open thread – October 20-21, 2023

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 1,075 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    People who have experienced the page jumping in the past here when they’re trying to read the site (meaning that you’re reading along and suddenly the page jumps you to a different spot): Is it still happening? I have someone working on it and they think they’ve had it fixed in the last few days. It would help to know if it’s happened to you in the last few days or not.

    1. A Girl Named Fred*

      Also happening to me! Seems to be most frequent when I’m using my phone (iPhone 13 running iOS 16.6.1, usually using Google Chrome for a browser, if those stats help the person working on it!) Usually the page fully refreshes for me and sends me back to the top, so I always assumed it was an ad doing something weird. Thank you for working on it!

      1. I forgot what I put here*

        It also happens using safari to me, but the page doesn’t reload. (iPhone 12 running iOS 16.4.1 (a))

    2. Sharpie*

      It does if I’m reading the page, click away to something else and come back – I might be halfway down the page reading comments but find I’m back at the top of the page after checking my email, for instance. It only seems to be in actual posts when reading the comments, not when I’m just reading letters and your answers – and I only really read the site on my phone these days, if that helps.

      1. Mill Miker*

        This specific version used to happen to me all the time, and on many sites with either long pages or lots of ads. It was the browser unloading the tab to free up some memory for whatever else I was doing. It’s happened a lot less since I upgraded my phone (now it’s just when I have a lot of tabs open, or go away for too long)

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      Android phone, both chrome and firefox browsers.
      For me, it only jumps like that when the page is loading/reloading after posting a comment or when I’m searching for text.
      Bigger problem for me this season is that every time the pop-up ad changes, it freaks out my keyboard and I can’t type for about ten seconds.

    4. CarolinaBre*

      For what its worth I’ve never seen any page jumping! And I think I have read every comment on every thread for the last 6 years ;-)

      1. Throwaway Account*

        It mostly only happens to me when I’m writing a comment – on a chrome browser or in safari on my iphone 11. Otherwise, the jumping is up or down a comment, I can figure out where I was easily.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        Boy, when I tell you I misread “interview bomb thread” and my heart stopped for a sec…

        1. Lisa Simpson*

          I worked somewhere where a candidate who interviewed with us, but was ultimately not hired, did call in a bomb threat as revenge.

          But weirdly, not to our branch, to a different one 30 miles away.

    5. OnTheInternet*

      I updated my browser [Chrome] about one month ago and since then I havent had any issues with any of the ads

    6. SMVP2.0*

      The page “jumps” for me only after submitting a comment, and it “jumps” 3-4 comment blocks down. I’ve just figured it was a coding quirk. If I just read and do not comment, I never experience a “jump.” It doesnt bother me. Hope this helps :D

      1. hun_gry_hippo*

        this ^^

        clicking ‘submit’ always sends me down the comments and will sometimes collapse all the threads. SOMETIMES if i’ve left a tab open for a long time, coming back to it will move my place a smidgeon. but it always happens if i submit a comment

      2. Mimmy*

        I get this too after submitting a comment; I thought it was a quirk and hasn’t bothered me. I otherwise don’t get the jumping that others are describing. Then again, I mainly read and post on a desktop computer (Windows 11, Microsoft Edge).

    7. Anonymath*

      Yes, it happened so much yesterday that I needed to leave the site, as I couldn’t keep reading without it resetting.

    8. David*

      Do U mean the page jumping to an random spot? Or do U mean text shifting a bit to make way for an advertisement? Sometimes I do experience the latter option but this is common to any site with advertisement. I do not share the experience of fellow commentors if they refer to the first option thank U.

    9. Yikes on Bikes*

      My bigger issue is the ads that randomly start playing sound – even after I have been on the page awhile. This has embarrassingly happened when I have been “multitasking” while on calls… so now I have to make sure I am not in the Ask a Manager page when on a call.

    10. Frances____*

      It used to sometimes happen on my iPhone SE (Yeah yeah I know I need to upgrade LOL), but it hasn’t happened in the last week at all. Have a FANTASTIC weekend!

    11. Garlic Microwaver*

      It happened a couple of days ago for me, but the jump link itself that you provided in a global comment was linking to a different place than indicated. It was the post about the OP/baby/boss reveal.

    12. 80Tabs*

      Sitting here wondering if everyone having problems is overloading their browser with 80 open tabs :) Literally have never had this problem on this site. BTW I switch between Chrome and Firefox on my laptop and Safari and Chrome on iOS.

      1. Georgia*

        My browser has two tabs open – this and a news website. It just happened to me twice in reading the comments above this one.

        It’s not me overloading the browser, and assuming that just because you personally don’t experience something it must be user error is pretty rude.

        1. 80Tabs*

          There’s got to be *some* variance in user behavior. I have been frequenting AskAManager for a decade and haven’t seen this a single time. Sorry Georgia, I didn’t mean to be rude or dismiss anyone’s experience, just opining that I don’t think I’ve just somehow been lucky all this time.

    13. English Rose*

      Never had this happen, didn’t know it was a thing. I use either Chrome or Firefox on a Windows desktop. Never mobile.

    14. sheringsmybell*

      can confirm that i havent had this happen in roughly 2 wks. altho for me it only ever ‘jumped’ like a quarter of an inch. i was never jettisoned to an entirely different spot on the page.

      1. Mimmy*

        What if, after submitting a comment, I am brought back to the top of the page (as opposed to bringing me back to where I left off reading)? Is that normal?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Do you have “collapse comments site-wide” checked at the top of the comment section? If so, yes that’s normal — since you have comments collapsed, it can’t return you to where your reply is.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Beside having collapse comment side wide checked, this will also happen if your comment gets automatically sent to moderation. I believe this is because when you submit and it’s hidden, there is no “where you left off” since the thing it’d be keying off of is hidden. So it sends you to the top. But my understanding is that is expected behavior similar to the “collapse” thing, and not indicative of the bug Alison was asking about.

    15. So many questions...*

      OMG I thought I was crazy. Only on my phone running iOS 17.0.3. Not on Chrome on the Mac/PC…

    16. Deb86*

      Commenting on a post or replying to someone else makes the page freak out for a second and I end up at a random comment. but at this point that’s part of the fun :)

    17. Mal Voyage*

      I would expect the page to jump around when submitting a comment. You’re landing on essentially a new page, with more (or potentially fewer) comments now above the one you replied on. Any threads you collapsed/expanded are going to be reverting to your default.

      If you have the automatic collapse on, the browser’s going to be trying to scroll to the new comment you made, which might happen before the collapsing kicks in. After the collapse your comment doesn’t “exist” anymore, and then depending on your browser it’s going to try and put you back where you were based on some vague best-guess logic…

      and that’s before the ads load and shift everything a bit.

      The few times I’ve had the problem of the page jumping back to the top while I was reading, it was always some ad misbehaving.

    18. Rosyglasses*

      This is still happening to me – very frequently on mobile, less frequently on browser (Macbook, Chrome latest update). Sometimes in the middle of trying to post a reply, but mostly as I’m scrolling down (and there in the middle of my comment it just happened again).

      1. Rosyglasses*

        Not sure if this is a thing, but I noticed when posting my reply to this comment, the times it is happening the most is when the right hand column ad is refreshing. While I was posting the first comment, it went from a static graphic to a video. Now it did a slight shift just now when the Kaiser Permanente video banner at the bottom loaded. So I wonder if it’s when video ads are loading?

    19. AIIA*

      I feel like the people with a smooth experience aren’t the ones chiming in (e.g., me). So here’s my two cents to say I’ve never seen this happen on this site FWIW

    20. SofiaDeo*

      It does not happen when I use a privacy browser like Firefox Focus, but does now that I am trying to be supportive of your advertising and using a regular browser.

    21. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Several times over the last few weeks.
      Using Safari on iPad Pro 5 Gen with IOS 16

    22. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      and I have AAM whitelisted in all my adblockers (is problem ad-related?)

    23. k8page*

      Still happening for me, several tikes just today. Each time takes me back to the top of the comments section. I’m on iPhone 11 running iOS 17, using Safari

    24. MacGillicuddy*

      Still happening.
      Jumps happen when in just scrolling.
      It always jumps when I ad a comment and hit SUBMIT. It the jumps to the bottom of the page, past all the links.

    25. Barb*

      Just now on my iPhone using Safari

      Most often happens (maybe only happens) when I’m reading the subcomments on a thread

      Jumps back to top or bottom of page

  2. Suggestions for Interview Questions?*

    I work in a small department office at a university, consisting of the dept mgr and two coordinators (of which I am one). The 2 coordinators work in a shared office, and the mgr’s office is adjoining (it has a door that can be closed when needed, but is generally left open). The shared office often receives visitors throughout the day, so all of us provide general office coverage.

    We are interviewing for the other coordinator role (currently vacant). The two coordinator duties are generally separate – each coordinator has their own set of responsibilities. The areas where the roles at times meet and collaborate (usually with the dept mgr also) is for departmental events (a number of them per year) and brainstorming on various things.

    Any ideas for good questions I can ask candidates? As I said, the roles don’t work together all that much, but we share a physical office space, and I hope to hire someone who is easy to share space with, comfortable with providing office coverage, and willing to collaborate on the shared items.

    1. Blue Dolphin burned down, it's gone now*

      Questions about interpersonal conflict maybe? “Have you ever faced a conflict with a co-worker, and how did you deal with that?” I think it probably depends on the dept mgr and their involvement with the position. When we last interviewed for an admin I tried to throw some softball questions to get at a candidate’s nontraditional experience after our managers (who had clearly checked out) started looking bored.

      1. LCH*

        I always have trouble thinking up a good answer for this one. Have I had conflict with reasonable people? Not really, nothing worth remembering. Have I worked with bosses or clients that scream? Yes. Any answer involving them just doesn’t sound right.

        So if someone answered “no” to the first part, would that be a bad answer?

        1. Payrock and Payroll*

          Have you ever had more minor conflicts? Like differences of opinion on how a project should move forward, or a disagreement on how to deal with a client? And if you’ve really never had that come up, think about your non-work relationships. You might handle them differently than a coworker, but the basic tools are the same. That’s why an interviewer might follow that “no” up with a question about conflict in your personal life, or asking if you’ve thought about how to approach conflicts. They’re not (usually) looking for super humans who can deftly handle a screaming boss and be fine, but more for someone who isn’t going to turn a disagreement about spreadsheet colors into a week long sulking session. It can also be a useful way to understand how someone deals with stressful situations. It’s not a red flag necessarily, but do you want to interviewer to be the one to decide those answers on their own?

        2. Blue Dolphin burned down, it's gone now*

          I think it might be better to answer vaguely about staying reasonable while dealing with unreasonable people in a work setting, even if they aren’t direct co-workers. Something from an early job might be good, and that way you can talk about how the experience helped you grow?

    2. Suggestions for Interview Questions?*

      To clarify, I am not the hiring manager and will only be sitting in on interviews (likely with pre-screened candidates).

    3. Higher Ed Escapee*

      Ooh this sounds exactly like the set-up I had as a program coordinator at a law school. If you can, I’d get a list of what the hiring manager is planning to ask and see if it covers everything you find necessary for the role, especially things that you might handle without your manager being particularly involved. For example, if you do a lot more front-line coverage than your boss, that might be a good area where your experiences are particularly relevant and you can hone in on how this person might handle things. Any particularly tricky profs you all need to handle? Ask about stuff related to that. Also, questions that get at teamwork and how they feel about stepping in for each other when necessary, if you guys ever back each other up.

    4. Oof and Ouch*

      I used to ask candidates to describe their preferred working environment to see if it would mesh with our group. I also would ask about experiences they’ve had with cross functional teams and coverage and make sure they’re aware that the coverage is part of it.

    5. Library Jen*

      I work in a university and we ask questions around:

      EDI – something as general as ‘tell us about your learning on EDI topics’ or a bit more specific around ‘tell us about a time you made a change to improve accessibility or inclusivity, or a time where on reflection you wished you had done something and what you would do next time.’

      “Can you tell us about a time you have had to slow down what you were doing, or speed up.”
      “Can you tell us about how you prioritise your workload.”
      “What additional support would you need to do this job well, or what gaps do you have?”
      “What does collaborative working look like to you?”

      I totally get the need to hire someone who is easy to share space with (as AAM letters attest) but is it ok to ask those sorts of questions if they could inadvertently be discriminatory..? I think the conflict question is a good way to get a sense of how they would work with you?

    6. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      To get at the idea of what they are like in that environment, I like to describe what it’s like and ask an open-ended question about what that looks like for them. So “In this role, you would share a physical office space (describe in a bit more detail). What’s your approach to working in that kind of environment?” and clarify for them more if they aren’t getting the question.

      Same for collaboration. Think of a generic thing you may need to work with them to do, describe it and ask how they would approach it. “Sometimes the person in this position would have to (chase down professors/organize a social function/whatever) as part of a committee/partnership/etc. How do you like to split the work on a task like that?”

    7. ecnaseener*

      Will you be training this person? If so, ask about how they like to be trained, and just in general keep an eye out for traits you do/don’t want in a trainee (willingness to admit what they don’t know, etc.)

    8. Momma Bear*

      Questions about working independently but also with a team. Project management/task management skills. Can they share an example of good collaboration or a project that they took from an idea to final product? Ask if they’ve ever shared an open office or close quarters.

    9. Champagne Cocktail*

      I often ask people how they like to keep themselves organized. I don’t particularly care what system they use, I care if they have a method that works for them. I usually ask about their communication styles. The best candidates will be clear that they understand that different styles and methods are good for different audiences.

    10. Jessica*

      This isn’t exactly a question, but does this job have any potential for working remotely? I might ask something to make sure your candidates are okay with whatever the answer to that is. Don’t know how it is at yours, but my university now has a lot of hybrid work arrangements. If you’re hiring a fully in-office-all-the-time job, I’d make that very clear and try to make sure people are up for it.

  3. Sharkie*

    Hey guys! I need a gut check on this one. I love my job but I have a teammate , lets call him Jake, who I can’t seem to get along with. He is not the most …. Put together person (the letters I could write about him) . It is notable to not only people in our organization but clients that he does not read and comprehend emails. Many times he will reply all to emails with a question that was answered in the email. It’s maddening. There is also some team politics going on – he is brute forcing taking over a lot of responsibilities that a recently promoted coworker had even though our manager has already made it clear that not one person is taking over everything and its going to be based on skill not tenure (aka some of the newer team members including myself are getting the chance to step up. It is causing a lot of tension and drama, since he doesn’t agree and is just just acting like he is in charge.

    This week I was having trouble with my email. I could receive emails , but I couldn’t send anything. My team was fully aware of this and was helping me all day since we have an email heavy role. Our boss Tom asked me to send him a picture to post on socials . I texted him, and he responded “Thanks , can you have someone email it over? I am having trouble sending email from my phone” . I texted Jake the picture and asked if he could email it Tom. Here is our text thread:

    Jake- I just texted Tom the picture and gave you credit.

    Me- Email Jake. I asked you to email. I already texted it to Tom and he requested it to be emailed.

    Jake – WHOA NOW. No need to be so harsh. You are the one who can’t even do your job right now.

    I don’t think I was too harsh, but it’s getting to the point where I can’t rely on him to help and be a teammate. We are in a role where if one of us is out, the rest of the team steps up to help each other clients. Tom is usually a lot meaner and responses with “that is not what i asked” or “please read this again”.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Have you spoken to Tom about this? Seems like Jake’s inability to follow directions and read emails is something that Tom is aware of but maybe talk to Tom about how it’s becoming a problem in your day to day and ask how you should deal with it. Fwiw, I don’t think Tom is being mean to Jake. I have had issues in the past where I read an email too quickly and miss important points and my boss responded with similar phrases as Tom’s and also gave me a heads-up that slowing down and reading things more thoroughly would help a lot. It’s not mean to point out areas where an employee could improve. (Unless of course Tom is using a less than friendly tone of voice.) I think you could use the same phrases that Tom is using, tbh. And also pointing out the pattern to Tom, even if he’s aware of it, would probably be helpful info for Tom to have.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Forgot to say that I appreciated the feedback from my then-boss. Sounds like Jake doesn’t realize it’s a problem he needs to improve on and that’s where it seems to me that Tom isn’t really addressing the overall pattern with Jake, which is actually more of a problem for you than Jake’s behaviors.

    2. Tio*

      Hm. I can read the irritation in your message to him, but he’s definitely taking it up another notch.

      However, I find “Tom is usually a lot meaner and responses with “that is not what I asked” or “please read this again”.” kind of concerning. Your goal shouldn’t be “be less rude than Tom”, it should just be to be pleasant with everyone regardless of what Tom is doing. That said, have you talked to Tom about Jake’s bulldozing into these other areas? Is there anything established on these duties you can use to get some breathing room from him?

      1. Sharkie*

        100% see where you are coming from. All I meant was that when Tom replies to Jake’s email “Please read the email again.” It comes off a bit dry and Jake doesn’t respond like that. I tried to make my response “friendlier”.

        We have, and I know Tom has talked to him about it. Tom was out this week so I feel its like a sub teacher situation “i can act up since he is not here!!!”

        1. Tio*

          Yeah, see with your side of the message, I don’t think you would have phrased it that way to another coworker you liked or were neutral with, and I’m sure he can tell. Honestly, can you see yourself writing this exact way to another colleague? I kinda doubt it. But I agree with the below that what he said is completely out of line as a response regardless.

        2. Momma Bear*

          I would probably have said, “Jake, Tom requested this in email. I already sent it via text. Can you please resend via email?” if you wanted to be nicer. Your message was a bit abrupt.

          Tone is often lost in texts and emails. Does Jake struggle with reading tone? Is there any improvement when it’s reiterated in person? Tom should be asking Jake what would help him – bullet points, maybe?

          Granted, I don’t think Jake should have poked you about not doing your job, either. It sounds like the coworker relationship is broken. I think you need to talk to Tom again about how this is impacting your work and what steps you can take to mitigate it. I had a discussion with my boss about a particular coworker and there were some project shifts to buffer us from each other a bit more. Jake *should* back you up but if he *can’t* then does his role need to change? That is a Tom problem, and not a you problem.

      2. Socialworkgal*

        If I had received your message, my response would have been. oh! You’re right. So sorry about that.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Jake sounds like an ass, but where is the person who should be managing him and keeping him in line?

    4. MouseMouseMouse*

      Wow, what an exchange.

      1. “You are the one who can’t even do your job right now” is completely inappropriate thing to say in the workplace. If this Jake guy is saying these kinds of things on the regular, I can see why he would be maddening.

      2. From your message, “I asked you to email” would be the only sentence that I would consider on the harsher side. But would it warrant the response he gave? No.

      3. Tom, being the boss, has more leeway to be direct (I wouldn’t call his responses “mean”) because he has the authority. (Though it doesn’t sound like he’s exercising it that much, if Jake is successfully taking over projects.)

      N.B: Instead of “I asked you to email”, I would phrase it as a question: “As I said, can you please email this to Tom instead of texting?” And leave it at that, so that your request of Jake is very clear as the final sentence in your text.

    5. Mr. Shark*

      Your response may have been a little snarky, and understandably so.
      I would’ve just reiterated, “I’m not being harsh. Tom asked us to email him the picture and my email is not working, which is why I asked you for your help.”
      Jake probably doesn’t deserve being that nice back to, but it will make it difficult for him to respond negatively.

    6. Firecat*

      I actually do think your text came across as harsh even if you didn’t mean it that way. I also did not read Tom’s texts as harsher then yours. They are firm and direct

      A couple of things I think will help. Send complete sentences that are firm and direct.
      “Actually can you email him?”
      “Please email him the picture”

      The part of your text that comes across as demeaning and demanding especially is the “Email him. I told you to email him” it comes across like scolding a child or pet since you repeated the request and your first request was really short.

      I also think it will help make you less frustrated if you drop the explanations from your texts/emails. When you are working with someone who misses details short emails are king. Extra details/explanations just hide the message you want Jake to get. You didn’t need to tell Jake that you already texted the picture for example. That was extraneous information that Jake didn’t need. I also struggle with providongnuneeded details and explanations so I get this urge. Just remind yourself that the goal of the text or email is to ask for X, and you don’t need to explain yourself or justify it.

    7. Qwerty*

      What I usually recommend is to be above reproach yourself and treat Jake the same as coworkers you like. Otherwise you are basically engaging in similar behavior which makes this veer into being a mutual conflict rather than a Jake.

      In your example, I’d recommend a response like “Tom’s request was for email since he has it via text, can you resend it as an email?” Don’t give Jake any ammo, even if you didn’t have to worry about his escalations. Then you can also talk to Tom about the difficulty you are seeing.

      Tom’s responses are not mean or rude, they are actually reasonable from a manager and merely direct. If you read those as mean, then you really need to recalibrate.

      1. Sharkie*

        Sorry i meant harsher than “mean”. Bad word choice there. And you’re probably right, i do over explain. I do treat him the same as other coworkers, but if it was someone else i would probably been like “lol i said email” .

    8. Lily Dale*

      Does he laugh and blow you off when you try to bring up your concerns. Does he often use his VERY REASONABLE PERSON voice to explain why things aren’t actually a problem?

    9. Seashell*

      Just curious – are you female? I wouldn’t be surprised if a blunt woman is taken as being more harsh than blunt Tom by a dopey guy.

    10. Unkempt Flatware*

      Completely disagree with those saying what you said to him was, in any way shape or form, harsh. I don’t know how it could be interpreted that way. “I told you to do X” may indeed raise the hackles of the Jake’s of the world but it is because they are focusing on the wrong thing. The issue is not the tone you used or the semantics–the issue is that Jake is a Flake who cannot be relied on. Calling you harsh is meant to distract you from the issue. When I say there is a meteor falling, I don’t want to be told it is actually an asteroid. Just. Get. The Effing. Email. Sent.

  4. Urban teacher*

    I moved to a new district/school this year from across the country. Moved back so I could get 20 years in state retirement system since I only needed 3 years.

    This district special Ed teachers share rooms. No big deal, I think. My paperwork clears a day after school starts so I walk into a room in which most of the room is covered. I think “great, no having to decorate space”

    I meet the other teacher, she tells me the area near a desk is mine. I put up some student work the first week and work around her stuff.

    Here’s the BEC part:
    1. She is a youth minister at a fundamentalist church and is constantly making comments to the students about her opinions about transgender and other issues.

    2. She loves to have paras in her room trashtalking other teachers and kids. Not only at lunch but also when I’m teaching.

    3. She is constantly buying stuff for the room and to teach math. Tons of TPT worksheets and some games.

    4. I have a student who’s mom died last year and he has trauma. I’m working with him and he is doing better. She is his case manager and started rewarding him for my class and talks to him constantly in my class. She also asked him how mom died. This is after she stated she didn’t care if his mom died, he should act better.

    5. Now she wants to sell hot chocolate in the morning to students in Nov.

    I agree that I should have forced her to move stuff when I go there but I didn’t want to make waves not knowing people/culture.
    I’ve been working with the department chair around the paras hanging out in the room.
    I spoke to the union, they told be to transfer at the end of the year. The principal doesn’t like hard conversations so he will do nothing.

    Any suggestions for getting through the year? I’m starting to go into gen Ed teachers room to support them/students and it helps.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Try to focus on the things that either affect students or your work — for instance, making comments about trans people is NOT okay, but I don’t really see a big problem with hot chocolate.

      1. WellRed*

        I don’t see a problem with hot chocolate but I see a problem with selling it. What is the money for? Will some kids be left out die to money issues? I also don’t get the part about math supplies but I do think there are actually serious issues here with this teacher that have nothing to do with shared space.

        1. I'm just here for the cats!*

          Also, there could be district or state rules about food. Like my high school we couldn’t sell baked goods for fundraisers and such. But prepackaged food was ok. There might be issues with the cafeteria too. Like if the school has a contract with a service there might be rules about selling food and drink thats not through them.

        2. Momma Bear*

          I agree. Does the principal really not care if she sells things to kids?

          Where it interferes with your teaching, I’d speak up – “Excuse me, can you take the conversation elsewhere? I’m trying to work with my student.”

          RE: the kid with trauma, talk to the school counselor. They may be able to support him and help him speak up when she’s pushing him to talk about things he doesn’t want to. I wonder if this is some misguided attempt to support him? Is she trauma-informed? If not, I’d suggest a few things about trauma-informed teaching and/or suggest it to the principal.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          What is the money for? is a big question: if she’s raising money for her church, say, by selling food/drink to school kids, that could bring up serious issues.

      1. Dust Bunny*


        (Side note: Now nice that the pious church lady loves to trash-talk other teachers and children.)

      2. Rage*

        That plus the trash-talking other students with paras. That absolutely has to stop and (depending on the state you are in, unfortunately) might be easier to make a case against than the trans comments.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      To me, 1, 2, and 4 are more problematic than the others. I’d document conversations and when you’ve asked for change/space. It sounds like she doesn’t have as much training or experience and could learn a lot from your perspective! But I totally understand you just wanting space from her during the day.
      Good luck!

    3. Seashell*

      “This is after she stated she didn’t care if his mom died, he should act better.”

      WWJD? Not say that, I’d guess.

      All of this is bad, but something that seems addressable is that she shouldn’t have extra unneeded people around or have any unnecessary chatting happening while you’re trying to teach. Maybe you can ask her nicely to keep those to a minimum or to take the chatting to another location?

    4. I'm just here for the cats!*

      1. If you feel comfortable telling her to stop you could or you could address this with administration. Kind of depends on how your school functions.
      2. She should not be discussing students and teachers within ear shot of other students. Heck, depending on what she’s saying about students it could be a violations
      3. This doesn’t seem like a huge problem, unless the items are causing problems for your teaching or taking up too much space.
      4. Next time she talks to him tell her that she needs to stop because its distracting you from keeping him on task.
      5. Where is this going? Does this mean that there could be more students coming in than normal and would this be disruptive to your prep time? WOuld this be a big mess that you have to clean up because she doesn’t. I think you should find out if there are rules about selling to students. And where is the money going? Is it for a school related fundraiser or her own pocket? Who is overseeing this?

      1. slashgirl*

        Paraprofessionals, usually educational/teacher/ing assistants (name depends on what area you state/province you work in).

    5. NaoNao*

      To me, this person has a need to be both needed/relied on and seen as an authority and mother hen type figure. I would play INTO that and see if you can redirect that energy in any kind of positive way. I’m not sure how rewarding someone for class is a bad thing but I assume there’s some politics and power stuff going on there–so in this case, I’d bite my tongue and internally roll my eyes and go to her hat in hand and “ask for help” or have a Very Official meeting where she’s the expert. Lay it on thick and use the eliminate enemies with kindness route.

      People like this often have a magical way of getting people to like them, authority figures to shy away from holding them accountable, etc. It’s maddening. But I’d try to get and stay on her good side, personally. And I’d also take private glee in weaponizing any Bible verses you can that point out hypocrisy, (“Gosh, Jean! I’m surprised to hear you say that, since you’re Jesus’ representative on Earth. I thought he was about how you treat the least among you…”–although that does imply minority groups are “least” so tread carefully) especially those on private deeds vs. public crowing, maybe work in the word “Pharisee” with wide, innocent eyes that also glare daggers.

    6. SBT*

      I handle HR for school districts and several of these items are not only Not Okay, they likely go against district policy or the law. Here’s what I’d recommend:

      1) I know you said your principal won’t have the hard conversation. I’d still recommend talking to him because it shows you’re attempting to follow the chain of command for when you get to step 3 below, but also, you never know. Lots of managers avoid hard conversations but still have a line in the sand where they’d jump in. You don’t know where his line is, so give him a chance.

      2) Read your Employee Handbook. You want to check the district’s policies on discrimination and bullying (transphobic comments), sharing views with students (oftentimes there are policies prohibiting this kind of opinion sharing or discussing political and religious issues), confidential information (gossiping about staff and students with others), conflicts of interest and food (selling the hot chocolate), and staff conduct (again the gossiping and the interactions with the student whose mom passed). If the staff member has violated district policy, you can reach out to your HR on that.
      3) Reach out to HR. The handbook likely has a process for filing a complaint, so follow that. You may also look into reporting on bullying separately; a lot of districts now have an anonymous form on their website where bullying can be reported. The transphobic comments can absolutely fall into this category.
      4) For the interpersonal stuff like the lack of space, her being distracting, etc., you’ve got to decide if it’s worth having a conversation with her about it. She may have no idea how difficult it is for you until you talk. At the same time, you know the politics of your school and the staff, so talking to her directly could blow up and make your life more difficult – that’s a call you’ll have to make.

    7. constant_craving*

      I think your jumbling together BEC problems and she is harming students she’s entrusted with problems. The latter really need to be addressed. To the extent you can, I’d keep trying to push on and escalate these.

  5. Do Not Want*

    Is there a way to get out of working with a client I feel ethically opposed to?

    I work for a very small team in a tiny company. The other members of my team (just by luck I was not included this time) recently had an introductory meeting with a certain “news” organization which, let’s say, I disagree with. Vehemently. I do not want to do any work with this organization. I don’t want anything to do with them. Is there any good way to convey this to my boss (who clearly does not share my views, since he would have been the one to initiate this meeting)?

    Some relevant points: as I said, we’re a very small company/team (there are 3 people on my team). We aren’t assigned clients, we just all pick up work as it comes in. So it would be very odd for me to say “nope, someone else needs to handle this” if I’m the one with the bandwidth to take it on. I can’t claim to be too busy, my boss knows exactly what we’re all doing. And currently I have very little else going on. I’m not sure I have any political capital to spend here, either; I’ve felt like my coworkers have been doing more than I have lately because they have some skills I don’t.

    Right now I think I can only hope that the intro meeting doesn’t go anywhere :/

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I wish I had some grand strategy for you, but I’ve worked on teams like this and…no probably not. Especially if you don’t feel like you have a lot of capital or like your boss would understand. It would probably actively work against you, and without knowing more I would assume that’s really risky.

      You might be able to get away with an “I would prefer not to” and see what happens, but I wouldn’t advise pushing it farther than that. I’ve been there, I’m really sorry, I send you tons of empathy.

      1. Tio*

        Agreed… I’ve had clients, especially in smaller companies, I would prefer not to. One of the more innocuous examples is that we used to do work for an MLM. We did shipping and logistics, we were not part of the MLM company itself, but there would also be no way for me to say I didn’t want to work with them. This is x10 in a small company. If anything comes of this, you’ll most likely have to find a way to compartmentalize. If you can, take on more of the work you like more proactively so that you can be too busy to take on that specific work – but you probably can’t outright reject it without risking your job.

    2. OP Glowing Symphony*

      Be the adult, the team member and work with the client. You’re too small of an office to believe that you can create a battleground based on your ethics vs. that of what’s good for the business and team. If everyone said, “I don’t want to work with X client” then you’ll constantly be doing so for each one.

      You will learn something about yourself and the client. You automatically believe they’re the enemy without having actually worked with them. Perhaps you’re beliefs will be confirmed, your bias fulfilled or the opposite.

      “And currently I have very little else going on.” Then you step up and be the team player. You’re putting your beliefs on your team before your team needs.

      ” I’ve felt like my coworkers have been doing more than I have lately because they have some skills I don’t.” This is a great time to stretch a skill and do something that makes you uncomfortable. Whatever ethics you believe you have that makes you dislike this organization will not be compromised – you’ll learn something during the engagement and that’s important, too.

      Be the adult. Be the team player.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        What a weird response. It’s not more adult to ignore your own moral compass and sense of ethics. In fact, I’m pretty sure only adults can even have such moral concerns.

        Also, they did not state that they believed this potential client was the enemy. That’s your crappy framing. Further to that, what a BS slippery slope argument. If we don’t do this one thing one time, suddenly we won’t do anything!

        Do Not Want – you probably will have to work with this client because the company is so small. If it’s a deal breaker for you, it’s completely understandable, but I think that does mean you’ll have to job hunt.

      2. Stuff*

        Thing about this is, there are news outlets out there right now intentionally calling for violence and hate against trans people like me, and for all our civil rights to be stripped away. Why should I have to learn anything about myself or that client? Why shouldn’t I believe they are my enemy without working with them? They’ve proven they are my enemy. Is it unfair bias to not be willing to work with those who want to destroy my life and identity?

        1. different seudonym*

          This is true. It’s not like supporting a team you have always rooted against. It’s giving direct material support to a fascist ideology.

          Glowing Symphony’s comment also reminds me of people I have met who honestly don’t believe that people who want social change have moral values. Their assumption is that the only real values are conservative values, and everyone else is just a flaky rulebreaker. That is an ignorant, ignorant, IGNORANT way to look at the world.

        2. Jelly*

          Yep, and, never do THEY/trans-haters have to be the ones to do the understanding. It’s always the people who they hate who are expected to do the work of smoothing out things.

          Good post, Stuff.

      3. CG*

        What a strange comment! The idea that you view adulthood as requiring you to be devoid of ethical beliefs and a moral compass is distressing. Being a team player/being an adult does not mean compromising your values.

        OP, personally, I would speak up and stand up for my values in this situation. This might mean needing to look for another job, and only you know how feasible that is or is not. But I know that I couldn’t provide my labor to an organization like the one you describe and still sleep at night.

    3. Rex Libris*

      Not knowing the particulars of the service you’d be providing, how about something like “I’m afraid my viewpoint doesn’t align with theirs to the point where I don’t really understand their appeal, so I doubt I could really promote/cover/whatever them in a way that does them justice.”

    4. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Probably the only way to not work with the client is to look for another job. I’m afraid that if you tell your boss your reasons why you don’t want to work with this client he will hold it against you.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This is my gut feeling as well.

        At a minimum, you need to take the time between now and when you find out if they got the account, to get very clear in your own mind on whether this issue is so important that you are willing to walk away from this job. Because pushing back on doing work for this client could get you frozen out or fired.

        But of course, don’t bring it up unless it’s a sure thing that they will be a client at all.

    5. Curious*

      I work at a place where management doesn’t lean in my direction. Not talking to people who don’t agree with me politically is not feasible for me. So what do I? (Also, I don’t think that’s good in general because that’s how people end up in political echo chambers, but I digress.)

      -I keep my interactions polite and factual.
      -If someone offers something opinion based, I ask for facts. (The has been very effective, but YMMV.) For example, if you don’t believe 1 +1 =2, please provide supporting information. I may not agree after your explanation, but we did have a conversation about it. That is usually enough to move forward.
      -Should political leanings come up in conversation, I tell people where I am on the spectrum and work life goes on.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I think there’s a big difference between working in an organization where you don’t see eye to eye with leadership on anything and providing material support to an organization whose objective is against your moral code.

        The former is working productively with people who have different views. The latter is assisting an organization to do stuff that you think is immoral. Like, I don’t care whether I’m aligned politically with the management at the Puppy Kicking Factory. I’m not going to be involved in any way with kicking puppies.

    6. Stephanie*

      Probably not. :(

      My friends at large management consultant firms say they can do that to some extent, but even then, they say you can only do that so many times before it impacts you professionally.

