open thread – October 6-7, 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.

{ 941 comments… read them below }

  1. It Depends*

    I am staff at a university (research administrator). Recently the director position for my department came open and I applied. I was rejected in favor of someone who has already been at the director level for many years in another college within the same university. This position is actually a step down for her because she’ll be managing a smaller portfolio. I have no idea why she changed jobs, but here we are.

    Rumor has it that the search committee actually selected me for the job but they were overruled by the dean. I was told the reason I didn’t get the job is because I don’t have as much supervisory experience, which is true. But I’ve been in this college for years, know the work intimately, have built a strong reputation and relationships with other staff and the faculty we serve, have received the highest possible rating on my reviews every year, completed the university’s selective and prestigious leadership program, and just generally fucking deserve it. They fed me some bullshit about how they want to “develop” me and give me people to supervise so I can get experience, but they can’t change my title or salary. Frankly if I’m not getting the title and the pay, I don’t want the work.

    I’m livid, but I can’t leave. I can’t move elsewhere within my current university because we’re in a hiring “chill.” There are no other universities within reasonable commuting distance (which I’m defining as less than an hour each way). I am located in a high cost of living area and can’t move for family reasons. Remote jobs in my field are rare and also pay less because they tend to be located in LCL areas. I can’t afford to take a pay cut since I am the sole provider for my family of four. Also I have great benefits and a pension. My options other than universities are nonprofits or government, and I just can’t find anything appropriate that pays well enough. The point is, I’m stuck here for the foreseeable future.

    So I need to figure out how to work for this person who stole my opportunity when I’m seething with rage and hate toward her and the senior leadership who chose her over me. I am trying to be apathetic instead of angry by disengaging mentally from work, but it’s really hard to do without trashing the reputation I’ve worked so hard to build. Also I am a former gifted child overachiever and I don’t know how not to give my best to the job. It doesn’t help that they keep giving me work the director would normally be doing and I am swamped trying to do it on top of my regular job.

    I know what I should do. I know I should be mature and professional and welcome my new boss and maybe she’ll be good. I know I should continue doing excellent work and maintain my reputation and maybe eventually I’ll be rewarded in some way. But right now I just want to burn it all down. I’m fantasizing about revenge and sabotage. So I guess what I’m asking is:

    Does anyone have any good ideas for revenge and/or sabotage? (lol, kidding but also not)

    How can I detach from work emotionally and basically “quiet quit” (although I hate that term)? Is that even the best thing to do?

    Does maintaining my reputation and being mature and professional matter at this point? If so, how can I do that while also disengaging for the sake of my mental health?

    I’m just reeling and don’t know how to deal with any of this.

    1. Colette*

      So I think you’re framing this in a way that’s hurting you. She didn’t steal your opportunity; she applied for the same job as you and she got it. It wasn’t yours to steal.

      You know what you should do; you should either keep doing a good job (while maintaining more boundaries about what work you should be doing), or find another job or quit. I know you have a lot of excuses/reasons why you can’t, but maybe some can be re-evaluated (another member of the household can get a job, you can downsize your lifestyle, you can find a way to handle your family responsibilities in a lower cost of living location, or you can decide you don’t want to do any of that and make your peace with your job as the way that makes all of that possible.)

      1. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

        “So I think you’re framing this in a way that’s hurting you. She didn’t steal your opportunity; she applied for the same job as you and she got it. It wasn’t yours to steal.”

        Immediately my first thought. Leave that poor woman alone. Secondly, you have zero clue if you were gonna get this job. Part of me thinks you thought you were gonna get it long before this person stepped down and the shock of not getting it is a lot. You only have rumors to go off of that you were first choice — however, you have to be practical. It’s more expensive and time consuming to go with an outside choice, so it’s not like it’s a concerted effort to eff you over. If they wanted the cheapest and most practical option, they would have promoted you. That’s not what they wanted though.

        Being honest, they wanted her experience at a lesser pay more than they wanted to promote you. I’m gonna be real, just from this comment…it might also be that they don’t think you’re ready for the position beyond the supervisory role. I mean, the way this random woman who applied to the same job as you is the enemy is a mentality I am sure seeps into other areas of your interactions. Frankly, I sympathize with you but there’s a low-level entitlement in your comment that’s making me pause. It wasn’t your job to lose – you applied to a job and you didn’t get it. There are letters like this everyday of ‘perfect candidates’ who were rejected at the application phase or even after 7 interviews full of high praise. That’s life when other humans are involved.

        I think you need to step back and really ask yourself what relationships you’ve formed and if you’re not stressed out & feeling generally underappreciated.

        1. Internship Admin*

          To go along with this, maybe the dean saw a stronger priority for someone with supervisory experience at this time. The committee might not necessarily have known that or made decisions with that same lens.

          1. Don't Be Longsuffering*

            I’m guessing the Dean saw the opportunity to have both people, assuming OP wouldn’t leave. And no need to backfill OP’s position. Nothing but net for the dean.
            1. I agree the new boss deserves no animosity.
            2. I know getting a new job seems impossible. I massively sympathize and hope you find something, despite the odds. What about another department at the university? Your department hired someone therefore the chill isn’t a total freeze. Maybe you can get your new boss’s old job, lol.
            3. Set boundaries. Don’t just keep doing more work because it’s piled on. Do what is reasonable. Make the rest of it the new boss’s and the dean’s problem. If the new boss is “better” than you, new boss can handle the job. :)
            4. Don’t for one minute believe the part about developing you. You have developed. You’ve shown your worth. The dean didn’t care about you and won’t start now.

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

          You are right that the OP is going off of rumers. And I’m side eyeing the people who told them that. If the person who said that was not a part of the hiring committee then its just conjecture. If it WAS a person on the hiring committee, that’s a big problem. At my university talking to a candidate about the decision process and saying they were the choice but someone else got hired is a big no-no. You wouldn’t be fired but you would never be trusted with hiring again.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            That bugged me too! Either rumor is making free with third hand “facts,” or somebody was spilling tea they had no right to be pouring in the first place.

            Neither setup does any good to the poster–either they’re wondering who “betrayed” them or they know for sure that somebody “did,” but what good does that do?

          2. eeeek*

            BIG no-no. Anyone saying “the dean overruled the committee” is breaking some rules about the confidentiality of search committee discussions.
            Which would make me wonder why they’re stirring the pot and what they gain by fomenting your unhappiness. I won’t speculate (per site rules) but oh, I do wonder.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I want to second taking a hard look at all the reasons for why you can’t possibly leave.

        Also, good advice in these lines is to view going to the job as a choice you actively made, for solid reasons (like not having enough of a cushion to quit, or needing the health insurance while a medical issue is getting sorted out), rather than a thing that just happened to you and you had no control and now have no choices.

      3. Just plodding along*

        This!
        But I do get how you feel. I missed out on yet another opportunity in my workplace once 2 years ago and I literally spent an entire year angry about it! I didn’t talk to my director for a year! Then I just sort of woke up one day and realised that being angry all the time is just hurting me, noone else.

    2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I’m sorry, that sucks to be passed over that way. I think if this is pretty new, being furious is fine. Write mean things in a journal so hard you dent the page. When you’re ready to be done with that, some ideas that might help are: you honestly have no beef with the person who got the job. She needed that position for reasons of her own, that might be a lot like your reasons. It’s an unfortunate circumstance but not something she did TO you. Also, something I do with disappointing outcomes like this is to remember that life is long (assuming you’re younger than me LOL; this is mostly when we’re worried about our young adult kids). This may be off base depending on the circumstances, but all kinds of things could change: the director could quit, your family reasons could shift, your kids will grow up. SO, yes, you deserve it now but that doesn’t mean it’ll never happen.

      1. Bart*

        Your comment about life being long is so important to remember! I had a similar situation in which I thought I should have received the job over the selected candidate. I was upset and turned that anger into gaining experience so I could get that job somewhere else. Six years later, I was the top choice for the role and have outlasted the last two people in it (and received a huge promotion). Use your anger to improve your resume and then you will have options when the position opens up. I am now using all of the skills I have developed to move on to a different organization. And it all started with losing out on the job I wanted.

    3. Tio*

      This is rough, but you’re definitely directing your anger at the wrong person here. The lady who got the job didn’t steal it from you; possibly the dean did, but anything you could do to him would hurt you more than help.

      All I can recommend is get the anger out elsewhere. Do a rage room, do some axe throwing and imagine your dean’s face in the target, drive into the woods and scream for five minutes straight, go to the gym and take it out on a punching bag. Otherwise, it will seep into your non-work life and poison that as well.

      At work, limit your hours to only what you can give. It’s really hard for the ex-gifted kids like us, I know, but you gotta do it. And yes, you need to maintain your reputation. New leaders come and go, but if you have a fit then you will look bad when a better position opens up and people will talk. If you’re mostly stuck at this university, you will need to reign it in and be professional.

      If you want to explore other options, look around and write up what your goals are to move and what you need. More skills? Different skills? Being published? Attending conferences? Saving up for a down payment so you can physically move to another area? Whatever it is, making a plan can give you a feeling of control.

      It always sucks when you get passed over, especially when you really want it and you feel like you should get it. Sorry.

      1. Tio*

        And when I say possibly the dean did: Not really. He picked what he thought was the better candidate. You admit she has more experience in an area you don’t. I wouldn’t treat him like an enemy who stole something from you, although if you want to vent out your anger in that axe room, his face is definitely a better one to picture than hers. She did not do anything wrong or do anything to you.

        1. Janeric*

          I would take a clear look at your relationship with the person (people) who told you what happened with the hiring committee.

          1. Janeric*

            What I mean is, I concur with the above AND consider why someone shared the “the committee chose YOU” information with you. Is it internal politics? Are they afraid of your reaction? Is it an excuse to pass a lot of their job duties to you? Why did they tell you something confidential that could only make you angry?

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              It really feels like a “with friends like these…” situation from the post. What good did this information do the LW? If anything it puts them in a tougher spot to navigate!

        2. Typing All The Time*

          Same here. It sucks when you don’t get a job you wanted but this woman has nothing to do with it. Don’t act out on your emotions; it will cost. I say this as someone who applied for and got a job that an ex-coworker and bully did. The bully tried to make a stink out of it; it backfired tremendously.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        And yes, you need to maintain your reputation. New leaders come and go, but if you have a fit then you will look bad when a better position opens up and people will talk. If you’re mostly stuck at this university, you will need to reign it in and be professional.

        This.

        As much as it enrages, and feels like “letting them win,” reputation isn’t for when things are going great. Most people can be cordial and professional and liked in those circumstances. Reputation becomes your sword and shield when things are totally against you and it wasn’t even anything that you DID; somebody else got a slice of the limited pie that you really wanted and even needed and it is unfair.

        Believe me, people are going to be watching, people who know what future slots are opening up. They’ll know if you carry on in a dignified manner or not, and how much trouble you make, or become.

        This DOES NOT mean to lay down and be a doormat or passively accept more and more work for no reward–that’s the ex-overachiever student talking, and in academia that’s an even harder voice to outrun than usual–but it does mean to make sur the work you do do is polished, noteworthy, and of value to your employer.

    4. Lilo*

      I mean the first thing you need to do is not direct your anger at her. All she did was apply to a job. She didn’t do anything to you, she didn’t intend a slight at you.

      The other thing you need to do is recognize that you have to redirect your anger because ultimately the only person who’s going to get hurt is you. Job searching? Absolutely. But you said you’re stuck here. But let’s imagine a real possibility that this new person moves on in a year or a other job opens at your organization. If you act angry now, you may sink your chances.

      So as much as it sucks, if this is your reality and you can’t find another place to go now, you need to take that anger and find an outlet that won’t hurt your career. Vent to a trusted friend, go are throwing, aomething. But letting it out at work will just sink you. You’re allowed to appropriately address disappointment and decline to take on additional work for no additional pay. But actual rage and anger will just cause trouble for you.

      1. Cj*

        if venting to a friend, I’m not sure I would even do that to the extent that was done here. even a good friend might think that “she stole my job” comment is out of line, like people do here.

        if the rumors are true, I would understand some anger directed at the dean, but not at the person who got the job.

    5. Sorry I was double muted*

      You’re basing your anger on a rumor. Something you don’t even know is true. The person they hired didn’t steal anything from you. They applied for a job just like any job applicant would. They didn’t do anything to you. You admit you don’t have the supervisory experience they were looking for, and now your choice is to either deal with it like a professional or get a new job. Revenge, sabotage and ‘quiet quitting’ only make you look bad. It won’t change the outcome of the new hire.

    6. Stuart Foote*

      I would be livid at the dean/search committee (which seems to be useless if they are overruled that easily), but the new boss isn’t really the problem. For all you know she’s going through some stuff and needs a smaller purview to keep going. It sucks she stole your opportunity but possibly she’ll be a good person to have in your network might even be able to use her extensive experience to help you someday.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        I’ve been on search committees before in higher ed. They exist to run the process, interview the candidates, and most importantly, *make a recommendation.* They are not the hiring manager (they carry weight, but I’ve seen the decision maker do what s/he wanted no matter what the recommendation was).

        TL;DR: search committees (at least in higher ed) don’t carry the final answer.

        To “It Depends”:
        The advice others have given you is good: be professional, the person didn’t do this to you/someone else got picked instead. You may have other opportunities in the future, but it definitely stings. I have been right there with you when I watch people with way less knowledge, experience, perspective, etc. get picked over me for positions that I could knock out of park (and am actively doing right now).

        Couple of suggestions:
        1. Remember that this may say more about the priorities of the decision-maker (wants a “yes person”, different personality, cheaper hire, whatever)
        2. The department may not actually *know* what they want (ask me about failed searches I’ve seen over the years).
        3. Multiple people can be well-qualified for opportunities, and sometimes it’s a dice-roll.
        4. Vent privately (with people you trust, preferably with people not in the university sphere) and demonstrate equanimity publicly. That’ll serve you well professionally.

        1. Put the Human Back in HR*

          Excellent points, College Career Counselor.

          It Depends: I’m sorry about what you’re going through. I’ve been in human resources for over 30 years and at my current university for over 15 years. I would add to the great comments that it’s likely the members of search committee had to agree to keep what happens in the process confidential. If the member of the search committee is your friend, they may or may not have reported what actually happened. Maybe they didn’t want to hurt your feelings. Who knows.

          I’ve seen many research admin positions turn over in the past few years. Some people moved to other areas of the university. For example, their research admin work included monitoring the budget and they moved to another college to work more closely with budgets. People have left to take jobs that aren’t directly related to what they did for us. Sometimes they moved to pharmaceuticals, healthcare, manufacturing, you name it. Many people have left our university to take remote jobs (research or not) for other universities. Explore your options.

          If you decide to stay, please don’t seek revenge or try to sabotage her. I’ve seen gifted high achievers crash and burn when they don’t get a job that they believed they’d earned and deserved. It’s not pretty. Please don’t let that happen to you.

          1. Lanlan*

            “I’ve seen gifted high achievers crash and burn when they don’t get a job that they believed they’d earned and deserved. It’s not pretty. Please don’t let that happen to you.”

