open thread – August 4-5, 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.

{ 890 comments… read them below }

  1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

    How do you get staff to perform at the level they should when they’ve been allowed to underperform for literal years? Are they justified in saying it’s unfair to set expectations so much higher than what they’ve been doing even if the expectations are completely reasonable and in line with other people in the same role and same job description throughout the org?

    We’ve turned over most of our leadership since 2020 and are trying to clean up messes from a long time ago. For context, this is municipal government with an HR & Legal department that are risk averse to the point of detriment. Also we haven’t had a performance management system or done performance reviews for 6+ years. Termination may be possible, but it will take a long time and our other staff need relief sooner than that. These people not doing their jobs is making everyone else’s jobs harder and using budget we could divert to hiring support for them.

    I do not know what to do and no one above or around me seems to either. I am also aware my perspective may be skewed, so any advice or perspective would be welcome.

    1. JobHopper*

      Only one suggestion (I am not a manager of any kind).
      Could you hire in temps on a “project” basis? On the basis of catching up from COVID…

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        It’s a good temporary measure and we considered it! But the funds we identified got eaten up resolving a surprise expense that came about because other staff were doing stuff for themselves that these problem staff should have been doing. :) :) :) So now we can only afford the personnel we currently have.

      2. vox experentia*

        i had to laugh at this response. it’s a perfect local govt response, you’d fit right in (i too work in local govt). the question is basically “there are a bunch of people here either not doing their work or doing it badly” and the default and most common response is “get the taxpayers to hire someone else to do it for them”…. happens all the time. the real solution would be to go thru the dept like the angel of death and take away those cush govt jobs and pensions, and watch how fast the rest of them start to earn their pay. sadly that route is almost never taken.

        1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

          Ahhh comrade!! It was so nice in shutdown when tons of those folks just retired rather than finally learn how to use a computer. There’s a lot of will to do things differently now, but BOY is it exhausting. If HR makes it impossible to terminate and the employee makes it impossible to manage them… I understand the impulse to deal with neither. But for the sake of these goofy people who want clean air and safe water and maintained roads and trash cleared etc, we must do better than those who came before us and actually fix these issues instead of kicking the can down the road.

    2. Alex*

      I think it depends on why they were underperforming. Do they have the required skills to perform adequately? They should be allowed time to develop those skills if not. For example, “we need you to be able to edit websites on your own by X date”. If this is not a skills-based deficit and more of an attitude deficit eg “No more taking 5 days to make one text edit”, I’d argue that they should be able to perform up to snuff immediately.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        In that vein, are the tools there, or are the days more trying to navigate potholes and broken stairs?

        1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

          I am 100% confident it is not a skills deficit. And there are a couple of tools that suck and are hard to use, but I’ve streamlined and simplified everywhere I can and they’ve been using the same exact tools for 6+ years so I do feel they should have figured them out by now. (My budget request to replace them was denied.)

          It’s not even an anti-technology thing! I’ve worked with that before and managed to overcome it. It just seems to be a resistance to doing stuff? There is a degree of competition and bitterness between these two people with identical jobs so I suspect there may be an element of racing to the bottom to ensure you’re never doing more than the other person.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Well, that sounds like something that should be teased out and addressed, if that’s part of what’s going on.

            1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

              Probably! They seem to behave like toddlers, demanding the exact same everything regardless of their differing tasks or needs or skills. And they don’t ever have a reason for it except the other one is getting it or not doing it or something. I have not figured out what to do with that yet either.

              I have never felt so off balance in my life as when dealing with these grown ass adults who don’t seem to realize they’re both 55+.

              1. cardigarden*

                Would rearranging/ separating their desks work? Do you have space for that? Could you try a version of “I’m not talking about so-and-so, I’m talking to you”?

                1. Mad Harry Crewe*

                  Yeah, stop letting them divert the conversation. This was really hard for me to learn when I supervised, but it’s key – don’t take the conversational bait, don’t go down the rabbit hole with them. Be boring, consistent, and keep coming back to the thing you’re actually there to talk about.

                  “Yeah but Fergus isn’t being asked to X!”
                  “We’re not here to talk about Fergus. I’m asking you to do X. Are there any roadblocks I should be aware of that would prevent you from doing X?”

                  “The tool is difficult to use, it slows me down”
                  “I understand that it’s frustrating, but team A and B are able to accomplish Y tasks in Z time with this tool, which is the same as what I’m asking you for. I have tried to get the tool updated and my budget request was turned down, so this is what we have to work with at the moment.”

                  “I hear your frustration about D, E, and F, but this conversation is about X. Do you have any concerns about accomplishing X at the level I’m asking for?”

                  “Jane was happy with my work.”
                  “Jane no longer manages this team. I do, and I have been tasked with getting our work up to the same standard as A and B teams. We need to be working at the same level, because we are staffed with the expectation that all three teams produce X per month.”

              2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

                Have you tried weaponizing that. I mean, if they are in competition, can you try and divert that to getting praise or being positive? E.g, “Well Fergus’s attitude was that this is no big deal, so I’m sure you’ll manage it Fergus can.” or “Thanks for finishing that Wakeen! Fergus, is your file almost done? It would be great if both of you were to finish today.”

                it probably won’t work, but at this point, maybe worth a try?

          2. Miette*

            Yikes–nothing like this team sticking to the tired cliche of lazy public employees :/

            Sounds like if it’s performance-based more than anything, you’ll have to set up new metrics for them, make it clear they know they will be held to them, do that lol, then be prepared to dole out PIPs for lack of progress. The only thing that sucks is the time this’ll take. If you’re lucky, they’ll all wash out when they realize you’re serious.

            1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

              Yes! That’s another frustration I’m having because we have so many people on our team who are passionate about our mission and who have exceeded our comp time limits working overtime to try and deliver quality services to the public without the support my team is meant to provide them. I don’t want our community to lose the most dedicated folks because the worst ones are making their lives hell.

              1. Cat on a Keyboard*

                If I’ve learned anything from AAM, it’s that since you have actual managerial authority, you can be really direct and blunt and lay it all out the way you have here. “It seems like you and X are determined never to do any tiny bit more work than the other. The consequence is that you’re not performing to standards, you’re causing more work for others, and you’re playing into unfortunate stereotypes about public employees. I know you’ve been allowed to play this game for the past 6 years, but it’s my responsibility to get things back on track and I’m doing things differently. If you want to keep your job, let’s talk about strategies to turn this situation around in the next 3 months…”

              2. Little Local Gov*

                Oh hi, that’s me! Maxing out my comp time every few weeks and rapidly burning out. Very best of luck in getting this resolved!

              3. Rainy*

                I work in a field where it is notoriously hard to get rid of non-performers for most of the same reasons it’s hard to do that in gov’t, and all I can say is that you have to start documenting everything. In my field it takes about 3 years of consistent effort to amass significant documentation to even put someone on a formal improvement plan. (It shouldn’t take that long, for the record–like, it’s not set in stone or anything, but in practice that’s what it takes.) Because of this, most managers simply don’t. They work around the missing stair until a re-org allows them to shuffle the person into another unit, or until the missing stair leaves on their own or retires. It’s frustrating to me that no one wants to exercise a little forward planning, but it seems to be the most common response to this stuff. I’ve seen missing stairs continue not-working for a decade for lack of a manager saying “okay, so this is going to be a weekly task for the next 3 years but at the end of it I get to kick Ron to the curb”.

            2. wncgirl*

              Thanks. I am a government employee abc nothing cushy about it. Hard working people on my team for not a lot of pay.

    3. CL*

      Acknowledge that this is a major change and that it is going to be uncomfortable but be clear with how you can support people with the change. Don’t assume that they can just make the change…you may need to train, create guides that outline expectations, and do coaching.

      1. Cypress*

        Seconding this and the comment further below from Not A Real Giraffe that this should be done incrementally. Even if the changes are reasonable (which they probably are!) it’s still going to be a big change for your staff. Even folks who could make the transition successfully may need coaching, and there may be underlying issues that are preventing higher performance that you’ll want to surface and address. I say pick a few tasks to focus on first, or incrementally increase expectations over several weeks/months, then check in regularly with your team to make sure things are going okay.

        If you haven’t yet, it might also be worth sharing the impact of this work imbalance with your team so they have context for why these changes need to be made. If they’re particularly empathetic folks, knowing that they’re creating extra work for their coworkers may give them some motivation. If you need something a bit more practical, maybe focus on outcomes if they *don’t* address this. If the new leadership knows your team is severely underperforming, it will put a major target on your backs. That may have ramifications; even if HR is hesitant now, that doesn’t mean they always will be.

        1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

          These are great points. Thanks both! I think one of them can probably be reformed and I am open to being surprised by the other one. I’m hopeful that one day they will care about the impact to the rest of the team, but frankly I don’t think they will right now. It still might be worth it to share with them, just in case I’m wrong.

          1. Double A*

            I think you can also frame the conversation with them as trying to understand where they’re coming from. Maybe they once we’re idealistic and helpful and bad management crushed that out of them. Their minimalist approach was perhaps a reasonable response to their circumstances. Maybe they’ve seen a lot of management come and go and they’re completely cynical about any changes ever lasting so why bother.

            You can be totally honest with them that maybe their response was reasonable at the time and that you actually can’t promise that change will last forever. However, right now your department is in a phase where you are going to deliver, and they can either be part of that or you’ll start the process to remove them.

            Sometimes people like this also like to be appreciated for their institutional knowledge because they’ve been around so long, so asking for their long-term perspective can help them feel valued. And you might even learn something.

            Basically, you are going to have to make doing their jobs the path of least resistance. You need to make it so annoying for them to not do their job that they will either start doing it or they will quit. This means being very hands on and documenting EVERYTHING especially if they have a union.

            And that comment about separating them sounds really smart since they seem to be feeding odd each other.

            1. GythaOgden*

              Yup, agreed. We had a change in management through the NHS two years ago and my two colleagues have really dug their heels in about things that I find make a lot of difference to my career prospects. It’s really frustrating for my colleagues — because there are issues with vague management from above, including us finding out about org chart readjustments from what was showing on Team’s — but being part of a larger facilities organisation as opposed to an adjunct department of a clinical org means that there are far clearer opportunities for advancement and a more dynamic approach to professional development for ‘the least among us’ than there were with our previous org. My colleagues are on the gentle path down towards retirement and that’s ok — they’re not bothered about their own careers. But my supervisor kept throwing obstacles in the way of opportunities my regional manager was setting up for me, and as a result she’s now no longer my supervisor. While that causes a bit of weirdness in the office, it means that I’m freer to pursue things that allow me to make the most of the 20+ years of working life I have left while they are able to coast in the jobs they have — which is what they want, and no shade on them for that!

              It culminated yesterday in a volunteer opportunity landing in my lap but not sent to my two colleagues. It’s a corporate social responsibility programme not that far from where I live and despite mobility problems I have been promised something I can do while walking with a stick. But I’m chuffed that the opportunity — I’m looking on as an excellent networking opportunity and a way of getting off my butt and actually being able to do something productive at work for a change. We’re allotted 15 hours of paid voluntary work every year and this eats up ten of them, and I need some physical stimulation and exercise to keep me from basically seizing up; I’m starting a new physiotherapy course later this month and want to get a bit fitter to go on a city break to the Caucasus this time next year where there are going to be fewer disability-friendly buildings and walkways than there were in America! (Seriously, don’t do yourself down. You were awesome in that respect.) So a bit of physical activity and (ahem) face time with the boss-people will be a good opportunity for all of us.

              The message was specifically sent to me and not to my two colleagues. I feel ‘noticed’ in a way that is pretty meaningful and exciting for my own career. I like my colleagues as people but when my supervisor started to hold me back, the working relationship was pretty much over and I’m grateful my management made changes, even in the ham-fisted way it happened.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think you have to start with the performance review stuff. And if you’ve got any way to migrate over concrete data (like from a CRM system or other job-ticketing database) into performance from the recent past, do it.

      Once you have hard data, you can then look at demotions, discipline, firing.

      But you may also be able to use it as a motivator for the people who aren’t hopelessly underperforming. It’s very common to have teams/departments where even the good employees work down to the level of the not-good employees, so as not to rock the boat. Can you reshuffle teams so that the good employees don’t feel negative peer pressure?

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        I have some HR documentation from their previous supervisor but the last data on performance we have is from like 2017. And honestly, there was a reason the only performance management system/process was eliminated.

        I do need to strike out on my own if HR won’t provide a process. I am torn between feeling like hard metrics will make it easier to show them where they are underperforming versus feeling like it will be another thing where throw a tantrum because they feel like they should get to know if the other employee is facing the same consequences for not meeting their own performance goals? I’m probably overthinking that and should just cross that bridge if I get there.

        1. ClaireW*

          If their issue is “I need to know if the other person will face consequences before I do my own work” then I think it’s fair to point out that a) other people’s performance is private and b) they need to be able to show they can do their own work no matter what that person is doing. Sounds like they need to be prevented from ‘competing’ somehow.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            This. “Sam, I’m not here to talk to you about what Chris is or is not doing. I’m here to talk to YOU about what YOU are and are not doing and what needs to change with YOUR work.”

            1. Shirley Keeldar*

              Plus, “Sam, I’m not talking about Chris’s performance to you, just as I’m not talking about your performance to Chris. I need you both focused on your own work.”

              Good luck!

          2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

            I appreciate this. It seems obvious that it’s fine to tell them this, but I swear these two have warped my sense of reality and have me questioning everything that feels normal to me.

            1. WellRed*

              No, tell them next time “stay in your own boat.” “Focus on your work, not Steve’s” I honestly feel like this childish behavior is one of the first things you need to tackle. You do not need to put up with or indulge it.

            2. Hot Flash Gordon*

              I’ve gone through this and it’s incredibly difficult. Just stick to the facts and don’t allow them to derail the conversation by pointing out others’ deficiencies (or to demand information they’re not entitled to). If what you are asking of them is reasonable and achievable, don’t let them try and turn that around on you. Ultimately, you need them to know that you’re in charge of ensuring the work gets done timely and if they’re unable to perform to that expectation, maybe this isn’t the right place for them anymore.

          3. goddessoftransitory*

            For a new twist on an old phrase, if Fergus got hit by a bus tomorrow, Jane would not be run over by the OP to keep things even–her job doesn’t rely on what Fergus can/can’t/will/won’t do.

            1. linger*

              Closer parallel:
              “Hey Jane, if Fergus got run over by a bus tomorrow, would you lie in front of the next one to achieve the same status?”
              (thinks: “… Please?”)

        2. Rainy*

          They don’t need to know how the other person is performing to know that their performance is subpar, and I would just keep redirecting those complaints to their own performance. “This isn’t about Jeremy, this is about you.” “We’re not talking about Jeremy, we’re talking about your performance.” “You don’t need to know about Jeremy, you need to focus on your own work.”

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          I agree with the advice to set the tantrums aside as irrelevant as much as possible, because the longstanding pattern has clearly been to default to them in lieu of getting any changes implemented. The “Fergus isn’t important right now; this meeting is to set goals and targets that I need you to meet. If you have concerns with the schedule or timing let’s get those cleared up, but you’re the important person here.”

          That last sentence (or a variation on it) might hit the praise button and distract them from their habitual “micro ranking” take on their jobs.

    5. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Can you create a plan that resets expectations in increments? I personally think there’s nothing wrong with saying, “hey you’ve been all allowed to underperform for 6 years and this is not sustainable and we need to work at a level consistent with the rest of the organization” and then asking them to meet those expectations — but I do think the sticker shock of meeting those expectations will be really rough after such a long time of allowing the underperformance (and, apparently, not telling them they were in fact underperforming). For people who genuinely believed they were performing at Level, it will be a huge change. For lazybones who have no interest in performing at Level, it will be a huge burden. Can you create a plan that increases expectations by X% every Y weeks so that by [Reasonable End Date], people’s expectations are where they should be? Rather than bump it all up at one go?

      1. Jaydee*

        This was my thought too. Depending on how much they’ve been allowed to underperform and for how long, it’s probably necessary to make some incremental changes rather than saying, effectively, we need you to increase your productivity by 100-200% immediately.

        Also, I think you need to approach each employee as an individual. Maybe on Team A you have 3 employees. Wakeen is a total slacker who is going to push back against any attempts to increase him from making 5 widgets a week to making 20 widgets a week like his colleagues on Team B. But maybe Fergus would be totally able to do 20 widgets a week if he’s given some time to go from 5 to 10 to 15 to 20. And maybe Jane was a recent hire who has never been held to the 20 widget standard but was already “over performing” by making 10 widgets a week. It’s important to recognize that she is currently a high performer relative to the rest of Team A and continue to treat her that way as you help her ramp up to 20 widgets a week.

        1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

          I think you’re on to something. I think both of these employees look like a Wakeen from the outside, but one of them is secretly a Fergus who simply refuses to have a different set of expectations than their peer, which is frankly extremely valid. And having thought this through while responding to comments I wonder if that is the kernel of bitterness at the core of Fergus’ entire set of issues and resolving the Wakeen situation will make the Fergus situation much more manageable.

          1. Jaydee*

            Then I think you make it clear to Team A that beginning next week the expectation is that all widget makers will make 10 widgets per week. If you have a Wakeen, he won’t do it. Maybe he still makes 5. Maybe he makes 7 and makes excuses for why he can’t make 10. If you have a Fergus, he’ll do it (because he knows the expectation is the same for both).

            Then in your 1:1s, you can individually tell Wakeen he’s not meeting expectations and tell Fergus you’re pleased that he’s increased his production to 10 widgets and you have full faith he’ll be able to get up to the full productivity level of 20 widgets a week. If there is a Team B that’s already meeting that full productivity standard, offering that as the new comparison point to Fergus might help too so he sees that the expectation is reasonable and fair.

            After a few weeks, increase the expectation to 15 widgets per week. As you go, you keep praising Fergus for making the transition well (and helping him if he raises genuine concerns or barriers he’s facing) and documenting Wakeen’s failure to meet expectations.

            After a while, you’ll have grounds to put Wakeen on a PIP or just outright fire him if he doesn’t meet the standard. And then any remaining resentment from Fergus should dissipate as he sees that Wakeen wasn’t really getting away with lower productivity.

          2. Hot Flash Gordon*

            I think if you keep reinforcing that 1) this is an expectation for everyone, and 2) Fergus needs to focus on his own performance and not Wakeen’s, you’ll find that either Fergus will get the hint and start performing to expectations or he’ll just leave. Same with Wakeen. Both are good outcomes, IMO. Also, Fergus’s resentment might stem from having leadership turn a blind eye to bad performance and expecting others to pick up the slack. If you start recognizing Fergus for improving his performance and how that impacts the team positively and managing Wakeen’s poor performance you might get results, because I can guarantee they’ll both start talking to each other.

    6. cardigarden*

      I’m on the tail end of something similar. I got a lot of pushback along the lines of “DepartedManager had no problems with [substandard performance]”, and I had to have the “I am the captain now” conversation. I’m not going to lie: it was a long and frustrating process and I had to get my supervisor and my skip level AND HR involved. The performance has improved to the point that I’m willing to deal with even if it’s not where it should be.

      It’s too bad your HR/Legal isn’t helpful to you. All I can say is document, document, document. If conversations around new performance expectations get testy, keep your cool. I had one instance where I had to address a conduct issue where the response involved sexist language directed at me. Both got documented and sent up the chain and the sexism one got more response from HR. So. I’m not saying I want that for you, but issues regarding protected class status may generate more involvement from HR/L than pure performance issues.

      Also, your org really needs to do performance reviews. (Preaching/choir, I know.)

      1. Pretty as a Princess*

        Fistbump. I have been there too.

        “Your position description and title level are clear about the level of performance that is appropriate for your role. I am the captain now and my expectation is that you are able to do XYZ because it’s an expectation of your title level.”

        I got “well I’ve been doing X for 5 years and so why is it no longer acceptable?” And the reply was “because it’s been substandard for 5 years. This feedback is your notice that substandard does not fly on this team.”

        We have helpful local HR and very unhelpful higher level HR and I got a really crappy visit from the higher level that included me saying “You let a manager be crap for years. I’m not a crap manager, so this doesn’t fly. Focus elsewhere.”

            1. Pretty as a Princess*

              Wish I had a better story. That HR guy stunk, and ultimately was departed from the organization. (I have no idea the specifics but have reason to believe it was performance related.) Our further up higher ups are very risk averse so it is extremely difficult to hold people accountable when there are significant performance problems (with PIPs or termination). Our “new” HR director is someone I have a lot of trust in as a partner, is a good advocate for employees, etc. But doesn’t have the power to overrule the mother ship.

              I have hit a point in my career & organization where I have the capital, the attention, and the wingspan to be bolder than I was 10 or 15 years ago about how I call things out. I admit that is a luxury in a lot of cases.

              Our higher level HR is useless when it comes to chronic poor performers because they are so risk averse. I’m like ‘He has 5 letters in his file warning him about X and he keeps doing it. Do you really think he will win a lawsuit?” So I have gotten extremely good about managing with receipts.

        1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

          Trying to siphon some of your done with this shit energy directly into my soul.

      2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        The most problematic one is personal friends with the HR director (and also a relative of theirs is suing us for something unrelated) so between their fear of me litigating and them litigating, I’m not sure HR will care if they do a homophobia or a sexism to me. But a girl could dream!!

        If our org isn’t going to do performance reviews, I think I have to figure out a way to do them for my team anyway. We’re gov’t so it’s not like our compensation is tied to our performance, but staying employed still technically depends on doing your job even without a formal system in place.

        1. cardigarden*

          Wow that sounds rough. My starting point was collecting baseline metrics on everyone (for management/HR). It was an especially helpful piece of evidence to show the underperformance was such that a brand new employee on their first day of the job did 3x as more on the exact same thing. It’s also just generally helpful for you to have quantifiable data.

          When introducing performance conversations and ramping up expectations, maybe consider part of your justification to be “our office and our work is taxpayer funded and we have an obligation to be good stewards of the money that’s coming out of our neighbors’ paychecks. (Something related to how your mission impacts and/or serves the community). This means I want us to …” It’s a reason beyond *I came in like a wrecking ball* and it might help with some mental buy-in.

    7. theletter*

      I’m a big fan of both meeting people where they are and using whatever data collection you can to show progress, or lack-there-of.

      Try to turn thoughts and feelings into numbers and facts whereever possible, and look for ways to automate anything you can. Scrutinize long standing processes for activities that are no longer valuable. I’ve seen coworkers latch onto reductive tasks for years longer than necessary, taking time away from productive work.

      Also, check and make sure that everyone is on the same page as to what the teams job is and what everyone does. If one group is in llama dentistry but another thinks they’re supposed to be grooming the llamas as well, that’s going to look a lot like sloppiness and incompetence coming from Team Llama Clean.

    8. The Person from the Resume*

      I think the answer is in the article annonie linked to. Acknowledge things are changing but give them a short time to start meeting reasonable performance goals. Things must turn around ASAP so don’t give them a lot of time.

      Have a serious conversation.
      – New leadership is/I’m in charge now.
      – You have been allowed to underperform up until now and explain explitictly as possible what you mean by underperforming.
      – Set clear/new performance goals and a short but reasonable timeline for people to meet them.

      Basically you put these people on a PIP (maybe not call it that yet though especially if you can’t by rules). You start off telling them you know you’ve gotten away with poor performance up to now, but new leadership is enforcing these new clear performance goals that they must meet to remain in their job.

    9. starsaphire*

      Is there any way of shuffling the team? Either with other similar departments, or within your team – just enough to split up the two who are racing to the bottom?

      I’m sure you’ve already thought of that, but brought it up just in case.

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        It’s a good idea! So good that other departments had it and our department was the last stop after one of these folks got shuffled around by other departments. (As risk averse as we are now, it was much worse in the past and no one used to get fired for anything that wasn’t stealing taxpayer funds.)

        And frankly, I need to keep the funding for their positions in my budget. It’s hard to explain without going into the complexities of municipal budgeting, but I did open myself to the possibility that it might be easier to just be shortstaffed than to deal with these two. But there are long term ramifications to the whole dept and not just my team so I don’t think it’s viable.

    10. SofiaDeo*

      The experience I had with this wasn’t great. The solution I saw may not work for you. I was in a US for profit hospital, and the C-Suite decided to outsource the entire department, it devolved so much. The slackers got literally zero notice when the new company came in; new management spent 2 weeks assessing people before keeping or firing. It was pretty brutal, since by then the best performers had already left/transferred out (large system so transferring was an option). The outsourcing company brought people in from other areas to run things until new hires could get on board & trained. I ended up management level in the outsource company, and shortly afterwards moved into a position where I was one of the people brought in to run dysfunctional places & train newly hired staff. So I don’t have any great advice but came here to commiserate.

    11. AK (they/them)*

      Nothing productive to add, just wondering how you knew exactly what was happening in my own workplace. Are we twins???? Did you read my mind????

    12. Beth*

      If you go in one day and say “I expect you, starting today, to be doing tasks that you’ve never done to a skill level that you’ve never known you were supposed to develop because you never had a performance review”? Then they would be justified in saying that’s unfair.

      If you go in with “The standard expectations for [role] at your level are A, B, and C. You’re currently doing A and B, but not C. In order to bring you up to level, I need to see you doing all of these tasks with high quality within 3 months. I’m providing you with these training tools. Please let me know what other support you might find helpful–we’re invested in your growth here. I know this might be frustrating, since this part of your role hasn’t been communicated well in the past; the new leadership team is taking XYZ steps to prevent this from happening again”? Absolutely nothing unfair there. If anything, it would be unfair to everyone else if you were to let them keep underperforming forever.

    13. Don't Be Longsuffering*

      Can you reassign the worst offender? To a team where people do/are required to perform. And bring in their replacement from the team that has been cleaning up for your team (or someone who has some prior knowledge of what you do). Breaking up the set usually has a large effect. If not better in a few months, do it again. They usually get the idea by that time.
      Sometimes it’s just that there are more of them and they stick together. When reassigned the offender doesn’t have the others to back them up. And the rest learn that you may only be one person but, ya see, the boss is in charge here.
      Also, think about the risks HR and Legal are missing and explain those to them. There are risks in anything one does. Let’s take the risks that are appropriate, not the ones that cause other risks.

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

      I would think it would be the same as if there was any change. “I know if the past you’ve been able to do X but we need you to do that task at a Y level.

    15. 30-50 Feral Hogs*

      It’s kind of nice to see that this isn’t a problem isolated to my own org! I don’t have anything new to add in terms of advice, but this happened in my old dept at a local gov’t org. There was a very clear divide in volume and quality of work output between the older/longer tenured group of staff and the younger/newer staff.

      When management turned over, they started a process whereby a new job description was written and submitted to HR, and we had a series of meetings to explain the changes, provide feedback, ask questions, and finally to share what the new expectations would be (this worked because there were like 5-8 of us, new and old, with the same job title). Then management started holding people to those new standards. I don’t think it has fully remedied the problem but it has certainly created a structure by which management could address gross differences in quantity/quality of work output. I think the residual situation is probably more centered around typical government HR stuff.

    16. kiki*

      When I’ve seen this work well, it’s when the person leading the charge on change came in with clear expectations but was also open-minded to the experiences of existing staff. So, they would come in knowing, “we need to get our staff performing to the level of their peers,” but they were also willing to really listen to what under-performers were saying their limitations are. Because sometimes there is more to the story than just, “these employees are all just bad or slacking.” Maybe there are weird inefficiencies that make doing their job harder than it is for folks in other departments. Maybe their processes aren’t as automated. Maybe they’ve been scheduled in long daily meetings that aren’t valuable and prevent them from getting work done. Maybe they’re working on a lot of stuff that they don’t need to be anymore.

      I think I’ve seen folks make the mistake of coming in set in the idea that since the team is bad all the employees must be bad/ don’t have valuable insights. But a lot employees on underperforming teams are observant, skilled, and subject matter experts– they just haven’t given the proper tools or environment to excel.

    17. Qwerty*

      1. Define what the new requirements are and roll it out as an evolution of the department

      2. Have level setting conversations with each employee about the new expectations of their role and acknowldging that the role has shifted in the past year (or X months) as a result of changing leadership / company changing direction. Leave their performance problems out of the level setting convo and focus on the new expections of the role. Tell them what skills will be necessary to succeed.

      3. Give coaching as they adjust.

      4. After a period of time, start having performance conversations.

      Optional 1.5 – If you have the option to change titles (guessing no because government) then that helps, because it helps re-sort people.

      Changing performance expectations is fair, but it is also fair to acknowledge the job has changed and be upfront about that.

    18. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I’m not in gov’t but inherited through a re-org a lot of people who somehow got a high salary and hid the fact they didn’t do any actual work. It’s been…interesting. So now we’re ramping up in our new team and people are not seeming to be able to handle concurrent items. It’s very strange to see at this experienced level…I’m getting questions about the most minute thing when I ask (put a OOO invite on calendars via our outlook distro list so we can help provide coverage is one, and I got questions on this. Another example is I assigned some online learning through our portal around leadership and communications…like 8 minute videos, and was asked if this was to take priority over mandatory annual compliance training. No, it does not, I gave 60 days to watch the few videos). I’m going to have to pull the team together and layout more of a working agreement.

    19. retired3*

      Former state manager (WA state) who fired state employees (their work affected benefits owed to citizens). No good deed goes unpunished. HR hated and punished me. You might have to choose between doing the right thing and your own career. Management comes and goes (we called it the Christmas help). State employee professionals (HR/Legal) are forever.

  2. Spooky Gal*

    I feel weird asking for more work when I don’t think my boss has any more work to give me. I’ve been in my job about two years now. It was a long learning process because, even though it’s administrative assistant work I’ve done before, it’s in a much different area than I previously worked in. So it took to the end of my first year to feel like I had a good grip on things. As I settled in, I realized that after learn everything she had for me, I didn’t actually have much to do in my day to day. There were times that were busier than others where I would actually have work to occupy myself 7-8 hours a day, but most days go by where I only have a couple hours worth of work to do. Then another admin left and I took on their work. This filled up my time significantly that I actually felt like I was being productive more often than I had downtime. That vacant spot was recently hired, and I am back to having long periods of time with nothing to do.

    The thing is, I get the feeling there isn’t much more for me to do. There were parts of my training in my first year that other people would point out to me that I should be learning, and when I asked my boss about them, she would say oh yeah, I forgot that’s something you should be doing. She would happily give me the task, but she never thought of it herself. I’m always on hand for when she needs me, but she doesn’t actually bring me many things on her own. So I don’t know how to ask are there any additional tasks I can take on because I don’t think she’ll have any for me.

    I’m not concerned with being fired for not having enough to do (our HR is incompetent and would take a lot more than that for me to lose my job), I just don’t think my boss actually has more for me to do. I’m probably still going to ask anyway, but any thoughts on how to phrase it, how to ask for more permanent work, and not just a random project. There are other Admins on our team who are always busy but my boss has previously said that I can’t help as much with their tasks since they’re more public facing, and I am her admin, that my role isn’t set up to be more public facing. People said that my predecessor was constantly busy but I can’t tell what she did that kept her busy every day.

    1. EMP*

      I might frame it with respect to the other position being filled, like “Now that Jane is up to speed with her roll, I find I have more time for tasks like X and Y (the tasks you brought up during training or anything else you do sometimes but not always). Is there anything recurring I could take on?”

      And about the predecessor, some people are very good at looking busy no matter what they’re actually doing.

    2. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

      I don’t know a lot about admin work just in general, but is there any kind of professional development work you could do? Like, take a class (virtually) on, for a basic example, Excel, or how to be more confident at work, stuff like that. That might kill a little bit of time.

      1. Pumpkinhead*

        Seconding this! There are times at my current role (also administrative in nature) when I have literally nothing to do. At those times, I either try to get ahead on tasks I know are coming up (or setting myself up to be able to complete those, if they’re not things I can work on directly) and taking trainings. Recently, I took some organization-sponsored courses on Microsoft Access, which I’ve always wanted to learn but did not have time to do so.

        This may not be relevant to your specific office, but if there are processes that you interact with or are involved in directly as part of your job that outdated or could be improved, working on fine-tuning those processes can also be something to do. Even if that’s as simple as cleaning up how your office stores XYZ information to make it simpler to access and share. I spent one summer coordinating our transition from paper files to digital.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      If you do a daily check-in with your boss, even if it’s just a quick hello at the beginning of the day, I’d do a quick run-down of the day. “Hi boss, I’ve got the TPS reports to finish up and will finalize the details of the off-site sales department meeting probably by noon. What can I take off your plate today? I know the Teapot Annual Report is coming up. Is there something I can do to collect information for you, or maybe I could draft up the outline based on last year’s document?”

      I’m a big fan of keeping an eye on what the boss is doing, and spotting places where I can make their job easier. And the more you train your boss to see the tasks that you can take on, the more you’ll get to do.
      And if there’s nothing in particular, that’s ok. Work on building some skills or doing industry reading or something.

    4. JobHopper*

      Thinking admin stuff here:

      Creating a resource list of Trade Shows, conventions, online training, community connections behind the scenes, streamlining current procedures, advanced degree on company time? Is there a department you could shadow to cross train?

      Any paper records or procedures that need to be digitized?

      Could you start a list of “I wish they had told me” for all the positions in your building? Seems like it could be a valuable resource–while you are basically creating an SOP (Standard Operating Plan–when I was in the miltary, it literally was a binder of daily how-tos in case you suddenly could not come to work).

    5. A Girl Named Fred*

      Do you have regular check ins and/or reviews with your boss? Would it be possible to meet with her and say something like, “Now that I’ve been here for two years, I’m feeling comfortable and confident with the core tasks of the role. Would there be any room to expand what I’m working on, or any other things you need help with? I’d be happy to discuss taking them on if so!”

      If you phrase it as having been there for a couple years now and feeling confident, it might come across as less “I have nothing to do” – although it’s good to know your boss on this one. I’ve flat-out said to my current boss, “I don’t have a lot to do, is there anything else I should be doing?” and she was like, “Nope, you’re doing awesome; work just comes in waves here so if you want to do other stuff when it’s slow that’s fine.” Good luck! I like the slower pace but I know it (understandably) drives some people bonkers.

    6. debbietrash*

      I have been, and currently am in, your shoes. I have spent a lot of time pouring through the AAM archives about not having enough work, or feeling like you don’t have enough work. The advice largely boils down to accepting that you’re not going to fill every hour or minute of the workday with work, and finding ways to fill it yourself.

      In my experience, this has looked like filling my downtime with my own soft interests (reading articles online, strolling the building I work in, going for walks when I work remotely, etc.). I’ve also given myself projects that I can then take to my manager and say, “Hey, I started this project, thoughts?” and they can either say, “Yes! Keep going” and give feedback or say, “We don’t need that, but we do need X”. For me this is writing how-to’s and staff manuals (I love writing this stuff, but others may find it dry and boring).

      Lastly, have you considered asking to do extra training? Is there a skill related to your role that you could justify being sent on company time/money that you’d like to learn or improve upon? I’ve done Excel courses that have proven useful for my role.

      1. ex guest service*

        Yes to everything debbietrash mentioned! I am currently seven months into a new job, and my manager has been basically doing two jobs for years now, and so is slowly putting tasks on my plate as I am trained on them. Due to the complexity of some of the work, there are a lot of projects that she cannot hand over to me just yet, so my plate generally is empty for a few hours each day. To combat that, I do ask for any tasks I can take off her plate, and I also asked a related department if there were any projects they could use extra hands for. A lot of my time is spent reading industry related articles, looking into professional development opportunities, and doing side projects I create myself (like debbietrash suggested). Sometimes my boss does not have much for me, but when she does you can see her relief at having one less thing on her plate.

    7. Kayem*

      I’m often in the same boat as you. I have a lot of downtime because I finish my tasks faster than others in my same role. Not because I’m better at it, I’m just faster at the minutiae and tedious bits than the others. On the plus side, it gives me more time to focus on content and the more complex work but there’s still a ton of downtime to fill.

      When there’s no other work I can take on, I usually will spend the time on some professional development, whether it’s watching some (free) webinars or taking courses. This isn’t always directly related to my job but it sometimes can be applicable. During one particularly boring week, I decided to brush up on my Python skills and wound up creating a script to automate one of the most tedious tasks. Downside is now I have even more time to fill, upside is I have fewer bouts of carpal tunnel aggravation.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I’d frame it as asking for things you could take off her plate, or projects/responsibilities that you could grow into, to free up her time / brainspace for strategic work. Ideally, this would be a conversation you bring up at a regular check-in for her to think about and then discuss again later.

    9. WorkingRachel*

      This has happened to me enough that I’ve come to the conclusion that I just work faster than most people. Not necessarily better–I usually do my job well, but I’m not, like, a superstar–just faster.

      In the job I just started, I have no idea how it took 40 hours for previous occupants of the role, but somehow it did. In past roles, I’ve pushed and pushed for more work. This time around, I’m trying to be more okay with just fulfilling the expectations and putting in my facetime and accepting that some WFH days I’m going to do crosswords or watch YouTube.

    10. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > Admins on our team who are always busy but my boss has previously said that I can’t help as much with their tasks since they’re more public facing, and I am her admin, that my role isn’t set up to be more public facing.

      Huh? Roles can change, they are just a bucket of things that make up a package of work that someone can do in x hours a week, so it isn’t clear what this means that the role isn’t “set up to be” public facing. Could that be changed? What is it about the role that means you cannot be public facing at the moment? That rigidity seems to be the clear place to start. (BTW, it happens often that someone takes on a role and then doesn’t know what the predecessor did all the time, typically because they were inefficient, struggled with the work, stretched it out, etc etc).