    7. Yes And*

      Is there any room to put your thumb on the scale against accepting the client at all, in a way that frames it in terms of the business instead of individual beliefs? Something along the lines of, “Company A is very controversial. Would it hurt our brand online or our position with XYZ Stakeholder if they knew Company A was our client?”

      1. Anonosaurus*


        In a small company it’s difficult to refuse projects especially when you don’t have full utilization. But if you can persuade management that the long term bottom line would be affected (assuming this is legitimate) then you’ve not only solved your problem, you’ve contributed a genuine benefit to the business.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I think this is a great angle. Nothing happens in a vacuum, and that goes times a thousand for our connected lives. It will not be possible to keep this work “secret” or “private,” and depending on the news organization in question may very well draw the kind of firestorm that destroys companies.

        That said, this may be a selling point for your boss, unfortunately–they may be trying to get in with conservative organizations/think tanks and such, actively.

    8. Mr. Shark*

      Yeah, I don’t think you can get out of it, or should get out of it, quite honestly. It’s like the county clerk that didn’t want to sign marriage licenses for couples that didn’t fit her idea of marriage, as one example. Just because you don’t align ethically/morally with your client, you have your job to do, and you signed up to do that job.

      If you do feel strong enough about it, then you would have to find another job, not just force other people in your company to do the work. Maybe they are ethically opposed to this company as well.

      1. SomeWords*

        That county clerk demanded the right to illegally discriminate against a segment of the population. It doesn’t equate at all with not wanting to work with an organization that discriminates.

        LW, sadly, it sounds like your workplace is so small you may not have room to wiggle out of situations like this.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          THIS. Discriminating isn’t morally equivalent to refusing to work with organizations that call for discrimination.

        2. SnappinTerrapin*

          Looks like folks missed your point: That someone who believes it is immoral to perform some function of their job should resign. I’ve been a public servant, and I agree that a public official who can’t, consistent with their conscience, perform the duties of their office as defined by law should resign rather than obstruct the functions of the office. And that applies whether I agree or disagree with the official on the specific issue that troubles them.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Nope, that county clerk was a government actor and she defied a federal court order so that she could continue to violate the Constitution by illegally discriminating against same-sex couples.

    9. Ann*

      I would probably try to lean on my workload and say I don’t have the capacity to take on this project. Sometimes it’s really hard to convey why you’d like to drop a specific client like a hot potato. My company has some clients like that – I have very complicated feelings about them because they do a lot of valuable things for the community, but also have done a lot of harm recently. Thing is, I would have a very hard time explaining any of that to management, because for various reasons they were never affected by the harmful actions, and this is totally not on their radar.

    10. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I disagree completely that being adult means sucking it up. This is something I come across frequently in my work and I have had to make a lot of hard decisions about who I work for and what I support — including refusing projects. Working with my values is extremely important to me and in the worst cases I’d spend every bit of capital I had to stay off that account. There are clients I would even quit over. You can’t do this more than once in a blue moon, so it has to be worth the fight and the potential fallout.

      Now, it’s true that it may come down to what’s best for the team and you may choose to honor that. It does sound like you’re in a tough spot as you are doing less than peers, so you may not have leverage. Know your situation and the risks.

      I’d start by talking about it with the boss. Keep it light, share that you have a personal conflict and ask if there’s any ability to re-allocate work based on that. Do some thinking in advance about what else you could take on to free up others. Read the situation carefully — you’ll know fast if you’re up against a wall or if there’s potential.

      In my current job, there was such pushback on the ethics of a potential client that my company was willing to walk away from the business. It does happen, and I’ve also seen it before. Just because they don’t share your aversion to working with this client doesn’t mean they don’t care that the team would be that unhappy.

    11. Rachel*

      3 choices, all valid:

      (1) swallow your distaste and take the client

      (2) tell your boss you won’t be taking this client

      (3) quit and find a new job

    12. Busy Middle Manager*

      This is the type of question where it would really help to know what the actual work is. Are you event planning for them (I’d be less inclined to help) or just doing bookkeeping/Accounting type stuff (in which case, who cares)? Also FWIW I am a news junkie and financial media junkie and could literally tear apart every single publication or channel if I wanted to at this point. Even the generic local news lies by omission all of the time. It’s almost par for the course at this point

      1. Curious*

        This is where I fall, fellow news junkie, but LW may not be comfortable with providing more information. Trying to be anonymous can be hard.

  6. Internal Promotion*

    Any tips for negotiating a raise during an internal promotion? I’ve been preparing by setting up a “brag file” of my accomplishments and compliments from peers, but the timing is so drawn-out and fuzzy compared to negotiating as a new hire. It seems hard to know when to do what.

    1. Susie*

      You should look at 3-4 jobs that are similar to yours in the same industry, and review the pay ranges in those roles. You can come prepared with these numbers, and have reasons why you deserve pay in xyz range. If you’re organized, prepared and knowledgeable it’s much easier to justify the requested pay. You also don’t have to sign the first offer, you can negotiate that as well.

      1. Water Lily*

        Came here to say exactly this. Susie is spot on. This is how it’s done. Good luck!

        (Also, increases in anything strengthen your case. If you handled 10 files last year, did you handle 15 this year?)

  7. Blue Dolphin burned down, it's gone now*

    Had a question about trying a salary negotiation without a formal offer due to tricky scheduling in the next week BUT I just got the offer. Trying to reach my boss who’s on a half day for a counter but haven’t heard back, I think I’m going to have to go to her boss since she’s out Monday too. I really don’t think they can come close to my offer, and if they do I’m worried I’d feel salty that they didn’t pay me that much before (it’s a $15k difference). Has anyone ever had that work out?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’m a little confused, are you trying to use your offer to get a higher salary at your current job? Unless you have a really compelling reason to stay at your current job, why not just take the offer?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’m a bit confused too. “Salary negotiation” usually comes up between the applicant and the offering company. Is the plan to use this offer as leverage?

        Think hard about whether you really want a counteroffer in the first place and if you do, think about what that would look like. Money, sure, but will they require you to stay for a set period of time? Will it come with more/different responsibilities?

      2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        Yeah, this. If the new offer is better, just take that. Alison pretty explicitly advises against using an offer from another company to negotiate a salary raise unless you’re willing to leave (and points out that often your current company won’t even keep up their side of the agreement going forward anyway).

      3. Tio*

        Yeah counters usually mean that you pay for it later with less raises, and not only do you feel salty but they now view you as a flight risk.

      4. Blue Dolphin burned down, it's gone now*

        Thanks all, I have a bit of anxiety around these situations and tend to not explain myself well when that’s the case. I was thinking initially I’d use the offer for leverage, but I think that’s just . I’m still trying to mentally adjust to getting an offer that’s an acceptable salary (really thought they’d lowball me). I accepted the offer!

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m also unclear what your end goal is. Why not just take the offer and move on? Counteroffers rarely work in the employees favor and I would never give one nor ask for one.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      Accepting a counter offer is almost always a bad idea.

      If you are at the point that you are interviewing for other jobs – then it’s time to leave.

    4. There You Are*

      I recently went through a job search and got not one, but two (!) job offers that pay 32% and 35% more than what I was making, and both were promotions.

      When I gave my notice, management on my team instantly offered me a raise and a promotion, though they couldn’t go as high in salary as my other two offers.

      I was immediately salty.

      I would have felt better about them if they’d said, “Damn, we’re sorry you’re leaving but completely understand. I’d make the switch, too, if those were my choices.”

      But by counteroffering, they’d proven that they could have promoted me and given me a raise all along.

      1. Blue Dolphin burned down, it's gone now*

        Right, I feel like by even entertaining a counteroffer I’ve just set them up to fail and I’m just going to be sour about it. And these are all people I like, maybe expending capital on my behalf.

  8. Oof and Ouch*

    Advice for handling awkward conversations about money with coworkers who earn significantly less than you do? I never bring it up but sometimes it comes up on its own in a weird way. Like if I ask what someone is doing for the weekend and they say “nothing” and then ask me and I say I’m going to dinner with a friend and then I get a “must be nice,” or some kind of similar response.

    1. ThatGirl*

      It doesn’t sound like you’re bragging about your private jet to the Seychelles or anything – that’s just normal conversation, and they’re being weird. You can ignore them, or just say “yep, it was great to catch up!” and ignore the subtext.

      1. Ccbac*

        I think this does truly depend on the pay difference and whether the person on the lower end is paid anywhere close to a living wage. I’ve worked places were the lowest paid staff were typically putting well over half of their salary into apartments shared with multiple roommates and it did often get tense when people asked about weekend plans and vacations because the answer was usually “working my second/third job/side hustle” and it often felt as though the senior person asking should be well aware that their staff can’t always afford to eat so asking about “fun plans!!” just seemed rather obtuse. If this is a common response to weekend plans, 1) stop asking and 2) think deeply about compensation.

        1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

          You have it backwards. They are being asked about their plans and then getting “must be nice” in response to a frankly totally normal thing. Going out to dinner is one of the least expensive/snobby things one can do. Unless it’s a 7 course tasting at the only 5 star restaurant in town, the coworker is the problem here.

          Also – “what are you doing this weekend” does not equal “how are you spending money”. I can go for a hike, go to the free museum, finally read a book from the library that been on backlist forever, clean my back closet, etc. This sounds like a grump – you can’t win with that type. No matter what, they are the downtrodden.

          Oof and Ouch, I had a senior colleague who made far more than me always respond this way when I went on a trip with my husband. She chose to spend her money on horses and her kids, (oh, and horseback riding on the beach in the Caribbean with her kids on a cruise) but she still gave me that attitude every time. I just continued like she hadn’t said it in a negative way.

          1. Throwaway Account*

            I think you have it backwards? Not sure, but it sounds like Oof and Ouch is asking others about their weekend plans.

            O and O says they don’t bring up money but then give an example where they ask about the weekend. I agree that that is a normal thing to do but if your coworkers are turning it into a money topic and are unhappy, stop asking about the weekend!

            I like Ccbac’s advice!

      2. Jasmine Tea*

        I would stop asking them this question. However I agree with the comment below that there are many cheaper and fun things to do. It may take more planning to do some of them but if one doesn’t want to stay home and be bored it is worth the effort!

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      That’s really odd, if these are all the details. Not saying where you’re going, not even implying you’re the one paying or anything like that, just “going to dinner” and you get that kind of response? That seems like a lot.

      Maybe don’t try to initiate small talk, if things are this tense around the office. If you have any say over things like pay I might dig into it a little further, as that sounds like a really dissatisfied group, but otherwise I’d just keep conversations focused on work.

      1. Oof and Ouch*

        It’s not a generally tense environment, and it doesn’t come up all the time. It’s just happened a few times recently. I’m also going on a vacation in a couple of weeks for the first time in over a year to a destination that’s known to be pricey. I know people are going to ask about where I was when I get back, so I’m trying to plan my responses.

        1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

          I mean, if they ask, it’s kind of on them to manage their feelings about it. Bringing it up out of nowhere would be ill-advised, but again, if they’re the ones asking…I guess just keep the details vague?

    3. Oof and Ouch*

      I hit submit too soon lol

      For reference I’m a professional who works in a largely blue collar environment. I make decent money, and I’m single and child free which means I have considerably more disposable income than a lot of my coworkers. I never try to flaunt it, but I’m sure sometimes I say something that’s innocuous to me, but just rude/not well thought out to someone else. (I’m thinking back on much earlier in my career when I was going on vacation and someone made a comment and I said it wasn’t *that* expensive. It wasn’t expensive to me, but at the time I didn’t know that I made about 60% more than that person because I assumed they made about the same/more than I did. I still cringe about that)

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        That comment could definitely rub someone the wrong way (even if you made the same amount. people have different expenses, and you often don’t know someone’s situation). But just “I went out to dinner with a friend” doesn’t rise to the same level. I can see why you want to be cautious but I tend towards believing your overthinking it with a grain of salt reserved for “obviously expensive or luxurious things, like vacations”

        1. amoeba*

          Weeellll, I mean, it does depend on the comment the coworker made! If the conversation went something like “Oh, where are you going?” “To X” “Ohoho, fancy, must be nice to be able to afford that!” “Oh, erm, actually, it’s not that expensive, we got a good deal”, I’d say that’s 100% on the coworker.

          Why do people comment stuff like dinner or vacation plans at all?

    4. OP Glowing Symphony*

      It’s not awkward; they’re making it awkward when they treat it like an affront when it’s not. Their passive aggressive ‘that must be nice’ instead of ‘glad you had a good time” is their problem. You shouldn’t feel bad if you went to Europe on a whirlwind 2-day weekend and they couldn’t/didn’t/won’t ever or had a nice dinner with friends.

      And when they say, ‘must be nice’ respond, “I don’t appreciate that you’re trying to make me feel bad,” let them explain their way out of it.

      And finally, stop asking them if you know that they’re going to be curt about it. Obviously they’re not living the life they want and that’s going to bring you down. They’re stuck.

    5. HannahS*

      If someone is responding snarkily to you going out to dinner, then I think you can say, “Thanks, yeah, I’m really looking forward to it.” And maybe avoid making small talk with that person. Or give your own, “Oh you know, seeing friends, catching up on chores,” answer.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      This is a them problem, not a you problem. For all they know, you’re going to McDonald’s or on a picnic (bringing your own food).

      I mean, you could avoid mentioning anything that involves spending any money at all, but if this is the kind of thing you’re saying, you shouldn’t have to.

      You might be single and no-children but, hey, all of my coworkers are married and two-income and have way more money that my single, childless self does, so that can go either way.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      If you say you’re going to dinner at French Laundry or Chez Panisse, then that might make sense, but if you just say you’re going to dinner, you could be grabbing some fast food for all they know. But, yeah, if they’re going to make weird passive-aggressive remarks like that every time you try to make small talk, you may just have to stop talking to them about non–work-related stuff. It’s not like you’re talking about your private jet or your lavish vacation.

    8. Sally Rhubarb*

      I’d just stop asking. It’s not worth trying to navigate their reactions, which are 100% on them and not you.

      For what it’s worth, when I was working 2 shitty jobs, I may have felt resentful that the boss was driving a Porsche but if my coworker said they went out to dinner with their friends/spouse/whoever, I never snapped back with a jealous remark.

      1. Oof and Ouch*

        In fairness I am in a management role, so while I’m not managing these specific individuals that could be a component. I definitely don’t make Porsche money though lol.

        I can do one better as far as oblivious bosses are concerned. I worked at a place that had a rough go of it with Covid. Legally they had to announce that layoffs were imminent. Like 3 days later one of the company owners/execs roles up in a brand new Tesla. He kept saying that it was on order way before Covid, but it was like… sir, read the room.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          I have a similar tale about a very clueless boss, but no potential lay offs. It was in North Carolina, where the weather can change very rapidly. Boss had a nice convertible with sheep fleece seat covers. A thunderstorm and they got soaked. So he put up the roof, and then the sun came out and it got very hot.

          We were just imagining the smell of the seat covers, and thinking it couldn’t have happened to a nicer man.

        2. Betty Spaghetti*

          I worked at a private company that had set up an all employees meeting to review retirement benefits, give a little informative talk about savings strategies, etc. It was horrible. Everyone left that meeting depressed or outwardly crying, because we realized we’d never afford retirement at our wages.

          Shortly after, bosses all got new company cars and started complaining that they didn’t like the color, the upholstery, etc.

    9. Sorry, I like to treat myself sometimes*

      I had a co-worker like this, and we made similar amounts of money, she was just very frugal and judgey. So I just started being really vague when I talked to her. “What are you doing this weekend?” “Not much”. “Where did you buy that sweater (how much did it cost)? ” “Oh I don’t remember”. “Oh I see you brought coffee from home today instead of buying one from the cafe? Why?” “Felt like it”.

    10. Lily Rowan*

      Your user name reminds me of one of the norms my office has in our DEI conversations: ouch/oops. Which is to say, if someone offends you unintentionally, you should speak up and say so, and if you’re the one doing the offending, you should apologize.

      In this case, I would just stop asking about out of work plans, honestly.

    11. Busy Middle Manager*

      I can think of many responses but the shortest I came up with is “I was going to cook and eat anyway, doesn’t make much difference eating our or in, especially with the cost of some groceries nowadays”

      1. TechWorker*

        I really don’t think this is the way to go… firstly it’s patently not true (yes there might be ‘cheap’ eating out options and expensive eating in ones, but in general eating out definitely costs more) and secondly if you do have an income disparity with someone going ‘oh but I don’t *really* have more money than you, we’re basically the same!!’ is one of the most tone deaf things you can say. Trying to justify it just makes it worse.

    12. miel*


      Are there tensions about money/ income disparities at your job? This feels like there might be underlying tensions.

    13. Jessica*

      I might answer that “must be nice” with “Yeah, it was really great to see my friend and catch up!” Like, take it faux-seriously and talk about the part that actually matters, not the money part. Coworker can’t really know if you went somewhere with Michelin stars or a dollar value menu.

  9. Who still uses social media?*

    Earlier this week, there was a post about a manager annoyed at their ex-employee about not updating LinkedIn. I did a double take, because I thought it might be my former manager, but then the OP said they were going to let it go in the comments, so I knew that wasn’t the case.

    So what would you advise on the other side? I was “managed out” a few months ago from a well-paid dream job by a terrible, no-good, disastrous manager. I was the first person he ever oversaw, and I encountered everything managers are not supposed to do – ranging from hour-long tongue-lashing sessions to micromanaging email content to hiring new people to take some of my work without telling me to scapegoating me for everything that went wrong to blaming bad “upwards communication” for every time someone failed to read his mind (which was daily). Add that to 70-hour work weeks, and I was damaged, especially after he got more headcount and then promptly launched an ambush write-up full of half-truths and blame-shifting. My mental health is still fragile.

    I am job hunting and it’s been slow going, though I am getting some interviews and doing contracting work in my field where people love me and think I am a rock star – that’s been helpful for regaining (some of) my confidence. But when my ex-employer reached out with shrill notes about how I need to update my LinkedIn, it reopened a lot of wounds.

    I have a pretty barebones profile and haven’t updated it in at least a year. I’ve meant to overhaul it but wanted to do that properly and just haven’t had the time or, honestly, the energy. But my employer – a household name with a huge web presence – insists that Very Important People are trying to reach me because they don’t have another way to get in touch. (This isn’t true, unless they mean cold pitches from random vendors and consultants.) This is not my manager directly – he knows better, I guess – but it is from the HR department that didn’t have my back. And it smacks of the same things I desperately fled from, like the need to try to control everything, thinking what they do is more important than anything else, and an utter lack of regard for me as a person.

    Am I just being stubborn (or, as I’ve been told, deceptive) if I dumped this to the very bottom of my to-do list, somewhere just below repaint the ceilings?

    1. Rex Libris*

      My inclination would be to focus on the “ex” in “ex-employer”. You now officially owe their opinions the same consideration as those of anyone you happen to pass on the street, so treat it accordingly. For the sake of leaving bridges intact, you could respond with a vague, “Thanks for the tip, I’ll have to think about that.” and then promptly return to ignoring them.

      1. Rage*

        Or even, “Yes, I keep meaning to do that, but I’m so busy with other priorities right now.” Just so they know that you actually do plan to do it, and aren’t just ignoring them for whatever reason.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          yes, perfect. Or you could ignore them completely, but considering you may be asking for references, I would go with the second response that Rage put forth.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Ugh, you have my permission to ignore your old company nagging you to update your LinkedIn. See if you can set up your email so that all their emails go to a specific folder that you only check when you feel like you are in the mood to deal with them. (I wouldn’t delete them outright in case they are trying to reach you about important things, though.) Best of luck in your search and recovery from such an awful job.

    3. numptea*

      Block these people, they’re nuts and you owe them nothing. Seriously, set up filters so you don’t get communication from them on any platform. In fact, I’d AVOID updating your LinkedIn, so they don’t know where you end up. From your description of their behavior, I wouldn’t put it past them to reach out to a new employer and try to sabotage you.

      1. M2*

        This might come back and bite OP. Someone did this years ago (but also inflated their title) and I received a call for a reference and told the truth! The checked even said “it’s in their LinkedIn!” That person didn’t get that job.

        I wouldn’t rush to do it but I would do it and change it to the correct time since it has been several months and maybe it will help you get the next role that will hopefully be better.

        1. Rainy*

          If you received a call for a reference for someone who said they still worked for you as an “inflated title”, it was almost certainly because they put it on their résumé. If someone’s LinkedIn lists a job as current but they obviously don’t do much with it and the résumé says they’re currently working somewhere else, no reasonable person is going to assume that the LinkedIn is the more current thing.

          1. M2*

            It was from a recruiter from a company who connected with the person on LinkedIn and got permission to contact references at the final stage. I was never asked by this person to be a reference so I don’t know if they have them my info or the recruiter found it.

            Someone might contact them or be interested in them based on what is on their LinkedIn.

    4. Not Me For This*

      Just ignore his messages and block him in email/phone. You don’t work for this person anymore. Should you update your LinkedIn, yes. But not for him – for you.

    5. Cat Wrangler 3000*

      You don’t work for them anymore so if you wanted to leave your profile as-is and never change it there isn’t anything they can do about it (mine is 6 years old and 2 jobs ago because I never use it). Unless you need it for your job search, let them be unhappy about it. Happily ignore them and work on regaining that confidence.

      1. SnowyRose*

        That’s not necessarily true. LinkedIn has a mechanism that employers can use to report people who do not actually work for the company. I don’t know the specifics and I’m not sure if it would apply here, but I know my company has used it a couple of times when people used LinkedIn during a phishing attempt. (People list they work at my org and try to connect with staff.)

    6. M2*

      You say you left your previous employer a few months ago. Is the job still on as present on your LinkedIn? I would say it is time to change that. A few months is a long time to keep it up and if you don’t work there anymore you should really change it at this point because people may be confused.

      I think it’s also important to seperate how your former boss treated you with HR asking you to update your LinkedIn after “a few months.”

      I only ever told someone to do this once in my career and it was when they (majorly) inflated their title after they had left. We had to tell them to put in their correct title and time of employment. No one saw this (this was years and years ago) until someone received a call for a reference. The person calling actually said “well it’s on their LinkedIn!”
      They probably would have got the other job if they had kept their correct title but whe asked I had to say the truth and they didn’t get the job.

      I’m sorry you’re going through a hard time, but maybe updating your LinkedIn will help you move on to the next step. Sending you positive energy

      1. JB*

        What a wild way to look at it. I haven’t updated my LinkedIn in almost a decade, it lists me as being employed somewhere two jobs back.

        LinkedIn is just a slightly more work-oriented Facebook. Many people don’t use it at all and many of those who do do not keep it updated. Anyone who is legitimately confused by that I would consider too silly to work with. (I say this as someone who literally looks up clients on LinkedIn as part of my job function. I go in knowing the information might be outdated or even useless to me.)

      2. Fluffy Fish*

        Respectfully, someone using an inflated title also really isn’t your business unless your company wants to try to sue for some reason.

        LinkedIn is not a resume. And as the individual found out when the reference was checked the lie was sussed out. That’s how it works.

        I periodically check on a guy we had to fire out of morbid curiosity. He has listed not only an inflated title but the title of the section head. I find it humorous – it has no standing. No one is going to mistake him for the section head – in fact it’s probably contributing to him not having been able to get another job in the industry.

        Bottom line – it’s not the companies business.

      3. Pizza Rat*

        I agree with this take. While LinkedIn is kind of a sh*tshow these days, there are people who still take it very seriously.

        I’ve had jobs where on day 1 I was asked to update my profile with the new job. While other commenters are right in that many people don’t take LinkedIn as more than another social media site, I’d still keep the dates as accurate.

    7. Roland*

      You don’t owe them anything but yes, you’re being stubborn, since youesd. Adding an end date on LI would have taken the same amount of time as writing this question.

    8. Fluffy Fish*

      Block them. They have NO standing to tell you anything. Arguably they couldn’t tell you how to manage your personal social media even if you did still work for them but of course that’s a bit different.

      Block them on linkedin. Block them from contacting you.

    9. Time for Tea*

      If these are emails, set them to go to your spam folder so you don’t see them. Calls can go to voicemail where you can choose whether to return them or not. Don’t let this place take up more of your headspace.

    10. Busy Middle Manager*

      I get your point but at the same time, it can be weird after a while to have someone listed as an employee when they’re no longer there, especially if they had a specific job title like Director of Marketing and you already got a new one, or if it even rarely leads to connections being made.

      For example at my last job, various regulatory contacts in similar jobs at other companies would reach out to me via linkedin and ask if we were working on so and so issue and if we wanted to pool money for a lawyer against or for certain proposals. Or my coworker now gets companies contacting him who want to discuss cross-selling our products. I’d hate to own a company and worry about a former employee getting these leads, ever how rare they are, and worrying they just ignore them.

      So I’d just change it. The job market for white collar work is horrible; if you’re having trouble it’s not because of linkedin. It’s just the market.

  10. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    ( content warning suicide) I was thinking about what unhinged things people have said in meetings to y’all.

    Last Friday,in a meeting an important manager asked what we were doing this weekend. Another coworker answered with a suicide joke and now she has to be talked to. Bonus points to my work nemesis for declaring loudly to my boss that she won’t do a mandatory thing.

    I wonder if unhinged meetings increase by the number of meetings or whether they have a strict schedule. Or is unhingedness just a meeting hazard?

      1. Rex Libris*

        This. It’s just that their opportunities to express their unhinged-ness increase with the number of meetings.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Usually collaboration means everyone has a terrible and unhinged time. at least higher ups have to suffer somewhat

    1. Honor Harrington*

      This feels like the Week of Unhinged, Incompetent and Unadvisable in almost every area of work for me and most of the people I know. At some point, it’s almost hard to believe. TGIF!

      1. It's Marie - Not Maria*

        I thought it was just me! Today has been a particular Sh!t Show. I feel slightly better now.

    2. Exhausted Electricity*

      he’s now an ex-coworker:
      man dropped an uncensored poster to the NSFW show his partner was putting on into the teams chat no fewer than 5 times, telling us to go and “give big tips”

    3. Elsewise*

      I didn’t witness this personally, but at an old job a manager asked an employee (not his report, just casual chat) how his day was going. The employee replied “It’s going great now that I put a bomb in the bathroom! I’m just counting down til 3 when it goes off.”

      The manager told the employee’s manager, who was already having trouble with the guy (second warning level trouble). She called HR to see if she could fire him over this. HR said that she had to tell building management. She told building management, who called the police, and the employee was escorted out by cops and fired over the phone a few days later.

      1. amoeba*


        (Also, my first thought was not “bomb threat” but inappropriate bathroom humour – is it just me?)

    4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      The girl who asked the suicide question now has to help in this meeting which seems to involve asking more and more unhinged would you rathers such would you rather have a live lobster in your salad or a live turtle in your soup

      1. Rex Libris*

        Depends on whether the soup is at room temperature. Otherwise it might be uncomfortable for the turtle.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          I just realized that there’s ‘ turtle soup’ ( actually made from turtles) in several cultures around the world. Awkward

      2. Warrior Princess Xena*

        What kind of turtle? I’ll take a lobster over most snapping turtles any day, lobsters can’t take my fingers off.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          I’d probably get a tad snappy if someone tried to put me in a bowl of hot soup – but I’d probably take it out on the chef, and probably wouldn’t make it to the table.

          There’s a good reason the species is called Chelydra ‘serpentina’. There isn’t a good way to pick one up.

    5. slashgirl*

      (cw: suicide mention). I had a principal (thankfully almost a decade ago now) in a staff meeting who compared one school allowing halloween costumes/parties to another school that wouldn’t, as being the same as how parents raised their children. She then proceeded to comment that she didn’t raise her kids the same way her neighbour did–after all his kid committed suicide by car exhaust in the garage.

      That was bad enough BUT every one knew who she was referring to, because this had happened very recently to another teacher in our board. I was especially pissed off about it, because the father of the young man who died? Had been my Grade 5 teacher, Mr. M. who’d been my first male teacher and one of my faves. He also worked at my best friend’s school at the time this happened. It was SO inappropriate and unhinged.

      She wore banana pantsuits pretty much every day. Our staff actually banded together and were able to get rid of her–which I think mostly happened because our previous principal had moved on to a position at the board. That gave HER leverage to do something about it.

      My personal nickname for her was PHP–Pointy Haired Principal (a la, Dilbert’s Pointy Haired Boss). I always say I survived her (reign of terror and bananas and bees) as an admin, I can survive anyone. Thankfully, she’s no longer in our board–last I heard she was teaching up North–and heck, may be retired by this point.

  11. Only one of my kind*

    does your company discuss current events?

    People chat a lot at work which doesn’t really bother me too much – usually it’s related to sports/fantasy teams and other random topics.

    But recently people were talking about a specific event happening which I won’t specify. Nothing hateful has been said but honestly just hearing it discussed at work made me extremely uncomfortable to the point where I started to get a stomachache from anxiety.

    I’m the only one of “my kind” at my company; there are a few small incidents of feeling “othered”, but generally I’m not outspoken or vocal about current events (or anything really) at work.

    I’m not planning to bring it up unless it happens again but just curious what you all think.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Depends on the events. People are pretty good about not talking about things that are hotly political, or may be causing upset. But sometimes topics sneak in for one reason or another.

      As HR, I’d want to know if this was happening and was bothering you, for whatever that’s worth.

    2. HannahS*

      It’s the f-ing worst and you have my compassion. I hate hearing about it. I have sometimes spoken up and said, “Guys, I spend all my time on this outside of work, and I can’t also hear about it at work.” At this point, I don’t care if that bothers people or makes them feel like I’m not the right “kind.”

    3. Fran*

      My boss lets my talk to him in his office one-on-one as he knows I’m going through a rough time with it and need a space to cry (which I freely do)- I was his first hire here and been with him for 7 years. But except for two brief conversations we don’t talk about it here which is nice I guess. It’s too polarizing. I’m not sure what to advise you but to say that I understand that stomachache!

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I work in a government healthcare agency, so we kind of have to discuss certain news events. But when something that could be particularly stressful happens, leadership often sends an email about EAP and other resources.

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        Same here at a university. We have to discuss any major world event that may impact the people here. Top leadership typically sends a few emails, we discuss it in department meetings as a matter of what our org. response, policy or procedure might be, and any support, resources, or security for students and employees. The discussion stays pretty dry in the sense of actions vs. feelings.

    5. Elle*

      My company tried to talk about police brutality during all staff meetings as a way of being more aware of how racism impacts us professionally and personally. But some staff have family members who are cops, it was brought up during a week with other horrid events so other staff felt they we re being ignored and now I’ve noticed we don’t bring up current events as much as we used to.

      1. Elle*

        I should add that for the most part I’m happy we’re not talking about this stuff at work. We do not have the resources to cover all issues and ensure people do not end up being frustrated.

    6. TiffanyAching*

      It varies on my team, some major things yes, others no. I’m also the only one of my “kind” on the team, and the major current news event I’m stressing about hasn’t been brought up. I’m not sure if it’s because my coworkers don’t care, or if they haven’t really noticed, or if they are specifically not discussing when I’m around.

    7. Ann*

      It’s very hit and miss. I had people checking in on me a couple of years ago because of some current events that affected my extended family/friends and were apparently shocking – shocking! – to my coworkers. Interesting to see that the latest current events, which mean that very close family now lives in fear for their lives, are not shocking to them at all and don’t merit checking it. I mean, whatever, let someone else be their judge, but it’s another small weight to carry.

    8. JB*

      In a previous role, yes. People would very often discuss current events around me and I also found it very stressful. My solution was to put in earbuds and focus on work, so that I minimized how much I overheard and so I wouldn’t be dragged into the conversation.

      Now I’m on a team where people mostly keep to themselves and I’ve deliberately arranged my hybrid schedule so that I’m in the office on the days that most people are working remote. It’s a much more permanent and peaceful solution.

    9. Rara Avis*

      I work in education, so it’s hard to avoid discussing current events. When there are big events in the news, an administrator will usually set up a space at lunch for students and teachers to discuss if they want.

    10. Gatomon*

      General feeling at my workplace is that work should be a break from any political or social controversy. I don’t bring it up, myself. We had some folks who were big on stirring the pot, but they’ve all been laid off over the years. I didn’t feel too bad about it.

      As a trans person, it has been tough at times, wondering whether my coworkers are voting or feeling certain ways, but in the end it’s my job to work with them as a professional, regardless. As long as I’m treated professionally at work, that’s all I can care or worry about. I use my own time to donate and agitate for my rights.

      Should this red state succeed in making it untenable for me to live here, I’ll quit and move, but I don’t see trying to actively advocate for trans rights in my workplace as being effective at stopping the current tide. I think openly transitioning in the workplace is the most effective advocacy I can do. If someone can work with me for 8 years and not feel I deserve the same rights as them, nothing I say or do will change that, because that person’s heart and mind are completely closed.

      Corporate is supportive of me personally and internal policy-wise, but our role as a telecom* means it’s not really appropriate to wade into anything beyond donating to the local rodeo and asking the feds for more grant money. We serve abortion providers and gender-affirming clinics the same as conservative religious organizations or political campaigns that oppose those rights.

      *I see us as a utility, same as electricity and water, no matter what the FCC says.

      1. Gatomon*

        I went on a tangent. When I was stuck around these conversations, I’d either leave the room, use headphones if stuck at my cube, or ask people to take the conversation to chat or text if I had the rapport. If these folks don’t take the hint, it’s time to work with management/HR for a resolution. All our problem people got laid off, and I think their constant controversy was part of why they were chosen, because it wasn’t a secret how awful they made the workplace. (You know it’s bad when people start openly recommending headphones to each other.)

    11. Only one of my kind*

      So my boss made a joke to a coworker related to that current event happening right now that I felt was in poor taste. I didn’t want to read too much in to it but it really did leave a bad taste for me. I got up and left. I’m pretty sure he saw the look on my face because a poker face I do not possess. I wish I could have spoken up in the moment.

    12. RagingADHD*

      We have some folks who get very into local news, but national and international doesn’t really come up.

  12. Noncommittal pseudonym*

    Mostly a vent.

    I’m a Director of a lab group, and I have an Assistant Director (Dr. X) who does the day-to-day management, e.g. maintaining equipment and ordering. I’m female and he’s male (this is relevant). I asked him to set up a training for a new piece of equipment (we got our own flow cytometer! Whee!). The training had a virtual component, to be followed by an in-person training.

    I was a couple minutes late to the virtual training, ironically because I was working in the lab with a grad student. So, I got there after the initial introductions. I signed in with my full name, let’s say Edwina Fergusdottir. We had a discussion of what we hoped to use the cytometer for, and so on. At one point, Dr. X said, well I think Dr. Fergusdottir would like to do XYZ (something I’m mentioned earlier – he was just reminding the trainer). The trainer popped in and said, “Oh, well, since he couldn’t be here today, I’ll discuss this with him later.”

    I responded, “Um, actually, that would be me.” The trainer paused for a second, looked embarrassed, and then carried on.

    For some reason, this has just irked me. It’s not a big deal, I know it’s not a big deal, but it’s annoying me way out of proportion.