            There but for the grace of God went I, recently. I was so sure I was going to be next in line for my old boss’s job — and then the job got eliminated. I’m still not sure I think it was the right decision (especially since, effectively, it means they refused to give the same fair shot at the position to a woman that a mediocre cishet white man had). But! I have the best bosses in the world, who recognized that it probably seemed unfair to me. We were able to kind of mutually acknowledge the suck for me and still get to “Okay, so what do we all have to do to pull together and make the reorg work?” And my colleagues genuinely value my contributions to our program, such that they view me as a partner in fixing what the last two heads broke.

            When you have to disappoint someone, do it like my people did. With so much love.

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

          yes to all of this. I have been on a few hiring committees before and at my university it is up to the department head to choose. The point of the hiring committee is to get other points of view, especially from other departments that might work with that person. Just like the committee members might not know what the dean’s priories are for the role, the dean might not understand how the role works with other departments and the intricacy of those relationships.

          Also, at least in my university, having a committee allows for checks and balances. We’re a public university so we need to show that someone is not favored because of a relationship or whatnot with a hiring manager. In fact, if you’re on a hiring committee and know the person you need to tell that to the committee, and possibly step away for that interview.

      2. somehow*

        But no one ‘stole’ anything, and the dean preference is just a rumor.

        Unless and until the receipts come in for dean choosing that other candidate over LW, other candidate was deemed the better fit viz. the interview process. I get that it’s frustrating, maddening, etc., but that’s how it goes.

      3. AnotherLibrarian*

        This is really common for higher level positions in higher ed or any faculty hire. It’s often the decision of the director or of the dean of the dept. about how gets hired. Generally, they listen to the hiring committee or the hiring committee makes a recommendation, but in the end, the fine decision is with the dean or director. Because the hiring process is super long and over super convoluted, it makes sense to have a smaller group in charge of all that and then have that group make a recommendation to the powers-that-be who make the final decision.

      4. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

        I wouldn’t encourage LW’s framing of an opportunity being stolen. Assuming they were gonna get the job is the core of their anger and it could have been avoided to this degree had they just been level-headed about it. They assumed they were gonna be promoted and it just wasn’t how that role was gonna be filled.

      5. SofiaDeo*

        Please don’t ever frame things like “she stole your opportunity” when referring to “you didn’t get a particular job”. No one is entitled to anything when it comes to many things in life. People competing with others for jobs aren’t “stealing” from you, it was never yours to begin with. We can earn opportunities, and that’s about it.

        OP, I get the rage and upset. I’ve been fired because the boss wanted to keep the lower-salary person I trained who did maybe 1/2 the work I did. I’ve had bosses not tell me about monies my organization would automatically pay had I knew to simply apply for it, and the boss was the person to inform the staff about these opportunities.

        I’ve even gotten fired for BS then asked to come back within weeks, because no one could do some of the things I did/had my knowledge and the organization was hemorrhaging money daily (software problems on new system I was DA that great grandboss decided to fire me right after go-live for personal ridiculous reasons. The vendor could not even figure out where the problem was).

        I decided to go back, because in the long run it would benefit *me*, and used the next year to search out a better position. I too was raging at the unfairness of it, and you don’t even quite meet that threshold, since you don’t actually *have* the desired or required supervisory experience.

        So try to get the rage out of your system, and be professional at work. You don’t have to go out of your way to help her succeed, but you will be shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t continue to do your usual good work. It’s understandable you won’t be motivated to go “above and beyond”, but keep it together. Take PTO if you can, get a therapist or expand existing sessions until you can simmer down. Just because you got an interview for this job/any job is no guarantee you get it. No one automatically “deserves” a job simply by earning/having enough qualifications to get interviewed. And I echo others, who told you to question the rumor “you were selected but the search committee was overruled.” Because even if it were true, if that kind of dysfunctional politics is going on at the upper levels, you may not want to have been involved in all those behind the scenes politics/machinations that would allow you to successfully keep that position. And if not true, the people who told you are just pot-stirring, trying to upset you.

        Without knowing the other persons reasons for downstepping to take this job, consider if that person is looking to segue into leaving the profession, similar to what I eventually did. That was my first thought as to why someone running a more complex/busy department wants to step down to a smaller one in the same organization. This new highly experienced boss may mentor you into being the next director, (for somewhere else if not here) if this happens to be their first step in moving away from academia/retiring. So try to position yourself to take advantage of this possibility.

      6. I Have RBF*

        Heck, the new person, being an outsider, might be able to mentor you so you can grow into the role after she moves on.

        She’s taking a step back in her level of responsibilities for whatever reason. The fact that she has experience in other organizations, at a higher level, would be a good thing for you to learn from.

        Whether the hiring committee wanted you or not, the Dean made the decision. The whole thing is rumors and gossip anyway.

        I was pulled off a project because I didn’t agree it was doable within the deadline they demanded. They handed it to someone else. At first I was very angry – they decided that I didn’t know what I was talking about. But while I absolutely held it against the decision makers, I couldn’t hold it against the poor victim who they saddled with the work. So I helped him in any way I could. They originally demanded the project be completed in two months. I told them it was impossible, it would take at least six months. Even with my help, the other person, plus his other “expert” mentors, took a year and a half to do it.

        Don’t blame the other victim. Be gracious and professional.

    7. My Brain is Exploding*

      Briefly…remember the new hire didn’t get the job “at” you. So give her a chance, see how she does…she obviously has a lot of clout with the dean, so she may wind up being your biggest ally! Will the extra work you are doing cease when she takes the job? You will probably feel a little better when you aren’t doing that. If you can get her a bit settled in and then take a few days off to reset yourself, that might help, too.

      1. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

        > “she obviously has a lot of clout with the dean”

        No, she doesn’t. I am not sure why folks are feeding into OP’s unjustified anger and operating off rumors as if they’re facts. It’s gonna make OP the topic of a future letter: “My direct report thinks I stole their promotion and it’s making my life miserable.”

        1. My Brain is Exploding*

          OOH, not my intention! I’ll try a better wording. I’m thinking more along the lines that the dean picked her for a reason (therefore, hopefully will listen to her input, hence the “clout”), and she will be in a position between LW and the dean. She may have the ability to assist LW in her career progression.

          1. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

            I see! This makes more sense from a growth perspective. I just hesitate because a relationship with the dean isn’t really what LW wants (nor likely wants going forward…however, you bring up a good point that if they had those strong relationships in place, it might have the scales tipped in their favor.)

    8. T. Wanderer*

      That sucks!! I’m sorry this is happening, it’s deeply frustrating.

      That said. It’s not your new boss’ fault. She didn’t steal your opportunity — she applied for a job. She might even be able to be an ally for you; one thing you’re right about is that what’s going on now clearly isn’t working the way you hoped.

      The biggest problem I see here is that you’re being asked to do director-level work, on top of your own, with no added compensation! When the new director is onboarding and meeting you/setting up that working relationship, why don’t you tell her that?

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        The whole “she got the job but you were SUPPOSED to” brohaha may even be a smoke bomb designed to distract the poster from this real source of upset–it’s one thing if the increased responsibility is designed to train/prepare them for next level jobs, but if it’s simply “do this extra stuff for nothing,” that’s a whole separate problem, no matter who got the job.

    9. Retired MT*

      I have several thoughts on this situation
      Can you schedule some vacation or time away to give you time to work through your feelings?
      Is there anyone you can safely vent to-family, friend or therapist ?
      When they add managerial duties to your workload, ask what tasks you can delay or hand off . When you are given more that you can possibly do, Allison always suggests you simply ask what has most priority( and confirm it in writing!)
      I am so sorry for your situation. I really relate to it from a past experience before I found Ask a Manager.

    10. Anon for this*

      The Expatriates of Higher Education Facebook group could be a good resource. It’s a bit of a downer sometimes, but also a good place to learn about options you might not already know about, feel like there are people out there who get it, and for reality checks on what’s normal and what’s not (and also what falls into the category of “normal but not cool,” like so much in higher ed right now). I don’t think it’s immature at all to say “I don’t have the bandwidth to take on extra tasks without extra compensation.” Some employers don’t handle it well, but a little emotional distance might be not just ok but necessary to allow you to perform at a level you’re comfortable with putting your name on until you can identify your next move.

      And keep looking. I just left campus-based work for a higher ed adjacent nonprofit at a BIG pay increase. From one overachiever to another, the job search was soul crushing, but it eventually paid off. The FB group helped there, too-it was a lot easier not to get discouraged about my 15 rejections from jobs I thought I’d be great for when I saw stats like “143 applications, 7 interviews, one offer.” It’s tough out there right now, it’s not just you.

    11. JelloStapler*

      This seems to be a MO in Higher Ed- make you do the work before you actually get paid and title for it- it is how re-classifications go at my institution and I agree it’s very frustrating! Looking out for buddies and politics are also huge. I’ve been there, still feel this way sometimes due to shenanigans with experience and salary- but I am still trying my best while keeping my eyes open for opportunities that appeal to me.

      Don’t quiet quit. I did it once many years ago in a different job and it bit me in the butt. For now try to see the other side of the coin and learn what you can, whether it’s to stay where you are or gather expertise for a job elsewhere down the line.

      1. JelloStapler*

        And I can say from experience, bitterness and resentment will only hurt YOU. Acknowledge the situation sucks but ruminating and focusing on it long-term will not be beneficial or helpful to you.

      2. Llamas in pajamas*

        This seems to be a MO in Higher Ed- make you do the work before you actually get paid and title for it

        This was explicitly the policy at my private sector job. Not just higher ed does that

    12. FashionablyEvil*

      Ooh, I feel you. Been there, wanted to burn it all down. And I probably lit a few brush fires if I’m being totally honest, but I eventually made it to the other side of my anger and I’m in a much better spot now. You will get through it!

    13. Slinky*

      I’m sorry this happened. It sucks. Is there any chance you can take some time off of work? If you’re seething and fantasizing about revenge and sabotage, you’re not in a good place to be working right now. Yes, maintaining your professional reputation matters at this point. Try not to think about what your administration told you as “a line of bullshit.” Follow up and see what they can do to continue to help you develop.

      As a hiring manager in higher ed, I can tell you from experience that it is a *really* hard sell to hire someone into a supervisory role with no prior supervisory experience. Can you take what they told you at face value? Yes, it sucks that you’re not getting a raise and promotion (you should if you’re starting to manage!) but it is progress in the right direction.

      You didn’t get this job and that stings. I get that. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever move up, but if you do still want to advance, you need to maintain the professional reputation you’ve built over the years. Don’t burn it all down and definitely don’t seek out revenge or sabotage (I know you said you were kidding but followed up with “but also not,” which is concerning). These things will not help you in the long run. Step away for a while. If you can, find someone outside of work to vent to about this (maybe look into your EAP if you have one). I’m sorry you’re going through this.

    14. AnotherOne*

      and I think it’s important to remember that there are reasons that people take what appear to be steps backwards in their careers.

      maybe something going on in their personal lives means they want/need to take on a smaller portfolio. maybe changes in that department resulted in people being hired on that she just didn’t want to/couldn’t deal with.

      but i also think that you should let yourself take a deep breath. allow yourself to acknowledge that it’s okay to be upset. and not shoot yourself in the foot. you want the director level position someday. and that requires showing you can manage people. it’s okay to say that you don’t want to/ can’t take on that task for the someday possible of the promotion and to instead ask for time frame.

      or to ask for a discussion about what it would take for you to be made a senior res. administrator if you aren’t one already. that’s my university dept.’s fav solution to promotion. there isn’t really a next position so they just make them up instead of losing the person. (my supervisor has made up his last 3 positions.)

      1. JelloStapler*

        ^ This. I have considered doing this to have more breathing room and less stress so I can focus on other things in my life.

      2. Rosyglasses*

        Absolutely. I was in a director role and have been considering applying for jobs 1 or 2 steps down because I need a breath and way less stress in my life. Everyone’s reasons are their own, and they are not the villain the OP thinks they are.

    15. ILoveCoffee*

      something similar happened to me when I applied for my FT position the first time. The committee selected me but the chair and assistant dean preferred the other candidate because she already had the online learning training (which I was taking that summer). Honestly, I would have preferred not knowing this. I ended up getting a visiting position instead and then getting hired the next year.

      Remember – it’s not the new director’s fault

      Feel your feelings, complain to people outside of work, and protect your reputation because 1) you need to keep this job at least for now 2) you may need references. BUT feel free to do a little less, keep strong work/life boundaries, and not push yourself so much especially since it sounds like you were going above and beyond anyway

    16. Dr. Doll*

      Sadly, pretty typical of a university. They always like the shiny new stars, as every well-qualified adjunct that has ever been passed over for a tenure line position knows.

      Sounds like you need some therapy and some executive leadership coaching. And a vacation. Because yes, I would say your reputation still matters.

      1. somehow*

        Search committees recommend. They don’t hire. Maybe the rumor is true: the dean selected other candidate over the search committee’s recc., but being a “shiny news star” might or might not have anything to do with that preference.

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If there is any group where you volunteer with, consider getting more involved to ramp up supervisory experience without changing jobs.

      Allow yourself to perform “at standard” at work, and redirect your excess brainpower & energy to a hard to fill role at the hedgehog rescue. Any coordinating, training, supervising, and event management you do there will enhance your resume. And maybe a new focus will help you adjust to your current situation.

      1. GythaOgden*

        This! I don’t have supervisory experience and don’t much want it, but I was able to take over running a stall at a busy local festival so the guy actually in charge could do more holistic things rather than being tied to one place all day. We took about £2000 worth of cash and card payments through our till alone, and I set up an assembly line team so we could get things done more efficiently (raffle tickets are always labour intensive because of writing stuff out) so it was a big responsibility. I came away feeling much more competent in supervising than I’ve ever felt before — still not confident enough that I could get paid for it, but certainly feeling that if I needed to I could use the experience in an interview to show how I could organise administrative duties and do people-stuff better than I’d been able to do before.

    18. Sloanicota*

      Wow, yeah, I get it, but it’s important to remember she didn’t steal anything from you. You both interviewed and you admit she has more supervisory experience. The Dean may have overruled the committee believing that more experience there is really important. You’re understandably taking it to a very personal place, but it’s better *for you* to view this as a business decision. And yes, you can choose to step back a bit at work – not ‘go the extra mile’ for a while until you see something worth working for – or maybe choose to take some leave right now and recoup before having to deal with a new boss.

    19. Throwaway Account*

      I’m going to be brutally honest, if you are reacting this way, you might not be well-suited to managing or have the strong reputation and relationships with others at the uni that you think you have.

      Yes, you might do a great job at your daily work, but this does not mean you will be great at managing your former coworkers or anyone. And your coworkers might all really respect you and the job you do but still think you would not be the best to lead the team.

      I have definitely been in positions where others could have written your exact letter and the rest of us are breathing a sigh of relief because we know the person, while well-liked and good at their job, should not be managing others. We see that here all the time; people who are good at a job who get promoted but are not good at managing others or having a vision for the department.

      At the same time, we all also know that lots of workplaces hire the CEO’s nephew, the person a donor wants them to hire, or just someone with better hair. And that employers will pile extra work on someone who is doing a good job.

      I agree with the others that you might need to rethink how to move on from this workplace. And the fact that they are giving you too much work suggests that you are not great at setting boundaries. Any employer might take advantage of that.

      I know this is hard, any way you look at it. I wish you well!

      1. Celeste*

        I do think it’s important not to overlook the benefit of supervisory experience. Lots of times people move up into management because they were good at their non-management roles, and they find themselves in positions that don’t really suit them. We’ve seen a lot of that in letters here.

