of tagline/field information. And I can’t tell if this is a great or terrible idea (sleep deprivation makes me second guess myself).
    I’d love to have contacts with my own information, and my current company has made so many changes that I literally don’t have updated company business cards to hand out. They’ve changed my title and department name recently to a title/name that doesn’t make sense and is not representative of what I do.
    For example my previous department was “Accounts + [Specific Work]” and they changed it to “Accounts and Support” which means…what? It’s both internally and externally confusing and I get a lot of messages from vendors and external people thinking I work in a different department due to the department name.
    So please let me know, is this personal business card idea super cringe? A bad idea? If it’s a good idea, what should I put under my name? My general field and one-to-two specialties?
    First Name Last Name
    Field
    Expertise in “A” and “B”
    ?

    1. Jinni*

      I’ve seen many people do this. I took the card and assumed there was confidentiality. BUT I have no idea if that’s the same in other fields. These were fields where moving around was commonplace, and confidentiality was assumed. (In one field confidentiality was required by law for the work, and in the second was always assumed and necessary to succeed).

    2. 867-5309*

      If you are there on behalf of your company, then I would not do personal business cards.

      My approach has usually been to get theirs and/or connect on LinkedIn and then request a networking or informational interview meeting. “I loved hearing about x. Would you be available for us to have a coffee – virtual and in-person – where I could learn more?”

      I have not had business cards in years so the LinkedIn thing has worked great for me.

      1. Kw10*

        Exactly this. If your current company is paying for you to be there, then you’re representing them and it would seem really weird to give out personal cards.

    3. Ithappens*

      It’s fine- include your LinkedIn address as well and make sure to connect with each person there. And the tag line describing what you do (ok, really what you would really like to do, as long as you can truthfully say experienced llama groomer and customer support professional, leaving out the things you don’t like doing) can be on the back and maybe even reference current employer. Good luck!

    4. Anon for This*

      If your company is sending you, use your regular business cards, but write your personal info on the back.

      1. New Mom*

        I don’t actually have business cards from my employer anymore. We’ve moved offices so the address and number are wrong and they changed my title and the title of my department. So it’s either no business cards or personal ones, which doesn’t seem like the greatest idea per what you and previous senders are writing.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I have personal business cards with just my difficult-to-spell name and email. I mostly use them for when I meet people socially and don’t want to spendnd ten minutes spelling my name several times only to have them write it down wrong anyways.
          I limit who gets my phone number,but I can write it on the back if needed. I got them inexpensively on Vistaprint.
          They also come in handy for that business card slot in luggage, putting in cards when people leave if I want them to have my personal email, tucking into packages for handmade items I send to people I only know through the internet etc.
          I used them at a conference between jobs. It didn’t seem weird to me, but overall people aren’t using business cards much anymore anyways. I only gave out a few. Most other people who had them gave me their card first.

    5. Dancing Otter*

      If you don’t have employer cards, explain that while handing out your personal cards.

      But I’d limit the card to contact information only. VistaPrint and the like have all sorts of designs for the backs. Don’t get carried away – be sure to leave white space for THEM to make whatever notes they want after talking to you.

    6. SkunkPunter*

      Consider including a QRL code on the business card that links to your professional profile or website, so that you can update it regularly without having to get new cards.

  23. Meghan*

    Does anyone have tips on balancing a full-time (salaried) job, plus starting grad school, plus being a single mom to a 1st grader who is embarking on having nightly homework and weekly tests/quizzes for the first time, along with baseball practice?!

    1. BubbleTea*

      Outsource anything you can. Babysitter who can do some of the ferrying around and homework supervision? Cleaner? Meal delivery service? Also dedicated time for just you and your kid to hang out, protected from any incursions by work.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Family whiteboard do it weekly. Row per family member. Kids rows get labeled with whose taking them to stuff too.

      Google family shared calendar as well. Easier for monthly planning. Diff color for which parent is taking kid to event (ie blue is dad, dentist is blue) so easy to see at a glance.

      Then personal grad school calendar in google or in excel. Spend an hour with all your syllabus papers, write down every deadline. Add reminders. (Google calendar you can have multiple views, toggle on/off family calendar vs school calendar).

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Edit to add, the whiteboard is mainly for the kiddos. Start teaching them planning, like if you have quiz on Friday and baseball on Wednesday and dance on Thurs, we should study for that quiz on Monday and Tuesday….

        1. Meghan*

          I do have a physical planner which is essentially my lifeblood and EVERYTHING gets put down in there, my biggest problem is a daily to-do list/actually freaking doing it, though I know no one can help me with the last part, hah!

          I do have a lot of family support, which is nice, but all school meetings/events, appointments, anything like that pertaining to the kiddo falls on my shoulders, dad isn’t much help.

          1. saskia*

            Your family may be able to step up more than you know. Consider leaning on them a bit harder even for things you haven’t traditionally asked them to do. Sometimes you have to be in a true bind (and it sounds like you are) to realize how far people will go to help! My dad used to pick up two kids (a boy from my class and his younger brother) and take them to track practice with me for years. Their mom was divorced, dad only had weekend custody, and she worked a 9-5. She was beyond grateful and a lovely lady.

    3. Pringle*

      I worked full time, did masters on an accelerated schedule (1 year), while having a newborn/infant and a second grader.

      it sucked. bad.

      looking back, I’m glad I got it over with quickly, but I would have chilled out on the school work to figure out how good is “good enough” and just have done that. no reason I needed a 4.0, nobody cares about your GPA once you have the degree. I also would have done the same for work. I would have done the minimum to succeed at both.

      I also would have taken more/used up my sick days and PTO just to recharge and be with my kids. mental health is health.

      I also did a lot of squeezing school work into work work. my degree required internship and field experience, I used that at work. I also used work time to write papers and study when possible.

      I wish I were more present for them during that time. multitasking, as we know, is not really a thing. so sure you can do school work while at baseball practice, but when your kid is talking to you or needing your attention, that distraction is going to hurt both of you. I’d suggest making a intention every single day that you are will make X minutes of time to be fully present, full attention, to your kid.

      all that, and caffeine.

      good luck, I hope it goes well.

    4. ina*

      Grad school (and individual professors, especially) will accommodate you more than your job, your job will accommodate you to some extent (use PTO during midterms and finals – if you have a good relationship with colleagues and boss, give them a heads up), and definitely look into outsourcing childcare needs if you need full concentration for HW. Or plan to do your homework while they’re in the stands or with your kiddo, who is doing their own homework. The ideas of staying organized together is great – I think it’s a positive thing for a kid to see their mom in school. It makes the new experience not so daunting or “ughhh, why do I have to do this!!” because, look, mom is doing homework, too. Quiet study time might be more for lunch breaks and after kid’s in bed.

      Ultimately, C’s do indeed get degrees. Grad school is about learning what you need to know and applying it to what you already know to grow – don’t stress about the 4.0, unless you’re applying federal, no one is asking for a transcript.

      1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        yes, many Professors try to be accommodating but we can only do that if you let us know what you need preferably before you are totally swamped.

      2. CG*

        I wholeheartedly agree with this and want to note that even if you are applying federal, the transcript verification is only about making sure you have the degree (and is done by HR not the hiring manager), not about checking your grades.

        (Source: I worked full time through grad school, got some barely-passing grades, and am successful in my federal career, including several early-career jobs with specific education requirements/transcript checks.)

    5. Mia*

      Know that there will be busier periods and less crazy ones. I did a PT master’s while working full time and was just pregnant with my second when I started. the start of semesters was always easiest because it was just reading, but once papers were assigned it got a lot harder to juggle. I pretty much always took a couple personal or vacation days from work at the end of the semester to bang out the papers. I’m not great at doing things way ahead, so did a lot of work after my kids were in bed. I’d take one night a week to watch a show. also, I asked for extensions when I needed them.

    6. Extra anony*

      As a former teacher, I think lots of dialogue with your child’s teacher is important. Also making sure you get BOTH one-on-one time with your kid and time to relax yourself – even if it’s just 10 mins of each – every day, even if you have to schedule it on your calendar.

    7. Purple Cat*

      Most importantly – find your village. Who else is on the baseball team that can help with attending practice and drop-off/pickup.
      Then – manage expectations. Yes 1st grade is important, it’s the transition (In my mind) to “real school”, but it’s also first grade. Their future isn’t ruined if they’re not getting straight A’s. (Although my school didn’t do letter grades that young).
      Otherwise, you have a great opportunity to model good school behavior. On Sunday as a family you can both go through the schedules for the week and what needs to be done and then go through a daily plan.

      1. Hazel*

        Yes, don’t hesitate to ask other parents for a ride home from baseball or a playdate (I realize your child is on the young end for unaccompanied outings). We have only one kid so always room for another and ours enjoys the company. Other parents are always grateful and we tell them not to be, it’s entertainment for ours! So don’t feel guilty asking. Or ask a kid over so they can play and you can work without entertaining yours. Also, find the folks you can get a gut check / commiserate with on homework, and text on Sunday at 6 when you don’t have the spelling list at home … you will all feel better when you know it’s not just your family that doesn’t do it all …

    8. Spearmint*

      One of my closest friends has been doing grad school plus a full time job for the past few years (though without kids), and honestly it sounds like the best thing you can do is doing as much of your schoolwork during work hours as you can. Obviously you need to fulfill your core responsibilities at work, but devote downtime to studying instead of seeking out more work. This is a time where meeting expectations is the most you should try to do at work.

    9. C.*

      In addition to the ideas here, are there any parents/guardians/coaches on your kid’s baseball team who might be able to pinch hit (sorry) when it comes to driving to and from practice, watching over, etc.?

    10. chocolate muffins*

      Are there things that you can take turns for with other parents? For instance, three other families live close to yours and all the kids need rides to the same school — can you take all the kids sometimes and then have three days off while the other parents take their turn? Or maybe you have all the kids on the first Saturday of the month but then all the other Saturdays that month you have kid-free time because one of the other families is taking their turn. Something like that where it doesn’t much matter how many kids are doing the activity, so adding kids is not a huge inconvenience while being able to be totally kid-free once in a while is a lifesaver.

  24. Panda (she/her)*

    I am starting a new management job next week, and I will be managing in a union environment for the first time (I have previous management experience in a non-union company). Any tips for hiring and managing union employees?

    1. Educator*

      1) Read their contract. It will help you understand your obligations.
      2) Mention this to HR and ask if they have any additional onboarding/policies/advice for you. HR will often have their own processes for how and when to engage union leadership, and you want to know about both the written and unwritten rules.
      3) Mentally frame the union as an ally. You want your workers to be happy and safe, right? So does the union! The best union/management relationships I have been a part of are very collaborative.

    2. Morgan Proctor*

      Hi! I am a unionized employee. In addition to what Educator said:

      1. Managers who openly support the union have a way better time than managers who don’t. You don’t need a huge faction of your workforce considering you an enemy. Your job will only be more difficult.
      2. Your superiors will probably expect you to be anti-union. They might even encourage you to do things that could put the entire company at risk of legal action. Don’t do those things. Read the union contract and watch an explainer video on youtube about laws regarding unions, and union grievance processes. I’ve seen an HR person get fired for violating the law in this regard.
      3. Your workers are not your enemy, UNLESS you make the conscious decision to be their enemy. There are more workers than managers. You don’t have the upper hand.

      1. Panda (she/her)*

        Thank you so much! I really appreciate the perspective on supporting the union – definitely don’t want to be part of “evil management”!

  25. cardigarden*

    Wondering if anyone has dealt with this:

    I am the Head of Teapot Decorating and I’ve been reporting directly to the president of Teapots, Inc., because the VP for Teapot Design has been vacant for ages. This has given me a lot of autonomy and also a lot of face time with the president, which has been incredible. They’ve just announced that they’ve filled that empty position.

    Has anyone made that adjustment? How did you recalibrate your own work expectations and habits once there was more direct management? I liked the person who interviewed and thought they were highly qualified so that shouldn’t be a problem, but the status quo has been so valuable for my career that I emotionally don’t want to give that up while at the same time recognizing that it’s a bit of a tough situation that my new manager will be come into as well (suddenly being a new rung in the hierarchy between their reports and the top).

    1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      This happened to me. I reported to our director and then they added a middle manager role between me and him. It’s frustrating because all the news and updates come filtered now. I like my boss but he doesn’t always tell me the things I need to know. Sometimes I can’t help myself – I CC my director on emails to my supervisor because I just need the director to know things or reply to me. I guess I don’t have any magic advice, it’s been an adjustment. I scheduled every-other-week quick chats with my supervisor to kind of force him to give me more updates. But yeah, sometimes I’m not finding out things I would like to know or getting an authoritative answer because my supervisor has to ask my director, etc. It’s annoying.

    2. Another IVF mom*

      Once your new boss is settled, talk to them about your desire to still have some facetime/visibility with the President. Lots of people do skips for this reason but your boss can help facilitate this.

    3. Alternative Person*

      -Try to sit down with the president and work out where they see you going next, as well as the VP.
      -If there are any active situations where you’ve been the point of contact, ask the incoming VP how they want to handle that going forward. Get ready to redirect people as necessary.
      -Be active in working out how the new person likes to communicate and adjust your approach accordingly especially when it comes to all the tasks you were previously doing.
      -Let things go (as much as is safe and reasonable) when the new manager puts their stamp on things.
      -Consider polishing off your resume.

      The last one sucks, but after I had a temporary secondment to a management role last year, the incoming manager is making a mess of things and its been hard to not say all the things I want to say. I’m still in somewhat irregular contact with the senior manager who gave me the secondment last year and while that person has some sympathy for me it’s clear that manager and several others are going to support the person in the position for at least a while yet. It’s also pretty likely an actual management role (like to which I was seconded last year) is not going to be available for a while. I’m taking my time with it of course, and maybe your new VP will be great, but if I want to grow I’ve got to at least see what’s out there.

  26. bright light*

    Does anyone have recommendations for ways to shade harsh/bright office light that do not have to be attached to a cubicle? My office just put in a very bright light above my desk, and it’s pretty intense. It cannot be dimmed. I don’t have a cubicle (just a desk), and I can’t mount anything to the wall because it’s made of brick. I could get something that attaches to my desk, or something that sits on the floor. A patio umbrella would be too big.

    If possible it would be great to have something under $50. Any recs?

    1. cardigarden*

      Is there a way to attach a golf umbrella to your desk? I mean, it seems unwieldy but it’s smaller than a patio umbrella?

      1. bright light*

        The “how to attach this to my desk” part is actually what’s tripping me up. A former coworker of mine in another office had one of those leaf-shaped Ikea canopies for kids’ beds that she attached to her cubicle, but with no cubicle walls and no way to attach it to the building wall, I’m flummoxed.

        1. cardigarden*

          Can it zip-tie to the desk leg? Zip-tie a tall dowel from the hardware store and then attach the umbrella to that? Can you wear sunglasses? They just changed out all the lights in our building and I was about ready to exist in sunglasses until someone found out the brightness could still be adjusted down one more level to not-quite-surgical-theater.

          1. bright light*

            Hmm, a zip tie may work, and it’s inexpensive enough that it’s worth trying. The light is not adjustable. My prescription sunglasses are polarized, so it is too hard to read screens in them.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Sometimes you can get light screens to go over office lights, if they’re those in-set fluorescent kind.

      Can you just turn the light off and have a lamp on your desk? That’s what my boss does in his office because the overhead light is too bright for him. Of course, that assumes you’re in your own office and not sharing with others.

      Make a blanket fort?

      1. bright light*

        I am not in my own office, sadly. The light is very big, so it’s not practical to put a light screen over it. Plus, my boss’ desk is across from mine and she seems to really like the light.

    3. EnergyNerd*

      Do you have an ergonomics contact in your company you could bring this issue to? A sustainability team may also be interested in reducing lighting levels for employee comfort and energy savings.

      If you do end up needing to install something, the Lova bed canopy from IKEA comes to mind, but may not be suitable for your office culture. Good luck!

      1. bright light*

        No, we are a small nonprofit, so no ergonomics contact. And the light is an LED, so it actually uses less power than the rest of our lights. Again, my boss seems to like it, so I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I did think of the Lova canopy, but my question is how to mount something like that when I don’t have a cube wall and can’t use the wall of the building.

    4. Friday Me*

      Talk to your facilities person/the person who put in the light. Maybe they could get one that isn’t as bright or would have other suggestions.

      Not the same, but we had one of the 3 fluorescents directly above me perpetually unscrewed to reduce the light.

      1. bright light*

        Sadly, I am usually the facilities person. We had actually planned to get a different kind of light fixture installed there, but they ended up not working at the last minute. My boss and the electrician picked out the excessively bright one instead.

        This installation happened during my bereavement leave, so I had no say in this. And my boss likes the light, so I don’t think she wants to change it.

        1. WellRed*

          You need to bring this up to your boss. Just because she liked it does not mean she wants you to suffer.

          1. bright light*

            I mean, I guess I could. If my boss agrees to change the fixture, it means more work for me since I’m the one who will have to get the electrician back in to do it. Plus more expense for the organization, which is tricky because we’re a small nonprofit.

            Getting a shade for my desk would solve the problem more cheaply and easily, IMO.

            1. connie*

              It’s also a very short-term and narrow solution. Are there others who might also benefit by you bringing this up? The other advantage of actually talking to your boss about this is that you can get her buy-in on pursing the option of modifying your desk space. Put the decision on her whether she’d prefer to take the electrician option or give her buy-in on making modification to your desk space.

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Do you need to shade the whole thing, or just eliminate glare from your computer monitor?

      If it’s the monitor issue, I’d first try to just reorganize my setup, since that’s $0. A quick websearch also shows $20 shades with a flexible neck that just clip onto a monitor.

          1. bright light*

            Yes, a visor or sun hat has occurred to me too. I’d rather not wear one all day every day.