    We’ll be seeing the same trainer for the in-person training in a couple weeks. I know I shouldn’t say anything, but I may have a hard time holding my tongue.


    1. cabbagepants*

      Sexism is a big deal and I’m so glad you spoke up! Hopefully the trainer is sufficiently embarrassed to never make that mistake again!

    2. Just here for the scripts*

      Actually that’s why when I’m running late for this type of meeting I send a teams text to the other presenters giving a heads up that I’m running late but will join.

      If it’s a large training, or if the presenters are sharing their screen, they truly may not see you. Latecomers are usually add at the end of the list-/at least my experience in teams and zoom.

      1. Noncommittal pseudonym*

        There were only 4 of us in the meeting, and she had already interacted with me, so I think she just didn’t connect that Edwina Fergusdottir and Dr. Fergusdottir were the same person and there must be some elusive male Dr. Fergusdottir out there somewhere.

    3. MouseMouseMouse*

      Ohhhh that’s annoying. It can definitely be as big of a deal as you want, especially since this is coming from a trainer who I’d assume has many interactions with clients — that kind of sexism shouldn’t be proliferated by someone like that.

      That being said, did you have something in mind to say? I’m not sure what you could bring up now that the moment has passed.

    4. Hillary*

      If the trainer looked embarrassed, they’re already aware they messed up. Especially if they work for the company that sold you the equipment.

      you might want to frame it as she’s already beating herself up, probably more than she should. I’d be very surprised if she makes the mistake again.

    5. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      She might apologize and in that case you could warmly say “thank you, it’s okay, it’s funny how internalized sexism works, isn’t it? I have something similar toward medical doctors even when I don’t want to”

    6. Nesprin*

      That’s deeply deeply aggravating and I have been similarly offended on many an occasion (all the sales reps from one particular microscopy company have been awful).

      I give you full permission to introduce yourself in person as Dr. Fergusdottir for the in person training.

    7. JustaTech*

      First, congrats on the cytometer!
      Second, totally reasonable to be irked by this, especially since you’d already interacted with the trainer. You’d think by now folks in the field would have realized that not all Directors are Dr Dude.

      Maybe when the trainer comes you can both be painfully polite and make the point about your title by introducing yourself as *Dr* Edwina Fergusdottir. Heck, the trainer might even apologize.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        “Dr. Fergusdottir, the Director of this Lab. Welcome to the lab. We are looking forward to the session.”

    8. RagingADHD*

      I think when you meet them again you should shake their hand very firmly and say, “Good to see you. Doctor Edwina Fergusdottir.”

      Because them feeling bad about their mistake is appropriate and healthy, and one more dose won’t do them any harm.

    9. SofiaDeo*

      If this person simply didn’t see the name of the person who joined the meeting late, I can see where a disconnect occurred. Unless you had met with them/on video recently, how likely is it for a training rep to remember a client one has not seen recently, if at all? You are positive this rep should have recognized you by face/voice? The embarrassment of “duh oh, THIS is the Main client” or “OMG, that’s right, I must spoke to her yesterday” doesn’t necessarily have to be because of sexism. Especially if they had never, or only briefly, seen/spoken with you or there was some time passed between interactions. If you had seen/spoken with them the day before, then yes, they are a doofus for not remembering a Main client they just spoke to. But it may not be sexism. I do think you will know more at the in-person training, one can usually tell if they are dismissive, etc. in person. Sorry you are having to even think sexism is a possibility, though, it’s awful.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        It is, unless you’re completely unfamiliar with Nordic naming and don’t make the connection just based on phonetics.

  13. Going Through It*

    How do you navigate disclosing an unfolding divorce at a new job?

    I’ve been in my role for just about 4 months. My husband and I have been in marriage counseling for almost a year, but as of yesterday realized that it’s not working and we need to take the next steps towards a separation and then divorce.

    Emotionally, I’m a mess. Luckily with a hybrid work schedule I can work from home as needed. Logistically, what’s the least dramatic way to share this information? My work team is a lovely group of people – we talk about personal lives (not in a boundary crossing way), so I’ve talked about my husband/being married before. It will come up again. I’m feeling a lot of shame about not being able to make this marriage work, and I don’t know how to talk about it at work when I’m feeling so emotional about it, AND worried about how I’ll be perceived since I’m still so new. I would love to hear any advice or lessons learned from how you’ve navigated this situation too.

    1. Not Me For This*

      You don’t have to say anything about your divorce at all. If you want to, you can when you are comfortable and ready. Just avoid it until then If someone asks how your husband is, fine. Are you and your husband doing anything this weekend? Nope. Don’t over think it. And it isn’t being dishonest. You get to determine when and if you are comfortable sharing personal information. And as this is still very fresh and you have strong feelings, now isn’t the time. I’m sorry you are going through this.

    2. Tio*

      “We’re going through a hard time right now, and I don’t feel up to talking about it” is an option if you don’t want to let coworkers in on the whole story but do want to open the door on some context in case you are not up to hiding your grief in the workplace. It gives them enough to know something’s up, not the specifics, and a notice you don’t want to talk about it.

    3. Sally Rhubarb*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. You don’t have to disclose if you don’t want to.

      If people ask about your husband, keep it brief. “He’s fine, thanks for asking.” If they ask if you did anything with him over the weekend, “no it was low-key” etc.

      My ex dropped divorce in my lap without any warning but it gets easier, eventually. Let yourself feel all the things in a safe space if you can. Reach out to your friends and family. You will get through this.

    4. Dragonfly7*

      It is perfectly okay to say that you’re getting divorced and aren’t ready to talk about it. I definitely wasn’t at the time and didn’t say anything beyond telling my manager (so she had some context for my emotions) and letting everyone know when IT updated my email address with my new name. Several years later, I might say that we tried counseling but it didn’t work out if someone pressures me for a reason.

      1. Rainy*

        Good lord, who are the asshats out there asking other people why they got a divorce? Like it’s anyone’s business!! I’m so sorry people have said shit like that to you!

        1. Divorce*

          I posted recently about how when i announced a pending divorce, two people that I thought would be supportive were suddenly NOT supportive. Like, the reason I gave just wasn’t good enough reason. It sucks. People are weird.

    5. Rainy*

      I should clarify that I haven’t been through this myself but in a large organization of course people you work with are dating, breaking up, getting married, getting divorced, having kids, losing family members or beloved pets, getting sick, getting better, and every possible permutation of every good and bad personal life thing that could happen is happening all the time, and for the most part I just want to know if there’s something a coworker wants from me to help them out during their difficult or happy time. Can I take over a task for you? Would a cupcake left on your desk sometimes make you feel better? I want to do that. I don’t need to know why or how unless talking about it would help you.

      So, I don’t think you need to feel an obligation to say something right now. It’s okay to coast on “Fine, thanks, how are you?” and “Oh, he’s fine. How’s your kid doing?” and other similar stuff for now if it will make you feel better.

      I probably would say something to your direct manager so that you can get some support in how this interacts with your work, but it’s okay to say “I’d appreciate it if you kept this to yourself. Work is my place to not have to deal with this stuff right now and it’s been such a relief to have a little space that’s free of big feelings.”

      I’m sorry this is happening. It’s a lot, especially with a new job, and that sucks. But you are going to get through this.

    6. MouseMouseMouse*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I agree with the other commenters — you don’t have to say anything at all if you don’t want to, but you can definitely prepare a few short scripts in case you anticipate questions come up. In particular, I would prepare one for sharing (when it happens/when you’re ready) that you and your husband are divorced, so it doesn’t catch you off-guard and make the situation more emotional than you’d like it to be.

      I also just want to say: please don’t feel shame about not being able to make the marriage work! Marriage is not a sacred activity that everyone must do to prove they’re good people; it’s a relationship between TWO people, and like all relationships, it changes over time. I hope you won’t bear the burden by yourself.

      1. Going Through It*

        This is such a kind response — thank you for it. I’m a child of divorce and my parents both remarried spouses who were equally terrible for them, so it feels like I’m just following that path. But you’re right, relationships change over time and marriage is not a moral failure or victory.

        1. 1LFTW*

          Divorce is just a breakup with extra paperwork.

          It’s not a moral failure, and it’s not even a “failed relationship”. It’s just something that’s ending. You’re doing the mature, morally laudable thing by acknowledging that, instead of persisting in something that leads you to become miserable, embittered, and hateful.

    7. SoreThroat*

      I went through a violent divorce and a nasty custody battle, all while holding down a high level job with a long commute and taking care of my 2 (at the time) young children. There were times I was a complete mess at work and could barely do the minimum. I spoke to my boss privately about what was going on but I didn’t mention it to my co-workers. I just didn’t have the energy to deal the comments that would come. My boss spoke to the team about it casually for me – I realize this might not work for everyone – and after that, I was able to calm down a lot and focus on my work. When I needed to use PTO for court dates and meetings, it was not a problem and my team was really helpful in handling things in my absence.

      I wish you peace and a speedy resolution.

    8. Mad Harry Crewe*

      I am a few months ahead of you on this unpleasant road. I told my manager, team lead, and the other two people with my same title (since we all share work), in 1-on-1 conversations – the important points were:
      – I’m splitting with Partner
      – I’m not having a good time
      – I may not be as on top of stuff as I would like, or as I normally am

      If you’re not ready to say the divorce word out loud (which, I get it), then “we’re having a rough time” or “things have been rocky with Partner and it’s taking a lot of my bandwidth” or “I’ve got some personal stuff going on, I’m trying not to bring it to work but you may notice” or something like that.

      It is not a reflection on you that it’s not working out. It is wild to me how much worse I felt about this split, and how much longer I hung on to trying to get it to work, versus past relationships where we were ‘just’ dating. We build a huge amount of social and emotional weight around Marriage* and I am working on shifting my mindset that this is just another relationship. People change, circumstances change, and things that worked in the past don’t always keep working in the future. You’ll get through.

      *is what bwings us togevver today…

      1. allathian*

        When my coworker who has the same job title as I do got a divorce about a year ago, he told our manager, team lead, and me to let us know why he wasn’t performing at his usual level.

      2. Going Through It*

        Your final paragraph is EXACTY what I’m working through. Thank you for your kind words and your advice, it’s really helpful to hear from someone in exactly the same situation. I hope everything is going well for you.

    9. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      There are some useful suggestions in the comments so far. In general, if you choose to mention it, aim for factual, succinct, and a neutral delivery. Like “we’ve decided to divorce, it’s hard, but I’m doing OK” and as them a question. Ideally, other people will match your neutral, professional vibe and will start answering whatever question you asked.

      Aside from that, I’m sorry you’re feeling shame about ending your marriage. I’ve never been married or divorced, so I don’t know what it’s like. But I don’t think there’s any shame in it. It sounds like you did your best and now you’re both making the decision you think is right to allow you both to be happy.

    10. 1LFTW*

      My ex and I split up just as I was starting a new job. I knew some my new colleagues before hand, and they thought of me as a long-married person. My start date wound up coinciding with my move into a new place. It was a lot.

      Logistically, the least dramatic way to share this is email. It’s much easier than saying the word “divorce” in person when you’re still raw.

      I emailed my boss, because she needed to know why I might seem distracted; and the colleague who recommended me, because she’s the person I’m closest to at work. I told them it wasn’t a secret, but it hard for me to talk about, so they were free to share it with other staff if they thought it was necessary.

      It worked beautifully. When I next saw them in person, they quietly asked if I was OK, and I found it was SO MUCH EASIER to talk about in person once I knew they knew. My boss said to let her know if I needed to adjust my schedule around court dates or moving administrivia, and that was pretty much it. Nobody asked weird, intrusive questions! Nobody got judgmental! Nobody said anything at all, unless I brought it up! And believe me when I say that work with some damn nosy people.

      Eventually I realized that my individual divorce felt unprecedented – because in my life, it was – but divorce, in general, is super common. Your colleagues know people who’ve gotten divorced, and they know that even the most amicable divorce is really difficult. You say they have good boundaries, and that won’t change just because you’re going through something hard.

      Best of luck. It gets easier.

  14. Sweet Clementine*

    Hi folks, I would love a gut check about my new job. For background, I left my high-stress ex-job to join this one three months ago. I was heavily recruited for the role, with the hiring manager approaching me and pushing through my candidacy. However, one month in, the HM quit, and was succeeded by one of my teammates, who is a new manager.

    My new manager and I cannot seem to get along at all. Some of this is my fault, I am used to working quite independently, but that is not ideal in a new job where I have not developed trust yet. At the same time, she is simultaneously micromanaging and uninvolved in our work. She makes us change directions on a daily basis, finds any push-back to be personal, and is basically taking away all my responsibilities one by one. At the same time, I don’t think she really understands the priorities of the role. Currently I am staffed in a project with a coworker, and she is constantly trying to pull me away from it for various tasks (even though the CTO has asked us to work on it as a top priority), and I had even gotten in trouble in the past with her for working on it until the CTO explicitly mentioned this was top priority, and asked us why we haven’t been working on it. Add to it constant late nights, almost weekly change in priorities, and the work has started to grate on me heavily.

    Given this, I am inclined to job search. I am still new in my career, but was medium to high performing in my last role. But a part of me feels I should give this job a shot. I don’t want to be seen as a job hopper. My last job was almost two years, and this is three months! (I am in tech for context, and was in grad school before). What should I do?

    1. Job Hopper*

      If you start job searching now and you get some traction, then clearly recruiters don’t see your job stints as a problem! I’m sure Alison’s advice would be to leave this job off your resume, and make sure your next job is one where you’ll be happy to stay for a longer time.

      I left one job after 8 years for a role with a company that ended up doing a huge round of layoffs after 8 months. I landed a a new job right after that that I only took because I’d been laid off, and knew right away it wasn’t for me. I started job searching after 4 months (kept the job on my resume) and landed my current role after 6 months in that job. I wasn’t asked why I was job searching so soon, and I made a point of saying I was looking for something where I could stay and grow long-term.

      1. Sweet Clementine*

        This is super helpful, thank you! I am getting reasonable traction, as my skillset is somewhat in demand (so it seems). This does seem like a good idea to leave it off my resume!

        1. Sweet Clementine*

          Yeah, and unfortunately I don’t have a direct relationship with the CTO or enough trust established to bring this up. My Hiring manager has left unfortunately.

          1. kalli*

            That doesn’t mean you can’t bring it up, just that you need to explain a bit why you need to meet with them. CTO dictates your priorities, that’s enough for you to go to them saying that your ability to work to those priorities is impacted by new manager and speak to the role changing beyond what you were hired for.

            Still look for a job – one shorter stint doesn’t look like job hopping anyway. But you don’t have to have saved capital to speak up about your actual job changing away from what it was when you were hired.

            1. Wearer of Red*

              Just take care about the risk that the CTO will tell the manager about your complaint. Maybe it would work out ok, but just be aware that manager could retaliate. Perhaps ask CTO to be aware of this possibility?

    2. Not Me For This*

      Only you know what is best for you. Leaving now would be early and if you do, know you will likely need to stay a while at your next employer. Separately, consider giving your new boss some grace. They are in a new job and trying to manage people who used to be her peers. That can be hard. I’m not excusing the behavior, just trying to help put it in context. How this person is managing you today will likely not be how they will eventually lead the team. They are figuring it out.

      1. Sweet Clementine*

        Yeah, this is why I am inclined to stay. She is an excellent Individual contributor, and she is clearly struggling as well. What I am concerned about is that if (when) something will go wrong, she will blame me for it, as I am pretty dispensable given that I’m new.

      2. Helewise*

        I don’t think giving grace is the right move in this instant. Like as a fellow human in the world, yes, we can understand that new things are hard and being a new manager is hard – but when the way someone managing their difficulties is actively harming you, you don’t have an obligation to stick around for it. And there’s no guarantee they’ll get better with time! Conscientious, self-aware people generally do, but a bad manager can be a bad manager for a loooooong time.

    3. M2*

      Can you switch division or managers? See what else is open at your company?

      If it’s for your mental health move. I don’t know how it works in tech but where I work I don’t usually interview job boppers. If someone has worked in multiple jobs for under 2.5 years that is a ding for me.

      Everyone can have one or two shorter roles maybe one in the beginning of your career and then one during Covid, but I have seen SO many resumes where people work 3 months- 2 years and then go elsewhere. I’m shocked when I see this maybe 3,4,5 in a row at different organizations! Where I work it can take 6-12 months to fully train and we have a lot of upward mobility but I don’t want someone finally growing into their role and leaving right away.

      So if you do move I would stay at that next company if you can for a minimum of 3 years (unless 2 years is normal for your industry).

      Again it’s really industry specific. I used to work in humanitarian and emergency response so we would see a lot of 3-18 month roles on a resume because it was for crisis situations. When I switched careers I had to explain that to a lot of people who didn’t realize that was the norm. A lot of them for me were in the same organization but many people went from org to UN to org etc because that is how it worked.

      1. Sweet Clementine*

        Yeah, this is my concern as well. I used to be in grad school/academia and this is only my second job, and I am concerned that shorter tenures will reflect poorly upon me. Other divisions are out as they do not hire internally due to policies in place.

    4. Procedure Publisher*

      Was the CTO aware that your manager was wanting you to other things instead? Or was the CTO explicitly mentioning it was a top priority was when the CTO learned that your manager was asking you to work other tasks? If the CTO wasn’t fully aware of what your manager was requesting of you, maybe your CTO should be informed.

      I would compare what the month under the HM was like to what it is now and ask if you could handle this position if your manager becomes a better manager. That month might not be enough time, but you can make your best judgement based on what you’ve experienced to know if what you seen under your manager is a company problem or just a manager problem.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I’m also curious how clear the new manager was about the prioritization. Sounds like she maybe didn’t know until the CTO told her.

        1. Sweet Clementine*

          Thank you for asking! This was a priority project which was intended to be delivered by end of this year, which is why I was staffed on it a few months ago. My manager was aware I was on it (as leadership was aligned on it overall), but she thought there were more immediate things I should focus on (which are not high priority outside of our org), and she was upset I was working on this project instead.

          Eventually one of the directors caught wing, pulled someone else out to help me, and since then we have been working nights and weekends to finish this.

        2. Sweet Clementine*

          This was a high priority project from leadership, which is why I was assigned to it in my early days. My manager was annoyed that I was working on it during onboarding (which was only interesting to my subteam and should have been deprioritized), and I got feedback that I shouldn’t be working on it. Then, the director found out, panicked, and since then we have working on this project basically nonstop.

    5. Goddess47*

      There is the classic “the job changed after I started and, while I gave it a shot, it wasn’t a good personal fit for me”

      Good luck!

    6. MouseMouseMouse*

      A poor manager can ruin your worklife, so I always recommend getting out as soon as possible. If you have multiple years of work experience on your resume, I think you could explain the three months upfront in the interview or just leave it off your resume altogether, like you’d taken a break from work.

      1. Sweet Clementine*

        I only have a couple years so far, as I only recently finished grad school and entered industry. I will probably leave it out in a few years.

    7. Qwerty*

      Make sure the end date for this job is in the same month as the start date for the next one, so it is obvious there is no gap.

      It’s not a big deal when job hunting to say the hiring manager left resulting in the job changing significantly. Heck, throw in that the hiring manager was a big part of why you accepted the job if you feel more comfortable. Lots of managers will respect someone who realizes the situation isn’t working out. Especially in tech!

    8. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      If the new manager is taking away your responsibilities, then it sounds like the job is becoming something you may not have signed on for. You could present it that way – there was a change in management, and as a result the job is changing. I think a lot of people would understand a job search given those circumstances.

    9. Anecdata*

      2 year stint in tech is fine; I do not think you need to worry about being seen as a job hopper if you leave this. Practice a neutral sounding “I was excited to join the team because X, but the person who hired me moved on and the team’s going in a different direction” for interviews (where X is something that you /would/ get to do at the new job, so there’s an easy pivot into talking about what you’re applying for)

    10. Miss Lemon*

      I would job search now. This sounds pretty bad. with only three months you could leave it off your resume if you want to. There’s a good chance you’ll be miserable and staying a few more months or even a year is unlikely to strengthen your job search if things are this bad. The place sounds disorganized, your manager doesn’t know what she’s doing, and she doesn’t sound like she will support you or advocate for you.

    11. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      In general, job hopping means several short stints at jobs. Not just one. And you’ve got a perfect explanation for why you want to leave, if it came up: not long after you took the job, there were leadership changes and the focus/priorities of the job changed to stuff you were less interested in.

      If you want to try something else first, you could try having a conversation about how there seems to be some misalignment in how different people are prioritizing things and how everyone can get on the same page. Ideally, you’d start with the new manager, express confusion, and ask for her help in resolving it. If that doesn’t solve things / there are reasons not to talk to the manager, I’d try to raise the concern with whoever manages your manager. Matter of fact, there have been some times recently where you’ve gotten conflicting messages about prioritization from your CTO and manager. Can they help you find a solution so that everyone knows what the priorities are?

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Doesn’t address the other issues of her taking your responsibilities away, unfortunately.

        1. Sweet Clementine*

          Thank you! I did have a few chats with her, but I am overall concerned as we have not established trust yet, so I am a little wary of staying longer.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Ok I agree that how the company handled this was bad but I’m wondering if there is more to it. Like did they think they could do remote work in this other state and then find out that they can’t? We’ve seen that a lot here on AAM and it’s not always that simple to be able to work in another state.

      I personally think they should have given him at least 6 month severance

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        There’s so much missing info here, and the repeated appeals to The Tragedy of The Situation is setting off alarm bells – this is not a balanced story that presents all of the facts. It’s an appeal to emotion. No thank you.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          If you’re a regular reader of this site, would this really be such a surprise? If you believe the letters published here, this is no worse than a ton of situations we’ve seen

        2. Kj*

          But in the US there’s not much balance between worker and employer. Employers have all the power. I ain’t mad.

        3. Qwerty*

          Same here. I’ve learned the more emotional adjectives being used, the less facts a person has to back up their story. This feels more like an ad designed to go viral because he sells services in negotiating severance agreements. Which are normally done with a lawyer, but he’s not. Lawyers warn you on what you can and cannot say and even help with phrasing on how to explain a bad situation like this without running afoul of the non-disparagement agreement. It’s bonkers to me that the poster is complaining that agreement was sent over when it is literally protocol to send over all the stuff that you signed so that you have a record/reminder.

          Plus I’ve seen severance agreements where one of the clauses is that both parties pretend it doesn’t exist and can only tell their lawyers and accountant/tax preparer. Which again, this guy is not, so he’s announcing to the world that the agreement has already been violated.

          The main thing with non-disparagments is that you are usually fine if venting to friends/family but they mostly only care when you make big waves – like contributing to a viral online post that sends a mob to the company’s site.

      2. SnappinTerrapin*

        I sympathize with the employee and spouse.

        The “employee advocate” has done a disservice to his client.

        The employee’s situation is bad enough without having to worry about being sued for breach of contract after following bad advice.

    2. Panicked*

      I’m sure (at least, I hope) there’s more to that story, but the company should have handled it very differently than they did. It’s never a good look when the company starts deleting comments.

    3. Line*

      Ok I get this is not the point of this post but LinkedIn is the worst. I can’t even read that post because I’m so frustrated at the formatting. Why is every new line a new paragraph? It wasn’t sent via telegraph.

      I’m sure the content is also infuriating.

  15. cactus lady*

    Does anyone have any suggestions for how to help an employee improve their public speaking/presentation skills, besides Toastmasters? One of my employees will be giving her first conference presentation in the new year and she REALLY needs help with her presentation skills. Toastmasters is not an option in this case. Has anyone hired a public speaking coach or used other public speaking classes/workshops? Or other ideas?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      We usually handle these things with internal coaching, are there any peers or above who could help her?

      1. Nesprin*

        Yep- especially for conference presentations, internal feedback is going to be the most useful sort of feedback.

    2. Exhausted Electricity*

      we can’t get toastmasters in my office yet either so what we’ve done is had is to have people who are “good” at it do coaching:
      1. figure out how dtailed your notes need to be. I need it fully written out, but one of my coworkers just needs bullet points.
      2. Slow Down. Do not speak too fast.
      3. when you flub a word, let it go and keep moving.

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      If TM is off the table, you might find success in a community college. I vividly remember my public speaking 101 prof who started day one of class with a persuasive speech about why we should drop the class.

      Granted, I was a turd to begin with. He included the statistic that speaking before a group was the second most common fear in America, behind death by fire. He asked the class why they were there and a voice that sounded a lot like mine replied “self immolation 101 was full.”

    4. T. Wanderer*

      my role involves a lot of public speaking, and the big thing for us is practice sessions — someone doing their first presentation, or anyone before a higher-stakes meeting, might do 4+ practice sessions!

      usually I’d have someone start with giving a presentation to just their mentor/manager. give a few days to adjust based on that feedback, then have them present to either just their manager again, or go up to a larger group. they run through the presentation, then they go back to the beginning and everyone gives feedback. continue until the presentation is solid!

    5. MouseMouseMouse*

      What about recording her practice session and letting her review the playback? Sometimes what people need is to experience their own presentation as the audience. You’ll be able to point out specific examples of what to improve, too (e.g. speaking too fast, making eye contact, etc).

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        This is such a painful exercise, I’ve done it several times, but it’s incredibly helpful

        1. There You Are*

          Yep, painful but a really great learning experience.

          Years ago, I started a role as an outside B2B ERP software sales person. The company had a week-long onboarding / training thing for new sales people. One of the days was spent being recorded giving a presentation and then watching it with your fellow new hires and the instructor, taking in feedback, and then re-recording the presentation incorporating the suggestions.

          All. Day. Long.

          It was brutal but so, so helpful.

          I remember wanting to dissolve into my seat and leave the buidling via osmosis but, on the second watching of everyone’s presentations, I paid more attention to how the presenter was reacting to watching themselves and being critiqued. THEY weren’t dissolving into their chairs. I figured if they could live through the experience, then so could I.

        1. J*

          You can also do this in powerpoint with Speaker Coach (built in feature). I’d do a full recorded session with whatever tools you have to feel like an audience member watching but then start to work with Speaker Coach for a bootcamp of solo performance improvements. Then after that, reassess to see if coaching needs to be done (and on what specific issues).

    6. Qwerty*

      Can you schedule smaller talks? I run our Lunch and Learn series and do a progressive scale for people who are trying to get better at public speaking

      Times include presentation + q&a
      10min – Lightning Talk
      30min – Lunch N Learn
      45-60min – Info Session

    7. Anonymous Koala*

      My work uses Franklin Covey for trainings like this and they’re great! I’m not sure if you can hire them for a one off but if it’s possible, their presentation skills course is 8 hours over 2 days and really immersive.

    8. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish*

      Improv! If you have a local improv theatre in your area, even an 8 week class can make a world of difference in confidence in public speaking and performing. The majority of theaters I have worked with also do corporate trainings. These are usually based around building creativity skills, but certainly if you contacted one of them they would be able to work with you to put together a workshop or curriculum to meet the specific needs of your team.

    9. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      One option to get the ball rolling is to ask the employee to speak up / do small presentations in internal meetings. Like, can she give the update on how the Llama Grooming Initiative is going? Or set up an expectation that she needs to ask at least one question in every meeting where that is appropriate?

      Back in grad school, we used to do mock thesis / dissertation defences when someone was prepping. Our defences were a short presentation with PPT and then rounds of questions. The trial runs were stressful, but super helpful. And the actual defence was usually easier!

    10. EmF*

      One thing I’ve done is have them speak to smaller groups, in chunks where they are not The One Giving The Presentation. I’ll let them know ahead of time “hey, during the team meeting/Q&A with Teapot Relocation/whatever, we’re going to be covering X thing. I know you dealt with that exact situation last week, can I ask you to describe the scenario?”

      We’ll practice ahead of time and build a slide together (and I’ll show them how I build my deck and what goes into it), and then, during the meeting, when I get to that point, I can go “Hepzibah Jones is going to set the scene for this/remind us what the Teapot Relocation Process is/give a quick summary of our Llama Grooming Implement criteria” and then throw to them for a minute or so. That way they get to start small rather than jumping immediately to full-on conference presentation.

    11. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I did my business communications class in college, so I’m not best equipped to speak to a specific course, but I strongly recommend that you include presentation materials, not just speaking, in however you do this. Having a strong slide deck and/or good handouts can make up for a lot of weaknesses in speaking, while having a bad slide deck can make a mediocre presentation that much worse. PresentationZen by Garr Reynolds is one I’ve used in the past that covers the materials well.

    12. Parakeet*

      If there’s a nearby university with a theater department, you might be able to hire a theater professor for a few sessions of tutoring. My advisor did this for me when I was a grad student.

    13. Striped Sandwiches*

      I’ve done Toastmasters and didn’t find it helpful anyway. There are many things they do that don’t reflect what happens when you give a real presentation. Your colleague is better off giving internal presentations as practice.

    14. Longing for a lazy weekend*

      “Public speaking skills” is a really broad category, so think carefully about what the employee does/doesn’t currently do well and what is/isn’t needed in the role both immediately and log-term.
      On one hand if she’s got a conference presentation coming up and you know she’s nervous and unprepared, the answer is to prepare a LOT, and to help her a LOT. Have her make a draft of the charts ASAP, and do chart reviews where you discuss what goes into it. Talk about the bigger storyline and about specific things to say on each page. Pull up previous presentation decks on similar topics by people on the team and demonstrate ways that you talk with the charts. Have her give a practice talk. Use her charts to demonstrate how you’d do it on a couple of the key moments. Make her so confident in the material and the story and the vocabulary and the script that she doesn’t need to be nervous. It’s a lot of work on your part to coach her through it, but that’s the way that you convey what a good talk is for your organization’s standards. And if you coach her through it really thoroughly this time, it will take less input next time, this one excuse for training will bleed over into a lot of other contexts.
      Or, you know, send her to improv classes and hope she magically learns how to give professional presentations? If what you really want is to see her have to confidence to speak up in meetings, or show some authority when answering questions that you know she knows the answer to, maybe improv or theater or etc would help. But that’s a completely different type of “public speaking”.

  16. Justin*

    This is sort of the flipside of something I’ve whined about here.

    In the past I talked about people not quite understanding that I have real expertise in something (teaching/presenting/pedagogy/public engagement and communication etc.). But sometimes I deal with the opposite, where people assume expertise in a subject means someone is skilled at communicating that expertise.

    They offer us trainings in various things that different parts of our organization do, which is good, but they’re all led by very very dry jargon-y external subject matter experts and they are impossible to understand.

    Aside from the small part of me that gets that there are a lot of bad educators, and a lot of people have had terrible times in school, so pedagogy is thus not really well understood – people just think it means control and authoritarian behavior, and I get why – I’m trying to use my social/political capital at the job to try and talk to the other teams to get them to at the very least put together – or allow me to help them put together – some level-setting materials so the webinars won’t be so uselessly inside baseball.

    As for a question – have you all experienced a training by a subject matter expert who clearly knew their stuff but was fully unable to convey it to broader audience?

    1. Roy G. Biv*

      Yes. I have found it quite common that someone can have “acknowledged expert in the industry” level of expertise in a subject, but have little skill in teaching it to others. I work in a niche high tech industry, and have found the people who write the whitepapers are not typically the best choice to teach the content to others. We have paid training staff for that.

      1. Justin*

        And I’m the training manager, but, well, I’m not sure everyone understands that it’s an actual skiller.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Yes! So many times, but I suddenly thought of my high school algebra teacher. The guy knew math inside and out. However, he did not know how to teach it to a bunch of high school freshmen.

      Interestingly, I had taken algebra in middle school but got a poor grade for attendance (thanks, bullies) and not showing *all* my work (the parent who explained math to me skipped steps, because they just assumed everyone did those parts in their head). So, I had no problem (this teacher was on another level with math and not fussy about how you got to an answer) but did end up helping my classmates.

      I am still very, very good at algebra. And I guess he taught me how to explain complex concepts in a weird way…?

      1. Justin*

        Similarly I had an English teacher a lot of people didn’t like but she was a weirdo (said lovingly, I am too) who had very clear thoughts about writing and now that I’m a published author a few times over, I carry her listens with me everywhere I go.

        Whereas I had a linguistics professor who talked into the ground and was a luminary in the field who blamed the whole class for doing poorly on his exam. I actually resisted linguistics for years after him despite being a language teacher myself for years. (I got over it once I had a GOOD linguistics teacher.)

        And then with professional development, I’ve had really great experiences and terrible expert-mumbling-into-chest stuff. I wish pedagogy was valued more because when done well, learning can be exemplary.

      2. Striped Sandwiches*

        Damnit people, training is a skill!!! What do they think college students who want to be school teachers are learning about for 3-4 years?

    3. MouseMouseMouse*

      This is very very common. Education and training are separate skillsets all on their own, just like people management, so just like SMEs being promoted to manager can sometimes mean disaster, SMEs being made trainers/instructors can also result in flops.

      That being said, educational companies are meant to specialize in training and delivering information, so I would see if there are other external third parties who can provide better training.

    4. Anonymath*

      This happens in my field ALL the time, to the point that my field has a bad reputation for being hard to understand when in fact it’s mostly just some of the SMEs being hard to understand/not well trained in teaching.

    5. There You Are*

      Oof. At my last job, we had a guy who trained other departments / divisions in the mechanics of reporting up to Corporate their future needs for certain commodities.

      The guy is a long-winded blowhard who “circles back” and repeats things (“Having said that, I want to circle back to my main point; [repeats the last five paragraphs he just said].”

      I was part of a process-improvement team. For one of our projects, we talked to all the people whom he had trained on the forecasting thing and they all said that either they hadn’t been trained at all or that they hadn’t been trained enough. All of them.

      When we told “Bob” this, he balked. He spent 15 minutes expounding on his expertise in the area. He spent 20 minutes telling us the number of hours he had spent with each of the people he trained, so therefore he *knew* they were properly trained!

      We tried to gently suggest that perhaps training isn’t where his skillsets lie and wouldn’t it be great if he got this one burdensome thing off his plate by working with the Corporate Training department so they could give the training going forward?

      He was still huffing and puffing about how knowledgeable he is weeks later when I left the company. No clue if anyone got him to agree to let professional trainers take over the training.

    6. SnappinTerrapin*

      If someone can’t communicate what they know, I have no way of knowing whether they know it or not. I was always taught that the best way to show you’ve learned something is to demonstrate the ability to explain it to someone else.

      I do realize that it’s possible to be able to “do” something without being able to explain it to someone less proficient; one of my own weaknesses is being unable to teach someone else about math, although I always did well on math exams in school. But someone asking me to help them understand math would have no reason to believe I knew what I was talking about.

    7. allathian*

      Yes, when I was at college/university. I talk about college because it’s the term that Americans understand, but actually we have universities. There are two kinds of universities, academic universities and universities of applied science. The difference is that teachers at academic universities all hold a Ph.D. or are studying for one (TAs), and doing original research is an absolute requirement. At universities of applied science, this isn’t the case, and the quality of teaching at those is often higher than at academic universities, where many Professors wouldn’t teach at all if they had any choice in the matter.