    20. Beatrix*

      You’ve received some great advice from the other commenters, so I’ll just comment on your sense of being stuck. Unless you’re in a very specific area of research administration, there are actually tons of remote opportunities available. Like you, I live in a rural area where the local university is the only show in town. That used to keep people trapped, but now we can work pretty much anywhere. In the last three years, I know people at many different levels of research administration who have taken remote jobs at universities like Harvard and Stanford, at hospitals and other research institutions many states away, and I actually recently moved to a leadership position at a university 5 hours away. This is a great moment for remote work in research administration, so definitely explore your options – there may be more than you expect.

      1. A Non E Mouse*

        Echoing this. Nationally, universities are struggling to staff their research administration workforces. There may be many more opportunities than you think, especially if the last time you scanned the environment was pre-pandemic. Also, keep an eye out for grant-funded positions that may be emerging from NSF’s new GRANTED program, which is focused on building the research administration capacity of institutions that have traditionally not been well-resourced in this area.

        1. AnotherOne*

          yeah, there’s increase focus on- well awesome Stanford and Harvard are doing great but how can we make Bumblebee State University the next Harvard.

          and that’s a good thing.

      2. Another research admin*

        Yes, this! There are a LOT of remote positions in research admin, and there is a huge variation in salaries between universities but some pay do pay very well. I’ve worked for multiple R1s, and entertained offers from several others, all of which were fully remote. Universities and other research centers are competing against each other to attract experienced research administrators, so OP would likely have a lot of opportunities.

    21. Goddess47*

      Not anything new, I suspect, but to chime in with the others…

      –take some time off. You can’t care that it’s the busy season. Take a week away and breathe.
      –it’s not the new person’s fault.
      –do some ‘quiet quitting’ until you’ve had time to get to know the new person.
      –ONLY when the new person is there for *at least* two months, if you’re still angry, don’t vent but have an adult talk about your disappointment in not getting her job. If you do that too soon, she may write you off and then you’re on the wrong foot.
      –if you are asked to do projects above your pay grade, ask for that assignment in writing and why you are the best person for that project. You need to document what you are doing so you can then at least ask for a pay raise for the extraordinary work you are doing. You need to position yourself to get a small title change to in turn be able to get a raise. (Higher Education sucks that way!)

      Sorry. Breathe. Good luck!

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

      From my experience working at a university for the last 17 years…she may not have even “applied” for the role. The way it sounds from what you wrote is that the Powers That Be decided to move her to this role, built a farce committee to follow the policy, and then installed her in the role…in that order. It was probably never a real open position, hence never yours…ever…not even a possibility. My last 2 directors were unofficially installed in the jobs before the jobs were even posted to our career board…wait a month…make the announcement! I’ve seen that happen at mid and top levels all too often… old X retires, interim X installed, big committee convened, months of “search”, announce interim X is now permanent.

      Why they would move her to this role is so far unclear but some possibilities:

      …maybe she had a problem managing her previous larger department and this is their way of demoting her to a role she can manage

      … or to get her away from the previous Dean or colleague because of a problem like harassment

      … or her previous department was about to mutiny and this is the university’s way of defusing a vote of no confidence or something.

      …or maybe the department she’s being moved into is a problem child for the college/university and they think she’s going to whip it into shape.

      You’re focusing in on YOU and it doesn’t sound like their decision really has anything to do with you.

      1. somehow*

        Or maybe other candidate applied, interviewed well, and the dean considered her the better candidate despite the search committee’s recommendation for the LW.

        There’s nothing in the letter saying this is a nepo. situation or anything else like it. Listing out “could be this or that” options can’t be helpful.

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

          Not sure if you’ve worked in higher ed, but it almost never works like corporate. It’s a pretty big deal to ignore the search committee — they aren’t comprised of HR people sorting through resumes — they are usually Chairs, Associate Deans and tenured faculty. So for the Dean to simply ignore them, it’s very much more than the candidate applied and interviewed well.

          Doesn’t have to be nepotism to identify an internal candidate that they want to put in the position.

          1. somehow*

            I currently work in higher ed. as a faculty librarian. A such, I was suggesting that an option besides the ones you listed is possible. That’s it; no need to overthink things, as my point was that there isn’t anything in the letter indicating any of your rather cynical possibilities.

            Also, I’m on a search committee currently, and most of us on the committee are untenured/tenure-track, so no, committees, not everyone on a search committee is tenured. Also, I am at a public university, and we have to post positions publicly, even if the reality is that someone already is eyed for a role.

            All in all, I just don’t think it’s helpful to give the LW even more god-awful scenarios to consider as to why LW didn’t get the role, no matter how common they might be.

      1. It Depends*

        Actually yes. However, my lack of supervisory experience would probably disqualify me there as well. Also my incoming boss must have left that college for a reason, so it might not be a good move. And these types of positions usually go to internal candidates; that’s why it’s such a blow that I didn’t get the job I was an internal candidate for. So I might apply, but I’m not banking on anything coming of it.

        1. Pidgeot*

          If she left a larger department for a smaller department, there may be personal reasons at play. As others have said, try not to focus your blame on this person. Once your anger has cooled off, you might be able to reframe it as this person being a resource for you.

          She’ll surely know that you applied, and if she’s a good manager I don’t think it’s wrong to say, “Yes, I was in the running for the job and I was kind of bummed out that I didn’t get it. They cited my lack of supervisory experience – can you help me so that next time one of these positions come up I’ll be able to get it?”

          This assumes that she is a decent manager/human being, of course, but you’ll likely figure that out quickly once she comes aboard.

        2. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

          Do you have any reason to suspect people are working against you? Is it sincerely a lack of supervisory experience?

          I still feel you should apply for her role anyway. If you were a hair away from this position, according to whoever told you this, why not?

    23. RagingADHD*

      You sound like you haven’t given yourself any time at all to process how you feel. You had a big disappointment. It is normal to reel and feel livid. You don’t have to actively manage that right now, just find safe places to express it.

      Three very important life principles:

      1) Do not make any major decisions that would impact your career or your livelihood (or significant relationships) when you are livid. Your thinking is rigid when you’re angry, so you will make bad decisions. You *feel* like you are seeing the situation with great clarity, but in fact you have pinpoint vision and can’t think of creative possibilities.

      2) You aren’t going to feel exactly this same way forever, and you don’t have to commit to a permanent course of action based on how you feel right now.

      3) Your external circumstances are never permanent, so you don’t have to commit to a permanent course of action based on your circumstances right now. Something significant is probably going to change within the next 18-24 months (if not sooner), because that is just how life works.

      So let yourself be upset for a while. Maybe you’re a little checked out for a while. Take some time to just deal with yourself. Yes, be polite and professional at work, but give yourself some slack on being internally engaged until your feelings de-escalate and you can consider the situation in a different light.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        This is such good advice! Strong feelings can feel so permanent and factual in the moment, but they often can and do fade. So absolutely feel your feelings but don’t do anything irreversible while in the throws of things.

    24. Ainsley Hayes*

      That’s a bummer – sorry to hear you were passed over. I was in a similar situation a few months ago where someone came into the organization as a peer and then was asked to take over the department I had been running. Putting aside how poorly it was handled by my boss, it’s worked out extremely well – she and I get along like a house on fire, she is easily the best manager I’ve worked for, and my hard feelings (which definitely still exist!) aren’t directed towards her.

      I wish you a ton of luck. Good attitude counts – hopefully your new director will become your advocate and afford you new opportunities that you find fulfilling.

    25. Generic Name*

      You’ve said you are livid and then listed all the ways in which you are stuck. Have you actually tried applying to jobs? Please pardon me if you’ve been applying for a long time with no luck. I just know personally that I feel more empowered when I’m taking action. “Rage applying” to jobs is very satisfying. :) Maybe you’re right and there are zero remote or local jobs that are right for you, but you won’t know for sure unless you put feelers out.

    26. Lilo*

      I want to add: I think you posted here because you know you’re in a bad place and know deep down anger and revenge at work will be bad and you knew deep down a chorus of us would tell you to act on it. So here’s the chorus. You can do it, you know it’s best for you not to be angry or revengeful. You know you wrote here to hear that. You know what the right call is. Let that voice win, not the angry voice that could hurt you.

    27. It Depends*

      I really appreciate all the comments. I definitely think I need to take some time off. I have a week of annual leave that I will lose if I don’t use it by the end of the year, so I’m going to use it soon. I was thinking of taking off the week my new boss starts (I don’t know her start date yet), but maybe that would look bad?

      I know my incoming boss didn’t really steal my job and she’s probably a fine person. At the same time, I would definitely have gotten the job if she hadn’t applied, so that’s hard for me. Also my previous boss was just the most amazing person ever and I miss her deeply, so that is impacting my feelings.

      The last time they gave me director work that was hard to accommodate on top of my regular job (earlier this week), I tried Allison’s method of asking what I should deprioritize. Unfortunately the answer was that nothing can be deprioritized but maybe one of my coworkers could help. But my coworkers are overloaded as well.

      Anyway, thanks for the reality check I needed. I will work on processing my feelings privately and vent to non-coworkers when needed while maintaining my professionalism at work.

      1. Cookie Monster*

        With all due respect, do you know that for a fact to be true? Because if the dean definitely wanted someone with supervisory experience, if they had no other candidates they might have started a search process to find someone.

      2. Lily Potter*

        “At the same time, I would definitely have gotten the job if she hadn’t applied, so that’s hard for me”

        You don’t know that. It is possible that the Dean would have blocked your promotion even if there hadn’t been another applicant. Don’t project your anger on your boss-to-be.

        I’m going to take you at your word that you are stuck at this institution, although others have noted that there may be options you haven’t found yet. If you’re anywhere near retirement, it might be time to Quiet Quit and just coast. If you’re thinking that you have to work there 10+ years more and/or if your soon to be boss is nearer to retirement age, the picture changes. I think you take on the extra work and become a manager for a small group of people. See how you like it and prove to your Dean that you can do it. Next time the Director position comes up, you’ll have management cred to your name.

      3. Michelle Smith*

        Therapy might also be a viable option. Not because I think there’s something “wrong” with you (I’ve been to therapy for mental illness, but that’s not the *only* reason people go!). But it can be really helpful to have someone help you process your emotions, validating how you feel and supporting you to move forward in a way that’s healthy. It has the bonus of not making you feel like you are frequently complaining to friends or family, which has been an issue for me with friend relationships in the past. (It’s fine to have a couple of venting sessions with your people, but people have their own problems so it can be good to have a sounding board who is paid to be there to do that and has their own therapy support to handle any vicarious pain they experience.)

        1. RagingADHD*

          Talk therapy is like physical therapy. It isn’t just for when you’re “sick,” but also when you’ve had a bad knock or a repetitive stress injury.

          OP has had a bad knock.

      4. Brief anon*

        This comment seems to have been written after some deep breaths and reflection, and I hope it’s a sign that you didn’t mean everything in the first post. I’m an academic and have worked with some truly damaging people who reacted badly when they didn’t get what they thought they deserved, who directed their anger and blame at people who’d never done anything to them, etc. Your first post, with words like “stole my job,” “rage and hate,” “revenge and sabotage,” was genuinely stressful for me to read; my stomach clenched and I felt sick, the way I do when I have to deal with the colleagues I’ve described. If your initial reaction has been at all visible to the people you work with, I hope you’ll take extra care also to make visible that you didn’t mean it and that you’re going to be reasonable and fair. You don’t want to go on feeling the way you described above, of course, and as others pointed out it’s really not in your interests to be hostile to the incoming director, but also it’s just awful for others to have to work in a situation with such resentments and tensions. Nothing good comes of this, not for you or anyone.

      5. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

        You’re still making a lot of assumptions, so maybe you need to hear this: The best person for the job got it. That’s it. I’m sure you were competitive, but there is no evidence of a mass conspiracy against you. However, this line: “Also I am a former gifted child overachiever and I don’t know how not to give my best to the job.” from your original comment feels exactly like the culprit on why you’re so flabbergasted that they picked someone else. You are not a child anymore – no one is going to rain gold stars on your for just getting the right answer. How you carry yourself matters now and your soft skills matter now – your original comment just gave the impression of someone who worked well, but wasn’t fun to work with. Stomping your feet and saying “I deserved it! And they took it away from me!” is less “former gifted overachiever” and more just “child.”

        I echo other people’s recommendation to take some time off, talk about your workload (including giving some of it to your new boss), and generally disconnect from your job for a bit. Therapy might be helpful, too. When you work really hard to be great and do so much without a reward, you get pissed — you have to then ask yourself, am I working hard because I am me or am I working hard because I expect a reward? Answer the question, assess if you’re gonna get a reward (the world isn’t a meritocracy), and then adjust how much mental effort you’re putting into this job.

        1. somehow*

          Love this comment! I just hired a staff person; of the top two candidates, she was the better fit. The second-top candidate was great, but our selection was better.

          I mean – it’s just that straightforward sometimes.

        2. Lily Potter*

          “The best person for the job got it.”

          I would add to the above – you might think of yourself as the best person for the job as you’ve seen it from the outside. There may be parts of this job that the Dean knows and sees, and for some reason they didn’t think you’re the better suited candidate to handle those parts.

          Please let go of the idea that the Dean made a mistake. The Dean has their own reasons for what they did. You presented yourself as a candidate but the Dean had a person who, in their mind, is a better fit. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong and it doesn’t mean that you were “robbed” of something. Something like this can be a disappointment without it being an indictment of anyone.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Ugh, this was something I had to learn in my theater days–I’d give a really good audition, know for sure I could knock that role out of the park…and I wouldn’t get it. It wasn’t because I was terrible, it was because the director wanted what someone else could produce for their version of the play they were directing. It sucked every time, but it wasn’t personal any time.

      6. m2*

        To say you definitely would have gotten the job if she hadn’t applied, might not be true. You don’t know. I just hired a senior role and we had excellent candidates. I would not have hired anyone who had not managed previously, even someone who I worked with/ respected.

        In your original post it says you were rejected, did you get interviewed? How many times? I am not saying this to be cruel and doesn’t mean it is true, but I know some departments who interview internal candidates as a curtesy (which I think is cruel). I won’t do it. We have all been there where we didn’t get a job we wanted or thought we were second choice (or told that) and it is hard. I would take time off, but try not to do it the new Director’s first week unless it just happens to be that way.

        I had someone from a different department apply to mine and they were out before interviews, but went over and spoke with them about it in person. They didn’t have the supervisory experience, but I offered to help them with ideas to move within the organization. I had worked with this person and had been a supervisor on projects, but wasn’t their direct supervisor. They ended up changing departments after a few years.

        This person was bitter about not getting other roles and that bitterness came into their work. You could see and feel it anytime you worked with them and it put people off. I thought they did good work, but once the bitterness and resentment came into it, it was not good for anyone. Don’t be that person, it will ruin your reputation.

      7. StressedButOkay*

        I would encourage you to not take the week off when she first starts – maybe you don’t want to go through the first week ‘meet and greets’ but it’s going to happen eventually. And unless you have a really good reason to be away, it won’t look great to anyone who knows you applied and are struggling with the results.

        Several people have suggested this but I’m going to suggest it too: therapy would be a huge help not just during this initial range of emotions but throughout your tenure working with your new boss.