            1. Goddess47*

              On the other hand, an obnoxious hat/sun-visor getup would help point out that the light is too-bright.

              Oh. It might be over the top, but a free-standing tent canopy. Like one might use over a picnic table. It requires no walls and should fit over your desk…

              I haven’t read through all the replies but I’m assuming there is no other place to move to.

    6. Roland*

      My last office was obsessed with these giant leaves from ikea. I think they are technically marketed as kid bed canopies? But people would use them above their desks if they felt they had too much light. Being a piece of fabric from ikea, I’m sure they are under $50. Idk how they attach.

      1. bright light*

        I’ve looked at those–it appears to be a wall attachment, and I don’t have a good wall to attach it to.

        1. Wormentude*

          If you got a length of timber, you could zip tie it to a desk leg, then fasten the shade bracket to the timber.

        2. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Could you adhesive something to the brick, like a command strip or double sided tape?

      2. eeeek*

        We used these to shield the preemie twins from the over head lights in their bedroom when they came home from the hospital. They were pleasant to look at, lightweight to hang in various ways – we used zip ties on the cribs.
        So I wonder whether one of those floor t0 ceiling pressure rods (usually marketed for hanging plants?) could work, with a leaf zipped to it. As a bonus, you could add a hanging plant or two and claim you have a great love of greenery…

    7. A Girl Named Fred*

      Depending on how tall the patio or golf umbrella is, could you sit the pole in a Christmas tree stand or something similar? No idea if they sell those separately! Or what does your chair look like? Any way to slide a pole in or attach it there?

      And here’s my second (kinda out there) idea, depending on the desk set up… Could you get a boom mic arm and attach some sort of shade to it? That might be tricky because most boom mics are designed to “push back” against the weight of a mic so they can be pretty sproingy without that, but it might be worth some research? The one I had just clamped down to the edge of my desk (you might want to stick some cloth or other padding in there to prevent damage.)

    8. 867-5309*

      Our IT and Digital team used these big leaf-looking things. I googled and could not find the exact thing but it was held up by a thin pole that they either tied to their desk somehow or the floor.

    9. Lucy*

      Years ago I had a light like this at a former job. Fluorescent lights give me headaches but talking to maintenance and my bosses got nowhere. BTW this was at a time when people tended to not believe lights could cause headaches, and medical accommodations were not made very often.

      I ended up getting a green eyeshade, joking to coworkers I was sidelining as a bookie. Interestingly the Powers That Be were upset because my desk was located where lots of bigwig visitors walked by. They told me to not wear the eyeshade. My reply was to tell them (again) that the light was giving me raging migraines, I’d already spoken to many people about it and everybody told me nothing could be done. So sorry but I’m not getting rid of the eyeshade – would you prefer a baseball cap or a sun hat ? because I have to use something. (By this time I was disgusted but very polite). Lo and behold, they changed the type of bulbs used in that light.
      So don’t give up on arguing against the “it can’t be changed” story.

      Meanwhile get a screen filter for your computer.

    10. KittyGhost*

      You can get cubicle shades that are shaped like the Ikea leaf but black. They clamp to your desk so no permanent damage.

    11. Hedwig*

      How accessible is the ceiling? Can you use command strips to stick a piece of muslin over the light itself?

  27. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    Last week I asked for advice on my low performer who was failing an informal PIP, wondering if I could tell him it would be in his best interests to leave voluntarily.

    I have an update sooner than I expected: on Wednesday, I told him we were going to have to let him go in the near future. I used my “collaborative problem-solving” tone, opening the conversation by telling him I was sorry it didn’t work out, it wasn’t a judgment that reflected badly on him as a person, that he had many strengths, that I respected him for daring to try something new and be bad at it, and that I wished him much success in a different kind of role. I also made it clear that the decision wasn’t negotiable: that we could negotiate the end date, but not the fact that there would be one, barring a miracle in which everything suddenly clicked. (And it would have to be a very convincing miracle to offset the lack of progress so far.)

    He said none of what I was telling him was coming as a surprise, that he’d been getting clear feedback from me all along, and that he was seeing the same issues I was. He said he’d continue giving it his best effort if I thought that was going to pay off, but agreed that we were seeing diminishing returns for our efforts. If I didn’t think it was going to work out, he said he wanted to focus on whatever he could do to help make the transition smooth.

    I did end up telling him that it would be in his best interests to leave voluntarily if he had something else lined up. (I was prepared to negotiate a later end date to let him look.) To my surprise, he said he’d been wanting to focus on founding a startup anyway, so if it would make it easier on the team, he was happy to give his 2 weeks’ notice now.

    So he gave notice that day, and life’s been incredibly drama-free since then.

    He also said trying out a job outside his wheelhouse had been a great learning experience, and he thanked me and my boss for investing in his success with all the time we spent coaching and mentoring him.

    That’s my Friday good news!

    Re formal vs. informal PIPs, before this conversation happened, I had told my boss that I would like to use my informal PIP to justify the firing, if possible. He said it probably wouldn’t work and HR would probably want to do a supervised one, but he would ask. After he talked to HR, though, they were apparently willing to consider my informal PIP. They said to send over all the documentation I had, and if it was good enough, we could let him go as soon as next week.

    Well, you’ve seen my walls of text here on AAM–there was a metric ton of documentation stretching back months–and even my employee agreed he’d been given clear expectations and vast amounts of support. I think the informal PIP would have been accepted. But 2 hours later, before HR could make a decision, my employee and I talked about what was coming down the pipeline, and he handed in his resignation with a smile and a thank you.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’m glad it worked out well!

      Dumb question here, why is it better for him to voluntarily quit? Everything I’ve heard is the opposite, if you get fired you can get benefits while you job hunt, quitting you don’t get unemployment. Is it just to avoid saying you were fired in the future?

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        Well, like I said, “in his best interests to leave voluntarily if he had something else lined up. (I was prepared to negotiate a later end date to let him look.) ”

        If he can segue from one job to another without ever being unemployed, that’s the best outcome! What I wanted to make sure was that he was using his remaining time with us to job hunt and not just go into denial about how he could still make it work here.

        If you’re employed when you job hunt, you’re in a better negotiating position with hiring managers, and you’re less desperate to take the first toxic-seeming offer you get. You also don’t have to say that you were fired, yes, you don’t have a gap on your resume, and it’s easier for me to act as a reference for you. (I’m still going to be honest, but at least I don’t have to say I fired you.)

        It’s also not uncommon that if you’re fired, we’re going to end your employment as soon as we can, whereas if you volunteer to resign, it’s like plea bargaining: you can negotiate for a longer time at your full salary in return for making it easy on us and cooperating with the transition period.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        My manager is talking with upper management and finance to see if we’ll be allowed to backfill. We won’t know for a while.

  28. ThatGirl*

    I have a coworker in a different city who I need to work with frequently. She seems to have trouble staying in her lane — I am a writer, copy is owned by my team, but she frequently wants to rewrite (several times!) what I’ve already done. And I am 100% fine with her (and others in her role) telling me to add or drop something or suggest that we highlight something more that I haven’t, but it’s my job to make sure it all sounds right together, is grammatically correct, etc.

    I have talked about this with my manager, who agrees with me but is also kind of hands-off and wants me to handle it if possible. I have reached out to this coworker and offered to talk process through and she mostly puts me off or doesn’t seem to want to.

    My question: how do I nicely encourage her to stay in her lane and do I need to have a more formal “sit down and talk this through one on one” even though she doesn’t seem to want to? Ultimately it feels like she doesn’t trust me or herself (she lets another team seemingly bully her into making constant changes and expects me to just do it without question).

    1. Educator*

      I would talk to her about this in a candid 1:1. Don’t offer it; schedule it. You have your manager’s blessing. I would not frame it as “stay in your lane,” but rather “here is the kind of feedback I am looking for, and here is the kind of feedback that I will not be able to action.” Keep it about the work, not about her or your perception of her trust.

      And then, if you use Word or Google Docs, I would start sending documents to her with the settings set up so that she can comment, but not edit directly, if comments are all you want.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Everything goes through either our project management software (which includes proofing and approvals), so what she’s doing is posting things like “please use this wording instead:” and then a whole new paragraph. And then I will read her new copy, try to figure out what exactly she objects to in my version, and rewrite and re-post it. And then it happens all over again. Anyway, appreciate your feedback.

        1. Friday Me*

          If you ultimately own the copy, can you essentially treat her feedback as suggestions, not commands? My boss and I have different writing styles. There are times when I tell her, I’d consider xyz, but ultimately it’s up to her. Similarly if it’s my stuff, I assume that what she sends back is a suggestion unless it’s substantive.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I do – but then she/her manager gets mad* that I didn’t use her version. If she accepted that she was there to make suggestions, I wouldn’t really have a problem here :)

            *not in a yelly way, but I got some pushback from her manager which is why this has become a bigger thing than it should be … we also have a problem of too many cooks in the kitchen sometimes which is a separate issue.

            1. Tio*

              if she’s causing strife with her manager, I might make another push to your manager. Another manager being pushy to someone else’s report is something that should get sorted out asap.

              1. ThatGirl*

                My manager is looped in, nobody is being nasty to anyone thankfully but it’s all very Midwestern passive-aggressive. Just trying to figure out the best way to approach it.

              2. C.*

                I agree. And if her manager is “getting mad” along with her when you don’t incorporate the changes, it sounds like she’s getting at least some kind of tacit approval that she’s justified in feeling this way.

            2. Mockingjay*

              It actually is the issue. If you have this many cooks, you (the org) needs to assign each person in the process a separate cooking pot. You need a workflow of draft to final step, and who does what at each step. Pitch it as ensuring the “team works efficiently to create an accurate document on schedule.” Content reviews are done in draft; once those are incorporated, the final review is proofing only.

              What you are dealing with is “happy” to “glad” changes, and boy, do these chew up a LOT of time, without adding anything substantive to the document. Talk to your boss about this – it’s a work issue, not a personality issue. Documents need to reflect a certain tone or flair (“company brand”), but too many edits impede timely completion and obscure the message.

              1. ThatGirl*

                We have a workflow, we have a process, it’s just not being enforced very well with this one specific person for various reasons. It’s hard to explain all the dynamics here, I’m keeping my manager in the loop but trying to figure out what, if anything, I can do before escalating. But yes, you’re right about how it should go.

                1. Mad Harry Crewe*

                  I think you can give it a shot with a very very clear 1:1, but after that you need to escalate to whoever can enforce the process with this person and her manager.

        2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

          Would it be supported by your process or your manager to tell her that you can’t accept rewrites of whole chunks of text, and you need her to explain the changes she is asking for rather than taking over the writing?

    2. Alyson*

      Who has final approval over the documents? Is it you or someone else? If it’s you, give her one shot to offer feedback and try your best to incorporate it in your own words/style. Then, just publish the document (or whatever you ultimately do with it) without further feedback. If she questions you, explain what type of feedback you’re looking for.

      1. ThatGirl*

        We both have to approve the documents, but her side of it is supposed to be overall messaging/product only.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          “Hey coworker, I’d like to talk about our roles. My understanding is that you go over overall messaging/product only, and I do the overall coherence and grammar portions. Is that how you see it too? I experience that most /much of the feedback I receive from you is coherence and grammar-focused, so I wanted to see where the misalignment was if you have any insights” (who knows maybe her boss is telling her differently than your boss)

          1. ThatGirl*

            Thanks, I’ve tried saying something along these lines, but might be worth restating in a one on one conversation.

        2. connie*

          Does she have concerns that you don’t understand the right messaging tone or content for a particular product or market, or that you don’t understand the product well?

          1. ThatGirl*

            Maybe? But if that’s her concern I’m always open to feedback, just not the way she’s doing it.

  29. chocolate muffins*

    A student in my lab got their first revise-and-resubmit decision on a paper recently! They had gotten a few rejections before this, for this paper and others, so I am especially excited for them that this paper is moving forward. And it is also kind of an accomplishment for me since I mentored the project that this paper describes and helped them write the manuscript :)

    What is a work-related accomplishment from this past week that you are proud of?

  30. AI Etiquette?*

    Is there an etiquette when using an AI assistant to take notes? Earlier this week, I was in a Zoom meeting for a board I’m on. After one board member logged on, there was a massage in the chat box that his Otter AI assistant would be recording the meeting and taking notes. The board member never turned their camera or mic on, so I assume they were double-booked. We were all a little perplexed by it and tried to confirm with the guy that this was set up by him, but he didn’t respond. We had a long agenda so we started the meeting, but it all struck me as kind of weird. I think I would have felt better about it if he popped on beforehand or sent an email and said “hey I can’t make it for the meeting, but I’m going to use this AI software to take notes.” Is that me being a stick-in-the-mud?

    1. Roland*

      I was once at a recurring check in meeting with that exact AI plugin message. No one present had added it so we figured it must have been the host, who happened to be missing the meeting that day. We all just went to a new zoom room and let the host know we didn’t want to be recorded and AI-scraped, and he removed it from the recurring series. I’m sure office norms will quickly speed into “not allowed to express discomfort with this kind of tool” but I will keep pushing back against this erosion of privacy as long as I can.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      Not a stick in the mud. This person doesn’t get the point of meetings. I’d say around 0% of people every go back to meeting minutes or videos unless it’s years later, to prove a point. This person, for all intents and purposes, just skipped the meeting. TBH I’m pretty sick of people not prepping for meetings and just sitting there on mute. Oftentimes the meeting would be much more enjoyable and quicker if people actually asked questions or let me know what they think/know

    1. new year, new name*

      It basically just means that you don’t have a set schedule, and instead you only work when they need you. For example, think of a substitute teacher: you might work more some weeks and less other weeks, depending on how many teachers need subs.

  31. Jen*

    I’m more senior to my teammate Moss (I have a higher title), but both he and I report to Douglas. I’ve only been at my job just over a month. There have been a few meetings where I’m going over a plan over a testing or implementation strategy, that Douglas wanted to me put together. After I confirm the next steps, Moss always says, “let me know if you need any help”.

    Normally this isn’t a big deal, but it’s happened a handful of times and I feel awkward over it, because Douglas never says anything after Moss says this. When I started Douglas and I went over expectations and there was never anything about me delegating tasks to Moss, but there was stuff about me owning projects and initiatives.

    1) If Moss (who has been at his role for 5 years) wanted to work on tests or projects, why haven’t him and Douglas talked about it before?
    2) Why can’t Douglas jump him and tell Moss, “I want Jen to own Project Sparkles, Moss you can focus on X,Y,Z”
    3) I don’t think it’s my place to tell Douglas, “I think Moss is ready own leading a project”, do you want me to delegate to him?

    I’m probably overthinking this, but something feels off. I’m trying to do my job so it feels strange to have someone to keep offering help. Douglas is very laissez-faire but I wish he would show more authority in some ways.

    Another thing is that Moss has been at the company so long, why didn’t they promote him or teach him skills to do things at a higher level? He seems fully capable. If I were him I’d be annoyed at being there for 5 years and then they hire someone at a higher level instead of promoting me.

    1. WellRed*

      You’re overthinking it. You’ve been there a month. Is it really so strange for someone to offer help (it might even just be a politeness). And just because you’d be annoyed if you were in Mosss situation, doesn’t mean he is.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This — absent any other specific context, “let me know if you need any help” is about the most benign thing someone can say to a coworker.

    2. Mill Miker*

      It’s possible Moss didn’t want the higher level job, and this is his polite way of reminding you and Douglas not to expect him to take any initiative or volunteer on this work: If you want his help, you’ll have to explicitly ask.

    3. ina*

      I gently suggestion you interrogate if there is something personal to you is making a very normal statement seem larger than it is. You have been there for a month. Moss’s suggestion could really mean “let me know if you need help (because maybe there is institutional knowledge I can share with you since you’re new).”

      Honestly, I say ‘let me know if you need help’ reflexively — obviously, if a coworker reached out for help, whether I’ve offered or not, I will try to help within reason. 99% of the time I really don’t expect them to unless we’re outright working on a project together. It’s…just a thing people say, especially at meeting close-outs as part of the goodbye/sounds like a plan routine.

      Re: promotion & Moss’s position. Maybe Moss likes where he is. You’re overthinking here again and speculating far beyond the initial issue.

    4. saskia*

      He’s your teammate and he’s been there for years. You’ve been there a month. He has more institutional knowledge, despite your higher title. It’s very possible that as time goes on, he will stop saying this since he’ll assume you have the lay of the land. Or he might not, since he’s polite. We don’t know. But I think you’re putting too much thought into a random phrase.

    5. ?*

      Are you sure he’s not just trying to be helpful since you’re still new? Like just genuinely offering to help if you have a lot on your plate or have questions someone who’s been around longer might be able to answer.

  32. FriYay!*

    This week, out of the blue, my former boss called me to offer me a job at an organization that I’m passionate about. It would be a small pay increase and a 4 day work week. I would love to work with former boss again.

    The hang-up? I was promoted earlier this year and given a significant pay raise. I like my current boss quite a lot but don’t love the organization; I don’t feel a connection to the mission. I know that current boss went to bat to get me the promotion and raise. I feel bad because I have so much respect for boss.

    I know in my heart what I want to do but I don’t know how I can get past the feeling that I’m disappointing someone.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Look at this way: you’ll either disappoint your current boss by taking the offer and leaving, or disappoint your former/future boss by declining the offer and staying. Someone will be disappointed, so the very least you can do is make the choice that’s best for you and avoid disappointing yourself in addition to one of the bosses.

      Also, keep in mind that you have done good work for your current boss during your time at your current org. You have fulfilled your end of the employee-employer bargain by exchanging your labor for their money. You don’t own them labor in perpetuity. After you give your notice, tell your current boss how much you respect them and some specific things you enjoyed about working with them. Then start the new job! Any feelings of guilt or sadness at leaving your current boss will likely clear up very quickly once you’re in your new role.