    11. Rose*

      Do you WANT more work? And if so, why? Ie are you genuinely bored, fear your skills are atrophying, etc. I was in your position all year and it took me a little bit to feel comfortable in it. but now I’m half way done w my novel, haha. I’m not really emotionally tied to my career.

      If you really want more work, I would try to look around and think about what type of work you like and what needs to be done in the office and find opportunities based on that. Also, Admins bring such a wide range of skills, is there anything you love doing that your boss might not know that you’re great at? Like for me I used to work as an admin, but I loved riding our team communications and editing our fellows white papers. Neither of those are part of my job, but I asked to help with them because I loved that work, which led to me being able to do that full-time

    12. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

      I strongly suspect that your predecessor either just wasn’t that good at the job, or didn’t know how to work efficiently (two different problems but similar outcomes), so your boss got used to only being able to give her 25 hours worth of work. The daily rundown is a great suggestion; so is skill building. And keep talking to your boss about more stuff to do. There’s always more work or some under-served need somewhere. It might be a thing that just got done ad hoc before because it isn’t clearly part of any department (or maybe the department it should be part of is too busy to take ownership). Emphasize that Boss will always take priority and deliver her work before all else and she’ll eventually get the point that she used to have a golf cart and now she has a Maserati. Good luck!

  3. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

    Hi everyone! I wanted to say thank you to you all for your help with my PIP process these last few weeks. Just knowing that it isn’t always the end, that people have passed them, has been a huge help. No clue when I’ll get off the PIP, my grand boss is gonna be out for the next month or so for medical reasons and presumably I can’t get off it without his say. But things are looking up and while I’m not totally out of the woods yet, I’m not where I was a month ago. My initial post and the advice I got from it was, again, a major help.

    I’ve been working with a new trainer (essentially my peer), and so far it’s mostly been going well. I’ve noticed a lot less errors, and they’re (generally) receptive to questions I have. They also have my back with our bosses in a way my previous trainer didn’t, which is awesome.

    The one thing I did want to ask, maybe y’all can offer some insight as I’m not sure if this is the kind of thing I can ask them about…. I’m the kind of person who sometimes needs things repeated a few times, I’ve always been this way. I do my best (in general but especially at work) to take notes, upload those notes into a digital notebook (thanks OneNote!), stuff like that. But there are times, especially when I haven’t had a particular assignment in awhile, and will ask a question. I feel like some days I have the memory of a goldfish.

    Sometimes my trainer (who has been blunt/almost brutally honest with me in the past) will go “so we’ve talked about this before….” and then explain again. Or they’ll be like “(previous trainer) said she went over this with you…” and then explain.

    I genuinely don’t know what they’re hoping to accomplish in that moment. I’m sure they realize they’ve said it aloud, not just to themselves. Do they think I’m going to go “oh yes I remember now!” and walk away? Honestly, all they really do is make me feel like an idiot for asking the question. They, and our boss, have said time and time again to ask about things I’m not sure about, but then I do and a comment like that gets made and I don’t know what to do. I feel like sometimes I’m getting mixed signals. I’ve had coworkers at previous jobs get legit mad at me because I forgot a process or something like that (bc it had been months since anyone had asked), and I wonder if that’s affected me more than I realize.

    So lately when I ask a question I preface it with something like “I don’t think I’ve asked this at any point but….” Maybe saying something like “I know I’ve asked about this in the past, but…” would help? Maybe I should walk away?

    If anyone has any advice, or insight, I welcome it. Even if it’s just that I need to be way less sensitive. :)

    1. londonedit*

      It could be that they’re feeling slightly exasperated because they know they’ve explained it before, or it could be that they’re just flagging to you that this is something that has been explained to you – maybe so that you know to go back and check your notes, or maybe to suggest that they’d like you to be paying more attention. It’s hard to tell. I think you definitely should bring it up, though – you don’t want them thinking you’re just not paying attention if that isn’t the case! There might be scope for a sort of bigger-picture conversation where you say ‘I realise I sometimes ask questions about things we’ve already covered – I do make notes, and I’m doing my best to retain all the information, but sometimes I just need a reminder so it’s clear in my head’. And I also think you could definitely try your idea of saying ‘I know I’ve asked about this before, but…’.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        I like that, letting them know that I am trying (making notes, post-its, etc) but that sometimes I just need a reminder or refresher. I mean, I know I for sure have days where I’m not always fully present, but for the most part, I do try and pay attention and retain what they’re telling me.

        But also, and I know I can’t bring this up, I notice a difference in how my new trainer explains stuff vs how my old trainer did (I didn’t realize there could be a difference until my new trainer). My new trainer got trained by my old trainer and I think overall has had a veeeeery different experience on this team (for the better, meanwhile I was moved here without anyone asking or giving a heads up until the move was already in progress) so I can’t say anything like this paragraph.

      2. WantonSeedStitch*

        I think acknowledging the pattern and talking about the ways you’re trying to improve it is a good idea. Also, if you find there’s anything that helps cement learning for you, if your trainer isn’t doing it, it’s reasonable to ask for that. For example, “thanks for showing me the teapot glazing process. I feel like I learn things better if I’m able to do them myself but with my trainer observing, immediately after having them demonstrated. Can I glaze a teapot now while you look over my shoulder and make sure I’m not missing a step or anything?”

        1. Loreli*

          This is important. Most people remember better if they actually do the task, rather than just watching somebody else doing it. The “learn by watching” people have the very efficient ability to recall what they have just seen and heard – almost like a photographic (audio graphic?) memory. This ability is less prevalent than you’d think. And the WORST trainers are people who are like this, because they assume everyone has that ability and think anyone who doesn’t remember after a single demo is lazy or not paying attention.

          Doing the task while the trainer watches and coaches is way more useful for most people. Especially for tasks on a computer -you need to know where to put your focus. Just be sure to say “ let me write that down” as needed.

        2. nonprofitpro*

          You can also try “It’s been awhile since I’ve tackled this, so can I confirm that this is the correct way to do this task?”

    2. Hlao-roo*

      It sounds like you’re working with the same trainer(s) fairly regularly, so can you explain to them “concepts/instructions/etc. stick in my brain only after I’ve heard them a few times, so I may ask you to repeat things that we’ve already gone over, or I may ask you questions about things we’ve already gone over. I know you’ve noticed that I do this and I wanted to explain it’s just how my brain works, not a sign that I haven’t been paying attention.”

      You might already do this, but can one of the repetitions be you repeating instructions back to them? For example:

      Trainer: The first step in llama grooming is XYZ.
      You: Ok, to make sure I’ve understood correctly, the first step in llama grooming is XYZ.
      Trainer: Yes, that’s correct.
      You: Ok, I’m going to take a moment to write that in my notes.

      That way, you have (1) heard it from the trainer, (2) said it yourself, and (3) written it down for yourself.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        I like this idea! I notice when I explain things that I’ve previously learned back to my trainer, it helps me remember, so I will try repeating the information back to them right away and see if that helps!\

        But I also like the suggestion to let them know that this is just how my brain works – even in my personal life, sometimes I have to do things or hear them a few times before they stick.

        1. Pippa K*

          On the recall issue, research supports what you’ve noticed: we remember better if we generate something rather than just receive it. Explaining it aloud, writing (rather than copy-pasting or highlighting) our own notes, etc. It’s why people sometimes say they only truly understand something after teaching it!

          I have two suggestions: 1, you might try supplementing your OneNotes file with occasionally copying out your own notes again, separately from the existing file. I’ve found this useful myself and it’s been an effective piece of advice for students prepping for exams. And 2, beyond just repeating things back when you hear them, explain them later to any available audience. My dogs know a lot about topics like weaving loom setup steps and electoral system design because I’ve told them all about it repeatedly :) (although they never take notes, so who knows how much they recall!)

          1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            you know what, that’s a solid tip. I bet my beloved plants would LOVE to learn all about the various filing work I do all day and the various steps involved in it….. they cannot take notes, but they’re excellent listeners just in general, so I should give them a lil crash course. :’)

            1. BubbleTea*

              You could make a little slideshow presentation to explain concepts to someone who wouldn’t know already. Once you can explain to someone else, you know you understand it.

          2. DannyG*

            See it, say it, read it, write it. Wisdom from my pharmacology professor almost 50 years ago. I also find that handwriting my notes produces better results than typing/keyboarding.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I want to stress, too, that this is a completely and totally normal way for a brain to work!

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Oh my gosh, I have the exact same problem with asking repeatedly despite taking notes and doing everything “right.” I’m seriously wondering if it’s some kind of learning disability where it takes me a while to process things – I can identify points A B and C but making those connections is not always automatic esp when it’s new. I’ve found that with some people it’s easier to explain that this is how I process things (and with the impatient ones….I struggle!). On occasion I will ask my boss “hey I may have asked this before but I just want to be sure __”

      I’m sorry I can’t give advice on this, but I would love to hear what others say.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        Are you me??? I struggle with the exact same things, especially making the connections.

        Anyway, I appreciate this comment because at the very least, I know I am not alone.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I just realized the perfect example of this was on Friends when Phoebe was trying to teach Joey how to speak French. He could repeat the words but when stringing teh sentence together, it came out as gibberish. It was played for laughs, but that’s kind of how it feels – I can identify the words but stringing the sentence doesn’t always happen on the first try (I’m not learning another language – this is more related to my work, which brings me to my next point that analogies, examples, metaphors also help me understand a lot more quickly.)

      2. Mimmy*

        I have documented issues with my processing speed, and it was suggested that I have things in writing to help with processing and having a reference to assure that I’m remembering it right. Obviously we can’t diagnose on this site, but it might be something worth looking into.

        Anyway, I appreciate this comment because at the very least, I know I am not alone.

        I appreciate this whole thread because I too feel reassured that I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

    4. ecnaseener*

      Are you searching your notes before asking? If so, say so! If not…that’s probably what your trainer is trying to hint at :)

      Even if you’re often working with them in the moment and it would be weird to get up and go look through your notes – bring the notes along if you know what the assignment is! At least being able to say “we may have talked about this before, let me see if I wrote it down…” is helpful to signal that you’re making an effort to learn things yourself and not just counting on always being able to go to them for answers.

      And definitely if you’re just seeking them out when you have a question, it goes a long way to be able to say “I looked in my notes / the reference document / etc and found something about Similar Case X, but I wasn’t sure if it was different in this case because of Y.”

      1. Annony*

        I think making sure to look it up in the notes and talking about the notes is key, noting where the deficiency is. “I wrote down to do X and then Y but I can’t figure out how to activate Y. Do you mind going over that again?”

        1. Firecat*

          yes this. as someone who is training someone right now, I have no issue helping to clarify something like this.

          but if they were to come to me and be like – how do I do X when I already trained them on X I would respond the exact way this trainer is. with a – we’ve reviewed this before. if it were constantly happening I’d be concerned trainer wasn’t right for the role.

          do yourself a favor OP and.kf you don’t remember something say “Let me check my notes on that” then try to do it without asking anything beyond clarifying questions.

        2. J*

          Do you do any note taking beyond literal recording? I do a modified version of the Cornell method where I go back to my notes immediately after a session and do things like write in questions and what I would call metadata/SEO. So if someone just explained a teapot glazing process, my notes might originally look like an ordered list of operations. But then I’d go back in OneNote and add text to the side saying things like “How to glaze a teapot” “Glazing triggers after painting” “How do I glaze?” “Glazing, pre-kiln prep, drying time” so when I search OneNote, I can find those missing pieces and text better. I can’t just record notes, I either have to supplement them or rewrite them even better outside the moment. I lost some brain functions/executive functioning after chemo 15+ years ago and this is how I fake memorizing everything.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        This. If you’ve taken notes on it, you presumably have it written down somewhere that you can look it up again before you ask.

      3. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        I like the advice of letting them know what I looked at before asking them (my notes, our department work notes, etc) and that will at least let them know I am, like, putting in effort.

        However I did only recently learn how to search in OneNote so I will be adding that to my “list of places to look before asking (trainer’s name).” Which isn’t an official list yet, but I probably should make it……

        1. Mimmy*

          If you search your emails, try organizing them into folders based on the type of question or process. Alternatively, what I sometimes do is to pin an email at the top so that it’s right at hand (I think this only works if you’re using the online version of Outlook–that’s what I use, I haven’t used the desktop version in ages).

          1. J*

            You can screencap your emails too and add them to a OneNote notebook or section and confirm OCR is on and then those become searchable too. It’s easier than getting the outlook search to work sometimes and it’ll be recorded with other materials on the same topic.

      4. K8T*

        100% this. I’ve trained someone who seems like OP and towards the end of the period almost all of my answers to their questions were “what do your notes say?” and to ask me any further questions/clarifications only after they’ve done that. 90% of the time they were able to find the answer themselves.
        They absolutely flourished and became an important part of the team but you have to let your trainer know you already tried to find the answer and aren’t taking the “shortcut” of asking them instead. Good luck!

        1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

          I think, from now on, I should ask MYSELF what my notes say, and then if I cannot find the answer at all somewhere (or if I need my notes clarified), then I can ask.

          1. Malarkey01*

            Yes, please start there. I understand you’re trying but when training someone it is frustrating for people to not consult notes first or to say I thought it would be faster to ask you instead of researching my notes (there’s definitely a trade off where 3 hours of searching for a 5 second answer isn’t right but start there).

            The other potential thing if these are tasks/processes is to take your notes and turn them into checklists for yourself. That way if you have a question it’s fast and easy to consult your checklist, helps with recall, and if you still have a question can say on my checklist I have x occurring before y but in this new situation it seems like a should happen instead is that correct? So you’re trying to proactively ask the solution from your training instead of starting from scratch.

            Good luck!

          2. CTT*

            What is the purpose of the notes for you if you aren’t consulting them? I’m not trying to be snarky, but I think that’s something for you to think about. I know we talk a lot about how the act of writing things down can help you remember, but you have to look back at what you wrote down too.

            1. Picket*

              I trained someone who was probably a bit similar to the OP, and for her, she genuinely didn’t understand the connection between creating notes and using them. For her, taking notes was…performative? That’s the only way I can think to describe it. Whenever we went over something new, she would grab a piece of paper (literally any piece of paper at hand, even if it already had something written on it) and start writing on it. Then, that paper would disappear into the aether, never to be seen again. When I would ask where that piece of paper was the next time she did the process, she seemed confused and didn’t understand why having it at hand would be helpful. Wasn’t I supposed to tell her what to do?

              I gave her a spiral notebook, told her to carry it on her to all meetings and trainings, and write every single process and important piece of information in it (ideally by starting each new topic on a new page). Her mind was absolutely blown by the entire concept of organizing and referring back to notes.

              Life really is a rich tapestry.

              1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

                i can’t speak for your coworker, but for me personally, this job is a whole different ballgame from past jobs i have had. so like, at previous jobs, i’ve taken notes on stuff before, but once i got used to the job, i didn’t need to refer back to my notes much if at all. ex: if i took notes on how to do summer reading stuff at the library, once july rolled around, i had enough experience to know what i was doing. the problem with this job is that there are a lot more little different things, and things to remember, and i guess i do have to kind of train myself to go back to the notes i took. it seems obvious, now that i am typing it all out, but i guess maybe it isn’t to everyone.

                1. Fran*

                  It’s a great realization to have!

                  I trained someone once and went over step by step showing how to do a process with examples, watching them take notes. I then asked them to go practice it using their notes so I could help if needed. One person got it. The other couldn’t do what they understood- repeated back to me in training. When I asked the confused trainee if she used her notes she said no… the whole point was to reference them.

                  Tasks can be complex and notes are helpful. Rewriting in your own words can help. If your training is online, see if you can get the training recorded- we do that now.

                  (I refer back to my notes for complex tasks I do once a year, even after 7 years)

                  Good luck!

            2. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

              for me, and this is gonna sound dumb but it is what it is…. i only recently started using onenote the way i should. and i have a new setup for my desk/monitors, so it’s a lot easier for me to reference onenote, since it’s right there on the screen i am looking at (as opposed to my laptop which is way off to the side and i only look at it if i turn my head way to the side). before i got the new setup, it was honestly faster just to ask my trainer for help on something i didn’t know than try and search through my physical notebook. however! now i have a new setup and am working on searching my notes first and then asking. :)

              1. Lynn Whitehat*

                Faster for you, but slower for your trainer, who has to stop what they’re doing and re-explain something they already trained you on..

            3. BubbleTea*

              For me, the process of taking the notes in the first place makes it much less likely I’ll need to refer back to them in the future. Something about writing things out by hand helps me to mentally process them better.

              1. allathian*

                Yes, this. For very complex tasks I might write out a process outline based on my notes, and use that. My handwriting is atrocious these days because unless I’m taking notes by hand, which I rarely need to do, I pretty much only write shopping lists and Christmas cards by hand. I can write reasonably clearly if I’m not pressed for time, like when I’m writing greetings on the cards, but if I’m in a hurry, I doubt if I could decipher my own handwriting after a month.

                I very rarely need to refer back to my handwritten notes on anything. Even when I took a professional certification before the pandemic, I’d take notes by hand in class and then I’d type them up after class while it was still fresh in my memory. It was also an opportunity to process what I’d learned a bit, and that definitely helped me retain the information. I still have the typed notes and sometimes refer to them when I’m working.

          3. Training beyond*

            Huh. I just realised that I had assumed you were doing that already, because it’s such an obvious thing. Thanks for the reminder that some people don’t bother with this and go straight to asking the question yet again, that prompts me to adjust my instructions for my trainees a little for clarity. I’ll be sure to insist they should check their notes first, and that I ask them what they’ve already checked before I answer them. I cannot assume that this seemingly obvious step is actually obvious to everyone.

          4. goddessoftransitory*

            Yes, this. Ask yourself and your notes; not only will it cut down on enquiries, you’ll know what gaps you have to address and going over the notes will help fixate the process mentally.

      5. Mad Harry Crewe*

        Yup. When you ask repeat questions, show them that they aren’t your first stop. As the person on the other side of this interaction, my internal question is always – ok, what have you tried already? Did you look at your notes? Do you remember that we talked about this before, at all? Did you poke around in menus/systems/whatever and see if you could kickstart your memory? Did you search our documentation for keywords?

        My brain shouldn’t be your first stop, or even really your second stop, for forgotten info. Just like with a math test – if you don’t show your work, I can’t give you partial credit. If you do, then I know more about your thought process, where things went wrong, and that partial credit continues to extend my trust that you are actually putting work in to improve.

    5. AngryOctopus*

      It may help to deflect up front with an “oh, we’ve been over this before, but I haven’t done this in a long time, so I need to clarify [question].”. It’s hard to retain a new procedure when your experience of it is spread out instead of you learning because you had to do it 6 times in 2 weeks. And the above references that yes, you’ve heard it before BUT it’s still overall new to you, so you’ll likely still have questions!
      You can also use phrases like “this procedure is still new to me”/”I’ve only done this once before”/”Let me make sure I have this right so I’m not missing anything”. It’s acknowledging that yes, you have seen this before but also that you’re human and you need time and repetition to learn new things. It can be easy to forget that when you’re training someone, so a little reminder up front can go a long way to making your trainer think “oh right, it took me a while to get all these steps right for X”.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        All of this insight into being trained is helpful to me, because I am getting trained for a different position at my two or three days a year job. It is a BIG difference between being shown that the barrel key opens the lid of the equipment and trying to get the key aligned so that you can open it.

        Thank you.

    6. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      From their perspective, you haven’t acknowledged that you know this is a repeat question/not new. It’s a factual statement. They are reminding you that you have already been given this answer before, it is not a new topic.

      Sometimes if I am reminded of a previous conversation it will trigger my memory, so maybe they do think that will happen. Like, “Remember, we talked about this when we went over the X process” or whatever. Maybe they think you can go back and refer to your notes now that you have been reminded it’s been raised before. Which raises the question… you say you take notes, but then you seem to not refer to the notes before asking a question – why is that? Like, the point of notes is not to have to remember stuff. Or do you mean you realize it’s something you didn’t write down? If that’s the case, say so.

      I would actually stop prefacing your questions the way you are. Definitively state whatever the fact is, “I checked my notes, but I don’t have anything about this” then ask your question. Or “I remember doing this before, but I realize I didn’t take good notes, I’ll make sure to do that this time” then ask your question. Give them context for why you are asking about this again.

      Remember, you know what’s in your own head, but they don’t. All the questions you have about them are the kinds of things they are wondering about you. “Does she remember we talked about this? If so, why doesn’t she say that?”

    7. Learning can be hard!*

      Hi. I wonder if you can more specific about why you are asking again: do you want to confirm that what you have written in your notes is correct? If so, explain that. Or are you realizing that you’ve covered scenario A and B in your notes, but you have a question about Scenario C. Again, if that is the case, then explain that. Or if your notes miss a stage, explain that and make sure that you are asking a specific question. Also, are you able to actually sit down and practice the process/task before you ask your question again? And can you annotate your notes – with screen shots etc – while you review the process again by yourself. I have noticed that that ensure that I am getting into the realities and can prevent me from asking for overall explanations again. And it improves the quality of my notes when I sit down to do a task weeks/months later. Good luck! Being trained is so hard – and training someone else is too!

    8. Mimmy*

      I’ve struggled with this exact issue for my entire working life and was indeed placed on what was probably a PIP (they framed it as an extended probation period) years ago because of it.

      At my current job, my manager told me I need to problem-solve more independently. I’ve been making use of OneNote and other lists to document the questions I ask and the answers to them, which is starting to help. I create separate pages for each meeting with my supervisor. Sometimes I think we do get conflicting information / guidance, but having things written down reassures me that I didn’t imagine the differences :)

      I wish there was a way to save threads because the scripts everyone is suggesting for explaining the pattern are very helpful.

      Good luck in getting through your PIP!

      1. Happily Retired*

        “… I wish there was a way to save threads because the scripts everyone is suggesting for explaining the pattern are very helpful.”

        (I’m not trying to be facetious) Would it be helpful to you to simply copy/paste the good stuff into a Word document? I would also copy/paste the link to the particular thread plus the OP name and date/time of their post, if you want to go back later and check for additional comments.

        You could make an ongoing document, adding other helpful comments on different issues, and then use Search for key words.

        1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

          i have a onenote, well, note of all the helpful info i am getting. i am using microsift edge, so it might be different on chrome, but when i copy/paste text from a comment, it also copies a link to said comment.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        I wish there was a way to save threads because the scripts everyone is suggesting for explaining the pattern are very helpful.

        Each comment has its own url link. Click on the time and date line underneath the commenters name (for your comment, Mimmy, it says “August 4, 2023 at 11:59 am”). You can then bookmark that link, so your browser will remember it and you can refer back to the individual comment (or a particular comment thread if you bookmark the top-level comment) instead of bookmarking the whole page and forgetting which comment was useful to you.

    9. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      If you find it is happening frequently and with several people, it might be worth looking at how you document answers to questions that occur after the initial training. I kept a spreadsheet for my first couple years with notes because I found the spreadsheet most easily searchable.

      Some places are unreasonable with how much they expect you to be able to get out of a single training session and the documentation is poor or doesn’t cover a particular scenario.

      Make sure you are taking the time to review your notes and the documentation before you ask. And if you have an idea about the answer, phrasing what you think the answer is and you are looking for verification can seem more acceptable than you just weren’t paying attention.

    10. SofiaDeo*

      I once mentired/prepped a person who took the longest.time.I.have.ever.experienced “learning” new things. She was great in school, got awards, just was at the bottom of the bell curve in learning speed. Once she started actual work, however, many many people expected her to “get up to speed” like an average person. I remember her supervisor telling me “I doubt she’ll make it through probation” only 3 days into her 90 day probationary period. I asked him to be patient, give it the full time, keep repeating the training. At the end of probation, he was raving about hiw great she was.

      So I wonder if ypu are like her, and learn things slowly line she did. She took copius notes and reviewed them. If ypur yrainer will allow you to record conversations/explainations, you will have a second verbal review as you transcribe the convos into a searchable document for your refetence. One thing I did try to impress on people when I was training, is not so much “memorize quickly” but “know where to find the answer quickly”. A previous boss gave me this advice; it worked well for my type of work, perhaps you can figure out a way to capture, then document, information to review until you actually can remember it? Because in the bell curve of life, no matter what one is doing/measuring, soneone will always be “below the average”. If you can get tools to assist you until you have learned the information, “how fast you learn/remember” is hopefully less of an issue. In the long run, it’s “are you trainable” and “can you learn and do the task once it’s learned” that a good employer should be considering. Good Luck!

    11. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      In the moment, they’re expressing frustration at you. They’re not expecting you to just remember it, but they are probably annoyed that they’re having to re-explain something that they already explained. Especially if they’re having to re-explain all of it. It’s human. They do want you to ask questions, because probably you asking and them being frustrated is better than you not asking questions and getting something wrong that will need to be fixed, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be happy about re-explaining. There’s not really a response they’re expecting from you, other than possibly a “sorry, it’s just been a few months” or “sometimes I need a little more repetition for processes to sink in” explanation for why they’re having to explain it to you again.

      Before asking the question, I would stop and think if I had done this process or anything like it before, and go look at the notes for that. See if the notes give you the answer, or even just part of the answer. If you still have a question after doing that, maybe start with “I checked my notes, but I want to be sure I’m doing this right”. Then, say what you *think* you should do, to see if the trainer can just confirm it for you instead of having to explain from scratch.

      You want to show your trainer that you are trying to do the work/find the answers yourself, rather than just running to them whenever you’re not 100% sure.

      And when you do have a new process, PRACTICE. On your own. Once you’ve done something, go back over it on your own. Write out what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Think about any other processes that are similar or related, and explain to yourself why one process is done one way, and another that might be similar is done slightly differently. Try to find patterns in how things are done, so that you can remember things more easily. Also, go back over notes from stuff you haven’t done recently every week or two so that you don’t forget how to do them. Basically, if you need repetition to help you learn…handle that repetition yourself. Don’t rely on your trainer to provide all of that repetition for you.

      And finally, I would not preface your questions with “I don’t think I’ve asked this” if there’s a chance you have already been over it, because as a trainer, that would make me worry you weren’t paying attention at all.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        i’ve definitely been trying to practice on my own, and then reach back out to make sure i have the process down right. like i try to use examples of stuff i know from my real life as a way to make sure i have the info right.

        i will definitely work on looking at my notes, and taking notes on things i might not need to (because they might not come up that often in reality).

        “They do want you to ask questions, because probably you asking and them being frustrated is better than you not asking questions and getting something wrong that will need to be fixed, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be happy about re-explaining. ”

        this is so true. i personally would rather have someone be annoyed at me for asking questions i might not need to, than have management be mad at me because i am making too many mistakes. i’ve had management be mad at me and it is no bueno.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yeah, but you’re asking the other person to do all the heavy lifting for you. It’s not fair on them — you might not mind

          My colleague is not computer savvy and even a change in GUI throws her off. I help her out with what I can, but after 10 years of the same questions, it’s not about whether she is ok with me getting upset at her, it’s also about my own mental health at times. (Particularly when she won’t ask IT for help with more serious issues because she doesn’t know who’s in or doesn’t want to bother them, but will happily bother me because I’m, in essence, a captive audience for her.)

          So…think about your trainer colleagues a bit here. They don’t enjoy you badgering them with questions. Ideally, you don’t want to wear them out much like you don’t want to wear management out. Let this be a bit of a wake-up call — it’s not ok to make someone annoyed with you just because it’s better for you for them to be the ones annoyed with you than your boss. You need to ensure you’re working with them both and not taking them for granted.

          It’s tough to say this without sounding bad, and I’ll just say that I was totally out of my depth at my first job out of uni twenty years ago. It sucks and no mistake. I wasn’t in the right place and terrified of letting other people down, but in the end it was actually a relief when my boss said to me that I grasped the theory of what I was doing but they couldn’t spend as much time as I needed to get up to speed on the knottier practicalities. It’s sooooo frustrating and I really sympathise.

          But your colleagues also have jobs to do and job satisfaction to think about and making them mad at you isn’t going to help in the long run — because they will be feeding this frustration back to management or feeling like they need to move on to get some peace from it all, and you really don’t want to have that reputation in any workplace.

          I totally get this sucks but it’s only ever going to end one way if you can’t get to grips with the problematic concept.

          1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            ok i realize it’s a sunday afternoon and people prob aren’t reading this thread anymore, but!

            i will def be taking this thread to heart, and it is a wake up call. i’ve never trained anyone and didn’t really realize how, well, i can come across. i am going to make a “before asking a question, did i….” and then list the places i should check before asking anyone anything first. i definitely also see now h0w i could be kind of using my trainer – even though that is for sure not what my intention is at all. i do not want to be the “problematic” colleague ever.

            thank you all again for your help and advice – even the stuff that’s not easy to hear. i ultimately appreciate it, including feedback from other people who have trained.

            1. GythaOgden*

              You’re welcome. It’s what we’re here for, and you can rely on people here to give you the harder stuff to hear in a way that still helps you get on with it.

              Best of luck with everything :).

            2. londonedit*

              I’m even later replying than you were, but I’m glad it’s been helpful.

              The goal of any training is for the person being trained to be able to do the task on their own – that’s why it’s probably concerning to your trainers if you’re asking them to go over things they’ve already covered. It might be quicker from your point of view to just ask them instead of going through your notes, but that’s not going to be a sustainable solution in the long term, and I can definitely see your trainers becoming concerned if they think you’re going to want to ask for clarification all the time instead of learning to stand on your own two feet.

              It sounds like you’ve got some good ideas to take forward, though, and it’s definitely a good plan to make your own notes your first port of call before you ask your trainers for help (and if you do still need to ask for help, I’d definitely recommend starting with ‘I know we’ve covered this before, but I’ve been through my notes and I can’t find the answer…’, just so they know you’re trying to solve things on your own and not just asking for help as the first option.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yes. From the trainer’s point of view, it can be profoundly demoralizing to be assigned to train someone who doesn’t seem to be retaining anything. It can raise upsetting questions like “will I get blamed and penalized (maybe even fired!) because the training didn’t ‘take’?” and “am I sure I want to spend my days going through the motions of training someone when it’s obviously not working?”

    12. Alice in wonderland*

      One thing that stands out to me is that you say you may need things repeated more than once even if you take notes. But are you referring to those notes afterwards? I haven’t read your previous posts but since you mentioned an IP, I’m getting a sense that those comments from your trainer are to express surprise/frustration/exasperation that you’re asking for yet another reminder of stuff you should know how to do. When they bring up something you’re not familiar with, what’s your first step? Is it to check your notes, or do you go straight to asking them? If the latter, I would recommend taking a more proactive approach. Check your notes (I love OneNote because it’s so searchable), or even just say “just to check, when you say ‘LGR’ you’re talking about how we generate the llama grooming report, right?”

      You keep saying that “that’s how your brain works”, but everyone needs reminders sometimes. I don’t think the expectation is that you remember everything when it’s explained to you once, but that you put the burden of remembering on yourself rather than asking other people over and over. And I’m not saying you ask too often — it’s possible that with a different person or in a different context your behaviour would be given a more charitable interpretation. But if you’re already being perceived as a low performer due to the PIP, asking for more reminders for things you’ve been taught before isn’t going to improve your image. Referring to your notes is a good thing, and I’d encourage you to make that your new habit.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        just for clarification, my being on a PIP is not related to the amount of questions I am asking. it’s due to the number of errors I am making. which, partially thanks to the questions i am asking, are going way down. but my asking questions was not mentioned – in fact, that’s something management wants me to do, ask for help if i need it.

        1. kitryan*

          I end up saying that a task/issue has been discussed before a lot when training, because it sounds like what I train on is similar to your stuff in that it has a lot of different tasks and rules to remember and apply based on lots of different cues, so it’s very tough to keep it all straight in your head.
          What I’m usually meaning by it is some combination of the following:
          1) If they haven’t made a note of this procedure yet, they really should, as it’s come up again
          2) Please note what this situation has in common with the last time we discussed this, so they can see the parallels and improve
          3) Was there any issue with the earlier training or when it should be done that I can clarify, since they hadn’t drawn the connection themselves
          4) Have they checked their notes and training materials on this topic before coming to me
          5) why do they keep asking about the same thing, maybe they’re not a good fit for this type of work.
          Now, items 1 – 3 are the MAIN ones, I’m only thinking #4 if this is a pattern of repeated questions on various topics and we’ve addressed that they’re understanding the training initially, you have the documentation, and you’re taking good notes. And then we talk about how work’s really open book and they’re meant to refer to your notes until it’s second nature and that might be months. Usually this helps.
          Then, only if I’m hearing the same question about the same procedure multiple times do I start thinking it’s a poor fit (rather than if they’re moving to higher level question on the same topic, which is really good as it shows progress, or needing occasional refreshers on different topics, which is totally understandable)

        2. Alice in wonderland*

          Yes, I assumed the PIP was a performance thing. But when you’re already under scrutiny then asking the same questions multiple times can be perceived as not understanding or not caring enough about what you’re being trained on. Not saying it’s right or fair, but in addition to making improvements in work you need to rebuild your reputation and showing resourcefulness (e.g. “I checked my notes, and I wanted to confirm if you meant A or B”) is going to help a lot more than asking repeat questions — you want to show active and proactive learning.

    13. Beth*

      If you’re hearing it once in a while, I’d just take it as an idle comment that doesn’t matter much. Everyone needs reminders once in a while. If you’re hearing this frequently, though, my suggestion would be to go back and check your notes before asking for help. That would signal to me that people around you are consistently noticing you asking for their help on things that they expected you to be able to navigate on your own. You don’t want to develop a reputation for needing someone to hold your hand on everything.

      For what it’s worth, I absolutely need reminders and reference notes for things–I think most people do! It’s really helped me to automate some of it. I set calendar reminders for tasks I do too infrequently to remember naturally (e.g. to run a report that only needs to happen once a month). And I make sure my notes (digital, like yours) have useful keywords in them so I can find them easily, and include step by step instructions for things I know I’m likely to forget. That way, I can handle the 101-level questions on my own. When I do bring a question to my colleague, it’s because something more complex is going on.

    14. Hammock*

      I’ve used that kind of language before, when I have concerns about someone’s performance or speed at learning, to make sure we’re both on the same page that the subject has been covered in the past. In those conversations, I want to understand why they’re asking again — do they just need a reminder, is there part of the process that is unclear or difficult to understand (we do have some convoluted work), is this scenario more complex than we covered in training, is there something else going on that I need to be aware of? I absolutely understand that people need reminders and don’t always absorb everything they’re taught the first time.

      And this is difficult, but to be completely honest, I use it in situations where I have serious concerns about performance that may affect a person’s employment. I don’t want to make them feel stupid or discourage them from asking questions, but I know I would be doing them a disservice if I prioritized protecting their feelings so much through the entire process that they were caught off guard by a PIP or by being terminated.

      1. Joielle*

        Yes, same here – for me, it’s an attempt to gauge whether they just need a clarification, didn’t think to check their notes but will do it if reminded, didn’t take notes the first time, or doesn’t remember this topic or previous conversation at all. Like you said, I totally understand that people don’t absorb everything they’re taught the first time, but when it’s happening repeatedly I need to figure out why before I can decide how to proceed.

      2. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        Am on a PIP, can confirm I was caught off guard and it isn’t fun. My PIP isn’t related to the amount of questions I’m asking, though. It’s due to the amount of errors I am making – which, since I’ve been working with my new trainer, they’ve gone down significantly.

        My new trainer is amazing and will take the time to explain. But I am going to do better and take more detailed notes – I actually did that yesterday, took notes on something they said I didn’t really need to take note on bc it doesn’t happen often, but I did anyway because I know if it comes up again I won’t remember what to do. And I made an error yesterday and edited/clarified my notes so I hopefully don’t make the same mistake.

        All this being typed, I honestly don’t know how good of a fit I am for this position, which would bother me more if I interviewed and was hired for it. But they moved me without asking and I honestly wonder if they took anything into account before the move other than they needed people on this team. So, I’m trying to get through my PIP and then look into moving to another role that has more breathing room.

    15. fhqwhgads*

      I think there are multiple aspects to it. First, when you mention that they say to ask questions but then seem frustrated when you ask, I suspect it’s that, yes, they do want you to ask questions, but they expect those questions to be more of the “can you help me to understand why” type questions, or clarifying type question, not the “can you help me understand what to do” type questions. In other words, the questions should be geared at helping you retain the information in the first place more frequently than basically asking for re-training. Absolutely if it’s a situation where you know you went over it but can’t recall some aspect, they’ll likely be less frustrated if you frame it that way up front. If you ask without that context, you’ll get the response you did because they feel like you weren’t listening to the first go round or didn’t retain anything. That’s frustrating to a trainer.
      The second angle you may want to consider is they’re saying this not expecting any particular response but because it’s important information for you to have. If they trained you on it already, and you don’t remember it at all, they’re pointing out that you did get training on it previously both to stave off any sort of “how was I supposed to know” on your end, AND to make sure you do know that this is something you are supposed to know. Possibly they think if you didn’t retain it they think you think that particular task or process wasn’t important to your role. So they’re pointing it out as a means of indicating you were supposed to know already.
      If you know you generally need to go over things a few times, then it’s potentially on you to go over your notes more regularly to keep yourself up to speed rather than relying on the trainer going over things again. I don’t mean to say they can tell you once and off you go like someone with more experience. However, if they train lots of people, and the others don’t have the same volume or type of questions that you do, that may be a sign that the role might not be right for you. If they need someone who gets it sooner, with less assistance, that might just be the nature of the job. I don’t know, and I’m not trying to discourage you, but that may be the subtext here.

    16. goddessoftransitory*

      But there are times, especially when I haven’t had a particular assignment in awhile, and will ask a question. I feel like some days I have the memory of a goldfish.

      You don’t; you have the memory of a human!