    8. 1LFTW*


      I’ve functioned as an SME and a trainer/teacher for various subjects, depending on my own experience with the subject and the target audience. If I’m the SME, my expertise can absolutely get in the way of a beginner’s learning – by definition, a beginner does not need to know everything I’ve learned over the course of years or decades.

      On the other end of things, I’ve been in teaching situations where the SME clearly has no memory of even *being* a beginner. Sometimes, the SME is impatient with beginners; other times, the SME might advise short cuts that a beginner doesn’t have the skills to pull off. Difficulty ensues, the learner blames themself, and as the teacher I’m left to clean up the mess.

  17. Strict Extension*

    My workplace recently instituted retirement matching; the first place I’ve ever worked somewhere that offered this. I was initially excited, but when I attended the informational meeting, it was explained that all funds in the retirement accounts would be invested in stock portfolios. (I assumed it was like a savings account that accrued interest.) I’m very politically active and there are lots of companies in the stock market that I actively boycott and would never want my money invested in. I asked if there was a way to select our own stocks and was told that all the portfolios are preset and most involve investing across all available companies. All my inquiries were met as if my concerns were either maximizing my earnings or keeping my money safe. There didn’t seem to be any comprehension that someone would object to investing on a moral grounds. Finally there was a vague mentioning that there might be a way to invest in the money market instead of stocks, but that they would have to look into that. Even then, I’m not sure that alleviates my concerns, because I don’t really know anything about money markets.

    Is this just a compromise people make if they want to save for retirement? I’d be perfectly happy managing my own savings, except that I miss out on the matching funds. It seems wrong to require stock investment in order to get a aspect of employee compensation, but I guess that’s just how our system is set up to work? Is there a way around this that just wasn’t shared? Or am I completely misunderstanding what’s being asked of me here?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Basically everywhere I’ve EVER heard of, 401k retirement accounts are stock portfolios. This is not unusual at all. However, most companies that manage retirement accounts allow you to decide what kind of portfolio you want your money in – some have more options than others, most direct you to a targeted retirement date fund, but I’ve seen that with Fidelity, Schwab, Principal, TIAA, etc.

      So … the short answer is, yes, this is a compromise most people make in order to get matching funds from their companies.

    2. Tio*

      Having a preset stock option box is probably something keeping cost down for them to be able to offer this option as the one managing the portfolio doesn’t have to make 30 different changes. There is sometimes the option to self manage in regular retirement accounts, but sometimes not, because then you have the one guy who goes all in on bed bath and beyond or something and then it tanks and they have way less in their account than everyone else and put up a stink, or it’s not fair enough. So I can see why this would be the way they want to go if they’re set on stocks.

      I don’t know much about money markets either though tbh

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You probably ought to go read a primer on 401(k)s (I assume that’s what this is). Depending on how big your employer is and which investment company they use as a funds manager, there can be a choice of 4 general mutual funds and maybe a bond fund. Or you could have hundreds of mutual funds to choose from, some that are managed according to a variety of ethical standards.

      You might even get the option of full self-management, where you can invest in individual stocks, but those aren’t nearly as common. You really need to read the plan documents and hit up some general financial literacy info.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        Yeah, my current one only seems to offer target-date type funds, but my previous employer offered a huge range of funds including, as you say, ethical or environmental standards, different market caps, domestic vs foreign, etc.

    4. Not a Real Giraffe*

      What you are describing is a standard 401(k) set-up and the way that the IRS allows for employer contributions/matching. Most 401(k)s that I’ve been involved in have target date funds, which spread your investment across what they believe to be the most stable way to invest your money and reduce your risk. If you choose one of these funds (which are based on your projected retirement year), you don’t get to pick how it’s invested. However, many 401(k) programs I’ve been involved in, typically with larger employers, allow me to self-select my stocks and funds and bypass the target date fund that selects the investments for me.

    5. saskia*

      Good for you for actually digging deeper into this topic and seeing if it aligns with your values! Have you looked on your 401(k)’s website? You may just be able to change the investments there. You can also try asking the 401(k) company itself if you can change your investments.

      So while what you described is the most common way to invest 401(k) funds, it’s not always set in stone. And at some companies, you will be able to allocate your investments yourself instead of going with the crowd.

    6. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      So first – yes, this is a thing people have to come to terms with as investors. The best return comes from investing in the entire US stock market, which means all the good and bad companies together. I’ve heard of some “socially aware” stock funds that try to remove particular companies like tobacco, guns and gambling, but they aren’t that common, aren’t widely offered, and might not exclude the particular companies you don’t like.

      I assume that there will be bond funds in addition to stock funds. So you might be able to invest in the state you live in and boring but necessary things like infrastructure. Or US treasuries, which are federal bonds.

      However… I think they might also be misinformed. I’ve certainly read stories of people putting money in their 401k and not knowing they needed to take the extra step of putting that money into a particular stock fund, so it accidentally sat in cash instead of being invested.

      FYI, a money market fund is usually what’s called the “sweep account” at the brokerage. That is in fact where the money goes first, before being used to purchase stock. So again, if you don’t purchase any stock, I think that is where it would sit.

      Oh! I just remembered that some 401ks have an option to connect directly to a “brokerage window” via a special link so that if you don’t like your company’s options you can buy things you do want. Again, not sure how common that is. You might have to talk to someone higher up the food chain at the 401k provider than the person they sent to your office.

      1. ArtK*

        Note that the sweep account pays interest like a bank savings account; less than the rate of inflation. Leaving money there is losing money.

    7. Qwerty*

      Reframe this as the employee benefit is access to a investment company that comes with a matching plan. Same as how some companies offer matching to healthcare accounts but the restrictions are set by the insurance provider (think its called an HSA but I usually use PPO)

      The investment companies often control what is available. The more expensive the investment company, the more options the employees have on how to invest their 401k. I’ve had some where I had a lot of control over individual stocks. Others where the only options where those funds with the target retirement date.

    8. Justin*

      I mean, yeah, that’s the most stable way to build retirement savings. It depends on the deal they made with the company whether you can actively manage it yourself.

      I’ve made my semi-peace with it, despite how progressive I am. I don’t particularly feel like explaining to my son why I can’t pay for certain things. Frankly if I were a magician I wouldn’t think that real estate purchases should be a big part of wealth because the accrual of value there is also kind of dependent on… the entire system.

      Your mileage may vary, though.

    9. Alice*

      At my company, I can’t choose which investment services platform to use (we have Fidelity), but I can choose which Fidelity mutual fund I want to have my money in. So, check about the offerings available to you. They probably have a “green fund” or a “ESG fund” that you could use. Some jargon to use when you ask them:
      “impact investing”
      “ethical investing”
      “socially responsible investing”
      “environmental, social, governance investing”

      Now, if your goals are more specific than “no tobacco companies,” you might not be happy with the ESG fund. But that’s the option you will want to investigate I think.

    10. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Check what “must invest in all available companies” means, since if there’s more than one fund there must be some difference between them. There might be something like a “social choice fund.”

      They may not be offering that, it may only be offering things like “stock index fund,” “international equities fund,” and maybe a set like “retirement date 2033” and “retirement date 2040” (which gradually move some of your investments from stocks into bonds as you get closer to the target date).

      A fund that tries for more ethical investments still may not be nuanced enough for you. They’re likely to be emphasizing or avoiding entire industries, which is useful if you don’t want to be investing in oil firms, but won’t let you avoid a specific electric utility based on how it treats employees. It’s a cliche to say that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, but leaving your money in the bank doesn’t mean the bank isn’t investing some of your deposits in EvilCorp.

    11. Busy Middle Manager*

      If the plan has age targeted funds, pick one with a nearer retirement date like 2030, and it will be mostly bonds. Or only do a roth IRA and pick individual stocks (though you’ll be able to save way less).

      I highly doubt anyone with experience didn’t get the gist of your ethics question, but they either couldn’t handle it or don’t know how it pertains to the funds at hand. You need to be more savvy than I would say the regular person to even know what shady things some companies have done, but then once you go down that rabbit hole, you’ll want to completely disengage from society. So it’s good to set boundaries. Like, I will avoid Wells Fargo and anything related to factory farming, but that’s about it. Most other companies are a mixed bag but mostly good, or at least providing services people want.

      I just checked my 401K and even in the most niche fund, the most any individual stock is represented is Microsoft at 6.19% and Apple at 6.6% in another niche fund. That’s a rarity it’s that high. Most other stocks in those funds are pretty generic like that insurance and big pharma. If you have issues in general with those industries, then yes, you will have problems saving for retirement. You need to mentally focus on the benefits some of these industries provide

    12. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      That sounds pretty standard and I’m also wondering if you even have a choice to opt completely out even if you want to. Even if I just wanted that money in cash to invest myself, I can’t. At my org, there is a mandatory minimum 1% contribution to our retirement, in our case, the org’s 403B — which is the non-profit equivalent to a 401k. I have options for different funds from our two providers, but once I pick a fund, I don’t get any say in the portfolio of stocks and/or bonds — depending on how aggressively it is managed, that list may change daily anyway.

    13. Bess*

      Yes, an employer 401(k) is typically limited in choice. And yes, a lot of people have to compromise when building their retirement savings even if they have objections to big companies included in their funds or portfolios. It’s a little bit like paying taxes–you don’t get to specify your taxes can’t be used for x, y or z.

      That said, from what you’ve written, I think you should take some time to read some tutorials on what stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and portfolios are, and really come to understand the terminology–then next, I’d ask for a meeting with a rep of the 401(k) company and see if you can have a more specific discussion about your concerns. You are unlikely to be able to pick and choose particular stocks as investments in a 401(k), but more and more funds are being offered that meet particular ethical standards and you never know if you couldn’t just designate most of your money to go to some of those.

      But I’d have that conversation after you’ve studied up a bit, just so you have a more in-depth understanding of what the options really are. In my first job with a full benefits package, I spent time going over all the options in the 401(k) and I read a few investment handbooks so I had a basic understanding of what I was choosing from.

    14. RagingADHD*

      They may not offer this, but it’s something you could suggest: many major mutual fund companies have created “Ethical investing” or “socially responsible” funds that cover the same type of risk profiles or time horizons of standard funds. They disclose their criteria, such as no oil&gas, or no defense contractors, no tobacco, or whatever it may be.

      You still can’t pick individual stocks, but you have some influence over what you’re owning. (And FWIW, my social responsibility funds have outperformed the market for the last 10 or 15 years overall).

      If there is an option for bonds or bond funds, those are loans to the government, whether federal, stare, or local. Normally those loans are used for stuff like infrastructure.

      With respect, I would discourage you from trying to pick individual stocks even if given the option. It sounds like you don’t have much familiarity with investing, and picking stocks without a good foundation of knowledge is just like playing slot machines.

      If you have a moral objection to the entire concept of investing in mutual funds, I don’t think that’s on your employer. Sooner or later, moral agency has repercussions in the real world, or else it wouldn’t actually be agency at all.

      But I think you should take the free money, because there is no interest – bearing savings account that can come close to the ling term returns in the stock market. And when you retire and withdraw the money, you can support a charity that matters to you. Or when you leave this job, you can roll that account into an IRA that has better options.

  18. Sleeper*

    I’m leaving my current job early next month (with nothing lined up; I am that miserable and have savings to be okay for a while). Despite having extensive experience and education in this field, my opinions have been dismissed, and I don’t feel valued. On the day I had planned to share my resignation, my boss was out of office – so I had a meeting with my skip-level boss instead. He was shocked and asked if I was sure I wanted to leave – this was clearly news to him. I gave my boss my resignation when he returned, and he admitted he knew I’d been unhappy for most of the year; clearly he hadn’t shared any of this with skip-level.

    HR immediately asked if we could have an exit interview (I have read Alison’s post about those) and I’m hesitant. I’ve largely been unhappy in this role because it’s a big misalignment – my boss doesn’t have a background or education in this particular field, which impacts his ability to effectively lead and coach. For example, my boss sent a file of PII to a third-party accidentally – I was copied on the email and when I mentioned it to my boss, he didn’t understand why the sharing was a big deal (“party can just ignore the email”). Neither of us interviewed for these positions – it was a “right time / right place” situation within the org when the roles needed to be filled. Is there anything worth sharing with any of these parties as I’m on my way out regarding leadership, privacy/protocol, or the misalignment in hiring? I feel slightly guilty leaving my own team behind to fend for themselves under poor/disconnected/oblivious leadership. 

    1. Hillary*

      What’s the upside and what’s the downside? Is he your reference, or will someone else be?

      Remember you can control an exit interview and only say what you want to say. You could do the interview and express concern that the company doesn’t have an experienced privacy expert without explicitly bashing the manager. the privacy thing is a huge deal and would be reportable at many companies, especially with the upcoming law changes.

    2. Stephanie*

      I saw you replied to my post! We had a lot of layoffs on my team and we were all overworked. I felt guilty my coworkers were going to inherit more work and literally my closest work colleague was like “No. Not your fault. You didn’t plan the staffing to be this lean. Management will find someone to cover.”

  19. key lime pie ice cream*

    For folks who are working 50-60 hour a week jobs that are rewarding but time-consuming: It seems like having some non-negotiable boundaries/protected time is the biggest thing for work/life balance, but I find myself constantly choosing work (I’m good at my job, I get validation) over, say, a new hobby (I’m new at it, so I’m not good at it and get zero validation haha). I think I’ll have a richer life if I can get out of that mindset. How do you make it easier/more appealing to choose and defend your boundary?

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Schedule things that make you leave work. If there is a class for the hobby you’re wanting to get into, go to the class that will make you need to leave work at a reasonable time. Or if it’s something to do with friends, schedule meet-up times with friends that make you leave. Etc. Set up your calendar so that you have hard stops where you have to stop work to do not-work. And if you have trouble doing that every day, then start by just trying to do it twice a week.

    2. Not Me For This*

      I find scheduling this is helpful. I also have created a “I don’t work on the weekend” rule unless I absolutely have to. I will read and think about work but I try not to get on the computer.

    3. Qwerty*

      My boundary is dinner time. I go home, eat dinner, watch some TV to unwind, or meet up with friends/family for dinner. THEN I can go back to work if I really want to. This breaks up the momentum and reminds me about other things in life.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      I took my work email off my personal devices. I also set an “end of day alarm” and completely shut down my work computer and my work phone at that time and put them away in my desk so they’re out of sight. Usually the 5-10 minutes it takes to reboot everything makes me think twice about opening my computer again.

      Scheduling fun things for after work, like a class or dinner with friends, also helps. :)

    5. AFac*

      Sometimes, it’s recognizing or establishing an investment, whether that be money, time, or friends. I’m more likely to go to an exercise class if I put money into it, or know I have people there who expect to see me. I’m more likely to finish a project if it’s for someone I know, or if I’ve already put [X] many hours in and only have [Y] many to go.

    6. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I turn my phone on do not disturb after a certain time. call on call! it’s 8 in the night time!

    7. kiki*

      If I pay for something and can’t get a refund, I am much more resistant to skipping, even for work things. If there’s any sort of paid class or workshop you can schedule for your hobby, that may be an extra incentive to hold firm boundaries.

    8. Cedrus Libani*

      Having been the person with the all-consuming job, I’ve learned that a major hazard of that life is having all your psychological eggs in one basket. If work is your entire life, and work is going into dumpster fire mode (it will do that sometimes), your entire life is a dumpster fire. That’s depressing. Literally. It’s much easier to keep believing in yourself when you have a diverse portfolio; yes, it’s been a rough few months at work, but I just set a new personal best at the gym, etc. Having a life isn’t just a distraction, it’s an investment in staying out of a depression hole.

      Also, you can think of the “extra” stuff as cross-training. The obvious one is exercise. If you don’t make time for it now, you’ll lose that time later…having the energy and focus to keep up with a demanding job is not guaranteed, you’ve got to take care of your body. The less obvious one is learning / remembering how to get out of your comfort zone. When you get regular practice with the learning curve at a low-stakes hobby, especially the early part where you suck out loud for a while, you get better at it and you’re also way more accepting of the whole messy process. This works to your advantage when you need to learn new skills in your professional life.

      One tip: I’ve found that I am far more likely to do a thing if it’s a scheduled thing with other people. Both aspects important. Go to the gym? LOL. Go to the gym, 6:30 pm Tuesday? Maybe twice, then LOL. Dance class at the gym, 6:30 pm on Tuesdays? Yeah, I went; not always, but most of the time.

    9. Habitual Coffee*

      Thanks for asking this, it’s exactly my life lately!! Pre-pandemic I had a social schedule I was a bit stressed to keep up with – Dance class on Mondays, live music on Wednesdays, date night w/ husband on Fridays, yoga Saturday mornings, coffee and dog-walk with neighbors Saturday afternoons…. and then all of that ended when social distancing kicked in and didn’t come back the same. The music bar closed, “my” yoga teacher moved away, my neighbor’s kids got older and have softball all day on Saturdays, I lost touch with the dance friends… but my coworkers were my most-constant video friends 2020-22 and now we’re actually “friendlier”, I know their cats names and what their living rooms look like. So I end up working more (because I’m good at my work and doing those tasks correctly is instant dopamine hit) and checking my work phone more (because checking Slack to see if Diane’s read my analysis feels almost indistinguishable from “hey let’s see if my friend texted me back”) The worst is that when I stop working I don’t have other things clamoring to fill the space any more, it’s now kind of boring to stop work, because I don’t have anything else planned. I’m really trying to get better at making plans.
      So am I relating? Absolutely. Am I helping? Probably not. But I will strongly warn against the mindset of “I’m going to get serious about going to yoga again, as soon as we finish this big project and I’ve got Tuesday evenings free” because somehow you never get your time back even when the project ends. Make the commitment first, then fit work around it. For me it helps that several of my coworkers are also seeing themselves in this trap, and we’re pretty enthusiastic about defending *each other’s* time, if not our own… (No, Diane, you’ve got yoga tonight, I will finish that, just go) and they will shove me out the door if I tell them I’ve got a thing.

  20. ecnaseener*

    TLDR: What to do about continuing to catch mistakes from a coworker I trained?

    Over a year ago, a coworker (Amy) got promoted into a new position on our team that shares my duties (e.g. I was previously the only Spout Specialist on the teapots team, now the two of us share the spout work). I trained Amy on her new duties, and for roughly a year now she’s been working independently and just asking me questions as needed. I still have more expertise than her, but I am not her supervisor or otherwise in charge of her work.

    A supervisor on our team (Hilda, who doesn’t manage Amy and I) does a regular quality-assurance check of ongoing projects — reminding us to follow up on pending items, flagging if there’s been an update she thinks we haven’t seen, etc. It’s not meant as a “gotcha” or anything, but she does copy the person’s direct manager.

    Hilda doesn’t check most types of spout projects though, because they have a different process and it’s not easy for her to understand the status of them from a quick look in the main system. So I’ve always done my own checks of those, and when Amy started working independently I started checking her spout projects along with my own. I’ve never copied our manager (Linda) on my notes though — it’s not part of the official QA, just supposed to be a favor to Amy. I assumed that non-trivial errors would decrease over time and I’d eventually only be doing the type of quick check Hilda does.

    Now, a year in, I’m occasionally catching non-trivial mistakes on Amy’s project (like failing to notice that a spout didn’t meet required specs and shouldn’t be approved). These aren’t life or death, but it would be a real pain if they weren’t caught in time.
    I’m realizing it’s not a good idea to continue on like this, without Linda being aware. I’m considering the following options:

    A. Performance reviews are coming up, and Linda always asks ahead of time for any comments about our coworkers. I could tell Linda about the situation when she asks. [Feels like the nuclear option even if I downplay it…]

    B. Talk to Linda without emphasizing the mistakes, just to say that I’ve realized I’ve been doing this too long and can we ask Hilda to try including the spouts in her official check? [Gets this off my plate, but Hilda probably won’t notice the non-trivial issues I notice, so it runs the risk of Amy continuing to make as many mistakes with no one catching them.]

    C. Tell Amy that since I’m not her trainer anymore I’m going to stop checking her work, and she should either do her own checks or we can talk to Linda/Hilda about including spouts in Hilda’s check. [Same risk as B, although I could tell Amy that I don’t think Hilda will catch everything I catch so Amy needs to be more careful / figure out a better approach to avoid errors].

    D. Tell Amy I will keep doing the spot checks but only to the extent Hilda does them, not deliberately checking for substance. [I don’t mind doing them and I skip it when I’m really busy, I just mind the discomfort of finding non-trivial issues.]

    Any thoughts/advice? Sorry this is so long!

    1. Colette*

      I’d go to Linda, tell her you have been doing the same checks on Amy’s work that you do on your own as a holdover from when you trained her, and that you are finding more significant errors than you’d expect. I’d suggest that Hilda get trained on how to check the spout work, but the first thing is to raise the issue. (I’d probably do it outside of the performance review process, not wait until then.)

      1. Tio*

        This is mostly where I’m landing. I’d also add in that you would like to stop doing these checks on Amy’s work and will go back to doing only your own, but you wanted to flag this for Linda so she could keep an eye on it. I’m not sure about throwing Hilda in on it; that might be pretty far out of her purview, but you could possibly suggest it as an alternative since you won’t be checking Amy’s work anymore? (Assuming your boss is ok with you stopping; she may want you to continue and send the errors you find to her instead of Amy instead.)

    2. CheeryO*

      I would just meet with your manager and let her know that you’re still reviewing Amy’s work and catching non-trivial mistakes. It’s not nuclear – she needs to know that the current process isn’t working without some extra effort on your end.

      It sounds like either Hilda needs additional training to be able to review the projects as part of official QA, or Amy needs additional oversight, or both. It’s not your responsibility to figure that part out, though. Of course the risk is that Linda will ask you to just keep checking the work yourself, which isn’t fair if you’re supposed to be peer-level with Amy, but then at least you know that nothing is going to change and can factor that into your job satisfaction calculus.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I would talk to Linda outside of the performance review context, but don’t downplay the mistakes (your option B) since, as you say, there’s a real risk that mistakes will be missed, and some risk that that will come back on you somehow. I would set up a meeting with Linda (or however it would be handled in your culture) with a topic of something like “QA process for Spout Projects”.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      Honestly if I were you, I’d use this performance review as a chance to add these checks into my formal job duties. You’re doing them anyway, so you should at least get credit for them, and doing them yourself is probably easier than training Hilda to do them. Also since it sounds like these checks are part of a supervisor’s responsibilities, perhaps you could use this task as justification for a raise/title increase if you’re planning to ask for one. If you don’t want to do that, I’d tell Linda you’re doing these checks and point out that they’re really under a supervisor like Hilda’s purview, and see if someone else can take over the checks (maybe with training from you).

      Then I’d either (1) tell Amy that now that these checks are part of your formal responsibilities, you’re going to handle them like Hilda and cc Linda on those emails or (2) tell Amy that Hilda will be handling checks from now on with training from you, and focus on helping Hilda become better at identifying t
      Amy’s mistakes.

  21. Mentoring a Tech Team Lead*

    Looking for ideas on more “official” ways to help a team lead on another team without actually becoming their manager. This is someone recently promoted to being a team lead and is also supposed to leading a couple inititiatives for our dev department. They are not receptive to help and really need mentorship. We all report to a CTO of our startup who doesn’t have time for the hands on mentoring that is needed. I’m a manager, but not this person’s manager. Assume changing reporting structures is off the table.

    Helping this person with their tech initiatives is becoming part of my job, but we aren’t sure how to make it more official so I have some authority, because the Team Lead needs to be the one accountable for these initiatives. By Initiatives, I mean big tech stuff with architectural changes that affect multiple teams. Right now I could set milestones for them to hit and teach them what steps are needed to successfully lead this stuff, but it has no teeth and there’s nothing to get them to actually listen to what I say. CTO is open to ideas and we both believe this person is mentor-able.

    1. Mentoring a Tech Team Lead*

      For those who come down on “put a manager over the Team Lead”, please give suggestions on phrasing here. I’ve lead multiple teams before so I’m not opposed to taking it on, but I don’t know how CTO would react if I suggested I annex another team so I would need to tread carefully.

      Usually I always have a manager over a lead so they get mentorship and don’t get stuck being a de facto manager without the skills

      1. Tio*

        Hmmmm… Could the CTO make a sort of training program and inform the team lead that they will be reporting to you on the matter of completing this training course, and that you will be evaluating their success on the course?

        The thing is – what consequences are you and the CTO prepared to put forth if they blow it off or don’t try hard or don’t meet the goals? Because you may believe them to be mentorable, but they might not be. Or they might not take this specific course seriously. Or they might do it fine and then immediately go back to how they were before. What are you prepared to do in those scenarios? You really can’t do anything and expect it to work if it has no teeth, as you say

        1. Mentoring a Tech Team Lead*

          I like the training program idea! I could put a draft together. It could be helpful for future promotions – we’ll be adding more teams as the startup grows and it was tough to convince any of our senior devs to go for this position.

          Never hurts to have better documentation on what someone’s role entails – part of all this is probably caused by a mismatch in expectations

    2. Anecdata*

      When you say the person is not receptive to help, what does that look like? That feels like a big obstacle

      1. Tio*

        Oooh, I missed that in my first read through. How is someone supposedly both “not receptive to help” but also “mentorable”? Those seem contradictory.

        1. Mentoring a Tech Team Lead*

          I suppose I see a difference between accepting help and being coached.

          Not receptive to help
          – Either turns down or does not follow up on offers of help
          – When talking about being too busy, shoots down any solution of how support could be offered
          – Not really accepting to attempts of guidance from other leads or managers

          – Responds well when CTO has done some light mentoring, which lead to the promotion to Team Lead
          – Responds decently when coworkers who have some perceived authority give guidance / suggestions. (ie – one was the team manager but stepped down to be an IC because they didn’t like leading, another is generally who we see as the most knowledgable on best practices for X)

          This person is also very overloaded (we all are) and possibly burning out, which tends to make people more prickly. I found them easier to work with pre-promotion when there was less on their plate

          I think the main difference between the two categories is if the help is coming from someone they perceive as having the authority to tell them what to do. While technically I outrank them, functionally we are peers. That’s why we were trying to figure out if there is a label we can use or a hat that I can wear. Ideas so far have been stuff like TPM for the initiatives, but that takes the accountability and ownership away from Team Lead.

          I wasn’t sure if other people had like a formal Mentor label that has an actual impact on someone’s performance reviews. Or it there were other hats that people wear in projects that I could use. I was asked for my suggestion and don’t want to come back with “give me a second team to run” so I want to come up with 1-2 alternatives. (I’ve run multiple teams before so I could do it, hence why I was tapped for the attempt at unofficial mentorship)

          1. Tio*

            I think a serious part of the mentoring AND the training needs to be about accepting help or ideas from colleagues and people under them. You don’t have ot be in charge to have some good process ideas – a lot of them come from the people on the ground doing the processes. And if they’re blowing off help/support/ideas from anyone not above them, that will be a serious management issue eventually. Even people below them like to feel like they are valued and their ideas heard. And a manager can’t assume that no one else on their level has good ideas or they’re going to miss out on a lot.

    3. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Who is this person’s actual manager? That is who should be resolving this.

      If it’s the CTO, and they recognize that their team lead needs more mentorship than they can provide, then they (as manager) have the authority to dictate “This is your project, these are your deliverables, since this is your first go, please set up a weekly meeting with Mentoring to make sure you’re on track. Mentoring will be reporting to me about how these meetings go.”

      You aren’t this person’s manager. You aren’t responsible for their work, and you don’t have the authority to manage their work, unless and until the CTO or someone else *gives* you that authority. It’s not clear from your post whether you’re over-reaching (because you see a problem coming and would like to head it off – understandable! but not actionable) or whether the CTO is offloading their responsibilities on you, but whichever it is – get really clear with yourself (and the CTO if necessary) that unless you have some authority here, you cannot enforce changes in how these projects go.

      I’m also side-eyeing “not receptive to help” and “mentorable” as applied to the same person. Maybe the issue is that they don’t accept “help” from a “peer” but they do accept “mentorship” from an “authority figure” but… in my experience, you can’t fix someone who’s learn-proof.

  22. Amber Rose*

    I’m so demoralized. I made two small mistakes that have spiraled into a monstrous issue and it’s brought to light all these other things that have been going on and I just… :(

    My side of the story: the CEOs EA is quite rude. She tried to cancel a monthly meeting I have scheduled so she could give the board room to someone else, only she instructed a manager who is not mine and has nothing to do with my meeting to cancel it. When the email finally made it my way, it was half an hour before one of the instances of the meeting and in my hassle, I misread it as her giving me half an hour notice to cancel. She was actually trying to cancel it for the next month. (mistake 1)

    I was trying to find her to clear this up by talking to her assistant, and when it turned out she wasn’t even in the office that day I let my frustration get the best of me and said out loud, “she’s a bit rude.” (mistake 2) This trickled along the telephone line and now I’m in trouble for calling her the b-word.

    What bothers me is I’ve been working here for 9 years almost. I don’t swear at work. I don’t get mad or call people names. Everyone knows this about me. But my boss caved like wet sponge cake and didn’t back me up at all and the CEO just took the work of someone who wasn’t even in the office about this.

    In the course of discussing this, I was told it’s also unacceptable that I don’t smile and say good morning to everyone, and that I often walk around looking gloomy. 2 months ago I experienced a death in the family and a diagnosis of a significant health issue that I miss 2 days a week to treat, and he knows this. The solution offered was to move my office into a corner on a different floor.

    My manager also did something extremely cruel to one of my coworkers, which I learned about in the course of all this.

    In the course of a few months, management has decided to allow a couple of toxic people drag us all down into the sewers with them, and I’ve lost 100% of my respect for them, and since they want to tuck me away into a dark corner it’s clear I have nothing left here either.

    I’m just absolutely crushed. I don’t want to work, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to do anything, I don’t want to talk to anyone. I’m coping extremely poorly.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh dear. I’m so sorry to hear all this!
      Please take some time for yourself, and if you can, please start job searching. You seem mired in a very toxic environment, and while I know you’re terribly busy with other things, maybe job searching will make you feel more in control of the situation. Because you can (and sounds like you should) leave!!
      Good luck.
      We’re all rooting for you!

      1. Amber Rose*

        I’ll be polishing my resume, but I refuse to leave until I get my bonus. I’ve worked extremely, extremely hard this year and I earned that money.

        1. Tio*

          That super sucks. My usual suggestion is to take some PTO for breathing room, but with the health issue you mentioned I’m assuming you will want to save that. I’m really sorry about this whole thing.

        2. Watry*

          Is this a bonus that comes at the end of the calendar year? If so, you should probably start looking now anyway, unless you expect to get snapped up quickly.

            1. Glimmer*

              I really hope that’s a massive amount of money to be worth another four months of this misery!

              Have you considered that a new job might pay more than enough to outweigh the bonus? Don’t put yourself through this for the sake of “I earned it”. You deserve better.

            2. Greta*

              I would start looking now. You don’t have to accept the first thing that comes along. If you get an offer, you can assess the compensation and whether it’s worth leaving the bonus for that compensation. If the situation at your job goes even further downhill, it might be worth it for your mental and physical health.

              Also, it helps me to apply for jobs when I’m unhappy at my current position. I get satisfaction knowing that there are options out there.

              Good luck, it sounds rough and I’m sorry about your family member and health issue.

            3. Any Name At All*

              You seem miserable at that job and you’ve been there for nearly a decade. Is it really worth it to hold on longer just for a bonus?

              And when you get that bonus, would you continue staying there if another bonus was offered?

              What’s more important, money or working somewhere where you feel happy and valued? Think about it.

        3. connie*

          Are you certain they won’t let you go before then? I understand wanting that money but this is a huge gamble.

    2. Colette*

      That sucks. I’m sorry. It is possible to take some time off out of your normal routine (even if it’s just “take Saturday and go for a walk in the woods/do a crafting class/play board games with your friends”)?

      I think in the medium term you should consider job hunting, but that might be too much for right now; any space you can get out of the work headset might help.

    3. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I am so sorry. It really shows how just a few people can really change a workplace.

      Is there anyone who can/will back you up to say that you didnt call anyone names? I don’t know if it will help at all.
      2. I’m assuming you are female or female presenting (Because men don’t get told to smile more). But if someone says that ask Why? I just lost someone and I’m dealing with X (pain, migraine, etc) why does me smiling affect you? I’m not here for decoration.

      1. Amber Rose*

        The other manager has my back. He said to my face he didn’t believe it for a second and that I can go to him if anything happens. But I don’t know how much it counts since he’s not my manager.

        I am female, for sure. Feels like they want Stepford Corporate Models for employees these days, and that’s just exhausting.

    4. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I am so sorry you’re dealing with this. Can you please take a day off? Even better if it can be a long weekend. And/or spend time with people you love, and love you for you? You are a person deserving of respect, and your colleagues and management team are being extremely disrespectful. But this is about them, not you. I don’t know you and I know you are a wonderful person, and don’t deserve to be treated this way. I hope you can take some time away from your workplace to see that. And when you’re up for it (since of course you’re upset, this is an upsetting situation), maybe you can look at Allison’s resources to start a job search. You deserve better than this!

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Dear Lord, that’s a perfect storm.

      First, you are NOT coping poorly! You’ve been dealt multiple body blows and professionally betrayed (I use that word on purpose) by people whom you thought believed in you, and told that you should be happy and gay while dealing with death and illness. They literally want to put you in a corner!

      That you are functioning at all means you are coping just fine. There’s nothing you “should” be doing “better.”

    6. There You Are*

      Take the office in a corner on a different floor. It will be harder for anyone to see you job searching / overhear you talking to recruiters. Relish the physical distance from the toxicity while you plan your post-bonus escape.

      Or you could negotiate the bonus with your new company, if they want you to start before the bonus close-out date. That’s what I did with the company I just left. When I first interviewed with them, I was 4 months away from the bonus closeout date at Toxic Company. New Company wanted me sooner than that, so they *raised my salary* by the amount of Toxic Company’s annual bonus.

    7. Brevity*

      Hi Amber. First question: is the new health issue covered by the ADA? Best to look that up now, because if it is, you can shut down their “you don’t smile enough” shit right now. Second question: do you trust HR? If yes, I’d go to HR, tell them about your situation and ask for an EAP referral immediately. EAP counseling will help you, and might get onto your bonehead manager’s radar. Also, if your newly-diagnosed condition is covered by the ADA, you want to go to HR and let them know that too, because they can go to Ms. Rude Bitch and explain potentially violating Federal law if she keeps at it.

      I know this may seem extreme, but trust me, knowledge is power when it comes to understanding ADA rights. I never had to actually take action with a former employer; I just made sure I had all the info (from the EEOC, a reputable employment attorney and a reputable disability attorney, both of whom gave me a free consultation). There was one conversation with a stupid boss mentioning the word “disability”, and suddenly, everyone figured everything out. It made a huge difference.

      Some resources:

      Even if your condition is not covered by the ADA, if it were me, I”d still talk to HR about getting into an EAP right now.

      ALL the Jedi hugs. You will get through this, I promise.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I appreciate the thought you put into this, but I’m not American. No ADA here. And our company has no HR, alas.