    2. HonorBox*

      You have an incredible opportunity that has been offered to you, and I’d remind you that while you were given a promotion and your current boss went to bat, you didn’t seek this new opportunity out. Something fell in your lap. Your boss is entitled to be disappointed. But you’re not required to feel their feelings, nor are you required to pass up an opportunity because you don’t want someone to feel disappointed.

    3. sam_i_am*

      I just want to say: I’m in a very similar position of having had my boss really work to push through a promotion for me, and feeling like I’d disappoint him if I left (though I don’t have another offer at the moment; my dilemma is whether I want to start looking).

      Choices like this are not easy, and I hope we both make the choice that works best for us.

    4. Morgan Proctor*

      Take the new opportunity and don’t think twice about it! A FOUR DAY WORK WEEK? Honey you’d be foolish not to go for it.

      Yeah it’s hard feeling like you’re disappointing someone, but it’s better to disappoint someone else than yourself. Your current boss isn’t your mom, and if she acts like it once you give your notice, well, you don’t want to work for someone like that, anyway.

    5. saskia*

      Oh well, people leave. This opportunity was dropped into your lap; it’s not like you were dissatisfied and looking to jump ship. Get what you want!

    6. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      It’s business, not personal. Your boss will be happy for you if you present it honestly – you weren’t looking but you received an opportunity too good to pass up.
      Congratulations!

    7. Not A Manager*

      That’s what the phrase “This opportunity fell into my lap and was just too good to pass up” was made for.

    8. pally*

      What about disappointing yourself? Doesn’t that factor into this?

      Only you have your best interests at heart.

      And only you can take those actions that serve your best interests.

      No one can fault you for doing so. No one.

      Sure, someone may express disappointment over a decision you make. But they will respect that the decision serves your best interest. They can be expected to do likewise to serve their best interests.

      Don’t let placating the feelings of others become a source of regret for you.

      In your head, switch roles and think about how you would feel if a report of yours left for a more promising position. You’d miss them. But you’d be happy for them too.

    9. Hazel*

      If your current boss had to ‘go to bat’ for you, how much is your role and value supported by the bigger organization? You owe them nothing. You owe the boss a heartfelt thanks and recognition for making it happen. That’s it. Good bosses are genuinely happy when good staff get good gigs, even if they miss them.

    10. Random Academic Cog*

      I once had an amazing applicant, far above and beyond what I planned for the position. His boss was switching positions, and had offered a decent raise to take my candidate along for the ride, but it would require relocation. I went to bat with both my own supervisor (burned a bit of political capital there) and HR. Did a LOT of extra work to get him a fair offer. I don’t think my candidate was bluffing, but his existing boss decided to revamp the offer to include a big promotion and a LOT more money. He couldn’t turn it down. I think he genuinely felt bad because he had some idea of the effort I’d put into the offer, but he couldn’t turn down what amounted to a dream offer. I was a little irritated, honestly, but just for the sake of futile work I’d put in. I was genuinely thrilled for the guy that he was getting his chance to shine in the perfect environment. They’ll get over it.

  33. Mimmy*

    This morning’s question about burnout made me think of the type of work I’ve been looking for and how I would handle heavy workloads. I am well aware that these could be very challenging for me given past experience. I’m not ruling out this kind of work yet, but I do worry about keeping up with the work and burnout. First is my current situation, then I have two questions.

    Earlier this week, I had a first-round interview for a job that was described as “high volume” with caseloads that the hiring manager admitted were too high because the office is understaffed, and the HM said she is advocating to be allowed to hire more. (I am purposely being vague so as not to give identifying details about the employer).

    Question 1: I am connected to one of the staff members through LinkedIn; he’s the one who invited me to apply for this position. I know it is important to speak with other employees in the office, if possible, to get an insider’s view of the office. I’d like to reach out to him but am wondering if I should do it now or wait to see if I’m invited back for a second-round interview. What kinds of questions would be appropriate to ask? Would it be okay to get his perspective on how they’re handling the high caseloads and if they truly are working to bring in more staff or prevent burnout of current staff?

    Question 2: For those who work in high-volume offices, especially those who work with many students in a college or university, how do you stay on top of everything? I imagine this employer will use a tracking system, but I am also envisioning a lot of communication via email, phone, in-person, etc., with students and staff. I have some ideas of how I may handle this workload, but I just wanted to see what other tips and tricks others have used.

    I promise I’m not going in blind–I want to learn from my past experiences and see if I can handle this type of work with the right strategies because I am passionate about entering this work. I acknowledge that this type of work may not be a fit for me, but I will cross that bridge if I get to it.

    1. Anxious Bee*

      I think that since the hiring manager was so upfront about higher than average case loads you can be very upfront with asking your connection. “The hiring manager mentioned higher than average case loads- how do you feel the office is handling it? Do you feel supported?” You could also ask him your second question of how to stay on top of your work. “How do you personally stay on top of everything? Are there office wide policies? Do you have a personal system?”
      Also know seems like a perfectly appropriate time to ask him these questions. If you really feel worried you probably could wait until a second interview is scheduled, but I don’t think it makes much of a difference.

      1. Mimmy*

        Thank you, Anxious Bee! I went ahead and sent him the note using some of your suggested script.

    2. Ashley*

      The question in an overworked environment for me would be how do you handle the overflow. Are you supposed to work 80+ hour weeks to get it done, or do you just triage and do what you can in a reasonable work week? Also, how do they handle PTO if you are understaffed?
      I would ask the person you know about PTO and when they are out sick how do things function. If they indicate sick days don’t exist I would be considering every other job option I have.

      1. Mimmy*

        Thank you, Ashley, that gives me food for thought. I’ve had this concern in my current job, although it’s a much different function then what I’m trying to get into now. The fact that the Hiring Manager for this job was so up front that the case loads are too high is promising. I feel confident that she is genuinely doing everything in her power to rectify the situation, but thank you for reminding me to consider how PTO and the work week are handled.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          You could also ask for her honest assessment about whether she thinks she will get the additional staff. Just because she’s doing everything in her power doesn’t automatically mean the situation will be rectified.

    3. Gone*

      My Tips and Tricks for a high volume overworked environment.

      1) prioritise planning time; plan for the year, plan for the semester/term, plan for the month/week/day.
      1.i) Identify what is a reasonable amount of work completed within the week/KPI.
      1.ii) When I plan my workweek, I aim to finish all work one-day before the end of the week. This gives one working day for all the unforeseens.
      1.iii) Don’t work right up to clock-out time. Plan to finish your workday 30mins prior to the end of your work day. This gives 30mins for unforeseens.

      2) develop your system for keeping on-top of relevant information. My system is email+keywords. (as my work memory needs constant refreshing) I email information to myself, and if it is current working information then I put them into the relevant working week.
      2.i) I have subfolders for the relevant working week. E.g. if info is relevant for 20231130 then it is put into that mailbox subfolder.
      2.ii) I review the working week subfolder no later than the first work day of that week, sometimes the week prior if I have time. (Once I have internalised the knowledge, or the info is not relevant anymore then it is archived into the appropriate folder.)
      2.iii) My personal Inbox is strictly for today’s work.

      3. set up a system to remind you to take your wellbeing stretch and breaks. (You can choose not to take your breaks but doing this might burn you out and you may end up needing painkillers, ymmv.)

      4. If you can’t meet boss-expected KPI, talk to boss.

      hth.

  34. Lucy Eyelesbarrow*

    Is there a way to use the way I’ve survived my current dysfunctional job on my resume or cover letter when I’m finally in a position to look for my next job? I’ve been pretty miserable but I’m also pretty proud of what I’ve been able to do and feel like I should be able to use it.

    When I was applying to this job I had two interviews with the person who was supposed to be my direct supervisor and then I was hired. I showed up to my first day and found that she never came in that day and no one knew what was going on. It eventually came out that she quit and wasn’t coming back. I also found out that I was now the only full time person in my department, with the rest of it filled out by a group of part-timers, many of them limited to less than 10 hours a week (the one I interviewed with was not open about this and made it sound like there were more people during the day). For that first day and the next day they borrowed someone from another department to show me around, and from Day 3 I was on my own. I have occasionally had the help of the part time people, but most of the time I’ve been working by myself since I’ve been one of the only people available during the day rather than afternoon/evening. I’ve done very well figuring things out, even showing some people who have been there longer than me some better processes I’ve built from previous experience, to the point where a lot of the newer people don’t even seem to realize that I haven’t been there much longer than them (both in my department and others).

    I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish here but I don’t know how to describe it to future potential employers without the emphasis being on this place being kind of a dumpster fire.

    (For anyone wondering why I don’t look for a new job now, my living situation has been kind of in limbo and that makes job searching difficult. )

    1. Educator*

      Focus on the processes you have built–that’s the key here. Use the phrase “thrive in a self-directed environment” once in your cover letter. But don’t dwell on the rest of the context. Functional future employees will want to know what you will be able to accomplish for them, and hopefully they will not have all this chaos happening. So focusing on outcomes is your best strategy.

    2. 867-5309*

      A fun exercise friends and I do – and DO NOT ACCIDENTALLY SEND THIS VERION – is to write truthful resignation and cover letters and share them with each other. It might help you have a little fun before you get down to business. “Achieved x, y z and created a process to manage a and b because I apparently work in an office that doubles as a zoo and the monkeys are running the big tent.”

      That said, I agree with Educator above… Keep it focused on professional and results for the real deal. Alison often notes that a potential or new employer does not know you so they have no way to know if it is really a workplace issue or a you issue.

    3. linger*

      Caveat to the foregoing phrases:
      If you don’t want to end up selecting for good fit to a very similar situation, it’d be safer to stick to measurable specifics of efficiencies achieved through changing processes — details supporting a claim you CAN “work independently without direction” rather than implying you DO “thrive in chaos”.

    4. Gone*

      (I do love that book! one of my fav)

      Not sure if I have advice, having been there myself and recovering more than two decades later. The scab will fall off and only leave a lightening scar.

      You are a versatile self-starter with initiative. You have demonstrated experience in change management: developing systems and processes to improve team workflow and efficiencies, and getting buy-in from stakeholders. You are a teamplayer, with proven talent in training colleagues to embed new processes.

      Did you create/write documentation for the new processes? If you did, then you have documentation skills.

      More importantly – what do you want to run towards?

      You can cherish all your current achievements. But only mention them in your CV if it is relevant to the role you want.

      hth.

  35. JustaTech*

    I’m looking for a better way to phrase “no, people don’t want to just have a ‘nice dinner’ for our work holiday party, there needs to be an activity if you’re going to get anyone to show up.”

    I (for my sins) am on the social committee and it’s time to plan our holiday party. For the past few years (mostly before COVID) we held it the first weekend in January and picked a location with an activity (trapeze artists, pretend casino), and we’ve also done the aquarium and a local museum that were popular. All of these were well attended and people had a good time (and said so later). The one time we just had food it was held in our newly renovated lunch room and frankly everyone hated it and it was a huge amount of work for the social committee (since we had to do all the decorating ourselves).

    But now it’s planning time again and the committee head wants to “just do a nice dinner”, and I’m trying really hard to think of a kind and gentle way to say 1) the food for that many people is never going to be a draw all on its own, and 2) no one wants to just have a sit down dinner with either the people they see all day every day, or random strangers from the other department.
    Literally the only reason 80% of the people went the year it was at the aquarium was because a bunch of us went around saying “we get to watch the otter feeding!”. The only reason people went was to see the otters.
    The reason I’m trying to be kind and gentle is that my group has a reputation of being “the people who say no” (because that’s our job, and we actually say yes a lot), so I don’t want to reinforce the idea that “JustaTech is no fun” because sometimes I need to be the voice that says things like “maybe let’s not do a ham for Christmas, eh?”

    1. EasternPhoebe*

      I was reading along, thinking “I would rather skip the mandatory holiday party altogether and have some extra time off,” but then you mentioned otter feeding and now I want to go too! Why not suggest a repeat of the aquarium? Sounds like it was popular!

      1. WellRed*

        Seriously. Rather than focus on the no, focus on the yes. “People had so much fun last year I think we should try something similar” I personally like the aquarium or museum idea better than something like trapezes (?) because I can engage or not engage as much as I want. It’s a good compromise between theMandatoryFun! And just eating.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Things I’ve tried:

      – Showing budgets for both options, in cases where adding the “fun” thing is really a very small difference in cost to the “just a nice dinner.”
      – Providing feedback from previous attendees (preferably formal survey responses, but several anecdotal pieces of data will work in a pinch) about how the meal itself is not a draw but the activity is.
      – Pre-surveying attendees on what they’d want to do (rank ordered options ranging from activity to nice dinner out to nice dinner in to nothing at all) and then showing the committee what people actually are interested in.
      – If “just a nice dinner” is really want they want to do, advocate for allowing attendees to bring a plus one. My old firm used to open their holiday dinner to spouses/partners/whomever and honestly just being able to introduce my partner to all the people I’ve been telling them stories about for the past 3 years was reason enough for me to attend.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        To the last point:

        I have been to a few “just a nice dinners” that had decent attendance. The important differences between the dinners I attended and the one JustaTech attended:

        * dinners were held at a nice restaurant (I would be way less enthusiastic about a dinner held at work, no matter how nice the lunch room is)
        * employees each had a plus one
        * alcoholic drinks were available (not clear in JustaTech’s post but the companies I have worked for would not have served alcohol on the premises)

    3. ina*

      I would argue that, “We can have a sit down dinner at any time of the year and respectfully, the last time we did it, employees reported they didn’t really enjoy it. Not to mention it would be significantly more effort for us in terms of coordination (food allergies, religious and personal convictions, people who are not comfortable eating in front of strangers) and decoration. An experience, like going to the aquarium, is more of a gift we can give to employees and in line with the holiday spirit. It’s also more dynamic and relies less on facilitating conversation with people you can talk to every day, but rarely get to bowl with.”

    4. I should really pick a name*

      Can’t you just say “We had much more positive feedback when the events were more than just dinner”?
      Can you point to the attendance numbers for the different events?

      If they end up just going with the dinner, remember, it’s not that big a deal if the holiday party doesn’t turn out great.

      1. allathian*

        Pretty much me too, but absolutely not on company premises. It has to be in a restaurant (a buffet is fine if there’s no budget for a full sit-down dinner) or it won’t be as festive, no matter how many decorations the party committee puts up in the lunchroom. A main reason for that is that I don’t want to be involved in the cleanup afterwards (nothing spoils the party mood for me quite so much as cleaning up does), so please organize the party in a venue where someone else’s paid to clean up after our party.

        That said, I’d love to see an otter feeding.

    5. Jinni*

      Not an answer, exactly, but I went to a nice dinner in a high-end bowling alley one year. That was super fun. We did another at a movie studio. All the restaurants run together, but the ones that were ‘someplace,’ I remember quite fondly. So I say anecdata pitch is the way to go! Otters!

    6. Self Employed Employee*

      Maybe stress how much unexpected work the sit down dinner would involve. On the surface it sounds simple, but in reality, something like the aquarium would be so much easier.

      Also, otter feeding would be a lovely yearly tradition!

    7. Clisby Williams*

      Maybe don’t do anything for Christmas?

      I’m astonished that there are people who would not show up just for food, but want some activity in addition. Maybe I’m just a total outlier on this, but to me the ideal work party, if you feel like you have to have one, is food/drink. Unless, of course, the activity is a Caribbean cruise. I could go for that.

  36. Shirtless Background*

    I have an awkward situation that I have noticed and I’m not sure if I should say anything. One of my coworkers is very professional in every way and takes a lot of care in how she presents herself. We’re mostly remote and, like many of us, she uses the blur background function in zoom. I’ve noticed after many a video call that she appears to work from her living room, which is no problem. The issue is in the afternoons her boyfriend is home and I have regularly seen him walking around shirtless behind her in the background. Despite the blur, it’s obvious he’s shirtless. And when he crosses directly behind her he’s briefly unblurred. This has happened on one on one calls with me, calls with the whole team, and calls with coworkers across the organization. I suppose she thinks the blur background masks it but it really doesn’t. Should I mention this to her out of kindness that she would probably want to know? Or just quietly ignore it?

    1. NeedRain*

      Do you know her well enough to be pretty sure she’d rather hear about it? If not, I’d keep politely ignoring.

    2. HonorBox*

      It is probably worth saying something, but you can do so in a way that doesn’t make it sound like it is a terrible, horrible thing. She may be aware that it is happening, but if she’s aware that others are seeing him, it might be something she wants to address with him.

    3. Educator*

      I would not make it some big announcement. If you can, mention it in passing during a 1:1 call. Like “Oh, I see John is home–I hope you two had fun camping last weekend!” She will be able to connect the dots.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        yep or a discreet 1:1 chat message that’s like “oops just fyi i can see John’s walking around behind you”

    4. ina*

      You don’t need to mention shirtless and I would also assess how crucial it is — if it’s only between you two, I’d ignore it. If you think this might actually have larger scale ramifications, I don’t see the harm in saying, “Not sure if this is relevant, but since you use the blur function for your background, I thought it might be useful to know whenever someone walks behind you, the background unblurs for a bit. It doesn’t bother me and it’s not distracting, but wanted to give you a heads up just in case that’s something you might want to know!”

      I kind of disagree with the “connect the dot” comments that reference the boyfriend by name. Do you know her like this? If not, this comes off as invasive at worst and judgey at best. The point of a blurred background is so that people don’t comment on your living room/situation/home & focus on you. Best to focus on awareness.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      “I read this tip online from someone who got one of those LED light bulbs that changes color so she can let the people in her house know when she’s in a video meeting so they stay out of her camera range since the blur feature doesn’t always work reliably.”