      Intermittent tasks are very difficult to get into long term memory because that’s what they are–intermittent! As a personal example, we sell gift cards over the phone to people and mail them out, but this is really only “a thing” during the holidays. Otherwise it’s totally random and probably only once or twice in as many months.
      I’ve worked here for approximately one million years, and I STILL need to consult my written list of exactly how to enter a gift card into our system properly, because it’s so random and not a regular thing. I’ve walked pretty much everyone in the phone center through it. I’d never think they “should” remember the last time I told them how to do it since it was very likely months ago.

      Since you’ve been taking notes, I think your strongest tool is to organize them, with headings like “Every Day,” “Weekly,” “Random/Intermittent” and so on. Then, when you have to tackle one, pull out your notebook/organizer/phone app and double check yourself. If you get any pushback say something along the lines of “It’s been X amount of time since I dealt with this so I’m just making sure I hit all the bases.”

    17. frosted flake*

      In my previous position, it was critical that each desk be staffed every day. In order for someone to sit down at the desk and function successfully on short notice, we were required to maintain a binder outlining requirements and procedures for our desk. I found the binders at the various positions I held really lacking and created very detailed step by step procedures that anyone could follow for each task. In addition to maintaining your personal notes, you could type up formal procedures the end of every training day, explaining each process/procedure step by step as though you are explaining it to someone new to your position on day one in the simplest of terms. You could even type up a glossary. It would reinforce your daily learning, create a valuable resource for the team, and provide you with a step by step guide that you could modify as needed and refer to as you work so you never miss a step or forget crucial information. In another position, I created detailed checklists when I first started to ensure that no steps were missed as I processed complicated government paperwork. Some had up to 30+ to do items. As time went on, I was able to streamline processes and eliminate/consolidate steps because these checklists and daily experience gave me insight into inefficiencies, etc. Meticulously documenting all that you’ve learned immediately after training and keeping those procedures well organized would give you a guidebook that you can use daily and help avoid the need to ask some questions altogether. You could ask your trainer to review your procedures and documentation, and if they are open to it, suggesting edits, at the beginning of each training session. Like “could we quickly review what we did yesterday before we begin today’s work, I took the liberty of creating these detailed instructions.” I found the documentation that I did in every position a valuable investment in keeping those desks running smoothly, and when I left each position I felt good about leaving excellent instructions for the next person. Good luck! Cheering for you!

    18. Hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

      Hi everyone! Thanks to you all for giving me such helpful feedback. I’ve never trained anyone long-term, so I appreciate kind of getting a glimpse into what that’s like.

      My new trainer is amazing and I notice a difference in how they explain stuff – not that my first trainer was not good at explaining, but idk, it clicks better when they do it. Unfortunately 90% of my training was with my old trainer. (I don’t know why trainer 1 isn’t my trainer anymore.) they try and help me work on my process and think of things differently and that means a lot.

      I definitely now see why my asking questions is not a good thing, if I’ve already been trained on it. This job has a lot of moving parts, sometimes they’re different and not exactly like what was discussed in training, and I often don’t make the connections like I should, so I ask. Like, I know the process if it’s exactly like what we talked about, but if it’s not 100% the same, that’s when I struggle with connecting the dots. I’ve never had a job that was like this one, so I’m having to re-learn a lot about myself and my processes.

      But going forward, I’m going to make a point to say (not just do but don’t mention) “I checked my notes, the team notes, and (other applicable spots), and I am not finding the answer, but I think I should do (whatever.) is this the right move?” I am also going to make a point to take more detailed notes and use screenshots to try and help.

      However, at the end of the day, I don’t think I am the best fit for this position, and I think that’s okay because not everyone is suited for each job. I was moved here at the beginning of the year, wasn’t asked, didn’t get interviewed or anything like that. They just moved me. I feel like it’s been a struggle since I got on this team, but that might not actually be true. My anxiety has been off the charts the last few weeks because of work and that’s not a good feeling. I’m going to try and make it through this PIP and then see about moving to another position that’s different than this.

  4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    When do you guys decide you’ve had enough? literally everything is on fire and everyone is upset. I’m thinking of just taking a day off to be a literal slug and get away from it all, but then all my work would just pile up more.

      1. Dragonfly7*

        This. And if you are certain you won’t feel better after that time period, whether it’s a day, two, a week, it gives you time to make an escape plan.

      2. GythaOgden*

        And will I feel better brooding at home rather than engaged out and about and hopefully having enough distractions to make it through the day.

    1. Zennish*

      Will taking the day give you some space to approach things in a better frame of mind, or just make you feel worse at the thought of what’s happening while you’re not there? If you can avoid the latter, take it. If not, what’s the point?

    2. Linda*

      Take the day. Heck, take two. Let it pile up. Let the people who make more money than you figure it out.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, if the place is so chaotic and crazy, one day of lost work will make zero difference.

    3. Your Computer Guy*

      I recently got out of a fires all the time environment. It was a huge effort to actually look for and follow up enough to get another job, but I cannot believe how much better I feel. I knew it was wearing me down, but I didn’t know how bad it really was. I shamelessly hit up everyone who had already left that company and leveraged that network to find my new job. Good luck on getting out!

      1. trilusion*

        Seconding this. You could take a day off and spend 30 minutes or less during that day to contact people in your network. Don’t overthink, do a simple “how have you been, btw I am looking for a new job as (position) or similar, think of me if something comes up”.
        A few years ago in a very stressful job I had always postponed job searching, thinking I didn’t have the energy to do that on top of everything else. In a too short lunch break, exhausted, I thought “what the hell”, contacted 3 people in 3 minutes, one (a former colleague) wrote back immediately and I had a successful job interview the week after that.
        It CAN be this easy!

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      Think of it as a rate equation,

      lets say your pile of stuff has an actual weight, and accumulates 5lbs of stuff each day.
      Burned out you can move 0.5 lbs an hour, 5lbs of stuff takes 10 hrs to handle.
      If you take a week off 5*5=25lbs of extra stuff waiting.
      Fresh off a week of vacation you can move 2lbs an hour, 5lbs of daily stuff takes 2.5hrs to handle, leaving you 6hrs to get the extra pile, 25-12, 13lbs after day 1, caught up by day 3. So even if you let the pile grow for a week, at some point it’s more efficient to take the break and increase your ability.

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Would not taking the day off improve the situation?

      If everything would be on fire whether you’re there or not, getting away for a day could help you.

      If the work is coming in so fast that there’s always a pile of undone work when you get there in the morning, even if you never take a day off, take the day off. It might help you,and it won’t make the situation worse.

      If you can get through the day’s work by the end of the day, without skipping meals or working punishingly long hours, then take another look at what the previous commenters have said.

    6. Dasein9*

      Sounds like you need two days to be a slug.

      Seriously, mental health is health.
      My rule is if I lose sleep over work, it’s time for a mental health day.

    7. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I just decided to do this and am taking next week off (it’s a short week here, which helps a little).

      What pushed me over the edge was realizing I keep thinking “but it’s not a good time” – but needed to ask myself when it WOULD be a good time.

      The answer was “not for the foreseeable future”, months at least, so what was I waiting for?

    8. Joielle*

      Yeahhhh I feel that. YMMV depending on your actual role/seniority/reasonableness of your higher-ups, but in my job I have a lot of long-term semi-important-but-not-a-huge-priority types of tasks. When I start to feel burnt out I separate my to do list into categories – deadline within a week, deadline later than that, no deadline but important to someone, no deadline and doesn’t seem that important in the grand scheme of things. And then proceed more or less as follows, and it’s usually enough to give me some breathing room or even take a day off:

      Deadline within a week – do it

      Deadline later – put it on next week’s to do list

      No deadline but important to someone – email the person and tell them I’m swamped but don’t want to forget their important task, so could they follow up with me in a few weeks and remind me about it? 75% of the time they never follow up and then I assume it wasn’t that important after all.

      No deadline and not important – just stop following up on it and assume that if it becomes important to someone they’ll let me know.

      For a long time I was really committed to not dropping any balls ever, and I got annoyed on principle with people who let things slip off the bottom of their to do list. And then I was promoted a couple times and realized just how much some people have on their to do list and it is not possible to do it all, so you have no choice but to prioritize. I had to learn that it’s not the end of the world if someone asks you where something is and you have to say “sorry, I’ve been completely swamped and haven’t gotten to it yet.” Again, YMMV, but that approach has been a game changer for me.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      If you take a week off, come back feeling refreshed, and it takes less than a day to feel “done” again, then you’ve had enough. If you stay feeling, if not refreshed, fine, then you just needed a break.

  5. I should really pick a name*

    I think you need to ramp up. Make it clear what the expectations are going to be eventually, but get there incrementally.
    Ex. They’re currently processing 10 reports a month, industry standard is 20. Bump the expectation up to 12, then 14 etc…

  6. chocolate muffins*

    What is a work-related accomplishment that you’re proud of? Could be from this week or from any other point in your career. I would like to hear about how awesome you are and celebrate that awesomeness.

    1. EMP*

      A few years ago I created an internal presentation on why we shouldn’t use a particular software (it wasn’t a good fit for our use case but that wasn’t obvious at first glance) that was praised by both people on my team (who understood the software already) and completely non technical people who needed a lot more context. I’m really proud of how I communicated that!

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      After two of the people on my team left, our senior leadership initially OK’d backfilling those positions, but then put the brakes on and wouldn’t let us post them. I successfully persuaded them to green-light the posting, and now we have two new people starting a week from Monday. It took a lot of “here’s what we do that you know about, and here’s what we do that you probably DON’T know about, and here’s what we aren’t able to do with our current bandwidth but which you really NEED us to be doing.” We’re also in the process of getting rid of some stuff we really SHOULDN’T be doing, to make room for all the stuff in that third category, which took another persuasive song-and-dance and which is likely to be approved soon by senior leadership.

    3. HigherEd-vacation*

      Using a different u/s from my usual here since this might reveal me if a colleague reads it.

      Over the last few years, I have been the manager of the registration/advising side of our summer orientation – which entails working with multiple departments, faculty/staff/colleagues, and our students. It has gone through many pivots (sometimes with little or no advanced knowledge) and a lot of moving parts and some challenges, and every year I’ve been acknowledged and thanked for my work and support.

      1. chocolate muffins*

        I too am an academic and am coming here to say that I appreciate you doing all of this — important yet sometimes thankless — work.

    4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I think I really have done some kids a solid by being there for them, being consistent. I guess that’s not an accomplishment but it’s work and I feel good about it

    5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’ve replaced 5 manual processes over the years where mistakes could be made with automated ones where mistakes cannot be made.

      I’ve taken on over a dozen “hard to manage/deal with” clients, slowly rewritten their code, and locked them down to the point where I now have to produce documentation from before my time to prove they had been issues in the past.

      The accomplishment I’m most proud of, though, was my relationship with the Floor Supervisor at my last job. He resented me viciously for the first ~3 months as I produced nothing and wasted (in his PoV) my days rummaging around the broken systems just learning what the intent had been. By the time my last day came 15 months later, I’d become his closest friend in the building because I was able to re-engineer away so many pain points that he actually got to do the job he’d been hired for. He had gone from doing work himself (processing data) just to get his employees work to do afterwards to being able to approve their PTO and schedule cross-training because we were habitually so far ahead of the incoming work that he had idle time to optimize with.

    6. self aggrandizing*

      I got the position I have now by gently calling out mistakes the COO was making (not in a rude way, it was literally my job to review orders) which made them pay attention to me and see my attention to detail.

    7. Hanani*

      What a lovely idea! Maybe this can become a regular weekly thread.

      I’ve been working with a team of colleagues to revamp one of our most-used products on a fairly short timeline. While the process itself was sometimes stressful, my colleagues are amazing, working with them was really enjoyable, we’re ready for the product to go live, and we’re excited to show it to our clients.

      1. chocolate muffins*

        I’m so glad to hear that you’ve enjoyed working with your colleagues. And yes, I agree that this would be a nice thing to read at the end of the week on a regular basis. Can’t guarantee that I will be here every Friday to post but please feel free to add this thread if you think of it! (General “you” for anyone who is reading, not just you, Hanani — though of course if you want to post, please go for it.)

    8. Cookies for Breakfast*

      A couple from this week!

      – I finished my slides for a presentation I need to give to a large group (something I usually tend to avoid). It’s about a complex and fairly technical process that’s important to the business, but not very well understood outside my team. I showed the slides to a few colleagues for feedback, and got a lot of praise. I also shared them with a senior subject matter expert (in a completely different area), who asked for help preparing some content, because one of his upcoming webinars will touch on the topic and he’s not familiar with it. I was glad to have something ready-made and polished he could get material from, instead of coming up with something from scratch on short notice.

      – My manager is leaving at the end of next week, and wrote a blueprint on how to evaluate a particular kind of product development request that she used to be the sole custodian of . It’s something that has a pretty big impact but can’t always be done in the way clients expect, so it felt a bit daunting when a request did come in last month. I ended up enjoying the research and looking forward to presenting it in our team meeting. My manager said I went about researching and deciding pretty much in the exact way she would have, and no one else in the team had any objections on my thought process either, which was a welcome confidence boost.

    9. Giraffes and geraniums*

      I had a coworker from another department say that she had never heard anyone say anything bad about me in the 7 years I’ve been here, and people want to work with me.

      Considering how toxic this place can be at times….that’s a minor miracle.

    10. Miette*

      I wrote a series of emails for a marketing campaign and my client L O V E D them. I am still squirming with pleasure, because she’s typically just meh about everything. I feel like i really showed her my capabilities.

    11. Rage*

      I’m proud to announce that I have incorporated a new business (name TBA), we are reviewing our 1023 (federal 501(c)3 application), by-laws, and policies, and beginning to solicit for our board of directors. It’s finally happening!

      Background: I’ve worked with birds of prey for 20 years. It’s always been a passion of mine, and my bachelors is actually in zoology (currently in a Masters program in clinical mental health counseling, so obviously money-making-career-wise, I’m going in a whole different direction, but that’s a story for another day). The small non-profit I’d been volunteering with (we did rehab and educational programs with raptors) had been struggling for years as the founder’s health slowly declined. I had finally gotten him to talk to me about me taking over when he was ready to retire, when he suddenly passed away in June. We had to shut everything down and the bald eagle I’d worked with for all of those years has gone to another facility out of state.

      So, if I’m ever to work with my bird-brained boi again, I gotta go big. So another former volunteer and I have joined forces: she has the business acumen, I have the captive wildlife knowledge and experience – and we’re launching a brand new org. Our focus for now will be conservation, education, and preservation of wild species and spaces, with a focus on birds of prey, though I would like to branch out to other endangered/threatened bird species.

      I’m one federal permit away from securing our first educational bird (US Fish & Wildlife needs a couple more photos of my holding pen and we’re good to go), and then once our nonprofit status is secured, we’ll be off to the races!

      1. Annie May*

        That is fantastic!! Hoping for the best for you, your partner in this adventure, and the birds!

    12. Dragonfly7*

      Winning a stipend to attend a professional conference. The application is, so far, the best thing I’ve ever written that outlined my accomplishments and my goals for that (former?) career path, even better than the grad school applications I did later the same year.

    13. Charlotte Lucas*

      Back in April 2019, a coworker & I took Zoom training from our excellent IT/AV team (we both ran tech for external meetings, & we used Adobe Connect or Skype at the time). Connect was clunky, & Skype was buggy. We quickly convinced our director that we needed Zoom licenses, as it worked so much better. We learned Zoom really well & started getting other staff to use it.

      Little did we realize that less than a year later, it would be the standard for most meetings (and that Connect and Skype would eventually no longer be options), and that our team would be ahead of the curve once almost everyone was working from home.

      There’s no way we could have known, but I am so proud that everyone involved was able to see the benefits of the technology and take action right away.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Important part of this: we work for a government health agency, which made it even more important that we hit the ground running with our external partners.

    14. Lavender*

      From grad school: I finished a dissertation chapter that I’d really been struggling with, and got a lot of positive feedback on it.

      From my job: My boss told me she’s really happy with the work I’ve been doing, and offered to increase my hours from part-time to full-time. I had to say no for a variety of reasons (mainly because I’m a full-time PhD student), but I’m happy she’s pleased with my work!

    15. Hotdog not dog*

      I have a (middle aged male) colleague who habitually uses the phrase, “my dear” in conversations with female colleagues. (ew.) About 2 weeks ago I said, “I’m sure you don’t intend it that way, but calling women at work ‘my dear’ comes across as patronizing. Please stop.” He looked a little put off and didn’t respond, so I had minimal expectations. This week he apologized! He said he was a little irritated that I said that, but it spurred him to ask his early 20s daughter what she thought. (apparently she was less diplomatic with her feedback.) Best of all, no “my dears” so far this week!

      1. kitryan*

        I have an about 3 colleagues (they’re all women but still) who send emails to me and my teammate addressed to ‘Ladies’. We both present female but I HATE it. Not only do I not really think of myself that way (it’s complicated and not anyone at work’s business) but it foregrounds gender in a context where it’s totally unnecessary.
        And if I want it to stop I’d have to bring it up to them and then I’d be the grouchy or unsociable one, which is already a vibe I get tagged with because I tend to be direct (and am coded female).

        1. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

          I AM SO HERE FOR THIS. I get “Ladies” in a group meet four or five days a week and for me it reeks of “here’s the little pink room with the lace curtains where you do your teapot painting and talk your girl talk.” I have no solution other than using every other possible term to start an email or Teams message (including, wow, people’s names), but you are not alone.

    16. NeonDreams*

      I had one just yesterday. I’m a newspaper reporter and was interviewing a medical director from a major hospital network. They are collabing with a local hospital. The director says, she’s prepared with her questions. He looks at one of the hospital officials, points to me and goes, these guys are good.

      Spoiler alert: I’ve been there 3.5 months and my ADHD brain allowed me to scan the press release really fast and form my questions in my head really fast.

      But it makes me proud of myself and that I made the right move jumping from my old job to this. I’ve wanted to go back to media for years but thought it wasn’t possible. that’s a whole other thing.

    17. Pumpkinhead*

      Recently, I created a process manual for something in our department that we were notified was needed earlier that morning (so, a very quick turnaround). I was really proud of how I was able to communicate the instructions and create the document, and I even received kudos from colleagues who only saw the finished manual but were not in the know about the behind-the-scenes politics of the new process implementation.

    18. Champagne Cocktail*

      I hired and mentored several interns as part of one of my old jobs. They were fabulous kids and I learned as much from them as they learned from me. I’m even still in touch wtih a couple of them.

    19. MikeM_inMD*

      Back in the late 1990s, I had a job with the US DoD as a software developer. There was a worker who had developed severe carpal tunnel syndrome from years of computer work. She was still able to type some, but instead of using a standard mouse, she had to use a track-ball with her foot. Three times the sys admins had tried to install voice-command software with no success. (In retrospect, I’m not sure if they failed to install it or failed to properly train the user – she was the “prickly” sort.) So, I was given the task.

      I met with the user to learn her needs. I installed the software on my system and learned it. Then I installed it on her system and spent the better part of a day demonstrating it and teaching her how to use it. And I made sure she knew how to add more voice commands to tailor it to her tasks. She seemed satisfied, and I went on with my other duties.

      A few weeks later, I received a thank you award from her management. I found out that she was her office’s subject matter expert (I suspected as much) and my training had helped her go from 10% productivity back to 90%. Her boss told me that before my help, they had started the paperwork for her to receive a “medical retirement”. I have done a lot of good things in the 25 or so years since, but very few come close to the feeling of saving someone’s job and career.

    20. Em*

      In my non-job time, I tutor high school math. One of my students is 16 and was diagnosed with ADHD and dyscalculia in the summer of 2022, which is when I started tutoring her.

      She scraped a pass in the class that puts her at minimum requirements to graduate high school. I’m so proud of her and the work we did together that I could just burst.

    21. Pamela Adams*

      I’ve assisted some 200 students who left our university without graduating to earn their bachelor’s degrees.

    22. Mimmy*

      Over the last few weeks, I worked on coordinating a college visit for high school students as part of a 2-week program at my agency. This is not something I do on a regular basis (I teach a specific skill with our regular adult students), so I tend to get a little nervous when it comes time to organize this. The trip took place this week; afterwards, my supervisor said I did a really good job and was very organized. I never saw myself being capable of organizing any sort of event or activity, so this was a huge confidence booster.

    23. Yikes Stripes*

      I’m a home healthcare provider for seniors, and I recently had to call 911 for a client. When the paramedics arrived I had his blood pressure record, medication and doctor/provider lists, summary of his medical issues, POLST, and insurance ready to go. I was able to answer all of their questions clearly and concisely, and was calm throughout. I’ve been doing this job for over a decade and this is far from the first time I’ve had to do this particular dance, so all of this is standard procedure for me.

      The lead paramedic told me that he’s never encountered a caregiver as prepared and calm as I was, and very rarely are any family members any better. He asked if I’m with an agency or independent, and after I told him that I was too lazy to do my own taxes and which agency I was with, he told me that they were extremely fortunate to have me. I found out several days later that he called my agency to tell them what a pleasure I was to work with.

      That combined with one of the firefighters asking if I ever took independent clients at all because his grandmother is getting to that point really made my day. I work hard and am extremely good at my job – the head of my agency calls me the elder whisperer because of how I good I am with clients who don’t want a caregiver – but this line of work is incredibly challenging, usually overlooked or ignored (except by people who need our services,) extremely underpaid, and often thankless. It’s really nice to get positive feedback like that, especially from people who deal with a large volume of medical emergencies and see a wide variety of how people handle a crisis. :)

  7. Project Manager Problems*

    I’m managing a very large, high stakes, time intensive project. The team I manage includes two people that report to me and five people who I’m managing for this project but I’m not their boss, and two of them are higher above me in the org chart. We’ve been meeting weekly for TWO MONTHS and I’ve been checking in but I, unfortunately, have not been requiring super exact status counts. I’ve trusted that people were doing what they said they were doing, and would elevate any issues when I checked in weekly. Well, we are in the final stretch of the project and one of the people who is above me in the org chart has started saying in the last few days they have no idea what they are supposed to be doing and need “help”. We’ve trained them weekly for two months so I was very confused about the “no idea what they are doing” and when I asked for a specific list of tasks for support they didn’t respond. I had to ask about four times, while offering support of a staff member who will be leaving the org shortly so they have a very empty plate and can help but these offers have been ignored.
    It turns out this person has not tracked what they were doing in a large part of the work that is not easy for me to track, so it’s been really time consuming for me to shift through their portion of the work to check what they’ve done and haven’t done. I wasted about two hours last week on tasks that they said they needed help on, only to find out they had already did it.
    We are really in the 11th hour and I don’t really have the time to do their entire portion of the work, which seems to be what they want me to offer to do. I already know that I need to do things differently in the future and ask for very clear status reports, and require “evidence” which sucks but seems necessary. But what can I do in the meantime. This person is alluding to not having time to meet this very important deadline, but they’ve had two months and I feel like there was a lot of opportunity to let me know there were problems/they were not doing their work as the other team members were.
    Every time I’ve offered help, but it requires this person to actually check what they have already done, it’s been rebuffed. So the only thing I can think is that they just want to be excused from the project but that’s not possible.

    1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

      Oof. This sounds difficult. I was sort of in the position of your employee at a former job when we were doing a huge project on a very unrealistic deadline. For me, I knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing and was doing it, but there was no way I was going to finish my part by the deadline. I told my supervisor about a month out when I realized what was happening, and we basically had to divide up some of my tasks and give them to others, including hiring a college student. We did finish by the deadline but it was extremely close. Not sure if outsourcing some of what they are doing is possible, but that is what saved us.

      1. Project Manager Problems*

        I’ve been trying to outsource but this person has been rejecting the help I’ve offered from a staff member who has capacity to help for the next week. I offered their support over a week ago but the person, I’ll call them Fergus, kept turning it down, and since I’m not Fergus’ boss I can’t force them. I’ve looped their boss in as well.
        I did agree to take over some of Fergus’s work, but since I’m the project manager and I have about 35 hours of claimed time on my calendar for the next two weeks I can’t really take over more than what I’ve offered.
        I just don’t understand because Fergus has said they need help, but then refuses to say what they need help with. So I’m really worried Fergus will miss the deadline completely, and then when there will be fall out (and there definitely will be) Fergus will try to blame shift and say “I told them I needed help!”

        1. Hanani*

          If you decide that the thing needs to get done no matter what, can the colleague who is leaving soon just do some/all of it for Fergus? Or assist you in doing it?

          If you decide that Fergus’s lack of doing is a problem, can you talk to your manager/Fergus’s manager/other higher-ups to make sure everyone knows what’s what if Fergus tries to blame you? A paper trail of rejected/ignored offers of support will also be useful there.

          Basically, you first have to determine whether you’re going to let the deadline not be met. If yes, get things in order to protect yourself. If no, get things in order to give you the support you need.

      2. Project Manager Problems*

        One little win today. I just outsourced some of the work without Fergus’ go-ahead (I just sent an FYI, “we’re doing this”), and the person with the empty plate took care of quite a few outstanding items so I’m feeling better. Maybe like 20-25% of Fergus’s current task, so that’s better than where we were this morning!

    2. LCS*

      I think it’s on them to come up with a recovery plan, not you. If it were me I’d meet with them, ASAP, define the known (and dig deep to search out possibly unknown) gaps that need to be closed by X date, and have them document how they’re going to close them on time and with quality. The plan should include detailed and verifiable milestones along the way. Then you closely manage/monitor to the plan.

    3. cabbagepants*

      I think you need to sit this person down and have a very unequivocal conversation. Put aside what should have happened and only focus on what they have done. Get the details, don’t be mean but don’t spare feelings, let the meeting take as long as it takes. Make your own assessment of what can be accomplished by the deadline and what not-this-person support could get the project done by the deadline. Also assess what could be done without additional resources. And lastly how much time it would take to finish the full scope.

      Put all of this information in front of your manager and work with them to pick the best option.

    4. Miette*

      ARGH I hate when this happens.

      Is there any way to escalate this with the project’s top internal stakeholder in case you can get some wiggle room for the deadline? I think I’d also be telling this stakeholder (and perhaps your colleague’s boss as well) exactly why you’re in danger of blowing the deadline, and how can they help you get through it.

      Sorry, you’ve probably already tried some version of this, but the only think I can think of to make someone perform when they don’t appear to actually care is to threaten them with Consequences from the BOSS.

      1. Project Manager Problems*

        Unfortunately it’s an external deadline and it involves getting funds to a vulnerable population of people. When we’ve missed deadlines in the past people lost access to food and in one case housing, so morally it’s weighing heavy on all of us.

        1. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

          I’d lean on guilt and pain.
          Guilt for your recalcitrant contributor: at every single point, emphasize the impact on the vulnerable population and tie it DIRECTLY to his inaction. Unless he steps up and works with you to resolve the issue, the project will fail and people will hurt. Make it very real for him.
          Pain for those in power: Escalate to *anyone* in the org who has any power over him and make it painful for them to ignore it. Keep bugging them. Keep annoying them. Keep tying it directly to organizational goals and the impact on the population that you serve. Be annoying enough that they will do what you need just so you’ll shut up and go away.

          Obviously this is the nuclear option, but it looks like you’ve exhausted all other paths. I’ve been there and it sucks. I hope that you get what you need soon.

          1. Mad Harry Crewe*

            Yup. If you (PMP) don’t have the oomph to get him to manage the completion of his work (either by himself or with the assistance of your spare employee), then you need more firepower from over his head. You can’t *make* him do something he seems to have decided not to do, you’re not his boss. You need to get his boss onside.

            And it’s clear that you don’t have enough sway with him, because… you’ve gone well beyond the call of duty and he’s still standing completely in your way.

      2. Awkwardness*

        Second to this.
        I can only speak for technical projects and in my experience only escalation to the stakeholders of the project will help.
        Somebody in a position of power must decide that meeting the deadline is a priority and that Fergus has to accept help/other ressources can be used. Appealing to Fergus conscience, team spirit or sense of duty very likely will not help.
        I wish you the very best!

      3. Girasol*

        With that in mind, how about considering a meeting with Fergus and Fergus’s boss to describe the situation, brainstorm how it can be solved, set very clear steps to complete the work, and require frequent, detailed information on his progress. Ask the boss to share in the monitoring of his progress. If the boss doesn’t seem engaged in assuring that Fergus’s work gets done, consider bringing him to a meeting with the stakeholders in which this problem is discussed, to be sure he has skin in the game.

    5. House On The Rock*

      First, I’m sorry – I know what it’s like to deal with people who raise flags at the last minute and act like their job is done once they’ve said “can’t hit the deadline, OH WELL”. I also have a lot of “dotted line” relationships, where I need to essentially manage/project manage others’ staff to get my group’s work done.

      It sounds like this person is not your direct employee since you say they are above you on the org chart. At this point, I think you may need to escalate to either their boss or the project stakeholders or both. Maybe not specifically saying “Fergus is not doing his job”, but “as you know, I’m responsible for the full project, so I need your help finding out where Fergus needs support” and then leave it to them. Realistically, PMs cannot take on figuring out how to get the work done, their responsibility is to flag threats to the timeline to higher ups and then have them figure it out. If your organization doesn’t function this way, there are likely bigger problems.

      For what it’s worth, I always tell PMs I work with “your job is to manage the project, my job is to support staff to get the project done”.

  8. anonymous new manager*

    How do you track good performance over time as a manager?

    I’ve been a team lead before, but never had to do official performance evaluations. Now I am in a role where I have two direct reports and when performance evaluation time came around, I realized I hadn’t been keeping track of their performance in any way because we haven’t had problems I needed to document. Both my reports are great, and I’ve said thank you for things and made sure they know they’re doing well. I managed to cobble together my thoughts into coherent enough performance evaluation narratives to back up my high ratings, but I’d like to better keep track of things they do well so I can be more organized for next year’s evaluations.

    For those of you who do regular performance evaluations for your staff, do you have suggestions for systems to keep track of this over time? Notes in a Word document? A spreadsheet? A Post-It Note collage on the inside of a file folder?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Don’t do it on the basis of problems and successes.
      Do it on the basis of projects/tasks/assignments.

      When they complete a significant assignment (where ‘significant’ is some combination of level-of-effort, importance, urgency, and visibility – as appropriate to your company & roles), jot something down about how they did. You can just keep a running document for each person for this. Put a line with the date, the assignment, a 1-5 scale, and any verbal details necessary. Takes just a minute to do it.

      Then before their review, scan through your notes, identify any patterns, and add any holistic info that makes sense.

    2. cardigarden*

      Notes in a Word doc, usually. Also, for 1:1s I keep a Google doc shared with each respective report so we both know what we’ve talked about. A lot of performance kudos (or other reminders of good work) are stored there.

    3. Veronica Mars*

      My old HR director told me that she just started the performance review document for all her employees after their last one was completed, and at the end of the week she would add things to it for everyone. That’s a little too often for me, but I have a word document for each of my employees, and once a month I put in notes of things they’ve done that I want to remember for reviews. I put in projects, tasks, etc. that they have completed over the last month. I have a reminder set on my calendar for this.

      I also have an Appraisals Outlook folder where I put emails that I want to save to note in their reviews. That helps me remember small but important things, as well as the big project based work that they work on.

      This system works well for me; I’ve had employees tell me that they think I write the most thorough reviews they’ve ever received.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That is so awesome. Wish more managers did this.
        Mostly what I’ve seen is: “hey you did fine all year but last week you messed up majorly so that’s fresh in my mind and thus how I rate you.”

    4. LCS*

      I’m a big fan of Microsoft One Note for this. I use it through the year to document our 2x monthly updates (one page per employee) and use the available tagging systems to flag any items that were done particularly well or posed a challenge / weren’t executed appropriately. It’s also easy to save/link to supporting e-mails, files etc. for later reference. Then at mid-year and year-end evaluations it’s super easy to run through this file and look at tagged items and sort them into positive and constructive feedback.

    5. PandaPia*

      I suggest one note. With a tab for each employee. Then take notes on every one on one and all feedback from other departments in pages in that tab. then at the end of the year you have a bunch of notes with dates to look back at. Also very handy for documenting performance issues

    6. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Ifyou notice particular skills they brought to a task or that are adequate but maybe are places to consider for growth. I have only ever gotten good reviews and getting info on how I can improve or grow, or even relative strengths and weaknesses is like pulling teeth!

      For example, maybe they are great with cranky clients and good at presenting, but a little polish on their public speaking would open up X and Y doors for them.

      It can also be a good time to talk about what they might or might not want in growth or next steps and how they can get there. depending on the process where you are at, you can document that. E.g. Susan will be in a position to advance to a Senior Llama Wrangler based on this performance and obtaining more experience with project leadership.

    7. Parenthesis Guy*

      Assign people tickets using something like Jira. At the end of the year, go through all the tickets to create your review.

    8. Mad Harry Crewe*

      If you get a lot of email about your employees (positive, negative, or just big things they contributed to), keep a folder per employee and stick relevant emails in the folders as they come in.

      Reporting on and reviewing metrics over time, if you have any kind of reportable metrics.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      Your employees should have measureable goals. While it is a good idea to keep running notes year long, you shouldn’t need them to cobble together a review. Make sure their goals for next year are measurable, so it will be easy for you to track and see “yes she did X, and she did Y+2” and “yes he did Y, but fell a little short of X”. etc.

  9. Anonymous*

    How do you handle blowback from reporting a coworker both emotionally and professionally? I reported a coworker for an ethical violation. What she did was actually illegal, but no one is likely to prosecute for it. She is cool towards me, which I expected and understand. Her buddies however refuse to speak to me even on job-related matters and are downright snarky in emails. I stand by what I did, but it is wearing me out.

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      If it is impacting your ability to get your job done, this sounds like something to bring up to your manager, and possibly HR. Your manager should then be able to go to their manager, who can then tell them to grow the hell up.

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      How does she even know it was you? This kind of reporting should be anonymous. If they are retaliating, you need to go to HR. You can’t have coworkers refusing to work with you.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Sometimes it’s not too hard to figure out, unfortunately. But this is definitely retaliation & should be reported.

      2. Siege*

        I mean, the time my boss ordered me to do something that was basically illegal, if I’d reported it it would have been astonishingly obvious who reported it.

    3. Rick Tq*

      This sounds like retaliation from her buddies, and that is something whoever manages ethical violation reporting at your company needs to know about and address.

    4. TootSweet*

      Amen to all of the above. In fact, retaliation is addressed in the handbook where I work, and it should mean that they’re putting their own jobs at risk.

  10. I'm So Tired*

    I have a part-time job to supplement my freelancing. I love it, and my boss is great, but I have no PTO. I had to take an unexpected week+ off due to a family health emergency. Boss was great and said “Take all the time you need.” Here’s my question:
    I have time off for a family staycation scheduled to start next week. If I take my scheduled time, I will have been in the office three days before being gone for another week. Boss is fine with it. This position has only existed since November, and he’s used to getting along without anyone in it.
    But I’m conflicted about taking so many days off in such a short time span. We’re about to launch a new website, which has been my primary project, and I hate leaving Boss in the lurch. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. And there’s a solid chance I’ll need more time off for family health emergency aftermath/continuation.
    On the flip side, I’ve been spending most of my waking hours at the hospital taking care of said FHE and neglecting my spouse and child.
    Our vacation is a staycation this year, so there are no reservations or tickets or anything to cancel, and I’ll be around. My job is 5 minutes from home, and is, if anything, a lovely break from home stressors.
    Any advice on how to make this decision about working some of the time, most of the time, or none of the time?

    1. JobHopper*

      Please! Take the staycation and refresh yourself and your family (the ones who see you dash off to work all the time).

      Could the website launch date be pushed back if this is your biggest worry?

    2. Whomst*

      Given that your boss sounds like he’s understanding about it, and assuming that your family would also be understanding, it sounds like this is a question of personal priorities – would you rather shaft your spouse and child, or rather shaft your employer? I would personally be a lot more stressed about neglecting spouse/child than I would be neglecting work, and it sounds like you need some breathing room. But maybe you’re more invested in work than I am and find it therapeutic to be getting things done and contributing in a measurable way and would be a bit of a bear if you were home/not actually able to enjoy the break or be present. That’s why splitting the difference would be a perfectly practical choice.

      Really, I think you should just consider that how you spend your time reflects your values, and remind yourself of that if you’re at work and think you should be at home, or at home and think you should be at work.

    3. Elsewise*

      Well, your boss is okay with it, so I think you need to try to let go of the guilt you’re feeling about taking time off. So from that element, I’d say that you should take the vacation. But you did say that work is a break from home stressors, which is another thing to consider. Would it be possible for you to take less than the full week? It’s important for you to have time with your family, but if work is a good break from the stress you’re feeling at home, I think you should keep that in mind too.

    4. Jaydee*

      If your boss is fine with it, I say take the staycation. It might help you feel better if you have a conversation upfront that you will likely need between X and Y more days off in the next X months to deal with things related to the family health emergency and see if he balks at that. But assuming he doesn’t, take the staycation.

      You can always decide to cut the number of days at home a little bit. If you were taking 5 days off, make it 4 or 3, or offer to go in 2 afternoons during that week. Or just make yourself available for “emergency” calls about the site launch. But it really does sound like your concern has more to do with the optics of being a dedicated worker rather than an actual business need for you to be available and working those days.

      1. Annie May*

        Seconding the idea of partial days. If I’m on vacation (stay or away) and know I won’t be able to relax without checking in, I wake up early and take care of some things before my partner wakes up (helps he’s not a morning person), then we have the rest of the day to ourselves. Bonus: since I’m working during that time, I’m getting paid as regular jours / those hours don’t count against my PTO.

    5. Zephy*

      +1 take the staycation. Your boss can manage without you for a few more days than he planned, but you don’t get that missed time with your family back.