      8. Hiring Mgr*

        If I were you I would NOT take your boss’s first week off – first of all, if others know you applied and are disappointed it might come across poorly. Second, would you really be able to enjoy and relax that week anyway wondering about the new situation?

        I’ve been in your shoes and the new boss turned out to be a great boss and mentor – and they kind of leaned on me as a second in command which helped set me up for promotions later. So just saying try to have an open mind

      9. Velociraptor Attack*

        She’s going to know you applied, if you take her first week off, it’s not going to look good for you.

        I started a job recently leading a team and I knew two of the current team (half of them) had applied for the position. I’m sure there were some hurt feelings and I had some concerns about that coming in. If either one of them had planned a week of PTO for my first week, it would have been noticed (and not just by me).

        Use that first week to set the tone and show that you’re a good employee who can be counted on.

    28. Another research admin*

      Hello, fellow research admin! I just wanted to say, you may want to spend more time looking into remote positions. I’ve been on the job market recently for fully remote jobs, and in my experience there is a HUGE variation in salaries offered by universities. Some absolutely do pay well for remote employees. It’s such a niche field that direct experience is really, really valuable! Also try looking into hospitals and other non-university research centers , especially if you have NIH or clinical trial experience, as they often pay well too.

    29. vb.*

      This is really hard and I’m sorry you feel stuck and stressed and disappointed. I will say that this sentence from your comment stood out to me like it was surrounded in flashing neon lights: “Also I am a former gifted child overachiever and I don’t know how not to give my best to the job.”

      I highly, highly recommend working on this. It sounds like right now the only two modes you know how to operate in comfortably are “all” and “nothing”, and neither one of those is sustainable. “All” will burn you out if you’re not already there, and “nothing” will get you fired. It’s just a question of when one or the other of those two things will happen, and since you’re stuck in this job for the foreseeable future, you can’t afford either of them.

      I’m making it sound simple and it’s really, really not. Hi, former gifted child overachiever and recovering perfectionist here, I see you and I appreciate you. But, of all the things in your current situation that you feel like you can’t change, I believe this is one you can. I’m not sure what is the best way for you to go about it: doing your own research on burnout, reading AAM posts (thanks Alison!) on how to have good work-life balance, talking to your therapist, talking to your friends. But there are ways to be a good employee without giving everything you have to spare, until there’s nothing left of you. Good luck.

    30. StressedButOkay*

      This really sucks and I’m sorry. I think you need some time and space to re-center yourself – if you can, take some time off and just don’t think about work. When you’re coming back, think on a few things:

      – The person who got the job shouldn’t be the center of your anger – people take ‘step down’ jobs for all sorts of reasons and why isn’t important. She applied and got the job. And it sucks and it hurts that you didn’t get it but other candidates in the interview pool are all trying to do the same thing – get hired/get promoted/get the job.

      – Reflect on the fact that you have an amazing reputation there, even if you didn’t get the job. You do not want to throw that away! You’ve worked hard to get where you are and the last thing you’ll want in six months is to look back and realize you’ve burned all your bridges and goodwill.

      Most of all, be kind with yourself.

    31. Samari*

      Therapy. If you do not already have a therapist, find one. If you do, get yourself to them and ask for support and strategies to help you process, because your current approach is unsustainable and is going to cause you significant harm if you don’t get a handle on it.

      No one stole anything from you. You were not entitled to the job. Your expectations are not their problem. You are listening to rumors and letting them poison your mind. None of this is going to go well.

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

      So as someone who works as university staff I understand where you are coming from. First, you seem to have a lot of negative feelings towards your new boss. I think you would benefit from talking with a therapist or counselor. I bet your university has an Employee assistance program and they offer free counseling. I would certainly check into that. The counselor will be able to help refrain your thoughts and give you an appropriate outlet for your feelings.

      You say: “I need to figure out how to work for this person who stole my opportunity when I’m seething with rage and hate toward her and the senior leadership who chose her over me.” This is very concerning to me because she this person did not steal anything from you. She applied to a position and was hired. Nothing she did was malicious towards you and she didn’t apply to spite you. You need to find an outlet for your anger otherwise it WILL affect your job (been there, done that).

    33. SoftFundedAcademic*

      First, I have an inkling of what you’re feeling. I’m an academic researcher. I applied to be the exec director of my organization after being encouraged to do so, and didn’t even get interviewed. I gave the new person hired a chance — she ended up being fired for performance reasons during her probation period, and I then served as the acting executive director. Once again, I applied for the position and once again, I wasn’t even interviewed, even though I had been doing the job for months. And then, as the search was ongoing, b/c I was also acting executive director and acting director of admin services (and also acting research director), my boss (the director) made me write my own letter of termination, b/c he “couldn’t afford me,” along with whomever would be selected as the new executive director. I managed to survive by landing another open researcher position within the organization. I was inclined to freeze out or otherwise take out my disappointment on the incoming executive director. But, I got some solid professional advice from a senior colleague — which mirrors a lot of what I’ve read in response here. He didn’t steal the job from me. It wasn’t his decision. To punish him for what I perceived as slights from the search committee and hiring official would be manifestly unfair. So, I took a deep, deep breath (and went to some sessions with a faculty-staff assistance counselor) and forced myself to be open to the new executive director. And you know what? He’s the best boss I’ve ever had. He became a relentless advocate for me and a valued mentor. When the research director position became open (as we had received more funding), he championed that I get that position without a formal search. When the director left, and he became director, he made sure that I became the executive director. And, with his departure to other pastures, I’m now the acting director of the organization, likely to become the full director. If I had gone with my gut, hurt, emotional reactions, I would have severely cut myself off at the knees in terms of my professional growth and advancement. I would have also missed out on an enduring friendship with a warm, funny, and kind human being. So, my advice to you is to take a deep breath, maybe access EAP or other services your university provides, and try to keep an open mind. You may be surprised by what follows.

    34. Sharon*

      I’m going to weigh in on this part:
      Also I am a former gifted child overachiever and I don’t know how not to give my best to the job. It doesn’t help that they keep giving me work the director would normally be doing and I am swamped trying to do it on top of my regular job… I know I should continue doing excellent work and maintain my reputation and maybe eventually I’ll be rewarded in some way.

      The work world is really geared toward “average” people. A company decides what they’re able to pay to get certain stuff done, and typically this analysis is based on someone doing “good enough” work. If , long-term, you do more than that without getting a raise or a promotion, the company is getting a bargain and you are just getting more work for the same pay. So look at whether you can rachet your effort down to do a “good enough” job, and also make sure you aren’t taking on jobs the company is paying someone else to do, even if you know how to do it. Practice saying “Check with Jane, she handles X.” And if you really want to do more, look for another position if it’s evident that you’re stagnating in your current job. It’s not necessarily true that more work — > more reward. Sometimes it just leads to more work.

    35. And thanks for the coffee*

      I have not read all the comments. My former name here was Breaking Dishes. After my husband died last November I felt like breaking glass because I was angry at the universe. I got some old dishes and would throw them hard across the garage to deal with some of that anger. Your anger is real-doing something like this or going to a destruction room may help deal with some of the physical issues re: anger without endangering anyone. Others have addressed whether your anger might be toward the wrong target. Breaking Dishes helped me when there was no real target.

    36. Snacattack*

      For what it’s worth, my experience with search committees is that they are largely advisory, and that is made clear upfront. The actual decision lies with the administration, not the committee. My experience with search committees, also, is that they rarely recommend just one candidate, but more typically two or three to the people who are going to make the decision. Sounds like you were the only candidate recommended, which is surprising. Anyway, sorry this happened; could wish for better clarity about the process from the beginning.

    37. Usernames are overrated*

      She didn’t steal your opportunity – it was a job advertised for anyone to apply to.

      And you need to take a hard look at whoever is telling you rumours – sounds like they know how wound up you are. They are having fun winding you up even further and want to enjoy the show they think you will put on when you meet the new hire.

    38. Awkwardnesd*

      The pay, the benefits and the commute are all valid reasons to stay in a job, even if there is stagnation.
      It might be worth to check with yourself if you consider them valid reasons too.

      I do not want to read too much into your letter, but I have the feeling that your career path so far was without major disruptions. Your progressed, the pay increased, and you never needed to think about priorities. Its it really the career- development, proximity to home, financial stability?
      This post which deals with some of these aspects: https://www.askamanager.org/2018/05/what-to-do-if-you-hate-your-job.html

    39. Trippedamean*

      If anyone is still around to answer this, I’d appreciate some honest input.

      A few months ago, my work hired a new employee. We have the exact same job description and responsibilities and I’ve been at the place for 2 years. It’s not an easy job to learn (our on-boarding is terrible) so I’ve been helping him with it as much as possible, like I’ve done for any of my newer colleagues. We have the same degrees except his is a PhD while I have a Master’s and his is in a different field. I also have a bit more experience than him, though not a lot, in the field in general and obviously in our current workplace.

      We recently went on a work trip – his first with this organization. Dealing with him on this trip was challenging to say the least. We’re supposed to write regular, detailed reports on work trips and he asked me to help him with the first one, so I agreed. But when we sat down to work on it, he dismissed everything I told him to do or not do. He turned in a report that I wanted to take my name off of, it was so outside of our normal standards. I’ve since learned that the report has had to go through multiple rounds of edits because he decided that our manager’s edits are just suggestions.

      Besides that, he also acted the whole time like he was in charge. He deemed my parking job of the company vehicle not good enough and reparked it. He insisted on being the one to drive most of the time, even if we’d already agreed I would do some of the driving. He locked the vehicle when he was not that far from it with my lunch inside so that I had to call him back to get it, even though I told him not to lock it yet.

      In general, he has some serious communication and teamwork issues. He’ll frequently pull out his phone in the middle of a training or conversation, or start talking while someone else is. When I speak, he rarely even acknowledges that I’ve said something unless he has something else to say about it too. Our manager is aware of all these issues and is hopefully working on them.

      In the meantime, what is the best way for me to deal with him? On the trip, I generally just rolled with it in the interest of keeping the peace through a short work trip but by the last day, I was speaking very little to continue to keep that peace. I’m sure I’ll have to go on trips with him again in the future (though hopefully not for a while) that I’m hoping won’t be so unpleasant. I’ve already talked to our manager about this trip and she’s going to talk to him about it. Is there anything I can do, now or in the future, to get the point across to him that his behavior sucked?

      1. Trippedamean*

        Ugh, I didn’t know this would post here. I meant it to be it’s own stand-alone post.

  2. LI Community*

    I am incredibly frustrated with a prolific commenter in a private LinkedIn community. She has been retired for more than a decade (mentions it frequently) and yet she is all over every post making long comments with tons of suggestions that are straight-up wrong and completely outdated. This is a tech role, so being outdated means you aren’t getting hired.

    Maybe she’s lonely, maybe she misses the job. Sorry not sorry. She’s telling freshers to do things that are incorrect and leading them astray. One of the least harmful things she did recently: directed a recent grad to a certificate program that is “highly regarded” at Specific University. That program has been defunct for 5+ years. It doesn’t exist.

    Am I out of line to contact the group moderators and ask them to do something about her? Frankly I don’t want to publicly call her out (even politely and with justifiable evidence).

    1. saskia*

      Definitely mention it to the mods. They may feel they can’t do anything about her unless she’s breaking specific rules. But having complaints that she’s undermining the nature of the group may push them to act.

      1. pally*

        Yes! Please reach out!
        People are looking for good advice. Letting her errored comments go uncorrected is a big disservice to anyone who may not have knowledge or experience to know better. You would do a great kindness to make sure the advice given is useful and relevant to those seeking it.

        If the mods don’t see an issue here, then they are stuck in the ‘old times’. They need to understand that yesterday’s knowledge isn’t much help to anyone navigating today’s world (which is just about everyone!).

    2. SereneScientist*

      Thirding reaching out to the mods. She may mean well but she is 100% going to damage someone’s prospects and early career trajectory with bad advice like what you’ve shared and the mods are better positioned to approach her privately.

    3. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Might be worth suggesting rules around advice. Like staying when your last experience with something was (E.g. I took the XYZ course right before COVID and found it really helpful) vs XYZ course is really helpful.

      This applies in many areas. I took a course on data visuals that came highly recommend with a specific instructor… it was terrible! The people who took in 8-10 years ago did not have the phone-it-in version of the instructor I got. so this is generally a good bit of info to have.

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      Such an interesting topic! I see this all of the time on other forums like investment or real estate ones where people are like “I lived through something bad and was fine, therefore don’t plan and ride it out” which is actually pretty bad advice and is basically a lack of planning.

      Not sure mods will help because many don’t realize advice is bad.

      Maybe ocassionally gently comment opposition?

    5. Sloanicota*

      I think it’s fine to very politely contradict someone if you see them making a false claim in a group – it’s not “calling them out” to say, “this program closed several years ago, some more up to date options might be X or Y.” Maybe after a few public corrections she’ll realize she should spend more time elsewhere, or others will start feeling more empowered to chime in, or the mods will have more evidence of what you’re describing.

    6. Throwaway Account*

      Yes, contact the mods. But also, you can “call her out” without calling her out.
      something like – oh wow, that program was good but it has not existed for 5+ years.

      Or for something else, oh, that is so interesting. My experience has been different, more like x. What do others think?

    7. DeathbySnuSnu*

      Sure, why not? I at one point had an employee who was an excellent employee but a very disgruntled individual with regard to a labor union dispute that I’m legally prohibited to participate in, but which the union as having meetings about — she was making the other employees uncomfortable. After she took a deal to stay union but leave our functional unit, I informed one of the other employees that I didn’t have standing but they did to object to her presence there, since the meeting was for union employees in a particular unit to which she no longer belonged. And they had her removed.

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

      Besides talking with the mods, would you feel ok with calling her out in the comments. So when she says that someone should do a certificate at X university you reply “actually Linda, the university ended that program over 5 years ago.” or when you see other comments “That might have been true 10 years ago but now the standard procedure is to Z”.
      Don’t be mean, just matter of fact and call her out.

  3. Anxious Admin*

    TW – Mass shootings

    I’m an office worker at a college and have been in this position for two and a half years. Recently, I’ve been thinking about leaving. I’ve felt like my mental health has not been great because of the environment I’m in. I have anxiety and a vivid imagination that likes to imagine the worst possible scenarios. Working in education in America, I sadly think about school shootings a lot. We have drills for active shooters twice a year, and even though my supervisor allows me to not participate, it is still a big thing that people talk about all week long. And of course, when it happens to other schools, it is a topic of conversation. I realize that I am constantly on guard at work, picturing where I would run or hide in whatever room or hallway I am in. It’s even bled into my dreams far more so than it was before I took this job in education.

    My question is how honest should I be with why I’m leaving. My supervisor knows of my anxiety and dislike of the subject, and has even seen me have a panic attack when the topic just hit too close to home one day. Part of me thinks she would understand, but since I am still the newbie, as the majority of my coworkers have been in education forever, this reason will probably seem dumb to them. Plus, everyone has said that once you get into education, you stay there forever until retirement. So it would be abnormal for me to leave after only 2 1/2 years. It’s definitely not something I would want to bring up in interviews as a reason to leave, I don’t want to address my anxiety about this sadly all present topic in the United States. So how should I address it with my supervisor, my coworkers, and future employers?