      (That’s probably not actually the best way to communicate it, but if you wanted a way to hint at it without saying it, I guess that might be an option. But the color-changing light has been a total game-changer – if it’s red, my husband knows not to come into my office and pet the dogs, but if it’s just blue, he can come in as long as he’s quiet because my camera is off. Green is working but not in a meeting.)

    6. Purple Cat*

      Definitely address it – once. A quick email, or a PM. With a “Heads up – you may not know, but we can see your boyfriend “through” the blurry background”. I wouldn’t put in writing that you can tell he’s shirtless, but if you’re able to talk to her, I would point that out too.

    7. Thunder Kitten*

      how about “hey, just wanted you to be aware – the blur background filter doesnt always filter out people wandering around behind you”. Dont need to mention the boyfriend or his shirtlessness.

  37. NeedRain*

    I’m wondering how common it is these days for an employer to expect you to spend a LOT of time on onboarding tasks before you begin work. This is for a salaried position, but it’s several hours worth of stuff and they have it structured so you don’t know what task you need to do next and can’t prepare. What have y’all experienced?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Several hours = less than 5? Completely normal in my experience. Fill out a couple forms, sit through the security training video, etc.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      Do you mean “begin regular day-to-day tasks” or “begin getting paid”? Former is pretty common, depending on the role.

      1. NeedRain*

        Both! I’ve never experienced anything like this before, just “bring these documents and forms on your first day.” I had to fill out and/or sign (not exaggerating) 25 different things, and now I have to have a half hour zoom meeting, then I have to go there for them to copy my documents, which is going to be difficult b/c I can’t get a parking pass b/c I don’t work there yet.

        1. Isben Takes Tea*

          That sounds like definitely be at the point I’d start pushing back for me—the meeting and travel. Unless it’s for some specific security clearance or something like that where there’s a logistical reason you cannot start work without completing those tasks, that sounds excessive.

        2. River Park*

          “which is going to be difficult b/c I can’t get a parking pass b/c I don’t work there yet.”

          Have you asked them where to park? I am sure they have onboarded other people and have a solution for this.

    3. TX_Trucker*

      Generally, if you are in the USA, employers must pay new hires for time spent during onboarding activities, such as filling out paperwork and training. However, under some circumstances, the onboarding tasks are actually a pre-employment requirement in which case it’s okay to expect the future employee to do it on their own time … because they are not an employee yet and wont be unless they meet the requirement. I believe the federal government has lots of these paperwork requirements; or at least they used to when I worked for DOT.

      In my company, for most of our positions, we ask you to bring paperwork on your first day and you complete it at the office, while getting paid on day 1. However if you are in a “safety sensitive” position, there is LOTS of onboarding paperwork that needs to be completed before you are actually hired or can even touch one of our computers. Our job offer is contingent on you completing all the necessary documentation on your own time, before you can officially start as an employee.

      1. CG*

        Seconded that federal jobs do have a lot of advance onboarding requirements, in part because they need to clear/background check you, verify any previous federal experience, etc. before you can start.

        1. Mimmy*

          I think this happens for state-level jobs as well. For my current position, I had to fill out a ton of paperwork and have the background checks before I even got a start date.

    4. 867-5309*

      I do a 90-day onboarding experience for all new hires. To me, the first 30-days are about learning the company, meeting people, reading materials about their role, etc. They should be able to leave a little early most days. At 60-days we start turning work over the team and at 90-days they are ready to set goals and should be a little bored and ready to take on the full workload. A checklist accompanies it so they know what will happen and what needs to happen in each window but it is not a structured by task order within those 30-day windows.

    5. mreasy*

      You shouldn’t have to be doing much more than providing tax & personal information for payroll, and maybe signing an employment agreement & the employee handbook before you start a job. You should NOT be doing unpaid work. That is not only not ethical, but it is not legal.

  38. different seudonym*

    Don’t reply but do report it to a superior. It doesn’t matter if it’s “bad enough” in itself; what matters is that you get your ducks in a row in case the person escalates. Don’t expect action from superiors, either; you just want to make sure they KNOW.

  39. Busy Middle Manager*

    I like my corporate job, despite all of the stress and deadlines and people issues, but I am getting stressed by the instability of vendors. Everyone seems to be in crisis mode all of the time or slimly staffed or not able to handle requests because they don’t have staff/budget. I hope this is not some sort of corporate America new normal? I cared about the people working at these vendors a lot but yesterday I sort of snapped in my head, like, we’re paying for all of these things, what are these companies doing with all of the money? I have a lot of custom processes with various vendors so it’s a huge waste of time and expense to randomly switch them and TBH I have no assurance the next one will be better. Companies have always overpromised and underdelivered but it’s just gotten out of control.

    Also Allison I request to permanently change my user name. I had been using “Prospect Gone Bad” because it was my original comment about how a job sounded good, but the recruitment process turned into “you lied to us about being a unicorn!” When I was headhunted, and made absolutely no promises, and it turned into a weird conversation where they downplayed my actual accomplishments and cherry picked a few very niche tasks I never hinted I did at any stage, and were like “you led us on!” They basically wanted me to be able to do every single job in the industry, despite me clearly not being able to from the get-go and the potential manager also not having the experience.

    So that’s where my original name came from, but I now want to forget that ridiculous unreasonable employer and have a more generic screen name

    1. Ann*

      I’m afraid this is the new normal. I’m struggling with almost everyone being either stretched thin or just keeping really odd work hours with their focus on something else. Clients take weeks or even months to get back to me (I do follow. Some coworkers are impossible to get ahold of for days, and since they’re not in the office I’ve no clue if they’re busy, dealing with an emergency, or on vacation. It’s so difficult. We’re already understaffed and stretched, and it’s just extra stress that simple things have become hard.

      The only vendors/contractors I don’t have trouble with are the ones whose work is mainly in person. It kind of seems that people who WFH are much more likely to become unreachable or not understand when something is a priority.

  40. New Job Old Migraines*

    I’ve been at my new job for almost two months now, which unfortunately has coincided with my chronic migraines becoming more chronic. I’ve been remote so no one has noticed anything obvious except a pile of doctors appointments. I’m more worried about the not so obvious things though. Quite frankly- my brain function has been seriously nerfed from all the migraines. I feel like I’m having more trouble figuring out new processes, or even doing old ones. Heck, I even once forgot to put a coffee filter in my coffee maker and spilled coffee grounds all over the office floor on an in-office day. I feel like everyone’s going to think I’m a good worker but spacey, even though I’m really not. (Or at least that’s not my baseline state of being- its just how things are right now until my doctors and I get the migraines more under control.) I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do about this, especially since I really don’t want to dump my entire medical history on my boss this early (or ever, really).

    1. t-vex*

      You don’t need to give your entire medical history to say you’re trying to get your migraines under control and you’re a little spacey in the meantime, most people will understand.
      I don’t know your situation obviously but I can tell you after living with migraines for 30 years, Ubrelvy has changed my life. I used to call out every other month or so for a migraine and drag myself through life in the days before or after one hit but now I just pop a pill and it’s… gone. The migraine just disappears. It’s incredible.

      1. New Job Old Migraines*

        Thanks! I might use some of that wording.

        I’m hoping to get on anti-CGRPs soon (really any one) but unfortunately my insurance won’t approve trying any until we run the gauntlet of preventatives. It really sucks but my neurologist is working through it with me so we can get to meds that will (hopefully) actually work. I’m glad Ubrelvy has worked for you and hopefully I’ll be able to try it soon.

    2. Anxious Bee*

      I also have chronic migraines and when they first hit in 2021 I had no idea what was going on and I was in a spaced out dissociating brain fog for most of that year. I’m sure all my classmates and coworkers thought I had lost my mind. But after working with my doctors and getting them more under control I got back to baseline, and none of them have ever mentioned it. Its honestly ok if they think you’re a little spacey right now, they probably aren’t noticing as much as you think they are, they’re probably going to chalk it up to you being new. And once you get this under control you’ll do better and they’ll forget the fact that one of their remote coworkers seemed a little out of it way back when they started.

    3. Jane Bingley*

      The challenge with migraine is that people who don’t get migraines think they’re headaches. They just don’t get it. Naming it as migraines, even as chronic migraine, won’t explain the actual symptoms you’re dealing with.

      My advice would be to go way more vague. “I’m sorry to say that some distracting health complications have cropped up in the first months. I’m actively working with my medical team to get this resolved, but I want to name that I don’t feel like I’m performing as well as I should be, and I’m sorry about that. I really appreciate feedback on how I can improve, and I hope you’ll see a more focused version of me in the coming months once I get this under control.” If they push or ask questions about what’s going on, it’s totally fine to say “I’m sorry, I’m a private person around that, but know that I’ve got a diagnosis and we’re on the treatment stage.”

      1. Ashley*

        At least in my circles so many people know someone with migraines I usually find it easier to name it as such. Since we all have different triggers you can keep vague the rest of it other then I am working with my doctors on the issue. Good luck with finding your triggers / treatment plan. It is really a game changer in dealing with migraines.

    4. anon24*

      This may not be the best option for you, but I still remember with horror one day before I got on topiramate (my life changer) when I was speaking to someone and lost my words, which was at the time a very common symptom for me. I was literally mid word of a multiple sentence statement and just lost the ability to speak and after desperately trying to spit the word out several times while looking and feeling like an utter fool I panicked and said “I’m so sorry, I’m not stupid, I have a neurological condition, I’m seeing a doctor!” then fled the scene. The memory makes me both laugh and cringe, but it got the point across I guess?

  41. Fear Biter*

    I’m hoping the vast and delightful army of librarians and archivists can help me with a resume dilemma I can’t figure out how to resolve.
    Well over twenty years ago, when I was pretty much just out of college, I had a job as assistant curator of special collections in smallish public library system. After about 3 years, I had to relocate to a big expensive city, and ended up working mostly in legal operations and information governance type roles. I did a museum studies master’s degree part time during this time, and briefly managed the local university art gallery, but ultimately went back to corporate work. During the pandemic I quit my job and went to library school. I have an MLIS now, and have been working in a corporate archives, but for a company with significant historical importance (think Tiffany’s or John Deere) so we do a lot of exhibitions/tours/reference support.
    However, even with this most recent job and degree, I’m concerned my strongest experience might be that Special Collections gig. Ordinarily, I would keep my resume to the past 10 years, which I think is a general best practice, and also to avoid age discrimination. But I am torn because it seems like I might really need it to really sell myself. Or do I? Is experience that far in the past (before digitization and EAD were even really a thing) too stale now to be really compelling? And if I should include it, what do I do with the intervening info gov roles? Just stick to company name, title, and dates? If I keep all of them on with the level of description they have right now, my resume will definitely be over 2 pages.
    I’m really at a loss here, so if anyone has any advice, I would be SO grateful.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      Special collections librarian who has hired other special collections folks. A few things:

      1. I would make up a master resume with EVERYTHING and then I would weed it down for each job. You don’t need to put every job you’ve ever had on your specific resume for the job. On that resume call the section: Related Experience or Selected Experience and put in the most relevant jobs. (One of those jobs, FYI, is the archives work. Per SAA, 55% of Archivists today have MLIS degrees. It’s very common to see dual roles, so your archives experience is a real bonus.) But if a job asks for work with art and you’re like, I used to manage a gallery- that’s super relevant. If a job ask for experience with records management or intellectual property, that legal experience is going to be helpful.

      Special Collections jobs are super duper intensely competitive. In general, I’ve gotten 90 to 100 applicants for every entry level job we’ve ever hired for. It’s bonkers. So, you don’t want to leave off relevant experience.

      Also, you can bring things up in an interview that aren’t on the resume if they make sense. My first library job was ten hours a week in a public library, so I don’t keep in on my resume, but when people ask me about my most challenging time with a patron in an interview, that’s 100% the job that has that story.

      You can address the gap in you cover letter- “When I left work at the Llama Collection of Shearing Tools, I missed the work a great deal and therefore I am so excited by the opportunity to get to return after many years to XYZ and focus on ABC. In the meantime, my work in LMN has given perspective on QRS and I look forward to getting to expand on that experience at this job.” Be matter of fact about it.

      Lastly, I am begging you- please keep your resume to 2 pages. Please keep your cover letter to 1 or 1.5 if you must, but seriously 1. Also black and white only. (Color often prints badly in black and white, and everyone I know will print the resume and then if you use color on something, it’s hard to read.) When you have to go through 90 something cover letters and resumes, making your cover letter easy to read, your resume well-formatted, becomes critical. I will miss important information, not out of malice, but because there’s 90 of these things to read.

      All right, I think that’s way more than you probably wanted, but I hope it is helpful. After over a decade in special collections I can say I think I have the best job in the world and I wish you so much luck in finding a good fit.

      1. Fear Biter*

        Thanks AnotherLibrarian, this is super helpful. I’m doing most of these things already, so knowing I’m on the right track is good. I definitely refine my resume every time I apply to highlight the most relevant experience. My main concern has been whether to go so far back as to loop in that special collections job – I don’t think library work is the MOST prone to age discrimination, but I am very gun-shy about that. I hadn’t considered talking about it in the cover letter or in an interview instead of on the resume. That’s a very helpful perspective.

        1. AnotherLibrarian*

          When reviewing a candidate, the committee only has the paper documents. The only point of the paper documents is to get the person into the in-person interview. So, don’t leave anything out of the resume or cover letter, that you think the committee might find actionable or need to know about your candidacy to give you a little nudge over other candidates. However, I think a sentence in the cover letter, if it was too long ago for you to really feel like you can include it with bullet points in a resume, would be totally appropriate.

      2. Another academic librarian*

        I need to disagree with the advice to keep your resume to 2 to 3 pages. I actually almost lost the opportunity to interview for my present position because the the job posting asked for a resume NOT a CV. I sent in the 3 pager. Turns out if you are applying to an R1, EVERYONE knows they wanted a CV. When the first search failed, an insider encouraged me to reapply with a CV. My CV was 14 pages including almost every speaking engagement and publication. I would have both available for submission.

        1. Fear Biter*

          Thanks, I’ll make note of this. I’ve assumed if it said CV then I should include everything, but not every job I’m applying for is an academic one. It’s good to know I should assume for an academic job a CV might be what they want even if they don’t say so.

    2. Anxious Bee*

      While I am not a librarian, just related to a few, I really think that the field has changed so much in 20 years that this special collections job is not the main selling point of your career, but I don’t think its particularly harmful to include it either. If you really feel you must include it, having the info gov job roles in-between with name title and date seems perfectly reasonable to me. I think this old job is perfect fodder for a cover letter, along with your museum studies and art gallery position. But really your current job and degree sound like the true selling points of your resume/career.

    3. Bunny Watson*

      I’ve often seen just a heading Relevant Experience and that leaves you free to include it while ignoring the intervening roles as you wish. If you did interesting relevant work at the Special Collections gig, I would keep in on there as all library experience will carry more weight than others. Another Librarian gives some good advice as well, although in my area of librarianship (which is not in special collections or archives) I would not bat an eye at a resume that is over two pages. Heck, I wouldn’t bat an eye at a ten pager! Good luck on your job search.

      1. Anon Academic Librarian*

        For me, this is a CV vs Resume thing. If I’m looking at a resume, than I want like 1 to 3 pages, max. If it’s a CV, then it can be much longer. However, from what I’ve heard when serving on hiring committees, long CVs of Resumes get a lot of criticism.

    4. ModernHypatia*

      I have mine set so that the first page is all the library-related experience, then I have a “Additional experience” section that’s 1/3 of a page that’s a lot briefer (basically job title and employer details, dates, and 1-2 moderate length sentences that gives an idea what I was doing.

      It includes one significant volunteer position that involved complex email work (and that fairly reliably has gotten me interested questions on my resume) even though it wasn’t directly in my field, and it puts the other career stuff in context.

      As someone who’s hired in an unusual library (not quite special collections, but niche subject), a cover letter including the relevant experience and addressing how it’s a fit with the current job tends to be a huge help. (Honestly, we also have gotten a lot of applications: anyone with a cover letter that makes it clear they read our ad and understand what we’ve said about the job tends to shoot to the top of the list.) A “Early in my career, I X, and now I’ve had the chance to get my MLIS, I would really love to do more X+Y.” would hit a lot of those points fast, and then let you add any specifics that might be relevant.

  42. sam_i_am*

    How long after a promotion should I wait to look for a new job? I keep waffling about whether I want to look or stay where I am. I think at this point, I need to see what’s out there, but I got a pretty big promotion (in title if not in salary) less than 6 months ago. I don’t know if leaving after a change in title would read as “job hopping”?

    Also, does anyone have advice about putting up with unprofessional colleagues? I have one colleague (a manager!) who’s constantly doing things I would find unprofessional in an entry-level position, let alone in a leadership position. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that they’re unlikely to change, and our boss doesn’t seem to want to address it, so I’m going for “acceptance” here.

    1. Gondorff*

      I personally wouldn’t read leaving after a change in title as job hopping were I a hiring manager. However, I would probably have more questions than usual about why you’re looking for a new job, especially if you’re looking to move into a lateral role with substantially similar responsibilities. I think any amount of time under a year in that kind of move would pop some red flags for me in terms of if I think you actually gained enough experience in that role, or if we’d still be training you up on some aspects (this is obviously very job/field dependent).

      1. sam_i_am*

        Thanks! I’d definitely be looking for something that’s lateral (or even slightly down — my job title is inflated imo, and I think I’d still get a salary bump in a lower title job if I leave academia). I’ll give it a bit more time before looking, I think, especially because I want to see if my boss follows through on some promised changes!

        1. Gondorff*

          If you’re leaving academia, I would worry less about it, depending on what field you’re planning on going into instead, in large part because to any field that is academia-adjacent, I feel like “I wanted out” is a good enough reason in and of its own right that no one would even question it!