    6. Cazaril*

      Over the years, I’ve occasionally missed something personal because work was busy. I can never remember later what was going on at work, but I can always remember what I missed. Take the staycation! You’ll come back with more energy.

  11. Applesauced*

    I crossed paths with a work acquaintance at a doctors office, and was debating where I should have said something.

    This wasn’t someone I work with day-to-day (he is a higher up at a company that my office works, but he and I don’t interact frequently – we have been in meetings together 2 or 3 times over the past year) I wasn’t even sure it was him until I overheard his name at check in. He left soon after making the issue moot, but I’m not sure of the etiquette.

    If it had been the DMV, the grocery store, I think I would have said hello, but a doctor’s office seemed too personal.

    Would you say hi to a  work acquaintance at the doctors office?

    Does it depend on what kind of doctor? I’d rather not talk to someone from work at the gyno, or fertility clinic, or but the dentist or eye doctor seems fine.

    1. Watry*

      I did say hi to a coworker at a doctor’s office once, but she was on my team and the waiting area was so small it would have been weirder not to. I think with a distant acquaintance I see a couple of times a year, I don’t think I would.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      You’re overthinking it. Either way (say hi, not saying hi) is fine. A lot of times people don’t recognize people out of context anyway (brain’s not expecting Boss in grocery store, brain doesn’t immediately realize that guy in hawaiian shirt buying pizza is the same normally wearing a suit guy).

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      If it wasn’t someone I knew well, I might pretend to be immersed in my phone or book and not say anything unless they did so first. Someone I knew well, if the doctor wasn’t anything related to, say, reproductive systems, I would probably say, “oh, hi Wakeen!” and say something about the weather, ask about their weekend, or something else small talk-y, unrelated to medical stuff.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh good question.

      I think for anything that doesn’t involve nudity (dentist, optometrist) it’s fine to say hi. But if at some point you or your coworker will be naked during the appointment, it’s fine to pretend not to see each other. And if someone I knew did say hi to me, I might return with just a head nod.

    5. Thistle Pie*

      If we both noticed each other I think it would be more awkward to not say something, but I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to say hi. And after that I don’t think I would bring up seeing them there unless they did first.

    6. londonedit*

      Usually in that sort of situation I tend to act like I haven’t noticed the person in question, and leave it up to them if they want to acknowledge me. I had a vaguely similar run-in with my landlord a while back and that technique worked well – I acted as if I hadn’t seen her, and then when she motioned to get my attention I was all ‘Oh! Sally! I’m in my own little world, completely didn’t see you! Hello!’ But equally, if she hadn’t, I could have just gone on pretending I hadn’t clocked that she was there.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, this is how I usually handle it when I see coworkers on the bus. Not that the bus is a particularly sensitive place, but I’d rather just ride in silence. If someone sits down with me and wants to chat that’s fine, but if they don’t want to either then it gives us both an out.

    7. RagingADHD*

      If I recognized them and made eye contact, I would say hi in passing but not engage in conversation unless they did. If they didn’t make eye contact or I wasn’t 100 percent sure, then not.

      Simply being in a doctor’s office isn’t particularly embarrassing or private. Everybody has to go to the doctor sometimes about something. Presume they are there for an annual wellness visit.

      But by taking the cue from eye contact, you leave it up to them to pretend they didn’t see you (or you don’t intrude if they honestly didn’t see you).

    8. Sales Manager*

      It wouldn’t bother me personally if someone said hello to me but my job is fairly social – I would understand that someone else might though! I would probably make polite eye contact with a polite look on my face and give a nod of acknowledgement, letting the other party strike up a conversation if they chose to.

    9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Probably not unless they engaged with me first. You’d be amazed at how much goes on in the world that we miss due to looking a4 our phone or whatever…..

    10. Champagne Cocktail*

      If it was someone I didn’t interact wtih regularly, I’d just nod. Acknowledge wtihout fully engaging.

    11. BubbleTea*

      When I briefly worked on a hospital ward where people would only be there if they were getting private, bad news, I saw someone I knew from church and I hid. It wasn’t that I didn’t want her to see me there, but I wanted to preserve her privacy as much as possible so I didn’t want her to see me seeing her. That was quite a specific situation though, and I was very young – I might handle it differently now.

    12. GythaOgden*

      Yes! I see people around town numerous times and it would be very odd to completely blank them.

  12. Anxious Blueberry*

    I think I’m being overly anxious about a work thing and I maybe just need reassurance that it isn’t a big deal.

    We have a company retreat coming up in 2 months and I will be traveling to a family event right after. In the past, the last day of these retreats has been pretty flexible – we have lots of remote folks traveling to different places and people leave whenever they need to. We have had the dates for the retreat bookmarked since last year, but none of the details (even the location) were announced until this week, so I went ahead and booked my flight for early afternoon of the last day (it will take a few hours to drive to the airport from the location that has been announced). This week when the details were announced we were told that we shouldn’t make plans to travel until the evening. I let my boss know that I would need to leave early to attend this event, and that seemed okay, but I need to share the actual time for planning purposes, which is about 4 hours earlier than we’re supposed to be leaving.

    This is giving me a ton of anxiety. Do I just say the time? Do I offer to change my flight if it is a problem? I feel like I shouldn’t offer to change unless anyone says its a problem, but my anxiety is telling me I should.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Just tell boss the facts and let them let you know if it will be a problem.

      If you can research some of the alternatives ahead of time, that would come in handy if boss says that you need to stay longer, but don’t offer them until you’ve found out what boss is expecting.

      Boss knew that you had an event to go to after the conference, and there was no way for you to plan otherwise until after you had to make your plans for travel. That’s on them for providing slow details.

      And odds are they’d want to have people stay a bit longer for a debrief or something else that can be missed, not for a key piece of the work event.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      If your boss didn’t say anything when you shared your travel plans, and that was after the announcement about not making travel plans until evening, you should be fine. If you find out that there’s something going on after your departure time for which you should be providing input (updates on a project or whatever), you can offer to prepare that in advance and give it to your boss to share on your behalf after you’ve left.

    3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      You know you have anxiety. So use whatever techniques you have for talking back to the anxious thoughts. What is it you’re actually worried about? It sounds like you’d be willing to change your schedule if needed, so there isn’t actually a problem here.

      Stick to the facts. You already told your boss you need to leave early. Now you just follow up with the time. Then your boss gets to say what they think and then you respond to whatever they say. Simple, unemotional, factual.

    4. theletter*

      I think you can say that since, in years past, the last day was a breakfast-and-travel day, you had planned your flight accordingly. Now that they’ve changed their plans unexpectedly, you shouldn’t be expected to change your flight to meet their last minute adjustments.

      They really could have told you the location and the final day requirements last quarter. It sounds like disorganization on their end, and they should accommodate your needs.

      If you can change your flight without monetary cost to you, then maybe go ahead and do that, but emphasize how lucky they are that you could adjust your schedule for their lack of planning. If not, well, they should have made their plans public sooner. They’re trying to make you pay to change your schedule while encroaching on your vacation time with their lack of planning. Tell them sorry not sorry.

    5. BubbleTea*

      Tell them the time and stop talking. If there’s a problem, it is your boss’s job to say so. If he doesn’t, you can safely assume there is no problem. It would be different if the power dynamic was in reverse, but your boss knows that it’s in his power to require you to change plans so won’t be shy about doing so if required.

  13. Anon today*

    My boss made a sexist remark this week in a large meeting. I highly doubt his boss, a woman, will call him out on it because this is not the first time he’s made a similar comment in her presence. He’s not mean spirited, just clueless. Thoughts on how to address? We generally have a good relationship.

    1. Rick Tq*

      Drop it and move on. If his boss (your grandboss) isn’t willing to address it just leave it alone.

      1. Hazel*

        No way! But you might say ‘that sounded sexist, and I’m sure you didn’t mean it that way’ so you are not blaming them and giving them a graceful out.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’m female, so maybe that colors my response. But I’d call him on it. Culture is toxic when people can say stuff like that in large meetings and everyone is too scared to say something. Plus then people who were only thinking sexist crap but not saying it now think they’re fine to say it out loud.

      1. Lucky*

        Yes, this. Sexist, racist and other ‘othering’ remarks can be totally unintentional, but they stop us in our tracks and take a mental toll. Best is to call it out in the moment (*especially* if you are not the target – white women, lean into your privilege and call out racist, ableist and other remarks), but after and privately works too. A simple “did you mean to say that?” or “just in case you haven’t heard, X can be offensive to some people”.

      2. EngGirl*

        My former boss used to do this a lot. Like a lot a lot. However I had some success at reforming him

        1.) He happened to have a daughter my age and I would occasionally say “well would you say that about Jane or me? No? Great, stop saying it about women”

        2.) we had a close enough relationship where eventually I would just give him a ~look~ and he would realize he’d messed up. Then he’d say “I’m sorry.” And I’d say “don’t be sorry, be better”

    3. SofiaDeo*

      I’m also a female that hates sexist temarks with a passion. I personally would tell *his* boss “I am uncomfortable when he says things like X”. In this day & age, IMO it’s hard to tell if his “cluelessness” is really the case, or if he knows he’s being sexist/offensive & doesn’t care.

    4. Dasein9*

      You could pretend to not understand and ask him to explain.
      Keep asking until it’s really clear that he’s explaining to you that what he said is sexist.

      Or you could just look totally shocked, as though he’d casually mentioned something entirely inappropriate to say in the workplace. (He did, after all.)

    5. chocolate muffins*

      I am often pretty direct, but in a case where I didn’t feel like that would go well I personally might try to call things out more gently or respond like I didn’t hear the sexist undertones. For instance:

      “Blah blah blah work thing, what do you think, sweetheart?”
      “Oh, my name is actually [name].” Or, one level up, “Oh, we actually don’t know each other well enough for pet names.”

      “Ooo, look, a pretty lady wearing a sexy outfit.”
      “Hmmm, I wonder if that’s the kind of conversation we want to be having in our place of employment.” (Optional: “What do you think?”)

      “I need more coffee” (with the expectation that you will get it).
      “Oh, the coffee pot is right over there, feel free to help yourself.”

      I have also had interactions like this, though this might be more than you want to do – it’s basically going along with what they’re saying in a way that draws attention to how not okay it is:
      Random dude: [explaining my own field of expertise to me]
      Me, with a straight face: “Thank you so much for explaining that to me. I’ve actually published X papers in this field without knowing that.” Sometimes just the first sentence is enough if there are like-minded people around.

      Random dude: [unsolicited advice]
      Me: “Thank you so much! You know, I was just talking with my friend about how much I miss hearing other people’s thoughts on what I should do/how much I miss getting unsolicited advice [depending on how snarky you want to be], and I really appreciate that you came along to rescue me from that state of affirs.”

      Another option is to be matter-of-fact about why something is a problem in a way that doesn’t make any statements about the dude making the comment:
      Random dude: [saying something about my body/appearance]
      Me: “I actually prefer for my body not to be a topic of conversation at work.”

      Not sure if any of this feels like it would be comfortable for you to say, but hopefully there are some useful ideas here at least for when this happens again (though hopefully it won’t!). For me it’s harder to address a comment a while after it’s been said, but if you wanted to you could say, “Hey, I was thinking about your comment about XYZ and wondering what you meant. [let him talk] It sounds like you didn’t mean for it to come across this way, but here’s how that kind of thing can come across to people.” Or if you have a good relationship with his boss, ask her if she noticed XYZ comment and how it came across to her.

  14. Sara*

    I just started a job two weeks ago and its been a really slow start. They’re having some technical issues so access is slow moving, the manager happened to be on PTO the first week then had childcare issues the second week, most people there are newish so there’s no true experts or training for this role.

    I’ve been told to ‘review files’ or watch some random training (That even the manager told me were painful) but I’m truly bored out of my mind. I don’t want to be THAT guy that’s always on their phone or searching the web, but I’ve been reviewing and watching for two weeks and still don’t have a great context for what my actual job will entail. Does anyone have suggestions for time killers that look productive?

    The fun news on top of that is when I was doing a dry run of the commute, I got into a car accident that ended up totaling my car (I’m fine). So in my downtime I’ve been car searching, but that’s done as of yesterday so I don’t know what else to do!

    1. Pretty as a Princess*

      I would spend some time getting very familiar with any company intranet resources (communications tools & resources, templates, where does information live, etc) and the org chart. Of course I work somewhere with about 600 employees but I have found that a good grasp of what work happens where, and a good grasp of how to find and use information in the organization benefits pretty much anyone in any role.

    2. Dragonfly7*

      Will any of the other employees let you shadow them for a few hours? Even if it isn’t your exact role, this will help you learn what they do and how it fits into the company.

    3. Fake Cheese*

      Are there any software trainings you could do? Even if it’s just Excel or advanced Outlook/Gmail, that could occupy some time in a way that’ll benefit you going forward.

      Alternatively, reading industry news shows interest in the impact of the work you’ll be doing (especially if it’s a new-to-you industry)

    4. kiki*

      Is it possible to schedule coffees/meet and greets with coworkers? Perhaps your coworkers are busy, but I feel like it’s good to take advantage of your new employee period to get to know coworkers. And socializing can be a good way to break up the boredom!

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m at the point in my career where I would have left and told them to call when they were ready for me to start, I’ve had far too many of your experiences that now I’m just Done. Im sorry you had this happen. It’s so discourteous and unprofessional.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        This one is on the manager. Why did they arrange the start date for a week they would have PTO (or take PTO when they had a new person starting) if they are the key ‘contact’?

      2. Sara*

        Its interesting to me they asked for a specific date and then let me basically sit around for two weeks. I’m getting paid either way, but I ended up negotiating a sign on bonus specifically because I was walking away from a bonus payout at my old job. They could have just let me stay there for a few extra weeks!

    6. Turingtested*

      When I was in that position I literally asked the person next to me if there were any low to no training tasks I could do for them and kept asking people. Turns out people always need things reformatted etc

      My boss later pulled me aside to praise my work ethic lol.

  15. Elle*

    I had a helicopter parent experience today that reminded me of the post from a few days ago. I’m the volunteer membership coordinator for our church. A woman reached out on behalf of her daughter and grandchild to inquire about educational opportunities for kids his age in the congregation. I was happy to answer her questions but recommended her daughter reach out directly so we could get a better idea of what they’re looking for. The woman snapped back at me “my daughter has a corporate job and is way too busy to think about things like this.” Who know if the family is actually interested in joining a church or if the grandmother is projecting. Either way it’s an awkward start to our relationship with this family.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      I don’t think that’s really helicoptery though? I mean, the grandma was rude to snap at you, but it’s possible that daughter is really busy and grandma offered to reach out to see what was available.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, this just sounds like a less-busy person inquiring on behalf of a more-busy person. Otherwise it would just be the mother asking, and I don’t think that’s less helicoptery. Somebody has to ask? Lots of grandparents know their grandchildren well enough to ask something like this.

      2. Clisby*

        I don’t, either. Of course, I don’t know how old the kid is but unless he’s up in his teens it’s not reasonably to expect him to be making this enquiry. It sounds like the grandmother is just asking for information, not trying to micromanage what the kid might do through church.

    2. JobHopper*

      I wonder if grandma is caring for the child while mom works? Is this a private school or just youth activities?

      Brochure, or generic info page. Highlighted with parent permission required, when you share with the grandparent.

    3. Magpie*

      This doesn’t really sound like a helicopter parent situation. To me, it sounds more like a grandmother who’s helping find activities for a grandchild because the child’s parents don’t have the bandwidth. My mom spends a lot of time caring for my children during the summer and she sometimes makes phone calls on my behalf or takes the kids to do things like buy pool passes from the city. If your program is such that it requires explicit parental approval before a child can join, that’s one thing, but it sounds like she’s just trying to get more info to take back to her daughter so they can make some decisions and I’m not sure why that’s awkward.

    4. constant_craving*

      Snapping at you isn’t kind, but I’m not sure I understand why you couldn’t share the information with grandma. A lot of grandparents help with childcare so I wouldn’t assume this is grandma going behind mom’s back or anything. Seems like just sharing the info (which can include a legal guardian’s consent being required) wouldn’t do any harm and I could see why it’d be frustrating to be told only a parent could even inquire about opportunities.

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think i disagree with the commenters so far, I think you did right. Kid’s parents should be consulted before having the kid join religious stuff. I would be leery of people trying to use your services to force religion on people who don’t want it. There’s so many stories of Grandma secretly baptized our kid, told our kid they were damned for not going to VBS etc out there.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        This. And this might even be why it felt helicopter-y to OP. Grandma might think the grandkid needs to be involved in the church, but it’s not a priority for the parent (for whatever reason), so she’s going around her to do it herself. It’s not a bad idea to make sure the kid’s actual guardian is the one getting the info/being consulted about participating in church stuff.

      2. Siege*

        Same. Maybe I spend too much time on Reddit drama subs, but anything involving religion needs to be driven by the parents, even if it is the parent contacting OP and saying “hey, I want my mom to work this out for ~X reason~; please assume she has parental consent for this.”

        And of course if I had kids, my in-laws would absolutely do this and I would be absolutely furious when I found out about it.

      3. Hermione Danger*

        Yes. My own mother is exactly the sort of person to do this. She doesn’t agree with our religious decisions. If we had kids, I am sure she would be quietly indoctrinating the kid in all of the stuff I had to work so hard to get over, even if I told her not to.

    6. Dragonfly7*

      Definitely awkward! For other commenters, depending on what paperwork there is for participation, at some point the daughter may HAVE to be the one that speaks to them as the parent / legal guardian, even if just to set up enrollment paperwork and give permission for the grandmother or someone else to pick up and drop off. Some churches have safety requirements for this.

    7. Elle*

      To clarify, I spoken to a number of grandparents helping the kids out but this wasn’t it. The tone and information in the call made it clear that mom needed to do this because she didn’t trust her kid to get it done. And it sounded like her daughter is well into her 30’s. I bring it up as a reminder to us parents to step back because your over involvement can set your kids up for awkwardness when developing relationships.

      1. Double A*

        Ah, this context helps. I have definitely enlisted my mom to get info about stuff for my kids because I’m really busy and it can he hard to make calls during business hours, so I don’t think grandparents calling for info is inherently helicoptery. But she is kind and respectful, at least I assume so.

      2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        I wonder if daughter is agnostic/atheist and grandma wants to be sure her grandkids get into church activities behind her daughter’s back.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Even with the update comment, I’m not sure what the issue is other than the grandmother being needlessly snappy. It is entirely possible that the mom really is stretched too thin and isn’t involved enough in her child’s life to make things happen.

      Parents with busy “corporate jobs” can also be emotionally or mentally absent and neglectful, just as much as parents in poverty. You don’t know what role grandma is filling in that child’s life. I don’t think she’s necessarily helicoptering or the one making it awkward here.

      1. ParseThePotatoes*

        The extra dimension here that you’re missing is “religion”.
        If this was a secular organization, it wouldn’t be too weird, but with religious organizations, “educational opportunities” typically imply teaching that church’s beliefs and morals as gospel truth.
        If the mom has changed faiths, or left religion entirely, that becomes a huge problem. (And with Grandma like this, it’s easier to have ‘convenient excuses’ for why you stopped going to church than it is to have endless arguments and preaching at you when you tell her you don’t believe any more.)

  16. Understanding (Physical) Pain?*

    I’m looking for good resources to learn quickly and deeply about pain, especially (but not limited to) chronic pain.

    It’s for a job I recently started – I’m lucky enough to have been pretty pain-free so far in my life (knock on wood), and need to understand the psychology, physiology, biochemistry, sociology, etc. of having and dealing with pain.

    Current scientific understanding/thinking is what I’m really looking for, but historical perspectives could be useful as well. What books, websites, podcasts, etc. would you recommend?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Make sure that you’re listening to the direct voices of people who have chronic pain. There are a lot of online communities for this. Check Facebook etc for groups who are comparing notes between themselves about their lived experience.

    2. Everdene*

      The book Pain and Prejudice is good. society makes a lot of assumptions about chronic pain, especially in women, and I have had some appalling experiences with pain clinics that are sadly not unique.

    3. SofiaDeo*

      The website HealthUnlocked dot com has numerous health related groups where us patients share information. You can join any relevant ones, then search previous pists, ask qurstions, or just lurk in the backgrpund reading the disvussions going on in the group. P.S. You do Not need to 100% fill put the profile, I didn’t and think some of it is entirely too nosey. It changed hands recently and the mew people are happy to collect any data you are willing to give up. Tou can opt out of receiving emails, etc so IMO they are not as bad as some places that won’t honor requests to not bother you.

      1. Understanding (Physical) Pain?*

        Especially appreciate the info on data privacy on that site – thank you!

    4. The Big Fringe*

      Nicole Sachs (and others like her, including Dr. John Sarno) has a perspective on chronic pain that differs from the standard medical model, but her type of approach has a huge following. So, bearing in mind that it’s a minefield of differing opinions and potential misunderstandings, I would check her views out. [Personally I subscribe to her theory, but I’m careful who I talk to about it, because – minefield.] She has a podcast, a YouTube channel and a book.

    5. DrSalty*

      The podcast Ologies has an episode about chronic pain that might be a good introduction to the topic. It’s for a general audience though, not sure what level of detail you are looking for. Might be a good place to start before diving into more technical resources.

  17. Elle*

    Hi all,

    I just found out my employer has not been giving me the correct amount of vacation accrual for several years. I should have been receiving 16 hours per month as an exempt employee, but have been getting 12 hours, which is for non exempt. I have been exempt the entire time. My understanding had been that all employees had to put in ten years of service to get to 16 hours, but I recently found out that is not the case. I contacted my HR, but am wondering if anyone has any experience with this. I believe they would owe me those hours retroactively. Thanks for any insight!

    1. CL*

      This happened to me but the period of the error was only a few months. My boss flagged to HR as they found the problem in some supervisor reports and HR fixed quickly. Very matter of fact. If this has been going on for years, I could see possible push back of “it’s your responsibility to check”. But I would approach communications with an attitude of “of course they are going to correct this”.

      1. Elle*

        Thank you. What happened was that I started at this organization as non-exempt. When I became exempt, there was no explanation that my benefits would change. So, ignorance on my part, but I do think there should have been clarity when I received the job offer. I’m thinking since benefits are essentially part of compensation, they should be required to make this up to me.

        Thank you for the info, I’m glad your situation went well!

    2. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Quite generous PTO in either case. I had the opposite happen to me when ut of the blue I started accruing four weeks per year when I should have been accruing two.

      I didn’t say anything and I never used the extra accrued PTO.

      But it was a nice surprise when it was paid out when I left for a new job.

  18. producer 2 electric boogaloo*

    Can I get night shift advice?

    My dilemma: I’d rather be awake in the daytime, but I have evening activities that are important to me so I’m sleeping during the day right now (typing this before I go to bed). It’s also tough being awake at night on weekends – I don’t have roommates. And I just moved to a new city out of college which doesn’t help any of it!

    Do y’all have advice for setting and sticking to a meal schedule, things to do to make night less lonely, or even ideas for good weekend night shift part time jobs? Anything else that you think might help??

    1. No Tribble At All*

      My only real advice is make friends online who are in different time zones. I hung out a lot with a friend who’s 8 hours of time zones away because we’d be online at the same time.

      Also, if there’s a local gym that’s 24 hours, you could go to the gym in the middle of the night and maybe there will be other regulars who do that?

      No advice, just commiseration :/

    2. The Person from the Resume*

      Keep the same schedule including meals. Depending when your night shift is, maybe do all your awake time before work (early evening) to get interaction with people and go to bed right away after work.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      setting and sticking to a meal schedule

      Set up phone alarms for the weekend to remind yourself to eat at the same times you do during the week. Try to keep any snacks to a similar level that you do during the workweek so you’re hungry at roughly the same times.

      good weekend night shift part time jobs

      * Movie theater – more afternoon/night than strictly night and I don’t know how available only-weekend jobs are at movie theaters
      * Bartending at a bar or club
      * Home health aide or similar caring job that takes place at night

    4. Ria*

      Seconding everything from both of these comments above. Also, if you don’t have blackout curtains & a sun lamp, I recommend getting both. Blackout curtains will help you get a solid, quality night of sleep during the day, and a sun/light therapy lamp for 30 minutes when you wake up will help reset your circadian rhythm (to the extent possible) so that your body doesn’t feel like it’s supposed to be asleep the whole time you’re trying to be awake.

      +1 to the 24-hour gym idea and also – spaces that are open later, even if it’s not a full 24 hours, could still help. My old rock-climbing gym was open until 10pm every night and it was always absolutely bustling from 8-10pm.

      Part-time job ideas – bartenders can do weekend “night shifts” in the 8pm-4am realm, depending on where you’re located. And some bakeries also have early morning shifts that are more like night shifts (starting as early as 2am). It depends of course on what you like to do but that sort of thing could be worth looking into.

    5. AnonRN*

      Night-shifter here and I actually switch back and forth if I’m off for more than one day but it is not great! I am usually awake and functional in the evenings, though, but it involves staying up (or a combo of naps & staying up) my whole first day off, and staying up voluntarily the night before I go back to work. Overnight at home I pay bills, read, do light cleaning if it won’t wake my spouse, do crafts, sometimes nap. I’m usually pretty good at sleeping whether it’s light or not, so a nap doesn’t destroy my “real” sleep.

      Something I know some folks do is try to keep “anchor” sleep hours. So if you get home & go to bed by 0900 and sleep until 1700 (8 hours) after a night shift, you’d try go to bed by 0400 and get up by 1200 on a day off. 0900-1200 are the anchor hours that you’re asleep every day, but at least you get *most* of the daytime to do stuff.

      Food-wise, I eat dinner right before I go to work (I work 1900-0730) and I eat a hearty lunch? when I come home in the morning. I don’t eat much at work but many co-workers bring their dinner to work and try to eat around 2200-0200. Some eat in the morning when they get home and others don’t at all. Going to bed an hour or so after eating doesn’t bother me, and I prefer to eat at home. When I’m home at night on a night off (staying up late before I have to work the next day) I do tend to snack out of boredom.

  19. Jane*

    I’m dealing with a Regina George type at work, and I don’t think there’s anything to be done but I’m just shocked to see this at our age (she’s 26 and I’m 32). Thankfully I don’t work directly with her and I’ve only had to interact directly one-on-one with her a few times, but each one has been unpleasant. She’s very careful to stay on the good side of our boss and grandboss, and because she’s so effusive and strategically volunteers for things our Big Boss thinks she’s great.

    In private I’ve heard her snark about everything from the veracity of people’s disabilities to making fun of their hobbies and suggestions for meeting ideas, to mockingly mimicking our Big Boss and saying he’s too uptight. When I’m around her (I’m the only plus-sized woman in our group) she does things like loudly talk about her weight and what she used to weigh in college, which is about 150 pounds less than I weigh now. In a group lunch she kept going on about being full after a quarter plate of food, and then made a point to go on about how “at least I’m not fat” and “I’ll take having a bird stomach over being *obese* any day.”

    The couple of times I had to work with her she intentionally faked misunderstanding what I said over instant message, and then sent my previously-sent email up to our boss to say that my directions were way too unclear for her to follow. The last interaction with her was her printing a document that I clearly labeled as a draft and distributing it to our group despite the fact that I had said it was rushed and for her eyes only to assist with a specific process. She’s just SO good at walking right up to the line and the innocently acting as if she didn’t mean anything by it at all, yet she’s very clearly decided that she Does Not Like Me.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Ugh, that sounds really annoying. The only thing I can say is that she is really showing her immaturity and likely insecurity. It sounds like she is going around announcing how she thinks she is better than others, she is thinner than you, less “uptight” than the Big Boss, has hobbies she thinks better than other people’s (which is…kinda silly from her point of view because of course she likes her hobbies best). That makes me think her a person who is really insecure about her own choices and has to announce how her ways are best.

      It’s a pity your boss and grand-boss don’t seem to see it.

      1. Jane*

        Our boss treats her like a kid, which she plays into-like a “Look at me, aren’t I cute?” type. And our Big Boss really only sees high-profile stuff and victories (because our boss wants to make us/Regina look good), she doesn’t see the “underside of the quilt,” so to speak.

    2. Jane2*

      This is terrible advice. But I’d be tempted to treat her slightly condescendingly and as if she were just a little dim.

      “Sorry folks, Regina sent out the draft to the group instead of the finished product. Stay tuned for the final version.”

      “Hi Boss, Regina seems to be consistently having trouble following these directions. I’m going to sit down with her to follow-up.” *air of slight concern*

      “A ‘bird-stomach!’ what a funny thing to say, Regina! I do hope it’s nothing serious.”

      And then just assume she’s going to screw with you whenever she can and keep protecting yourself.

      1. Jane*

        Unfortunately I would just come across as mean or as if I were being rude. Like I said, she’s very good at this.

    3. different seudonym*

      Like, you know this, but this person is pathetic and not worth your time. The question to focus on is: is she getting any traction with this? Do people who hear her saying ugly things appprove? Do they stay quiet? How does it play out?

      For what it’s worth, I’ve had something similar happen, though with several people rather than one. The interesting thing was that when we got better leadership, it slowed down immediately, without anyone intervening directly, and then once I got a chance to succeed publicly, it stopped completely. I still work with the same people, and I still know they are small-souled fools, but once the whole place was running better they stopped lashing out at me over my appearance (and presumed morals/character). That example can’t help you deal with Skinny Lady, but it’s interesting to know that it could be a culture thing even if there seem to be specific villains.

      1. Jane*

        I’ve registered the looks on people’s faces as being not exactly receptive or happy with everything, but unwilling to say that. She and our boss are tight, and essentially give off the impression that if anything negative was said about her it would’t go anywhere, which likely adds to the unwillingness to say anything. The majority of our team is also former military and I think they’re used to the “suck it up because this isn’t going to change” culture in some aspects, and they’re also meant to be Regina’s mentors. There’s no open spots in our department for Regina to rotate into, either. So complaining about her probably feels (like it does to me) not worth the effort. And because she’s relatively careful, it might also seem to our higher-ups like much ado about nothing. At lot of the things that I’ve described (particularly all the ones about food, weight, and size) rely on someone believing that Regina was doing them *at* me, rather than just doing them, for instance.

    4. MsM*

      The weight and disability stuff isn’t walking up to the line; it’s crossing it. Either remind her that commenting on other people’s bodies in the office is inappropriate, or just go talk to HR.

    5. Lizabeth*

      Have you tried the Carolyn Hax “Wow” on her? Just say “Wow” and let the silence hang there…

    6. Mockingjay*

      You can’t correct (or have Boss correct) all of Regina’s behaviors, so I’d focus on those behaviors and actions directly affecting your work process.

      “Regina, please don’t distribute anything without my authorization. Working drafts are internal while in development. I’ll let you know when and to whom the final copy should go to.” “Regina, if you have questions about the workflow, use the link that I gave you in the chat thread. It goes to the wiki that explains how this task is executed. If you still have questions after that, please come to me to discuss; I’m the trainer for this system.”

      Limit how much access she has to your work products and information – I’d work with her the bare minimum possible.

      I’m sorry you’re stuck with such an immature b*tch for a coworker.

    7. Drowning in Spreadsheets*

      So many tempting comebacks spring to mind, but they’d probably get you in trouble, even though she’s the one creating a hostile work environment.

      I agree with Irish Teacher that she’s insecure. Further, she seems to feel threatened by you in particular.

      I think you could call her out on her snarking about people’s disabilities without having too much blowback. Just a simple, “Really? Snarking about someone’s disability? Not cool, Regina,” might be okay and not set you up for retaliation.

  20. Below Deck Fan*

    Any other Below Deck fans here who want to talk about different management styles and whose they prefer? (If Alison is a BD fan, I’d love to see her write about this as well.) So far I’ve only seen the original Below Deck and Below Deck Med, but watching it with a management eye is fascinating. There’s so many things that you just wouldn’t do in a healthy workplace that seem like they are completely normalized on a yacht. I find the ways that all of the bosses on the show–chief stews, bosuns, and of course captains, interact to be often (not always!) horrifying. Of course, if it was just a reality show of people being very competent and professional, it probably wouldn’t get viewership. So I’m curious what Ask a Manager commenters think about it.

    I debated about putting this on weekend/work thread, but I want to talk about it as relates to management styles, so figured this was the best place. Alison, please delete if I’m wrong.

    1. ScholPub*

      It’s been a while since I’ve watched, but I’ve watched a few seasons each of Below Deck, Below Deck Med, and Below Deck Sailing Yacht. My main issue is that most of the captains don’t seem to think of themselves as the manager of the crew. They expect the Chief Stew, Bosun/First Mate, and Chef to work things out themselves and seem so annoyed when the department heads need help. Sometimes the managers below you need help managing. That’s normal! I think the only exception to this is Captain Glen on Sailing Yacht. He seems like he does feel responsible for both the boat and the entire crew. He makes a point to mentor the lower deck crew.

    2. SofiaDeo*

      I started watching Below Deck to see again the places I had previously visited, as well as new ones to consider. It’s entertainment television, and IMO reflects the industry about as well as other TV shows reflect the reality of the jobs portrayed. I think the producers cast crew & captains to portray certain things then edit the film to solidify their cast intent. I assure you not all boats operate behind the scenes as portrayed in this series. Like every other work place, there *are* totally dysfunctional ones but many are more or less normal. Yachting is a dangerous profession; the hijinks portrayed are more exaggerated than not in most cases. And they don’t hire unseasoned, untrained deck crew on larger vessels. I have one friend who recently got his Vaprain’s license, and is now drivibg a Water Taxi after months of simply crewing. Another friend with a 100-ton license did like to party off duty while working the Virgin Islands, but stopped in time to not arrive at work hung over let alone still drunk. The first time I personally stood a Night Watch crossing from Miami to Bimini, someone checked on me every 2 hours to make sure things really were OK.

      I actually prefer reality shows where people aren’t being snarky/acting unprofessionally. Currently the only ones I know of are a few cooking and “nature jobs” plus a few following around enforcement officers in wildlife, police, and a few others. I had hoped the BD series would focus more on demonstrating how enjoyable a smoothly running boat to interesting parts of the world could be; sadly it’s not. Dramatic dysfunction seems to be the aim, like their Housewives franchises have devolved to.

      1. Below Deck Fan*

        That’s a really good point about this not being what the actual yachting industry is like–it’s a reality TV show where drama is played up for ratings. I do assume most boats are very competently run because obviously it’s a dangerous job where people’s lives are on the line. Thanks for your insights!

    3. Glazed Donut*

      I think Below Deck can be a really interesting case study in management styles.
      Sandy, for example, seems to be a micromanager – but watching her in various seasons, you can see that she is very reactionary to her views of the chief stew. She clearly did not get along with Hannah and had very little empathy, whereas with Malia she believed she was setting an example for how strong women can be.
      I have enjoyed seeing how captains support and guide/coach some of the leads (chief stew, bosun) and how no-nonsense most of them are about firing someone. They don’t let emotions come into play but they consider the larger picture of safety, usually.
      For me, the most unhealthy aspect is living and working together. That’s a recipe for disaster – I can understand wanting to have a few drinks and NOT have to worry about the unvarnished truth you maybe say about a coworker/superior…

  21. This Old House*

    Low stakes question: what are good healthy-ish snacks to share at work? My team brings lots of snacks to share, and people are always making half-hearted remarks about bringing healthier food, or not eating so much of the junk, or someone will bring fruit one time, but healthy snacks tend not to be as easily managed (e.g. nonperishable, don’t need extra effort if not finished promptly) or as easily eaten, or as easily shared as the junk food. We’re definitely not trying to be food shame-y about it, but there really is a LOT of junk food sometimes and I’d love some ideas for other options to mix it up a bit. It’s so easy to eat a doughnut hole every time you pass the table, and sometimes there are doughnut holes AND muffins AND cookies AND candy. What healthy(ish) food is just as easy?

    I almost bought peaches the other day because they looked really good, but while one bag of chips can be shared between a whole department, people are not exactly taking bites out of the same peach. Do I buy one for everyone? What do we do with all the extra peaches if everyone doesn’t eat one? Or do I not buy enough for everyone and it’s first come first served? etc.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You can get mini-packs of nuts, trail mix, or dried fruit. Shelf-stable, long-lasting, etc.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Pre-made veggie-and-dip and cheese-and-crackers platters from the grocery store are easy to pick up and easy-ish to graze on at work, but they are perishable and can’t be out all day the way doughnuts can be.

      Clementines and bananas can be left out all day, are usually cheap enough to buy enough for everyone, and are easy enough to eat in the office (much easier than well-ripened peaches!).

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        This!

        Problem is most fruit (peaches) is juicy and drippy and hard to peel. Oranges, clementines (though juicy), and bananas are just not as messy. A fruit or veggie platter is good for nibbling and takes a lot of the mess out of it.

    3. I edit everything*

      Popcorn is great. You can have a stack of cups or bowls next to it for people to take what they want.

      1. freshly cut couch*

        To make the popcorn a little more fun, you can also bring toppings like chocolate chips, nuts, and dried fruit to mix in with the popcorn. It’s a nice treat!

    4. Tiny Dragon*

      Personally I love baked cheese crisps (the baked kind that are just cheese)- they’re gluten/free keto and high in protein. Also dried and freeze dried fruit are great/shelf-stable.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Vegetable sticks, or fruits like clementines or grapes that are easily eaten in one non-shared serving.

    6. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      FYI, you are being food shame-y. There is no such thing as junk food. There is just food. If people like it, then keep bringing it. The grousing is people shaming themselves. “I like it, I keep eating it, but I *shouldn’t*” is classic diet culture food shaming.