    Side note that I did have a counselor/therapist at one point but she retired and I haven’t found anyone since then. I tried through my EAP but it wasn’t helpful and wasn’t able to connect me with anyone.

    1. BellyButton*

      I am sorry. I am so sorry we live in a country where this is a constant threat. I don’t think you have to say anything, you have been there 2.5 yrs, don’t worry about it. If people ask you just say “It is a great opportunity.” If you want to say something to your boss- you can say “I just can’t manage the anxiety and fear I have around an active shooter and feel for my own well being I need to be in a different environment.” But only say that if you feel comfortable, you don’t owe them any reason for leaving. People leave all the time for any number of reasons.

    2. Lurker*

      Hi, I’m a teacher and first of all, it’s not a dumb reason to leave a job. School shootings are terrifying and it messes with my mental health every time we have drills or hear about it happening on the news, so I am right there with you. If you are unhappy for whatever reason you get to leave, and that reason is no one’s business but your own. Second, it’s not true that once you get into education you stay until you retire. I personally plan on it, but I’ve seen plenty of folks come and go after staying for just a few years. It sounds like you are in higher education and not secondary like me, but either way you get to do what is best for you and you do not owe anyone an explanation (or that explanation can be super vague – Alison could probably give you better wording but something like “it just wasn’t a good fit for me right now” should work).

      All that said, keep looking for that therapist – I would not have made it through the past few years of teaching through a pandemic without mine! It might take you a few tries to find someone who you mesh with (I saw three other people before I clicked with my current person), and someone good might be able to help you with the anxiety so you can stay, if you otherwise like the job.

    3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      You don’t have to justify leaving to your supervisor. Find another position and if she (or your co-workers) asks, tell her it suited your needs better. For interviews, figure out what else will be good about working in private industry (or nonprofit if you go that way) and give that as your reason. Or you could say you were looking for a culture change which is sort of the truth, and then have a ready description of what kind of culture you want if they ask the follow up. At that point, you can put it as “what I’m looking for is…” rather than anything the college was particularly missing.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        You don’t have to but in this case they need to! It’s a legitimate complaint. 2X a year seems like too much. This made me think that my sister works in a horrible school district and is constantly dealing with fights and kids going into crime, and she doesn’t even do one of these per year! It’s taking up too much space in the administration’s heads and they need to think about that.

        That being said, the anxiety level here is too high and not a work question but something OP needs help with. Been there done that after a traumatic event that had me on edge for years. You need outside help on that because you’re rational brain might be blaming the anxiety on whatever outside even happens to be occurring that day

        1. AnotherOne*

          yeah, I’m in an admin position at a university for going on 10 yrs (good lord) and my office has never been impacted by an active shooter drill.

          i’m sure they have to do them periodically with the academic departments but as an admin department, I’m not impacted in the least.

          So, Anxious Admin, I think it’s important to know that if you want to stay in academia, there should be options. But also, I agree- this is a totally valid reason to look for another job.

    4. ecnaseener*

      It doesn’t sound like there’s any benefit to telling your supervisor/coworkers this is why you’re leaving. Like, you can if that’s what feels easiest, but if you don’t want to then just say you’ve decided the field isn’t for you. If you thought your supervisor should do something different in the future, that would be a reason to tell her.

      Same for future employers, they’re not going to care why you left academia as long as you can convincingly explain why you want to work in their field.

    5. Astor*

      I’m sorry that you’re having such a hard time finding a counselor/therapist. It’s such a hard thing to do, and it’s harder when you’re already struggling.

      I don’t think you need to explain! I’m also an office worker in a college and while a lot of people are there for the long haul, it’s not surprising when someone leaves to another field or even “just” to be an office worker somewhere else. It’s especially not surprising when you’re new to the field! But it’s not the same as when, for example, a faculty member leaves. If it is surprising, then there’s either something very unusual about your particular office or it’s the attitude of your office. For example, I used to work in an office worker in a college where they talked about how everyone was a long-hauler. The office staff of 30+ people were filled with people who had been there for 10-20+ years, and they talked about that a lot. But what they didn’t talk about was how the 10 lowest paid office positions never had people stay for more than 2 years – which is shorter than average for the institution.

      That environment sounds terrible for you, and you should find a new job that’s not in a college. But you do not have any obligation to mention why you’re searching, and no one would find it weird if you focus on one of the more usually referenced reasons why people leave a job. So those jobs might offer you more money or different skills or whatever resonates with you.

      Good luck!

    6. not nice, don't care*

      Gun violence survivor, also in higher ed. I’ve been pressured over the years to take on public facing roles (academic library circulation desk) and absolutely will not. Thank goodness some higher level turnover has meant decent folks in charge who listen to my needs regarding hypervigilance etc. but I would quit in a heartbeat (while hiring a good attorney) should anyone try to force the issue.

      As for leaving after 2.5 years, my department lost 19 out of 54 people since the pandemic. Some to private sector jobs, some to other universities. It happens, and I think decent folks understand varying levels of comfort with potentially lethal working conditions.

    7. Strict Extension*

      I don’t think this is overly sensitive at all. I also have a lot of anxiety around these trainings/discussions and have the bad dreams. I will note, though, that while a lot of the public discourse is around schools, other workplaces also hold these trainings. I work in a type of school (not a primary education source, but somewhere with lots of kids in classes like a dance studio or YMCA), so it’s not surprising that we had active shooter training, but the one we took was clearly designed for more conventional workplaces. All the example videos were taking place in large corporate offices or warehouses. So if this is important enough to leave your job over, please make sure you are vetting your next landing place rather than just assuming this is something you avoid by getting out of academia.

    8. Nana Mouse*

      A hypothetical for you.

      Let’s assume you were scared of fires. No, not scared – terrified. You spend every waking moment at your job paranoid that a fire could start at any minute, thinking of how you would escape a burning building. Would you quit your job, in this scenario, and try to find an office where there is no chance, not even a 0.00001% one, of a fire happening? Or would you try to find a workplace that explicitly lays out its fire escape plan for employees and regularly tests the building’s sprinklers, where your direct supervisor is understanding of your fear and grants you reasonable accommodations to avoid triggering it?

      The hard truth is, if you’re looking to guarantee you won’t be the victim of gun violence in America, you’re going to need to avoid – among other places – colleges, elementary schools, movie theaters, concerts, nightclubs, subway cars, Lunar New Year festivals, or really… any populated area. Short of becoming a long-haul trucker I don’t see how a career change is going to help you here.

      Your actual issue here seems to be your colleagues’ insistence on bringing up school shootings, which is a manageable issue! Tell your supervisor, “I feel it is unprofessional, or at the very least highly morbid, for Alice and Bob make watercooler conversation about situations of the sort which could cause our deaths.” Some form of cognitive behavioral therapy could also be helpful, too, as could maybe altering your news consumption patterns. But your workplace is probably going to be sympathetic to your concerns – which are highly reasonable! – and I think it’s a bad decision to throw away your job over an issue that, unfortunately, is not specific to this one workplace.

      1. Anxious Admin*

        Of course I am well aware of the violence in the country stemming from more than just schools, but you can’t possibly say that schools aren’t a major source of this particular kind of violence. And yes, I do have a heightened awareness in crowds, movie theaters, large events and other such places. I never experienced the kind of constant anxiety as I do working for a school, even in the place I worked at before this job, which was in a building where there would have been nowhere to run and hide.

        This isn’t just a matter of reframing and I would thank you to not play therapist when I am asking for work advice.

        1. allathian*

          The fact that many people who work as educational admins do so for their entire careers doesn’t mean you have to do the same.

          As an admin I’m sure you have lots of transferable skills that could be used in similar positions in other fields.

          You said that you’ve been allowed to opt out of the active shooter drills at your workplace, and that’s great. If you have a reasonably good relationship with your coworkers, you should be able to ask them not to talk about school shootings in your hearing and to have that request respected.

    9. Oof and Ouch*

      Howdy. I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t work in education in any form, BUT I was involved in a live shooter situation as a young teen, and then again as an adult (yes lightning does in fact strike twice) so golly gee whiz, do I relate to the anxiety. So with that being said I’m not going to mince words here.

      First things first, you need to figure out if your anxiety is purely related to educational settings or not. For me it’s any really crowded spaces where I don’t feel there are appropriate security measures. If it’s truly related to schools I’d say get the hell out and don’t look back, but if it’s anyway predicated in something deeper then that’s something else you need to deal with.

      I have been told my whole life that I would make a great teacher. I said there was no way in hell I would be taking on that job with our country the way it is. It’s one of the many reasons I’m not planning to have kids as well.

      However active shooter drills are not restricted to educational institutions. It’s something that comes up in all kinds of workplaces, my own included. Do I have a mild panic attack every time the subject comes up? Yes. Do I have my own mental way of accounting for what to do in an active shooter situation? You bet your ass I do. There’s going to be a discussion about our plan at my place of employment sometime soon, and my plan is to be as involved as I can stand to be in those discussions because I know at the end of the day my anxiety and the mental anguish/prep I go through thinking about this can be an asset, especially since I grew up doing these drills in school and most of the people I work with didn’t.

      I’ve lived the chaos when there isn’t a plan, so if you like your job otherwise try and reframe it as preparing for a worst case scenario rather than an inevitability.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Yes, I worked for a government agency and my office was in the courthouse. We had mandatory active shooter training every 2 years and mandatory yearly workplace violence trainings.

        I know finding a therapist is difficult sometimes (believe me, I have recent personal experience with the struggle and also gave up looking for the time being). But finding some way to cope with the anxiety is going to serve you best in the long run, if you can. These things absolutely can and do come up in other workplaces, so even if you change fields to work at a place that isn’t regularly in the news for gun violence, it’s still a good idea to be proactive about finding a way to cope.

        I am really, really sorry. This shouldn’t be happening to you. I hope it’s clear that I am not in ANY WAY trying to minimize your anxiety because I really do get it.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Same with me and fire. I work for the health service, and the number one cause of fire in hospitals or clinics is a diversionary fire — arson — designed to occupy most of the staff or clear a building so someone can have access to controlled drugs.

          I grew up in the 80s when commercial transport and industrial capacity was being rapidly outgrown by demand and public usage, and so there were a lot of accidents where systems and regulations that had been ‘good enough’ in the previous decades suddenly weren’t. The constant images of planes or trains on fire in ditches right near where we travelled had a really huge impact on my psyche, particularly because I’m autistic and have GAD. Gun violence is out of control, but it’s not the only sort of thing that people in workplaces have to prepare for with safety drills.

          Drills are designed to give you the tools to handle the situation a bit better. No, it’s not going to be nice to see my workplace burning and potentially taking personal property with it. There was a fire at a local maternity hospital a few streets away from where I work now in the 1950s, which thankfully didn’t take any young lives or mothers but more out of luck than design. We’ve evolved procedures to mitigate human loss in a lot of situations, even if property and vehicles get written off.

          Empowering yourself to take control doesn’t mean you’re not still scared or traumatised by a situation when it happens. I totally get the anguish and fear over shootings of any kind and that they are more likely than an air crash or hospital fire. But it may help to have the training and seek therapy — because anywhere you work will have threats associated with it and the object of therapy is to learn how to deal with those threats and prepare for situations as they might arise anywhere.

    10. nopetopus*

      Not paranoid or oversensitive to consider whether your workplace is safe physically AND psychologically for you. I just turned down a position in K-12 (not a teacher but related service provider) in part because of school shootings and how much more student-initiated violence is happening in K-12 recently. I already have enough trauma, I don’t need to add any more.

      I second continuing to look for a therapist, but if you know in your bones that you will never be able to make peace with the violence that sometimes happens in a work setting then you shouldn’t subject yourself to it any longer.

    11. Spearmint*

      I’m very sympathetic to how you feel as someone who has dealt with anxiety in the past, and I highly recommend therapy. Because honestly, I don’t think what you’re feeling is rational. School shootings get a lot for press coverage because they’re shocking, but I’m not sure mass shootings are more likely to occur at a school than anywhere else. And honestly, your odds of dying in a mass shooting are far lower than your odds of dying in other ways, such as a car accident. Are you deathly afraid of cars?

      1. epizeugma*

        “That’s not a rational fear because statistically it is less likely than other occurrences” is not a helpful framing for someone who is afraid of interpersonal violence.

        I’m a member of a minority that has been subject to an exponentially increasing number of hate crime attacks in the past several years. I am vastly more likely to die in a car accident than in a hate crime attack but that doesn’t mean it’s irrational for me to fear hate-based violence and make choices that minimize my potential exposure to that violence whenever possible.

    12. Ellis Bell*

      I agree with you that shooter drills are terrifying, and I doubt anyone will find it stupid, so please don’t dismiss or diminish your feelings on this. Even though I have no plans to leave education, and the number of school shootings in the UK is exactly one incident, it’s still a thing I’m very much aware of. When we have lockdown drills I am very aware that most members of staff will stay put in classrooms and lock their door, but I am usually out and about on corridors or between buildings, because of my role involves visiting a lot of classrooms. I have definitely pictured where I could hide if the drill were for real etc, please don’t feel alone or unusual in that.

    13. AnotherLibrarian*

      I have worked in higher ed for most of my life. I had been through one active shooter drill and still think it was poorly done. Two a year sounds ridiculous to me. I don’t think you need to address this with. your coworkers at all. As for new employers, just tell them you wanted a change or that higher ed wasn’t for you. It is not for everyone.

      Having said that, I also have an anxiety disorder and I maybe projecting, but it seems like. your reaction to all this is pretty heightened. As others have observed, mass shootings can happen anywhere. Leaving a job, because you’re working to get away from your anxiety symptoms strikes me as though your anxiety maybe having a pretty intense impact on your day to day life. So, I guess this is a long winded way of saying- I would really really seek out some more therapy or treatment. This seems to be impacting you a lot.

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

        Yeah, 2 drills a year is very problematic. There are organizations that say that these drills are not effective. I wish I could find the original article I read but it showed how these drills are not helpful and that the companies who develop these drills and sell them to schools and workplaces are just capitalizing on the fear.

    14. anywhere but here*

      I wonder if the environment around the risk of a shooting is causing more trouble for you than the actual risk. Would you be more comfortable in the role if you didn’t have to do twice yearly drills and work with people who constantly brought up the possibility of a shooting? Only you know the answer to that question, but it’s worth considering, especially since, as another commenter pointed out, the risk of a shooting doesn’t only exist within education.

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

      as someone who also works as an office worker in a university, I think about this a lot. I’ve always been one who overthinks about situations and would think “What would I do if X happened”.

      Ironically just a few minutes ago there was a loud bang in the stair well and that’s where my mind went!

  4. hypoglycemic rage*

    hi! i quit my job on monday!

    thanks to yall and your help last week, i realized that i cannot stay but also that leaving on my own terms might help my mental health. my dread and anxiety have almost completely gone down, who knew?? i am sad that this is how my first full-time job is ending, especially bc i don’t have anything lined up, but i am gonna go hard in the exit interview. even if nobody reads it other than hr, i don’t care.

    i am lucky enough that i have savings so i can take some time before applying full-time. i’ll be looking into hiring agencies (i emailed a few last week but haven’t heard back, is this normal?) and temp jobs as well as the usual indeed and linkedin. if anyone has any jobs recs that are repetitive and low-stress, lemme know. i have some ideas of what to search for, but i will take any help i can get!

    also – i did attempt to negotiate unemployment, but both my team lead and hr said that it’s not up to the company, but the state (of illinois)? the only advice i got was to do my research before applying for unemployment, to make sure i put the right code in. is there one i can put for “resignation in lieu of termination”? (serious question.)

    thank you to everyone for your help and support last week – i realized i have more options than i thought, and hopefully i won’t be “funemployed” for too long.