    2. Quirky leader*

      To me people in leadership positions are the ones most likely to continually engage in unprofessional behavior. I have learned to except this a quirk generally speaking. If there is something that I think will reflect extremely poorly on the company with outsiders I might occasionally try to manage the situation if it makes sense. That typically means knowing someone else in leadership to mention it to in a casual manner. For example I had a boss in his 60s who insisted on attending a Young Professional Event. I brought this up to someone who knew my boss was quirky and could help explain why that was not appropriate… the first time they registered. After that it literally became a department joke. I also speak up if it become toxic or hostile – calling female applicants chicks for example. But you need to be willing to spend capital. At some point stopped carrying what my boss thought of me because they were clearly out of touch.

    3. Anon Academic Librarian*

      I like using a trick Alison has about pretending the person is someone in a sitcom and just trying to imagine I’m observing them through that lens. So, I learn to just sit back and enjoy the wackiness. It actually does help.

  43. Anonymous Today*

    I have to go back to teaching in under 2 weeks. I am filled with dread. There is nothing officially wrong with my job, my chair is great (I teach at a college), I generally like my students, but I hate my new office space for a variety of reasons and I don’t trust our dean, and I just really, really, really don’t want to go back to it.

    I may be able to step back to fewer hours in the future, because of the success of my unrelated side business, but for right now, I have to go back, fulltime. (It also doesn’t make sense to look for a different fulltime job, for reasons I’m not including because I’m afraid they’d make me less anonymous.)

    Any advice on changing my perspective or attitude about it? I don’t want to spend the next 2 weeks filled with low key dread and then be cranky all autumn, I really don’t.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      What are the parts of the job you like? Seeing returning students in the hallway, meeting new students, the really good brownies in the faculty dining room on Wednesdays? Can you just concentrate on those – write them down and put them on the bathroom mirror if you need to.

      1. Anonymous Today*

        I’m definitely in a cranky headspace, because my first thought is “nothing! I like nothing!” And I know that isn’t literally true.

        I like certain labs I run. I like chatting with a few of my coworkers. I like getting to know my students. I do have an idea for a new, somewhat goofy project I want to have my students try that I think could be entertaining.

        I think what’s at the heart of this is that I feel deeply unappreciated by our dean and the college as a whole (it’s not that I, specifically, am unappreciated, to be clear, just faculty/teaching staff in general) and I really don’t like the direction this semi-new dean is taking things, and it makes me resentful. I have been teaching fulltime there for over a decade and barely make above 50k, and if I feel otherwise supported, I can live with that. But I just feel like each year brings more bureaucratic bs designed to grind out any creativity or freedom…

        okay yeah that is not the list of things I like that it was supposed to be….

    2. Anonymous Today*

      So, I just came back to my post after reading Letter 1 in the Friday Good News…

      My side business, started a few years ago, had a loss of 9k two years ago, a loss of 1k last year, and then this year things exploded and my side business is going to end up bringing in more money than my university salary. Like, significantly more.

      I think it’s possible that I should go into this year secretly thinking it might be my last year. I will just keep this in my head, and if the thought makes me sad, no one is making me quit. Honestly, I suspect I’d miss it too much, and imagining leaving might make me appreciate the good parts of my job anew. But if it is liberating to picture that, then maybe I need to start assessing if I can actually leave.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Congratulations on your side business and I think this is a great attitude to have going into this year!

      2. Jeannette*

        You’d be surprised what having an ace in your back pocket can do for your morale! When I was in a job I barely tolerated, I came into an unexpected inheritance. I sat on that money knowing that it was my ticket to quitting whenever I wanted, which turned out to be a few years down the road, in the end.

  44. Daisy*

    I have a direct report who has a habit of messaging to say that he isn’t well/ has a personal situation going on without giving any details of what he would like me to do with that information. For example, earlier this week, he was due to be in the office for a meeting, and messaged me very early in the morning to say that he hadn’t slept due to an allergic reaction, with no request re: working from home or taking a sick day. As a result, I responded to say that I was sorry to hear that, and to ask how he wanted to handle the day/ meeting- and he responded again with a bit more detail about the health issue- which I did not ask for and did not want- again with no information about what he wanted for the day. In the end, I suggested he take the day as a sick day, as it sounded like he needed some time to recover, and told him to WFH for the rest of the week once he was better.

    I have two questions stemming from this!
    1. I do not need information about my reports’ health, except in a very small number of circumstances! How can I get him to stop giving me personal health details?

    2. How should I ask him to come to me with his proposed plan of action when he is unwell/ needs to adjust his schedule when he has personal circumstances affecting work? I don’t think I should be suggesting when he takes sick days/ when he should WFH- we’re all adults and I think he should be more than capable of saying “I need a sick day” or “I need to work from home”. Thoughts?

    This is a junior level position, but this individual has been in the workplace for a number of years, and he should have a sense of professional norms by now. Advice gratefully received!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Do you have regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings with him? If so, I think that is the best time to raise it. I would say something along the lines of:

      “If you ever need to take a sick day or WFH because you’re well enough to work but not well enough to come into the office, you just need to message me ‘taking a sick day today’ or ‘not feeling well, will be working from home today.’ I trust your judgement. I don’t need (or want) to know any health details, and if I do need more information, I will ask for it.”

      You can also bring up the “no sleep because of allergies” conversation as an example.

      1. Daisy*

        We do have regular one to one meetings, to you’re right that that’s a good time to bring it up. It’s certainly not an issue that would warrant an extra separate conversation! Thanks v much.

    2. HonorBox*

      I think you could just tell him that when he has a personal or health issue, you don’t need details about the what and why. You need him to present only what his request and plan are. Tell him you’d prefer not to assume and the prescribe what he needs but would rather hear from him what he needs, be that a sick day or WFH.

      1. HonorBox*

        I’d add that if you do it in person, casually, it should come across well. Especially if you present it from a place of concern and kindness.

      2. Daisy*

        This is literally perfect- thank you. I wasn’t sure if just being that straightforward was okay in this situation, but great to have back up that it would be!

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          It’s totally fine. He’s probably feeling guilty or like he needs to persuade you. Tell him straight up that you trust him and just need to know the outcome.

    3. ina*

      The next time it happens:

      “Hi Joe:

      I’m so sorry you’re not feeling well! Please feel free to use your sick leave or WFH — just let me know which option you need, so I can expect to approve the sick day if that’s what you end up opting to use.

      As an FYI, going forward, you don’t need to include any details on your personal health in these emails. I trust that you’re using the sick leave and WFH policy responsibly, so you only need to include which option you’re taking and any daily coverage that is needed.

      Best wishes and rest up!
      Daisy”

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      My professional experience has been that this is how some people haggle. Some people like to keep a huge bank of PTO “just in case” or want you to suggest the accommodation, or think they shouldn’t have to use a full day of PTO because they did two hours of PTO last month. Throw it back at him but with an air of “this isn’t a big dela but,” and only push back when/if they are unreasonable.

    5. Overeducated*

      Just say it as directly as you said it in #2. It’s not offensive. It’s guidance for someone new to your/the workplace.

    6. Random Academic Cog*

      Just had to deal with this myself. New employee, but her previous employers were toxic about using sick leave and didn’t permit WFH (all of which were FULLY explained after I had one of the suggested discussions). So while she’s been employed previously, the standard of being a grown woman in a professional environment whom I trust to know whether she should WFH or use sick leave is completely new to her. She’s doing much better now.

  45. Chief Llama Herder*

    Low stakes question. My husband is applying for an open position in my organization, although on a different team. We will occasionally work on projects together (me in a technical advisor role only), which we have done at a previous organization. My organization has another husband and wife situation, so this isn’t against rules and we would never supervise the other. At what point should we disclose the relationship, assuming he is chosen to interview?

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I would do so at the end of his first interview, but I play my cards face-up and that may be more up-front and open than strictly required.

    2. 867-5309*

      Before the first interview; when he applies notify your manager, the hiring manager or HR. No point in them being excited about him as a candidate or wasting anyone’s time if it is a hard no.

      As a frequently hiring manager, I would be miffed if someone did not disclose that a spouse or close relative was interviewing.

  46. HonorBox*

    This is a question that wasn’t answered in the speed round the other day, but I’m curious to get opinions from others. I have a variety of food concerns. I can’t eat a number of things, including some fairly regularly-used spices. I’m always very hesitant to eat food – especially buffets – at conferences because I don’t want to feel crummy. I tend to load up on salad if possible, or will just grab a couple of dinner rolls. Or sometimes I’ll just pass on food and grab something on my own later. No big deal in my mind. But where I get anxious is when people react to me not eating. I feel weird having to explain that I don’t want a trip to tummy ache city because of allergies. I’ve had people even call servers over and request food on my behalf, which makes cringe just thinking about it. Is there a way to not make this a big deal for others, because it certainly isn’t a big deal to me. My Big Deal is the anxiety over the reaction of others.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Little white lies are perfectly fine.
      “I had a big breakfast/lunch”
      “Saving up calories for when I get home for dinner”
      “I’m never very hungry at lunch”

    2. Educator*

      I have food restrictions too, and I usually say, in a breezy tone, something like “Oh, I am obsessed with this salad! Sometimes conference food is tricky when you have allergies like mine, but I lucked out this time. Have you tried this dressing?” or “Oh, I snuck out for a midmorning snack, so I am not hungry yet. But I wanted to sit here so that I could ask you about XYZ.” Make it clear that you are happy and your needs are met, then change the subject.

    3. ferrina*

      “I have some really weird allergies. Trust me, what I’m doing is easiest- if I try to explain them all, I’ll monopolize the whole lunch hour and we’ll never get to talk about [topic of meeting/other thing you want to talk about].”

      Said in an upbeat way, this should be enough for reasonable people. If they try to take it further, interrupt them:
      “Stop. I know you’re trying to help, but I’ve been doing this my whole life and this is the way that works best for me. I don’t feel left out, I’m eating fine, and I’ve already discussed my arrangement with [meeting coordinator]. I don’t want to discuss this further- tell me about [work project or any other topic].”

      This isn’t rude- it’s rude for adults to tell other adults how to handle their dietary restrictions. Reasonable adults will make sure that you are comfortable with the set up and let you go on your merry way.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      I have celiac, which is different in that there are usually a few people who have heard of it and won’t push back if I say “I can’t eat XYZ because I have celiac,” but I know what you mean that other people reacting to me not eating food is worse than me not eating food.

      The best approach is to have a plan for what you will say when people question you or try to get you to eat. The main points to hit are:
      – you are not eating on purpose
      – you are fine with this situation/don’t want to talk about it
      – redirect the conversation

      So that can look like “I’m allergic to all the food here, so I’ll just grab something to eat later. What do you think about the Llama Presentation?” and (if they ask what you’re allergic to) “so many things, I don’t want to bore you with the details. Back to the Llama Presentation, I thought it was interesting that they mentioned …”

      Or it can look like “oh, I’m good with these dinner rolls, I’m not looking to eat anything else tonight. Looks like there’s great weather this coming weekend, do you have any good plans?”

    5. KittyGhost*

      I tend to be jokey with mine, so my usual response is “Oh, I’m a vampire, so most of this doesn’t work for me. But what about [insert other relevant topic here].” While the vampire thing is a joke, I’m low FODMAP (garlic intolerance) so it conveys the truth but in a jokey way that makes it clear that I don’t want to derail the conversation by going in depth on it. You certainly don’t have to use the vampire thing, but the key is immediately changing the topic.

      For what its worth, I find that most people go to food as a small talk conversation because its in front of them and seems easy. They’re just not thinking about how loaded of a topic it can be for so many people. I’ve never had anyone care that I changed the topic- they were just looking for a way to open the conversation.

      1. HonorBox*

        Great! And now I’m looking into low FODMAP because garlic was the spice I was referring to. Thank you.

    6. I should really pick a name*

      “I have some food restrictions, but I’d rather not get into it.”
      If they’re pushy, just keep deflecting. The less info they have, the less unwanted action they can take.

      At the end of the day, you can’t control their reactions, and if they make a big deal about it, try to view it as their problem, not yours.

    7. C.*

      I have a lot of food restrictions, too, and I know what you mean. It’s hard, because I know people around me are just trying to make me feel comfortable/included. If it’s a colleague or group I haven’t been around yet, I’ll usually say something like, “I had a big breakfast this morning,” “my stomach is a little sour, so I’m taking it easy for right now,” or “oh, I’m allergic to everything! Don’t worry about me.”

      I’ve been in the office long enough now, though, for most people to know I’m vegetarian (vegan inclined), so as far as I can tell, it doesn’t really raise any eyebrows anymore.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        If you’re not always seeing the same people are every conference, just pretend you had recent dental work. I just had legit dental work done and had to avoid certain kinds of foods for a while after like sharp/crunchy, chewy/sticky or spicy items. It’s vague enough and people haven’t pressured me at all.

  47. Megan*

    Anyone have any advice on applications/cover letters for your first senior role? I’m applying for a role at a small arts org (~£1m operating budget) that is a senior leadership role effectively combining Artistic Directing & Fundraising.

    I have fundraising experience in a mid-level role at a medium arts org (~£6m operating budget) and artistic directing/leadership from a very teeny arts org (mainly volunteer-run, project-by-project basis, but serving 1000s of community members) that shares almost the exact mission as small arts org.

    Any advice on how to frame my application so I can basically say, I’ve got the financial management and fundraising side down pat, and even though my experience of the other half is from a smaller org than you, I can combine my skills to be suitable?

    I’m hoping to move from a mid-level managing role at a medium nonprofit arts org (roughly £6m operating budget) to a senior leadership role at a small arts org (roughly £1m operating budget). I also have multiple years of experience doing arts producing and running community engagement programmes. Small arts org role is basically a combo Fundraiser/Director role, and

    1. Megan*

      Whoops, ignore last paragraph, that was me writing and re-writing my question to make it make sense and forgot to bin the old text! D’oh.

    2. MsM*

      I wouldn’t focus on the other org’s size (or if you do, focus on the community reach and not the staff part). Just describe the stuff you did that seems relevant to the experience they’re looking for, and let them decide if they’re sufficiently impressed. If they’re hoping someone with big-name org experience is going to express interest, there’s only so much you can do anyway.

  48. HannahS*

    Related to today’s question about burnout:
    Can people share what their managers have done that effectively addressed burnout?

    In my field, it’s been mostly related to increasing flexibility and reducing workload and has required heavy advocacy from employees (it’s obviously not management’s first choice.)

    1. ferrina*

      Let me genuinely unplug on a vacation. I can’t tell you how many managers I’ve had that thought it was fine if I just worked “a little” on my vacation or “checking email doesn’t really count”.

      My good managers demand that I unplug, they review my projects and who is my back-up, and they clear up priorities with me (“this can wait a week, this needs to be done”). They aren’t afraid of safeguarding my PTO- they refuse to let anyone contact me. They take down my personal number in case emergencies come up, but unless things are actively burning down, they don’t use it. I think I’ve gotten one text from a good manager who needed to find a document that was buried in an obscure place- knowing her, she probably spent at least 30 minutes looking before she texted me.

    2. Manager*

      As a manager, I try think in terms of preventing burnout in the first place, I try to make a point of priority-setting, because if everything is a priority, the workload is too overwhelming. Also, tasks that I know are painful (eg. meetings/emails with difficult people) I try to lead those comms and/or help the team overprepare for those meetings so that those interactions are less painful. I’ve let my team members skip meetings that they don’t need to attend. There are a lot of things I can’t realistically change (eg. I can’t give additional PTO or reduce workload), but I figure I can do my part to try to prevent my team from burning out in the first place.

    3. Turingtested*

      Telling me in cheerful but very clear terms I need to leave at 2 on Friday and making sure I did so.

    4. ina*

      Flextime and lots of support helped a lot. Being able to sleep in, work from home, be less productive in general, leave early when I was getting overwhelmed. Also a ‘mountain day’ — it’s probably not feasible in most places but it’s like a personal day that’s unrecorded (we did get an institutional personal holiday). Essentially our boss would say, if there’s nothing pressing on the docket (like a meeting with external colleagues), “just let me know you’re not logging in today and go into the mountains. I am going to assume you have no access to email or phone.”

    5. C.*

      My employer hasn’t done this, but they comment on burnout every so often in somewhat of a passing way. I think what would go the further with me is if it were tied to a regular, consistent conversation with action items—e.g., Jane has been underwater for 3 months since Mary went on maternity leave, how can we come together as a team to support Jane? And how can we support Mary and make sure she’s positioned in a good spot for when she returns?

      We’re at a point now when acknowledging burnout’s existence is a step in the right direction, yes, but much more is needed. Anne Helen Peterson has a lot to say about this, precisely around the idea that burnout is not the employee’s fault—nor is the onus on them to find the way out of it. Employers must actively and consciously build guardrails for their workforce so that everyone is protected—e.g., Jane is going on vacation next week? Jane is not allowed to answer email during that time, and everyone on her team needs to respect those rules or they will be penalized.

    6. allathian*

      My burnout was related to overwork, so I took a total of two months off on sick leave and comp time after completing a big project that had me working much longer hours than I normally do. I work about 37 hours a week, which probably barely qualifies as FT work in the US, and having to work 50+ hour weeks for around three months was too much for me.

      My then-manager basically ordered me to take the additional leave after our occupational health physician gave me a month’s sick leave that could’ve been extended if necessary, and told me that she’d outsource some of our work and do what she could to extend the deadlines on other work so that my coworker wouldn’t be facing burnout as well.