        My condition is, in theory, temporary. Or rather it’s chronic but once the symptoms are under control I should be good to go.

        1. kalli*

          Not being American doesn’t mean there aren’t any disability protections – being temporary or managed also doesn’t impact whether those protections apply to you, especially in jurisdictions where it includes perception (i.e. discrimination on the basis of being perceived to have a disability). You might be able to find information on your locality’s labour board, government websites and/or from law firm blogs based in your area.

  23. Jackalope*

    I’m currently home from work with COVID and unable to do most of the things I would normally be up to (Also due to COVID), so I thought I’d ask a general work question and see what people think.

    So imagine that you were financially well-off enough that you didn’t have to work ever again, but you wanted to keep from being bored. Also imagine that you could somehow monetize any one skill and make enough money at it to keep going. What would you like to do? Pet cats? Change lightbulbs? Design romance novel covers? Climb trees? Anything you want, not even sky’s the limit. (Trips to outer space also count!)

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      If I were financially well-off enough to not need to work, I would not have any trouble keeping from being bored. I have so, so many things I want to do and nowhere near enough time to do them.

      But if I did have to monetize a skill, it would definitely be cat-related. Something where I could just help cats every day would be great. That, or reading books. To actually get paid to read all the books I want to read would be amazing.

        1. I don’t post often*

          I would visit those in the nursing home and just sit and listen to them talk. Or I would provide low cost childcare to someone who really needs it- basically treating the children like my own. I would go and visit our elderly grandparents more often. That sort of thing.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Read books. If I had some way of like, guaranteeing that every book I read would bring in some kind of income, I’d do nothing but read and live a gloriously happy life.

      I read 500 books last year, so I figure if I make around $200 per book read I’d maintain or exceed my current lifestyle.

      1. Brit Bratwurst*

        This is high on my list! I also would love to advise small businesses on how to optimize their websites (as in, make them at all function and easy to read)

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      I’m with JBH above: If I didn’t have to, I would never be bored.

      But if I had to monetize a skill, it would either be road trip itinerary planning or cross stitching (pattern creation).

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Carpentry/Cabinetmaking/Woodworking. Whatever you want to call it, without a moment’s hesitation.

      My current desk is falling apart, and I couldn’t find one that fits my needs anywhere in my budget (and what I could find was MDF and OSB). I decided to take matters into my own hands and design and build one from scratch. It’s just to the point where I can show you a photo of it and not use the word “imagine” in describing it, and the last time I had this feeling of satisfaction from a work project was at least a decade ago.

    5. Too Long Til Retirement*

      Oh that’s easy. If I could make GOOD money answering plant questions, I would happily do so! Friends already use me as Plant Google out of the blue, so getting paid for it would be amazing.

    6. Ann*

      I’d do way more arts stuff, and learn all kinds of hands-on skills, like fixing things and woodworking and gardening. Maybe the arts thing could be monetized.
      Or I could be a babysitter.
      Definitely not what I do now.

    7. Kesnit*

      I’d actually do what I joked with my wife about doing. I’d get my SCUBA instructor certifications and then travel to different locations, filling in for instructors who are taking a vacation.

    8. Justin*

      I would be pretty bored in the sense that I need human contact.

      However, I am an author on the side so I’d probably do that, and take classes, and teach.

    9. Csethiro Ceredin*

      If I could stop working I think I’d probably dive into activism.

      If I could monetize a skill in a way that really worked re dollars/hour, it would be either gift giving (finding the perfect gifts for people based on who they are) or something to do with reading.

      Hoping you get better soon!

    10. Turnipnator*

      Imm both scenarios I would grow food! Vegetables, fruit, grains, herbs; maybe keep chickens, but I don’t have that skill yet.

    11. Alice*

      1. Thank you for staying home while you are sick!
      2. I hope you feel better soon and experience no lasting effects.
      3. I would learn to play lots of music instruments. First the harpsichord, then cello, and just keep going with each one as long as I’m enjoying it.

      1. Jackalope*

        1. I feel a bit bad because I wasn’t able to stay home before I got the positive test and it’s possible I passed it on then, it I’ve been trying hard since then to be careful.

        2. Thank you; I’m still worried about Long COVID. I’ve seemingly had a mild case so far but I know that doesn’t always mean anything.

        3. Learning lots of instruments sounds like a lot of fun!

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      Oooooh, good question!

      Monetize one skill–I think it would either be writing snarky reviews of things like TV shows, or petting all the animals (up to and including apex predators) without harm to either me or said animal.

    13. Anna Crusis*

      I hope you feel better quickly!

      This is a question I think about a lot. I think I might work part-time doing something at least moderately enjoyable just for keeping myself on a schedule and having regular contact with people. Like going back to an old job that I enjoyed but did not meet my financial needs due to some major life changes. And if I didn’t work, I’d take interesting classes at one of the local universities. Otherwise, I have enough hobbies and interests to keep boredom away, and then there are all those other potential hobbies that would be possible to take on with all that time and money! I’m not sure I want to monetize any of my passions, but then again that opinion might be colored by my current ambivalence toward jobs in general.

    14. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I would help people sort their DNA matches at Ancestry et al. so they can figure out which matches are connected to which ancestors.

  24. Exhausted Electricity*

    I’m a young woman in an insanely male dominated field. I’ve got an intermediate amount of experience (no longer entry level but still single digits of years experience). I’m frequently tapped to be the new inexperienced people’s mentors (it’s part of my job description) and because of that I’m also uniquely positioned to write some of the trainings for new people. I have quantifiable evidence that I’m excellent at my job.

    One of the things I’ve now learned is every single time I’m added to a new team I have to go in with my qualifications and commendations emailed, printed, and memorized FOR MY INTERNAL COWORKERS, and they still don’t trust me or respect me. Is there a better way to advocate for myself? Some of the managers like to leave me out of important meetings and I have to beg to be added to the recurring meetings.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Do you feel your manager (or someone else senior) has your back in any way? Unfortunately, because of sexism and the patriarchy, most societies punish young women for advocating for themselves (not saying you shouldn’t try, and you have been). If someone else with a bit more power in the company or on your team can change the culture, that may help?

      1. Exhausted Electricity*

        my direct manager SAYS he has my back but he’s got some unconscious biases himself.
        One of the grandbosses had suggested I go to a new team to help out because I was uniquely positioned to kickstart that client work (had literally written the handbook on teapot lids), and then sat in in the kickoff meeting, saw me get dismissed because “it’s not time to ask those questions about scope”… Grandboss did advocate for me in the meeting but he was “horrified” and asked if me presenting my qualifications and then being “dismissed” was normal. That happened this week so we’ll see if anything changes.

    2. Nesprin*

      I’m guessing burning down the patriarchy isn’t in your purview? If it is, please do.

      If not:You may eventually find that moving companies is easier – not all companies behave the same way, and finding companies with a significant committment to DEI can help. But in the mean time can you ask your manager to do introductions+ advocate for you when someone has left you off an invite? Can you lean on more senior female coworkers (i.e. build the old girl’s network) to advocate for you? Can you bribe the admins who setup meetings to make sure you’re in the ones you need to be in?

      1. Exhausted Electricity*

        I’m building the Old Girl’s Network and managed to set up a whole official company funded group where we can have funded meals and the like, I’m just saddened and baffled by encountering this from men who are barely older than I am in the year 2023.

        surprisingly? this is way better than my last company. Based on what I know about the industry, if I want to stay in the field (the compensation and benefits here are sublime) this is one of the better companies out there. Once I do prove myself they tend to stop excluding me, at least.

    3. miel*

      I’m sorry.

      A new job might be the most realistic solution. Between my friends and I, we’ve found that some companies/ departments are way more sexist than others.

      Note: the messaging from corporate about DEI seems to have no correlation to the actual work environment, so don’t trust that at all.

      1. Exhausted Electricity*

        this is, unfortunately, one of the actually better companies I’ve encountered in the field. I job hopped around the industry as a temp before landing here. I can prove myself once or twice per team and then be treated as an equal team member by my peers. I even had several of my male peers give me credit for doing great work to the project managers who keep miscrediting me.
        I’m just very tired. It feels like my only path to create change in the industry and my company is going to be to go into leadership, and I just want to do my job designing teapots and go home.

  25. nopetopus*

    My job already sucked and I was already burnt out to a crisp. On top of that, I witnessed an act of violence at work this week. All I want to do is crawl under my desk and hide from everyone. I want to rage quit my job. I want to mass email the entire C suite and tell them exactly what I think of how they are running the company. I want to run away.

    I know I should reach out to the EAP but I’ve literally had a rep there laugh in my face when I explained what I needed, so I really really don’t want to risk that happening again.

    What do you do when you feel this way?

    1. Rage*

      WTF EAP. They should know better AND do better.

      Do you have a counselor or therapist? If not, go get one. Doesn’t matter that they aren’t EAP, they can still assist with what you are dealing with – the fact that the violence you witnessed was at work doesn’t mean it’s not trauma.

      And job search. Definitely.

    2. Ann*

      I’d make a plan to find another job, and start working toward that plan. I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this, and I hope you can break out and find something better.

    3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      There’s no way to eliminate rude incompetent people so no real guarantees that it won’t happen again, but the EAP rep should just be like an operator to direct you. If you do try again, keep the request super general without explaining details, “I need a list of 3-4 therapists that offer online or telehealth appointments.” “I need low cost or free legal/fiduciary advice for financial planning” “I need a group/personal wellness program that specializes in stress reduction and burnout”

      Also talk to your primary care physician, or free legal aid if you have one in your area about the trauma. That might be a workman’s comp claim or could qualify for some protected medical leave. Look into FMLA.

      Job searching might work too, but in my case I realized that my current job was actually the best paid/benefits/location/work-life balance/leadership out of jobs available, so a job search doesn’t necessarily solve all.

    4. miel*

      I’m sorry.

      What can you do this weekend to express your rage? Journal? Exercise? Long hot shower? Talk with a friend? Scream into a pillow? Make art? Get out of town?

    5. A Minion*

      For immediate release, a Wreck Room may help if there is one in your area. Some rooms is just a wooden target wall and they give you glass/china etc and you throw it at the wall. My sister in law went to a room full of breakable items, like old TVs. They gave her a bat and she went at it. She said it felt great. Safety equipment is provided

  26. Rain*

    How do I go over my manager’s head without ruffling his feathers?

    Context: The busy season is over for my department and normally management has us work on special projects or process improvements, but my manager, who has never actually been involved in my work in the year that’s he’s been here, has zero interest in what I’m doing for the next 2 months now that he doesn’t have deadlines from his boss to pass along. I’ve asked what he wants me to prioritize but he just hemmed and hawed and said that’s fine when I told him what I had in mind. I’m fine self-directing, I have plenty of ideas for process improvements to keep me busy and am used to handling my regular work independently, but I’m troubled that nobody but him will know that I’m not just twiddling my thumbs or watching TV all day. We had layoffs earlier in the year and business is still shaky, so I really want it to be known to decision makers that I’m useful!

    I’m planning to send my manager a weekly summary of my work, but I really want to loop in his boss without getting on his bad side. She has been interested in my work whenever I’ve brought up specific action items and usually wants to discuss it and ask questions, but there’s no precedent for meeting without a reason since my previous manager handled everything she or I needed to know. Is there a tactful way to include her on the summaries or ask her for priorities without looking like I’m calling out my manager or going behind his back?

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      I think its ok to write an email addressing your boss, but cc their boss. I often encourage my employees to “advertise themselves” by using an expanded cc list when publishing accomplishments.

    2. There You Are*

      Can you perform a project / process improvement where you would legitimately have the need to ask her for information or input? That’s keeps you firmly out of “go over my boss’s head” territory.

      1. Rain*

        The only kind of process improvement I’d need her help with would be something involving other people’s work, which I don’t have the standing to do even if I was familiar enough with it. One effect of not being managed is I’ve learned to do my job entirely independently, including process improvements. I guess I’m lucky to have the autonomy, I wouldn’t have been able to succeed under this manager otherwise.

  27. Micromanaging HR*

    More a vent then anything, but if anyone has any tips for surviving a suddenly micromanaging HR department, I’m all ears!
    I’ve been at my job for 11 years and for the most part I’ve been happy (although there is way too much of the “we’re a family” vibe, but it’s manageable.) All that started to change about 3 years ago as my organization started undergoing massive changes. The changes are necessary, but the way some have been implemented is . . . challenging. The “big” problem is actually in the “little” changes. Suddenly a lot of things that used to fine in the past, are no longer fine. The latest edict involves our breaks. According to the handbook, we get a 30-minute unpaid lunch and a paid 15-minute break. Most people combine these for a 45-minute lunch. Suddenly, we’re being told combing the two breaks was never a thing (uh, yes it was) and that we generally spend more than 15 minutes getting coffee/chatting with co-workers/using the restrooms, so we only get our 30 minute lunch break. Unfortunately, my state has no laws about breaks. My previous job was in government contracting where I had to track my time in 6-minute increments – I feel more “time tracked” now than I ever did then. I’m planning to leave this job in about a year to move closer to my aging parents so I’ve only go to bear it for a (relatively) short time. I was feeling slightly guilty about leaving, but with all of this happening, not so much any more!

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      If you’re already planning on leaving, then I would be tempted in your situation to just continue as if nothing changed. Unless you think it’s really likely you’ll get fired over it.

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Micromanage them right back. “Per the handbook, I will be taking my paid 15 minute break at 3pm”. And I mean email them each time you take your break. “Hi Jan, I’m logging off now to take my paid 15 minute break”. “Hi Jan, I’m back from my paid 15 minute break”. “Hi Jan, I”m logging off for my 30 minute lunch now”. “Hi Jan, I’m back from my 30 minute lunch”.

      Get your coworkers to go along with it. Inundate HR with emails.

    3. WellRed*

      If they want to change the combo lunch break, that’s not the hill to die on but the fact they are policing you getting coffee or whatever (the restroom! My god) and saying “no break for you!” Is some Guacamole Bob level of bean counting! I’d probably say “are you seriously monitoring my bathroom use?” Or is there someone you can bring this to? It may be a certain employee misinterpreting or simply drunk with petty power.

  28. Anonymous Educator*

    I know some people have co-workers as their closest friend group (my boss does this, for example). My spouse usually has a single best buddy at work. I, however, tend to be professional with people at work but make friends with actual former co-workers only once I’ve left that specific workplace.

    Do you make friends with co-workers? Or do you separate work relationships from personal friendships? How do you navigate all that? Or do you not have a general approach, and the chips fall where they may?

    1. It's Me. Hi.*

      I do, but try not to make close friends in my own department anymore but mostly b/c I’m the boss. I do have good friends outside of my department, and continue to be friends with folks I’ve previously worked with.

    2. Not Me For This*

      I have generally made some of my closest friends at work. It isn’t planned, it just happens. There are pros and cons.

      1. Job Hunter*

        Me too, but we didn’t get really close until after one of us no longer worked there. I never spend time with coworkers outside of work hours, but I usually have one person that is pleasant to work with and I enjoy spending my time during lunch. That person sometimes becomes a close friend over time.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      In my first job, my closest friends were my coworkers – same age, stage in life, spent a lot of time together during the day, etc. Then, when I left that job, I realized how bad it can be to have close friends at work.
      For now, I have one person I can vent to at work & share small life details (what I did over the weekend, vacation plans, etc) and we will get dinner together every few months. But otherwise, I’ve found it’s better to keep the two separate. It makes some decision-making and boundary-holding easier.

    4. funkytown*

      When working in food service, I definitely made friends with lots of coworkers. In my current job which is remote and I have little interaction with team members, I would be open to friendships with colleagues but don’t see a situation for that to arise naturally for a long time and that’s fine.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      Generally speaking, I have a line between work friends and rest of life. Specifically, I never accept friend requests from active coworkers. Day after I/they leave? Fine, but not before. Likewise, I might do something social after hours with active coworkers but will usually hold off until we no longer with together. (Including one time in my 20s when I simultaneously gave my two weeks notice and asked my assistant manager out for a date 15 days in the future.)

    6. Sally Rhubarb*

      I don’t make friends easily (idk I’m weird I guess) so all of my adult friendships have started via work. I don’t go into a job expecting to make friends but 1/5 I get lucky I guess?

      I would also like to think that I am good enough at reading people to know when coworker I’m friendly with remains just a friendly coworker that I only share 10% of myself with vs the friend who is also a coworker that I can share 85% of myself with them.

      If they’re constantly gossiping/shit talking people, I know I can’t trust them.

    7. Justin*

      Usually no, but now, yes. It helps we live in different places so work trips are basically reunions. It would be a bit different if I had to see them constantly.

    8. Charlotte Lucas*

      I let it happen organically, and I respect other people’s boundaries on it.

      (My manager is new to both management and our part of the agency. They keep trying to make work friends with a coworker who is pleasant and popular but definitely doesn’t make work friends. People have witnessed some very awkward interactions.)

    9. Csethiro Ceredin*

      My three best friends all people I used to manage at a retail job 20 years ago. But while we did hang out then (retail is muddier about those boundaries) we didn’t get really share-everything close until after I moved to another job.

      I have three staff members here I consider friends, but with some definite boundaries (I manage them, but they’re all managers so more like peers) we don’t hang out outside work and work events. But I’m very sure that if / when any of us leave we will be spending time as friends and some new topics of conversation will feel allowed.

      My boundary is that I won’t tell a colleague anything (or do anything in front of them, like get tipsy) that I’d be horrified if they repeated to my boss.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      I ended up marrying a onetime coworker, so…yep! Pretty friendly!

      It can be tough, though, especially in a small company, where there’s someone you may not want to be overly chummy with just, right there. I’ve made a point to not discuss plans around certain coworkers because they will try to invite themselves along.

    11. Double A*

      I usually make like one friend a job.

      My current job is the only job where I feel like I’ve made actual friends, but I was referred into the job by a friend and have become friends with another friend of hers largely because our kids get along (I like her as a friend independent of that, but am in a phase where kids will accelerate a friendship).

      Normally I don’t really know how to transition from work to hanging out outside work.

    12. Vio*

      I work in a very small team at a charity so it’s a very different dynamic to most work places. While I wouldn’t consider my coworkers to be my closest friends we are all on friendly terms and sometimes grab some drinks together, even the boss(es).
      At previous jobs I’ve sometimes made a friend or two but we usually drift apart once we no longer work together.

    13. allathian*

      I tend to keep work relationships and personal friendships separate. I’ve had work friendships in the past, but they’re always completely situational for me and I rarely bother to keep in touch when we’re no longer working together. I might make a bit of an effort to start with, as happened a few years ago with a work friend who retired just before Covid hit. We exchanged personal email info when she retired, and I would’ve given her my phone number if we’d ever decided to meet up, but it just didn’t happen. Now we exchange e-cards at Christmas, but that’s it. (I’m not on any social media except WhatsApp, and there I tend to keep in touch with people who are in my contacts already.)

      This doesn’t mean that I avoid casual chat at work, quite the opposite. I’m happy to share my weekend and vacation plans/activities with my coworkers, for example. But I recognize my privilege, I’m a white cishet married woman with a teenager at home, two cars, living in a single-family home with the mortgage paid off.

  29. Jaid*

    So my unit is experiencing work being diverted to other sites and there’s been a lot of emails from TPTB to close our existing inventory at a ridiculous pace.

    It’s been a while since they’ve wanted us to be strictly a call site, but since COVID’s been “managed”, they decided to ramp things up.

    If they get rid of my unit, I can still do other work…I’ll have to apply for it, but given my seniority, it shouldn’t be a problem.

    The lack of communication between TPTB and us on the floor is breathtaking…

  30. Legal Question*

    Question for those in the legal field: what are you expected daily billable hours?

    I’m support staff at a small firm where the expectation was to bill six hours/day (for full time staff who work 8 hours/day). It’s now been increased to 7.

    Am I unreasonable in thinking that this is an unrealistic expectation, or is this par for the course?

    1. CTT*

      That seems absurd for staff, especially at a small firm. I’m a BigLaw associate and I theoretically need 7 billable hours/day to meet my 1900 billable hour requirement, but I know our staff requirement is 1400-1500 billable hours.

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Seven billable hours in an eight hour day? Possible but pushing it, and shunts a lot onto support staff. In a nine hour day? Sure.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Follow up: spoke with a friend who is a junior partner last night. They expect eight billable a day from him, which works out to ten hours a day.

    3. Cyndi*

      Billable as in client work? Because I just checked my time tracking from last week and it was about a 3:1 ratio of non-casework to client work. Though that’ll vary of course depending what’s going on week to week. But I don’t think I could scrape 30 hours a week out of our current caseload if I tried.

    4. J*

      When I was a paralegal assistant (really a receptionist/admin who also did paralegal support) I think my bare minimum target was 1000/year and 1200 for performance bonuses but they quickly changed that given how much event coordination I was doing. I think our full-time paralegals were on a 1400 target during that time. I’d be sure to review your last few months for non-billable time entries and push back if they are taking up more than 5-10% of your time. Our paralegals weren’t expected to do their own invoicing and expense reports for example so if something like that is a time suck, they either need to account for it or shift that work to admin staff. Look at each task individually like that. Get clarification if these hourly goals are the minimum or the bonus targets too.

  31. It's Me. Hi.*

    I have a fantastic staffperson I directly manage. They are incredibly diligent, thoughtful, and knowledgeable at the coordinator level. They have a can-do attitude and isn’t intimidated by much. However, they have very little humility. Sort of comes off like a know-it-all. They will often provide a lot of extra information to think out all scenarios, which just isn’t possible sometimes. What is the professional way of saying and coaching: you know a lot but not everything. You need to learn when it’s appropriate to keep pushing for information vs. when to leave it alone. And also you can be annoying in your know-it-all-phase. Or….AITA? Thank you!

    1. Glazed Donut*

      I think this is me sometimes! Please tell the person what you’ve noticed. I know I do it, but I am not always aware of the impact it has on conversations or meetings. Some conversations are good for brainstorming and context, and others are more ‘pick the one best option without going through the whole list.’ Bonus points if you can frame it in a way of when this is helpful and when it isn’t – choose your audience type of situation.

      1. Throwaway Account*

        I second this. Please, pull them aside directly after something happens and say something like, “in that meeting, I love that you can think through all the information and share it, but that was a case where we just had to decide on a thing and move forward – we did not have the time and that item was not such a high priority. There are other situations where thinking through all the information IS important. Can you work on identifying which situation is which? Can I help you with that? Do you have any ideas about this?”

        I would really appreciate it if someone tells me, “that, right there, that is what we are talking about!”

  32. Hotdog not dog*

    About 6 months ago, I was asked to temporarily carry a double work load after a colleague left. Ok, fine- there’s a hiring freeze, other colleagues are also pulling extra weight, should only be a few months…
    Fast forward to now, and I am covering for 5 people, including my departed colleague, my departed manager, another manager from a different department (mat leave), the receptionist (I’m closest to the front desk), and another departed colleague who had also been carrying an extra load. (so probably closer to 6 jobs in addition to mine.)
    I. Just.Cannot.Anymore.
    Of course I am looking for a new job, but most of the firms in my industry are not looking to hire until January. I recently had a performance review from my 2 levels up manager, and got loads of praise and a small bonus for handling the ridiculous workload, so I don’t think they’re trying to push me out. (and yes, I asked for a raise to reflect the extra work, but that was a no-go.)
    Anecdotally I am hearing about similar situations from friends at other companies. Is this becoming the norm? I’m trying to decide whether it might make sense to explore a whole new industry. I’m in finance, and normally do compliance. What fields would make sense to look at? I don’t have a degree, but I have 25+ years experience and multiple securities licenses. I’m very organized (at work, anyway…let’s not talk about my craft room!) and am good at solving “unsolvable” problems.
    Meanwhile, I’ll be over here trying not to drown!

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      I think you need to stop making it easy for your management to not hire the five people they need to.
      If I were you, I would go to them and tell them that I’m burned out, can no longer maintain this workload and to please prioritize which tasks must absolutely be done. And let the others sit undone.
      Good luck!

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        We did that. Apparently, according to some spreadsheet we’re considered adequately staffed, and of course everything is critical. There’s a lot of important work that isn’t getting done.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Well, maybe the spreadsheet will be happy to take on five extra roles, then, since it knows so much.

          This is penny wise and pound foolish to the extreme.

    2. Rainy*

      Start dropping balls. It’s the only way. While they can shove 5 jobs onto 1 person that they’re paying 20% of that department’s previous salary budget, your department’s budget looks FANTASTIC and they are not going to change anything until stuff isn’t getting done.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Oh, believe me, balls are dropping all over the place! Up until recently, I was just about able to keep up with the bare minimum to keep us from violating any major regulations, but now I’m pretty sure we’re out of compliance on a few things.
        I can’t let it get too far out of control without putting my own professional licenses at risk. At this point I’m hoping to be able to bail out before that happens.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          If your licenses are at risk, you may need to bring government agencies to bear. Reporting this stuff may cause issues with your bosses, but not reporting is going to cause issues with your life and professional future.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      You have to start pushing back. They don’t care about your health and mental well being, they don’t care about your promotions etc. The company is not your buddy. You are doing 6x salaries of work and they cannot even give you a tiny raise on your original salary? That’s messed up!

      “I can do X Y or Z this week , I cannot do A B C D E F G, do you want to swap out XYZ for one of those instead? ”
      “That’s not possible”
      “i am unable to do that”

      Stuff is not going to get done, that’s not your fault nor your responsibility. That’s on the people above you who haven’t hired 6 people! Work hard to mentally disengage. Develop an “Oh well too bad so sad” shrug it off mentality.

      If you like managing chaos and keeping tabs on so many things at once you might want to look into PM roles Project Management. There’s a high demand for them, and most people who’d be good at the role don’t want to be promoted up into it (out of their regular work they enjoy) so they often hire outside for it.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I’m actually a little intrigued by project management, from what I know it seems like it would play to my strengths. Does it require a specific degree or training, though? I’m one of those people who never got around to finishing college, and the lack of a degree has held me back before. My current company actually requires a degree for the job(s) I have, but because of my experience (almost 30 years) and professional licenses they were willing to make an exception.

        1. Ambitious*

          PMP here, you don’t need a degree but you need course hours before you take the exam. Not a lot! Go to PMI and check out the details. I’m in financial compliance as well. The exam is challenging, but since you are already managing projects, quite doable.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      FIVE people? But a raise is a no go?

      Honestly, that tells me this company is in an untenable position financially. If they can’t pay one person, they aren’t going to hire the necessary component.

      If, as I suspect, however, the actual reason is “it’s handled well enough so we don’t have to bother with the fuss of interviewing/hiring/onboarding, since Hotdog seems fine,” you have to quit making it fine. How you have not disintegrated into a pile of dust at this point is beyond me, but you are basically caring about this place five times more than your bosses, and that’s simply not sustainable.

      Let the reception desk go unmanned. If phone calls get missed or clients end up lingering in an empty lobby, maybe they’ll get a clue that front facing positions have value and importance. Same for these other positions–it isn’t your job. They are not paying you for those jobs. They need to hire people, and until they feel the pain, they’ll just keep kicking that can.

    5. Beth*

      Sometimes the answer is to be less competent. I can see in the comments that you’ve already tried the “I can do X and Y or Y and Z but not X, Y, and Z–which should I prioritize?” approach and gotten nowhere. Obviously you doing everything forever is unsustainable. And equally obviously, your employer isn’t making hiring a priority–and as long as you’re solving this unsolvable staffing problem for them, they have no incentive to change that.

      So, it’s time to fail. Leave at 6pm firmly–arrange to have plans with someone after work if that’s what it takes to get you out the door. Take your lunch break at somewhere other than your desk so you can’t work through it. Work efficiently but not frantically. Less will get done, balls will get dropped, some of them will shatter dramatically and have serious consequences…at which point you can say, yes, I’m doing 5 jobs right now, I told you there’s not enough time in the day for me to do everything, let me forward you this email where I asked for help with prioritization, you didn’t say that X was top of the list, would you like to revisit my task list and go over priorities together now?

  33. Ashley Armbruster*

    Has anyone else had a hard time adjusting to a functionable workplace, after some horrid dysfunctional experiences? At my last job, after 2 great years there, my boss #1 (who I liked) got really nasty and combative during a conversation. He apologized but I never felt comfortable around him again. He quit a few months later and boss #2 came on and ended up being a micromanaging nightmare who took over my job. I ended up getting laid off, and I think he had something to do with that. I found a new (my current) job quickly after my layoff reporting to boss #3. I liked him but about 2 months in, I saw how he was unqualified for the role, fired my teammate after not providing support or guidance and threw me under the bus a few times. It was extremely stressful.

    Boss #3 actually quit recently (I think he might have gotten pushed out) so now I’m reporting to boss #4, who’s the head of a similar department. It has been an absolute godsend reporting to boss #4 . He’s knowledgeable about what I do so I can go to him for guidance, and he actually listens to me! It’s been so much better since working with him. And he’s actually very kind and helpful, a really great manager.

    So naturally I’m paranoid something is going to happen or that I’m going to mess it up somehow.

    1. Throwaway Account*

      Yes, I have had a hard time adjusting after a toxic workplace!
      It mostly takes time. But also, slow down and breathe!

      I caught my good boss giving me funny looks when I did or said something that was a protective measure I developed to cope with the toxic boss. Eventually when we had a bit of a rapport, I shared that I noticed I had some holdover habits from previous difficult situations and that I really appreciated her patience while I worked on them.

      Congrats on boss #4, I hope it lasts and you learn to unwind!

    2. Marshbilly, Not Hillbilly*

      I had a boss that was a combination of #1 and #2, and he was a literal nightmare to work for. Even though being tight on money was stressful, I was thankful to eventually be laid off because of the toll on my mental health. Even 15 years later, seeing this person at industry events still gives me flashbacks of how horribly he treated me, including screaming at me mere inches from my face.

      I think the paranoia about messing up is very normal after you’ve come out of that environment. Be kind to yourself, and try to remember that the mistreatment is on your former bosses and not really a reflection on you. They probably would have been horrible to anyone / everyone they were managing, and no employee can probably make them happy, no matter how hard they try.

      In my case, I ended up going to therapy for a while to get help with my workplace PTSD issues and adjust my way of thinking/acting about difficult work situations when they arise and dealing with another asshole boss or co-worker. I have since read “The Asshole Survival Guide” and “Assholes * a theory” and think they would have been helpful to have at the time or at least given me some ways to deal with this guy while I was looking for another job.

      I hope Boss #4 continues to be a great boss, and good luck to you!

  34. anxiousteach*

    Advice/reality check about taking time off for medical stuff. I’m a high school teacher so I am in a job that makes it difficult to take pto but I also know I personally have underutilized my sick time in the past.
    Anyway, we are specifically not allowed to take personal days to extend a scheduled school break. We are expected to plan our personal trips and the like for breaks. But I can’t get a feel on how it works for medical things.
    I need to schedule a minor surgery which is not medically urgent but obviously needs to be done. They told me to expect to take “a week or two off”. Frankly I want to do it the week before my thanksgiving break so I would miss a week of school but still have extra time to recover and also hopefully be able to enjoy some of the break. But I’m afraid I’ll be told that I have to just have surgery over the break and not be allowed to take the sick days. Should I make the request and justify my choice of timing or just request the time and pretend I didn’t have as much control over the scheduling?
    I’m also waiting on test results which may require a much bigger surgery in the near future and I’m afraid there’d be pressure to do that over the summer so I’m stressing about the whole situation.

    1. Hey Ms!*

      I have the same rules in my district. When I changed schools, I learned that some principals take that more seriously than others. My first school, Principal was super strict about it. Current Principal begs people to please make sure they show up to work. My second school is so big that they have no idea if I am in or out without looking in the absence management system.

      However, it’s also very clear that there are sometimes extenuating circumstances. I had my sister’s wedding the weekend of Memorial Day, and of course I needed to go early so I can fulfil my sisterly/honorly duties. They let me go.

      So all of this is to say know the culture/expectations for your campus. A district-wide mandate doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how your principal and school works. Also, it’s medical, so it’s different. Would they really rather you miss two whole weeks in addition to the break, or use your time wisely and miss one week in addition to the break.

      Even so, medical is medical. It is what it is, and they have subs.

      1. Hey Ms!*

        Also, you don’t need to tell them details at all!

        “I have a small medical procedure that will take a couple of weeks to heal from. I need to get this done sooner rather than later, so I’ll be taking the week after Thanksgiving to heal.”

        Good luck!

      2. anxiousteach*

        Ha, well last year I approached my principal about making an exception to that rule for MY wedding and got shot down so that’s why I’m very hesitant to make it a discussion :/

        1. Hey Ms!*

          Oh, then don’t discuss it! Hit by a bus, covid, whatever, they would be able to figure it out.

          Give as little details as possible since they have shown that they will decide what’s important in your life. Don’t tell them that you could possibly do it in the summer. Do it when it works for YOU. If you don’t want to waste your summer healing, don’t. Do it on their dime.

          Wow, not even your own wedding.

    2. Mojo021*

      Reach out to your HR department about FMLA coverage, if you are eligible, they shouldn’t have a problem with you scheduling your leave near a break period. If anything, they should be happy to have less time to find coverage for. You earned your sick time, don’t be afraid to use it!

    3. Kate B.*

      You can’t know for sure until you ask. But in my experience, the reason there’s “no PTO adjacent to school breaks” is to avoid every teacher trying to add a couple of extra days before/after breaks. (It’s also probably a harder time to get subs.) If it’s not allowed as a matter of course, then there’s still room in the coverage schedule for a few emergencies or long-term absences (e.g. parental leave, surgeries like yours).

      If you think the people who approve your leave are at least partially reasonable, I would present it as you need to have this surgery, you need two weeks to recover, you’re willing to do it over break so you only need one week of absence from school (rather than needing two weeks somewhere else). If you have a union and/or you’re FMLA-eligible, you could also factor those in to your strategy.

      1. LCH*

        This sounds like the best reasoning. also, if they do say you have to do it during the break, point out that non-emergency surgeries (planned surgeries) are not likely scheduled during this time because of the whole holiday thing.

    4. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Please prioritize your health and schedule the surgeries when it makes the most sense for YOU! I realize this is easier said than done since the mentality is for staff to schedule around students and the school-year, but your current stress might even exacerbate the situation, and in the big scheme of things, your school admins will just need to figure it out. You have the sick leave, you have a medical need, so schedule when it works for you and your medical providers. Just keep telling yourself that this won’t seem like such a big issue a year from now, but figuring our medical issues can be life changing. Good luck, and hoping the test results do not necessitate the bigger surgery!

      1. anxiousteach*

        Thank you, this job definitely warps your thinking about taking time off. I feel like AAM is the lifeline that keeps me reminded that I am allowed to prioritize myself. (In fairness to my job though, it’s not just pressure from admin… it’s legitimately onerous and frustrating in terms of curriculum to miss teaching days)

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      I am in a different culture, but I would simply tell my principal, “I need such a week off for surgery.”