      You could try bringing peaches/other fruit, but you’d need to say at the end of like day 2, “hey, help me out here and take a few extra, they’re going to go bad.” Or have a plan to make jam!

      But really, you already know what people like, so just keep bringing that.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        eh, I have a dietician now because I suddenly got high cholesterol despite eating a traditionally “healthy” diet. There is absolutely such a thing as good and bad foods and junk food! Even if we didn’t “judge” food, a huge portion of the population reacts negatively to things like high added sugar. Keeping a food diary made me realize a 100 little things I was eating that had healthier alternatives and it’s having a real measurable impact in my health (cholesterol down 10% this year while eating more than I used to!). For example, my favorite almonds used canola oil to roast, so I switched to a brand that doesn’t. Stuff that like. It’s not “judgy” to point it out if it literally can save you from a heart attack long-term, or mild allergic reactions.

        1. Kate B.*

          Your coworkers are not your dietician, though, and different people have different health needs. Someone focusing on avoiding FODMAPs is going to mean different things when they ask for “healthy” options than someone focusing on muscle gain, or someone focusing on their cholesterol like you are. Within my own family we have people who need to make sure they’re getting enough dietary iron and someone whose biggest dietary concern is minimizing iron intake, and for whom any high-iron food is categorically unhealthy. No one food is universally “healthy” or “unhealthy.”

          1. Punk*

            We’re talking about things like donut holes and mini candy bars though. There is no one for whom there aren’t more nutritionally valuable options than that. It’s not like we’re talking about the merits of adding olive oil or full-fat cheese to a vegetable dish, and the snacks mentioned are not relevant to muscle gain or healthy iron levels.

            There’s a difference between applying moral judgment to food and acknowledging different nutritional values, and while all foods can be part of an overall healthy balanced diet, I don’t understand this insistence that we pretend donut holes are healthy on their own.

            1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

              Me! I can eat all the donut holes I want, but most fruit is very restricted, with just a few exceptions. For every generalization, you’re going to find people who do not fit your pigeon-holes.

              1. Punk*

                But are there still not any foods with more nutritional value than donuts? Bread with a spread? Yogurt? You’re responding to a statement I didn’t make.

          2. Prospect Gone Bad*

            This thread is literally “I want healthy snack options.” To come in and say “healthy doesn’t exist” is, interesting. But it’s definitely not what This Old House* wanted. It’s not a secret that most snack foods are laced with dyes, chemicals, and loads of sugar, which are not healthy for anyone.

        2. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

          As long as the only “pointing out” you’re doing is between you and your dietitian and you’re not offering unsolicited commentary about what’s on another person’s plate, sure.

      2. This Old House*

        I mean, I’m just thinking about adding some diversity – there will always be cookies and doughnuts around here, and I will probably always contribute some of them and eat plenty of them. If I hear other people saying, “Oh, the X looks good but I didn’t eat any because I’m trying to cut back on sugar” – do I want to bring at least some food everyone will be comfortable with, or continue providing exclusively food that some people want or need to avoid? I love doughnuts, but I don’t feel good when I eat a couple in a day, which I can easily find myself doing when there are so many of them right there. I bring other food for me personally, but I’m trying to figure out how I can contribute to the general culture of sharing and add some foods from other categories that people might appreciate.

      3. RagingADHD*

        People are allowed to use shorthand for “When I eat the stuff we usually bring, I feel logey and crash in the afternoon. What could we snack on that would not make me feel like that, but also not go bad halfway through the afternoon?”

        This is a group of coworkers who are brainstorming amongst themselves about making a change. Nobody is shaming anyone else, and it’s totally unnecessary to make an issue out of the word choices.

    7. JMR*

      Last week someone on my team brought in a couple tubs of Greek-style yogurt and a huge pan of homemade granola. I realize that’s a bit of work, but it was a nice change from doughnuts!

    8. Kate B.*

      I’d suggest moving beyond the big categories of “healthy” and “unhealthy” and probing the idea of what people actually think is missing or would be a nice change. If someone means that they want more fresh fruit (which is often sweet and has a high moisture content), a salty pack of nuts or even a pack of dried fruit is not going to hit the spot. If someone else means they wish there was something with protein on the table, grapes are going to go uneaten.

      When picking snacks for long, snacky meetings, here are some things that have been different enough from the usual array of pastries and chips to go quickly and be remarked on: mandarin/clementine oranges; dried fruit; wasabi peas; gummi bears; grapes; bite-size cheese; seltzer; kumquats; snap peas.

      (To your specific example of peaches, slicing them would make a few peaches go further and would make them more quick-snack-able. But some snacks may just be better suited to being “special,” seasonal, get-them-while-they’re-fresh treats!)

    9. LuckyClover*

      Chips and Salsa – albeit perishable is a fun snack for work, also hummus and pretzels.
      Popcorn
      Grapes
      Once someone in my office brought instant oatmeal that we could use our hot water dispenser to make a bowl of and it hit the spot

    10. Academic Baker*

      I love Smitten Kitchen’s granola bar recipe for a “healthy-ish” but sharable option (link in reply) — they can be adjusted easily for a lot of dietary needs, and you can get creative with which “mix-ins” you use (my favorites are dried cherries + pistachios and dried peaches + pecans).

    11. Can't Sit Still*

      Healthy snacks my company stocks that been approved by our nutritionists: oranges, apples, pears & bananas, raw and roasted nuts, trail mix, pretzels, pita chips, single serve hummus & guacamole, RX Bars, individually bagged servings of popcorn (no popcorn is allowed in our microwaves) and dark chocolate Pepperidge Farms Milano cookies. I think any dark chocolate snacks would fine in moderation.

    12. Prospect Gone Bad*

      bags of roasted edamame and roasted almonds, with a side of low sugar cranberries. Also, baked potato chips are pretty basic and I lost weight eating them as a snack even though I got a lot of “how are you eating those, you’re dieting comments” from people I regularly talk about food with

    13. DrSalty*

      Dried fruit is a great option – shelf stable, doesn’t make a huge mess, easy to snack on and share. Raisins, dried apricots, dates, apple chips, etc. Nuts are good too if you don’t have anyone with nut allergies.

    14. Old and Don’t Care*

      Not traditionally snacky, but little cans of V8 juice. I’ll often drink one in the afternoon if I feel my lunch is light on vegetables. Also, string cheese.

      1. GythaOgden*

        There’s a great Polish brand of carrot juice called Kubuś (Jimmy, with the unspoken association that Winnie the Pooh is named Kubuś Puchatek in the best Polish translations). I don’t know whether it’s readily available in the US, but here in the UK with the large influx of Polish immigration over the past 20 years it’s become very easy to get. (I spent a study year in Poland and got very enamoured with the food, which could in itself be quite calorific. My English ass got a bit too fond of fried pierogi while I was at uni and there was a measurable effect on it :-/. Not good with a family history of heart disease and age-onset diabetes.

        It’s quite refreshing for thick juice and best served straight from the fridge, although it is shelf-stable.

        As a data point of experience — we had raspberries and strawberries alongside the usual nasty fairy cakes and although I didn’t partake the smell of fresh fruit is quite nice. I’m definitely struggling to find healthier snacks because I’m not keen on fruit pieces, but for sedentary office workers — I’m sitting for five hours straight with only a few chances to get up while on the job — I definitely think some kind of fresher choices are a good idea. Fruit may have sugar but it also contains more nutrients than doughnut holes, and is more substantial than a fluffy cupcake (and I’m finding that those sort of things have almost an effect similar to alcohol on a stomach that hasn’t had anything else in it for a while). So I’m not sure that it’s a bad idea to offer it as an option.

  22. 2023 Got Better*

    I have a co worker who is absent a lot – every week, sometimes more than one day a week. I know she has health problems, and her absence does cause issues in the office, because if she isn’t here, she can’t do things. However. Today I passed her office with its little chalkboard outside – we all have them – and someone had written a snarky, unkind message. It wasn’t really for her, it was for everyone else, to show that ‘we’ are aware, and are rolling our eyes at her, and wasn’t the writer funny and clever? I told the asst mgr about it, who erased the message. I don’t know what other steps she may take.

    It’s just mean. We don’t know what arrangements she may have with mgt, and we should not know. I know how I would feel to see that message. This dept, like many, has a core of long time employees who may be a bit too comfortable.

    1. Cairo*

      That’s really cruddy and could be a legal liability for the company if one employee is harassing another over disabilities. I hope management shuts that down immediately.

    2. ina*

      Wow whoever wrote that is so intensely immature. If they feel that person absences are causing a problem, they need to talk to management.

      What the hell do they want from the employee? For them to leave the company? Yeah, that will fix whatever workload issue (doubt there is…) *eye roll* Serious bully behavior.

    3. Joielle*

      How awful! My spouse has been absent from work a lot lately for health issues which are exacerbated by stress, and seeing this kind of a message would absolutely make the problem worse in his case.

      1. 2023 Got Better*

        That was exactly my reaction. She really doesn’t need to know that people were this mean about her being out.

  23. inv*

    How times does it take interviewing with different companies before finally making it to the final stage and getting an offer, on average?

    1. Watry*

      It varies wildly. If you can tell us your job type or industry, someone might be able to give you a ballpark.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      So much variation. In my workplace, we generally only have two “stages”–a phone screen by HR and then interviews with various people within the office, if you make it through the phone screen. The interviews are usually about half a day, meeting with one or two people at a time for about half an hour to 45 minutes at a time. We like getting the perspective of people in different positions who would be working with the person in peer roles, as colleagues on a related team, as a manager, and as a director, usually. Sometimes there are additional interviews for higher-level positions, but it’s all generally done in one day. (This is in higher ed fundraising in a non-front line job.)

      1. Bluebonnet*

        The university I work at generally does a phone screen, a zoom interview, then an in-person interview for finalists (even for frontline office positions). The process can take 2 months or even longer! I know academia is known to be slow, however.

        As a comparison, I applied for a corporate job that went through the whole process in under a month!

        1. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

          I started a job at a university (non-academic staff) a few months ago, and my hiring process was whiplash-fast. A week and a half from application to accepting the job.

          And then I negotiated 5 weeks’ notice at my old job, so it was over a month before I actually started. It was really important to me to finish up some events, and I wasn’t actually desperate to change jobs, so I was okay asking for more since I would have actually been totally fine with it if everything had fallen through. I was in a really lucky position to be very picky about certain things, that being one of them.

          Thursday – submitted application
          Tuesday – interviewed in person
          Friday – offered job
          Took the long weekend to consider my options – had another phone conversation with the hiring manager to clarify some questions and get a bit more information
          Tuesday – negotiated details and accepted job

          5 weeks later – started new job

    3. Hlao-roo*

      My last job search, as best I remember it:

      Week 0 – applied for the job
      Week 1 – HR contacted me to schedule a phone screen
      Week 2 – Phone screen with HR
      Week 3 – No contact
      Week 4 – No contact
      Week 5 – HR contacted me to schedule an interview
      Week 6 – Interviewed with hiring manager and future peers
      Week 7 – HR contacted me to offer the job
      Week 8 – Finalized negotiations and accepted the offer

      This is just one piece of data. There’s lots of variation in how companies conduct job searches, so don’t think that any deviation from this timeline is “too fast” or “too slow.”

    4. ina*

      It varies for sure. If you got an interview then I think it’s safe to follow-up. Alison has some guides – I think a week post phone screen or interview is ok to touch base.

      If it’s just the application phase (you submitted one), you could follow up as well, but usually I find the stage between applying and getting an interview is always the longest. Things tend to go fast once interviews happen (and fast being two to three weeks!)

    5. Champagne Cocktail*

      I’ve recently come off a stretch of unemployment and it’s brutal out there. I had 5 interviews with one place and then they turned me down. Some never got back to me post-interview. One asked me for a project plan that I spent quite some time on, and then rejected me.

      Unfortunately, this and dehumanizing practices like video screenings are the norm now. I see on LI and on Reddit that people are pushing back and I say good for them. I was not privileged enough to do so when I was out of work, my savings was running out and unemployment was gone, but I applaud those who can.

    6. Wordybird*

      For my last three jobs, it went like this:

      (01) PT comm/admin person: sent in Indeed app, had a phone screen the following week, had an in-person interview the week after (with an unofficial offer of the job at the end), was offered the job the following week

      (02) FT remote job: applied online, had a Zoom call the following week, submitted a project the following week, heard nothing for 3 1/2 weeks including no response to my follow-up email, received an offer by email

      (03) FT remote job: applied online, had 3 interviews in 6 business days, had a written offer 8 calendar days after applying

      For jobs where I’ve gotten to the phone screen stage, it was usually within the 2-4 week range of either my application or if the ad mentioned a deadline, whichever was later. For jobs where I’ve gotten to the in-person interview stage, it was usually within 2 weeks of the phone screen unless the recruiter specifically mentioned that it needed to take longer with someone OOO, etc.

      For jobs where I’ve gotten nowhere, I might receive a rejection letter anywhere from 1-6 months from when I applied (or none at all).

  24. Trash Can Lover*

    How do I ask my boss about my new office’s weird trash can situation? I started working as a contractor supporting a federal agency, and people share trash cans?? And they keep them in the cubicle aisles (I guess to facilitate sharing said trash cans)??? This is all very weird to me as a Certified Allergy Haver and Kleenex Generator. Short term I’ve bought a little desktop trash can to contain my used kleenex. I’m concerned that once my allergies ramp up in the fall that the mini trash can is going to become something of a health hazard since I won’t really have anywhere to dump it. So how do I ask my boss (government lead) about this? This doesn’t really feel high level enough to bring to my contract supervisor, and I really honestly feel like everyone should just have their own trash cans.

    I knew that US government doesn’t like paying for extra things if they didn’t have to, but sharing trash cans???? Please tell me its just that my office is weird.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Nah, sharing trash cans is totally normal. But if you’re a Used Tissue Fiend definitely ask your boss (or your coworkers?) if there’s a bigger trash can you can dump your own trash into. There must be a dumpster somewhere?

      1. Trash Can Lover*

        If there is a dumpster (which I assume there is), its not accessible to employees. One big trash can in the middle of the office, but last time I was there it was completely filled up with trash.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I don’t think it’s that weird. I’ve worked in government cubicle land too. Pretty sure we had just one trash can for each quad in a couple of those places.

      If you know you’re going to be generating a lot of used tissues, just ask if there’s an extra trash can that you can appropriate. (There’s at least a 50-50 chance that there are extras stacked up in a janitorial closet).

      1. Trash Can Lover*

        That’s not a bad idea. We’ve got a ton of people out on leave right now so they can’t possibly all be using their trash cans.

    3. Susan Calvin*

      I mean, I’m kind of used to sharing trash cans? Typically arranged so that nobody actually has to get up to get to one, only turn in their chair or maybe scoot over a few feet, but then I’ve never had what you’d strictly describe as a cubicle, and in that setup I can see it being much more of a hassle.

      What would stop you though from dumping your little one out in the shared one?

      1. Trash Can Lover*

        Nothing’s stopping me from dumping out my little trash can into the shared one (and that’s the current plan). I’m mostly concerned for when my allergies ramp up in the fall and used kleenex per hour rate ramps up significantly. I’m not particularly interested in spending large chunks of my day going back and forth from the trash can with my snot filled allergy tissues. Is it actually a big deal? Honestly no. Do I care a lot about it because I find it incredibly annoying? Yes.

          1. carcinization*

            My thoughts also, there have to be bathroom trash cans. Though I might stick the tissues in a plastic (grocery) bag to throw them away or something rather than carrying a little trash can to the bathroom.

    4. Rubies*

      I think you’ll just have to dump your trash in the communal trash cans in the aisle, right? If that’s not going to be too inconvenient – if you’ll only need to do it once a day, say – I would leave it be. As you say, it doesn’t seem big enough to escalate. Do you have any colleagues nearby that you’re friendly with (or could at least strike up a conversation with)? Perhaps mention it to them and ask if there’s a backstory to the decision. If you do want to push this further, I would lead with the hygiene concern, especially post-Covid.

      I feel your pain because I work for a large company that is obsessed with being green. Fine, but that means that the only trash cans are in central/lobby areas, none near the desks at all. Also, there are none for general waste, just recycling and composting. So I end up with a grim little pile of apple cores, tissues etc. on my desk until I can trek over to the bins. There are some things, like dried up pens, that I end up either taking home or putting in the sanitary bins in the toilets because they’re incompatible with our zero waste aspirations.

      1. Trash Can Lover*

        I can generate a lot of used kleenex during allergy season lol. Currently its not a huge pain to dump it once a day, but when my allergies get going I dump out my personal big trash cans at home one or more times a day.

      2. Rara Avis*

        I just spent a week staying on a college campus that had 5 types of recycling/composting bins, but none for trash. So going green means pretending trash doesn’t exist, I guess? I was at a loss as to what to do with things like dental floss, the luggage label from my suitcase, and used menstrual products — it explicitly said NOT to put them in compost.

    5. AnonFed*

      It’s not just your office. Every time we had to move office locations trash and recycling cans would disappear and getting more through official channels was such a PITA that if the manager/admin combo at the time didn’t feel like going through the hassle of procurement there just wouldn’t be more cans. This resulted in an eventual can shortage where cans were being shared and when someone retired or left the moment they were out the door there would be a rush to their office to raid it for cans (and anything else that wasn’t nailed down that was in short supply or of better quality than what other folks had). Eventually the situation got fixed because folks discovered that the PITA only applied to mass orders of cans, but ordering singles from the office supply place was rubber-stamped. Which is how there were such discrepancies in what folks had in their offices too, ordering one standing desk is easy, ordering 20 is impossible. Talk to your boss and ask if they can order a can with the next office supply order, more than likely they’ll be able to do it.

    6. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      I’m a little confused. You have a question, so you just… ask it? “Hey boss, it seems like trash cans are shared here. Is that correct?” Boss responds. You say, “I have allergies, so when I fill up a can, where do I dump it?” Boss responds. Done.

    7. The Person from the Resume*

      I don’t think it’s the cost of the trash cans themselves. It’s the janatorial contract which says they empty one trash can per room/office versus a trashcan in every cubical. You can see how this could be time consuming for an office of hundreds or thousands each with their own trashcan.

      Just dump your personal trash can in the office trash can when it gets full. You’re generatingthe same amount of trash and just saving yourself a lot of getting up to do it individually.

    8. ThursdaysGeek*

      I would get some plastic bags for your little can, and when it is full of used tissue, tie it off and put it in the larger shared can. I don’t see how anyone would complain about health hazards then. (I do that with my used ziplocks – fill with used tea bags, apple cores, kleenex, and put a nice little sealed bag in my trash can at the end of the day.)

    9. Policy Wonk*

      For us this happened during COVID. Rather than have trash collection people walk through the offices, we put them in central locations to reduce interaction. While the COVID restrictions have lifted, a lot of the trash cans never migrated back. I’d just ask for a trash can -maybe along with any other supplies you need. If there is a reason for the shared trash cans this will suss it out, but I’d bet they’ll just sign off on ordering you one.

    10. SofiaDeo*

      I too have major allergies. I buy the smaller square boxes of tissues. I have 2 boxes at each pmace I keep tissues, 1 box is an old, emptied one I now use for soiled tissues. No one is exposed to my dirty ones, they get placed in the old box, which contains them neatly even when full & put in with other trash. I just keep the “”used” box hidden a bit, only the fresh box is prominently in the open in case others need one.

    11. TX_Trucker*

      Shared trash cans is a common sustainability initiative. I’m actually surprised when I visit an office that still has individual cans … and Texas is not know for sustainability practices. It saves plastic – no individual liners for each desk side trash can. It also saves time for the janitorial staff. We are an office of 75, and we have three 32-gallon trash cans in the break room that are emptied twice daily by our janitorial staff. Some folks have individual trash cans which they dump into the large can.

    12. Former Retail Manager*

      I’m a Fed and we all have our own trash cans. I guess I could go either way in terms of whether it’s weird or not to share, but frankly, I’d just buy my own at Wal-Mart or somewhere cheap and keep it someplace that makes it clear that it’s yours, maybe even label it?

    13. Dancing Otter*

      So the shared trash cans are IN THE AISLES? Where they take up space people are supposed to walk? Are those partially blocked aisles still handicapped accessible?
      Sounds to me like an accident waiting to happen the first time anyone on crutches or a cane comes through.

  25. NewBoss2016*

    I missed our weekly staff meeting this morning as I had another very important meeting. The other two managers that work in our division (I am one of 3) and the staff discussed communication in the meeting. They all decided in order to foster open communication, any questions or task assignments, basically any and all communication with anyone in this division on Fridays must be done in person. I have ADHD and have to combat distractions day in and out. I am almost in tears. Please tell me this is indeed banana pants before I march in there and completely lose my sheet on them?

    1. Las Vegas*

      Don’t lose your sheet on them, that will give them an excuse to dismiss you. Come at it from a business perspective. “I was hoping to give input on the communication protocol since unfortunately I had a conflict and couldn’t make that meeting. I understand the intention behind it, but I’m concerned there may be unintended complications. My days are quite full and prioritizing in-person communication will take more time away from other deliverables. Is there any wiggle room here?”

      And if they say no, just do what you have to do to make it work for you – eg – send YOURSELF an email after each in-person request to document what was asked. And continue to bring up workload challenges in the context of “competing priorities” and “ensuring I can give my full attention to XYZ”.

      1. NewBoss2016*

        I am one of the managers so these are my fellow managers (equals) I am going to bat with. But I did go ahead and address it already from a business perspective and your advice was spot on!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          So, my role is in communications. This would drive me crazy! Ok, I’ll stop my editing and proofreading on a complex document to have a face-to-face conversation to tell you what to send me electronically to get your communication in queue and sent. To get approval on a listserv message,
          do I need to print it out & walk it over to you? What about web updates?

          I feel for you!

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        Right – when you have to miss an in-person meeting because of other meetings, how was that in-person communication supposed to happen? Their whole point just failed, because you were not physically able to be in their Friday meeting. Surely they aren’t implying that people who have conflicting meetings on Friday simply don’t get information from the meeting they missed!

    2. BirdEnthusiast*

      Yep, totally bananapants. I also have ADHD and get distracted easily. It doesn’t help I’m an admin, so I’m constantly being interrupted on my tasks from other coworkers. Good luck!!!

    3. ferrina*

      I suspect (hope) this will die out quickly. This is wildly impractical.

      Yes, since you have standing, tell them that you and your team will not be participating in this. What if you have a meeting? Step out to grab coffee? There are so many reasons why someone might not be at their desk at a given time. Yes, if people organically foster these convos, great. But why are we tying their hands? If they have a quick question and the person isn’t at their desk, email!! Don’t ask them to delay their work until the person returns and they can ask their question.

      1. NewBoss2016*

        I went ahead and opted my team out of this, which ruffled feathers. But they will have to come tell me that in person :). I totally get the premise – fostering relationships – but this method is really disruptive for my team’s workflow.

    4. Hiring Mgr*

      That makes no sense and there’s no way it will happen – are they really saying on Fridays (only Fridays??) you cant email, phone, slack anyone?

        1. Siege*

          If it’s not in my email it doesn’t exist. Glad to hear you pushed back on this because that’s a great example of imposing a team structure that doesn’t work for existing employees. (I take the tack that generally if that’s how a team functions and you’re the new person then you get to adapt and your goal in interviews should be to identify things you can’t work with but a change of such magnitude to an existing culture is not a good idea without significant, culture-changing need.)

    5. NaoNao*

      Before you flip out (and believe me, I’ve been in the flip-out zone so I get it), I would wait and see how and if this gets implemented. I can almost guarantee this is a tossed-off idea that two people mentioned and someone was like “sounds great!” and then ZERO actual implementation beyond maybe a single follow up question/email will occur.
      Keep sending emails or IMs or whatever, and if by some small chance this does go into production, which again, I’d be bowled over if it does, then take the people in question aside quietly and do the poo sandwich method to explain why you won’t be following that suggestion/idea: “it’s a great idea / here’s why I won’t be doing it / but best of luck for the rest of you!”

      1. NewBoss2016*

        They had already put it in production. I had a line of my team members out the door when I walked in this morning. The management philosophy here is that even if you don’t agree you are supportive of management decisions until you are able to argue your case otherwise. Which isn’t a bad philosophy in general – you aren’t a manager bad mouthing a decision to your team. In this case, I would need to be actively pointing my direct reports back to the communication guidelines and following them myself. With that being said, I pushed back anyway. I think they caught me in a bad moment, because usually I would be willing to let this go on for a week or two until it slowly fizzled away and became something we laugh about in a few years.

    6. Thunder Kitten*

      Y’know, depending on your work. you could frame it as “meeting free fridays”. People can buckle down and focus on projects without being interrupted. If youre not in the office, or the door is locked or what-have-you, its not like they can reach you to tell you they need to meet. :-D

  26. Jess*

    Good morning, I’m hoping to get some advice on how to word a conversation with my manager about an upcoming move. I’ve been in my current job for almost two months, it’s a fully remote position with their offices being on the east coast and me located in a central part of the U.S. I’m currently separated by one time zone but this upcoming move will put me two time zones away (EST to Mountain). I plan on starting work an hour earlier to adjust for the difference so there wouldn’t be an impact to my start time. It’s also an in-state move so I wouldn’t be asking them to deal with employment concerns in a different state than they hired me in. This move is strictly to be closer to family. I’m not really looking for permission from my employer, more of a friendly heads up I suppose? But should I word this in a way implies I’m looking for my employer’s blessing? Any advice would be much appreciated.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Do you have regular one-on-one meetings with your manager? Assuming you do, I would raise it there during the transition from personal life chit-chat to work topics. “Oh, by the way, my family and I are moving to [city] in a month. [Who should I contact in HR to change my address?/I’ll probably take a few vacation days to deal with the move.]” If your manager has any questions/concerns, you can explain you’ll be in the same state (so no business nexus/tax concerns) and you will keep the same hours relative to Eastern Time.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        This. Inform them with the necessary info. Don’t ask because I don’t really see there’s anything for them to approve. A change in state would be different, though.

    2. AnonAcademicLibrarian*

      Before you go discuss this with your manager, decide what you need. Do you need a few days off to get settled and deal with movers? Do you need some grace on replying to emails as things come up? What are you hoping to get? Because as a manager, my first thought if told this information would be, “Okay, what does Jess need from me?”

      So, I’d be prepared to answer that question before entering the conversation. Beyond that, I think you can phrase it something like, “Just a heads up, my family is moving to CITY in X months. Super excited about it. None of my hours will change or my tax stuff, but my mailing address will be ABC. I’d also like to take of X DATES for dealing with moving and such.”

      Now, if you are close to your manager and you have not yet bought a house or finalized anything, but you need some time off to look at housing, “So, I’m doing some house hunting in CITY and I might need some time off for house tours I don’t think it’ll impact AB or C, but might impact XYZ.”

      Just ID the business impacts, know what you need, and let your boss know. Assuming they are otherwise normal, this isn’t a big deal.

    3. Random Academic Cog*

      Were there any specific rules around the time differences? We have an office-level policy regarding remote workers. One whole division went permanently WFH after covid, but there are still occasional in-person meetings. We had two folks from that side request permission to keep their jobs while moving to other states. The final decision was “yes” for the one staying in the same time zone with the caveat that she’s expected to travel on her own dime for a couple of in-person annual meetings. It was “no” for the person moving to a different time zone and they decided this would be the future standard for similar requests. Since your employer is already OK with a different time zone and you’ll be keeping the same hours relative to your current job, I wouldn’t expect it to be a problem, but just be aware that individual employers may view that differently.

  27. Brownie*

    Has anyone had experiences, good or bad, with a shift from a traditional manager setup to “self-organizing and managing teams” and a flatter hierarchy?

    We got the official announcement this week that our department of 300+ people is going to get rid of all middle managers and official team leads and go to one department head and 25-30 “self organizing and managing” teams and I don’t see it going well at all as we’re a highly technical department full of SMEs and other deep-in-the-tech folks. To that end I would like to prepare ahead of time, especially as I’m the proactive long-term planning person on my team and am likely to end up in a default managerial-type position when this all goes down, and would love to know what folks have seen happen in their jobs and organizations.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      I’m sorry. That sounds bananapants and awful and a messy and like something that will fail.

      I don’t have much advice as to how to prepare. People’s personalities bubbled to the top. Some people will naturally fill the necessary maagement and admin roles, but without agreed upon hierarchy there’s potential for trouble and arguement about who is in charge and who can tell others what to do.

      I’m like you, though, I think and I’m part of a voluteer org that is somewhat organized along those lines. I plan, so I ended up setting up meetings and nudging people that it was time to do things. There are a couple of visionaries in the group that do their part that sometime initiate things too because they want to bring their vision to life. There’s my good friend who wants to do more, but is more overwhelmed by her life. And there’s the person (with whom I am at B Eating Crackers stage with) who when she heard we were planning an intro meeting for new members somehow thought we should have a pool party but she wants nothing to do with planning anything or showing up on time to anything. (so there is a reason I am BEC with her).

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Agreed. I manage six technical people and, wow. In this set up, people will be making up their own solutions because the actual manager is too busy to engage with.

        I also loathe the rushes to get rid of middle management. It very well may be a bias but I consider myself busy as ever being in the middle (of course with times for internet breaks on Fridays:-/). But I’m frequently mentally overloaded with a dozen projects and difficult questions and things people without 15 or so years in the job can’t efficiently solve or troubleshoot themselves. It would be nuts if someone just decided I could be skipped.

        1. Brownie*

          Making their own solutions is going to introduce so many problems down the line. I’ve rarely met technical folks who don’t think that their personal pet idea isn’t the Best Thing Ever and having several of them on a team without an authority who can give a final decision seems like a recipe for disaster. Plus who’s going to keep track of projects and deliverables, interface with customers and clients, be the point of contact, enforce standards and policies… it all feels to me like such a bad idea, but I’m not in any position to do anything but try to prepare for everything to start flying towards the fan later on.

          1. Prospect Gone Bad*

            I am dealing with this now in this situation: there are so many 3rd party softwares out there these days for every little thing. Mailing vendors, leads vendors, texting/call vendors, resale vendors, social media vendors, simple softwares like trackers or project management software. Some companies bundle them, legitimately. Some say they bundle them, but they outsource them.

            What would happen here, is every tech would start picking and choosing outside vendors. Or an upper manager would pick random ones based on a good sales pitch, that would be wildly inefficient for half of the techs.

            This is why you need people who are experienced enough to filter out BS from vendors to be between staff and upper management

        2. Alternative Person*

          I think you’re right. Middle management has a bad reputation in some parts but people forget how much work they do, good work at that, when properly implemented. My company has weeded out a lot of middle management roles and it’s causing lots of issues not least because it means higher managers and individual contributors are pushed to do things that shouldn’t really be part of their regular job description.

    2. ferrina*

      Oh no. Who looked at school group projects and thought “this is a great idea!”

      Having no formal hierarchical means there is 1) no one is setting the group goals overseeing individual goals; 2) no one is holding individuals accountable for not pulling their weight; 3) no one is responsible for ensuring the group has what they need to succeed; and 4) no one is the deciding voice when things just need to get decided.

      Theoretically a group can do this on their own. In low-stakes short-term situations, it tends to work fine. In self-selected groups (i.e., social groups), it works fine. But in long-term non-self-selected situations? Nooo. This sounds like a demon designed a long-term “team building exercise”.

      1. ferrina*

        Actually helpful advice-

        If you can self-select groups, try to gravitate toward people that you naturally work well with. Avoid the folks you don’t work well with at all costs.

        If you can’t self-select, break in to mini-groups. “Brownie and I will tackle the llama braiding manual!” Be clear about what work you are doing, and protect your bandwidth. “I can support on the TPS reports, but I only have about two hours. Someone else needs to own that.” If your group has a natural leader that you like, great! Let them lead! If you don’t have a leader, feel free to avoid others assigning you work. “Hmm, I don’t know if I’ll have time for that. Probably best not to put me down for that.”

        1. Brownie*

          It’s looking like I’ll end up as the natural leader. I have the social skills, planning abilities, am on good terms with everyone else on my team, am consistently asked to be the customer/client interface for the team, have had more manager training than even our current manager, and more. There’s mini-groups already in my team based on many different factors (shifting Venn diagrams of alliances and loyalties) and I’m the only one who seems to see those and tries to manage them too. Hence trying to prepare now for when this all goes down in hopes that at least for my team I can make things not as bad as I fear they’d be otherwise. I know we’re going to lose people over this too, so we’ll have a higher workload with fewer resources and no one to check on the known overworkers (one even ended up in the hospital for overwork injuries a few years back!) or slackers and keep everyone on an even keel.

          1. JelloStapler*

            So basically you end up as the leader without any support, authority or compensation for that role.

      2. Brownie*

        Consultants, that’s who decided. The big bosses are all for modernizing our workflows for more efficient operation and being more competitive so we get better/more applicants for new hires, but this? This seems like it’ll lose us a lot more people than it will gain us. But the consultants have convinced the higher-ups that this is the wave of the future and will be the best solution. I’m aghast at it as a long-term planner who has actually been advocating for more middle management as right now there’s only 4 middle managers for those 300+ people and that’s an impossible ratio for quality work.

          1. Brownie*

            They’re Agile consultants who’ve made themselves hated by every ground-level person and most of the middle managers over the last year they’ve been working with the big bosses. The lower levels wouldn’t spit on them if they were on fire for the way things have already been messed up while the big bosses think they’re gifts from a higher power.

            The big bosses are also very appearance-conscious versus the lower levels who just want things to work so they can do their jobs easily and well. The consultants’ reputation with the lower levels went to pot when it was discovered that they were telling the lower levels that SMEs would be exempt from Agile structures and workflows while telling the big bosses that SMEs would be forced to become part of those structures and workflows. So with the big bosses going “Look! New! Shiny!” and touting how wonderful everything is while the lower levels suffer there’s a LOT of bad feelings toward these specific consultants.

            1. Mill Miker*

              Agile’s self-organizing teams are supposed to work by moving agency and decision making power closer to where the work is actually being done, allowing the teams to respond to change faster, without having to loop “the bosses” in on everything.

              The fact that it’s being forced onto “the lower levels” against their will makes me think the agency bit’s been missed, and it’s just ineffective cargo-cult agile, without the necessary cultural change and buy-in.

              1. Brownie*

                How I can see this playing out is moving agency and decision making will end up with every technical person and SME deciding that their own way of handling things is the best and teams utterly deadlocking because the personalities involved are incredibly stubborn. No more standards, especially any security standards, that get in the way of fast development or using someone’s preferred method. Right now standards are enforced at the middle manager level because that’s where the authority level is and because that means they can put standards in place for every team under their group, remove that and we’ll be back to the cowboy territory that’s taken the last 5 years to work our way out of.

              2. Charlotte Lucas*

                So pretty much the way every (functioning) team I’ve been on works.

                I need to get in on this consulting gig!

    3. Generic Name*

      Yeah, I currently work at an 80 person firm and I’m quitting because I’m sick of the lack of management oversight. This sounds like it will throw your company into chaos, and unless you thrive on uncertainty and love last minute scrambles due to lack of planning, I’d polish up your resume.

      1. Brownie*

        Not something I can do, I’m here for the long-haul (can’t make better money or get the same health benefits elsewhere, I’ve looked for years) so I just have to make the best of things. One of my ultimate goals is actually to get to a point in management where I can stop this kind of ridiculousness and it actually meant that I’d be going to middle management in the next two years until this plan dropped. Now I don’t know what I’m going to do other than gather my resources, plan, and wait out this latest bad decision.

        1. Generic Name*

          Then my advice is to make a conscious decision to not care if things are run badly/not how you think things should be done. Try to find a group of people you like and only work on stuff you like doing. Use the lack of oversight to your advantage.

    4. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      This sounds like a way for the company to save money by making you do managerial work without a pay bump and then blaming the team when this does not work as no one person is in charge.

      1. Brownie*

        Oh, this has very much been brought up and the big bosses aren’t responding to questions about it. There’s a lot of folks who’re on the management track now that I can see going “NOPE, not without a pay raise and job title change!” They’ll either stick around at their current job description or leave and either way is removing a lot of skills and talent from the company.

        They also haven’t responded to questions about how someone doing a manager’s job, but with a technical job title, is going to have their performance reviews done or how HR is going to handle this since it means that the job title is no longer commiserate with the actual job duties (an automatic HR review and job reclassification for the employee normally). I can’t help but think this decision is not well thought out from the perspective of cascading effects.

    5. Punk*

      My experience is that onboarding new employees really suffers in flat organizations. You have peer-level coworkers training each other so there’s sometimes something missing in the “people skills” that a manager needs to have but peers don’t, and always something missing in the transfer of institutional knowledge.

    6. trilusion*

      A few thoughts that might be helpful or you:
      – Does “self-organizing and managing” teams mean the same to management and the 300+ people in your department?
      – Are there workshops and / or set goals or expectations?
      – What roles and responsibilities are there, which ones will remain in the teams?
      – From what I’ve heard, successful self-organizing teams need a clear structure, clear processes as well as transparent communication. Is it possible to get external consultants / coaches (search for: (agile) transformation coach, change management coach) for half a year or more, in order to create new structures and processes, ease everyone into the changes and flag issues to management early on?

  28. The Great Escape*

    Anyone have any advice on what to do with yourself after leaving a toxic job?

    Today’s my last day working for a toxic boss that destroyed my health and confidence. I have a week off before starting my new job. I thought I’d feel relief and excitement, but I’m just exhausted and anxious. I am also having vague worries that new job could eventually turn out to be toxic too (there were no red flags in the interviews, but I had to take the first job offered to me after over a year of job hunting so it was more of a “thank God I can finally escape!” than “this is going to be such a fantastic job for me!” type situation). Is there anything I can do to start feeling normal again, or it that just take a lot of time?