  49. CalculatorGirl*

    Is my employer too positive? I started a new job this month after 6 months of facing redundancy in a different one. The boss is very positive about me so far, that I’ve achieved more than he expected and that I don’t have to achieve everything overnight, but I’m afraid that this is phony, will turn negative before long. Is it just me being pessimistic? I’m worried that I’ve presented myself as a positive person and I can’t keep it up and once they see that, things will turn sour.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This sounds like you imported the sense-of-doom you were living under for the last half-year into the new job. Take your boss at his word, unless you actually see a pattern of back-stabbing, etc.

      Also, is there any way to compare your performance to that of your coworkers who’ve been there for a while? That may give you some tangible numbers.

    2. ferrina*

      Hard to tell. I’ve had bosses that were genuinely delighted and I accomplished more than they expected; I’ve had bosses that used false positivity to cover up genuine concerns they had.

      Here’s a few things to consider:
      -Do you know what the expectations are? Are you hitting them? How do you feel about your performance?
      -What do you know about this boss in general? How have you seen them address concerns? (Do they address concerns?) Are they conflict avoidant or people-pleasers in general, or are they genuine and hold people to reasonable standards?
      -Do you have a past that could be influencing your perspective? For example, have you had a boss in the past who denied everything was wrong right up until the moment they fired you? (I had that boss- it’s paranoia inducing). Is your new boss similar to that old boss, or is your brain superimposing that old boss on the new one?

      I wouldn’t worry about the fear that you “can’t keep this up”. I have onboarded many, many people- usually issues will start showing themselves in the first few months. High performers often find their rhythm and discovering new ways to make easier for themselves (then take on additional projects, depending on their role).

  50. RayRay and the Beast*

    Hi all!
    So I am moving on to a new job and have two days to go at Old Job. On the last day there’s an exit interview with my direct supervisor and Big Boss. I am leaving for many reasons, many neutral-sounding, but it I am honest, tension between me and Supervisor tipped the scales towards leaving. I probably wouldn’t have moved on this year if things had recovered between us.

    How do I decide whether and what to say?
    Supervisor is much beloved and our dynamic was very strange – essentially she seems convinced I was constantly slacking off (not the case) and did a lot of passive-aggressive little things that my other coworkers never speak of (so I think, limited to me) and all my friends confirm are low-key unhinged (suggesting I don’t use our dishwasher for my lunchbox, a lot of micromanagey nonsense of the petty variety). Do I just… diplomatically keep silent about this part of it?

    1. MsM*

      I don’t think it’s going to prove productive if Supervisor will be in the room. Just focus on the neutral stuff. (Unless she brings up the tension or your perceived slacking for some reason, in which case you can say something like you feel like there may at times have been a disconnect in communicating achievements and expectations, or a general personality mismatch you’re sorry you never found a way to bridge, but you hope you’ll be able to stay on good terms should your paths cross in future.)

    2. Educator*

      I am only honest in exit interviews if:
      1) The company has demonstrated their willingness to listen to and take action on feedback.
      and
      2) The feedback I am giving will help other people or the organization long term, and is not specific to me or an isolated event. (Because I am leaving and the event is over, so nothing actionable there.)

      I’ve had bad fit bosses, and it is awful, but I don’t think there is anything to be gained by discussing it now. You are out, and this does not appear to be a broader issue. Stay neutral.

  51. What's Like Got to do With It*

    Less of a question and more a hope for commiseration. I had to give some negative feedback to an intern earlier this week, and while I won’t get into the details, I feel like it went as well as it could have. I kept things direct and with an aim of helping him improve, both as he finishes his internship with us and as he moves into our field of work as a professional. I asked if he had any questions and he didn’t.

    However, I found out later that day that he’s told multiple people that I obviously just don’t like him because I “criticized every little thing” he did. While it’s easy to dismiss this as a one off, this is not the first time I’ve heard this, and it’s always from a younger man (I’m a woman in my 30s).

    It’s so frustrating to me to take the time to try to give feedback only to have it be dismissed as “not liking” someone, and doubly so that it’s always by younger or more inexperienced men. I don’t think I should have to couch professional feedback in reassurance that it’s not personal or that I don’t dislike someone just for them to listen to me, but if anyone has any suggestions, I’m open to it.

    1. RagingADHD*

      My only suggestion would be to stop expecting maturity from immature people. “Teacher doesn’t like me” has been the way children abdicate responsibility for negative feedback from time immemorial, and some people take a long time to grow out of it (a few never do).

      If your observation / feedback for an intern includes any notes that could be improved by self-awareness, better self-assessment, thinking /planning ahead, people & communication skills, diligence & error control, or other areas that are tied to general maturity and professionalism, then you can expect they may react immaturely to the feedback.

      1. What's Like Got to do With It*

        Objectively, I know you’re right – I just wish that knowing that made it less frustrating to deal with! Thanks!

    2. ferrina*

      Do the usual steps- reflect, practice with an impartial person who will tell you if you actually are too harsh, make sure you are giving prompt feedback so the overall performance doesn’t come as a surprise, and make sure you give positive feedback as readily as negative feedback.

      But in the end, you can do everything right and still have people complain. Some folks will always find ways to shoot the messenger. They don’t like the message but can’t refute it, so they turn it personal and blame the messenger. Alison had a great post once about a rejected candidate being salty about her rejection message. At one point Alison writes something like “I guess other rejection letters include light petting, because mine is pretty nice.”
      I’ll see if I can find the post and link it below- just one great example of haters gonna hate (feedback)

      1. What's Like Got to do With It*

        Thank you for the link! It never hurts to be reminded that some people are just Like That :)

    3. HonorBox*

      I don’t want to sound critical at all…I believe that you’re presenting the feedback neutrally and professionally… but given that other young men have responded in a similar way, maybe it would be helpful to have someone else sit in next time just to observe and offer you feedback. If there’s no feedback, you’ve got someone else in your corner who could hopefully shut this kind of response down. It could honestly be, too, that these young men will get a harsh dose of reality going forward if they react the same way when given feedback. I’d also say that someone’s reaction to feedback, even if (when warranted) harshly given, is a reflection of that person and not a reflection of the person giving the feedback.

      1. What's Like Got to do With It*

        I appreciate that. I do want to clarify that the reaction itself is not common by any means, and giving feedback especially to our interns is a routine part of my job, just that when I do hear that reaction (oh, she just doesn’t like me), it’s always from younger or more inexperienced men. I have had folks sit in with me before and haven’t gotten any negative feedback, though it can’t hurt to do it again. Thanks!

        1. Samwise*

          Haha, I’ve worked with people this age my entire career in higher ed. You need to make like Elsa and let it go— babies gonna cry, you can’t take it personally.

          I had a student some years ago who was never at fault, apparently. It was always some teacher who didn’t like him or had it in for him. I finally said, you know, professors really don’t think as much about their students as students think they do. I assure you, your teacher doesn’t have the time, energy, or interest to be “out to get you.” My, he was stunned right into silence. And no doubt told his friends that I was mean and out to get him. Lol. I don’t care if he doesn’t like me or thinks I’m a meanie. Babies gonna cry…

          1. Bart*

            I agree! Funny misread on my part: I thought you ended with Barbies gonna cry—and I immediately thought, no, Kens gonna cry!

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’ve had some success with interns needing it spelled out extremely plainly.
      George, you need to use fully spelled out words in your emails.
      (Disney hates me. Disney doesn’t know how to text blah blah)

      vs George, you’re time here is making connections with people who might be involved in hiring you someday, you want to make sure they think of you as professional and mature, thus you need to stop sending emails like “bro here’s the file u wanted gtg G”
      or George, we’re an extremely diverse company with lots of international branches. Acronyms mean different things and may not be recognizable to our partners. Stop using text speak in work emails.

      1. Rick Tq*

        I like both alternate examples! The first correction is basically “do it this way because I say so”, which can lead to the reaction the correction is because you don’t like them.

        The second and third make it clear the change is in their best interest.

      2. What's Like Got to do With It*

        Unfortunately, the first of the two alternate examples is almost verbatim to what I said, though tailored to the individual circumstances, but thank you nonetheless! Good to have reassurance that I wasn’t wildly off base with how I stated the issue.

    5. Not A Manager*

      No one with any sense is going to take a young intern seriously who says that “criticized every little thing” equals “just didn’t like him.” If I heard that, I’d conclude that he was legit terrible at everything.

      Hopefully someone who isn’t you will tell him frankly that whining is not a good look.

  52. Lizabeth*

    How can I help my immediate boss who is burning out big time? Background: Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (the managers) have rose colored glasses on and are cheap as all get out. Hence we are working at 150% and really need to hire more people but they don’t want to do it. They grudgingly let us bill the extra hours needed. I keep telling my boss to stop doing all the extra work but they argue that it’s not worth it on the backend because they will be cleaning up the mess and nothing will change. I will be putting in my notice January 1 so something will change at that point but in the meanwhile is there anything I can do? The Dee’s boss isn’t open to hearing anything at all. I’m debating writing a pretty comprehensive resignation letter but not sure whether it’s worth it or not. I’m retiring so blowing up that bridge isn’t an issue.

    1. Rick Tq*

      It looks like the only answer is for you to delay retiring, but that breaks (to me) a cardinal rule: Don’t Care More About Your Company Than The Managers Do.

      Leave on your schedule, but don’t bother with the letter.

      1. 867-5309*

        A build on this cardinal rule – An employer and employee have a, at the core, transactional relationship. You deliver work, they pay you in financial and related compensation. More and less than that will vary by job but it boils down to that. Do what is right for you because they will – and clearly are – doing what is right for them. It does not have to mean it is intentional or they are bad people overall. It means do right by yourself.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        YUP. You can’t control what your manager decides to do with their time or energy. Get out and don’t look back.

  53. Aggretsuko*

    I should apply for multiple jobs. I have found a few I don’t actually want, but I can’t totally rule out either. I’m just so sick of shitty looking jobs I don’t want, but that I should apply for, which means I have to write a cover letter arguing that I should get the job, which I don’t actually want or deserve. But my job makes me want to die. But I hate these jobs too and basically they are only on the list to apply because they *might* not be total service jobs (I note in my industry, they tend to be surprise service jobs once you make it to the interview).

    And I hate AI with a passion, but the only reason I’d consider using it would be to write more boring, dreary, lying cover letters saying I should be hired for this and I know I should not be. (Yes, I know AAM has cover letter advice. That doesn’t super help when you have zero interest in the job and nothing personal/exciting to share.)

    Ughhhhhhhhhh. How do I make myself drag through these?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I don’t want to sound like Pollyanna, but… a semi-sucky job is better than a 100% sucky job.

      And I think you ought to figure out where the “don’t deserve” part of your question comes from, too. That sounds like you are being really down on yourself.

    2. Colette*

      Why can’t you apply for jobs you actually want?

      And why do you think you don’t deserve these jobs? (That seems like a sign of a bigger issue – how is your mental health in general?)

    3. WellRed*

      Geez. Don’t apply to jobs you don’t want to. And maybe take a day off from the current hated job.

    4. ina*

      What is your purpose in seeking new employment? Advancement? New things to do? What is it about your current job you hate? The people or the work itself? If it’s the people, you should try anything that might be more positive, just for the sake of your mental health.

      However, frankly, I’m worried you just hate the industry you’re in, so none will be what you want. Have you looked in an adjacent field?

    5. JustaTech*

      Oh man, that sucks, and I’ve been there on the not being able to scrounge up the energy to write a cover letter.

      So, a couple of ideas: first, can you write the letter in the third person, just to get started? Like, don’t write about I, Aggretsuko – write about someone else named Aggretsuko, or maybe a good friend you like and you’re excited to talk about how cool they are.

      Second, I agree that AI is evil, but if you’re really, really stuck in a rut, maybe give it a single go, just to get some words on the screen. Maybe it will be so bad it inspires you to write something better out of pure spite! Maybe it will be so bad it’s funny! Maybe it will actually be useful in structure or maybe there will be one good phrase you can borrow.

      If nothing else, promise yourself a treat when you’re done writing, like a drink or a dessert or an hour of mindless games/video, because you will have earned it! (I’m occasionally horrified by the things I can motivate myself to do with the promise of cheap candy.)

      Good luck!

    6. Gone*

      Apply for the jobs you are excited about. Write creative cover letters. Find out what you are excited by (Snickers bar, a movie?) and use it as a reward system each time you submit an application.

      Good luck.

  54. WFH lady*

    Wish me luck – I work fully remotely but am traveling to the main office next week for meetings and a retreat, and will tell my supervisor and colleagues when in person that I’m expecting my second child. Fingers crossed this won’t affect the promotion that I’m fairly certain is in the works. Also that we can find someone to step in and backstop me for the length of maternity leave I’m hoping for (4-5 months).

    1. Ann*

      Good luck! Also hoping that my company will find a new hire to step in for me for my upcoming leave (though in my case it’s not looking good).

    2. MacGillicuddy*

      Why do you feel you have to tell them in person? Do you look pregnant? Unless you do, I’d wait on the telling. Especially with the possible promotion. Your company doesn’t need 5-6 months to figure out how to handle your leave.

  55. Pivot Time*

    What’s the best way to make a mid-career pivot into a new field without losing too much money? I’m a 40+ aged librarian and have been at my current employer for 14 years, 22 years in the library field in total. I’m currently looking to move to the legal field. I’m in a Masters of Legal Studies program, which means I’m learning about law but I won’t be a lawyer and I don’t want to be. I’m not done with the program till early 2025, but I want to start job searching now because I moved further away from work (necessary for mental health) and the commute is now much harder. I’m concerned because I moved from a city with a higher rate of pay and living expenses to a less expensive state with fewer jobs. I really can’t afford to take a huge pay cut, but I also don’t know exactly what I want to do with this degree, or what I’ll be qualified for.
    I own the latest What Color is Your Parachute book, am trying to hit up my school’s career counseling and am searching for a job coach to help, but what else can I do to help myself with this transition?

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      My first thought is Paralegal, but I don’t know what the job requirements might be. I’ve got several friends who do that work and they all seem to love it.

    2. BellyButton*

      When you chose Masters of Legal Studies, what about it was of interest to you? The jobs that come to mind; policy analyst, compliance, corporate legal office- immigration/visa applications, legal assistant…

    3. Ginger Baker*

      Paralegal, research librarian in BigLaw (if you want to mix and match), compliance analyst, if there’s any laws/regulations related to an area of interest to you (privacy/data security, health, etc.) there’s roles there as well. I suggest going to the various BigLaw websites (use the AmLaw list and just scroll through the top 100) and checking all open roles they have (in any area) which should give you some ideas!

    4. Another Lawyer*

      I’d also check law schools (and possibly colleges). I know my law school still has a full legal library and hires librarians.

    5. Honor Harrington*

      Is there a professional association for people in the legal profession that you could get involved in? Or networking meetings with the state bar association? This is a great time to start building an unofficial network to use to figure out what jobs will be horrible when you are interviewing.

    6. Temperance*

      Would you be interested in working as a law librarian? Law firms hire MLS to do informational work.

  56. Ableism Everywhere*

    Well…my wife was just fired. It’s the second time in eighteen months. She has a chronic illness that requires a flexible schedule – something promised in both places offering “unlimited PTO,” but in practice offering nothing. Both accused her of poor performance without documentation.

    Both firings occurred after her requests for reasonable accommodations. The first firing went through a legal settlement. This one probably Can too. But it’s exhausting. Disappointing. Embarrassing. And probably going to negatively affect her reputation, because so many people say disability is an excuse, and she just is faking it and doesn’t want to work.

    Life is tough.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I am so sorry. Too many disgusting idiots around and with time on their hands to gossip.

      For future jobs:
      While negotiating an offer, does she discuss flexibility with the hiring manager and get their agreement, or only with HR?

      Is she very specific about what flexibility she needs, as employers may have a completely different idea of flexibility?
      e.g. does she say she’ll need to use 2-3 days PTO per month at short notice. Too often “unlimited PTO” is a fantasy/lie.
      Or that she has 1-2 bad days per week when she needs to be able to wfh or start up to 4 hours late; an employer may instead be thinking that flexibility is allowing her daily start to flex within 8:30 – 9:30am.
      Or if she needs flexibility to make up the time / complete the task within a week and the employer expects the 8 hours to be made up the same day.

      1. Ableism Everywhere*

        These are really good practices to suggest. She does actually lay out exactly what she needs during the hiring negotiations: being able to schedule around appointments, flexibility for emergencies, being able to work over weekends instead of the five-day week. So that documentation is all in place. But both times she’s gotten fired at the first emergency absence. It’s particularly gross because these emergencies are life-threatening hospitalization events.

        Probably should have guessed this would end poorly when the company fired their HR six months ago.

        The unlimited PTO was definitely a lie. Others in the company have commented on this. But this company is all big on diversity and equity…so much of a lie.

    2. Ama*

      I am so sorry. I always thought my employer would be more compassionate, but I currently manage a woman with a chronically ill child and I have been horrified at how awful the big bosses have been to her situation. (What they don’t realize is both of us will probably be quitting in the next year because of how they’ve treated her, which will suck for them because we are the only two people who know how to run a particular crucial to operations system.)

  57. Now What?*

    Are recruiters helpful in finding a job? How do you find one? How do you know which recruiter is right for you? I have been looking for a job for months without a single callback. I customize my cover letter and resume each time. I have already updated my resume with all of the great advice here and it has successfully landed me two jobs during the pandemic but the funding for my current one will end soon.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It’s always been recruiters who have found me. Do you have a good presence on LinkedIn and a couple of job boards, like Indeed?

      1. Now What?*

        I have an updated resume on Indeed, but my LinkedIn profile could be improved and I rarely post anything.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Are you talking about external recruiters? This may vary by job type or industry, but in mine, I’ve only ever had recruiters contact ME – usually via LinkedIn, or occasionally email if I’ve signed up through an agency. You can work with as many as you’d like until you find a job. They’re right for you if they submit you for jobs you’re actually interested in, give you helpful feedback and make regular contact.