      Apart from anything else, they said “a week or two.” It’s best to assume the longest possible recovery time, so I’d be thinking in terms of your needing two weeks off, give or take a little. So even if you did it during the break, you might need a week or more off afterwards anyway. And if your district is reasonable, they will know that it is always possible you will need more time than expected and will therefore be prepared that “approximately two weeks to recover,” means “be prepared to cover up to four anyway, just in case.”

    6. Rara Avis*

      Would your doctor really schedule a surgery for the week of Thanksgiving? I would totally claim that you had to take the available appointment — which is 100% true where I am. If you don’t take what’s available, you will probably wait 3-6 months for another appointment.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        I have a surgery scheduled for the day before thanksgiving this year. It’s going to depend on their regular scheduling, but yeah – surgeons are definitely surgeing the day before the holiday.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      Can you even schedule surgery over a holiday break, especially a national one like Thanksgiving? I think it would be perfectly reasonable to state that the surgeon isn’t going to be available on those dates and therefore it has to be for X date.

    8. Mad Harry Crewe*

      I think a change of mindset will help – you’re not asking, you’re telling. “I have a surgery scheduled for X, the recovery period is Y, I expect to be back on Z” – as other commenters have said, plenty of surgeons do not have a ton of flexibility about what they can offer, and you do it when they can schedule you in. Medical leave is NOT vacation, you’re not adding vacation days to a school holiday. You’re out for a medical recovery period, and that’s nonnegotiable.

  35. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    I accepted a counter-offer in the past. It’s… been a mixed blessing at best. Some could be legitimately filed under “cultural/team fit is still a consideration for internal candidates,” some “happier not knowing how the sausage is made,” and a lot of garden-variety reasons. But a lot of the inquiries I’m getting I would be even less qualified for without that counter-offer.

    How closely to the vest must I play this detail? I’m not asking about denying it; asked directly I’ll answer honestly, but if it’s a yellow or red flag, I don’t want to go volunteering it.

    1. funkytown*

      Sorry if I am misunderstanding your question, I’m not clear if the inquiries you are referring to are new jobs that you’re looking at or coming internally from the job you accepted the counter offer.

      If you’re applying to new jobs, I don’t see why those recruiters would ever need to know you previously took a counter offer?

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        The inquiries are new and external.

        It gets confusing quick if I try to anonymize the details. I’m running into interviewers making the assumption that I have 10 years’ experience in things I only have 2 years’ in, in an industry that is very “pay your dues and wait… indefinitely.” I’ve expressed it in my résumé/c.v. as clearly as I can without spelling out “I was able to add these responsibilities (and gain that experience) to my existing role through a counter offer two years ago.”

        1. Jax Trove*

          Why are you specifying that it was through a counter offer? That’s weird and irrelevant. They don’t need to know that. They need to know how much experience you have in these Was it a promotion, a change of job title, or what? How you are framing this is the issue.

          1. (Health, Safety) Environmental Compliance*


            There’s no reason I can think of to specify it was through a counter offer.

            And I say this as someone who accepted a counter offer at my current workplace. When I was asked about my old job title (from the counter offer) by recruiters, I called it a promotion – because it was. I had additional pay, additional responsibilities, etc. It just happened to be a promotion that my workplace scrambled for me because they didn’t want to lose me.

          2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Why are you specifying that it was through a counter offer?

            Because, without the counter, it’s impossible. Requirements don’t get waived under normal circumstances. (I did try this 3 or 4 times earlier in my career, without the other offer, and they went nowhere). To the layperson, it’s about as plausible as “I was biding my time for a decade as a janitor and picked up the DBA role, part time, two years ago.”

            1. Tio*

              So tell them you were looking for new opportunities and they offered you a chance to try out this role, and you’ve (presumably) been doing well in it so far. The “as a counter offer to me leaving” doesn’t need to be included. It’s still the truth. It may have been a counter offer, but they don’t tend to offer counters that they think you’ll fail at because then they fail too.

    2. Tio*

      What exactly are you hiding? I’m having trouble trying to figure out what you’re asking

      Are you saying that you accepted a counter offer from your current job, and since you mention being less qualified, I assume that means you accepted a promotion as a counter? There’s no reason to state that the promotion was a counter offer. If they offered it to you, even because you were leaving, they thought it suited you.

      Now, if the jobs you’re applying to/being approached for seem like things you actually cannot do, like they want you to do coding and you can’t even though you’re an IT manager, that’s something you would either turn down or sus out in an interview. But I’m still not sure what exactly is going on here.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        It would be easier if it were a promotion; I could just omit the impetus to the promotion. I had the same grandboss before and after the counter; if both team’s supervisor role were filled, they’d be peers reporting to the same person. On paper, it was a (partial) lateral move; my “promotion” is that I’m treated with less disrespect.

        It is code. I’m a programmer by trade. Say, a parallel would be a Programming department with a Visual Basic team and a C# team. The programs work together and neither can function independently of the other. In a sane world, they would be of like prestige (but if the last decade has taught me anything, that scenario is still squarely in the subjunctive (i.e. a statement contrary to fact)).

        After an education in C#, I’ve almost decades of Visual Basic that I continue to do, and added professional C# for the first time two years ago. I’m running into people assuming I’ve been doing C# for the last decade-plus, the entire length of my role here. The other complication (and the reason the whole thing worked to begin with) is that I’ve lasted 20 years in Visual Basic by figuring out how to compose C# code in Visual Basic (which is an obscure enough parlor trick to be sufficiently implausible as to be dismissed out of hand. It’s just true).

        Effectively, I can deliver around 5-6 years’ experience in C#; I want to apply to ~3-5 year experience C# positions and I’m getting inquiries requiring 10-12 years.

        (For the purposes of this metaphor, assume the two languages aren’t trivial to bounce back and forth between. The real platforms are not).

        1. anonymous 2*

          Since it was a lateral role move, maybe you can list your time at the company under 2 different roles.

          Company A
          Programmer – C# team (2018-2023)
          – Accomplishment A
          – Accomplishment B

          Programmer – Visual Basic team (2015-2018)
          – Accomplishment
          – Accomplishment

          Harder to do if it was literally the exact same role on the exact same team with just a change in duties! In that case, maybe at the end of the accomplishment that talks about the new duties, you can add the years in parenthases?

          1. anonymous 2*

            Or if you don’t add the years in parenthases to the end of the accomplishment, a cover letter could be a great place to offer extra context. “2 years ago, my role was reconfigured to now include X and Y”. I think it’s still not relevant that the role reconfiguration was due to a counter-offer (unless, like you say, they ask!)

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              That’s more or less how I list them now.

              ABC Corp.
              Programmer, 2001-Present
              > C# Development – 2020 – Present
              -Accomplishment 1
              -Accomplishment 2
              > Visual Basic Development – 2001 – Present
              -Accomplishment 3
              -Accomplishment 4

              And even though they’re the most spectacular of the recent accomplishments, I omit the stuff I’ve done by blending the two languages because I’m confusing enough already.

              1. Hillary*

                this is one situation where a skills section might be helpful 0 you can explicitly call out 4 years in C# and 22 years in visual basic.

                You might be overthinking it because it was probably super frustrating to have to get a counteroffer to move, but at sane companies it’s really normal for experienced people to take on new responsibilities. You can just say you shifted over to working primarily in C# in 2021, full stop.

                Also, those 10-12 year jobs may be completely doable for you. You don’t have that much experience in the specific language, but you do have the experience to see all the weird stuff that happens, work with minimal supervision, and get along with folks in an org.

                1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  I didn’t want or request the counter. I was fully prepared to leave and expected to be escorted out (figuratively) that same day; it was a calculated risk to trade my seniority and esteem for a (partial) mainstream role where I might be able to interview for a job more often than every 3-6 months. No one was more shocked than I was. I had even built an extra two days into my notice period so I could get my documentation in order for my peers before saying anything.

                  As much as I like the platform I’m referring to as Visual Basic, it does carry the weight of knowing that if I found myself unemployed, voluntarily or not, it could easily be a year before I could find myself in a new role again. Whereas everyone uses C#, or knows how C# relates to what they use, or at least can put C# programming in context. I may have to be less productive in an office setting, or take a pay cut, or some other significant compromise, but, a year from now, if I needed a new job in C# next month, I’d have a chance at it.

                  The metaphor breaks down a little; the platform I’m calling Visual Basic doesn’t compile to the CLR. I graduated a year before Visual Studio was released. My education was actually in an ancestor to C#. I can probably punch above my weight class in C#, but nowhere near doing so by 8-18 years.

                2. Hillary*

                  my partner is a software engineer – you sound just like him. this is where I tell people to think like an MBA instead of an engineer. ;-)

                  you need to tell the truth but you don’t need to go into the details. it doesn’t matter why you switched roles, just that you did.

                  I was thinking more about maturity and soft experience than specific C# coding, although working in predecessor languages gives you an edge because you know the history and weird stuff in the language. I bet you aren’t going to accidentally commit to main and take it down. You’re not going to start a fistfight at the office or need to be coached about wearing deodorant. And you’re not going to be belligerent about less-than-ideal requirements definition.

        2. Turnipnator*

          It sounds like you are looking to change jobs, you know what kind of position you’re looking for and you aren’t in a huge hurry. I’d take conversations for jobs that seem over your head on paper only if you’re interested in the company, but be upfront that you only worked with the target technology for the last two years; the reason for the pivot is extraneous detail.
          Most languages and frameworks change often enough that 10 years + two with the specific tech is plenty: the company will also know the particulars of the kind of experience they need and can make that decision themself.
          That said: once you’re talking with the engineering team of a company you’re interviewing with, ask questions to make sure you won’t feel over your head in the job. Towards this I’d interrogate the areas of the new technology that you don’t feel confident with yet, and try to find out if those areas are particularly important for the role. You might also be able to find learning resources and shore up your understanding once you’ve got a map of where your knowledge gaps are, which will probably help long term.

    3. anonymous 2*

      I’m not sure I understand your question here: is the question whether you should tell a recruiter or HR that you have accepted a counter-offer in the past?

      Not sure exactly also what you mean that you’d be less qualified for the inquiries you are getting without the counter-offer… do you mean the counter-offer led to a promotion which is now the basis for your current qualifications?

      If I interpreted everything correctly above, I definitely think that accepting a past counteroffer is a yellow flag as a hiring manager (I’d worry you might be using my offer again for leverage). But you can definitely talk about the promotion you got and your current role – I don’t think its actually all that relevant that a counteroffer led to you getting that promotion! More relevant is your accomplishments in your new position.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        do you mean the counter-offer led to a promotion which is now the basis for your current qualifications?

        Essentially, minus the promotion. Without the counter, I’d have zero professional experience in it instead of just not enough experience.

        Essentially, this conversation:

        Interviewer: “I read on your résumé you’ve been programming in C# for the last ten years. We’re looking for a Sr. Developer with 10-12 years experience in C# and think you’d be a candidate.”
        Latinophone: “Actually, I’ve only 2 professional years of experience in C#. I was doing strictly Visual Basic development for the previous 8 years. Becoming a Sr. Developer is a career aspiration and I’m very interested in this opportunity.”
        Interviewer: “How did that happen? Visual Basic and C# programming rarely overlap.” (or, even better, “What’s Visual Basic and how is that relevant?”)
        and then I’m struggling to come up with a coherent answer that doesn’t divulge the counter.

        1. anonymous 2*

          I think you can explain that you negotiated it with your company, without saying that the negotiations involved the specific leverage of a counter! Something like (I’m piecing this together from your answers!)

          “My original education was in C#, so I’ve always had a professional interest there and maintained my skills. My early career was focused on Visual Basic and I continue to do that in XYZ ways. About 2 years ago, there was an opportunity within my company to shift my role in ABC way to include C# which was really exciting for me because it was a return to that language that I had always had an interest in. Actually, now, I have the unique opportunity to work in both of those languages and I’ve actually figured out how to compose C# code in Visual Basic! I know that sounds crazy since the two don’t overlap much — but it’s true! In my next role I’m hoping to continue using C# in these ways….”

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            It’s worth a shot.

            Turnover on the C# team is frequent and continuous; I can claim with a straight face that the organization needed another person in that role and for them to be able to get up to speed quickly when it happened.

            1. kalli*

              Plus the ‘years in language’ speak isn’t always perfect; it conveys ‘we need someone who already uses language’ instead of ‘we need someone who can learn language quickly’ and that’s about it, though sometimes it pulls double duty as ‘has worked in a programming role before and is fluent in language’. Current experience is usually enough. How many ads have we seen mocked because they ask for more years experience than the language has existed? Non-zero.

        2. MaryLoo*

          So in brief, you worked in one software language, got a new job offer, your company wanted to keep you, so they said “you can move to this other software language, here’s a promotion”.

          There is absolutely no need to describe this as a counter offer. It is irrelevant. You mentioned how nobody ignores requirements, which seems to be how your company was able to move you to a different area. But not all companies are that strict about requirements.

          You seem to be fixated in the idea that not mentioning “counteroffer” means you are lying to the recruiter. Not mentioning irrelevant facts is NOT lying.
          For example, let’s say you worked for an evil, backstabbing, incompetent boss. You ask to move to a different department in which you have less experience. Your grandboss knows you’re a valuable, smart employee and doesn’t want to lose you, so approves the transfer even though you technically lack one of the requirements for the new position.
          Later, a recruiter asks how you made the jump to the new position. You would never say “my boss sucked and wasn’t going to change, but my grandboss liked me and approved the transfer”.
          Instead you would talk about how good you were at the original job, you wanted a change and presented the case for it. Your grandboss knew you were a valuable employee and approved the transfer.

          You need to reframe your thinking from “I need to tell every single thing that occurred or else I’m lying” to “I’m telling how I’m a valuable employee and good enough at my job that my employer saw my potential”.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            So in brief, you worked in one software language, got a new job offer, your company wanted to keep you, so they said “you can move to this other software language, here’s a promotion”.

            Pretty much. For a decade, I was a Visual Basic Programmer, and could only be a Visual Basic Programmer. I got an offer to do both Visual Basic and C#, and the counter was that I could switch to C#. I countered that with adding C# to my existing Visual Basic workload, and that counter’s counter was accepted by my original employer and that’s what I’ve been doing since. No promotion.

            Visual Basic might be too mainstream of a language for this metaphor to keep working. It’s not that the omission bothers me; it’s explaining the sequence of events while not disclosing the event that literally made things possible. Does “I was a self-taught DBA who switched over to practicing medicine as a Primary Care Physician,” skipping medical school and residency, work better? It’s that disjoint until you dig into the minutiae.

            At this point, I’d be happy to leave Visual Basic off my résumé completely if I could figure out how to explain an 18 year gap from college graduation to my current role.

            1. Bad Batch*

              “Visual Basic might be too mainstream of a language for this metaphor to keep working”

              I’m not a programmer but I’d wager that you don’t even need the metaphor here. No one’s job really is as unique or as niche as they think it is so you’re not going to dox yourself if you drop the cutesy metaphors already and just speak plainly. You might get better help then.

  36. Gemma*

    How do you factor in/deal with the “extra” it takes to work with and train new employees? I am a federal government lawyer who is working with two newly-barred attorneys for the first time. They’re both bright and eager but they have a ton of questions, their work has to be checked and edited, and I have to spend time making sure that I’m being 110% clear about what I want them to do, or they won’t do it. (For example, I asked one “please find me a decision where X happened so I can use it in Y case to write my motion for summary judgment”) and to an experienced lawyer that would mean “pull the complaint, gov’s motion for summary judgment, and the memorandum opinion” but she literally just sent me an unformatted case cite over Teams with no context so I had to rewrite the request. I’m no one’s supervisor but our supervisor has her hands full and I’ve been asked to task and assist where appropriate.

    1. Oof and Ouch*

      SOPs and checklists mainly. I created a bunch of checklists for my new hires after realizing that I kept having to be really specific with some of them. Also having conversations/communication about what you’re looking for in general when you have a new request. Sometimes it’s really frustrating because it feels like they should be asking if they don’t know what to do, but you have to remember that they don’t know what they don’t know.

      1. Kesnit*

        I agree 100% with Oof and Ouch.

        When I read what you asked for, my first thought was “OK, so I’d go to (Lexis/Westlaw/whatever) and find a case cite.” Which is pretty much what your baby-lawyer did. In fact, at my last job, if I asked the paralegal for research like your request, she would send me a file with quotes and case cites – because that is exactly what I needed.

        Until they are fully up to speed, lay out exactly what you need in your request. Yes, it will take more upfront time, but will almost certainly save you time in the end because you don’t have to keep going back and clarifying.

        You said they are newly-barred. Not sure what state you are in, but our Bar results from the July Bar came out last week. I would imagine yours are about the same, which means you are dealing with people whose law license is MAYBE 14 days old. They don’t know anything really, yet. (If by newly barred you mean they took the February exam and were licensed in May, they are still very new at all of this.)

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      New employees are a great check to see if your documentation is up to par. If you’re finding that you’re taking a lot of time in your day to train them, and especially if you’re telling them both the same things, it might be time to start referring them to either an existing process handbook or start writing one. Apart from that I second Oof and Ouch’s recommendation – checklists and SOPs are about to be your friend.

      As to factoring in time – the only thing I can say is that as they improve it’ll get better. It’s always painful at the beginning when you have to walk them through, but it’s an investment you’re making in your future self.

  37. Paris Geller*

    Here’s a fun one for the group: ideas for easy to throw together work-friendly Halloween costume? (please let’s not get into a debate of dressing up for Halloween at work vs not–I work in a public library, dressing up is encouraged, and it’s fun. I just want ideas because I’m low on creativity this year.)

    1. Stephanie*

      Cat burgular — black and white striped shirt, mask, some black pants. Easy and you can still work in it.

    2. Just here for the scripts*

      I’ve seen little kid homemade book fairy (books are the wings) costumes—would a grownup version work? Maybe with leggings and tunic as the basis?

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      I always go as a witch (without scary makeup). It’s just a hat, cape, black skirt and boots and maybe some funky jewelry and a wand.
      Easy peasy!

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        This is my go to, as well! Black dress/tights/boots, and a purple headband I glued a felt bat to years ago. I also use it as an excuse to break out the purple-y magenta lipstick I wore constantly in 2012 but can’t quite wear in my day job.

    4. ThatGirl*

      My team is going to all be a Barbie – but the thing is, that can be nearly anything! I’m torn between Baker Barbie (wearing an apron, carrying a whisk, recipe cards in my pocket, handing out cookies) or Tattoo Barbie (wearing and handing out lots of glittery temporary tattoos). You can be Pajama Party Barbie or Corporate Barbie or Work From Home Barbie or even just put on a Hawaiian shirt and be Ken.

      1. poppy*

        Was just going to say, Barbie costumes are super easy because you can basically wear anything!

        A friend of mine is a teacher and one year their grade’s group costume was “college freshmen” – they wore jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt/hoodie of their respective alma mater.

    5. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Anything that just involves a different style of dress is usually feasible. Black dress/shoes/accessories + witch’s hat = witch. Same thing plus cat ears headband and some drawn on whiskers=cat. Fancy dress+tiara=princess. Trenchcoat plus hat=Sherlock Holmes. And if you want something even easier, any of the Scooby-Doo characters have really basic but recognizable outfits: Velma is orange shirt, red skirt, orange socks, red shoes, glasses. Shaggy is green shirt, brown pants. Fred is white shirt, blue pants/jeans, orange ascot. Daphne is purple dress, green scarf, purple headband.
      Mad scientist is white lab coat, rubber gloves, goggles
      Barbie (all pink everything) could also be relatively easy.
      Cookie Monster: All blue clothes, blue toboggan with googly eyes attached (bonus, you can carry a pack of cookies around with you and have a snack whenever you want!)
      Safari/wildlife expert: all khaki clothes + safari hat + stuffed animals
      Bubble bath: attach a bunch of white and transparent balloons to an all white or blue outfit, plus a rubber duck here or there
      Grapes: attach a bunch of purple balloons to an all green outfit
      Where’s Waldo: Red and white striped shirt, glasses, red/white hat
      There’s tons of options!

    6. DisneyChannelThis*

      Overalls, yellow shirt, yellow beanie, gloves and glasses make a pretty quick Minion costume

      Wednesday addams black dress with white collar, braided pigtails and eyeliner – if you have the dress its easy. There was a netflix show so shes back in popularity.

      Pirate can be easy too, flowy shirt or skirt, bandana or hat, black leggings. optional stuffed parrot toy

      Gardener/Farmer – Jeans and plaid and watering can and trowel

      Doctor/Nurse – scrub top and pants, some sort of stethoscope or other prop helps. Vet same thing, just add a stuff toy dog or cat.

      Painter – Smock shirt, paint smear via makeup, add a brush and pallete as accessory

    7. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Freelance Archeologist (i.e. Indiana Jones, Marion Ravenwood, Lara Croft, etc).

      Brown fedora and brown jacket over plain business casual. Add a simple over-the-shoulder bag if desired.

      Just skip the whip, pistol, and machete. They can be hard to explain away.

    8. Leems*

      I went as a road one year: black pants and shirt, yellow/white electrical tape to make double yellow lines/passing lanes, etc. (as simple/complex as you desire–I went with double-yellow down the middle, and passing lane dashes on each arm/leg). I also had a cat toy that I safety-pinned to myself as “roadkill” because I’m weird that way.

      Once the tape’s peeled off, you look perfectly normal. :) It’s a nearly foolproof office Halloween costume.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        A team I worked with went as dice (or dominos, maybe?) one year, which was cute, and only required people to come in to work wearing all black. Then they just added white spots.

    9. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I love the costumes that are just a cozy adult onesie. They’re comfortable and require zero effort from me — and come in a wide range of designs. I have a unicorn, a dinosaur, and a skeleton in my collection.

    10. Forensic13*

      I saw a video of a bunch of librarians who each dressed as a book genre: romance, fantasy, historical, etc.

      1. WestsideStory*

        One year I went as Pulp Fiction – wig and dressed up like Uma Thurman in the movie. Except my white shirt had paperback book covers stuck all over it – the publisher I worked for then had recently done a “retro collection” and the original covers were fabulous.
        No one got it.

    11. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish*

      I once bought and inflatable globe and carried it around for the day and said I was dressed as Atlas. Works even better if you’ve got a white flowy garment, or even if you did a toga-like thing with a sheet, so long as you had reasonable coverage underneath.

    12. Charlotte Lucas*

      When I worked as a page many, many years ago, one of our librarians dresses as a Stereotype Librarian. She wore a prim long black skirt, granny boots, a white blouse, glasses, and a bun with pencils stuck in it. She also powdered her hair.

      I once went to a party where everyone dressed as their favorite song. I think you could do the same with favorite books.

    13. Irish Teacher.*

      I wear a witches’ hat, long black skirt and a black sweater. I already have long dark hair and green eyes, which helps.

    14. TX_TRUCKER*

      You might be able to make a Dwight Schrute or Wednesday Adam costume with clothing you already own. If you have a green apron, you can pin on a Starbucks logo and go as a barista. Place different color sticky notes on a black shirt and call yourself a tetris game.

    15. Anonymask*

      If you can get four other coworkers, you can go as Pacman and the ghosts pretty easily. Solid color shirts and googly eyes.

    16. Snarky Librarian*

      Last year I got a tiny crochet alligator wearing the Loki helmet and a giant “Loki for President” button. I put on a green top with my black cardigan, put on the button and pinned the little alligator to my shoulder sleeve so I wouldn’t have to carry it all day. Boom, a quick and cute President Loki costume straight out of season one!

    17. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I’m doing Crowley from Good Omens in the office, but that might bee too obscure or not work in a library because “demon”

      Waldo is easy and (kind of) a literary reference – glasses, striped top, jeans and toque.
      You can do a Sherlock-ish detective if you own any tweed clothes and carry a magnifying glass.

    18. AnotherLibrarian*

      During the pandemic, I bought cat ears and wore them with all black and drew whiskers on my N95 mask. It was well received and super easy.

    19. ARW*

      The best costume I ever saw was a friend wore a white dress, put a bed pillow in a pink case across her back and wrapped a dark green cloth around her middle and pillow; she was a spam musubi (I’m in Hawaii). Easy and I laughed for 10 minutes at the originality.

    20. Rach*

      I went as a piece of sushi one year- I put a pillow in a salmon colored pillowcase, wore a white tshirt, then tied the pillow around my middle with wide green ribbon.
      I’ve also gone as Ted Lasso and Kevin from Up.
      When I was a 4-H kid, I was Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt in our annual play-historical characters can be fun.
      Since you’re a librarian, you can be a bookish character like Belle, Arthur, or Matilda. Or, Rory Gilmore since you seem to be a fan ;)
      A bookworm- make an antennae headband, wear something green and stick cut out book covers all over you.
      Kids might not get it but a Freudian Slip- black dress with Freudian phrases stuck on.
      You could make a cardboard costume of an old time paper library card and write overdue.
      Not to dog your profession (I love libraries) but you could go as a stereotypical librarian- lipstick on the teeth, frizzy hair, bad sweater, pantyhose with a run in them.
      Have fun!

    21. (Health, Safety) Environmental Compliance*

      I was Wednesday Addams last year – black sweater over a white collared button up, braids, and slightly heavier/darker eye makeup than usual. Most people got it pretty quickly!

      I’ve also:
      just worn cat ears with a sweatshirt that said “I’m A Cat”
      basic witch (black everything + a witch hat)
      chemistry professor (I had an old lab coat from when I was actually teaching chemistry)
      lumberjack (plaid button down + jeans)
      secret agent (black everything + sunglasses – I had to wear a ID card badge for that job)
      zookeeper (khaki everything and I think I put some tiny stuffed animal in my shirt pocket)
      cowgirl (I already ride Western, so that was kind of cheating)
      dressed as normal and introduced myself as Evil Me
      A Supernatural hunter (jeans, boots, and a scruffy work jacket)

      The vast majority of my jobs I needed to still wear something appropriate to wear on the plant floor, so boots + long pants were a requirement. This year I’m doing Hermione, mostly because I found the perfect tie at a thrift store and already own a grey sweater. Plus the “frazzled at Potions class” look is a perfect tie in to the “frazzled because everything’s on fire at work” look I usually rock.

    22. Generic Name*

      I’m lazy and have lots of black clothing. This year I’m wearing one of my black dresses and spiderweb earrings.

    23. goddessoftransitory*

      My rule is: don’t wear anything that’s going to be too hot, heavy, or hard to move around in.

      A couple years ago I got all garbed up as Mina Harker (Husband was Dracula) for my work. Full kit: long drapey nightgown, velvet choker, lace stockings, etc. What I didn’t count on was that Victorian style nightgowns were designed for the days of no central heating. They aren’t just for cosplaying “fleeing a dark mansion”–THEY RETAIN HEAT. A LOT of heat.

      Within ten minutes of changing into this thing? I was boiling like a frog in a pot. I made it through the pictures and promptly switched back to normal clothes before I melted into my seat.

      So yeah, make sure that nothing costume wise is going to sneak up on you, comfort-wise!

    24. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Black pants & jacket, white shirt, sunglasses and earbud – Secret Service agent

    25. Yikes Stripes*

      I tend to avoid costumes that require carrying something around, I need something that’s easy to move in, want something at least kind of creative, and I don’t like to spend a lot of money on costumes so I like to make my own. Here’s a list of things I’ve done in the past (spoiler, I depend a lot on headbands):

      – Birthday cake: monochrome outfit (I did pink) with little strips of different colored ribbon attached all over it (I lightly tacked them down with basting stitches, but you could also use safety pins) a headband with felt candles on it (google “kid made modern menorah headband” for the tutorial I used, only I used multiple colors of felt and yellow construction paper flames as well as adding blobs of glue and glitter to the candles) and brightly colored eyeshadow/lipstick.

      – Lisa Frank kitten: this one was a little more pricy for me, since I knew I wanted something I could wear again. I found the most amazing rainbow cheetah print fabric at Spoonflower and made a skirt and top with free patterns from Mood Fabrics and paired it with a matching cat ear headband I’d also made from the same fabric. I also was working at a job which allowed for wild hair, so got Lisa Frank inspired rainbow hair in neons and had neon eye makeup, bright pink lipstick, and drawn on whiskers.

      I do sew and was able to justify the cost of the fabric because I knew I’d be able to wear the outfit to Pride or as separates in my regular wardrobe, but you could also easily put something together with a rainbow leopard/cheetah dress, clip in rainbow extensions, and cat ears from Amazon! This is *easily* my most well received costume, and I’ve worn it a few times.

      – Box of crayons: a yellow skirt and shirt with a tacked on red felt circle with a white “24” hot glued on. I made a tiara by purchasing a 24 pack of crayola crayons and gluing the crayons to a headband, and I paired that with rainbow eye shadow, bright red lipstick, and rainbow hair (but you could easily use clip in rainbow extensions with this one too!)

      – Medusa: flowy white dress and gold sandals (I used an infinity dress that I sewed out of cotton jersey and dyed later, but you could also make a toga out of a sheet) with my hair done all wild and a Medusa headband (tutorial from Cherscloset – just google it :D) This was *very* lazy but extremely recognizable and a lot of fun.

      – Flower & bees: this one is *also* extremely lazy but with a good return. Green tights, ruffly pink dress, headband with pink silk roses glued all over it and little plastic bees glued to those. You could also wear a floral dress and match the colors of the flowers in the headband and be a whole pollinator garden!

    26. fhqwhgads*

      Plain yellow t-shirt from Michael’s or local equivalent. Black sharpie/fabric marker/fabric paint.

      Apply zig zag. Bam, you’re Charlie Brown.

    27. Apt Nickname*

      A Price is Right contestant- make a yellow price tag-shaped name tag and stick it on your regular clothes.

    28. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

      Last year, I wore a pink top and pink pants and a nametag that said Floyd. I was Pink Floyd.

    29. Loreli*

      Go as Shaun of the Dead. Search online for Foree Electric photos and make yourself a nametag. Wear (an old or charity-shop/etc) white short sleeve shirt with several small “blood drops” drawn on the front with red sharpie, and a tie. Bonus if you have a cricket bat on your desk. The Shaun of the Dead movie fans will be delighted.

    30. KarenInKansas*

      I’ve always enjoyed going as an “wicked” version of my academic work role–think, “wicked professor of the West.” All I did was wear red and white striped Wicked Witch stockings and my academic regalia.

  38. Anonymask*

    I asked for a raise for the first time in my career on Wednesday! I was so nervous, but I mustered my courage and Did The Thing. And now I am looking back thinking, “what was I so nervous about?” Of course, if I need to do it again, I’m sure I will be just as nervous about it.

    But I just wanted to comment and say: you can do it! Ask for that raise! Get your worth! If I can do it, anyone can!

    1. Anonymask*

      The answer was a solid “maybe” though. (Which isn’t a “no” so I’m hopeful.) My manager asked me to provide even more justification items to argue my case.

      Without too much explanation (in the event someone at my company also reads this), we do annual reviews for everyone in December, and salary adjustments take place in the next calendar year. I don’t agree that this is the best system (as I started in October 6 years ago, so my first review was 2 months in and that stood until the next December), but it is what it is.

    2. Habitual Coffee*

      Rock on! Congrats for taking hte leap and starting that conversation!! I’ll keep fingers crossed that it comes through for you, if not now then as they’re planning out their next performance cycle. Good luck!

  39. Stephanie*

    So I put in my two weeks’ notice at my job earlier this week. And it has been far messier than I would have guessed. I assumed my boss would be like “we’re sorry to see you go, but thanks and let’s work on a transition plan.” This is not what happened. My boss took it super personally, said he was “shocked”, and then asked if I was really resigning and what it would take to keep me. We talked in circles for 20 mintues and I thought he was about to start crying (he started choking up). He then didn’t really talk to me at all for a day and a half. His boss called me three separate times asking what it would do to keep me, what was wrong, and to name “my number” to get me to stay. After the third call, I said I was firm about my decision and enjoyed my time in the role (semi true).

    My boss is talking to me again, but is still barely acknowledging my departure. No clue what the transition plan is and when/what I should tell the external suppliers I work with daily. I also am getting lots of work (I have to present to a VP in three hours).

    It’s a weird mix of emotions. I guess it’s flattering, but it’s a bit insulting that they could have offered me more money this whole time (I’ve been at my company 5.5 years and in this role 2.5 years).

    I can tell my skip level boss really wants to know what’s wrong. He’s a company lifer, but is fairly new to our department. I am not sure if it’s worth it — there were some qualms I did have with my immediate boss, but it was nothing super bad. My issues were more cultural, industry, and systemic things (also I was traveling 75% and was just frickin’ tired all the time) that I don’t think he’d have that much influence over.

    This may be a long two weeks’ notice…

    1. Sleeper*

      Right there with you! Someone in my office gave six weeks’ notice earlier this year. I don’t know how he did it. I have a week and a half left and I am watching the clock – so awkward and uncomfortable. I think my plan is to be as quiet as possible and just do what I’m asked while quietly uploading a bunch of my files to the shared drive in case anyone needs them later.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I started a handoff summary document and will just upload that with some critical info to our team SharePoint. I guess I don’t have to do that, but I inherited some work after a layoff round with zero handoff and it was a headache. Want to save someone from all that trouble.

        1. Cobalt*

          I would focus on the travel part when talking to boss/skip boss (unless you think you’ll be interested in a role with that much travel in the future). It’s completely understandable and would help them frame your departure in a way that’s not personal since they’re clearly taking it personally.

          Also, my boss and skip-level boss have done this the last two times I gave notice. I choose to take it as I’m good at my job and will have a great reference in the future – hopefully you will too! It is awkward in the moment.

          1. Stephanie*

            Yeah, my boss said we were good and he appreciated all the work I did. My employer is one of those places people used to (but increasingly less so) spend their entire careers.

            I’ve been trying to spin in as I was anxious about layoffs (sort of true), so that has helped soften the blow.

  40. Oreo lover*

    How do you know when it is time to retire? My mortgage is paid off, I have enough pension now, and savings..our financial advisor says it is OK. Husband is almost 60, and he likes his job, so he’s continuing to work. Me, not so much (I’m 57). My employer isn’t great. I’ve gone part time as a bridge to retirement, but I’m even having a hard time sustaining interest for the few hours I work a week. I think the thing holding me back is I’m not sure what I’ll do after retirement. Right now, I do the housework, garden, read, and continue to write things for my jobs (I’m an academic). We don’t have kids, so no grandchildren responsibility. Any words of wisdom out there?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      I’d say you don’t have to have it all figured out at once.

      You’re financially ready, you’re mentally ready – that’s enough. You can figure out the what I want to do as you go. Take classes, learn new skills, dabble in volunteering or try different part-time jobs.

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        Came here to say this. Nature abhors a vacuum—you’ll figure this out, but not until you have the time and space to do so.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m in the exact same boat, but 61. I’ve been part time for a couple of years, which has been great, but I’m just done. All out of hoots to give.
      I’m planning on doing a LOT more gardening and exercising. I just joined a social club for folks my age and up. I’m going to be more active in my local garden club. I’m going to update the interior of my house. And then I’ll see if I feel like volunteering anywhere. There are a lot of opportunities in my area to work with animals, kids, in the library, historical societies, etc. I just need to be unencumbered for a year or two to reconnect with myself!