    (I had weekly sessions with a therapist for anxiety and depression over the past few months, but did not find it helpful at all and ended my sessions once I accepted the new job. If anyone has any particularly good therapy related books, videos, apps, etc. to try on my own I’d be happy to hear about them though.)

    1. deesse877*

      In a similar situation, I found that for a while after I left I actually had more anger, I guess because I knew I could let it out. It slowed down after a few months and passed completely within a year. So I guess my advice would be to remember that your feelings have their own schedule and do evolve. If therapy isn’t your thing, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with how you feel now.

      1. Bart*

        Unwinding Anxiety and the Feeling Good Handbook. And Headspace for meditation help (including help when feeling overwhelmed/anxious and when having sleep issues). Sending positive thoughts your way!

    2. Lily Rowan*

      It’s definitely going to take some time. If the new job is fine, you’re still going to be bracing yourself for toxicity for a WHILE.

      In your week off, I’d try to do things that are active/engaging and also refreshing. So like, not just “relaxing” because that will just give your brain space to worry, but maybe like a challenging hike? Or a home project? Even just going to the movies vs. watching TV at home is a very different experience for me. Lunch with friends to break up the day. Etc.

    3. AnonAcademicLibrarian*

      Well, I would find a new therapist, if the one you had wasn’t working out. Toxic jobs can seriously mess up your expectations and I’m a huge pro-therapy person. Having said that, I would also be prepared that some of the behavior patterns your body and brain learned at the toxic job are not going to serve you in a normal workplace. So, you may need to unlearn a lot, which can be super stressful. In the meantime, I would go do something you know you love as a reset. Relax, but relax with purpose- go see a movie, take a long hike somewhere, hang out with some friends, do something that keeps your brain occupied. Love to sew? Lose yourself in a new pattern.

      If you’re anything like me, you’ll be fretting over all the “first week of work” stuff, so maybe also make sure you’ve got all your first week of work clothing picked out and clean, do a little meal prep, etc. That would help me. Your milage will, of course, vary.

    4. SofiaDeo*

      I took a staycation, ate out or got takeout at least once a day, did some sort of exercise involved activity daily. Even if it was driving to a not-so-close park to eat a picnic lunch or takeout from sonewhere near that park & then stroll around the park grounds. Bring a book or magazine if you like to read; even watching a show outside under a tree is different than sitting in your living room to watch. You could go to museums, galleries, boutiques if the weather is ick. Pick an activity you don’t normally do and try it. Bowling? Putt putt golf? Shooting range? Larger parks/monuments/museums may have tours. Pretend tou are a tourist in your own town!

    5. Victoria Everglot*

      I think this is a lot like when someone you’ve been caring for during a long illness passes. You don’t feel relief until after they’re buried and you can start refocusing on yourself and all the things you put aside, ignored, pretended weren’t important, etc. Once it sinks in that it’s over and will never be your problem again, you’ll feel the relief. But like with death you’ll also have complicated feelings: why did I let this go on so long, why did I let this job have so much power over me, why did I care so much, why didn’t I do things differently, etc. You’ll have to forgive yourself, let go of the anger and pain, and you’ll feel the relief. It could take a long time, but hopefully once you’re in a new, better environment, you’ll start feeling it. Until you’ve got some distance I think all the good feelings could still be overshadowed by the sadness and anger and resentment, at least some times. But you’ll get there.

    6. chocolate muffins*

      Sometimes it’s hard to procsess everything about a hard situation while it’s happening so responses to that situation might keep happening for a while after it’s over. This could be stuff like intrusive thoughts, feelings about your old job, tension in your body, not being able to sleep, maybe bad dreams, etc. That’s your mind and body understanding that you’re not in the bad situation anymore so while it doesn’t feel good while it’s happening it’s a form of progress. Also you might get sick – there’s an actual biological reason for why that I don’t remember, but the end result is that bodies get tired of fighting while you’re in stressful situations and put their defenses down when you’re out of that situation, which means more germs and viruses and such can get in.

      As for what to do, for me it would be helpful to be expecting all this so that it didn’t take me by surprise. You might not experience all (or even any!) of what I’ve written above but for me it’s better to expect stuff to be hard and then it’s easier than I thought rather than the other way around. I might build in some time to process even after you start your new job – walks, conversations with friends, baths, whatever is going to help you have some space to manage the experience you’re leaving. Also stuff like plenty of sleep and nutritious food if you can, which can help with the tendancy to get sick after something stressful, probably. And maybe something like deep breathing if you notice yourself getting tense at the new job. You don’t need to respond right away to things that people say and do; like someone pointed out above, you might end up responding similarly to how you did in your old job even though the new job is different, and taking a pause before responding can help with that.

      Good luck, and congratulations on leaving a situation that wasn’t working for you.

  29. I'm sorry, what?*

    Got a resume this week that was TWENTY SEVEN pages long. The resume part was like 5 (I think) and attached was every certificate this person has maybe ever received. I was expecting to see a Best Reader from third grade or something. Most of them were at least tangentially work related, at least, but man alive.

      1. Our Lady of Shining Eels*

        This tops the 7 page resume I once read for someone who would be responsible for teaching … how to write resumes to high school students.

        Please, we need to know what type of position this was for. For … science. Yes.

        1. I'm sorry, what?*

          It was for a manufacturing job. And not one that requires a lot of certificates or degrees. There was no reason for it to be more than a page.

          The norms in manufacturing are a little wonky anyway, but this was weird even for us.

    1. Elsewise*

      Good lord. The most I’ve gotten was five, and that was from a college student with NO work experience! (It was a stream-of-consciousness musing on the nature of work, leadership, and responsibility and why having been a good student in high school should be considered. This was not them being confused about resume vs cover letter, because they submitted a cover letter too! That one was three pages.)

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      That’s the opposite of my favorite one. I got an application where the resume attachment (which was specified very clearly that it should be an uploaded resume) was

      a PDF
      … Of a printed-out-scanned-in(-poorly) Word document
      … … Containing a screenshot
      … … … Of a cell phone photo
      … … … … Of a notepad file on a monitor
      … … … … …. In which was typed, I quote, “I would be happy to learn anything necessary to do a job.”

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Sounds like someone was thinking down the line of a C.V. (listing every cert) and went way long even for that…

    4. TX_Trucker*

      I get those extremely long resumes sometimes, especially from former military. And while I cringe, I try to be sympathetic, knowing there is lots of bad career advice out there. Sometimes I email them a link to this blog.

      I have spoken to the local Military-Civilian Transition Office several times about how no one in the civilian world wants to see copies of ALL their certifications. They insist I’m crazy and I keep getting ridiculous resumes.

    5. Siege*

      I got a cover letter with a book submission once that referenced the writing award the person had received as a tween from their local newspaper. I don’t recall if that was the same cover letter that basically said I had to publish their book because they had an ongoing medical issue (like, not even for money, just, somehow, your dialysis program is relevant to your writing skills?). It blows my mind what people will put in documents that other people are specifically judging you on.

  30. Susan Calvin*

    Summer wardrobe advice wanted!

    I’m unexpectedly going on a business trip to somewhere much more hot and humid than my usual climate, and while I have some few outfits and that are both formal enough to meet clients and I won’t melt in, I don’t really fancy buying the same shirt in enough colors to last me the whole trip, so, commentariat, what say you?

    My go to is pencil skirts and loose, sleeveless blouse, plus blazer/cardigan on hand for when the AC kicks in. (link with examples in reply)

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I’m in Houston, btw: Layers. What you describe seems pretty workable–we here mostly just wear something light and keep something insulating on hand for when we need it. Hang them up between wearings (don’t re-pack them) to let them dry and air out. Will you have access to laundry facilities?

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Thanks! Probably, re: laundry, the hotel seems fairly upscale by my standards. Although we’ll only be staying a bit over a week – which overtaxes my wardrobe, because “client-facing” and “heatwave” usually only overlaps in tiny chunks for me, but is short enough that I feel re-wearing outfits might raise questions!

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Can you mix and match so you’re never wearing exactly the same outfit? Unless your pieces are very, very statement, a lot of folks probably just won’t notice.

          Also, you’re traveling. I’m judging anybody who judges you for wearing the same thing twice in over a week.

    2. kiki*

      When I lived in New Orleans, my summer go-to was a-line dresses. I prefer the look of pencil skirts and more fitted apparel, but when it’s that hot and humid, I really needed clothing that touched my body in as few places as possible. This may be too casual for what you need, but shirt dresses were also a lifesaver for me. I also found in tropical climates, the dress code tends to be more flexible/ casual than colder places, I think because folks accept that all the layers of a lot of business wear are just untenable for the temperature.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Seconding the “no touch me” aspect in the humid heat. If you are going to be spending more time outside than walking to/from your car once a day, I also recommend addressing any potential thigh rub situation with cornstarch, a swipe of antiperspirant, or a little stretchy short. People who don’t normally chafe find themselves chafing in this weather.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Hopefully you can create a “capsule” — you don’t re-wear exact outfits, you mix and match and handful of items into new outfits and accessorize a bit to make it look different? Something like 2 jacket/cardigan, 3 tops, and 2-3 bottoms (ideally skirt + pants) plus a scarf or something like that.

    4. Managerista*

      I’m in the southeast and linen has been a game changer. Linen pants are marvelously breathable outside, but provide a layer to keep you comfy in arctic AC. Linen pants with a structured top and a good looking shoe is my go-to combination.

    5. Ria*

      If it’s in your budget, perhaps try looking for silk pieces? Natural fibers are so much cooler than synthetics even when the synthetics are loose/sleeveless. Silk always looks professional and can be reworn in cooler temperatures too in a way that some cotton/linen clothing can’t necessarily.

      But I also highly recommend nice cotton/linen pieces. I have a linen pencil skirt that I love and I also second the recommendation for tailored linen pants.

      Also, don’t forget about shoes! Hot, sticky feet are so uncomfortable. If you have/can find shoes with natural fiber uppers and/or open toes, bring those!!

      Source: I work frequently outdoors in temps of 30-35 and high humidity :)

  31. Interested in Non-Profit*

    Hi everyone! I know there are quite a few people here in the non-profit sector. My husband has spent most of his career in manufacturing and recently manufacturing leadership. He really enjoys training (building training plans, training people, helping them grow, etc.) and is starting to think about “what’s next”. He wants to get more involved in the community and potentially look to the non-profit sector. This is not an area either of us are very familiar with (I also work in Corporate America). Any advise (resources or people that have made the jump)? We are located in a moderately large city with quite a few national, state, and local non-profits (think Indianapolis, Spokane).

    1. Justin*

      That’s funny, I work in training for a nonprofit. It might be a start to look up some nonprofits and their functions and see what is adjacent to his experience – plenty of nonprofits related to construction and manufacturing, usually if they specifically are targeted underserved groups. If he wants a short-term certificate on training or instructional design there are a lot of those around the internet, too.

    2. Elle*

      Is there a non profit near you that offers job coaching? They might have connections and suggestions for organizations.

      1. Interested in Non-Profit*

        Ooo, that could be a good option. I’m sure there is. Our child is also participating in the “kids under 5” non-profit, so they might be able to connect him to resources.

    3. El Camino*

      I’d recommend checking out a local workforce development nonprofit. There has been a push, especially in light of the federal infrastructural bill, for workforce nonprofits to offer more apprenticeship programs in specialized trades and manufacturing fields. His background in manufacturing could be a great fit in helping match apprentices with potential employers.

    4. feline outerwear catalog*

      Are there any colleges or universities in your area? Some of the technical schools near me have programs like mechanical engineering or courses about lean manufacturing/management in technical or business programs. Maybe he could be a guest speaker or volunteer to mentor students on projects or something? If he’s comfortable with zoom, many online courses have guest speakers if no schools are local to you with these kinds of programs.

  32. Justin*

    Re: neurodivergence and work, I understand and have absolutely experienced the difficulties caused by both my impairments and the structures that do not allow me to flourish. Now that I’m sort of on the other side (in a context where I am supported), obviously the other things are a lot easier to deal with.

    But now I have what I think is a whiny dilemma, in that the only things I ever read about ADHD in the workplace is how it’s hard (and it is, sure, as I know). I do wonder if it’s possible to put forth joyful things about working as a neurodivergent person, not to ignore the bad but because we are more than our struggles. I honestly think I resisted evaluation for a long time because I only ever heard terrible things.

    So if you are any flavor of ND, what are some things that have either helped you thrive OR aspects of your brain that have made you better at your career?

    For me, the fact that I truly cannot stop the tangents my brain goes to can get in the way, obviously, but it also means I have, in my current job, been able to see connections between people, project, departments that others hadn’t been able to, and I’ve thus been able to break down some organizational silos because of this (and also because I, as the kids say, have no chill, and did a lot of this work faster than it might have been done otherwise).

    I also have a comfortable workspace in a part of the office where I don’t get distracted easily, as far as something that helps me. And it’s a place where I am open about my Dx, and we support each other accordingly (as I said at one point, rated very highly by nonprofit times as a workplace recently, and I agree).

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Perhaps I shouldn’t be responding to this as I have not been diagnosed with anything, but I think it highly likely I have either sensory processing disorder (if that counts as neurodivergence) and/or autism. OK, I’m pretty sure I at least have sensory processing disorder.

      Anyway, I think it has made me better at my career in a whole number of ways. For one thing, I work in the learning support department and our school has an autism class. As you can imagine, I get on fairly well with a lot of the autistic students. And I think the fact that I fidget a lot and rather obviously sometimes, eg, tossing my whiteboard marker in the air and catching it repeatedly while teaching, makes students who need fidget toys more comfortable using them. I once had an NT student ask me why another student, who hasn’t been diagnosed with anything, but I suspect has ADHD, was using a fidget toy and I replied, “I know you don’t but some of us need something in our hands in order to concentrate” and I showed them the marker I was fidgeting with.

      I’ve also talked to students about how to fidget in a way that doesn’t get them in trouble or distract others. Like “that’s too noisy. Try using (something similar without a sound) instead).”

      I also have a really good memory for anything I’ve heard or read and am very pedantic and detail-oriented. I joke that the colleagues in my department “keep me around for obsessing purposes.” They are delighted by the amount of research I do on stuff and my ability to remember what was said in meetings, when our deadlines are, etc off the top of my head.

      And this links to something that has helped me thrive. I work in the learning support department and work closely with special educational needs coordinator and the teacher of the ASD class so we’ve divided stuff up in a way that suits all of us. The special educational needs coordinator is really good at getting my ideas up and running and presenting them to management, parents and other professionals, so we have a system where he tells me, “Irish Teacher, we need to make a plan for such a student. Can you evaluate them and see what resources, etc might benefit them?” then I evaluate them and do some research as to what resources might be useful for their areas of weakness and go back to him and he goes to management, etc and ensures those resources are provided. I told the teacher of our ASD class that I am happy to do the research, curriculum developing, etc, so long as they do the stuff like interacting with parents, making demands of management, etc. And I think that suits them too.

      My colleagues are also fairly good about being clear with me and if they aren’t about anything, being understanding when I say, “hey, this is probably just me missing obvious cues but what did x mean?”

    2. Susan Calvin*

      I think I’m a lot like you that way, but I want to shout out especially the time I was working closely with a colleague on the autism spectrum who balanced me perfectly – I like to think of the documents and other deliverables we produced as topiary, with me growing them quickly, sprouting and branching in all directions, and her very methodically and precisely pruning them into perfection. We’ve both left that team since then but I’ve been trying to poach her, because I really miss working with her!

    3. TheGirlInTheAfternoon*

      Completely agree on how the tangential nature of my brain functioning means that I see connections a lot of others don’t. And while my difficulty focusing on a single task is definitely still a challenge, it’s made me a good fit for roles that involve a lot of switch-tasking.

    4. Watry*

      My autism makes me really good with processes. I’m also good at changing processes to make sense, and explaining both the process and the change to others. I warn them I’m likely about to overexplain so I don’t leave anything out or forget anything, and then I do it. That means I don’t leave out the “intuitive” stuff that isn’t really so intuitive to an autistic person.

    5. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I’m AuDHD and I see tons of benefits at work! My requires both analysis and creativity and my brain is wired for that. My ASD and ADHD needs are at odds with each other a lot, but having both gives me the ability to diverge and converge to solve problems. The inability to focus sucks but the hyper focus is amazing. I notice things in the world and see patterns and connections most people miss. I can see whole systems and think through what might happen. One of my superpowers is perspective-taking and understanding what makes people tick — I used to just think that was just a talent but now I realize it’s probably because I spent my life trying to understand and figure out people so I could navigate the world. This makes me really good at people research and storytelling.

      1. Justin*

        Absolutely! I spent years being misunderstood so I don’t want anyone to feel that way, so when I design classes I am mindful of this all the time.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          Ooh, that’s another one! I design and facilitate workshops and I always ensure there are multiple modalities — at least one individual exercise, one pair, and one group. Everyone shines in different environments and I want to make sure everyone gets one activity that works for them.

    6. WhirlwindBrain*

      Medicated ADD here – definitely a lot of what I call oblique thinking – it’s easy for me to see ten different possible approaches for things, and to know that I can ask my brilliant colleagues why they wouldn’t work and get useful answers. Also I can task-switch because my mind is going a million miles an hour, but now because of meds I can also sit down and focus for the long stretches some of my work requires. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the attention stuff, but I also have killer soft skills and think my coworkers are fascinating. It’s hard to resist when someone thinks you’re fascinating. . .

    7. RagingADHD*

      Because my brain is cackhanded, I am bad at a lot of things that are easy for most people – but the payoff is that I am very good at things that most people are bad at.

    8. Spearmint*

      I have ADHD and am probably on the autism spectrum.

      One advantage is that I think I’m pretty good at seeing the bigger picture, and not getting lost in the weeds. Because I have difficulty focusing sometimes, I tend to try to learn and remember the most important things, and I think I’ve gotten good at it.

      Another nice things when I do get into a hyperfocused flow state, I’m often insanely productive. Like getting days of work done in an afternoon levels of productive. (Sadly, I seem to only be in this state a few times a month, I wish it was more often).

    9. Siege*

      For me, it’s the connections. I work best in roles where I can connect stray pieces of information, and with my current job as huge and sprawling as it is (communications! graphic design! web development! training! event planning! political advocacy! hiring! gossip! organizational structure design! legal standards! a partridge in a pear tree!) I have a lot of opportunity to make those connections, which I really enjoy. I am the crossover point between our three functional teams so I know everything and can bring that lens to when pieces of info come my way. For example, my work on a llama braiding coalition brought me in contact with a report on new styles of cross-functional llama braiding that crosses over into duck ranching, which is my main job, so I was able to send the report to my boss with the comment that we should frame some of our duck ranching advocacy in terms of the new llama braiding styles because that will be what some our external partners are promoting and they will leave us out if we don’t.

      (That probably got too convoluted, but I’ve entertained myself with duck ranching.)

    10. Qwerty*

      ADD/ADHD is pretty common in tech. Your point about tangents and being able to see connections is spot on.

      I find that I’m able to balance multiple projects because I’m really good at context switching. Being in small places like startups where stuff keeps changing is really easy for me. I once had a job where I was programming multiple applications in multiple languages at the same time and apparently that’s not a “normal” ability (edit C++ code -> while it compiles, edit C# service -> while it starts up, do some python scripting -> test C# app -> edit some html stuff, etc, all intersprised with several chat conversations and managing prod support)

    11. Cedrus Libani*

      As a young child, I had OCD and chronic pain. Reading was my escape, so I read…all day, every day. As I understand it, when a young child reads too much, the parts of the brain involved in sensory processing (especially visual) will over-invest in the specific functions needed for reading at the expense of everything else…

      I was thought to have autism, and perhaps some emotional disorder as well, until someone figured out that I was merely “hard of hearing” about facial expressions. I wasn’t picking up the quieter expressions from other people, and I was also making my own expressions at the volume that I’d need to hear them, which was way too loud. Imagine little Cedrus making a “meh” face, as an appropriate reflection of her feelings about broccoli or fractions or whatever, but it’s actually “I will murder you” face. I had to go to occupational therapy. There were flashcards involved, with people making various faces. I’m okay at this now, but it took serious work.

      I still can’t drive. Too much sensory input. I can’t pay attention to it all, not in real time. My parents even hired a driving instructor; he drove me home and made them promise to keep me off the road. It’s that bad.

      There are very real upsides, though. I read freakishly fast. I will spot the typos in those long technical terms that spellcheck won’t tell you about. I’m pretty sure that it’s also why I’m so good at troubleshooting; I can load up relatively large chunks of data into working memory, where I can play with it and get an intuitive sense of its structure, and from there it’s usually obvious what to do.

    12. epizeugma*

      My special interests relate to my field so I have deep knowledge of specific subjects and am seem as a subject matter expert on several of the more esoteric parts of my field.

    13. Anon. Scientist*

      I am some flavor of ADHD except for me it’s not really a disorder. I am A Lot but I try not to actively irritate people. It means I kick ass in the right environment, in which I can hyperfocus but also be able to change directions instantly, which means I’m extremely responsive to stakeholders. I’m good enough at what I do that I’m in upper management (juggling staff crises more than project crises these days) and now I’m in an office I can vibrate freely without annoying my neighbors.

      I also have an auditory processing disorder which helps me to focus (can’t pick out distant/indistinct noises) but that is a real safety issue because if it’s noisy I can’t distinguish words. My objective hearing is excellent. I also have almost no directional hearing, which makes searching for my phone by its ring practically impossible… and is yet another safety issue. In an emergency someone’s going to need to physically yank me along. But excellent focus!

    14. Nightengale*

      I’m autistic and work as a pediatrician for autistic and other neurodivergent kids.

      Often groking my patients on a intuitive level is one obvious benefit. I don’t identity hugely with every kid but I see a lot of myself in a lot of my patients and spend a lot of time trying to translate back and forth from neurotypical for their families. (Although a growing number of families are recognizing their own neurodivergences.) I think spinning tops is lots of fun. I love hearing a good infodump on almost any topic. I don’t expect eye contact or conversational pleasantries.

      The other really useful thing for me is some degree of hyperlexia. I skim, read and digest written information pretty quickly. This comes in very handy when I get my hands on 146 pages of prior evaluations 10 minutes before a new patient visit. . .

  33. Chloe*

    I just want to vent about my job. Management at my retail job posted a note in the break room that all cellphones need to be in the locker at all times as this is in the employee handbook, and anyone taking their paid 15 minute break or unpaid 1 hour break in the break room can’t be on their phone nor charge their phone. So now, people are leaving to go outside or take their break in their car in order to be on their phone.

    1. not a hippo*

      Retail sucks. I’m sorry, I hope they come to their senses.

      Do you have a tablet or Switch you could bring instead, if the wording is explicitly anti cell phone only?

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      That’s fairly ridiculous. What’s the business rationale for not allowing people to check their phones while on their break?

      I wonder what the incident was that got the bees in their bonnet.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        My completely wild-arsed too caffeinated guess would be someone recording management doing sketchy things (like sketchy things that you’re not supposed to do in the workplace, maybe union busting, telling someone not to discuss wages, that type of super-villian-management type of thing).

    3. Kelly*

      This is ridiculous. I totally understand not having your phone out on the floor, but what’s the problem when you’re on break? How does that affect your job? And why not allow charging the phones? None of this makes any sense. My sympathies.

    4. SofiaDeo*

      I imagine that the few having obnoxious convos that everyone is forced to listen to, plus routine electrical use as opposed to emergency use, has resulted in this. So sorry.
      I never thought to charge my phone at work, I did not use my personal phone as part of my job and also was restricted grom using it diring eorking time. If using it is not a part of your job, I can see where management does not want to deal with increased electricity charges, potential bickering over outlet use, and any other arguement or incident related to personal devices not used for actual work.
      Ad a manager who has had a number of people being on their phone instead of working, I understand where this is coming from. I had no problem with most all of my staff carrying their phones, I had parents who were comforted knowing any emergency could be communicated immediately and their recharging a phone was rare. Then a few spoiled it for all. So sorry it’s happening where you work.
      People here got so crazy/entitled, IT had to review websites visited daily and constantly block non work related ones. They could tell bu the timestamps people were Not on break, it was during work times. I would walk into a room and have to tell someone “please stay off the Internet until you finish you work.” It got to where the facility just blicked everything & one had to put in a request for eork rekated sites to be approved. Bandwidth was severly compromised from leople streaing music & video, other departments could not send/receive in a timely manner. This was in the early years of the Internet when bandwidth was limited. But management got very upset seeing how easy it now was to actually document time people wete goofi g off instead of doung their jobs. Things like this probably contributes to “butts in seats” and “no work from home” mentality. So they restrict all use of phones to remove temptation from those who abuse it, ugh.

  34. Frustrated Attorney*

    I am a public defender a little over 5 years into my career. Recently, I went to a training with other PDs at a similar point in their careers and made an interesting discovery. The things that are happening in my office are not normal; in fact, they are (as a classmate said) “toxic.”*

    As crazy as it sounds, hearing this is a relief. It isn’t just me who thinks things are wrong. I have already decided to move on from this job, though I am not sure to where. I would like to stay a PD and there are other offices in my area I could (in theory) transfer to. I’ve made tentative gestures to those offices, though nothing firm. I would also be willing to be a prosecutor, and I know almost every local prosecutor’s office has openings. I have not told my management yet because I don’t want to risk being run out before I am ready to go.

    *Our Chief PD creeps out younger female employees. Two attorneys have left in the past year, in part or entirely because of the way he acts. The female interns we had made a point of staying together in the office so neither would run into him alone.
    When I expressed concern about my caseload, I was told to consider working Saturdays and Sundays.
    When I brought up feelings of burnout and said I was thinking of taking a week off, I was told my last vacation was only 4 months ago. (I have plenty of leave.)
    Asking for help gets flippant answers, or being given an answer and then when that is acted on, being told it was done wrong.

    1. AnonForThis*

      I am so sorry you’ve been dealing with such an awful workplace. When you leave, please, please call the career services offices of law schools that regularly send you interns and tell them you have concerns about the way your Chief PD behaves with young female employees/students. Make it a call or an in-person conversation so there’s nothing in writing that could rebound on you. That is information anyone counseling those students should have, and you could do a lot of good by sharing it.

      1. Frustrated Attorney*

        I believe one of the 2022 interns informed the Career Services office at her law school. However, there are several other schools within an hour of the office…

        1. Fran*

          Can you call a bunch of the big ones you know may send to your office when you leave? And is there a law society where you can report unethical behaviour?

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      Thank you for your work as a PD, we need good ones doing that hard job.

      Good luck in both your decision making and finding rest and a new start.

  35. Pickle Pizza*

    Is it ever OK to correct your coworkers’ and boss’s egregious grammar mistakes in written and spoken/video communications with customers? I work in an education-adjacent field and feel that it makes us and our organization look terrible when coworkers and my boss use incorrect grammar with customers (who are college educators). I would never correct them in front of our customers, but is it ever OK to mention it privately afterwards?

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      Argh. This feels different from correcting written communications–or even recorded video communications. Correcting what someone says off the cuff, even after the fact, ESPECIALLY if it’s not someone who reports to you…I don’t think I would do that. If you feel like something your boss or coworker says is making things truly confusing or hard to understand, you could potentially jump in in the moment and say something like “just to clarify, Ted is saying that we really need to get your specs BEFORE Friday–5 pm on Thursday at the latest–and if we don’t, then we can’t guarantee that the project will be finished by the agreed-upon deadline.” Not correcting the grammar, but just restating what they said in such a way as to make it crystal clear what was meant.

    2. Elsewise*

      How egregious? Are they saying “ain’t” and “would of”, or are they completely impossible to understand? Are they non-native English speakers? Have any clients indicated that they think less of your company because of these errors?

      My instinct would be that if these are happening frequently, keep it high-level, and start with the written communication. So instead of “Hey, boss, you used the wrong ‘your’ in the email to Dean Boberson” followed by doing this every time that happens, you could frame it as “hey, I’ve noticed some of our emails going out to clients at Grammar University have some grammatical errors. Do you think that this might make us look bad? I’m happy to take a look at these emails before they go out if so.” If your boss says yes, after doing this for a while you could broach the topic of verbal grammatical errors (in private), but if they say no, I think you should stay out of it.

    3. TX_Trucker*

      Are they going to edit the video or reprint the material based on your correction? If not, I wouldn’t mention any specific incidents. Instead, in a group setting I would say that you have seen some errors in publicity documents and would like to develop an editing or proofreading plan to prevent that from occurring in the final document. If you are the one doing the filming, I think it’s okay in the moment to suggest a correction and do another take.

      1. Pickle Pizza*

        I should have clarified, I’m talking about live Zoom meetings, not marketing materials.

    4. Champagne Cocktail*

      I once had to tell suggest to someone they meant “morale” when they walked into the lunchroom and said, “We have a morality problem.”

    5. Double A*

      I’ve only done this when I’ve noticed it repeated. Once could just be a misstatement or slip of the tongue and I think most audiences will write it off that way. But if a colleague is, say, consistently pronouncing a word incorrectly I might mention it to them.

  36. Senorita Conchita*

    I work in an extremely toxic and dysfunctional office environment. My manager “Jon” has always been moody and emotional. He’s a bully and he takes his anger out on me. Now it’s to the point where Jon won’t even talk directly to me. He has other managers and people who relay the information for him. “Jon asked if you could barcode the teapots” or “Jon told me to give you this.” Jon will leave me out of things, literally turn his back and ignore me when I approach him. I’ve tried talking to him about it, but can’t because he won’t say anything to me!

    Boss won’t do anything about it because she loves Jon and I’m just seen as “causing problems”. They gaslight me and tell me that it’s my fault and they say that Jon is so great, he’s so busy, etc. He has them all fooled.

    I can’t get my work done and am nervous that they’re trying to either have me quit, push me out, etc.

    Help! Any advice until I can get a new job and get out?

    1. Hanni*

      From what you are saying, it sounds like you are correct—these people are trying to push you out.

      I wish I had better advice, but the reality is you need to get out of this job. Now.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I have two ideas, don’t know if either will be helpful in this situation:

      (1) Can you try taking the “pretend you’re narrating a nature documentary approach?” When other managers relay messages from him, you can narrate (in your head!) “Day 5 of the I-won’t-talk-to-you-directly Power Play. Jon has enlisted Cindy to relay the request to barcode the teapots. Who will blink first? Not me, I am going to barcode those teapots right away.”

      (2) One tip I read on Captain Awkward was to only respond to the text of what passive-aggressive people say, never the subtext. I think this could be repurposed for this situation. Jon is being extremely passive-aggressive by only communicating with you through others: the text is “barcode the teapots,” the subtext is “I’m angry at you/you aren’t worth my time or attention.” When someone says “Jon told me to tell you to barcode the teapots,” respond as if Jon had asked you himself: “sure, no problem. I’ll have them done by the end of the day.”

      Both of these are short-term solutions because Jon is being a massive jerk and it does take a toll to pretend everything is OK when it’s so clearly not. But in the short-term, one or both of these may make your workdays something approaching bearable and allow you to get some of your work done.

  37. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

    This is a union related question. I looked back on an open thread about unions almost a year ago, and it was really helpful, but still would love some advice from current commenters.

    I am non-faculty staff part of a small org within a large private university, and our org is in the process of unionizing. We don’t have a contract yet. The process has been pretty contentious and staff who are already unhappy are being further ramped up. I am a coach of sorts and have been here for six months and will be a part of the union. I am also on the leadership team and work with management all the time, including on some issues that are being brought to the union.

    I am concerned that I am being lumped in with management on some decisions, and there are a couple staff members who seem to either not like me personally or have low level anger towards me all the time. (The majority of the staff seem happy with my work and a couple have told me I have already had a really positive impact on the org). I think they feel I am not fighting for them enough, but I am practically all the time! I guess I am asking how to respond when they ask me if I was a part of management decisions that affect the union.

    Also, one in particular brings up things they are fighting for in the union during staff meetings where the topic is unrelated. It’s really uncomfortable, and other staff members have even commented on it being inappropriate. They are issues I agree with and think are important, but they are not pertinent to the discussion! I guess I would love to know how to redirect them without them getting upset or directing their frustrations at me, which I know might not be possible. People are allowed to get upset! But it’s so stressful when they do.

    1. Hanni*

      Proud union member here, so my response is going to be biased.

      What management decisions that impact the union are you talking about, and what is your involvement? It seems odd to me that you would be involved in those decisions, and I can’t quite tell from what you’ve written here if you are. If the answer is that you’re not, then just say that: “That was a decision made by out-of-unit management which I was not involved in.” You could add “I don’t personally agree with the decision, and I tried to push back when I had the opportunity by doing x and y”.

      Regarding the second Q, I don’t think you should be the one to “redirect” those statements. You are a union member, and it would risk making you look more like a management narc (which is something you seem to already be concerned about). If other staff members who have better standing in the union are also concerned, maybe they can be the ones to raise it. But I would stay away from doing it yourself given the other things you’ve said.

      1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

        I want to be clear I am very much in support of the union, and was actually a member of this union at a previous job.

        Your suggestions about how to answer those questions are helpful.

        Regarding the last point, it’s tricky. I am not management, but I am on the leadership team. So while I don’t make the final decisions on policies and procedures, I am part of the decision making process.

        I definitely am not a “management narc,” but now I wonder if the couple people I sense a lot of tension from see me as that, or are concerned I will be.

        1. Hanni*

          Then I honestly think you should be refusing yourself from these meetings (sorry!) but again I’m still not entirely sure what kind of decisions you’re talking about here.

          If the decisions you’re talking about are things like “here is the union’s proposed contract, what are our counters”, you 100% should not be in those meetings as a union member as that literally means you are actively working against the union. You should be recusing yourself from these meetings or you should not be in the union, but you cannot be in both.

          If the decisions you’re talking about are “will union members get their raises at the same time as non-union members” or along those lines, it is known that you are in these meetings, but outcomes are still consistently coming out of them that are unfavorable to the union, then I will be honest that I can see where the frustrations are coming from within the union, and I hope you’ve considered that they might have some foundation behind them. If you are part of these decisions, I think you should be thinking less about how to answer questions so as to make yourself look good and more about how you can better advocate for the union in these meetings. You will demonstrate to these people that you are an ally through your actions, not your words.

          1. Hanni*

            Reread your post one last time and saw that you mentioned that you’re involved in discussing issues that are brought to the union. I don’t totally know what this means, but if it is, for example:

            “Rachel says she wasn’t given as much maternity leave as she is supposed to per the contract, how do we fix this?” or
            “Ross says his manager’s actions put him in an unsafe work environment which he feels is a contract violation”

            Then my answer is the same as the above. If you have power in these conversations, use it to better advocate for these people (assuming their complaints are founded). If you don’t have power, tell the union that, and then maybe revisit why you need to be in these conversations at all

        2. 1LFTW*

          Alternatively, “Your concerns about X,Y, and Z are valid, and I know those issues have been raised with Union Rep/in Organizing Meetings. This meeting is about A, B, and C, so let’s focus on those topics.” Or even “I appreciate your enthusiasm for improving everyone’s working conditions, so let’s focus on A,B, and C, that way we won’t have the added stress of scrambling to meet that deadline”.

          Regarding the “management narc” angle, my best advice is to be as transparent as possible about whatever power you hold. Explain to your workers why it’s in *your own interest* to advocate for them. Reassure them that you value them, and their work, AND their organizing efforts. It takes a lot of guts to organize a workplace, and it’s a ton of work, even if you’re joining an existing union.

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

      I can’t tell, has your almost-a-union had an election of representatives? Are you forming a brand new union, or joining an established larger one as a chapter. If you have reps, you should involve them in handling this. Unions don’t just mediate between staff and management, they mediate within the members as well.

      Regardless, the leadership should remind others during the union meetings, not in the office, “Please only discuss union topics at the union meetings. It will undermine our bargaining process with management if we can’t collectively and confidentially work together.” This does also apply to you though. Are you one of the reps involved with the bargaining process? If not, could you be undermining them by working with management without the involvement of the union reps. Even if it seems like you are all fighting for the same things, it’s important to join that collective voice and not work with management on your own.

      1. Hanni*

        Yes. The reps should be facilitating these conversations internally; union members going rogue and publicly shutting down other union members is not the way to resolve this

  38. nope*

    Help me shop!

    I’m nonbinary and want more masc work clothing. The issue is that I’m petite and have a hard time finding anything in men’s section that doesn’t need alterations so intense that it’s basically remaking the damn things.

    Any good online stores? Off the beaten path recommendations?

    1. Justin*

      Bindle and Keep was recommend to me by an androgynous person who said it really helped her. I know that’s not the same as masculine but she recommended it accordingly.

    2. tired librarian*

      Peau de Loup is good for shirts that fit like men’s shirts! I also find Uniqlo has a lot of good unisex stuff/the men’s stuff fits pretty well (as a fellow petite and lil chonky masc I swear by the men’s ankle pants)

    3. Phoenix*

      I’ve heard good things about TomboyX, although most of their apparel is casual. They do have some oxfords and polos that could work.

    4. I'm sorry this probably won't help you*

      Weirdly, I’ve had luck at Marshalls/Ross/etc. They sometimes sell a line of button ups called “Ricky Singh.” And bonus points, you’re not spending $60 on a single piece of clothing. Praise be to whoever can drop that, but I can’t so yeah

      I’ve tried looking online but they don’t appear to have a site or anything, but you can try Poshmark or eBay.

      In the fall, Old Navy’s Men’s sweater department is pretty good & again affordable. I have a few of their thinner sweaters to throw over a button up or their chunky sweaters for when it’s really cold.

      Also Binders. Binders also help (me). TomboyX sells compression tops & tanks.