      That said, I’ve had recruiters get me interviews before, but never actually landed a job through one.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Recruiters generally work for companies, not candidates. Their job is to find the right person for a hard to fit position.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      The only one I’ve had real success with was a very specialized one that hired for X type of jobs.
      They basically found people with my job title for contract positions as opposed to recruiting for several types of jobs.

  58. Almost Academic*

    Has anyone worked with an executive coach, or similar? I’m mid-level in my career (for tech folks, staff/lead equivalent) and want to grow my skills further (and move up the ladder to more directly managerial and director levels), and just feel like I have less polish than some of my colleagues at my same level. I come from an academia background and switched into corporate, so some of the skills that I would reasonably be expected to have picked up along the way (e.g., executive communications; change management; influencing and buy-in) feel underdeveloped in me. I think some outside perspective would be helpful, and my organization doesn’t provide a lot of training. So I’m curious to hear other’s perspectives – have you ever worked with a coach? What was your experience like? What helped you to grow skills more generally, in move from mid- to senior to director-level positions?

    1. 867-5309*

      A good coach is VERY helpful, as are strong leadership programs from universities like Yale, Harvard, Brown, etc. I did a Women in Leadership from the Yale School of Management and it was awesome.

      Regarding change management, check out the PROSCI certification.

      In my experience, start with the courses (this assumes work is paying for them as the ones I mentioned are very expensive) and then a coach. For me, the most helpful time for a coach is when I need to talk specific issues and opportunities around leadership with the team I am managing and my current role versus more general leadership skill growth.

      1. 867-5309*

        If work is not paying for them, Harvard offers some great free courses and there are lots of basically free ones on Corsea from top universities.

  59. Speculoos*

    Is there any way to train your team members to pay attention to detail? I’m a relatively new line manager (just over a year) and I try my best to provide my team with clear and easy to understand guidance and expectations, but there are clear issues with them missing things or “forgetting” to do things that I feel are pretty basic things.

    For example, when I approve their leave (holiday) requests, I add a comment to the approval asking them to add the leave to their calendar, to add it to the team leave chart and also to ensure their out of office is on before their leave commences. Most of the time they manage 2/3 of these things and I have to message them to say, “Hey, you haven’t updated the team leave chart”, or my manager will ask me why Tabitha has left the office for two weeks without turning on her automatic replies, when I did ask her to. Argh! There are other similar examples.

    It’s difficult to find a balance as I don’t want to provide instructions which are patronisingly basic, but I also don’t want to feel like I’m nagging them constantly to rectify things they have missed or “forgotten” about. I feel like I’m always mopping up behind them because they don’t seem to care about or like their job (the apathy is clear despite my ongoing attempts to improve this).

    1. Angstrom*

      For the leave approval, can you craft a standard email that includes a checklist?

      A few reasons that people might “miss” things:
      -Not part of the normal workflow
      -The difficulty of the task seems disproportionate to the percieved importance
      -The importance or necessity is not understood

      I used to work on safety compliance. I had the best outcomes when i made it as easy as possible to do the right thing.

    2. RagingADHD*

      If they need more support and follow up to comply with the procedures, there is no reason to consider that patronizing or naggy.

      If you use a checklist as Angstrom suggests, you could ask them to confirm to you that they have completed it.

    3. ferrina*

      Checklists are extremely helpful. Bonus points if you can delegate a team member to write the checklist, then you do the final review. Have the team member present the new checklist to the team- after all, it’s their work. And sometimes it can feel more awkward to ignore “Jenny’s checklist” rather than “manager’s checklist”.
      Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) documents can be useful for longer, more difficult tasks.

      It sounds like this is a cultural issue. Don’t focus on the apathy- one of the best people I managed didn’t care about her job. She just did what was asked and did it well. Focus on “This is what the job is. My job is to make sure that this stuff gets done. I can chase you down if I need to, but I’d rather not. So how can we make sure that this gets done?”

      Encourage them to get involved in the solution. Genuinely listen to their ideas and concerns. There’s nothing more powerful than hearing a boss saying “I like this idea! Let’s try it out.” Circle back later to check on new ideas- how is it working for the team? Remember, when it’s a good idea, it belongs to the individual; when there’s an issue, you own it or it has a nebulous owner (so Mario’s idea is good; this idea isn’t quite working out, but I’m glad we tried it). Listen also for where burdens occur- is there something that only happens once a year that is tricky to remember? Do they need to block a 30-minute window on their last day before PTO to get the last things done (instead of working on projects)?

      If someone is starting to toe the line of incompetence or insubordination, talk to your manager and start taking performance management steps. Sometimes there’s a ringleader who’s seeing how lazy they can get away with- keep an eye on group dynamics. If you can win over the ringleader or remove them, that can help reset dynamics. Don’t tell them that they are the ringleader- that will solidify their power. Just keep it in mind- one trick of classroom management is to give the problem child responsibility. I’ve seen folks rise to their new role, and if they abandon it, it can help push them into PIP territory.

      Good luck!

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      I don’t know you system, but is it possible they aren’t seeing the comments on the approvals? If this is an issue across multiple people than you need to look to see if it is a human problem or a systems problem. Usually if something is impacting more than one person, it is a systems problem.

    5. ecnaseener*

      I feel like if you’re having to say it often enough that it feels like nagging, that means it’s time to name the pattern and ask what’s going on.

    6. TX_Trucker*

      You can not train people to pay attention to details. But you can train people to follow a procedure that is simple to understand and detailed to follow. Stop thinking of your basic instructions as “patronizing,” and think of them as the process that you want followed. Your staff may or may not care about their job. But that is different from agreeing on what is a “basic thing.”

    7. MaryLoo*

      Providing instructions that are basic and easy to follow are NOT patronizing. In fact, it sounds like clear simple instructions are exactly what you need.

      Do people see the comments you put on their PTO requests? Can you send a brief email with a bullet list that says I approved your time off, please do the following before you leave.

      If you have most people complying with the checklist and a few who are not, address those on an individual basis, such as a reminder email or in-person mention “Joe, I need you to set up your out-of-office reply before you go on vacation” said in a matter-of-fact tone.

      If you have a checklist posted somewhere, you can mention it at a staff meeting, “just a reminder to do these things, they are posted at xyz”

      And is there a chance that some people don’t know how to set up out-of-office replies? That checklist item can contain a hint such as the path to click .

    8. SkunkPunter*

      Can you modify the process to have them do some of these tasks *before* you approve the time off? For example, update their calendar and team chart to say “Fergus out all day – PENDING APPROVAL”? They would need to remove the pending approval part after you approve it, but that might be easier to remember when it’s in all caps staring them down every time they look at the calendar.

    9. Speculoos*

      Thank you all for your responses. What I’m hearing is that it’s not unreasonable to clearly set my expectations and speak up when they’re not doing what they need to. I’m managing someone older so it’s possible I’m unnecessarily handling them with kid gloves!

      I have written exhaustive processes for all aspects of my/their role, but the issue is they don’t refer to them and then they make mistakes. We have had some success recently with peer reviewing which is working well, but I guess I just need to keep speaking up and highlighting where they are falling short in the hopes the mistakes reduce over time.

  60. Tenure Track*

    My final tenure packet is due today. On paper, I have a solid case, and I know I’m fortunate to even be in a TT job. Still, internal politics, academia drama, high stakes, etc. I have a lot of feelings that will either last for the next two years until the uni decides to keep me, or until someone doesn’t think my research was adequate and I have to find a new career. Anyway, I think it’ll be a multiple margarita night.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I don’t know how it works at your Uni, but at mine, there’s a lot of “checks” along the way to make sure you aren’t too shocked by the results. So, if there’s a serious issue, your department committee should let you know before it goes higher. But yeah, it’s intense. Best of luck on it.

    2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Good luck! I remember how nerve-wracking submitting my own tenure packet was (especially as the previous year, 3 of the 4 people going up for tenure were denied – 1 appealed and got tenure, the other two left the university). Celebrate the work you’ve accomplished with the best margarita!

    3. chocolate muffins*

      Good luck! Both with the outcome and with maintaining your sanity throughout the process. Many people are rooting for you, me included.

  61. CEO Vision*

    I had an interview that went really well overall. The position is a senior technical position, not directly tied to sales, and the company’s products are sold to other businesses vs. direct to consumer. This position would report to the CEO.

    One thing that came up quite a bit in conversations with the CEO is that the CEO sees this position as highly strategic for the org. CEO thinks investment in this technical position and their team can ultimate be used to help create the org’s “brand” and ultimately drive sales. This level of investment and priority would lead to amazing professional opportunities for me if I get (they are likely to extend an offer) and accept the role.

    The problem? As much as I want this vision to work, I genuinely don’t think the CEO’s vision for this role/position is going to increase sales. I just don’t think the business’s potential customers will see the investment in this department as being meaningful enough to drive purchase decisions. Like, I’d want it to work, both because I believe in investment in this area and because it would benefit me professionally in this role. I just think the plan is flawed and won’t drive sales.

    Would you take the j0b with considerable professional benefits if you thought the CEO’s vision for it is ultimately flawed?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Ooh, this is tough. Because if sales don’t increase in 12-18 months, the CEO may just blame you and axe you.

      I suppose I might try this if (a) I went into it with that 12-18 month deadline and had my ducks in a row for moving on at that point, and (b) I was mentally comfortable with that level of uncertainty/pressure. Really think hard about (b)…

    2. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      This is very tough. You won’t even have the benefit of a buffer-boss between you and the CEO to set reasonable expectations. Executives can latch onto buzzwords and expect things to happen without common sense. What ABET said is absolutely true. If you can use the role to enhance your career, maybe just see it as that and have a clear exit strategy in case you see the writing on the wall.

    3. Generic Name*

      I mean, I guess it depends on how much a CEO’s vision matters to you in the abstract sense, AND if this would really be a feather in your cap. I guess I have a hard time seeing how it will be a positive professionally to work on something that has low chance of success. Will you get blamed if the CEO’s vision fails (as you predicted)? Will you be harmed professionally if your role is not successful, through no fault of your own?

      I’m moving on from my current company (that I’ve been with for over a decade) because I disagree with how the company is managed, and I don’t think I’m being set up for success. I can’t imagine starting a new job already feeling this way.

  62. Anxious Bee*

    How do you deal with burn out when you know improvement is coming but it’s slow to get here?
    I work as a nurse at a newly unionized hospital- we’ve been at the barganing table for almost a year and we are so close to getting the contract we need to safely staff our hospital. But close still means maybe a month of bargaining and then the long work of actually implementing what we’ve worked for. I’m not officially union leadership, I’m not on the board, but I am the go to resource for my unit and I bet I’ll be the only nominee to make me our official rep once we actually get the contract. Several of our organizers have credited me with the improved involvement of my unit, and when we had a two day strike we only had ONE member of my unit cross the picket line. So I know I am making an actual difference but I am so. Tired. I am constantly angry with administration chosing profits over patients and I still have my actual nursing job to do on top of the union responsibilities, plus I’m still a new nurse as my one year anniversary as a nurse was this May. My partners are worried about me, and have not so subtly pushed me to return to therapy- which I am doing. Leaving is not an option- not when we’re so close and this is a justice/patient safety issue. How can I keep myself healthy?

    1. saskia*

      That is awesome!!!!! Great job and congrats on all your hard work finally starting to pay off.

      Now that you’re about to get the contract and reach your year 1 anniversary, celebrate yourself. I’m sure you have hella PTO if you’ve been working nonstop. Time to use some of it. When you get back, can you try to reframe your thinking? Before, your anger was fuel to persist through poor conditions, start the union, bargain, get the contract, etc. You no longer need that ‘seed’ anger — you’ve invested it, and you’re seeing dividends. Realize that now, your job is to nurture your roots (nursing) and see that the dividends are properly utilized (union responsibilities, carrying out changes).

  63. Sparkle Llama*

    Does anyone have a wellness program at work that lets you earn vacation days by doing tasks?

    We are in our second year and I don’t love either of the ways we have structured it. The first year we had a variety of challenges, education sessions, and activities that we could choose from that were created by the wellness committee. Many were questionable for accessibility/inclusivity reasons but you had a wide variety to choose from. That was a lot of work for the committee. This year we are using a program from our health insurance company and it is much more structured and a lot more work. I feel like it is unachievable for a lot of people and people aren’t trying to do it since it is so much work. You have to do 10 activities (out of 14 options) and many require doing something every day for several weeks. I am probably getting more out of it but I think we will likely go for 25% of people getting the vacation day to less than 10%.

    So wondering if anyone has ideas on how else we could do this that is inclusive and approachable but also not too much work for the committee.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Old job had 3 extra days a year you could get off if you met insurance requirements which were like one month of tracking your step counts (could use your own device, phone, smart watch, fitbit etc, self reported numbers into webpage), get annual flu shot, and schedule a dental checkup. Pretty low bar. Encouraged flu shots helps the work as a whole, less people out sick , protects people who cant get flu shot. Dental one I guess they found regular checkups less expensive than occasional root canals idk. Everything was self reported so you could lie if you wanted to I suppose.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Diff job, at a hospital, flu shots were a fall cookout, you got a ton of free food, then a shot then went home early. Had like 99% flu vaccinated at that place, the lunch was legit.

  64. Jonaessa*

    Does anyone have experience with this? We had a freelancer, Mike, who we hired on as a full-time employee a couple of months ago. He is receiving regular paychecks. Today, he sent us an invoice for work he completed. The invoice is three times what his salary is! He is an employee. He has not submitted any invoices in months. I’m so confused as to why he would do so now. Of course, I know I will have to ask him, but how do I go about doing that? “Mike, I’m confused as to why you sent us an invoice. As you know, you are now a full-time employee which means all work completed is compensated with your salary. Could you please clarify?” Is that too vague? Am I missing something?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m going to assume here that the invoice was for work started and completed after his hire date… that is WEIRD. I think the way your questions are worded is just fine.

      Please send an update, because that’s a whole ton of gumption/chutzpah.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I don’t think that’s too vague.

      But there is something else that you ought to consider. Did Mike just attempt to commit fraud? Did he think that he could sneak this past you and have accounts payable just cut a check? Because this really makes me doubt Mike’s integrity and honesty.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I’m wondering if it’s unpaid overtime and Mike is exempt; it may be more to make a point than fraud. Foolish instead of Dishonest. Not good either way.

      2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Oh, and if I were you I’d speak to AP or contracts and verify that there was a contract termination notice sent out to Mike, effective his hiring date, and that all outstanding invoices were taken care of at that time.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I like the wording you have in your post! I think it’s clear but if it’s too vague, Mike will ask questions.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I think something like that is fine – though you don’t even need to add “could you clarify” because there’s nothing to clarify — he doesn’t get to invoice you anymore.

      1. Jonaessa*

        Well, I actually have an update! The invoices were for current dates, but the projects billed were older than that. I emailed him to ask if there were any invoices prior to his hire date because as an employee, any work completed was paid out with his salary. He responded that those were the only ones and he had been waiting on official stamps of approval. (Red tape, amirite?) While I find it questionable, my boss is satisfied with the answer and the paper trail so that nothing else is submitted for invoicing.

        It was just such an oddity that I had to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Thanks, commentariat!

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Oh good. That’s the best-case answer.

          Of course this could have been made absolutely clear on the invoice. And if your company does freelance-to-FT on a regular basis, they ought to have better procedures for this to close out that freelance contracts, insist that any invoices (or 2nd notices) delivered after hire date have to feature a disclaimer sentence, etc.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Oh, glad there was a reasonable explanation and he wasn’t just being weird and entitled :)

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      No, I think that’s pretty good language. I’d check, as Alton Brown’s Evil Twin suggested, with legal to make sure his contract terminated, but yeah… this is odd.

  65. DisneyChannelThis*

    Work department scored low on work life balance on survey.
    Leadership super pissed.
    Leadership continuing to be dumb about addressing this. Gave us water bottles so we can use at gym, see we’re promoting work life balance.
    Latest effort is a bulletin board we’re encouraged to share a photo of a hobby. Look our staff have hobbies we have work life balance.

    Meanwhile, people on vacation with a 6 hrs time diff are still logging into and participating in 2 hr zoom meetings…

    1. MacGillicuddy*

      Is anyone bold enough to tell Leadership that having people attend meetings while on vacation is the opposite of work-life-balance? Or tell Leadership. that if someone is attending a meeting they are not on vacation, regardless of whether it’s a zoom meeting?

    2. Generic Name*

      Ah, fun times. My (soon to be former) company likes to brag about work-life balance, but upper management also makes comments about people who work “Flat Fortys”.

  66. Environmental Compliance*

    Q: Has anyone been promoted into a management role and needed to recalibrate the department’s workload & reroute work back to the departments that *should* be doing the work? How well did it go?

    Background: This is the third time I’ve been asked about a management role of a department. I’m currently technical/program support. I’m comfortable with that level of decision making, general knowledge, etc. However, I disagree with the way the department is currently ran. Staff expectations/responsibilities are not clear, and this department has taken on a *lot* of stuff that is very clearly not the department’s role (think something like IT doing payroll). There are employee issues as well. Basically, I would need to totally revamp departmental structure + processes. I am very capable of this from a program standpoint. My concern is the level of annoyance that is likely going to happen from other departments finally being told no, that is a task your dept needs to handle. Current dept manager is very conflict avoidant, and I am not.

    1. saskia*

      Sounds like you’ll be a relief to these overworked people! One strategy is to just be straight with the other departments. Let them know that stopping this kind of task creep is exactly why you were promoted to the role, reroute them to your department’s job description, CC in the correct people/departments who should be doing the task, reset their expectations, thank ’em, and let it fly. Try to be available for the inevitable questions that come from the other departments and prepare to do a lot of smoothing-over and process reorientation.