    1. Jadzia Snax*

      Congratulations!! I have done that before and it’s scary as hell, but worth it in the long run. Good luck navigating unemployment – no advice there, unfortunately, but I hope it works out.

    2. Tio*

      I’m in Illinois. I don’t know a specific code for resignation in lieu of termination; they have pretty specific standards of what can get unemployment and what can’t though. The unemployment site should list them out very specifically, and I would urge you to start that process asap to see if you qualify, as it can take a bit for the unemployment to go through the process sometimes if you qualify.

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        Seconding the get started ASAP–in NY state it takes at least 2 weeks to get the ball rolling–and then (back when i did it pre-COVID) you had to have a log of the jobs you applied for each week in order to get the $$. And you had to apply every week or lose your standing.

        So start now by reviewing the rules for you state and filing ASAP.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          This can be your first “new day” project!

          Don’t let any thoughts about “deserving” benefits try to mess with you. This is money you earned, 100%.

      2. DJ Abbott*

        I’m in Illinois. The times I’ve been on unemployment, you had to certify every second week to keep your benefit going.
        They have criteria about when and how they will pay, according to how you left your job. I always heard there was a waiting period if a person quit, but I don’t know the details.

    3. Funemployment*

      My understanding is that you are not eligible for UI if you leave a job of your own volition or are terminated for cause. Your employer does have the right to contest your eligibility when the state contacts them, which they will probably do because having former employees on UI increases the amount the employer has to pay in.

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        sincere question: should i even bother applying if i am not eligible? like normally i’d be like “well there’s no harm in trying” but maybe that’s different here if they have super specific requirements?

        1. ferrina*

          If they mis-process it and give you money that you weren’t actually qualified for, you’d likely need to pay that back. So definitely make sure you have your ducks in a row before applying. Do they have someone that you can call with questions?

          1. Tio*

            Ferrina’s point is true. And I have had reports that quit apply because the verification checks have come through me. Most likely they will just deny you, but be sure that you can handle it if they give you money and you have to pay it back.

        2. Funemployment*

          Like you said, there’s no harm in trying. If your job duties changed dramatically and you had documentation to that effect, that could potentially be an avenue, but don’t get your hopes up.

        3. WellRed*

          Yes you should apply. Just be honest. They will either approve or not. And honestly, your company’s “be sure to put in the right code” sounds like they wanted to dissuade you. You may not qualify, of course. Congratulations on quitting.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            They were. Unemployment’s rigged to make applicants feel unworthy and intimidated so they’ll go away and not claim a benefit they earned.

    4. SomeWords*

      Please don’t feel bad about how you left your job. You left because that’s what was needed to take care of yourself. How many of us sit in miserable situations far too long (guilty) coming up with reasons we can’t leave?

      Good luck to you.

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        honestly this pip process DID force me to make a decision – i would have stayed for a lot longer than i should have if it didn’t happen.

    5. ferrina*

      Congratulations! That’s amazing that your mental health (dread and anxiety) went down almost immediately!

      While you have the bandwidth, see if you can write down anything that was off about this job. These things tend to follow you if you aren’t careful- actively identifying them now can help you recognize if you start reacting them in the future (for example, if you get really stressed when your new boss schedules a meeting with you).

      I’ve been following your weekly updates. You’ve come really far, and learned so much! You’ve got this!

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        :’) thank you so much for the comment, this is so kind! i’m really glad my mental health almost immediately improved – i knew it wasn’t great, but i didn’t realize how not-great it was, you know?

        i do have anxiety whenever i see a new teams message, because that’ll remind me of when my trainer told me she had something i needed to fix…. :( but i do plan on asking future interviewers how they handle things like training – i was pretty desperate when i took this job. but had i known what the training process was like, it would have raised eyebrows, and now i can afford to be slightly picky if it sounds like it’ll happen again.

    6. HR Exec Popping In*

      Your employer is correct – the state determine eligibility for unemployment. Now, if the state grants unemployment benefits, the employer can contest the ruling but often most larger companies do not bother doing this and assume it is just the cost of doing business. Smaller companies tend to know the specifics of each separation and it is more worth their effort to challenge the state’s ruling. For what it is worth, generally a simple resignation would make you ineligible for unemployment. You need to have a reason that you had to resign – essentially constructive discharge which means the reason you quit was because of your employer. Google will be your friend here to find language of examples of how to qualify for unemployment in your state with a resignation.

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        in my exit paperwork, they said i am eligible for unemployment. now, it’s possible that that’s something they tell everyone, but i am going to think i at least have a shot. i also do work for a pretty big company, so hopefully they won’t contest it. if they do, that’s okay. i kind of went into my quitting thinking i wouldn’t get unemployment. thank you! :)

    7. Cookie Monster*

      Congrats! As far as this: “repetitive and low-stress” jobs, look into administrative assistant work. The repetitive and low-stress part can vary depending on industry and office, but I’m an admin at an ad agency (ugh, trying saying that 3 times fast) and it’s a fairly low-key, creative atmosphere. It’s pretty low-demanding and I always leave work right at 5pm (and WFH on Mondays and Fridays).

      Caveat: This is not the same for executive assistant roles. Those are a whole different ballgame and usually more demanding/stressful.

      1. Lucy P*

        Please know that it really will vary by industry and company. My work can be repetitive, but there’s also a lot of special projects.

        In a normal week the hours are not bad, but it’s not unusual for the admins to put in 4-5 hours of OT/week in the busiest times. All in all, it’s still not bad compared to other admins I’ve spoken to.

      2. Art Soplo*

        “As far as this: “repetitive and low-stress” jobs, look into administrative assistant work”

        This is very dependent on industry, company, and even teams within a company. My admin assistant experience is all within higher education and they are wildly different experiences. My current role is crazy stressful, which is why I’m looking to leave (and the pay is not enough to offset the stress). If your mental health was being tanked by the job you just left, a stressful admin job is not going to help, unfortunately.

    8. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Two pieces of advice.
      -CALL the temp agency. I heard the same piece of advice on here and thought it was out of date. Surely they check the online applications? I heard nothing back from several temp places over several months. So I finally tried calling. Started a new temp-to-hire job within 2 weeks.

      -When you are thinking about temporary jobs, consider manufacturing. It won’t add much in the way of transferable skills and you’ll probably come home tired and dirty. But if you want low stress and repetitive, with no customer contact and decent pay and benefits, it’s perfect. My brother got a polishing job with no experience, grinding welds down smooth. And I’ve worked in food prep, portioning out food for one of the food box companies.

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        thank you for both of the tips! :D

        ugh i hate talking to people. about things. ;) you’re right though in that i should give them a call.

        1. Lily Potter*

          You need to get over that, pronto. I’m in my 50s and I would say that the #1 job failing amongst younger generations is that no one knows how to pick up the phone and TALK to people anymore. Oh the number of problems my colleagues could have averted with a simple phone call! But instead they email, write, text, gossip, speculate, send smoke signals, and who knows what else in an effort to avoid talking on the phone for three minutes!

    9. JM in LA*

      I’m glad that you’ve come to a decision that’s right for you. I hope that you get rest and a reset that helps you find something that’s right for you.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      Good for you!

      Leaving can be strategic, and that’s what this is. You did your best, and they were damn lucky to have you. That they refused to see it is their problem.

  5. New Mom*

    I want to check if I’ve been using this phrase correctly/incorrectly. During my busy period I get so many emails that I have come across emails that needed my response but due to the high volume of emails I lost track of it.
    In my response I said “I’m sorry for my delay this got buried in my email” and two times now people have interpreted it as me saying I never received it (even though I’m replying to the message).
    Am I using this phrase incorrectly? Is there a better one you like?

    1. Stuart Foote*

      I have seen tons of people use “buried in my email” the exact way you are and no one has ever been confused by it to my knowledge. I think the folks who misinterpreted it are in the minority.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I think of it as ‘ he got the email but he also got 5 million others and in the email clutter he didn’t see it’

    2. The Dude Abides*

      IMO, buried is meant as “I had a large volume of emails alongside this one.” If I didn’t get it, I’d come out and say “I never got it.”

    3. Llama Wrangler*

      I would not interpret “this got buried” to mean you never received it, I think about it the way you meant it (it got pushed to the bottom and I you didn’t see it.)

    4. Not a Real Giraffe*

      You’re using it correctly! But it’s also fluff; it’s an explanation that provides… no explanation. Just leave it as “I’m sorry for my delay in responding. [Response.]”

      1. Area Woman*

        If it is not really urgent to respond, you can also say “thanks for your patience” instead of sorry.

          1. Celeste*

            I would add – “unless you did something to apologize for.” People say that you shouldn’t apologize for things like being late and inconveniencing people, and I really disagree with that.

            In the OP’s case I agree though – sounds like there’s just not enough time in the workday to get to every email.

        1. HR Exec Popping In*

          Yes, don’t apologize unless you feel you need to be apologetic – you did something wrong. Simply thank them for their patience and you can add that the delay is due to a volume of requests.

          1. New Mom*

            Thank you. I need to be better at that. I DO feel guilty when I don’t respond to people because our work involves a vulnerable population. I used to have an auto-response during my busy period that let people know it would take at least a week to respond during busy periods but leadership banned that practice while doing nothing to ease our workload.

    5. Gondorff*

      I use this phrase all the time for very similar reasons. I’ve never had anyone misinterpret it that way (especially as you’re replying to the message? Utterly bizarre). I wouldn’t worry about it unless it starts becoming extremely widespread. If you’re concerned, my advice would be to simply apologize for the delay and move on. No need to give an excuse, especially if your busy period is well known/cyclical in nature.

    6. asdf*

      Is it possible people think you meant it got sent to your Junk mail? i.e. you didn’t ‘receive’ it to your inbox but could still reply to it once you found it?
      If so, ‘buried in my inbox’ might clarify it.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The part that I’d being misinterpreted may be “received”. It did get to your account after all — but they may equate “received” with “read.”

      I agree with those saying a rephrase might help — but I wouldn’t feel obligated unless it’s a boss or big client.

      My go-to is “mixed into a surge of automated notifications and corporate emails. “

    8. thelettermegan*

      I think this is a good case for less history, more mystery! Just quickly note that you were delayed in your response and apologies/appreciations for patience. The more time spent trying to troubleshoot/explain the delay is more time delaying the response, and takes focus away from the actual problem that you’re trying to solve.

      If you set that tone from the beginning, they won’t feel the need to try to solve any future delays.

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

      I prefer solution emails rather than apology emails in business. A new way to respond might be to include a different way to reach you or when they should expect a response — “please use Slack/Teams for urgent questions”… “please call if you haven’t received a response in X number of hours or send a follow up email”… “Due to the high volume of emails at this time, please expect a response within 48 hours,” whatever it is that might be a solution.

      Side note: I used to work with a woman who was easily…fooled. A person could respond TO HER EMAIL with “I’m sorry, I didn’t receive your email,” and she would believe that. So there are those out there — sweet lady, bless her heart. Your current response isn’t unclear.

    10. Ellis Bell*

      Your phrase isn’t incorrect, it’s other people who are misreading; “buried” means it’s there somewhere and even if they’re assuming it’s in junk/spam, well you didn’t say that! I think a more explicit way of saying this which removes room for incorrect interpretation is “I’m sorry about the delay; during my busy period recently, I had such a backlog of emails to read, that I overlooked it”

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

      Nope you are using it correctly. I think those people are just misunderstanding.

    12. Ranon*

      I’ve started using the phrase “email archaeology” with folks I have a more casual relationship with, if you want options. But I definitely use “lost in my email” the same way you do!

  6. Miss Fisher*

    How do you concentrate in an open office? I work in an already crammed to capacity cubicle farm. We just got an email detailing a new floor plan upgrade notice to match other buildings at our company. These are just open long tables with monitors, no phones etc. I already have a hard enough time concentrating since several other departments surrounding us are on calls all day. I don’t like wearing headphones or earbuds at all so I am not looking forward to this change.

    1. Exhausted Electricity*

      Oh no I hate open concept.
      I personally have a lil tiny usb powered fan for extra white noise, but I have the unfortunate position of being directly under the world’s loudest white noise machine and I can STILL hear people.

      I’m also desperately submitting ideas for noise dampening sound panels but I’ve been told no already. Can you check out what their plan is for noise mitigation?

      1. Miss Fisher*

        They do pump in white noise. Some days, it is louder than other days, but it doesnt really seem to block out people on calls who only have to speak louder when the white noise is louder.

      2. Miss Fisher*

        We are having a site wide meeting next week for the unveiling of the sample office, so we will see who brings it up.

        The bad thing is, along with people in meetings on zoom, one of the CS call centers is also on our floor. They have so many signs posted about taking phone calls in other areas but that doesnt help for the business calls etc.

        1. Sparkle Llama*

          I feel like it would be reasonable to ask for the call center to be partitioned off and add some extra noise dampening (soft surfaces on walls etc). It seems crazy to have a call center in the same open office as non call center.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I feel you on the headphone/earbud thing. I hate having stuff jammed on or over my ears. And I wear glasses for long-distance but not for monitors or reading, so I’d be taking them on and off a couple times an hour, and thus dealing with adjusting my ear stuff all the time.

      Have you considered getting a small white noise machine that you can place on your desk? I’ve used one at home to help me with sleeping when I had neighbors who were noisy late into the evening.

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      I’m sorry your work layout is changing.

      I used to balk at headphones too. For myself, I use headphones combined with Brown noise (as opposed to white noise). For whatever reason, my brain grooves on that frequency better and I’m able to get a lot more work done.

    4. Cat Wrangler 3000*

      One thing that helped me was coming in earlier than most of the other staff. I hate it as I am not a morning person but I was definitely more productive between then and lunch time. After lunch, just depended on the flow of the office.

    5. cactus lady*

      Alison did a post on this once and a lot of folks recommended noise cancelling headphones with ambient noise playing. I know you said you don’t like headphones but i’d encourage you not to discount them completely, it might help for part of the day at least? Youtube has a ton of videos, also purrli that cat purr generator (thanks to whoever posted about it!). I switched between rainstorm sounds and cat purrs when i worked in an open office, and i did it for a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours in the afternoon, not all day. Might be worth a try?

      1. Llama Llama*

        I agree with this. Think about what is worse annoying head phones or annoying noise.

        I who dislike things on my ears put on headphones to stop all the noise sometimes (I work from home so it’s normally not an issue but sometimes my kids are home too and have screech offs).

        1. I Have RBF*

          For me it wasn’t “annoying” headphones, it was headphones actually causing ear infections, plus pain from the pressure on my ears. I actually tried multiple types and sizes of headphones, too (like more than six different sets.) I would have loved for it to just be “annoying.” I now work remotely.

          1. Brain Flogged*

            I use bone conduction headphones, wich stays out of my ear, and don’t completely block the surrounding sounds, if anyone starts talking to me.