  39. the.kat*

    Has anyone made the transition from non-profit to for-profit? I’m in development/fundraising and would like to stop being here. I have a degree in journalism, 10 years fundraising experience, experience in graphic design (but no real portfolio), prospect research, project management (no certificate), copywriting/editing, and lots of other niche and less-niche skills.

    If you were me, what would you try next?

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      Ooh. I feel like you have a similar background to mine, but I don’t have the front-line experience. Sales and marketing sound like it would be an area to which you could bring some good transferable skills!

    2. Zzz*

      I agree with marketing/comms. I transitioned from a nonprofit to a for-profit philanthropy and it’s been a fun challenge to transfer skills to the funder side and a refreshing new perspective.

    3. Extra anony*

      Is a corporate social responsibility role too close? I have also seen businesses that provide support to family foundations where experience with nonprofits is a plus. I have friends who have gotten Project Management jobs without certificates too.

  40. Stubborn kid career advice*

    Is it a thing for new college graduates to not put their education on resumes? My son just got a masters from a well known college. He says it’s no longer a thing to list education on a resume. And his education is listed on his cover letter. I think these get separated from resumes, especially online. His education is so recent and is the most impressive thing on his resume because he doesn’t have much work experience. I don’t want to encourage a lame tactic like “showing gumption and sitting around a company’s lobby waiting to shove his printed resume in the CEO’s face. Is this really the newest thing?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I would still list education on the resume. Im academia adjacent, and the cover letter goes to big boss and HR, doesn’t always get circulated with the resume to the rest of the team interviewing.

    2. Magpie*

      What a strange take. I’ve never heard anyone say that before. You’re definitely correct that resumes and cover letters get separated. I’m often involved in hiring for my team and I’ve never seen anyone’s cover letter before. I only ever receive a resume. I’m assuming my company’s recruiter filters those out before sending candidates along. You definitely want to include education on the resume if it will strengthen your candidacy, and in your son’s case it sounds like it definitely would, especially if he doesn’t have much experience or if his recent employment history is spotty or less relevant for the jobs he’s applying to because he’s been focused on his degree. The only time I’ve seen AAM advise to leave education off a resume is if the degree might be a distraction, like a recent degree that’s completely different from the jobs being targeted, or if it might be detrimental in some way, like a degree from a for profit college. I think your son is potentially hurting his candidacy by leaving off his degree.

    3. EMP*

      I have not heard of this. Especially if the education is recent and relevant, I would expect it on your resume.

    4. aubrey*

      Definitely not a thing in my experience (tech/software), unless perhaps it’s completely unrelated to the job, would make him seem over-educated for the role and likely to leave immediately, is from decades ago, or is from a sketchy school.

      Resumes and cover letters get separated often, and it’s the resume I’m doing a quick check on to make sure the applicant meets our basic requirements before I decide if I’ll read the cover letter. If he doesn’t have much work experience it’s really important to include his education or I’d wonder what he’s been doing with his time and probably not read further.

    5. constant_craving*

      I wonder if he’s overgeneralizing appropriate advice? I’ve given the advice to people to remove courses from their resume (e.g., you have a degree in psychology, it’s assumed that you have generic psychology courses and they don’t need to be listed and described), so I wonder if he heard something like that and thought that meant nothing education related at all?

      But otherwise- degrees should be listed. I don’t know if there are any specific fields where this might not be true, but I can’t think of any exceptions.

    6. Claire*

      Every white-collar job I’ve had or know of has a basic education requirement. Could be a BA or an MA, might be an AA. If your son doesn’t have those listed on his resume, HR has to go to the trouble of checking to see if it’s in his cover letter, then reminding the hiring manager to read the cover letter because that’s where it is. Automated systems that are scanning resumes to make sure requirements are met are going to boot him.

      If it gets to me, the hiring manager hiring people with college degrees, I’m going to think there was something weird going on with his degree that made him leave it off his resume, like he never finished it and plans on going back for it or something. That’s going to cause me to round-file it in favor of the other candidates who did clearly establish that they have the degree I’m looking for.

      Unless he’s afraid of seeming overqualified, what’s his rationale for not putting it on there? Just that someone told him no one was doing it? Because that someone was not telling him the truth.

    7. ina*

      Huh? Absolutely weird to not put your education on your resume. Many jobs are looking for specific degrees (sometimes stubbornly so). The autoparsers on online applications would instantly boot him in some cases. Very out of touch and detrimental advice he got from whoever gave it to him. If this were about the year he got his education or where to put it on his resume (seeing as he has no experience, I recommend at top), then there is varying guidance based on circumstance. But I have never seen people say not to list it on the resume – frankly, I’m worried about his cover letter if he’s wasting space there going over his education.

    8. LJ*

      +1 to everyone else. Especially if it’s a degree in his field from a well known college. Does he also not list his bachelor’s?

  41. Spreadsheet Hero*

    So here’s a question. Not sure how to handle this.

    Periodically throughout the day and especially in the afternoons, my boss snaps very rudely at me and at my coworker. For a few examples: yesterday, I inquired about a call that had gone badly (in order to brace myself if I would need to assist that person) and he snapped, “That’s none of your business, thanks.” A few weeks ago, I offered to look into our databases for a license, and he said, “I didn’t even ask you.” At another time, I summarized a relevant document, and he said, “Believe it or not, I do know how to read.” The words themselves seem mostly benign, looking back, but the tone is harsh, almost vicious.

    Two days ago, he undercut a coworker of mine very cruelly to a customer who had been hostile and rude to her in a sexist manner.

    I am never sure how to respond to this. I’ve had plenty of confrontations with coworkers in the past — but they were always peers. I’ve never had to grapple with a boss turning on a dime like that. After yesterday, I was so infuriated that I submitted applications on Indeed from my work computer. Is it okay to call that kind of behavior out in the moment (ie., “Wow, rude” or “Sorry to overstep, but that wasn’t necessary”)?

      1. Spreadsheet Hero*

        Unfortunately, it’s an ongoing issue and has been happening since I started in October. I’d really like to stay in this job for at least a year if I can, since I got a little job-hoppy during the Pandemic.

    1. Fiona*

      I would be too shocked in the moment to say anything but in a perfect world it would be as simple as a calm “It’s not okay to speak to me like that” and then leaving the situation. Sometimes that really jolts someone into realizing that they were being inappropriate.

      That said, no matter what you do, I would job search ASAP.

    2. ferrina*

      The quiet job search sounds smart. Maybe not from your work computer, but it’s smart to start looking because this behavior is horrible.

      Is this new behavior? If this is a change, there might be something going on in his personal life. You could take a quiet moment and ask “Hey, is everything okay? It seems like you’ve been a lot more stressed recently, and I’m not sure if you were aware, but you snapped at me a couple times and that’s not like you.”

      If this seems like it might be the norm, there’s probably nothing you can do. It will take someone above him to tell him to knock it off. If you trust someone in HR (or in a senior role), you can go to them and ask their advice on this behavior. This is partially to ask their advice, and partially to let them know it’s going on. They may choose not to address it- if so, your only option is to eventually leave.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Is it okay to call that kind of behavior out in the moment?

      How do you think he would respond to a “Wow, rude” or ““Sorry to overstep, but that wasn’t necessary”? If you think one of those responses would take the wind out of his sails a bit and would make him less likely to snap in the future, go for it! If you think it would escalate the situation, stay clear or incorporate Fiona’s suggestion to immediately the leave the situation so he can’t escalate directly at you.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      I might recommend talking to some of the other people your boss talks to in that way. Maybe if you ALL committed to start calling the behavior out when it happens, it would be more effective–harder for him to just see it as you overstepping your bounds. I feel like a calm “there’s no need to use a tone like that” is a good response. “There’s no need to use a tone like that. If you don’t want me looking for the license, you can just say ‘no thanks, that’s not necessary.'” “There’s no need to use a tone like that. Of course I know you know how to read, and never implied otherwise.” But frankly, it sounds like you boss is a jerk, and may well never change.

    5. Mad Harry Crewe*

      I would stop offering help, for one thing. Every time you volunteer for an interaction with him, you’re giving him the opportunity to be unkind back to you. It’s clearly not paying off. I’m sorry he sucks and I hope you can make your escape soon.

  42. talos*

    So my org just this week did layoffs, and my team got hit super hard, and I’m hoping for advice/commiseration? This was “soft layoffs” or whatever where the affected people have 60 days to find a new job internally before they actually get laid off and then get severance after, but it’s obviously still terrible for them (especially since there are people who are too junior for internal hiring, and people who could get internal jobs but everything is high-stakes because they’re on work visas, and people who relocated for this job 6 months ago).

    But it’s also terrible for those of us who are left! My team has gone from 14 people to 9, and a separate corporate initiative is under way that gossip says will drop us down to 6-7. My manager keeps setting meetings then canceling them with vague messages that effectively read like “I still have the same questions you do so it’s pointless to talk” (he was not aware of the layoff until the victims were, and this is part of a surprise overhaul reorg of this entire 2000-person division, so there’s just no information to be had. This is not a criticism of my manager, he would have been out sick this week if he wasn’t trying to deal with this. I can’t fault him for not wanting to get on zoom to scream into the void with us while he has a sore throat).

    Presumably we’re going to drop projects, but nobody knows which projects will be dropped. There are critical projects that had 2 or 3 people who knew about them (great! redundancy!) but then all those people got laid off before anyone else could learn the details (wtf!). I was supposed to take over one of those projects (wtf!). The powers that be seem to have chosen the layoff targets mostly by time of service, so we lost zero of our senior people and like 50% of our junior people, which means that junior people like me are gonna probably get swamped.

    But for health insurance/job hopping/this job pays well reasons, I would like to stay at this company for a couple years, and I’m _also_ too junior for many internal transfers to be available. But with everything in chaos I’m scared to even ask about promotion, and a promotion would take like 6 months to clear anyway, and aaaaa. It goes in circles.

    I guess I probably am not asking a specific question with a specific answer, I just want… like… general takes, and your own rage-inducing layoff stories.

    1. Spreadsheet Hero*

      Oh no, Talos! I have no rage inducing layoff stories, but that sounds like a really tough situation. I hope more information comes out soon and that the events get a little less choppy and rough.

    2. ferrina*

      I’m so sorry. There’s no good way for layoffs to happen. We had layoffs earlier this year, and it was a similar situation- no information was given in advance, no one knew what was happening until the moment it happened, the weeks afterwards were a weird blur of how are we function now that _____ isn’t here?

      Take care of yourself this weekend and the next few weeks as well. Good luck!

  43. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Checklist of things to do both work and non-work before being let go? What did you do or wish you had done?

    I’ve updated my resume and created an online account with my state DOL (but not applied ofc).
    I’ve also slowly emptied out my desk of all non-essential items as well as paperwork (yay to my weird habit of needing everything to be in front of me).
    I have 2 calls scheduled for next week.

    I’m planning to –
    finish as much work as I possibly can
    utilize as much of the learning resources as possible
    look for positive emails etc

    Anything else I should keep in mind?

    FWIW I don’t think I will – but one of the things that exacerbates my anxiety and puts me in a bad place is being unprepared.

    1. Wipe the computer*

      Download any legally allowed documents onto a thumb drive. Erase any personal non-work documents from your company computer. Especially important if you have a company issued laptop. For company issued laptop, make a thumb drive of company only files & completely erase/overwrite/reset / wipe the hard drive, including any online search history.

      1. Kayem*

        And make sure to save off any personal files or personal data in case your employer wipes the computer before your final day, if there will be a final day. A former employer of mine did that. It was also my personal computer I was using at the office (long story) so it was especially obnoxious to have to pay to have the hard drive recovered. I mean, in general, make sure you back up personal files, or don’t keep them on the work computer at all, but sometimes it’s so easy to just quickly download the electric bill or a tax statement at work.

        Also, save any documents or other files (that you can legally take with you) pertaining to your work. It can be handy to have examples you can use when job hunting, whether you use them in some kind of portfolio or just refer to the files in a cover letter or interview. Especially if it’s been a while since you last looked at them. I’m helping my partner job hunt right now and they had forgotten enough details about previous projects that they were happy to have the reference.

    2. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I resigned, rather than being let go, but since it sounds like you have some time ahead of you (as I did during my notice), here are a few things I found useful to keep the unpreparedness feeling at bay:

      – Cleared my work laptop (everything colleagues might find useful to a shared Google Drive, everything I only needed temporarily or wasn’t work-related deleted forever)
      – Wrote a guide for my team on where each project stood, and how to find the right documentation in the shared Google Drive (because I knew they wouldn’t go looking at every single file on their own initiative, and there were several balls at risk of being dropped)
      – Went through my employee benefits, and used anything I needed that I knew I’d lose access to after leaving
      – Made a list of outstanding admin / money / benefits topics to ask HR about immediately, so I wouldn’t have to contact the company after leaving (examples – what would happen with my workplace pension account? When would I get my last payslip? Could they send a statement of earnings that I might need for my next tax return?)

      Wishing you all the best at this stressful time and for everything that comes next :)

    3. Boss Scaggs*

      Out of curiosity, if you dont think you’re going to be let go, why are you doing all this? It’s good to be prepared of course, but absent any notice of layoffs or similar,, is there a reason you think the job is tenuous?

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      May be a good because but in this case, I feel you’re asking the wrong thing. I’ve seen you have a few jobs in a very short time based on other Friday threads last year and this year. Now you’re asking if you should basically catch up on all of your work. I think the real question is why do you need to get into a position of being fired/made redundant, to force you to do these things? And if you’re not doing them already, will having a firing hanging over your head actually serve as a good motivation? Can you find motivation from a more positive source? There has to be some carrot to waive over your own head. In my day it was “paying myself.” It felt like a reward to divert money to a separate account for the future, even if it was only $40 per paycheck at some points. I feel like you need something like that, instead of the threat of getting fired, to motivate you.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I’m not sure I feel I was asking if I should catch up on work; to me finishing up as much as possible isn’t the same thing, but maybe it’s semantics.

        BUT! you do raise an excellent point about having a positive source of motivation rather than being forced into a negative action to do something I should already be doing. That’s actually something I’ve been needing to explore with my therapist since this does spill over into personal life and stems from childhood issues.

        Re the jobs, I was freelance for about 18 months, and, well yea I had 3 jobs in 2020 – one was cut in March (5+ years), a freelance that I quit after 3 weeks and a 6 week job I was fired from. 2020 was a rough year.

    5. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Focus on what you need to do to stabilize yourself over “finishing work”.

    6. Qwerty*

      Medical – get your annual check up and refill Rx. Try to get the 90day refills.

      Often insurance lasts through the end of the month, but it is not guaranteed. If you are having trouble getting an appt slot or get pushback about switching to a 90day refill, say “I am losing my insurance on X” – it is magic words and they will do anything they can to help you get your needs met before that date.

      Exchange contact info with anyone who you would want to stay in touch with.

    7. Tabby Baltimore*

      Alison handled this question in 2016 (I’ll put the link to the column, titled “what you need to do before you quit your job,” in a reply to this comment) and here were some of the commenter ideas/suggestions that haven’t already been mentioned:
      – Use your insurance benefits as much as is feasible before moving on
      – Suggestions for easy/free online storage to back up personal files
      – Make sure you get all of your mileage/expense reimbursements submitted and paid for
      – Make sure everything on your corporate card (if you have one) is accounted for properly

  44. Ann Perkins*

    Are there people you work with who typically ignore your emails? What do you say when you follow up in an email?

    I’m 2 months into my job, where most everyone is great. But there is a man who never responds to my emails, even though I’m specifically asking him questions, it’s not just an fyi or something he needs to respond to.

    Personally I get the feeling he doesn’t respond because I get some misogynistic vibes from him, and I’m not at director level, although I’m kind of mid-level.

    Now I’m have an email chain with a few others, including my boss, where I’m trying to get some information from this guy, and I’ve already followed up twice to no response. What do I do?

    Should I keep following up via email, and what should I say? At what point should I ask my boss about it, who is on the chain, what I should do because this man isn’t responding? I’m still new so I don’t want to do the wrong thing.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Can you (and everyone in general!) be more specific about what sorts of roles we’re talking about here. I’m a Director and see stuff like, person being completely overwhelmed and honestly missing stuff. Or a person temporarily managing too many projects. Or viewing some things as not worth responding to because they’re legitimately lower priority TO THEM but then they don’t remember to delegate to someone else. Many possibilities here. I sometimes handle the “no one responds to me” here thing and sometimes find that a person is placing equal weight on “this $5 adjustment wasn’t added, what do” and “our software failed in the Tennessee market today”

    2. Bluebonnet*

      That is such a pain! Am sorry you are having to deal with this situation. If a co-worker refused to respond to my emails despite multiple attempts and team wide emails, I would bring this issue up to my supervisor to deal with.

    3. Spreadsheet Hero*

      1. Start a new email chain.
      2. On the new email chain, CC your boss, his boss, and anyone who specifically NEEDS you to get a response from him
      3. Your wording is something innocuous and matter of fact, but firm. Something like, “Hi, I’m just checking in! I’m sure you’re swamped, but for X reasons, I need to know Y.”
      4. Attach your previous emails.
      5. Optionally, mark it as important.

      You can also just directly email your boss with “Hey, does Mr. So-and-So communicate better over the phone? I need X and Y from Mr. So-and-So and I haven’t heard back from him on email.”

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        I really like and second the second part of this suggestion. Let’s you bring it up as an issue with your boss without feeling tattle tale.

    4. PleaseNo*

      I have the rule of two pokes (either email or chat), one call, and then escalate. Seems to work well, and having the initial attempts be documents always helps in case escalation is needed.

      1. Anon. Scientist*

        We’re hybrid, so I do 1-2 virtual pokes and then I’m on the phone, but really the best thing is to find when we’re both in the office and physically stand there until I get something. I can’t loom (too short and bubbly) but asking and then just …waiting expectantly in silence works wonders.

    5. CTT*

      Have you tried calling him? I imagine that would be your boss’s first question when you go to them about it.

      1. Grumpus*

        Coming here to say this. I seem to forget that calling is an option. I tried it once or twice in a similar situation, and it worked! Call, and if no response, then escalate.

    6. Lily Rowan*

      Assuming you have regular checkins with your boss, I’d bring this to the next one of those to ask for advice. (But also, as a couple of people have noted, try calling or some other communications method if you can. If he has an assistant, ask that person the best way to reach him.)

  45. Tired*

    Any tips on staying emotionally healthy through the job search process appreciated. I recently was a top two finalist for a position, but was not offered the position. I felt physically sick with how close I was to this opportunity. I am working to apply to other jobs this week, but feel down and struggle with my self worth. I am also unhappy in my current job and have given up on my passive supervisor. I have been trying for 2+ years to find a job that is comparable or better than my current job (including within my organization)

    These negative emotions are affecting my personal life. I struggle with bitterness and complaining and my spouse finds me draining. I recently did come back from a nice vacation with my spouse, but am already down again. Not much in my regular non-vacation life is fulfilling. I see a counselor, but she is only able to see me once every two weeks. I know I should get a hobby or volunteer, but pursuing new options feels like an added burden to my already burdensome life.

    Hopefully one day things will change. This has been a long lonely journey.

    1. ferrina*

      Hugs and love! I am so sorry- I’ve been there and it is so, so hard.

      Here’s what helped me:
      1. Care less about the job search. Apply and forget. Interview and make a note and forget. I liked to think about each interview as practice for the next one rather than a path to a job. It helped me mentally detatch.

      2. Set limits on the time when you are searching. I found that if I didn’t set limits on myself, I was constantly worrying that I wasn’t doing enough. And there’s always another job you could apply to. So set a limit on what is “enough” Maybe it’s 5 job applications per week. Maybe it’s 10, maybe it’s 2. Whatever is feasible in your life. If you have extra energy that week and feel like applying to more, great! But if the energy/interest isn’t there, don’t do it. This gives you mental permission to relax and recharge.

      3. Leave work at work. Your work sucks. Let it suck at work, and don’t let it follow you home. I found that I was constantly talking about my toxic job, and it was constantly dominating my life. I made the decision to talk about it 5 minutes or less per day (if it helps, set a timer). It feels weird at first. I didn’t know what else to talk about! But after a couple weeks you’ll find that it leaves your mind freer to do other things.

      4. Expand your world slowly. If it feels like a terrifying thing or an insurmountable burden, you don’t need to go out and volunteer or commit to a hobby right away. Start by doing a one-time thing in a place you’ve never been. Go to a concert, or a play, or a new park, or community center, or any other place that gets you out in the world. If it’s something you’re not used to, it may feel exhausting. That’s okay- doing new things takes energy! Check in with yourself often and see how you’re feeling. Be really honest- “I’m having fun but I’m also really nervous” or “I’m having fun, but not sure if I’d do this again” are just fine! Let yourself feel whatever you are feeling. You are building up different experiences and learning about how you interact with those experiences.
      If you’re starting slow, I recommend that you do either one event every other week or one event per week. Make sure you have a goal so that you don’t let yourself find excuses not to go (My brain is constantly trying to find excuses not to do uncomfortable things)

      5. Have you talked to a doctor? Exhaustion and lack of interest in normal activities can be a sign of depression. I had depression that purely manifested in stress and exhaustion. It was caused by a bad personal situation- I took care of the personal situation, but the depression refused to resolve itself. Medication can be a great short-term tool to give you back your brain. It allows you to access the energy and interest to be you again. It’s not a magic bullet, but sometimes the right med gives you the boost to be able to take care of those things you need to beat the depression.

      Good luck with everything! This sounds exhausting. I’m sending good thoughts your way!

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        I want to thumbs up: #3, Leave work at work.

        Try not to talk about with with people. Definately don’t complain about it.

        1. JelloStapler*

          Add my thumbs up to that as well, because if you are complaining about work outside of it- it is still taking up your mental space. Fill that space with other things, and if you need to find more things that will bring you joy – #4 is GREAT advice.

    2. The Person from the Resume*

      Find something fulfilling outside work. My go tos are:

      – A visit with my best friends
      – A gathering with a wider circle of friends
      – I run a book club and running of it can be stressful, the monthly book discussion and the monthly social gathering with people I like are rewarding
      – Go to the gym. I enjoy the coaches and people I see at the gym. I really enjoy tracking my progression as I lift more weight or do more exercises or do exercises faster.

      But basically find something fufilling outside work. If you look at all mine, they involve interactions with people I know and like even if they don;t always fit in the friends category

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Park day!!! ( I’m a loner) but I spend a lot of time going to board games meetings

      2. Hlao-roo*

        I second the suggestion to find something fulfilling outside of work. It’s very easy in this society to tie up all or most of our self-worth in our jobs/careers/salaries.

        they involve interactions with people I know and like

        I want to emphasize this because I find the same is true for me. It might also help to focus those interactions on your friends/family members/acquaintances because most of what is going on in your life right now is the job search, and it will be refreshing to not talk/think about that for a little bit. A few ideas:

        – Grab a drink with a friend you haven’t seen in a while and catch up with what’s new in their life. Talk about your vacation when discussing your life.
        – Call an extended family member and ask what the nieces/nephews/cousins are up to or hear about the latest family gossip.
        – Do something nice for your spouse in whatever their love language is.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Remember that a) you wouldn’t have gotten so far if you weren’t qualified and b) sometimes these decisions are very random. It’s not about you as a person. I know job searching sucks, but you will find the right one.

    4. ina*

      Write your complaining down. I think some of us are hardwired to want a human soundboard but a diary or a journal to dump everything in does wonders for the people around you and yourself. You can also read it back when you’re more clear-headed and gain some insights.

      As for hobbies, try things that are low maintenance. Going for walks can be a hobby. Sitting outside and playing a game on your can be a hobby. When you’re reading for something more involved, you can go for it then.

    5. Tired*

      Thank you for taking the time to make these clarifying, helpful replies. I really appreciate it and will keep your tips in mind.

      My spouse would definitely be glad if I did not talk about work so much.

    6. Champagne Cocktail*

      A few things that helped me:

      –try to keep a regular sleeping schedule
      –if you are able financially, see a therapist
      –take one day a week where you are doing things for you that aren’t job-hunting related.
      –limit the hours in the day you’re job hunting. You can only bang your head against a wall so much.

  46. Rive Gouache*

    I thought I was starting to be too pessimistic in my job searching and then I had a shockingly sexist interview. I am female and the two interviewers were male. I am trying really hard to focus my energy on not letting it bring me down further–while also trying to survive in a current toxic work situation.

    But I am also just practically wondering if I should say something like to the recruiter or someone in the department that has the open position. The recruiter is female, FWIW. She is in a different location and different state and it doesn’t appear that she knows the interviewers personally. It is a large, well-known US-based manufacturing company.

      1. Bluebonnet*

        Speaking as a fellow woman looking for work, emotional energy is a limited resource. The job search process, even without obvious discrimination, is draining on its own.

        I support her doing whatever is most mentally healthy for her.

      2. Rive Gouache*

        I guess I should have worded it that I am planning on at least telling the recruiter (she is in-house I forgot to mention for whatever that is worth). But wasn’t sure if I should do more than that. And I wanted to gauge feedback to see if anyone said “no don’t do any of that” for such and such a reason.

    1. ferrina*

      Post on Glassdoor. They have a section where you can leave a review on your interview experience. Any in-house recruiter worth their salt will keep an eye on the Glassdoor reviews.

      If you have the bandwidth to talk to the recruiter directly, I’d say do it. If you don’t have the bandwidth, you don’t have a moral obligation or anything. You get to move on with your life.

    2. Rive Gouache*

      I am just so very angry that this happened. I want to take action of some kind. But I also have zero hope that anything I do will make one bit of difference. I am not sure I can handle going through the effort of taking some action and actually discovering for a fact that it made no difference.

  47. Jess R.*

    I’m doing my very first one-on-ones as a manager today! I’ve been in this limbo where I’m sort of managing the team but not technically, and even though it’s not entirely cleared up, I do officially have “supervisory capacity” over my team. I’ve decided that means I’m going to act like a manager (in most aspects) unless told otherwise.

    I’ve read through all of Alison’s past posts about conducting good one-on-ones plus all the comments, and I am nervous/excited. My main concern is that we have a very task-based job (as opposed to project-based) and a fairly tightly-defined scope for our program as a whole, so I don’t really know what kind of big-picture conversations to have. But then again, I don’t have to get it perfect the first time! :D

    Just for a little last-minute push, what do you like/dislike about the way your one-on-ones (if you have them) are currently conducted?

    1. Elle*

      One thing I do like is having them on the calendar so I know when they’re coming and that my boss has time set aside for me. My boss provides organizational updates and then asks about my tasks. She takes notes on everything we discuss and follows up in the next meeting.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t know how well this will go over, but my favorite thing about my monthly 1:1s is that they often aren’t needed and we end up just chatting for a few minutes, or I’ll tell them it’s their half hour to do with as they please.

      I committed transparency to my team when I started two years ago, and I tend to tell them things that impact us as they come down the pike rather than saving them for a 1:1 (including their monthly metrics, which my team pretty consistently meets both individually and as a whole). So by the time we get to the 1:1, they already know everything work-related I would have told them, and they’ve generally already asked me anything work-related they needed from me via email (and gotten an answer).

      We’re also a pretty focused team of widget producers (not physical widgets, but the analogy fits) and all 100% remote, and I only have one who’s been with the team for less than eight years, so they’re all very good at what they do and what makes them happy for the most part is to just be able to log on and do their thing and log off. I do sometimes get questions at the 1:1s, but mostly it’s “Do you need anything from me? Questions, concerns, problems we need to address?” and they go “Nope, but I know where to find you if something comes up!” And my team has one of the highest engagement and team happiness scores in the entire 30k-employee system, so between that and the longevity/lack of turnover, it seems to work pretty well for us :)

    3. Generic Name*

      I prefer it when my manager is the one who ensures the meetings happen and sets the agenda. Sure, leave some time for your direct reports to bring up anything, but the way my current company handles 1:1 drives me nuts. Us peons are supposed to chase after our manager to set up meetings and often the meetings will be open ended with no agenda. If you have a lax manager, it’s very easy to not have any 1:1 meetings for years, and some seem to rely on their direct reports to come up with stuff to talk about.

      Also, when giving feedback, please be specific. If you can’t think of a concrete example to illustrate a feedback item you have, reconsider if the feedback is necessary or accurate.

    4. Glazed Donut*

      I have seen these go really well and really poorly.
      The poor ones: only data updates, no real conversation, no questions asked, very few FYIs included. Weekly for 5-10 min.

      The good ones: a little human connection (plans for the weekend? like going outside in the weather? how’s the kid enjoying school?), space to ask questions and get answers (or try to find together!), information shared from top-down that may not otherwise be communicated, checking in on how the employee likes the role/work/workload/changes

      All of mine are regular standing meetings and the agenda is linked within the calendar invite. It’s one running document (newest meetings on top) and we both contribute ahead of the meeting to reduce surprises (and sometimes find answers). These agendas are also helpful for me- as supervisor – to add to throughout the week if something comes up and I think “ah, right, I need to ask/tell Amy about this…”

  48. PleaseNo*

    I’m looking for suggestions on how to work with/tolerate a drama llama who overshares, tells rambling stories to be the center of meetings where it’s not relevant, and who continually brings up a “running joke” that I am so very tired of. I’ve already come up with giving myself a quarter for each time the running joke comes up and when I get enough $ I’ll try to donate it through work to a charity, all in the hopes I’m not so irritated.
    I work in a stressful environment and this person has been here longer than me, but is a lower rank.
    I’ve seen others in the office just not respond to this person’s ramblings/TMIs and kinda ignore them.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Sorry to interupt Bob, but I know our meeting attendees have a limited amount of time available and we really need to focus on XYZ right now, maybe you can share the rest of that story offline?

    2. ferrina*

      Yep, ignore the unwanted behavior and respond to the desired behavior (sometimes this can train them what you will/won’t respond to, and if they want your attention they’ll behavior better). When you can, politely shut down and redirect. If you ever wondered what it would like to be a kindergarten teacher- a lot of this.

      I’m sorry, this sounds incredibly frustrating.

  49. Nonprofit Throwaway*

    This is 2/3rds me venting and 1/3rd me asking for advice:
    I work for a fairly small non-profit. As part of last year’s plan we decided that a draft DEI plan should be in place by this year’s planning session.
    No work has been done on this. Now I’m doing it, because my position isn’t funded by grants, so I can work on it without any kind of justification.
    I’m an admin assistant. It’s due in a month.
    What the frack do I do here? I’m trying to do research but I feel incredibly out of my depth. We have a very bootstraps exec who thus far has not been super keen when I’ve asked questions.
    Any resources y’all can share or pictures of puppies or anything to help quell the ongoing panic/stress headache I’ve had for the past week would be great!

    1. MsM*

      I would find the many essays and articles and statements by those working in DEI that you can’t make an effective DEI strategy if it’s just being pulled together by one person who doesn’t have the full organizational picture, let alone the perspective of stakeholders who need to be part of this process, and take that back to your exec with the recommendation that next year’s plan be revised to make this an organizational priority with full commitment from senior leadership to having the necessary conversations about what they want to accomplish and how this connects to who the organization serves and what its broader goals are. Otherwise, the “plan” should probably just be a boilerplate statement that they’re committed to equal and inclusive employment practices, because they can’t really claim to be more invested in it than that.

      1. Nonprofit Throwaway*

        I think my exec would argue that we’ve always championed diversity and this is just a formal exercise to articulate what we’re already doing. I (and others in the org) don’t agree. The board is mostly wealthy white older NIMBY conservatives with everything that includes…you can imagine the buy-in from them.
        I sent an outline yesterday including all of the goals I brainstormed with a few other staff, so we’ll see what happens I guess.

    2. LuckyClover*

      DEI requires an organizational commitment to assess and address policies, procedures, company culture, etc., impacting who feels they truly belong in your space. DEI challenges you to look at where you succeed and fall short in making space for true diversity and belonging. Shifting a plan creation to someone without experience in this space at the last minute is a realllllly rough start and would have me question the intention behind having a DEI plan. Like they are making one only to say they have one without really looking within?

      A plan means nothing without the power of the people who can execute meaningful change behind it.

      However, I also acknowledge that you probably have very little say in this and still may need to bring something so consider maybe an outline for the next few months that will assess and later address those things. And if I may humbly request – please ensure disability is a part of the “DEI” umbrella.

      1. Nonprofit Throwaway*

        Already beat you to the punch on disability – the org deals with elementary school students as a part of our larger mission, and we’ve made a super concerted effort in the past year to make programs accessible and equitable for students with disabilities! So we’re at least on the ball with that.

        1. slashgirl*

          Do the schools/school boards you work with have a DEI or equivalent? Maybe touch base with them to get some resources OR the backing that the way your org is trying to set up a DEI is not the way to do it? Note: you’re not asking them to do the work for you but they might have resources/contacts that could help and that you may not be aware of. Is there anything at your state level for DEI initiatives, that might be another avenue.

          Good luck!

        2. Nightengale*

          A lot of places that recognize the need to support clients with disabilities are not where they need to be to support job applicants/employees with disabilities.

          So be mindful of this – do job descriptions require things like the ability to stand, carry things or drive that aren’t actually essential job functions? Is the procedure to request accommodations straightforward? Is accessibility considered when holding events? Is the website accessible for people who use screen readers, videos captioned/transcripts provided, free of picture carousels?

          (If the answers to these are no – presto chango there’s your DEI plan as it relates to disability!)

    3. same here*

      Ughhh I don’t have any specific resources for you, but as a fellow admin person in a nonprofit with mostly grant-funded staff, I feel you. I end up doing way more DEI work than I am qualified for too, for the same reason. And then I feel like I’m failing the organization when I don’t know how to do it properly. Hang in there, your exec sounds terrible.

  50. Hanni*

    Any recommendations for services/platforms to make a nice-looking personal website that aren’t crazy expensive? I don’t need anything super fancy, ideally just a professional-looking homepage with a couple other pages listing my work and describing my freelance services.

      1. Hanni*

        Does this let you have multiple pages though? Most of these that I’ve seen are just lists of links to other sites

    1. TX_Trucker*

      Another vote for WordPress. And if you ever want to get super fancy, the Divi plug in from Elegant Themes ($90 for one year or $250 lifetime) lets you make amazing websites with zero programming knowledge.

  51. Bob Howard*

    Matt Reed had moved to a new position and stopped writing his “Confessions of a Community College Dean” blog. It forms a neat complement to Ask A Manager as it shows the issues that a manager/administrator has to deal with. Particularly people management, risk assessment/mitigation and allocation of limited resources. As he is in higher education, many people can probably understand the issues.

    I highly recommend browsing his blog. Link in reply to this post.

  52. dot*

    Do you have any experience with dealing with choke points in workflows? A big part of work flow is dealing with revisions to our work, which need to be officially submitted and approved. Our team has bounced around between different ways of handling this process for some time, and currently we’re back to every change request gets assigned to my boss for him to approve and assign to a team member. It’s likely important to get his eyes on most things, but we’re back to having a backlog of these requests all the way back to mid June because he doesn’t have time to get to them. He’s acknowledged repeatedly that he is a choke point with this but hasn’t come up with any alternative, and I’m on like day 3 of a project lead role and this is already holding up my work, after he and I spent several hours putting together a schedule for this project. Help!

    1. ferrina*

      Can someone else assign the work if the boss doesn’t have time? Or can you self-assign? Or maybe have a standing meeting once a week where Boss can look at the new requests and hand them out (having time blocked out on the calendar and a meeting where others are there can help make sure the thing happens).

      If boss knows he’s a problem and hasn’t fixed it, it can sometimes help to have someone else offer suggestions. I like to map out a slide or document sample to accompany my suggestions, because sometimes it just helps to have a visual. Good luck!

    2. Ranon*

      Is there a way to get dedicated time on his calendar for him to triage? If he can’t delegate he either needs to make time or project schedules need to be planned around his actual time available.

      I’m in the middle of reworking an approach for “you people want all of these projects but also want to come to all meetings which is more hours than you have available, what do?” and my steps are:
      – lay out the problem statement and the big picture
      – Ask for prioritization of efforts
      – Negotiate what is possible in their time commitment
      – establish plan for follow up and one off events
      – get on same page regarding the gap between schedule desires and what is achievable given all the above

    3. Mad Harry Crewe*

      If his eyes really are necessary, then it’s up to him and his boss (not his team) to re-prioritize his time so that he can keep up with the flow of revisions.

      If he and his boss are not interested in prioritizing reviewing and assigning revisions, then either his eyes are not necessary, or these revisions are not necessary – because they sure aren’t happening in a timely fashion.

      I think it’s worth thinking about *why* his review is important? Is it because he has a big-picture view of the team’s work? Overall business priorities? What does he bring to this process that nobody else can?

    4. Lissa Evans*

      I’d suggest to him that you assign to a team member and send to him for approval, but let the team member get started before he has to approve it – he can re-assign later if needed. If people are key to the project getting done, then they need to make the time for the work they have to do on it. Sometimes, if they really think it through, they don’t need to do it, they just need to know about it.

  53. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

    I’ve been coming across this phrase repeatedly in job advertisements across industries: “executive presence”. It’s listed as a qualification for everything from media coordinators to project managers.