    3. Stephanie*

      Make sure you have a plan for insurance (assuming you’re in the US) and that factors into your finances. Family friend retired at 59, is generally healthy, but didn’t realize how expensive plans would be for a 59-year-old and had to pay for that until she was Medicare eligible.

      Otherwise, go for it! Good to enjoy the retirement savings while you’re younger.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        Agree! I was able to keep my insurance from work until Medicare kicks in, but that was my biggest concern with early retirement. That has made a huge difference, as I was just prescribed a new medication that costs $90,000 a year if your insurance doesn’t cover it (instead I have a $100/month copay).

    4. Panicked*

      You can retire from that job and still work! My grandfather retired as an electrician at 65, realized the northeast winters are too long, and ended up delivering flowers for a local florist.
      My dad retired this past spring and is heading back to work part-time in a different area of his previous company. It’s okay to take some time off and figure out what you want to do; retire fully or go back to work somewhere.

    5. Camelid coordinator*

      I wonder if you are hung up on the word retirement. I get that—I retired last year from my esteemed academic employer as soon as I could, which was when I turned 55, and it is disorienting to hear people refer to me as retired. (I have a different part-time job now.) What retiring did get me, though, is continued participation in my old employer’s health insurance (at a higher cost but manageable) for the rest of my life and a college tuition benefit for my kid. I can power through the discomfort for that.

      I’d say that what you do know now is that you don’t want to do this job any longer. Perhaps you could take the rest of the semester or the academic year to look around and see what calls to you? If you have to hang on for any benefits like I did you can start daydreaming about what you’ll do instead. Having that be sleep for a couple months before you decide on your next step is completely fine! I wish I had not jumped into the next thing so quickly.

    6. Oreo lover*

      OP here. This is really helpful and thank you. I’m in the UK, so no worries about health coverage thanks to the NHS and a pot of money in case we have to go private for a specific procedure to jump the waiting time (think hip replacement, etc when we get older). The only thing pretty much keeping me at my employer is the ability to use the university library to finish a project. But yeah, after I turn that last thing into the publisher this spring, I’m feeling pretty much done.

      1. WestsideStory*

        How about you look for a different part time job? Something not academic? Something that gets you outdoors perhaps?
        You don’t have to stay on the same career path. It might be invigorating to learn something completely new.

    7. Book Addict*

      My mom retired, started taking some aquacise classes and fell in love with it, ended up teaching that and some other specialty exercise classes for several years! She also made new friends from the classes she took and as an instructor, so she also had more coffee dates and such. If you’re open to trying new things, you will find plenty of things to fill your time. :)

      1. Oreo lover*

        Yeah, I’m thinking doing something not academic would be a good idea. A lot of my colleagues when they retired continued writing books, but not for me. I’m just bored with the lot of it really and think I’ve about met all my professional obligations. I’ve never been into sports due to being a klutz…just walked long distance for exercise, so maybe it would be time to try that. I used to paint, draw, play piano when younger, and gave it up due to job demands. I also just want to have coffee with people sometime without it turning into work talk. Thanks for the helpful comments and good luck to everyone.

  41. Anon for This*

    So my employer (major US bank) is already in the middle of layoffs. Now they’ve reduced the 401(k) by 2% for 2024. I understand the need to cut costs, but it’s *how* they announced it that angers me the most: buried near the bottom of a mass email from HR about annual enrollment.

    (They’re also switching insurers to higher cost/less coverage but I already switched to my spouse’s much better state benefits.)

    The fact they’re being so *sneaky* about what amounts to a 2% pay cut tells me to run away, not walk. But how transparent should I be in interviews? Note that I want to get out of banking unless it’s at a credit union or smaller bank.

    1. Procedure Publisher*

      From what I learn from the LinkedIn Learning interview courses, you don’t want to be negative about your recent employer. I think emphasizing why you are wanting get out of banking except for credit unions or smaller banks would be a good route to take.

      As some who is going to be laid of from employer (a major US bank), my first reaction to your comment was to look up the annual enrollment information for my employer that I have. I suspect this sneaky behavior is possible at any major US bank.

    2. Hillary*

      if the layoffs are public knowledge you can just say you’re looking for stability. or maybe just that you want to be challenged with something new. Then pivot into why you want to work there: you’re excited to move to a (smaller, different, whatever) org where you can (learn, build manage) (something).

      I’ve had interviews where I was excited to move from a large org to a smaller one because I’d be exposed to more of the business, or to smaller from larger because I’d be able to work on larger projects.

  42. WorkingMom76*

    During an interview, what questions have you found helpful in figuring out what a manager will REALLY be like to work for?

    This is what happens – I go on a job interview, the jobs sounds good, the manager seems nice and I’m hired. But after a while the manager starts showing their true colors, they’re a micromanager, blame you for things that aren’t your fault, or give you hard time when you need to call out sick.

    It’s the “your boss is not going to change” situation so the only choice I have is to find another job. But I’d like to do a better job of interviewing potential employers so I don’t keep winding up in bad working situations and having to keep looking for new work! Grant you, in the past 20 years of working as an administrative assistant, most of the time the job has turned out okay, but right now I’m in the same situation where because of how my manager is treating me, I’m having to find a new job. I’d like to get some tips when I start interviewing to help me reduce my chances of this happening again in the future.

    I’m not very good at reading people, and I don’t know how to phrase a question without it sounding rude or adversarial. It’s not like you can go in an interview and ask “If I ask you for help, will you give me hard time about it or will you show me how to do it?” that sounds very adversarial. And even if I did ask that, No One is going to honestly answer a question like that. No one is going to admit to you, “Yeah, I’m a micromanager”, or “Just a heads up, I have a bad temper.” So the questions have to be sort of tricky, like those online interview surveys that say something like: “It’s okay to steal from the company if no one else sees you.” But I’m not good with tricky!
    I struggle with reading people, reading between the lines, and reading non-verbal communication. So I think this is why I sometimes working for bad managers, because I didn’t/couldn’t figure out what kind of person they were during the interview.

    And are there other ways of figuring out a manager’s personality, like non-verbal clues or body language? Thanks!

    1. Goddess47*

      Ask to speak with someone you will be working with. Then ask that person “what is it like to work here?” — you’ll get the best feedback that way.

      If that doesn’t work, ask for a tour of the office area where you’ll be working (always good to do!) and see how the folk in the office react to both you and the manager (if they’re the one doing the tour).

      Good luck!

      1. WorkingMom76*

        Thanks. I think the idea of a tour of the office is a good idea to see how other people react to the manager.

    2. MouseMouseMouse*

      Oof, I can see how this would be rough. Reading people is definitely a valuable skill — any books or videos you could go through to see if there are tips that could help you?

      For questions, I don’t know if this is one Alison would condone but I’d ask: “Can you tell me about a time where you’ve helped to develop a direct report’s career?”

      1. WorkingMom76*

        Thanks, I like that question and it can be tailored for different things like “tell me about a time at work you got frustrated, how did you handle it?”, “tell me about a time you had to manage a difficult employee”, “tell me how did you resolve a conflict between yourself and another employee”, etc. etc.

        1. WorkingMom76*

          Sorry – forgot to answer your first question, no, I haven’t really found any books or videos that teach how to read people. I’ve read some body language books, but then the problem is that people learn how to “hack” body language, like it’s common knowledge that standing with hands on your hips will make you look confident even if you’re not. So I don’t always trust that information from “body language” books or things like that. And facial expressions can be so hard to interpret – a lot of times I can’t tell if a person is laughing AT me or WITH me, or maybe they’re laughing because they’re nervous, or I said something that embarrassed them, etc. I have to tell my friend what happened and have her explain to me what was going on with the other person and she’ll tell me what the other person was feeling. I haven’t really found any good resources (books, videos, counseling, etc.) for learning how to “read” people.

          1. So many questions...*

            Try the work of Vanessa Van Edwards. I’ve read her two most recent books. However, she does supplement with lots of online videos that talk about reading micro-expressions. I’d have a look at the videos, it’s totally worth it. I just saw someone IRL say they agreed to something all the while shaking their head and it was obvious they were going to back out later – which happened. It was good, though to see that upfront and save any feeling of surprise…

    3. Tio*

      I would ask about how performance is tracked and measured. The more specific processes they have, the less likely (usually) the manager is to be running roughshod over people.

    4. Oof and Ouch*

      I ask them to tell me about their management style. I’ll also ask about onboarding and expectations for the role because I feel like you can get a sense of how they think things through with that kind of question.

    5. Cellyn*

      I like to ask something along the lines of, “Once I’m up to speed, what are some decisions you’d expect me to make autonomously vs those you’d want to weigh in on?” Outside of the answer itself, I can usually tell if they’re uncomfortable with the idea of one of their reports making any decisions without checking in first.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Ooh, I will have to remember that one.

        When I’ve interviewed, I have outright asked about management style. People will tell you! They won’t volunteer, especially if it’s awful, but if you ask…

    6. nnn*

      AAM says over and over, and I think it’s right, there’s nothing you can ask a manager in an interview that will get you this info in an accurate way. You have to talk to people who have worked with them.

    7. Tabby Baltimore*

      One suggestion I ran across many years ago from a commenter who posted on this another work advice column:
      – Ask the potential manager what traits their most successful employees have.
      – And then, as if it were an afterthought, ask: What types of personalities do they find frustrating to manage?
      “The problem in asking about *their* management style is that managers don’t assess themselves, and no one admits to being a bad manager. They’ll be more honest and less guarded when discussing what they find pleasing or frustrating in other people, and that will give you your answer.”

      AAM commentariat has addressed other versions of this question in the past. Here’s one suggested set of questions from the poster Miss Displaced (in a comment from 2019) to reveal a bullying boss or perfectionist boss:

      Question posed by the poster Paranoid here resulted in a bunch of suggested questions to ask the Hiring Manager about how mistakes get handled, feedback, coaching, correcting, and even screaming at work:
      Noteworthy comments are from Lumen, Wolfram alpha, Not So NewReader, Irene Adler, Zora, MMM, and Bea.

  43. Fluffy Fish*

    ADA related question:

    I have two significant mental health conditions. I learned during COVID, when we were are remote, that remote work makes my illnesses much easier to manage.

    Post COVID I have been remote 3 days a week but willingly coming in to attend meetings as needed.

    Deputy Boss is a butts in seat person. He’s trying to push a 3 day a week in office mandatory. Anticipating this becomes policy, I want to pursue ADA accommodations that will allow me to continue the schedule thats beneficial to me.

    To that end – I’m working on articulating my needs both because I need to talk to my Dr. and in anticipation of having to discuss with work. The bottom line is being around people less is helpful from a trigger management stand-point. Being around people less helps with stress, distractions and anxiety.

    Anyone been through similar with their employer willing to share how they/their dr approached the request?

    1. There You Are*

      I just did this at my last company. I legit think I have fibromyalgia, and so does my doctor, so we framed my WFH request in terms of needing to be able to deal with unpredictable flare-ups (need to lay down immediately for 10-15 minutes; commuting and the fluorescent lights combined with a constant loud droning sound from the HVAC system being a trigger for a flare-up, etc.).

      Then I pointed to my productivity during the COVID lockdowns and how my managers — up to my VP — had no issue with me working from home more than what the butts-in-seats new CEO wanted.

      HR granted the accommodation with the caveat that they’d revisit it in six months. But I’d found a 90% remote job that paid $32,000 more by then, and gave my two weeks’ notice.

  44. funkytown*

    Review is coming up! When self-evaluating, how do you decide between rating yourself as Meeting Expecations vs Exceeding Expectations?

    There is no guidelines provided for defining those terms for my role, which is fairly low level. I do my job well in my opinion, but I feel like that is just what is required so I think that is meeting expectations. I don’t know if I exceed expectations, I don’t particularly feel like I go above and beyond but I also think I do a pretty good job, and don’t know if I’m selling myself short.

    How do you make that call for self-evaluations?

    1. Goddess47*

      This is an over-sell/under-deliver situation… believe in yourself that you do at least *some* things at an Exceeds level… you’re down-playing yourself too much if you don’t do at least one thing on their scale extremely well… The ‘imposter syndrome’ applies to annual evaluations.

      Also, your manager may not be able to justify raises/promotions unless you think you do a good job. If you’re just an ‘average’ worker (and nothing wrong with that!) it’s harder for them to justify those raises.

      Especially if it’s a larger company, some of these things are part of the game/politics one needs to play to get ahead. If you have a colleague or another manager you trust, ask them for some feedback on the process (not on you, just the process) and see what they say.

      Good luck!

    2. Firecat*

      Just put meets expectations across the board. I’ve never known a manager who stops and changes their evaluation based on the self eval. Usually, they are reading yours at the same time as they are giving their evaluation. It’s always been a better situation that I under-evaluated myself as opposed to the one cringe evaluation where I put higher ratings across the board and just got meet expectations. That prompted my boss to then spend a long time lecturing me on better understanding how I’m performing on top of the other corrective feedback I had.

      1. Oof*

        I’d go with Exceeds, but only because my manager is hands-off and doesn’t know what I do. He likes my output but I make it look too easy. Which is why it’s taking more than one person to replace me.

    3. There You Are*

      In my last company, we got rated on five core competencies. I always put myself as exceeds on at least three of the five, regardless of what my inner voice was telling me.

      If my manager thinks I only made it to “meets expectations” in any of those three things, then it’s up to him to explain to me why.

    4. Qwerty*

      Exceeds is for someone who feels their work justifies a merit-raise, promotion consideration, increased opportunities, or some other recognition. If you mark Exceeds Expectations, be prepared to make a case for why.

      Meeting Expectations is totally fine and acceptable – most people will get this. If you feel like you are doing a good job, that feels like Meets. You said you aren’t going above and beyond, which pretty much the definition of exceeds.

  45. gigi*

    a sort of update on my comment last week about my officemate who lives in the office (at least part of the week): last week I was mostly just commiserating, but thank you to everybody who encouraged me to speak up! It’s been weird and an inconvenience, but this week I had SO much work and he really started to interfere with my focus. the last straw was the speakerphone thing- I could hear him on the phone with his wife even when I had on noise cancelling headphones!!!- I told him it was really hard to focus and asked him to use headphones or something, and luckily he was very nice and I think he realized that he was having an impact on me and the other officemate. I’ve been really nervous to approach him about it because he’s technically more senior to me and this was his office first.
    He also mentioned this week to me and the other officemate that he has a wife that left to do her postdoc in France, and he does have an apartment (with an office space lol) but doesn’t have a car. I think what’s happening is a viscous cycle of procrastinating/getting overwhelmed that turns into staying late and missing the bus and then staying the night, and without I obviously wouldn’t want the guy trying to get home late at night and he started another experiment this week, so my plan for now is to leave the “staying overnight” thing alone and just focus on speaking up when he is disruptive. Next time he falls asleep in the office couch during the workday, I’m going to tell him that I find it hard to get work done with somebody sleeping right next to me.
    If speaking up about things happening during the work day doesn’t help, my plan is to talk to my program “peer mentor” who is the senior student in my officemates lab and get her advice about who to approach to talk about the issue and how normal this is for him/in our department

  46. General Organa*

    Hi! Are there any lawyers here who do healthcare work, and would you be willing to share about what your day-to-day is like and/or what might make applicants from non-traditional backgrounds competitive? I work in reproductive rights, and while I’m hanging in and committed to the work for now, I’m trying to think more about what my options might be when I inevitably burn out. My background is more in litigation, but I’ve really liked the advisory work I’ve done and think I would want to transition over to the regulatory or even the transactional or compliance realm (probably not malpractice or personal injury), and I’d like to think about how to make myself more generally competitive outside of my niche.

    1. CTT*

      Hi! I’m a transactional attorney in the healthcare space (specifically long term care). One thing that I like about healthcare transactions is that it is a niche but all the “normal” stuff about transactional law still applies. My day-to-day looks a lot like any other real estate or finance attorney’s – I review leases, do corporate due diligence, draft purchase agreements, but there is an extra regulatory layer over it. Because of that, I think if you wanted to get into transactional work, showing you can do that work would weigh much more heavily than your industry knowledge. On the flipside, I imagine the type of work you’re doing now could transition well into regulatory work because that is a lot about interpretation of the law and long-term planning.

    2. Firecat*

      IANAL but I worked closely with a lawyer when I worked at a hospital. IME it was hard to keep lawyers (like any skilled professional) on since they could make way more money working outside of a hospital. They would often leverage their 1-2 years of hospital experience to get a higher paying healthcare job in pharmaceuticals or insurance. So your best bet may be to work at a hospital a few years then pivot to whatever section of healthcare you are most interested in.

    3. Rain in Spain*

      Different healthcare systems have different set-ups. Some don’t have a formal in house legal dept, but may have lawyers in contracts, privacy/compliance, risk, research, etc. Others have a significant in-house department with lawyers who handle specific areas. Most I’m aware of use outside counsel for litigation. So I think you can find what you’re looking for, but you may have a harder time getting into one of the latter settings without experience. If you’re interested in privacy/compliance, a CIPP certification may help make you more competitive.

    4. J*

      Not a lawyer but I manage our legal department in a healthcare org. A lot of our day is just keeping the business running, so being a generalist. A huge bulk of our time is spent on various commercial contracts but also government contracts and payor agreements, a few real estate agreements. Payor disputes escalate up to us so we have to send demand letters. We have some limited IP but we outsource most of that. We have a huge portfolio of entities since we aren’t limited to one state and we launched a business expansion so that’s been one team member’s entire job. The rest is really on privacy work, escalating issues our compliance side discovers, breach response, etc. Having any privacy certificates would go so far. We also can’t recruit compliance team members fast enough for our growth, so having expertise there would make you competitive. We also have a team member dedicated to our growth & expansion. She helps us assess risk, plan for what regulatory agencies we’d have to work around, etc. and I help project manage the deployment. That’s more of a contract-level stint though, where they just focus on that and move onto the next job.

  47. floatinginspace*

    Some of my company’s big head honchos are making their rounds and coming to my location next week. I got pulled in to chat with an exec about my future development plans with the company. The thing is…I’m in my final round of interviews for another job. The final interview will be the day after I talk to Big Exec. I feel really bad because I stand a pretty good chance of getting the job, and therefore will be wasting her time…but you also can’t just say no to this kind of opportunity. I feel extra bad because my manager just sat down with me to go over my plan with me and discuss my growth within this company so I can be ready for the Big Exec meeting. So if I do get a job offer, which I’m hoping to have by the end of next week…he will know that I went through the whole charade and knew that I was kind of lying to him. Ugh. I feel so bad, but the new job will really be a better fit. I don’t really have a question I guess. Just guilt!

    1. RVA Cat*

      Don’t feel guilty. But it does look like the company is invested enough to give you a counteroffer. The meeting could give you good information about what you can negotiate if they do.

    2. ecnaseener*

      You’re fine! As good as your chances are, you have to operate on the assumption that you won’t get an offer (or won’t come to terms on the offer, etc.)

      1. Awkwardness*

        Came to say this. And even if you might get the job offer, you might decide to not take it because the Exec meeting was too convincing. Do not close doors earlier than needed. Good luck!

    3. Goddess47*

      And, as Allison warns, never count on a job offer until you have one in hand. So that talk with the Big Exec may be what you need if you don’t get that offer.

  48. Lactation Room*

    I saw this in the Washington post but wanted the opinions here.

    Basically an office has a nice lactation room. It’s relaxing with a comfortable recliner and locking door. The schedule was coordinated in a lactating mom’s slack group.

    But one day a woman showed up to pump during her slotted time, opened the unlocked door, and found a man in the recliner wearing headphones. He was apparently nice about it and said he has ADHD and Anxiety and needs a place to decompress if he gets over stimulated. He vacated the space.

    Well at least one of the moms complained about a non-lactating person using the room and there is apparently now an office division between it should be for everyone and it should just be a lactating room. The man immediately produced Dr documentation of his ADHD and Anxiety and said the ADA means he can use the room. He also snarkily referred to the room as a “girls only club”. Meanwhile the lactating mom’s want it to stay open for it’s original purpose of fulfilling the law that requires a lactation space at work.

    So what do you all think about this?

    I’ll be honest as a lactating mom, I wouldn’t want cis-men or non-lactating trans men in the space for any reason ever. It’s sad but not surprising to me that every breastfeeding support group has a dedicated section in the FAQ to blocking and reporting creeps. If creeps get this worked up and harrassy in a space that’s just talking about breatfeeding, I can’t imagine they would behave in a space where breastmilk is being expressed regularly.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      said he has ADHD and Anxiety and needs a place to decompress if he gets over stimulated

      This can be true, and it can also be true that the lactation room isn’t that space he needs. Maybe that workplace should provide a separate space for quiet. Maybe it shouldn’t have an open office plan (which it probably does) and should have offices or cubicles instead.

      Just because someone has a genuine need doesn’t mean they can just take things reserved for other purposes or other people’s (also genuine but different) needs.

      1. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish*

        ADA Accommodations also require that employers enter into an “interactive process” to determine how to create a reasonable accommodation for the employee. The employer is the only one with the authority and broader knowledge to make these decisions and consider how they impact others. You do not get to call “dibs” on existing resources just because you have an accessibility need. It’s also not reasonable to ask people to give up or modify their needs when they don’t have the ability to offer other resource alternatives. This is a problem the employee needs to address with the employer, not with their coworkers. The assertion that because he has a diagnosis he can claim an existing resource without going through an interactive process with the employer is incorrect.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Exactly. I can genuinely need anything from water to a ream of copier paper, but that doesn’t make it okay to snatch said article from the hands of a random person (barring a genuine emergency, of course.)

        This coworker can need a spot for quiet and centering. That doesn’t cancel out the lactating moms’ need for a dedicated space.

    2. Cyndi*

      I’m basing this information solely on what I’ve read here but I believe lactation rooms are intended to be solely available for pumping use at all times. That man’s need for accommodations is a separate issue, and he should be making it HR’s problem instead of taking it out on his colleagues who need to pump. And if HR can’t or won’t give him space to recover from overstimulation, he can go hide in the bathroom, like the rest of us.

      No, I’m not bitter. Why would you think I’m bitter?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        There may be some state variations but typically it just has to be a private place with no windows and a lock, not an exclusive lactation space.

      2. Lactation Room*

        Federally it doesn’t have to be a room exclusively for pumping. It just has to be a private space with a locking door free from intrusion that isn’t a bathroom.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      For me it sounds like an allocation of resources. If there are multiple rooms available, yes absolutely one should be exclusively for lactating mothers, especially if there are enough of you to need a separate slack. However if there aren’t, there’s really no regulation to require it, and I can see it (rightfully) being an uphill battle to reserve an entire space for the use of a group that by definition has a temporary need.

      More enforcement around having to sign up for the space may be a solution for everyone.

      1. Lactation Room*

        As someone with anxiety myself, there are so many ways I addressed getting overwhelmed or overstimulated at work that didn’t involve trying to coopt the lactation room. I’d take a walk around the building, or go to one of those private phone call rooms and doodle while holding a phone to my ear, or I would go down to the cafeteria during an off hour, or sit on a bench outside in nice weather, or sit in my car in the parking lot in bad weather, or go to the bathroom and read AAM a few minutes, or offer to do a coffee run and sit in a park for 10 minutes before grabbing the order. There are so many “or” options for dealing with anxiety in the office.

        There’s also a reason the lactation room is exclusively a lactation room everywhere I’ve worked. Lactating is a biological need. Not expressing milk can lead to leakage, pain, and even a deadly and excruciating infection called mastitis. It’s actually a good thing if the room is mostly open/free. That means that new mom’s will have plenty of access. The further post partum you are the less often you need to express, and some people breastfeed for 2 years or more so while it’s “temporary” it’s long enough that I don’t think that really matters. By the time one person no longer need’s it, in offices where there is a gender balance, it’s likely that another lactating person will need it by then. I’m 6 weeks post partum and I have to pump for 10-15 minutes every 2 hours. If some guy was in there relaxing when I needed to pump that would be a huge problem and could even lead to my milk supply decreasing which then impacts my baby’s health. On the other hand, if a lactating person needed to use the space at the same time I’d be willing to share it with them in a pinch, but the main point is the more open time in the room the better for new moms returning to the workplace so making it multi use is problematic from providing the legally mandated lactation space.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Your preferred method might not be his preferred method, though. He’s an individual with his own needs — and the solution has to be developed that helps everyone cope, not just kick them to the kerb because they’re built differently from you.

      2. GythaOgden*

        Yup. We have a Quiet Room designated for people who want to pray, but it’s also ok for people to go in there if they need a general rest or have a headache etc. There was one row when a flu jab clinic wanted to set up in that room, since it was a good size for something relatively private and had a sink, and one HR person from one of the tenant orgs raised a complaint that it was therefore not available for prayers. (She wasn’t of a group that had any actual stake in it, but it was obviously the principle of the thing.)

        Pumping is a bit different inasmuch as it has legal status in the US that I’m not sure prayer does, but it would be tough to find any other space in the building for that kind of thing and a little impractical to build one on. It shouldn’t be an adversarial thing either — different people have different individual needs and being able to negotiate this would probably build up more of a feeling of fairness in general than fighting about it, however tempting it is to try to strongly assert your actual legal rights.

    4. This Old House*

      As someone who has been a lactating mom in the past and intends to be again soon, I suppose I’d have a slight preference for his needs being met in another space if it’s available, but otherwise, as long as the room is still available for pumping moms when they need it, I wouldn’t really mind him also being able to schedule time for himself there, too. (However, it seems like his needs might be more ad-hoc and difficult to predict, vs the typically more easily scheduled pumping moms? In which case that might be the real conflict, that having it be available to them when they need it means it is not guaranteed to be available to him when he might need it, and that would make me think they’d need a different solution.)

    5. Fluffy Fish*

      It’s really practicality we’re talking about here.

      As others have stated, the lactation room does not legally need to be solely dedicated to lactation. For many companies it simply isn’t practical to have a private space for someone who needs a break like this employee did and a separate one too – spare offices aren’t usually lying around.

      The issue with this situation is the male worker needs to also be scheduling the room – or at least checking the schedule before using it to ensure it is not booked and for him to be out of it in time for the next scheduled person to need it.

      I understand there’s creeps, and frankly the anonymity of the internet makes it easy to be creepy without repercussion, but you also can’t just assign that as people’s motivations at work.

      1. Lactation Room*

        Oh I wasn’t calling the guy in this story a creep, just pointing out how insanely prevelant creepy behavior around breastfeeding is.

        Although I do think that the fact that he immediately got a group of colleagues up in arms and started referring to the room as a “girls only club” when he didn’t even start by asking HR for accommodations and just took the room without asking or scheduling show’s he’s not entering this argument in good faith.

          1. Lactation Room*

            Didn’t happen at my workplace. At my place the lactation rooms are locked at all times and only lactating mothers have a key and are required to make appointments to use the room.

            1. GythaOgden*

              OK — then they need to focus on that part then. The goal should be to find a productive solution for everyone, not to just fight it out. He didn’t respond well — understatement of the month — but when people feel their needs are being ignored, they rightly get a bit upset. The solution is not just to turn the tables on him (would this be such an issue if he wasn’t a man?) but to actively engage with individuals on how to solve the problems, given that the legal requirements aren’t as stringent as you claim them to be and the situation often isn’t as simple as just carving out another room in the building.

    6. RagingADHD*

      It’s a lactation room, not a hangout room or a “decompression” room. The comfy chairs and fridge are there for a specific biological purpose. Non lactating people are not entitled to it.

      If the company doesn’t preserve this space for its legal purpose, people are going to start keeping drinks and lunches in the fridge, taking naps, and be barging in or knocking on the door all day, rendering it unfit for purpose, and they will be legally required to start over creating a new space from scratch. So they will wind up with 2 rooms anyway, or catch a lawsuit.

  49. Llama Wrangler*

    I am struggling with a coworker who is struggling to manage her calendar, and wondering how people have done this effectively. Our company has a culture where people reference your calendar and book your time for meetings, so any unscheduled time is considered fair game.

    A colleague who I am working with on projects is in great demand for meetings, and so has tried to put standing work blocks on her calendar every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, plus a few more admin time chunks. She also is currently pumping, so she has scheduled blocks in our pumping room 3x a day on the two days she’s in the office. (There are multiple people using the room, so she has to stick to the assigned time.) 

    Unfortunately, that means that she has basically no available time on her calendar – if I look at her week next week, she has 0 unscheduled time, and looking 2 weeks out she has one 1 hour chunk, and one 30 minute chunk. I am collaborating with her on a project, and have to schedule time with her and sometimes other people and it is challenging, and sometimes impossible, without booking in her standing work-blocks. She also complained to me yesterday that people are often scheduling her for times that she’s booked to be pumping. (She has an hour window and needs 30 mins of it, but people sometimes schedule her for the full hour window.)

    In my mind, the main challenge is she just is being asked to do too much, and she might need to talk to her boss to see if she could offload any work onto any other team members (or limit meetings she attends to only the essential ones). But since that’s a longer term solution, I think that she’d be open to my suggestions about alternatives for calendar management – does anyone have ways that you’ve handled this that are better? (I generally don’t get booked out too far in advance, so for me it works fine to schedule some work-blocks for the week ahead based on what I specifically know I need to do and otherwise I just make sure to have lunch and some Friday admin time blocked off – but I think if she blocked work time for specific projects for the week ahead, she’d find that her schedule was getting fully booked with meetings.)

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Two things,

      1. Her calendar, her problem. Send an email, “Hey I’m trying to schedule our work on project ABC, I think we should meet 2x times a week, for 30min to optimally do this. Do you agree? Looking at your calendar, you look pretty tight on scheduling do you have any time next 4 weeks for this? Or would you prefer to work asynchronously on tasks?” Be flexible, maybe your meetings will need to be shorter etc. (There’s a good chance your project might just unfortunately be one of the projects that gets put on hold). She’s your peers so you don’t have to try and manage her or fix her calendar, not your job, would be overstepping.

      2. Re Pumping – If you don’t pump consistently you can stop producing milk for your kid. It’s important to keep trying to consistently pump if you’re going that route. In addition it’s very painful if you skip pumping when you need to. Legally in the US “An employer may not deny a covered employee a needed break to pump.” Asking her to use that time to meet you is not a viable option and should not be considered!!!

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        First, just to be clear, I am NOT asking her to meet during the times she’s scheduled to pump. We were talking about meeting times, I scheduled for a time that was open on her calendar, and she said, “thanks, I might need to shift it because I got double booked. People keep setting up meetings during the times that I’m booked in the pumping room, they don’t understand that’s not flexible!”

        I know this isn’t my problem to solve, but she’s a colleague I’ve worked with closely over the years and I think since this is a problem for our work together, she’d be open to solutions for alternative ways to handle her calendar.

    2. Mill Miker*

      I’ve been this employee before (minus the pumping), and I think this is one of those “maker schedules vs. manager schedules” issues (Link in follow-up comment).

      I was asked to block out work times on my calendar, but the nature of the role is that in order to meet my deadlines, every minute I’m not in a meeting I needed to be working heads-down as fast as I could on whatever work I was doing. And a 2 hour block is way more useful than 8 15 minute blocks. The last time I was told to “Block off Tuesday afternoons for focused work on your biggest project” it lasted all of 3 weeks before the same manager scheduled a half hour weekly status meeting for said project at 2:00pm every Tuesday.

      Part of the problem is that when you’re trying to arrange a meeting with 4 people, and 3 of them are trying to schedule around other meetings, while one is “just” blocking of focus time, it’s easy to see the first 3’s conflicts as “real” and the 4th as “actually free”.

      No amount of blocking off time in the calendar helps with this on it’s own. The blocking has to be combined with a discussion of what percentage of the employees time needs to be available for meetings, and what’s left for focused work. Then you need to make sure they can meet all their deadlines only working during that focused time, and block off just that time (If a given week has less meetings, that’s bonus focused work time). All that then needs to be combined with training whoever’s booking meetings with the employee to respect the blocked time as just as real as any other meeting, and holding them accountable to that. It just takes letting one or two cases of “I know she’s marked busy, but it’s just focus time and this works for everyone else” through to make the whole setup useless.

      For the pumping, however, I’d be tempted to set those slots to auto-reject any invites that touch that time (and maybe even enter them as “out of office”).

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        This is helpful. thank you! And yes, I think the “out of office” or auto-rejects for the pumping time makes sense – I think she has been reluctant to do that because she only needs 30 mins but has an hour window blocked for her.

    3. There You Are*

      At least for the pumping time, she should book the time as Out Of Office on her calendar. Can’t book a meeting with someone who is out of the office.

  50. oh so very anon*

    Graphic design whinge:
    I got volun-told to create a flyer for my company’s emergency preparedness information fair. Didn’t want to, but did it anyway.

    So far, the two pieces of feedback have been “your really good at this” (sic) and someone complaining that using red (for emergencies) is “kind of shocking” and that I should use the company’s color (blue) instead.

    Bonus: on a whim, I mocked up a version using the company blue, to which they said it was too dark.

  51. Cyndi*

    This is an old situation and totally moot now, but I wish I’d known about AAM so I could have brought it here when it happened.

    I used to have a side job (a few nights a week, occasionally weekends) working retail in a VERY bro-y store. It was a local chain with three locations and I believe three women employees total across the whole business–me and another woman at store A, a third who worked at store B, and none at all in store C, which was the “original” location with the business’s main office in the back. A couple of the guys were decent, thankfully including my own store manager, but for the most part it was a very stereotypical “locker room” type environment and most of my coworkers were very unpleasant, bigoted people when customers weren’t around to hear them (and sometimes in front of customers, too). A few weeks in I heard one of my coworkers on the phone with our grand-boss calling an employee at store B a whole string of slurs, so I knew complaining up the chain about anything would be pointless and only backfire on me.

    As a workplace, strangely, it was excellent–we were paid well by retail standards, they remembered to give me a Dunkin gift card for the holidays every year when everyone else got vodka, and if I called off sick my manager would cover me himself if he couldn’t find someone else to cover. When customers disrespected me the men I worked with always had my back, despite being incapable of recognizing their own crap. Great at their jobs, terrible people.

    There were no women regularly scheduled at store C, but a couple of times I got asked to cover there on a weekend. Which is how I learned that the main office, where my paychecks got written, was absolutely wallpapered in explicit posters of women in mesh bodystockings brandishing machine guns, along with some other bizarre political art that made me pretty uncomfortable. At that point I began to wonder if I should be complaining to some outside authority about my work environment–but a week later the city shut down for Covid, and the store went right on paying me for my 15 hours a week until they re-opened, and it was just enough on top of the UI from losing my day job to keep me afloat. So there was no way I could make a fuss after that, but I did quit a few months after we reopened.

    This has gotten way too long but I guess my question is: was there anything here I could have taken to an outside authority? Does it even count as a “hostile workplace” to women if you slap all your explicit posters up in an area where you don’t expect women to ever see them? Does anyone else have any stories about working for people who were garbage people but great bosses?