    6. JM in LA*

      I’m not sure this will help, BUT as a customer, more and more call centers are so loud that I can’t hear the actual person I’m speaking with. Combing call center noise and office noise – seriously?

      In the alternative, do they have some kind of quiet room for thoughtful concentrated work? I feel like no one who plans an office has ever read the book Quiet.

      1. I Have RBF*

        It’s all about money and control. If it was only about money, they’d close the office and go full remote.

        Open plan benching is pretty much the cheapest way to seat employees while still forcing them to come in to the office all the time. Yes, hybrid with hoteling in a benching environment is a little cheaper than that, but full remote is actually the cheapest, but doesn’t let management have their control and worker bee “culture”.

        Somewhere I saw an short analysis on relative costs in terms of commercial real estate spending versus productivity on various types of seating arrangements. It was pre-pandemic, so it didn’t have a WFH category. It was based on a high cost area, IIRC, and aimed toward tech work. I wish I could find it again.

      2. Endorable*

        I’m convinced that the loud call centers are overseas and using cheap equipment :(. Years ago.. like 30 or so.. I worked in a call center that had VERY high quality headsets, worth several hundred at the time, and no one ever complained about our sound quality. Now I’m constantly saying things like.. can you make sure your mic is closer to your mouth. Darn.. maybe they’re even using crappy headsets with mics in the cord!

    7. Distractable Golem*

      Privacy boards help a lot! They are folding cardboard or plastic partitions that cost a few dollars. Often sold as a classroom set, so maybe they’d spring for a pack of 20…

  7. Frickityfrack*

    I have an interview with my current boss/coworkers later today for what would be sort of a promotion? Not a direct step up but a higher level position in our department with about a 30% raise. I was feeling pretty positive about my chances, but they started interviews yesterday in a conference room adjacent to our office and they talked to the last candidate for about an hour and a half (maybe longer, I actually left for the day before they finished) when they only scheduled 45 minutes, so now I’m not feeling so good.

    Anyway, this would be the third time in my career that I’ve applied for a higher level job at a current employer and been turned down. If I were getting bad reviews, I’d understand it, but I get good feedback, I take on extra projects happily and successfully, and in 2 of the 3 cases (including my current job), my bosses have been happy to have me do a lot of pieces of the other job, just not to actually give me the title and pay, I guess.

    I know I shouldn’t count my chickens before they hatch and I’m going to try my best to make the case for why they should hire me, but I’m struggling to shake off my self-doubt. Anyone have any good strategies for getting out of your own head before an interview, especially the kind where you don’t feel amazing about your chances?

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I’ve been in an interview that ran a full hour over, but that wasn’t because they really wanted to dig into my background; one of the interviewers was just really bad at getting to the point and/or in love with their own voice.

      Would it help to accept that you probably aren’t going to get the position, then be pleasantly surprised if you do get it? Or maybe look into other job openings, so you’ll have a plan if you decide to leave after being turned down?

      1. Tio*

        At this point, if they didn’t get the job I would just skip straight to looking, unless they’re really enjoying this particular job. Three times is starting to show a pattern of not being promoted, and looking can’t hurt.

        1. The 8th World Wonder*

          I think they meant three times in their career, not at this particular employer but please correct me if I am wrong!

          1. Frickityfrack*

            Oh I did. It was three different employers over about 15 years. Not that I’ve been rejected for the third time yet. Just…if it happens.

            1. Tio*

              Ok, if it was 3 different employers that’s different. A lot of employers will bring in outside people or at least post to test the market for positions like that, and often find someone else. You can talk to your manager or someone on the hiring team for feedback, it should be easier to get since you’re internal.

        2. Fri-Pay-Day!*

          Also keep in mind that it could be that the interviewee is long winded. We’ve had many situations where an interview went long simply because the person couldn’t keep their answers short and to the point.

          They did not get hired.

      2. Frickityfrack*

        I’ve interviewed with them before (as another interviewer), so I know that they would only bother going over the time if they really like someone. We ran over a couple of times when we hired our last person, and those were ultimately the people we offered the job to.

        I think I’m going to have to look at it that way (not getting it, if I do, awesome!) for my own sake. I have been looking casually at other jobs, which sucks because I really don’t want to leave, but I found out recently that my living situation will likely change in the next year or two, and I don’t make enough at my current job to get by if/when it does. This is no longer just a promotion I’d like to have, it’s one I need if I’m going to be able to stay at this employer. If I don’t get it, it means I need to start looking more seriously, unfortunately.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I’m sorry. Job-searching really sucks, but it’s a better use of your energy than trying to read the tea-leaves about whether you’re going to get the promotion. Good luck landing something even better than the promotion!

        2. Alternative Person*

          I hear you, it’s absolutely brutal.

          I’ve lost out the past couple of times a promotion chance has come up and combined with no COLA increases for years, I and quite a few people at my job are looking at the numbers and looking at what’s out there. It’s sucks but we’ve all got to put ourselves first sometimes.

    2. The 8th World Wonder*

      you have a home field advantage here!

      I have seen it where happen where the hiring managers picked an outsider over someone internal. Sometimes, it made sense and sometimes they shot themselves in the foot. It’s happened to you before and you are still here putting yourself out there. That is really important so remind yourself. It’s not the end of the world and if they don’t appreciate you, someone else out there will!

    3. Michelle Smith*

      While it may feel different in your brain, a lot of the excitement response and the nervous/anxious response actually do the same thing to us physically (at least, according to my career coach who did not have a background in science lol). So it can help to try and reframe any weird feelings in the pit of your stomach as just caring a lot about and being excited for the opportunity.

      Other things she recommended that helped me to varying degrees: putting up positive self-messages on sticky notes in front of my computer (at home), doing power poses before the interview and saying out loud nice things about myself and my abilities, working through my self-esteem issues and negative comparisons to others as a result of constant rejections with a licensed therapist, and reducing my use of stimulants (soda, energy drinks, etc.) on the day of the interview. I also don’t know how this would work since you’re interviewing internally and I wasn’t, but I always took off the day of my interviews whenever possible – and when it wasn’t I’d at least take off half a day. Self-care AFTER an interview is really important to, so I’d make sure I had time to watch a movie, eat some junk, etc. and really just decompress and let go. I don’t know if it helped or not to have that to look forward to but I needed *something* to help me from descending into darkness.

  8. FunWithMetaphors*

    I often think about how I’d write a question to Alison whether I submit it or not and like to amuse myself trying to sub in a different industry for my own. Does anyone have ideas for fake job descriptions that can mix up the teapot making and llama grooming? What other products and services can we think of?

    I’ll start: what about shampoo making? Work groups could be about the formula, new business lines for specific hair types, different scents, and so on. I can practically see the in-fighting between the lab techs and the marketing department now!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I will take this opportunity to say — and I know this is just for fun and what I’m about to say will probably ruin the fun of it so I apologize in advance — but please do not use a fake industry when you write in unless you absolutely have to do it for anonymity’s sake! They often make the question harder to understand. I remove them when I can do it without making the question impossible to parse, and this week I even wrote back to someone to say “can you submit this without the fake industry?” because it seems like there’s an interesting question there but all the llamas/teapots/etc. are making it hard to parse.

      If the goal is anonymity, it’s usually better to use no industry than a made-up industry — I would much prefer people only use silly/fake industries when it’s truly necessary to have something there for the sake of clarity, which is when I leave them in or add them myself (like the way fake names can make a situation easier to follow than “coworker 1,” “coworker 2,” etc. would). Plus, if you’re willing to include the real industry/jobs, sometimes that’s relevant info that lets me give a better answer! (Although of course sometimes people aren’t willing to for anonymity’s sake, which is perfectly fine.)

      1. jellied brains*

        Good to know!

        If I ever gathered my thoughts enough to write it, I’d have to use a fake industry. Mine is so small, I can count the number of companies in this business on one hand.

        1. WellRed*

          But you might be able to use real job types and tasks without naming the industry. Unless you are, like, an astronaut; )

          1. goducks*

            Even naming the industry can be fine, if it’s broad.
            *I work in sales for a manufacturing company
            *I work as a project manager for a construction company
            *I work in Big Law as a paralegal
            *I work in accounting in the insurance industry.
            *I work as support staff in k-12 education

            There’s literally thousands of jobs that fit each of those criteria. There’s enough context in both the loose job title and the loose industry to aide in answering the question, while providing a metric ton of annonymity for the letter writer.

          2. kalli*

            I am a scientist who has to be across several related fields because sometimes my job requires me to travel with a small in-person team for months at a time, and our backup and supports entirely remote. We all have to be able to cover each other and do our own admin, and if something goes wrong we can’t always rely on help being able to come in person.

      2. Anonymous 75*

        Thank you for saying this. Honestly the whole llama/teapot/ whatever had gotten a little over the top and irritating and very confusing. And like you said, many times the industry is relevant. An answer for a CPA in a major firm regarding overtime is probabtgpong to be pretty different for a receptionist in a pediatric office.

  9. Amber Rose*

    We’re finally, finally fencing inventory. You have no idea how disheartening it is to write off a quarter million dollars worth of stuff every count because people just take stuff as they please without recording it properly.

    That said, obviously fencing needs to meet fire codes? How do I figure out how that works? Do I just call the city fire department do you think? I did download the code, but like with all documents relating to law, the language is somehow both extremely dense, and as vague and lacking on specifics as possible.

    1. Frickityfrack*

      You could probably talk to the fire department and potentially the city’s building department. Even if the building department can’t help you directly, odds are decent that they can at least point you in the right direction. They may also have codes that need to be met, so it’s a good idea to check in with them regardless.

    2. Anonymous 75*

      Yeah call to r fire department and ask to speak with the fire inspector/fire marshall and ask them about it.

    3. CatMouse*

      I know our local fire departments do have non emergency numbers that can be called for information and they are generally very happy to help people understand fire code. I would definitely start there.

      if you have that much inventory can I assume you are a decent sized company and have a legal team? If so, they may be able to help with the legalese as well.

      1. Amber Rose*

        We don’t have a legal team. I suppose technically I’m the legal team. We’re still only around 50 people.

        1. Generic Name*

          Woah, a quarter of a million in lost inventory for a 50 person company is a HUGE proportion. Unless I’m misreading. Fencing is definitely a start, but I’d look into folks who work for you are actually stealing your inventory. I used to work for a place where freon cans kept “disappearing”. Turns out, some of the maintenance personnel took them home to charge their cars and home air conditioners. (you know, stealing)

          1. Amber Rose*

            No, we’re pretty ridiculous as a company. We operate on a global scale and hold an inventory around the 7-8 million mark (we think, haha…) All with 50-something people.

            The write-offs are super, super bad though because our company has never bothered to have inventory management or control. Customer has a broken thing? Send them a few, it’s fine. R&D is testing something? They’ll grab whatever. Project needs extra stuff? Don’t bother to tell anyone, just build it. It’s brutal.

        2. Grimley*

          If your team needs *legal* guidance you need someone who has a license to practice law. Unless you do, you can’t be the legal team and don’t let them convince you otherwise! It’s like saying, well I guess I’m the doctor since we don’t have one.

          Regardless, on something like this involving safety, I would definitely not DIY it. whatever they spend for legal/consultant/professional recs will pale in comparison to the lost inventory or the future lawsuit/fines etc.

          1. Amber Rose*

            I’m responsible for reading and verifying contracts, which is a tiny part of my job, and the closest thing to “legal.” I’m not actually the legal team, just. You know. All we have. D:

    4. Rick Tq*

      Hire a good fencing contractor who should know the local codes and the best way to get your inventory under control. Yes, they will be more expensive than purchasing materials and doing it yourself. You are paying for the expertise to do the job in a way it passes Code inspections the first time, instead of multiple rework attempts.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        Yup, contractor time. If you can afford to let a quarter of a million in inventory disappear every quarter, you can afford to pay a contractor to make that stop in a way that doesn’t endanger people or the company’s legal standing.

      2. Sparkle Llama*

        I work in city government adjacent to these questions and while I highly recommend hiring a contractor I would not count on them getting this right. Fence contractors are notoriously bad at following fence rules let alone exiting rules. Please call the fire marshal.

    5. *daha**

      I would consult an architect or general contractor. They would be in a position to know the applicable rules or who to consult further.

    6. TX_Trucker*

      Some jurisdictions have an incredibly strict fire marshall. You should contact them and ask for guidance. The codes can vary depending on the industry and what you are storing, so they are not always easy to understand. Some items that you may not think of as “dangerous” such as boxes of paper can have different regulations. Generally, for security reasons, you can use locks with keys to prevent entry – but there must not be a required key or badge to exit. If you are fencing a large area, such as the entire parking lot and there is a safe zone within the fencing where people can evacuate to, then it is permissible to have exit doors that lock.

    7. Goddess47*

      Seconding calling both the non-emergency fire department but also your community building code inspectors. Maybe even OSHA, depending on what kinds of ‘stuff’ you’re getting rid of.

      Better safe than sorry, especially at that dollar amount.

      Good luck!

    8. MigraineMonth*

      No useful advice here, but when I read “fencing the inventory” I thought you meant selling stolen goods (the other meaning of “fencing”)!

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

      So I read your first sentece and I thought you meant fencing inventory like you are stealing stuff from work and selling them on the black market and not putting a fence around inventory.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Dear AAM,

        I’m planning a heist of my company’s entire inventory, what’s the best way to fence 8 million dollars worth of goods?

        :D

    10. Hillary*

      I’m a bit late to this, but you may also want a roof on the fence. No joke, after a manufacturer in town fenced off on hold inventory someone literally climbed the fence to get at it because “their customer needed it.” It was defective.

    11. Dancing Otter*

      So, you install fencing. And locks. Who will have the keys? How will all withdrawals from inventory be recorded consistently and correctly? Beyond physical barriers, you need to look up inventory best practices, and both document and train people on the correct process. (Your auditors might have some suggestions. Auditors purely hate poor internal controls.)
      From your responses, it sounds like your employees are used to getting whatever widgets they need without bothering to record it. You are going to get resistance and outright noncompliance if there is any way to get around signing for stuff.
      You need an inventory control person with a tungsten steel spine for when people try to bully them into bypassing your new requirements.

  10. Queer Columbo*

    I am moving into a managerial role (yay) and will be managing project managers. I have managed people before, but years ago, and not project managers, but I have BEEN a project manager. Does anyone here have advice or resources that would help me get a good baseline for training/onboarding/etc? I know what I want in a PM, but as a PM, I never had a manager that actually had also been one, and I think that is clouding my thoughts. Does that make sense, hopefully!!

    1. Tio*

      What people who don’t manage don’t realize before going into management is that a manager is not just about what the people want in a manager. You have to balance the requests from above against the realities of the what can be produced below. You’ll often find out that what you think is a dumb idea is actually something that has some really strong ideas behind it, and you can’t always share them. You’ll find out sometimes they don’t have good reasons and you gotta do it anyway. You’ll need to learn when to pick your battles.

      One of the best things for a manager to do is establish strong SOPs and guidelines. Look over what materials and SOPs you currently have, read through them, and figure out what you think is missing or would have been helpful to have. make sure it covers all the important parts. And good luck

      1. Queer Columbo*

        I’m aware of that, I have been a manager before. I am more looking for input on how to be a strong manager of project managers, specifically. I have managed ICs before, but not ICs who will interface with the rest of the company. When I was a PM, none of my managers were PMs, so they couldn’t really help me out with anything, I had to learn everything on my own. I’m glad that won’t be the case for my team, but because I have just never thought of my past managers as a resource, I am drawing blanks as to what I may be asked/looked for.