    What is executive presence exactly? With some of these job postings, I’ve been having a pretty negative gut reaction when seeing this phrase. It feels like a coded slight against non-cishet, able-bodied white individuals, but am I just overreacting?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      My interpretation is that “executive presence” is similar to “professional demeanor,” because you’re seeing it on so many job postings, not just job postings for high level management/VP/director-type jobs. I don’t like the phrase either (though I haven’t seen it much) because my gut association is executive -> C-suite -> middle-aged white man in a suit. But I would try not to get too hung up on the phrase, as it has likely just been copied and pasted from other job descriptions along with “other duties as assigned” and similar.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I use the phrase “has a presence” and think it’s a thing, I am baffled though why you’d need it in a coordinator role. I will say though, my job recently hired a Hispanic immigrant woman who has that “it” factor so I would definitely not say it’s looking for a particular type in that way. She’s worked at a few competitors so whenever she speaks, people are quiet and give it probably too much weight at times (since some of the things aren’t implementable here, but that’s another topic). When I use this phrase, it means the person generally has enough professional and life experience to have the difficult and high level conversations. They can lead meetings and create agendas from scratch and know how to phrase stuff and change their communication method to get the attention of executives and outside vendors and important customers and to convince them to do things.

      But again, that should be for managers and above. Not sure why you’d need that in a coordinator role! But project manager, absolutely.

      Can I ask you, why do you think a PM wouldn’t need these qualities?

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        I was curious about the last statement as well. In my industry (architecture, engineering, construction), a PM BETTER have executive presence, at least in how I’m interpreting the phrase myself, or they’re going to get walked all over.

    3. Anon for This*

      Having interviewed for entry-level positions recently, to me this means don’t show up for the interview in a hoodie, don’t speak like you are texting, etc., – put forward your professional presence. (But I agree it could be used to give the hiring manager an out to discriminate, if women, POCs, etc. never seem to have it.)

    4. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I thought about this regarding the gushing law intern — that’s not executive presence (right or wrong). In my work as a consultant it means having a persona that comes across as competent, confident, and in control. When you speak, you have something relevant to say. You’re someone that others will listen to and trust. You seem like someone who has their shit together. This is something I’ve been actively coached on, because sometimes I am overly transparent about my anxiety — I’ve been asked to lead with more confidence and authority, project positivity, and focus on how to move forward. It doesn’t mean having no enthusiasm / bubbliness but sometimes I make an effort to tone it down a bit.

      You’re not wrong that when people think “exec” they are thinking cishet white able bodied man so it’s bound to be tied up with that, but I don’t think that’s what exactly what it means.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      I personally think things like that are silly to include in job postings. It COULD mean something like “projects confidence, has a calm demeanor, and communicates in such a way as to indicate a well-organized thought process.” It’s one of those things that on its surface could be attributable to a person of any background or demographic; however, the key thing is that white, cishet, able-bodied, usually male individuals are most likely to interpret it with unconscious bias. (Seeing someone with mobility issues as less confident or competent, interpreting the communication style of someone of another race as “less professional,” etc.)

    6. ina*

      JUST saw one today with that and then saw the company was ‘dedicated’ to DEI. Oh boy. Lol. Nothing about this phrase says it’s inclusive.

  54. forecast: cloudy*

    My company announced a massive layoff this week and said impacted employees will be notified in the coming weeks. The waiting is HARD. Has anyone else been through this? It seems like a terrible way to do it with no clear reason, like couldn’t they just drop the hammer already or not announce until they’re ready?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      If you’re in the US, and the company is large enough and the layoff large enough, they’re required to announce in advance. And they’re supposed to provide info about the laid off employees so that the Rapid Response teams in the state can provide re-employment services promptly to the affected workers. (I’m in RR in NYS.)

      My recommendation to you is that you reach out to your local career center and let them know that you might be affected and find out what they have to offer. Put a resume together and share it with them. If you end up staying, awesome, if you end up being laid off, you’re WAY ahead of the game.

      Also, decide on a prize to get when they finally provide the details. Maybe that’s the day you and your work besties will go out for pizza together. Or you’ll go to your favorite bakery and buy one of those super fancy cupcakes. You’ll still be anxious to get the news, but you will also get a super fancy cupcake.

    2. booper*

      Sorry you’re going through this, it’s incredibly stressful.

      If it’s a large company and it’s a massive layoff as you say, then they might be legally required to report this before it happens. See the federal WARN act, although some states have additional laws too.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I ran into something like this before, but the wait was much, much shorter (a day). The reasons it were partially related to lay off requirements in the different areas and the fact that this needed to be communicated to a global team, so there were time zone issues.

  55. Making the leap*

    Several years ago, I was laid off from a corporate job, and in the interim I started substitute teaching. I ended up really liking it, so I went back to grad school, and now I’m about to start looking for either a permanent teaching job or a more long-term subbing position. But I feel very overwhelmed by a lot of it. Has anyone here been in a similar position? Any advice to offer?

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I’ve been teaching since 2004 and spent the first 13 years subbing so I spent a lot of time looking for permanent positions before one finally came up.

      I am in Ireland, so a lot of things are probably different. Here, it would probably be worth getting in contact with some of the principals/deputy principals you worked under while subbing and letting them know you are now fully qualified or contacting some of the teachers you worked with and got on well with, who might let you know if there were any vacancies in their schools.

      I will say full-time teaching is in many ways a lot easier than subbing. You know the kids, they know you, they will respect you simply because you are “a teacher” whereas they don’t tend to extend that respect to subs, you will know the discipline structure of the school, including the unwritten stuff, like which rules you can overlook a little so long as the kids aren’t causing trouble and which you are expected to stamp down on immediately.

    2. Flower necklace*

      I finished grad school at about this point in 2017 – actually it was a little later, more mid-August than early August. Even back then, when the teacher shortage wasn’t as bad, I was hired on immediately. I think I submitted my application to the district, interviewed with a school, and was hired within a few days.

      Schools are desperate right now. They need to fill any vacancies they have ASAP, so you’re in a good position to get hired. My department filled our last open position in May, and we had exactly one qualified applicant.

  56. AnotherSarah*

    I’m a professor in the humanities, and most days I love my job. Due to a long-desired relocation, I may find myself needing to look for jobs outside of academia, which I am very open to, but I don’t know where to start. There are many, many consulting services for academics, who either want or need to leave academia. But most of them seem to be run by people who don’t actually have any experience in industry, and who seem at first glance to not be giving very good advice. I’m interested in hiring some sort of career coach, though – – Does anyone have a recommendation? Or a place to start? As I said, I love my job as it is, and it’s hard to imagine some thing else that would be such a good fit for me.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      A few very general places to start:

      What was your second-choice career if academia didn’t work out (if you had one)? Have you ever heard a friend or family member talk about their job and thought “that sounds interesting” or “I could do that?” These might be better places to start looking for a new career if “what do other humanities academics do when they leave academia?” isn’t appealing.

      What parts of your current job do you like? What parts of your current job are you good at? What skills do you use at your current job? The more you can break these down, the better. For example, start with “I like teaching students.” Can you break that down a little further: do you like a job with a lot of interpersonal interaction? Do you like explaining concepts to people? If you specifically like explaining concepts, that might be a bit more limiting to find in another job than if you’re more broadly motivated by “I want a job where I can talk to many different people throughout the day.”

      I don’t have any advice about a career coach (I’ve never used one) but thinking about these things might be good pre-work and will help your career coach.

      1. AnotherSarah*

        Thanks! I’ve thought about these questions a bit…I think what’s giving me pause and making me think I need outside help is that a HUGE part of what I like is the variety, and how I can pivot from teaching to research. I’m not sure what kind of jobs involve both. And I’d like to stay within my research area–I’m not so interested in moving to R+D for example.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Have you considered staying in education? My high school calculus teacher was Math PhD who had previously been a college prof. Her husband’s job had them bouncing around a bit, and so she left academia but taught high school math. Many private schools will jump at the chance to hire a former professor. (Teaching certificate requirements vary by local law, but exemptions may be very easy to come by for someone w/ a PhD and university experience)

      1. AnotherSarah*

        I have–it’s definitely on the table! I’m not sure I’d like teaching all day or interacting with parents, but it’s something I’m looking into….

    3. chocolate muffins*

      I am a scientist in the academy and here are some places where people I know have gone:

      – Research/data analysis for tech places like Facebook and Google.
      – Research at non-profits that are not universities, like the Pew Research Center.
      – Program officer at foundations that give grants to support academic research.
      – Publishing, either the book publishing world or editing a journal like Science where editing is a full-time job (vs. an academic journal where the editor is also a faculty member).
      – Teaching K-12, especially in private schools. I think the requirements for teachers might be looser, as in it might be easier to get a teaching position in a private school if you have a PhD but didn’t major in education, or something like that? I don’t know too much about this but I have heard people say that the transition from academia to K-12 is easier when moving to a private rather than a public school.
      – University staff like working in admissions, working in the science communications office, etc.
      – Journalism focusing on science reporting.
      – Industry related to whatever they were researching. For instance, people doing cancer research moving to hospitals, or people doing research with children moving to daycares, or people doing research on criminal justice moving to non-profits that provide services to people impacted by incarceration, etc.

      I know a bunch of the above is science-specific but maybe there are humanities analogs? Like, journalism focusing on something related to the academic work you’ve done, etc.? Good luck!

  57. Scriber*

    If you’ve ever had a good/great interview you thought went amazing, but didn’t get the job, did you ever find out why? Or general related/similar tales and experiences? Just had an interview for a cool-sounding job, but then…days later, crickets :/

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I had an interview for an internship that I thought went well. The hiring manager said he would get back to me in two weeks; HR said four. I got a phone call about six weeks after the interview from the hiring manager. He said the interview went well but they went with a different candidate who had more experience, and he hoped I would apply for the internship again the next year.

    2. ferrina*

      I got rejected after a great interview. The role would have been my first management role. the hiring manager called me up and said that I was a great candidate and their second choice, but they went with someone that had management experience. It’s the Catch-22 of management: you need to have experience in a management role to get a role with management.

    3. NeedRain47*

      I’ve had a couple. Both times I found out later (not officially) that the internal candidate got the job.

    4. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Twice-ish:

      The first entailed a change in job title and responsibilities happening in the background that had not yet been communicated to the (3rd party) recruiter or to the VP interviewing me. I did eventually get reasonable feedback, and with the changes in title and responsibilities – I agree with their decision.

      The second, more of a case that the desired offer took about four weeks too long with absolutely ZERO contact of any nature, then “surprised Pikachu face gif” that I’d taken an offer that came in the meantime.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I didn’t exactly find out, but I assume there was somebody else whose interview went equally amazing and had some additional bit of experience I didn’t. Or that the job “was already gone.” Sometimes they already have a candidate they have pretty much decided to give it to.

      I assume there are usually going to be more than one candidate who did a great interview and that often…the choice is going to boil down to something fairly minor, like “oh, x has experience with that new software we are thinking of trialing” or even “y lives closer so they are more likely to take the job if offered.”

  58. Dragonfly7*

    How do you interview for a job out of state when you don’t have any days off left?
    For context: I am on short-term disability for mental health for roughly another month. I already exhausted nearly all of my PTO earlier this year for the same cause, and, unfortunately, I was required to use 5 of my last 6 PTO days for the first week of STD. I am strongly considering moving to the major metropolitan area closest to my immediate family since I don’t have much of a support system where I currently live. If I don’t find something before my leave is over, what I do have working for me is that my shift starts just before lunch, and I have a tiny amount of leeway to take say, two hours off one afternoon and make it up another day. Moving within my current company is extremely unlikely to be an option, and I don’t think it would be a good idea anyway. Not sure yet about the feasibility of moving without a job lined up yet – depends on how long I can hold out at my current job and save up money to move.

    I’m already bookmarking the other parts of this site on generally job searching out of state as well as looking for fully remote work.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You’ve probably got enough leeway built into your work day for the occasional interview. And if you don’t have PTO they’ll have to figure out how to account for that, just like they’ll probably have to accommodate a medical appointment after you come back.

      It’s tempting to overthink this stuff when you’re in the midst of it, but truthfully, it’ll likely be fine. And if you’re applying for an out-of-area job anyway, they’re likely to be willing to do a Zoom meeting, which eliminates a lot of the travel time that makes interviewing hard.

  59. Lavender*

    As a manager, how do you manage your own feelings during a challenging PIP process? I’m working with someone now who seems to be completely in denial despite numerous, progressive conversations (and written feedback and recaps) about their performance, expectations and consequences. Even when they acknowledged that they completely bombed a key project with executive visibility, which we discussed at length in relation to their plan, a few days later they told me they thought the plan was going very well.

    I know that I can’t control anyone else’s emotions, but I tend to obsess over what I might have done/could have done differently (was my communication unclear? should I have done X or Y? what magic phrasing would have helped? etc.) despite months of trying to coach, train and support this person. Any ~ magical tips ~ for how to continue providing appropriate professional support, but emotionally let go of the outcome?

    1. ferrina*

      You can’t care about someone’s job more than they do.

      A couple core truths:
      1. A PIP isn’t just for the person on the PIP- it’s also for everyone else that has to deal with someone who isn’t good at their job. The rest of the team needs the person in this role to be good at the role. Otherwise it’s putting a huge burden on the rest of the team (especially the high performers that tend to carry the extra load).

      2. You can’t change someone on their behalf. If someone doesn’t think they need to change or doesn’t want to change, there is literally nothing that you can do to force them to change. Each person needs to be the driving force in their own change, or else the change won’t happen. A person that wants to change will work at changing (because change requires work). They will drive the change because they know what strategies work for them, and they will take the resources offered and seek guidance and feedback.

      I think you know this, but you say you are “obsessing”. This is called rumination (where you keep replaying things over and over in your head and rehashing). There are so, so many reasons someone might have trouble letting go- it could be that they don’t want to hurt feelings, or they feel like a firing is a reflection on them (it’s not- holding bad performers is a reflection though), or maybe they were unfairly fired once, or maybe a close friend or family member let you down in a traumatic way and it physically hurts when it feels like you’re letting someone down (even when it’s not you, you’re just the messenger), or you tend to take too much responsibility for other people’s emotions in general, or maybe you regularly fall prey to the Geek Social fallacies.

      A short stint with a therapist might help. A decent therapist can help you find strategies when your Inner Voice is arguing with your Good Judgement. Trust your judgement and see this PIP through to the end. Trust your boss/HR (whoever is guiding you through this) that you are doing everything right. Then talk with a therapist about how to manage those doubts and lean on that support to get you through this process. Sometimes a few sessions with an online therapist can be enough to boost you through a tough spot; if this is part of a more regular pattern, a longer strategy may be called for. If therapy is absolutely out of the question, you can also look up Rumination online and/or YouTube- there are some great psychologists and therapists that post there (and some quacks too; use your judgement)

      1. Lavender*

        This is such a thorough, actionable and kind reply—thanks Ferrina! This person is overall a very sociable, well-liked person and I believe they’ve tried hard generally, but they are resistant to constructive feedback on their core job functions and instead of incorporating it, they prioritize unimportant tasks for which they get kudos from teams that aren’t our focus. I can’t tell if it’s a personal issue with the messenger or with their ability to take feedback and reconcile it with their world/self-view. But either way, you’re right on that it’s their responsibility, and my responsibility is to do what’s best for the performance of the team as a whole.

        I grew up with an alcoholic parent and I’m only recently starting to understand how some of my learned behaviors are affecting me in this kind of situation. So, on the nose again! I do work with a therapist for anxiety and we’ve gone through some helpful exercises on rumination; I have to keep remembering “it (only) works if you work it”—and then keep working it. Thanks for the thoughtful advice!

    2. Monica Gellar*

      currently dealing with someone who is in a similar circumstance.
      in my situation this person is fearful about losing their job and cannot focus. this is largely the cause of the mistakes they are making.
      unfortunately they lack the self awareness, in addition to reviewing and providing feedback regularly, at least a couple of times a week, i also suggested they seek out the employee resource center. the therapist is supposed to be helping with some of the anxiety around job security.
      what the person has not identified, is that they are fairly rude to other team members when they get recognition for great performance, or find a way to blame team members for mistakes.

    3. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Suit*

      Just wanted to send support!
      I dealt with something very similar recently and putting my employee on a PIP caused me extreme anxiety where I wasn’t sleeping for WEEKS.
      I tried to keep telling myself ‘you’ve done what you can and outlined what needs to happen, it’s up to her/him to actually do the work now’ — though it was still SO HARD… In my case this employee would give a lot of lip service about understanding the PIP and wanting to improve and then totally failed at basic things and had a million excuses for why the work didn’t get done.

      Also my mantra for the past 6 months was ‘this too shall pass’ and it eventually did! (Of course not in the way I would have liked, and now I have new challenges ha!)

      I don’t know if this was helpful OP because mostly just wanted to send support and advice is just focus on getting through this!

  60. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    How do I respond to my boss when they tell me that a co-worker can’t do a task because they do not have the skills? My coworker and I have the same job with the same responsibilities. Their work load is half of my work load. I have only one year more experience than they do. I also agree with my boss that my co-worker is lacking in necessary skills for the job but I am not responsible to training them in those skills. How do I address the fact that this is leaving me holding the bag with a higher percentage of the work and a higher acuity of work?

    1. Anon for This*

      Ask boss which task(s) you should not do in order to accommodate this one. And at your review ask for a raise/promotion, as you are getting all the higher level tasks.

      1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        I wish this was possible. Think of it as “we are both assigned lamas to work with”. I have more lamas than the coworker and the lamas have worse temperaments or may need more complex grooming processes. I can’t say no to taking on more lamas they are just assigned to me. I want the boss to see that this cannot be sustainable long term?

        1. The Person from the Resume*

          To boss:

          “We are peers. We have the same responsibilities. My workload is unsustainable. She needs to share the workload more equally even if that means she needs to learn the skill necessary to do this job.” ?

          I’m blunt. But is she paid the same as you or close to the same as you? I’d focus on you two are equals and should be sharing workload.

    2. AnonAcademicLibrarian*

      If you boss is commenting on your coworkers lack of skills, one option is to offer trainings you know are good, if there are any. “Oh, I learned a lot of this at this great training from Llama Experts. Maybe that would be a good thing for them.”

      As for the workload issues, one approach is to basically highlight the work issue and leave your coworker out it. Basically, say that you are working on XYZ and because XYZ take so much time, you’re not getting ABC done. And then see what happens.

      Frankly, how much your coworker is or is not doing isn’t your problem to solve. It is your bosses problem to solve. Now, if your boss isn’t going to solve it, after you’ve highlighted the issues, than you know something useful and you can decide what you do next. Since there’s no way to control other people’s behavior, you can’t make your boss address this nor can you make your coworker more skilled. I don’t know of a silver bullet for this one.

      1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        This is true. I can focus on concerns for workload/acuity of workload. Frankly the co-workers problems are “common sense” problems a lot of the time and that is not my circus not my monkeys.

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I’m your coworker. Ask for more money. My coworkers all got raises and bonuses. But also, don’t resent your coworker (not saying that you are but that it can be very easy to feel that) because they can’t perform to the level you are – ultimately this is a management issue and good management will give you a raise for the good work you are doing, regardless of how badly someone else is doing.

      1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        Thank you for this, it is important to remember that other’s may also see what I see. I do get upset at the coworker because of the many mistakes that they make, but more for how it impacts the lamas more than how it impacts me.

  61. Ria*

    Hi :) Long-time reader, first-time commenter. Can I ask for some networking advice? I graduated university a couple of years ago and I’ve spent the few years since teaching English in a couple of different countries. My current teaching contract will be up in December and I’ll be heading back home to the US. I’d really like to get into NGO/nonprofit work (ideally international development someday but I’m open to working in an adjacent field first to get some relevant experience because I know how crazy hard ID is to break into.)

    I know I need to be networking right now, and I’ve read all of Alison’s advice about it, but I’m still feeling lost about what exactly I should be doing. I don’t really have any first-degree contacts in the space I want to get into (especially because I’ve spent the past few years overseas). I do have one or two connections from informational interviews I did about a year ago but I feel weird about reaching back out (especially because I didn’t know them personally; I was referred by a couple of layers of connections). And of course I can’t do any of this face-to-face since I’m in Central America right now, which feels like it makes everything so much harder.

    Should I be reaching back out to tenuous old connections? Should I be reaching out to slightly stronger connections from further back (for example, my old university professors from 3 years ago)? Should I be cold-emailing people at organizations I’m curious about? Something else?

    Any advice would be so appreciated :)

    1. Lily Rowan*

      I’ve never been successful at networking-as-networking. I’ve built up my network through working and getting to know people, and then all of us move around, and now I know people in a lot of different places. Are there former teachers you used to work with who would have any advice/input?

      Really, you can get a job by just applying with a good resume and cover letter and having a good interview. It’s not necessarily easy, but you can do it! Then go from there.

      Good luck!!

      1. Ria*

        Thank you :) Unfortunately my former coworkers aren’t in a position to be much help; they’re either still in their teaching positions, in grad school, or got their current jobs through professional contacts from before they moved abroad to teach. Which is part of the reason I feel really discouraged by not having any “professional contacts” of my own. So it’s helpful to hear that not everyone actually gets their jobs through networking and the job-application route can in fact work out. :)

    2. Chicago Anon*

      Definitely get in touch with your university professors (three years is not that long ago in their lives), tell them what you’ve been doing and what you hope to do next, and ask if they have any other former students doing relevant work, and if so, can they connect you; also whether they have colleagues who could help you make contacts in the field.

    3. EMP*

      If the old connections are very relevant, I think it’s worth reaching out. Honestly pretty low risk for you (someone you barely know anyway).

      My successful networking has been through alumni from my university. We had an alumni directory with a checkbox for “open to being contacted” and I cold emailed several people from it, ultimately landing my first two post-college jobs that way. I’d also poke around your network through linkedin or even facebook to see if other people from your teaching English programs have gone into NGOs you’re interested.

  62. Baby Academic*

    Question for those who have had adjunct positions. I have a few steady gigs and I’m interviewing for more work. Right now my fall is booked pretty solid as long as my last gig sends me my schedule this week. But that doesn’t ensure work in the spring as most of my classes are dependent upon demand and enrollment. Is it common to keep interviewing for fall classes even if I’m not available just so I’ll be in another school’s system for the spring and summer? Or should I wait to see if there are spring class ads then apply?

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      I also moonlight as an adjunct. I have two universities that are pretty regular so I don’t continue to interview. Now in the past when I have gone a few terms with lower class offerings I then interviewed other places and left for more secure scheduling.

  63. AnonAcademicLibrarian*

    So, an internal candidate didn’t get the job they were a finalist for. The decision was made to fail the search, as the job was not well written and needs a rewrite. I know the internal candidate (I’d say we’re friendly acquaintances) and I was on the hiring committee. I want to reach out and offer to take them out to coffee and give them some feedback, if they want it. However, I’m finding I have no idea how to phrase the email to offer. If they don’t want the feedback, I am 100% happy not to give it, but I want to give then the opportunity.

    1. Elsewise*

      Having been the recipient of this conversation a few times, I think it started off with some “you were such a great candidate and we’re so lucky to have you on our team” assurances and then veered into “even though this role wasn’t right for you right now, if you want to grow into this area, let me know”. The fact that you canceled the job search rather than hiring them might add a little more sting, though.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I would think it would reduce the sting — if the job was pulled back because it wasn’t well written, that speaks to candidate quality not being the problem.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      More info about what’s tripping you up would be helpful. It does depend a bit on the message you want to send. Is it “I am in your corner and here are a few tips to nail it when the job opening comes back around” or is it more detached “As a colleague you might want to know where the committee had reservations and I’m giving you development tips as a helpful but uninvested colleague”? If it’s the former, it’s easy: “Hey as you heard we didn’t fill position because we need to do more internal work first. I’m happy to meet up and discuss how it went and how to prepare for next time if you’re interested.” The latter is harder.

      1. AnonAcademicLibrarian*

        It’s a little bit of both, which is part of the problem. On one hand, I genuinely like the person on a personal level, but on the other hand, they really did not interview well and I would not have advocated hiring them. However, some of the things they did that concerned people (not being able to articulate why they wanted the job, not asking questions about the job during the interview, etc) are things that could be easily fixed for this job or other jobs they apply for in the future. I want to be helpful to them, because I know how much job hunting sucks, but I also would not have hired them if it had been my final decision.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          Actually, I may have been overthinking it. I don’t think it really is a lot harder — it’s as simple as I can provide feedback from the committee if you are interested. I think almost everyone does want it, but they don’t always like hearing it so I’d focus more on how to present the feedback and how you’ll respond if they get weird.

          If you want them to know in advance they’re getting critical feedback (so they’re not blindsided or can opt out) then a few extra words helps — the committee felt there were areas to improve and I can give you more specifics if you’re interested.

  64. RagingADHD*

    Rampant speculation time: Lucky break or red flag?

    So there’s a role at one of my target companies that I applied for last fall and didn’t get called in for. We’ll call it role A. I did get to final round for a similar role in a different department at the same company, and the hiring manager said they’d definitely recommend me if anything else came up in the future. We’ll call that department B.

    Then role A reappeared with a new listing in the spring. I asked a friend who works at the company (but not directly with the hiring manager for role A). He said the manager for role A is “a loon,” but didn’t specify why or in what way. I’ve worked with loons before. They don’t usually bother me. And the salary range + benefits for this position is worth a little looniness to me.

    I applied with an updated resume and department manager B’s recommendation. I didn’t hear anything for several weeks, took a contract role covering a maternity leave, and then got called for an interview on role A. The recruiter was in a big rush to get me in ASAP because they said manager A was urgently hiring to fill the vacancy. I told the recruiter that I was committed to this contract for 4 months and wasn’t willing to leave them in the lurch. (They trained me very intensively for this job, it couldn’t be done without the training, the pay is good and the people are super nice). This contract is a good bridge I would be an idiot to burn.

    The recruiter seemed slightly annoyed / frustrated about the timing, but it is what it is. I assumed role A was gone.

    Here’s the thing: I keep seeing the role listed in the career newsletter from that company. So it appears to still be open. I’m not going to start applying for another month, because there’s a chance I’ll get an offer from the company I’m contracting with. But all things being equal, this target company with role A and B is bigger, has better benefits, and will probably pay about 8-10 percent more.

    I just keep wondering if the role is open by some fortuitous circumstance of timing, or because manager A is not just a loon but a menace, and they can’t find/keep anyone. There’s no way to know unless / until I ever interview for it, but I’m so curious.

    What’s your guess?

    1. ferrina*

      Ooh, I wish your friend would be more open with what they’ve heard! Could you tell them “I’m applying for Role, but before I submit- what brand of looniness is there?” I’d definitely be deploying my gossip network.

      If this isn’t a role that usually stays open very long and there’s no extenuating circumstances (long commute, etc), I’d guess that manager A is a menace. Depending on how bad they are, you might still be willing to take the role and use it as a stepping stone.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I tried to dig for more, but he declined to comment further. He is rather senior at the company himself, but not quite as senior as manager A. Presumably he doesn’t want anything getting back to them.

    2. Hiding from My Boss*

      Years ago a manager I knew in my personal life (not a former boss) told me that when you see the same job being posted over and over, it’s not a problem with the worker, it’s a problem with the manager.

      1. Boss Scaggs*

        That doesn’t seem to apply here though, it sounds more like the role was never filled and is just still open.

        I’d either try to get more info from your friend who works there, or take a call with the hiring manager to see for yourself

        1. RagingADHD*

          I actually am not sure whether it has been continually open because I don’t check the newsletter every time it comes. So they could have had a bunch of people cycle through on short shrift. Or not.

          Considering how much urgency the recruiter expressed, it seems odd that it would just sit open. But then again, they had been sitting on my resume for weeks and weeks before they called me, so maybe the manager is the sort of person who demands everyone else rush around urgently, but then won’t make up their mind.

  65. Amber Rose*

    I took a first aid course for work and my “partner” who was also there in order to keep his job was so hungover I wouldn’t have trusted him to put a bandaid on a papercut. :/

    I don’t understand people like that at all, seriously.

    Anyways. How do you respond to someone who starts throwing a fit about a “problem” that was never a problem before? A coworker of mine is losing it over the way data prints out on one report saying it’s unacceptable, but like, it’s been that way for three and a half years now. And it really can’t be changed. Also, I can’t find it in myself to care.

    1. Hammock*

      I pivot the conversation to what **they** can do about it. People who love to blow up problems rarely want much to do with solving them. As soon as I’m clear that I expect them to contribute to solving the problems they’re talking about, they usually settle down.

    2. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Is it something you need to care about? If you’re just adjacent to the tantrum, I’d either exit the conversation or redirect back to work. “Yeah, no, it sure prints funny. Anyway, about the llama project…”

  66. JobHunterWoes*

    Job seekers: Care to join in a venting thread?

    This week, here’s what happened to me — but keep in mind something similar to this happens every.single.week:

    -I applied to a role that says it’s located in either MA, NYC, or DC
    -The in-house recruiter emailed to set up an interview using her Calendly
    -I did so…and then she ghosted me.
    -I emailed her to follow up, and she sat on it for five days before responding with an apology. She requested I set up a time again…
    -only instead of linking to her Calendly, she linked to a random person’s LinkedIn page. (This person has no affiliation with the organization.)
    -I dug through old emails to find her actual Calendly link and rescheduled the interview.
    -She finally called me (five minutes late) only to tell me the role is now fully based in MA, and am I willing to relocate?
    -When I expressed confusion and pulled up the listing (which still says NYC and DC), she explained they’re “hoping to eventually expand to those cities” but for now all roles are in MA.

    It is brutal out there. I have truly never seen the level of disorganization and chaos in my 20+ years of working professionally.

    Any other stories?

    1. Arglebarglor*

      OMG, I just posted below about something similar. Interviewed with a company for Job A. Ghosted. 6 months later, they contacted me offering a second round interview. OK, I did it, it went well. Two weeks later, HR says, well Job A is not being funded, but would I like to interview for Job B, more money, and more similar to my current position. Sure! Sounds great. Do the interview, with other people, during which I am asked the SAME questions as in the first interview. Okey dokey, fine. Went well. Then got an email from HR saying that they’re not moving forward with my candidacy for Job B, but they want a third-round interview for Job A. What?!?

    2. yep*

      Yep! Had a role listed as 100% remote – not only in the category, but in the posting itself. A separate paragraph line stating so. Worked a little extra on my resume to highlight how well this would fit, and wrote out a cover letter explaining my experience and adjacent background. I was really, really psyched about this opportunity. Got an email stating that it’s actually 50% on-site, on a different part of the state, and would I still be interested? I declined. I still look at their job board occassionally, since there are so many different departments, thinking maybe it was a big copy/paste error or something. Nope – out of curiosity I looked at the role and they’ve changed it twice since. Once to hybrid, and then fully to that site, and even changed the posting to include all the physical work done on-site. Really irked me that someone high-up can’t figure this stuff out when it comes to hiring.

    3. Generic Name*

      I am on pins and needles waiting for a written offer to come in. I have a verbal offer, but I’m not quitting until I get something in writing. I had hoped to get it this week, but when the recruiter called earlier she said she and the hiring manager were about to go on vacation, so that’s surely why I haven’t heard back. I also just heard that the company lost a contest, but I’m telling myself that they are a national and multi billion dollar company, so one contract won’t break them. Aaaah!

      1. Hammock*

        As someone working for a national/multi-billion dollar company — lol no, one contract doesn’t usually affect hiring decisions.

  67. Kayem*

    Partner is job hunting and applying for a federal job. They’ve never had one before, having worked in academia their whole adult life. I’ve had federal jobs, but the last one was in the 20th century, so…

    Anyway, so far all the jobs only want a resume, they all specifically state not to include a cover letter. Current dilemma is there’s one job that partner is perfect for. They know the person working in the same role that they would be working with, so are familiar with the job’s duties. It’s basically exactly the thing partner has done their whole life. But this position is specific to an adjacent field and wants experience in specific field software. Partner spent the past week learning the software and said that other than the acronym of the field, the functions are identical to everything they’ve done in their work history.

    But friend in that role says there’s no way partner will get past the automated system without having specific keywords in their work experience section of the application. And these keywords are specific to the field, so there’s no way to include that without lying.

    How important is it to have those keywords when applying for a federal job? This is through the official USA Jobs site. Last time I used the site, it was 2000 and way more convoluted with needing to fill out long questionnaires about KSAs. All the jobs partner is applying for want only the online resume, references, and a transcript, no cover letter or anything else, so there’s no place for partner to discuss how their work experience applies to this field.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      According to my husband, who is an Army reservist applying for federal jobs, it is VERY important. If you don’t have those keywords, you’re SOL.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Depends on the job, but particularly at the lower grades we get hundreds of applications for each announcement, so first cut is likely to be automated and if the key words aren’t there the package will not be moved forward in the process. If what partner says about the software is true, might want to have the resume say something like: five years experience with software x, which is comparable to software y. (Though sometimes the sort is on the whole string, so that may not get you through.)

      If partner is not a veteran, I also caution that veterans’ preference could also push them to the bottom of the list.

    3. spiriferida*

      Keywords are crucial for federal jobs because they just filter for them, often due to the volume of applications they get. Federal jobs have become pretty notorious for that, honestly. It may be possible to get past by listing ‘skill in [software he knows], equivalent to [keyword software] in x y z,’ if it’s really the same kind of thing.

    4. Cedrus Libani*

      With the disclaimer that I’ve never applied for federal jobs, my understanding is that friend is right; the whole process is heavily reliant on keywords. Synonyms don’t count, and near-synonyms are worse. I’d come up with a way to use the keyword without lying. Having spent a week puttering with the software in question isn’t nothing. “Self-taught with Windows 11; have used near-equivalents Windows 10, 7, Vista, and XP professionally for over 20 years.”

      1. 1LFTW*

        THIS.

        I don’t work for the feds, but I work for the public sector in a job for which there are tons of applicants. I was asked to apply for the job, had an informal interview with the person who’d be supervising me, and was told “I really want to hire you, so you should know that if you don’t work the KSA’s into your resume, your application will literally never see the light of day, and I won’t be able to do anything about it”.

  68. Lizy*

    Curious what various companies have in terms of inclement weather policies, specifically for remote roles, but in general, too.

    My company has a policy currently, but covers office closures only. During/after the pandemic, we transitioned to all-remote, and of course not all policies have been updated. Last year there was the hurricane down in Florida. We have a team/department down there, and my understanding is they all got inclement weather days since – ya know – hurricane. But that technically still was in line with our policy because that department had just been acquired and was still, by-and-large, in-office. I’m pretty sure we’re in the process of updating the policy — we had an obnoxious thunderstorm last Sunday and a freakin’ huge tree fell on our outbuilding garage and we lost power. My manager (without my prompting!) worked with HR and got an “inclement weather” day for me, but the whole she-bang made me wonder how other companies handle it.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      Generally speaking, even if our campus is closed due to inclement weather, those who would CAN work from home on those days are expected to do so. We don’t have a specific policy in place for things like what happened to you, but at least in my department, if you told your manager something like that, they’d just be like “OK, hope you get everything resolved soon!” and wouldn’t expect you to do any work. Also, even on regular snow days, most managers in my department will be totally understanding if you’re like “hey, I need to go outside and shovel for an hour.” But if the weather means your kids have to stay home and they’re young enough to need child care, we expect people to use a personal day or vacation day to care for them, as caring for kids for a whole day while you’re on the clock is a no-go. With older kids who don’t really need supervision, it’s different.

  69. KenDoll*

    I need advice for my spouse. They are completely burnt out and dreading the start of the school year (HS special ed teacher) and every attempt they have made to progress in their career (obtaining an administrative masters and license, applying for various promotions or jobs at other schools, including getting denied the same promotion three years in a row at their current location) have been futile. They are getting incredibly depressed about being stuck in a teaching job that they no longer enjoy and looking to switch careers. Any suggestions on how to continue with the start of the school year and still get out of bed every morning? We can’t afford for them to just quit without something else lined up. Any suggestions for a new career as we look into job postings and applications?

    1. EngGirl*

      As a burnt out person who recently found a new job while working somewhere I actively dreaded here’s what worked for me.

      1.) Set up really specific filters/alerts from whatever job boards you want to use. Let the jobs come to you rather than going nuts searching. You get a couple of emails a day with recommendations and start there

      2.) I personally preferred passive support from my friends and family. Meaning when my sister was trying to be supportive and asking all about my job search on a random Wednesday after I’d had three hell days in a row at work and just wanted to do nothing but stare into the void for a couple of hours, I almost had a breakdown because “oh my god this is one more thing that I have to do and am failing at”. When the same sister listened to me bitch for 15 minutes about a salary bait and switch with a company I was talking to and just said “that’s messed up” I appreciated her more.

      3. Sometimes you need to be a potato. Job searching can take it out of you. You apply to 50 places, here back from 5, and interview with 3, only to find out that 1 ghosts you and 1 is a terrible fit. It’s a marathon not a sprint and you need to be kind to yourself. I took full week+ long chunks off from applying because I had too much going on.

      1. KenDoll*

        Thanks. They appreciated the suggestion for specific job filters to reduce searching. And I totally get the passive support. I’ve had to do that for a previous roommate and I guess it’s a little harder to do when it’s your spouse and you want to FIX things. :(

    2. Arglebarglor*

      Hi, so sorry to hear about this. Burnout is really tough. As a person who is also in a field that has a high prevalence of burnout I get it. 1) finding a good therapist is VERY helpful, especially when trying to figure out what career they would like to switch to. 2) Trying to develop hobbies, or at least leaving work at work when you are not there is also helpful. 3) What is your current situation like financially? I know your partner can’t quit but could you scale your household budget down so that they could do something else temporarily (nanny, clean houses, wait tables, tutoring, etc) just to get out of there while they are figuring out what they want to do?

      1. KenDoll*

        1) Unfortunately, I have been suggesting therapy for a while and they are very resistant. They are slightly more receptive to pursuing medication now to help.
        2) We really cannot afford for them to take any sort of pay cut with two children in childcare and student loan payments about to restart. Additionally, they need to really find a job with minimal people interaction for a bit. Dealing with special ed students, parents, and administration has mostly caused the burnout so customer service jobs would not be best right now. Thanks for the suggestion though! I had considered that.