    2. ferrina*

      Change management is about more than processes- it’s also about politics.

      Two important things to keep in mind:
      1. Get your boss (or would-be boss) on board. If they aren’t on board, the change won’t stick and you’ll be banging your head against a brick wall. Make sure that the changes you are making align with their expectations and priorities.

      2. Get allies on other teams. Some teams you won’t win over, but you get more flies with honey etc. My tactic is to first start a relationship, then make the changes. I build mutual respect by asking their opinion on something that they actually can provide input on. This almost immediately buys loyalty- “ferrina came to me for advice! She respects my wisdom!” I’m also not above flattery, commiserating about tough workloads, then saying “unfortunately, we won’t be able to do X anymore. With all the priorities we’re juggling, we can’t do this. And honestly, I bet your team with their expertise is going to be able to do it faster (and/or better) than we could.” A few times I’ve drowned them in competence (I made forms and slides and workload equations- what do you have?), pulled rank or connections with higher-ups, and once won through over-jargoning them (for one particularly odious VP who thought he was smarter than everyone because he used a lot of jargon- I’m also fluent in corporate slang and I might have said my piece with a Valley Girl inflection, just to mess with him). I also make sure I have a baseline understanding of their team- if they had to stop doing X because their workload was ridiculously high, that’s a very different scenario from “I stopped doing X because I could bully you into doing it.”
      It’s a ton of emotional energy and emotional management, but it works. Sometimes management is about handling the politics so you can clear the way for your team to do the real work (two of my last three roles have been doing just that).

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Luckily, my manager would stay the same and they were in agreement. The other teams already know me quite well and know my goal has always been to make everyone’s lives easier, even if it sucks right now to make changes. I do have a sneaking suspicion that the task creep happened because of some volunteering… and I’ve also had people from that department come to me to vent about Person A being told to do one thing, then finding out that Person B was told (afterwards) that Person A was doing something else.

        There are a couple department staff I am a little worried about – though one is about to be fired regardless due to huge performance issues – as they have so far been kind of allowed to bludgeon their way through things with consequences being smoothed over. Accountability is going to be a shock. Not being able to be pushed over is going to be a shock. I’m also a woman and would be one of very few in a management role, let alone technical. That’s probably coloring this a bit too.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I guess the TL,DR is partially that I’m making an educated guess that I’m going to be “that beech” to some people, but now that I think about it, I’m probably already that beech to those people because I put my foot down on accountability & compliance already in the area I control.

        2. ferrina*

          Sounds like you’re in great shape! It sounds like the change needs to happen, and you’re the right person to lead it. Yeah, there’s always someone who is going to have change and you’ll be That Beech because you hold to the processes (how dare you not make exceptions for me and not do my work for me). Good luck!

    3. Llama Llama*

      Good luck. I am in accounting and we are the end of the line for the problems that occur up the line. We have been screaming from the rooftops that these things shouldn’t be ours to discover, shouldn’t be the ones actively fixing and shouldn’t be the ones taking the flak from the client. Despite that, and management way above me’s support, I will be doing lots of work every week related.

  67. Mal Voyage*

    I’ve been avoiding it, but I think today I have to have the “I cannot do this particular part of my job” conversation with my boss. I was hoping the therapist I’ve been talking to for the last year would help me get past the panic attacks related to the task, but he’s been pretty unhelpful in that regard.

    The actual task is some timesheets that are the easiest (but not the only) way to document some stuff for a tax credit, but I’ve had so many bad experiences with timesheets in general that I just can’t. It’s not even a “timesheets are too hard to create” issue, it’s a “I don’t trust anyone who wants to see my timesheets” issue, but no one seems to understand that.

    I’ve been avoiding the conversation, because I know from experience if my boss pushes too hard for the timesheets, it’s going to make it hard for me to continue to like working for him, and I currently like working for him.

    Wish me luck, I guess.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’m so sorry this is causing you so much anxiety, but as a manager, I don’t know how I would respond to this, because “I don’t trust anyone who wants to see my timesheets” is not actually actionable. If I’m your boss and I need someone else to look at your timesheet, then I need someone else to look at your timesheet. Timesheets aren’t confidential. They are financial records of the organization. I’d be empathetic, but I’d be really reluctant to refuse to let someone do something that’s inherent to their job. If you are going to propose this to your boss, then I would recommend coming up with an alternative solution for him. Saying yes to X rather than Y is a lot easier than saying no to Y without a plan going forward. Also, if your therapist isn’t helping you address the primary thing you’re going for, maybe time to find a new therapist.

      1. Mal Voyage*

        “I don’t trust anyone who wants to see my timesheets” isn’t the best way to explain the problem (part of my problem is that I’m struggling to articulate the problem).

        Timesheets aren’t inherent to this job (which is part of why I sought it out), but it turns out there’s a tax credit that can be used for part of my salary if they can prove what percentage of the salary went to specific types of work. The legislation itself says it’s up to the employer to prove their claims however they see fit, but suggests either having employees whose entire job is this type of task (in which case the job description can be enough supporting documentation), or timesheets for employees with a more mixed workload.

        I’m hoping to work with my boss to find some other kind of documentation that would work, but I’m not really sure what the options are myself (everyone I’ve talked to is just “meh, timesheets are easy. Worst case make something up”, but that’s not working for me.)

        I’ve gone through several therapists (and several jobs) trying to figure this out, but it’s just been getting worse with time.

        1. Ashley*

          Or can you only do the tax credit day a specific day or days of the week so it is already broken out how much time you spend on it?
          You mention submitting them is part of the issue. Do you ever track things on a spreadsheet? Can you just track it on a shared spreadsheet for others to access when needed? It wouldn’t be officially submitting it then. This is pretty specific to avoiding a submitting issue …

          1. Mal Voyage*

            The 5%-45% of my job that’s not the tax credit work is all emergency/ad-hoc/support stuff that’s time sensitive and needs to be done in real time.

            A spreadsheet like that is exactly how I’m supposed to be doing things right now. My anxiety is, unfortunately, not so easy to rules-lawyer my way around.

            I think it’s like, in jobs where no one cares how I spend my time, and just looks at the results, I’m consistently a top performer. A go-to person for solving the hard problems. Indispensable and an asset to every project. In jobs where people are looking at how I spend my time, despite having the same output, I’m a disappointment who can’t manage his time properly. A waste of potential who could be pulling off little miracles at 4 times the rate if he didn’t spend so much time “slacking” and completed his tasks faster. Not that I’m not doing enough, but that I could clearly be doing more.

      2. Mal Voyage*

        Addendum to the above comment (that’s still in moderation, I think): It’s not that I don’t want my boss to show my timesheet to other people. I was trying to head off advice on easier ways to log my time, as it’s not creating the timesheets that’s the problem, it’s submitting them.

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          “it’s not creating the timesheets that’s the problem, it’s submitting them”

          Can you show them to your boss and ask if he sees a problem with them? That might reassure you.

          If part of funding your job requires submitting these timesheets externally, then he won’t have the freedom to do otherwise. Even if you think there might be other ways of specifying your times, the people he submits timesheets to may refuse to consider any alternative for just your case.

          1. Mal Voyage*

            My boss is the primary person I do not want to show my timesheets to, as no matter how good the boss has been, how supportive, how happy with my work, how much they’ve proven I can trust them… the timesheets has consistently the turning point in my relationships.

            At this point, there is nothing any boss can say to convince me that they won’t use my timesheets to berate and/or punish me. I’ve had bosses sing their praises of me and my work, and then use “but your timesheets…” to segue into how I’m a terrible employee.

            1. connie*

              Can you say why the timesheets have been a consistent problem? I’m not sure we can give good advice other than seek therapy to get some ideas for how to deal with this.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Good luck!

      You can cross (or burn!) each bridge when you come to it. Do what the right/needed thing is in this moment. Then based on the new set of branches/sequels, do the next right thing. You got this.

      You don’t have to predict the future. And worst case, if you discover the boss isn’t willing to budge and that makes it so you don’t like working for them, you can explore your options then – which will be different than they are now. And you have a 100% track record of getting through hard days, as evidence by your post (since you’re here to write it).

      1. Mal Voyage*

        Thanks for the moral support. I’m running low on bridges and hoping to get off this one before I burn it, but you’re right, I’m not completely out of bridges yet.

        1. mreasy*

          I used to work for the parent company of a number of smaller companies, and did work for the smaller companies at times. Every month, accounting would send a form around for us to log how much (% in this case) of our time was spent for each of the subsidiaries. Everyone pretty much just “remembered” as best they could at the end of the month. I think you’re looking at this as someone is going to be micro-managing how you spend your time, when it seems more like it’s a hoop to jump through for your organization to get a tax credit to pay for your salary – which they’re unlikely to give up on just because you don’t like timesheets. How specific does the info need to be? Can you characterize this in another way to yourself? Can you try to compartmentalize the task of recording your work vis a vis this specific grant-worthy type of work – like do it one day a week or month etc? I don’t think this is a fully rational response to being asked for timesheets in this context (humans aren’t rational!) so I could see your boss pushing back unless you had an equally easy to submit alternative ready to suggest.

          1. Mal Voyage*

            I’ve done a lot of those things, and they worked okay until they didn’t.

            The reporting requirements are essentially “If we ever get audited, we need a paper trial to verify our claim that 60% of resource B (that’s me!) was used for R&D purposes.”

            I know I’m being very not-rational about all this, but the last 5 employers used up all my rationality for this stuff.

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      I want to be on your side but not trusting an employer for wanting a time sheet is a weird battle to pick? This will sound sarcastic, but do you also push back on W2s? Why are time sheets a no-no for you? Unless you don’t actually mean timesheet, but a list of what you do by 15min increments?

      1. Mal Voyage*

        I’m not in the states, so I don’t have anything like a W2. I’m the local equivalent of “salaried exempt”. The amount of hours I put in have zero bearing on how much I get paid or anything else. Legally I’m not even entitled to lunch, breaks, time between shifts, etc (in practice, I’m expected to work a 40 hour week, with lunch and breaks, and I don’t do much overtime). My pay is my pay is my pay.

        It started at jobs that did lists of what I’ve done in 15 minute increments, with all 40 hours to be accounted for and logged to billable projects. And then it became having to grovel to the company owners because despite working 60 hours one week, I had an unexcused 15 minute block between 8:30am and 5:00pm one day.

        And then it was the jobs that claimed to be much nicer about it, and gave a lot more leeway, but then would pour over the timesheets with a fine-tooth come when the whole team was complaining about being overworked, and find every instance where 45 minutes had been logged to a 30 minute task, and use that as proof that we’re all just bad at time management.

        I’ve had so many places try to be accommodating, or start off with reasonable requirements, that quickly twisted to mostly being a way to punish anyone who couldn’t maintain consistent high-productivity, or who set such high standards no one could meet them, and then used that to justify terrible workloads.

        And then I’ve had so many therapists try to solve the problem by also helping me learn to manage my time better… and now the whole concept of timesheets is just a sore spot for me.

        I’ve tried to meet halfway, and find workarounds so many times, and always get burned, and I’m just… done.

        1. Generalist*

          I understand the time tracking requirement you are describing. I think I have a potential way to handle it, but it’s always a bummer to post a suggestion here and then realize the person had stopped checking for comments. Can you let me know if you’re still checking? I know it’s kind of late in the day for this thread.

          1. Mal Voyage*

            I usually check in a couple times over the weekend/on Monday when I’ve got a thread going, so I’ll see it.

            That said, trying to give me suggestions for doing the timesheets is like trying to convince a newly adopted senior rescue dog that’s been abandoned 4 times that you’re not going to abandon them. I used to be amazing at timesheets.

            If you’ve got a suggestion that doesn’t result in a timesheet, however, I’d be excited to hear it, as something I could propose to my boss.

            1. Generalist*

              I do have a suggestion that avoids timesheets, so I’ll post it this weekend. And very glad to see your update below that you managed to talk to your boss about it! Hang in there, even if the 100% possibility doesn’t come through, there will be other options!

              Am exhausted from 1.5 hours in traffic but I will come back and share my thought later or tomorrow.

        2. Hazel*

          Could you ask your boss to assign you time or times to the subsidy-eligible task? Like emails that say ‘task should be x hours this week’? If that triggers you, use a particular subject line and create an email rule that sends it direct to a folder. Produce them if documentation is ever requested.

        3. Busy Middle Manager*

          You can’t go to current job and start with “It started at jobs…” or “And then it was the jobs…”

          What is the “it” in these cases? The way past jobs did things your current boss. Too much information and baggage for your boss to sift through to figure out what you want. Timesheets aren’t really something you can claim a bunch of emotional baggage with, and bring up therapy with regards to.

          Also had one job with the time tracking and they did the opposite: “no one is productive all day!”

          But that was one job. I wouldn’t complain to the next job about it

        4. Sparkle Llama*

          It sounds like therapy hasn’t been helping or isn’t helping enough. If you haven’t tried, I would recommend seeing if you can find a peer support group. I have found that can be helpful when you feel like a therapist isn’t getting it so if you can talk to other people with anxiety and panic disorders it may help.

          Hope you are able to find a solution that works for you.

      2. Anecdata*

        FWIW, I am in a similar position – salaried exempt + work however/whenever you need to get goals met; but also fill out a timesheet to attribute time to certain projects for tax deductions; and I am pretty sure my boss has never actually looked at my time sheets. I think they just go to a big spreadsheet that tells accounting how much tax deduction to claim; and then kept for a couple years in case we get audited

        Since you mentioned it’s the submitting that’s the problem, not the actual filling it out — would it work for you to have a shared doc (like in Google drive) that your boss has access to, but you’re not formally filling out?

        Also – I’m not sure specifically what your former managers have objected to in your past timesheets but for me, if I spend 30 minutes taking a walk, changing up my view to see if a solution to the XYZ project comes to me…I record it as XYZ time. It can be a lot more flexible than “billable hours” or payment time sheets

    4. Mal Voyage*

      It took me all day to work up to it, but I did finally broach the subject with my boss…

      and he was open to working with me to find an alternative. (I left a lot of the emotional stuff from this thread out of it.)

      Right now we’re going to try justifying 100% of my time as eligible (which requires a strong argument, but no timesheets), so that’s exciting.

      1. Tabby Baltimore*

        I know this is probably technically impossible for your business to implement, but I think this approach could help with avoiding the creation of timesheets: could a portal (SharePoint, or something else?) be created for you to log onto to do this specific tax-credit-related work? If so, ideally, your logon would trigger portal timer in the background. Then, when you log off the portal, the timer stops, then auto-generates an email to you (or your supervisor) displaying how much time you spent doing work on the portal.

    5. Kw10*

      Could you suggest putting a summary of your hours in the body text of an email and sending it to your boss, instead of timesheets? E.g. “this week I spent 5 hours on X and 35 hours on Y.” Maybe that, coupled with documentation of why you need an accommodation around timesheets, would be enough to satisfy the company’s audit requirements?

  68. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

    Hi! I’m posting this question today because I’m on vacation for most of next week and am going to try not to think about work at all (I live in Chicago and will be doing a lil staycation).

    Anyway…. For those of you not familiar with my previous posts, I got a new job around a year ago. A few months in, they moved me to a totally new team without asking or barely giving a heads up. I honestly wonder how much they thought about it themselves, like if my skills matched or anything other than “well we need more people for this team so here ya go.”

    It’s been tough ever since. I’ve been making a lot of errors – we qc pretty hard. I’ve since started working with one of my coworkers within the last month and a half, and that’s made a huge difference. Still making errors, but they’re not as many or as major.

    However, I am still making them, and about a month ago, I got put on a PIP. There’s no end date for this. What should I do if, worst-case scenario, they do decide to eventually terminate me? (I’m on step 1, step 2 is a written warning, step 3 is termination.) my bosses don’t think I’ll make it past step 1, which is good.

    So how should I spin this to future employers? I know I’m not blameless here but I also didn’t ask to be moved and I don’t think I’m the right fit for this kind of work. Honestly until I pass my PIP 100%, this will always be in the back of my mind. I’ve never been in trouble like this at work and I also haven’t left a job unless I quit it myself. So I wouldn’t even know how to talk about this in interviews or cover letters or whatever.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Why did you leave previous job?
      The job role changed. Tasks that were main function when I started moved to being done by someone else, my role transitioned to doing more QC which I didn’t find as enjoyable.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, and also add on “I’m looking to get back to [original main job function], which is why I was excited to apply for this position!”

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        (you’re not!) wait i don’t have to bring this up? i could just treat it like anyone else treats a termination?

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          absolutely! Never overshare. Answer what they ask. Be excited about the job posting role.

        2. Fluffy Fish*

          Just to reiterate…no! No to PIP and no to “I was fired”

          I was hired to do x and was later moved to a team that did y which did not fit my skillset. I’m looking for a position where i can really apply skills like abcd…

      2. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

        Agreed. If pass step 1 means things will be fixed there, it doesn’t need mentioning.

        1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

          i’m hoping that it doesn’t come to this (going to steps 2 and 3), but i am also preparing for the worst case, you know?

    2. Another IVF mom*

      Explain it as a restructure where you were moved to a new team with completely different work than what you signed up for.

    3. Not A Manager*

      It sounds like you’re asking what to tell people in case you’re actually fired?

      I guess my question is, do you want to stay at this job? If not, maybe now’s a good time to put some feelers out, on your own terms and on your own timetable. “The nature of my work changed when I was shifted to a new team and I’m looking to get back into ___” seems legit to me.

      If you are asking about what if you’re terminated, I think similar wording could work. “Unfortunately, while we all hoped that [new job description] would be a good fit, it really was not. I’m so glad to be back on track for [old job description], where I really excelled at ___.” But seriously, think about what would be the best-case outcome if you pass your PIP. Will you be happy in the job and doing work you feel confident about?

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*