  52. Anima*

    I need to quit my job. I have the following reasons:

    – I’m part time (20h/week) but also a full time student (more than 40/h week including assignments) and there is just not enough time in the week to do all that
    – it doesn’t help that I’m studying computer science and I’m NOT mathematically inclined and it’s very hard
    – my mom has cancer with a less than good (but not bad) possible outcome and I’m the only sibling in the same country

    So far, I’ve not have had to drive the 5h drive to see and help my family, but I know I will eventually have to, and on short notice. The job being fully remote is helpful, but I still need to quit it.

    Problem is, my boss is awesome, I like my job, I like my colleagues, the benefits are great and I still have to quit because somethings gotta give. Financially it’s not a problem, husband makes enough for the both of us and our rainy day fund is well filled.

    I wish for a script that tells my boss that this is what’s going to happen, somethings gotta give and it’s the job, and I am not able to consider any other solution than absolutely quitting. 

    I’m scared of the conversation with my boss and colleagues. Help.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Assuming that asking for reduced hours won’t solve the problems:
      “Boss, this was a really tough decision but I need to give you my [two weeks] notice. I really like this job and I wish I could stay, but between school and personal issues I just don’t have the time for anything else.” [Boss will probably say some stuff along the lines of “Oh that’s so disappointing but I understand”] “Thank you for being such a great manager! I can spend the next [two weeks] getting my projects ready to hand off, what else should I prioritize?”

    2. funkytown*

      I’m sorry about your mom. If your boss is reasonable, they are going to understand. If they are not reasonable, all the better that you’re leaving.

      If I were you I would decide on a date to be your last day of work that works for You, and then 2 weeks before that email your boss with notice that that will be your last day. You don’t need to go into too much detail but it sounds like you want to share why, so you can say something like “I really appreciate my time here and am sad to go, but I need to leave in order to deal with a family situation and focus on school.” You can send a nice note to your colleagues too saying how much you’ve enjoyed working with them and hope to stay in touch on linkedin, or however you want.

      It’s hard to quit, and it’s okay to have feelings about it, especially when you have so much else going on. Good luck! You can do it!

    3. Grace and Flavor*

      What are you scared of? Figuring that out might help to know how to proceed.

      You can just say “I’m resigning, and my last day will be X. I’ve loved working here, and I really appreciate the opportunity.” You don’t have to explain or justify why you’ve made that decision, though you can just say “I really need to focus on my studies” if you need to.

      It will be fine. You can do this. And I’m sorry about your mom.

  53. Brad S*

    I’m in the final stages of a government job application and their standard request is 3 references from within the past 3 years. The problem is my 8 years experience in the field have been all on the same team, under the same direct manager. I’d like to avoid offering up him or other leaders at my current company until an offer is agreed.

    I can come up with 2: a leader I worked with who recently left my company, and a professor in the field who I collaborate with outside of my job. But stymied for the 3rd.

    Does anyone have suggestions beyond offering up (1) a recent peer level coworker, (2) current manager with a conditional offer already agreed, or (3) a leader from 5 years ago who I worked with. Does it make sense to propose these all to the government org, and which are the best/worst sounding?

    1. LAM*

      Realistically, you should put someone that can speak to your work or working with you with less focus on the timing. If you are their top candidate(s), they likely won’t go to the third or won’t be too strict on the when you worked with them in what capacity. If I had to pick your order, I’d lean toward 2, 3, and 1 in part because of who your first two would be. Though this may be different depending on personality.

      Are you involved in community service, professional organization, or the like? I included someone who I’ve done a lot of project planning with to flesh out my references. We’ve never worked together in the traditional sense, but she can speak to my work style because of this volunteer work. This was especially true because past workplaces have taken it personally or might try to torpedo someone’s chances on moving on.

  54. Just a Teacher*

    I recently finished my doctorate and hope to move to higher ed in a very small sub-field in education.

    Last year I applied for a clinical professorship in the field at a university I have some connection to. Just before they began the interviews the director of the program asked to privately meet with me at a conference we were both attending. She told me that in around 6 months (NOW) they would be opening a tenure track, majority research, assistant professor position for 2024. She told me I could go ahead and apply for the clinical professor position, but that she thought the other would be a better fit but that it was not yet public knowledge.

    I went ahead and applied for the current position, knowing that nothing is real in higher ed until it is REAL. I was interviewed, it went well. The director met with me afterward and told me that she didn’t think it was the right fit and that she wanted me to wait for the next position.

    Fast forward to this school year. I went to apply for the tenure track position. They asked for some writing samples, so I was taking my time to gather the materials when the director emailed me and asked if I was planning to apply. I told her yes and that I was very interested in the position. I submitted my application and she emailed me saying she was excited that she received it and looked forward to talking with me.

    That was two months ago. The listing says that they began reviewing applications 6 weeks ago. Am I just expecting things to move too fast? Was I wrong in thinking I was definitely getting an interview? How do I put it out of my mind when I have been specifically waiting to apply for this job for a YEAR?

    1. YNWA*

      I’ve been in higher ed for 2 decades and can tell you, it just moves slow. Most job listing go up in August-October, first interviews happen November-January, campus visits take place March-April. My tiny little school gets 200-300 applicants for a job opening and it takes a lot of time to weed through those and get down to the five you really want to pursue.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      Yeah, don’t worry about it. They’ve barely managed to distribute the applications for initial review. Expect this to take excruciating MONTHS, and meanwhile, apply everywhere else that makes sense.

    3. AFac*

      From another veteran of higher ed: I think you are expecting things to move too fast. There are probably lots of applications, plus faculty on that committee are going through them in addition to their normal job tasks. While I don’t know your university’s schedule, 6 week ago we were starting midterms, which always eats everyone’s time. In addition, the committee needs to meet to discuss applications, and it may take time to schedule that meeting. It may also be that the committee has met, has requested reference letters for a subset of applicants, and is waiting for those to arrive before forming the list of those who will move on to the next step.

      As for thinking that you should definitely get an interview, that’s hard to say. It can be true both that you were such a strong candidate a year ago you were invited to apply and that the applicant pool is such that you may not get an interview this year. That’s beyond your control. I know it’s easy to say and hard to do, but just forget about this job. Apply to other jobs, continue to do things that add to your resume, etc. If you’ve done something recently that significantly improves your resume (won a national award, got a $1M grant funded, wrote a transformational paper), you can contact the committee and ask for your file to be updated, but other than that, it’s unfortunately out of your control.

      1. AFac*

        I’ll also add: in some schools the committee’s interview list needs to be approved by higher-ups, to check for DEI issues, that all applicants are held to the same standard, nepotism issues, etc. That always takes more time than one thinks it should.

  55. Not a manager, not trying to be a manager*

    How do you answer a “tell me about a time when…” interview question when the situation has literally never happened to you?
    I’m early in my career and have only ever been an individual contributor. I’m interviewing for a role that is *also* an individual contributor. Had a tough situation in an interview this week.
    They asked me to “Tell me about a time when someone you managed was not doing their work and how you handled that to get them back on track.”
    I’ve never managed anyone! This is not a manager role I am interviewing for! So why they asked this, I don’t know.
    The closest thing I could think of was my toddler throwing tantrums while trying to get in the car, but talking about that seemed like a really bad idea.
    I muddled out something about how I’ve never managed anyone but did deal with a slacker coworker. I could tell they were unimpressed.

    1. Amber Rose*

      “I’ve never encountered that scenario, but if I did my process would be…”

      Your alternative was fine also. “The closest to that scenario I’ve dealt with was X.”

      But really, sometimes interviewers are just bad at interviewing and the whole thing turns out badly as a result. I’m sorry.

      1. Roland*

        I agree with offering the closest scenario you’ve dealt with is a good strategy in general, as long as we’re talking about the slacker coworker and not the toddler!

    2. Sally Rhubarb*

      Unsure of your age or experience, but have you ever had a slacker in a group project that you managed to get to shape up?

      It’s definitely a weird question to ask when the position isn’t supervisory, but maybe the interviewer was trying to probe more into your people management skills?

  56. NotAnArtCritic*

    I think I am in the wrong but I need to vent. My employee is married with young kids. She has an advanced degree and works for me full time in a highly qualified capacity with lots of responsibility. Her partner is in the artistic field, is not employed but does his solo art. When their kids get sick, which kids do a lot, often she has to miss work, which means I have to do her work in addition to mine. I would not be bothered if she was a single parent (like me) or if her husband HAD A JOB. I know I know. Doing art is his job but I have a really hard time accepting that abscence from that is the same as abscence from an office where you are accountable and others depend on your work. That’s my rant!

    1. Someone Else's Boss*

      I think you know that it’s none of your business, as long as she’s following company protocol for missing work. It’s much better to not even let yourself consider it beyond that – and that’s true for any employee and any reason they’re away from work. If they’re within policy, stop considering it further.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Oh for the love. It’s NOT YOUR BUSINESS. They get to divide who does what in their family any way they want to.
      Here’s the thing about being a solo worker (in the arts or any other field): There is NO paid time off. You don’t work, you don’t get paid. And that sucks. And it’s likely why he’s not taking the time off. He IS accountable to his family for bringing in income. Others DO depend on his work. (The others being his family)
      You need to get over yourself here.

      1. Cyndi*

        Also professional artists absolutely have deadlines and clients and outside obligations and it’s really weird to insist they don’t. Freelance creative work is–not always, but often–an absolute nightmare of constantly juggling and reshuffling priorities. Plus you’re doing all your own admin and bookkeeping and marketing, and social media has made self-marketing an enormous time suck in itself.

        The employee’s husband isn’t just sitting happily on a stool at home poking a brush at a canvas occasionally, which is what I suspect NotAnArtCritic is imagining.

      2. NotAnArtCritic*

        Yes, and I am over myself in the sense that she gets all the PTO she needs and full flexibility on hours etc.
        We do live in a place though where a freelance artist actually does get PTO for sickness, sick kids etc through the government the same way as employed people.

        1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

          “Same as employed people” because freelance self-employed people ARE employed people.

          1. NotAnArtCritic*

            That was a response to a comment that this was probably necessary because only she has PTO and he doesn’t. He does.

        2. kalli*

          That doesn’t mean it’s the same rate. Where I live, once people have exhausted PTO they’re eligible for short term sickness payments from the government – but it’s paid at the unemployment rate, which isn’t even minimum wage.

          1. NotAnArtCritic*

            It’s paid based on your income for everyone, same system whether you are employed or not.

    3. CheeryO*

      Why do you have to do your employee’s work when they’re out for a day? Sounds like you need more staff.

      1. NotAnArtCritic*

        I think that’s the case in many businesses. We do not have temps and that also wouldn’t be possible for the kind of work that we do. More staff would be great but not something I have any control over (we work for the government and they set our budget).

    4. KC James*

      Removed – this person has left nasty comments all over the page, each under a different name, and is now banned. – Alison

      1. Aglet*

        Wow, I’m sorry some people were so harsh, NotAnArtCritic! If Alison were as harsh I think people would stop writing in.

        1. acmx*

          Yeah, people are harsh and not really reading what they wrote. Getting to be that time of year when people are cranky.

        2. NotAnArtCritic*

          That’s fine! I know that this is not something that I can change in any way whatsoever. It’s just very frustrating that I keep not being able to do what I’m supposed to because of this and I do have my personal opinions about it, which are that it’s great if you can set up your life in such a way that one spouse has a stable and good salary to take the main breadwinner role, which enables the other spouse to be in a field that is more insecure (but rewarding and with lots of freedom). In my opinion, what then makes sense is that the work of the one in the stable breadwinner role has to take priority. That’s what I would tell a friend or do in my own life (in fact, I have been in this situation myself). This person is not a friend but an employee, so I can’t say that of course. But it bugs me, that’s all.

          1. kalli*

            Stable breadwinner may get paid carers’ leave and insecure worker may not, and would take a financial hit to look after a sick kid.

            Part of working in a company is covering other people, because the ultimate point is to ensure the company functions, not that you get to always do your fun favourite thing in your main job description.

            1. NotAnArtCritic*

              True in many places, like where I was when my kids were small, I was in a similarly unstable situation and was a single parent! As I replied in another comment though, that’s not the case where we are – everyone gets sick leave/caring for sick kids pay from the government regardless of employment.

              Yes I am very spoiled to be frustrated not get to do my “fun favourite thing”, in the end though, our whole operation is built around and for me doing that thing, that’s the whole reason we exist as an office at all.

      1. NotAnArtCritic*

        Yep, I think most people are judgemental in our private space sometimes. I’m certainly judgemental about how people deal with childcare stuff, due to my own experience as a single parent making it work with none of the benefits that my staff has. Nevertheless, everyone has their benefits and can use them to the fullest with no questions asked, are never penalized for doing so, and in addition, have full flexibility with hours, remote work etc that are not required but that I decided to implement. Privately though, yes I do think judgemental thoughts!

    5. RagingADHD*

      Wow. So you’re mad at her husband because you don’t think his work is “real,” and you don’t think she deserves to take care of her own kids when they are sick because it it inconveniences you?

      Yep, your first instinct was right. You’re in the wrong about this.

      For all you know, he could make time to take care of the kids but she insists on doing it herself.

      1. NotAnArtCritic*

        Well if that’s the case that would really make me angry (privately). Currently, I’m trying to think that “this is sexism, a female breadwinner is still expected to be the go-to parent, her husband can’t be bothered even though she’s the one with the career”. If she actually has other childcare and chooses to drop the ball so that I have to pick it up, yeah that’s really uncool (and nothing I can do anything about).

        1. RagingADHD*

          From your follow up comments, you seem to have a lot of jealousy or unresolved anger over your own struggles as a single parent. I’m sorry you went through that, but other people aren’t living their lives *at* you.

          This employee is not responsible for your parenting situation, and it’s not her job to compensate for it by parenting or working the way you did. Your attitude here is coming across as deeply unhealthy, and I think you should take some time to process it more intentionally. Resenting other people for having what you lacked will eat you up inside.

          And as far as the work goes, if you are understaffed, your management is the problem, not your employee. If you are the management, hire more people.

          1. NotAnArtCritic*

            Thank you! I am the management, but as it’s a government job, I am not in control of the budget and hence how many people I can hire. In fact, one part of my job is to lobby for maintaining and increasing our funding, so that this employee’s job can be maintained and we could also hire more people. However, when I have to step in and take over daily operations because she’s absent, I have to do that work on my spare time.

    6. Roland*

      People are acting like you went to her house and insulted her husband to his face lol. Thought crimes aren’t real!

    7. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I think the part that’s bugging you is that “solo artist” sounds like a job with much more flexible hours than your employee’s. And I don’t blame you for wondering “why can’t he watch the kids until employee gets home and then shut himself in his studio for the evening?”

      The answer is still “it’s not your business”, but maybe it’d help if you told yourself “maybe he has a deadline and this work requires daylight as well as concentration, so right now his schedule is fixed”, or some other story that makes it easier for you to cope with the situation.

      If your employee’s absences are reaching the point of seriously disruptive, address that in the same way you would if she were a single parent with an absent co-parent.

  57. Anon in Midwest*

    How do you know when it’s time to leave a job that keeps getting worse, but you’re paid well?

    I work for a company that over the last year has:
    – Had 1 major layoff and several smaller rolling layoffs that affected my team
    – Has frozen raises and not paid bonuses, even though it’s profitable and each quarter we’ve met Wall St expectations
    – Has fired the C Suite leader of my department and not replaced them, but re-orged so that we all report to random other departments
    – Is starting to have a cutthroat culture as folks point fingers so they won’t be part of any future layoff

    I have worked here for 4 years and have significant RSU equity that would vest in the next few years, and my salary is medium-high for my field & years of experience.

    I also like my immediate team members.

    But the changes have really affected me and I’m feeling more disengaged and worried than I ever have here.

    What would you do at this point? thank you!

    1. Someone Else's Boss*

      If your company is laying people off and not backfilling key roles, as well as withholding raises and bonuses, at a time when they are meeting budget and making a profit, run. Things will not get better.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I agree. Something similar is happening at my company and I started searching beacuse I knew it was going to get worse before it got better.

    2. Stephanie*

      I feel like if you’re asking…you know. But I think it can’t hurt to send out some resumes and take interviews. The market is kind of soft, so I imagine unless you ahve some really in-demand skills, it’ll take a few months anyway.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I presume it’s profitable and meeting analyst expectations because they are “borrowing from the future” to make it profitable, which almost never works as a strategy. Also a “major layoff” can be an isolated thing, but the ‘rolling’ layoffs worry me. This means that they hadn’t anticipated to do those layoffs at the time when they did the mass layoff. Why? what’s changed? is it symptomatic of lack of foresight generally? short term thinking? not anticpating consequences? etc.

      I would start looking in your situation.

    4. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      So it sounds like we work for the same company. I mean since you mentioned RSUs, it could be we both work in the tech industry, but different companies (since there were many layoffs across the industry), but it REALLY sounds like we work for the same company. If we do, my advice is to look around internally. I realize there are still hiring freezes, but some teams are getting headcount. Also, I work in a part of the company where there is growth, and not as many layoffs. I’m not sure what we’re allowed to say on this site, so again, if we were at the same company, I would look for jobs in profit areas. I.e. what products and divisions are typically touted in the quarterly earnings reports as profit generators. I work in one of those areas, and there is lots of growth and need for more people.
      And if I’m incorrect and you work for a different company (or even in a different industry), then another option could be to look at more mature companies in the same industry. I.e. if you were working for say former Twitter, then I would look at other tech companies that have been around much longer, and don’t have such a reckless CEO. Maybe ones headquartered in the Seattle-area :)

      1. Anon in Midwest*

        So funny, it is the tech industry so it could be the same! Glad to hear you’re part of an area that’s more stable and growing. Unfortunately the company only requires one of my role, so it’s either here or elsewhere. But I think I will start interviewing elsewhere just in case. Best of luck to you

  58. poppy*

    Any advice on progressing up (or out) as an office manager? I’ve been doing general admin/office manager work for about 5 years, and while I really enjoy the work it’s becoming clear it’s one of those jobs that doesn’t have a very obvious progression pathway. A lot of my friends are in roles where they’re now line managers, or at least working on bigger/more important things than they were when they were more junior. Meanwhile I feel my job has remained very task-heavy. I always ask for feedback and what I can do to improve, and it’s almost always “just keep doing what you’re doing!” At my current company I’m involved in a lot of high-level work, but only on a task basis (ie data entry for a spreadsheet showing firm profitability, helping to proofread a new employee handbook, etc.) I’ve asked to be more involved on these projects, I keep getting promised I will but it hasn’t happened yet. There is supposedly an office move on the horizon, but I haven’t been invited to any viewings or discussions about what we’re looking for—I’m told that it will take up a lot of my time when it kicks off but I suspect it will just be tasks again, like booking in movers and ordering stationery with the new address. I’m really interested in HR and have asked to do more training in that, but was told my company won’t pay for it because “we’re so small we don’t need HR.” Right now I feel like a super senior who just can’t pass that one class – lagging behind all my friends. I would really like to start a family in the next few years and I would really like to move into a role that would allow for flexible working, but that seems like it will be impossible when a lot of my job still involves noticing we’re out of butter or helping people troubleshoot Zoom. How do I get unstuck? Are there skills that make sense to develop in my free/off time? I want to stay in the HR/operations/facilities space, so general “learn how to code!” advice doesn’t feel relevant for me.

    1. ferrina*

      Assume that you won’t develop these skills in your company. If it happens, great, but right now they are telling you that they aren’t interested in investing in your career development.

      Some ideas:
      -Look at HR training courses. If you are in the U.S., look at Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM). That’s the big professional organization for HR folks.
      -Assign yourself work. “Hey, I noticed that our X documentation is out of date. I’ve got some time this week- mind if I take a run at updating that and send you my draft?” It’s something that costs your manager no time investment, and they can either use or not use. This is purely to get you practice- don’t have any expectations that they’ll actually use it. If you expect them to use it, it adds pressure and actually makes people less likely to give you the green light. If you make it low key “use it or not, whatever you feel is right” they are more likely to say “sure”
      -Start a low-key job search. It sounds like you aren’t looking to leave immediately, which is great. You know that eventually you’ll need to leave to get career growth. Start looking so you know what might make you a stronger candidate. Toss some resumes into the void- maybe just a few hours a week. Not enough to take over your life, but just enough that the universe gets a chance to send you an opportunity (that’s how I got my last job- I only spent 4hr/wk in my search, because that’s all I had).
      Good luck!

  59. I can't remember my username*

    A few weeks ago I asked for advice on how to handle an extra workload due to someone in a completely different department going on medical leave.

    They’re back now and things were actually pretty manageable. I let things slip that I knew I couldn’t get to and no one even noticed I don’t think.

    However, it doesn’t sound like the higher ups are interested in hiring anyone to take the load off the overworked department so…yeah. Worked out for me but I’m feeling incredibly frustrated that the bosses remain committed to sticking their heads in the sand.

  60. Dovasary Balitang*

    Does anyone have any experience with interviews with the federal government of Canada? I made it through to that point (after an extremely lengthy application submittal and then a test, of course) and I know it’s going to be quite different from other interviews I’m used to. Is Pollywog’s guide an accurate source for what I’m in for? Any advice is appreciated!

  61. Panicked*

    The company I work for (40 people, I’m an HR dept. of 1) is facing possible layoffs in the coming months. Everyone is working as hard as they can to hit our sales numbers; late nights, additional hours, etc… What are some ways I can support the team without breaking the bank?

    We just did a fantastic employee appreciation event that was very well received. I’m implementing a beverage/snack cart that I’m taking through the departments during the extended hours to keep people’s morale up. (I know a cup of tea isn’t going to make a difference, but it shows them that I’m there with them.) I’m open to any and all suggestions!

    1. poppy*

      Maybe a giftcard for Seamless or a similar delivery service to order a takeout lunch/dinner? Allows everyone to pick their favorite place rather than going with a lowest common denominator like pizza.

    2. ferrina*

      I love the beverage/snack cart. Free food does wonders, and it shows that you are seeing them as humans.

      If there’s ways that you can free up time or lessen admin tasks, that’s always appreciated as well. Really, any way that you can lessen stress. It’s not about keeping everyone positive, it’s about keeping everyone on the same team and not snapping at each other (honestly, it sounds like you are already acutely aware of that). It sounds like you are checking in on people as well, so you can spot if someone needs to step away.
      At a certain point there’s a limit to what you can do, but it sounds like you’re doing really well in a really, really tough time.

  62. This Old House*

    My organization is going through a period of transition and has had a ton of turnover lately. I’m not looking for anything new now because I’m pregnant and have a maternity leave situation that is unlikely to be matched in this country, no matter how much I might negotiate. Plus this job has a lot of things going for it for me personally, so if things calm down and I end up with a decent direct supervisor and we get past some of the growing pains, I’d probably stay. If things remain chaotic, I would probably start looking while I’m on leave. BUT much of my department and the colleagues I work most closely with already have plans to leave, which means that to get a feel for how things shake out while I’m gone, I’d have to reach out to colleagues I’m not particularly close with and don’t work with often, after not having seen or spoken to them in months because I’ve been out.

    Is this too weird? What kind of script would I use? It’s probably the kind of conversation I’d rather have in person, rather than asking anyone to put anything in writing, especially from a work email address, but if we’re not already at a “getting coffee” level of closeness, what’s an appropriate way to make that invitation?

    1. ferrina*

      It’s sounds like people’s plans are an open secret, so I think you can have an open conversation. “Hey, I’m not looking to leave at this time, but I know you are and I’d love to stay in touch. Can we connect on LinkedIn?”

      LinkedIn is awesome for this kind of thing. It’s any easy way to contact folks that you once worked with. I’ve reached out to folks months down the line for a quick “catch up and coffee” (in-person or virtual) where I could say I was looking. Most people are happy to catch up, and if they aren’t (or they are just too busy), they just won’t respond.

    2. kalli*

      Parental leave often requires your boss keep in touch with you about workplace changes, and/or comes with ‘keeping in touch days’ where you can go in and catch up, check on projects and so on without jeopardising your parental leave or formally returning to work. It might be worth checking in with HR or making an approach to someone above you (skip-level if need be) to check how your org handles that, and open the line of communication now. If you haven’t already started organising your parental leave handover/cover situation, you can just fold the conversation in with that.

  63. Dragonfly7*

    Suggestions for quick emotional regulation / recovery when you really don’t have time to do so?
    I work a call center position and severely lost my temper at an out of control angry customer who refused to troubleshoot with me this week. This was the first time I’d vocally done so. It normally takes me an hour or more to recover from calls that upset me, and that isn’t an option – at most, I can put the client on hold for 2-3 minutes during the call, and maybe take a 15 minute break afterward if it works out.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Do some deep breathing, maybe get up and do a lap around the floor/get some water or coffee? Just to get some physical energy out? But long term you have to work on not taking customer stuff personally, which is HARD.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      You may consider getting some professional guidance with a therapist. You’re exceeding the tools you have to deal with this and it’s affecting your work life and I’m going to guess your mental well-being.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      It probably sounds silly but I have a little shake-it-off ‘ceremony’ I do to move on from incidents like this. Do you think something else is going on that’s making it harder than usual to tolerate people like the troubleshooting refuser?

      1. Dragonfly7*

        My brain went “and the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate…Shake it off!” at this comment and started to chair dance. Not silly at all.
        That client was transferred to me with a warning that they were angry, and I have very little tolerance for clients who scream about wanting their issue fixed but then refuse to try the troubleshooting steps provided, but there wasn’t anything particular that made that call less tolerable than others.

    4. Maddie*

      Things that work for me:

      Box breathing (in for count of four, hold for count of four, out for four, hold for four, repeat for two – five minutes as needed).

      54321 meditation – breathe slowly and deeply and name five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell, and one thing you taste (alternatively can do one thing you feel emotionally).

      Run your hands and wrists under cold water for a minute/put a cold cloth on the back of your neck.

      Drink water/eat something with a strong flavor (e.g. a strong mint).

    5. Hey Ms!*

      I second the deep breathing exercises, a walk around, or a bathroom break.

      I have learned to just pretend I don’t understand their meanness. Just keep being super kind and that hilariously throws them off.

      When I worked in a call center, I learned a great way to diffuse anger. When they are yelling or cursing you out or whatever, take a small pause just calmly say “I’m sorry, we seem to have a bad connection. I missed what you said, could you please repeat that?” Keep doing that every time they yell. “I’m sorry. I’m still missing a few words, can you say that again?” “Wow, this is crazy that this call is so bad!” When they have to repeat it over and over, they sound ridiculous. In my experience, eventually they will either hang up on you or speak in a more calm tone.

      I hope that helps!

    6. RVA Cat*

      This might backfire to make you laugh at them, but maybe imagine them talking out of their butt like Ace Ventura?

    7. slashgirl*

      A little preventative advice: depending on where the mute button is on your phone (if you use a hard phone, soft phone could be easier), press it long enough to say something about the customer that you couldn’t say if mute was off and you have to do it while they’re talking, it’s less obvious. And they don’t know they’re on mute. Do not put them on hold, just mute the phone so they can’t hear you. If this is something your cc tracks, just say you had to clear your throat or cough and didn’t want to do so in the customer’s ear.

      I learned this (probably bad) habit from a fellow call centre coworker when I worked at the Con. You just have to be very, very sure mute is on. I never messed up, but knew people who had. (I’ve recently seen a facebook vid of a guy doing this so very well.)

      They’d be going off and I’d mute, mutter something about what a bleeding idiot they were, or if they’d just listen to me, and I’d take a deep breath, then was able to be all customer service voice and helpful, once I unmuted and spoke again.

      I’m not sure what your regs are regarding customer’s behaviour/attitude, but if they won’t help you help them, end the call OR pass it on to a supervisor before you get angry. It sounds like it doesn’t happen to you often, so I might even “accidentally” have the call drop (at my call centre the aforementioned mute button was just above the end call button….).

      And for anyone who calls it unprofessional, sure it was. But given how little the Con cared about and treated it’s employees, I have no regrets. And it got me through two years on the phones without ever telling a caller off.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I’ve flat out hung up on abusive customers–the policy is to say something like “I’m sorry I don’t seem to be able to help you, I am ending this call now.” Although I confess there’s been times when I simply disconnected before I said something that got me fired instantly.

        The thing is, 99% of the time problems are fixable and angry customers have a point. But that 1% of scammers/unstable callers/pranksters? Their entire goal is to tie up phone lines and upset me, and at that point, they are no longer a customer. That’s when I disconnect, because I’m not being paid for that.

  64. AnxietyAnonymous*

    So, I’m very in my head about a hiring process I’ve been going through. I am 39 (relevant to the story) and have been working in my (very niche nonprofit) field for my entire career. I applied for a leadership role (reports to the Board) at a local company and am a finalist and am now just waiting to hear. Everything with the process so far was what I expected and I have been consistently excited about the opportunity which would be a great next career step for me.

    Then, earlier this week, in a 1-on-1 with one of my employees, they brought up that they had inside intel on this particular job search (again, niche field, its not uncommon to track what’s going on at other orgs). Turns out, they know 2 out of 3 of the finalists… and I’m the one they don’t know! It was a very awkward conversation because I didn’t really want to know anything about the other finalists, but I couldn’t in the moment figure out how to shut it down without giving myself away. So, then, I ended up with information that I didn’t want to know… that the other 2 finalists are 25 and 27 years old respectively.

    At the risk of sounding ageist, I am taken aback by this fact. FWIW, my employee (also 27) had brought it up because they thought that it was odd that folks with so little experience were finalists. Typically you would expect someone to be into their 30s at least before taking on this type of responsibility. This role is responsible for the fiscal and strategic leadership of this company (which is actually not doing very well at the moment). I have no doubt that these 2 candidates are smart and full of potential, but I’m having a hard time not feeling like it somehow reflects poorly on me and my accomplishments that this is the finalist pool. Am I behind in my career somehow? Should I question the board’s judgement about what kind of experience it takes to lead a company – especially one that is in a precarious financial position? How am I supposed to feel if I don’t get the job, knowing these facts? AITA for even being in my head about this?

    My trusted inner circle has pointed out that my industry has been particularly hard hit by the Great Resignation and this might be who the pool is (in my anecdotal experience, the great resignation in our field hit ages 25-40 hardest). Others have said that board search committees and search firms sometime yield odd candidate pools. Everyone I’ve spoken too agrees that its a little weird that anyone under 30 is being considered. I know I’m overthinking this, but it really has disrupted my ability to be indifferent/wait out the final decision in a zen way.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > Am I behind in my career somehow?

      No, I think once you get past the early 20s sort of age, experiences diverge so much that it isn’t very meaningful to think who is ‘ahead’ or ‘behind’, some people get there faster but then hit a ‘ceiling’, etc. If the others are legitimately inexperienced rather than just younger, perhaps that is a misstep on the part of the hiring committee. Although you’ve always worked in this field so have perhaps 20 years experience in it, how much of that is senior level experience?

      > Should I question the board’s judgement about what kind of experience it takes to lead a company – especially one that is in a precarious financial position?

      Internally I think it can’t be helped, although it goes without saying not to express that to other people. I think someone inexperienced would sink quickly in that sort of situation.

      > How am I supposed to feel if I don’t get the job, knowing these facts?

      Disappointed, angry, unfairly treated, then pick yourself up and move on. If you genuinely think it is a mistake to hire one of the other people, you will hear about it from the industry press etc after not very long and feel vindicated. (And then they might approach you again!)

    2. ferrina*

      I’m with you that this seems like an odd pool of final candidates, but I don’t think that’s a reflection on you at all.

      There’s 3 options:
      1) That these two candidates are young but also extraordinary and have a fantastic track record (unusual, but I’ve met people like this)
      2) That the candidate pool is really small, and this is who came up and the board wanted to interview a certain number of candidates.
      3) That these candidates really do lack experience and the board has no idea what is needed for success.
      Or any combination of these.

      You will probably never know which it is. It’s possible that it could confirm things you already know about the Board-do they seem knowledgeable and functional, or more prone to wishful thinking? I had a boss that was already known as wishy-washy, and when he hired someone completely unqualified as a department head, it just solidified that he was utterly out to lunch. These are things that sometimes you learn in retrospect, and sometimes you just never get to know.

      But no, it’s not a reflection on you in any way. Our brains are primed to seek patterns and try to find out how we fit in these patterns (see: evolutionary psychology), but our brains are also primed to find patterns where there are none. Especially when we have incomplete information.

  65. Experienced Professional Artist*

    I am a professional freelance artist and go to a monthly casual meetup for other artists in the same industry. The meetup is a mix of pros, aspiring artists trying to break in to the industry, and current college students. It’s usually a very positive event for me but this month I had a very frustrating encounter I’d like some feedback on! (And to rant about!)

    This month, a new guy came to the meetup and got to talking to me because I had “professional experience”. I quickly found out that he was an aspiring artist who came to this meetup with his portfolio hoping to talk to a recruiter or someone else with an “in” at a particular famous company in our industry, and was very, VERY frustrated that no one in attendance had a connection with this company. The conversation went sideways from there.

    I really got the sense he did not respect me because I am a woman, younger than him, and my primary freelance client was the “wrong” company. The conversation was very one-sided, where he grilled me on “art industry 101” level knowledge, explained how the industry worked to me, and gave me bad advice. I eventually made an excuse about needing to use the restroom to get away and joined another conversation in a different part of the room.

    I hadn’t experienced that kind of condescending, sexist treatment since I was a college student and was totally unprepared for it. I’m frustrated for not standing up for myself more in the moment because I, not him, was the experienced professional in that conversation!

    For others that have encountered this kind of treatment in your work life, how do you stand up for yourself in a professional way? Especially interested in hearing from other women in currently or formerly male-dominated industries (latter describes mine).

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      I had a man try to lecture me on appropriate footwear.

      1. As most adults I had been succesfully dressing myself for years.
      2. While sometimes the work environment would require say boots or safety shoes, this particular work environment was inside in a gymnasium.

      I just stared at him, said huh when he was finished and walked away.

    2. ferrina*

      “Excuse me, I see someone I need to chat with.”
      This is often said in the middle of their monologue and I walk away immediately, becoming selectively deaf.

      I’m a young-looking woman, and I’ve had my share of people cornering me to lecture me. The best way to win is not to play, and I’ve got better things to do with my time. I’m polite and weaponize obliviousness. It may feel rude, but it’s not- if they’ve already decided to be oblivious to my desire to leave the conversation, I get to be oblivious to their desire to continue (especially when I owe them nothing).

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      What a boor. I think I would have just replied with “oh, ok” to his art-splaining (I am usually happy to stand up for myself but I wouldn’t have bothered with it in that instance because it would be obvious to anyone witnessing it, and anyone having to interact with him, what he’s like). I think you’ll find he will get ejected from that meetup group, or just decide on his own not to bother attending any more as it isn’t the calibre of people he was expecting (oh no, waah!) so it will solve itself.

      In situations where standing up for yourself would be useful though – I just state something like “yes, that is fairly elementary knowledge, I think everyone here knows that”. I would not respond to being “grilled” on (my equivalent of) art 101.