        1. Epilogue*

          My two recommendation are 1) set up clear procedures for how PMs should handle regular updates (format, frequency…) to make it easier for you to keep a running overview and not having to ask for things last minute. If those are not in place, you will get updates in different ways from each PM and not everyone is proactive enough to ask. It will also make the PM’s life easier because they can add these tasks to their timeline knowing when they will be requested. 2) This one I have found surprisingly uncommon in my field: look up options for PM training and offer those to PMs or people you want to move into a PM role. Both these things have helped me in a team where PM skills and approaches vary wildly.

        2. HR Exec Popping In*

          This will actually vary by person. Everyone needs different types of support and management styles. It is best to talk to your new team members and ask them. What helps them be most effective, what doesn’t. Basically let them know you want to help them be successful and have them help guide your thinking on what that looks like.

      2. Goddess47*

        Does your city have a “Project Management” organization? If not, there’s a national organization – there is a Project Management Institute that you can google. But that might be another resource for finding answers to your questions.

        Good luck!

  11. Returning from parental leave*

    I’m returning to the office from parental leave soon, after not being in the office for over a year (I worked remotely for part of my pregnancy, then took a longer leave than US employers typically support, though it was supported by my employer). What are some things to think about or expect going back? I’m talking social interactions and dynamics, getting back up to speed, physical/postural changes, anything really. I’m queer, I’ll be pumping, the baby is already in daycare, and I have a truly equal partner in parenting, if any of that matters.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Commenting to follow because I’ll be on parental leave soon.

      I asked my boss (dept head!) how the adjustment was for her, and she said she got back into the swing of things at work faster than she expected. She’d been worried about having forgotten work things, but apparently it wasn’t as much of a problem?

    2. LB33*

      If you’re doing any daycare pickup/dropoffs, you may want to consider the logistics, traffic etc to make sure you’re not stressing the commute too much.

    3. Janeric*

      I had a weird return to work (April 2020!) but I CAN speak to postural changes. If you were the person who bore the child, the weight of carrying the pregnancy for the last months can mess up the hips — which got better for me after I gave birth, but worse again when I was spending eight hours a day in an office chair. Following ergonomic advice and PT helped a LOT. (Even online PT programs) Probably proactive stretching and exercise would also head this off at the pass.

      My partner and I also both had issues with our shoulders and necks because we spent a lot of time cradling our child and then a lot of time hunched at a screen.

    4. NaoNao*

      I’ve noticed a *dramatic* shift in the level of casual-ness of clothing, downward, in the last couple years. I had an all-hands meeting where leadership was in smart-casual edging towards business formal and there were people in literal flip flops and yoga pants or knit pants and beat up old windbreakers. They clearly hadn’t been “dress coded” and it was eye opening that someone would come to a major meeting with ultra-mega-big-wigs that was *on camera* in that kind of extremely casual outfit.

      One thing I was also less prepared for is the lack of ability to break up my time as I see fit. At home I can do “sprints” for an hour or two and then a quick video or scroll break. At work, yeah…not so much. Breaks would have to be socializing or coffee/stretch.

      How *cold* the office is. This was mid-September and I was wearing a lightweight shell, a cotton jacket, and wool blend pants, and I was *freezing* almost to the point of discomfort in the office. However cold it is outside, lower the office temp by 20 degrees mentally.

      Bring an emergency pack–a set of clothes can really set your mind at ease that it’s there just in case (including undies and socks/shoes). I also bring a little go-bag of feminine products, a mini makeup kit with blotting tissues, deodorant, dry shampoo, mints/gum, a mini perfume, a nail file + clear polish, things like that. Getting through the day with stinky pits or a run in your stockings or bleh undies where you got a “period surprise” and you’re miserable is really hard, so I try to think of situations like that and be prepared.

      Scout out the nearby 7-11 or gas stations/CVS type places where you can run and grab little necessities just in case–also the local food spots. Helps a LOT day to day to know you can run to 7-11 and grab a wet wipe or a Tide Pen or whatever.

    5. ToddlerMom*

      If you’re going back to the same role, be prepared to not have some common pieces of information on the top of your head so somethings may take longer. I had so many things where I knew I knew it before my leave but had to keep looking things up since they had just left my short term memory. It was frustrating but didn’t last too long.

      Also, I didn’t keep up with anything from work while I was on leave and so came back to lots of people who changed positions or left or joined and some procedural changes. It was a bit of a shock even though logically I knew things had continued while I left. It certainly helped to have some informal chats with some work buddies right when I went back to get a new lay of the land.

      Come up with a good short and sweet answer for how the baby is/how your new family is doing because you’ll have to repeat it a lot!

    6. JustaTech*

      Here’s some advice:
      Block the heck out of your calendar. Block off when you need to leave for drop off and/or pick up so that folks aren’t scheduling meetings at times when you absolutely positively must leave (not that everyone will respect this). Also block off your pumping times, partly to again avoid folks scheduling meetings then, but also to remind *yourself* to go pump. When I got back to work I would get so involved in writing something I would completely miss one of my pump sessions and end up with a clogged duct (ow!). Depending on your pumping space you may want to bring some creature comforts to make pumping more comfortable (and improve your letdown/flow).

      Getting back up to speed: my company completely blocks your access to any computer systems so I wasn’t able to do anything like check my email while I was out. I planned to spend my first day back as WFH to just go through my email, but it turned out that I had completely forgotten my password so I had to come in and spend the day going through my email instead.
      Set up “catch up” meetings with your boss, and project teams you’re on, and then do coffee or lunch with peers to catch up on all the office stuff – not gossip but any big things that happened while you were out that aren’t precisely work but do matter (like the floor admin changed the lunch ordering system, or whatever).

      And a fun thing: have some extra cute pictures of your baby easily accessible because at least some of your coworkers will genuinely want to see pictures (and will ask). (Don’t be like me having to scroll real fast past a bunch of nursing photos to find that one really cute pic.)

      Physical stuff: I’ve found that I still run a bit warmer than I used to before I was pregnant, so that impacted my clothing choices some. What’s really changed what I wear at work is pumping – when I am done pumping I will be donating these 6 shirts so fast! I never want to see them again! (That said, I found nursing shirts easier for pumping than button-downs, especially when my pumping room was incredibly cold.)
      Oh, and all the hunching over during pumping can be really hard on your back, so try to figure out some stretches that work for you.

      Congrats!

    7. Returner*

      I’m returning now. I’ve had a challenging, life-altering time away, and my company knows this. What’s come as a genuine surprise is how little most people at work care! They are busy, they see me as a means to an end (related to work tasks) and they can be brusque and a little cold. No one is being an a-hole, they just don’t…care. (These are people I have had friendly, social working relationships with.) Whereas I am still fragile. I am a little shocked by suddenly being in an environment where I have to have a thick skin. I do not have a thick skin! I’m getting over trauma! So…it’s a learning curve for me. Doing lots of self-care this month, and trying to be sweet and patient with myself. (Eh, since I now have to hang out with people who apparently won’t be!)

      1. Clark Kent, Mild Mannered Reporter*

        Welcome to the world of work “friendships”. The same thing may happen when you leave the job, either willingly or via layoff. People that you spent years with “in the trenches”, travelling with, served with on committees, went to happy hour with – may suddenly go radio silent OR communicate only with you to the extent that they have to OR will callously start asking if they can have your lateral file cabinet. It’s disheartening to be sure, but it does teach one that work relationships are often 95% transactional and the other 5% is just filler fluff.

    8. EA*

      I actually really enjoyed the social part of returning to work! So I’d say enjoy that adult conversation time, if you can.

      I feel like I became way more efficient and hyper on task while at work when I was pumping and had a 4 month old to return to, because my day was so strictly scheduled – it almost helped me be more productive. I was very worried about workload because I’d been used to staying late at work frequently pre-baby, but I ended up being fine. Proactively managing your calendar with pumping times is key – I ended up having a huge drop in supply due to stress and skipping pump sessions for a while, although I did regain it. Don’t be afraid to block your calendar and excuse yourself to pump! I would also sometimes work while pumping (pumping bras are awesome). Also a task management software like Monday.com/Asana was really helpful. Good luck!

  12. Jadzia Snax*

    How do you get over the guilt of prioritizing yourself/your health when everyone on your team is drowning?

    Our department of five is desperately understaffed, but it’s been made pretty clear that’s not happening. My boss is consistently frazzled, one coworker went to the ER for chest pains that turned out to be anxiety a couple of weeks ago, and my chronically disabled ass is far beyond my limit. Everyone NOT at the job keeps telling me to not feel guilty about prioritizing myself/taking extended leave/asking to be taken off certain projects/etc etc, but that feels so much easier said than done. I like and respect everyone in my department (my boss, in particular, has been doing her best to accommodate all of us with what little she’s given), and if I dip, my workload just falls on all of them. I don’t want that!! There just don’t seem to be any good solutions here (other than quitting, which…I’ve been looking for new gigs. But it’s not pretty out there).

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      It’s not any employees job to compensate for a companies poor staffing. As long as your team continues to get the work done they will not fill the position. All five of you needs to dial it back and work your wage.

      1. nopetopus*

        This. They’ll only hire more people when the work stops getting done. And if you’re the only one who pulls back, you put a target on your head for “underperforming” (huge eyeroll there). So you’ve gotta decide together to stop bending yourselves in knots and harming your health (!) so the company can save on FTE.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        THIS.

        They’ll do this as long as you all don’t quit or drop dead because on their end, it’s working! And it’s probably considered “normal” in their mindset since hey, the work gets done, right?

        This has to be a group effort, I think, since the guilt is so strong that you’re “loading” coworkers down. If all of you (your boss would have to be okay with this, of course) agreed that this cannot go on, and strategize an outline of what can be done and what has to be sent back to your higher ups as “cannot be worked on due to lack of staffing,” it might be harder for them to keep pretending that GOING TO THE ER WITH CHEST PAINS is no biggie.

        They’ve got you afraid you’ll all be fired, I’d bet–but really, you are keeping them afloat. The captain does not fire the hull of their ship.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      I have a few thoughts on this that I hope will help.

      First, think long-term. It’s so hard when everything is on fire/overdue/making people angry, but take a step back and think about what it would take to actually prevent the fires. Your department is understaffed, and as long as you and your colleagues overwork themselves, the powers that be think that’s fine. The only way to change upper management’s mind is to let things fall and break. Being more invested in the company’s success than upper management will not solve the problems, it will only hurt you.

      Second, you aren’t throwing your colleagues to the wolves, you’re showing them a better way. Encourage them to do the same as you: work your hours, don’t stress too much, let things drop. Continuing on as you have been only means that your colleagues are going to burn out and leave. If the department pulls back and works a normal amount, you’re much more likely to get what you need: more staff or less work.

      It’s hard when you’re a responsible person who takes ownership, but you do not own the company and you cannot make the decisions that would make the company succeed. Good luck!

      1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        Second, you aren’t throwing your colleagues to the wolves, you’re showing them a better way.

        This is *chef’s kiss*

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Your job is not worth your health. Chronic stress can take years off your lifespan. Your loved ones deserve you more than your office does. Companies lean staff because they know people will overwork themselves to fill the gap. Drop the balls. Let it be the companies issue again.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And look at it this way: what if, God forbid, those chest pains had been a real medical emergency, a heart attack? Would that employee have been thanked for working themselves to the brink of real, no kidding around death? Would any of you? Would it wake up your higher ups as to the dire level of understaffing and demands they’re okay with?

        And what if they had actually died? Actually given up their life, their only life, for an understaffed department where PANIC is the only mode? Would TPTB change then?

        I’m betting the answer to these questions is no.

    4. Sage*

      Would it help to remind yourself that you don’t need to set yourself on fire in order to keep others warm?

      Maybe reminding yourself that if you prioritize your health, you will be more useful to your coworkers than if you end unable to work.

      *sends some good energy so you will be able to take the step to take better care of yourself*

    5. Goddess47*

      If you’re on good terms with your boss and your co-workers, this is one of Allison’s ‘banding together’ moments. You all need to document your problems, talk about the physical and mental stress and then take it to your grand-boss as a group. If your boss will support you in all of this, even better.

      Be prepared with “we can do X and Y but not Z with the staff we have” so you have a ‘negotiating’ point to work from. If it’s all of you saying this, it should be listened to more. And then be prepared to stick to it. Don’t do Z any more.

      Good luck.

    6. Just here for the scripts*

      I’ve lived by the Airline theory of work: “Firmly affix your own breathing apparatus before attempting to assist others.”

      No matter how much a parent wants to put the children’s oxygen mask on first, it won’t help the kids if 1. the parent passes out before they can accomplish it (cuz kids and masks and panics and altitude drops, etc.) or 2. passes out/dies even if they do get the kids’ masks on first.

      Same thing here–making yourself sick will not solve the company’s issues. At some point you’ll need more care, time off, or–like the first post here, just leave. Migraine Month and others are correct when they say you can recast this in your mind as “leading by example.”

      And until the higher ups get to feel the pain of understaffing, they’re not going to change the way they understaff you.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Unless your coworkers are your minor children, you are not responsible for managing their wellbeing. They are grownups who can look after themselves.

      If your employer can’t do what it takes to get or retain enough staff, that is an issue you have no control over. It’s not your fault, and you can’t fix it.

      That’s pretty much it, really.

    8. Bunny Watson*

      If you do quit, your co-workers will have a lot more work on their plate. I don’t say that to make you feel guilty – you need to do what’s best for you! But, it might help you reframe a bit to say well if I step back a bit, at least I’m still here and helping for the moment. Your whole group can’t sustain an all-out sprint all the time, so I agree with others that you need to step back and slow down and let the balls drop where they may. You’ll then be in a better spot and can maybe even pick up a ball or two later when it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. It’s so hard to step back when you don’t see an alternative, but by stepping back you may also gather a fresh perspective. Good luck!

    9. Overeducated*

      My entire organization has been badly understaffed for about 10 years. There is no sign of it getting better. This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. The ONLY way we can create a culture where people can actually survive working here is to be pretty explicit about the limits of what is realistic, create barriers, not work illegal unpaid overtime, etc.

      That’s my justification. It might feel almost impossible to be the only person leading such a charge, so I feel for you there, but any way you can move the needle…in the short term, it looks like it only benefits you, but in the longer term, maybe you can influence others that it’s ok.

    10. vb.*

      I had a job like this. I tried for months to hold it together for my coworkers, whom I respected and cared about, and I burned out and jumped ship. So with the benefit of hindsight I can say: your only two options, ultimately, are to take care of yourself or leave. I don’t mean that I think you have to get out of there (although I do think that would be a good idea if you can, since your directors seem totally fine with spending your team’s health and peace of mind to pay for their bad management). What I mean is, maybe your workload falls on your team if you take a step back, but this situation is not sustainable, and if you don’t take a step back you WILL reach a point where it’s untenable for you to stay.

      It’s better for your manager to have a clear idea of your capacity, so she can make decisions about how to best advocate for your team. It’s better for your team that you don’t burn out. It’s better for you to not go to the ER with chest pains (!!!). And it’s better for everyone if you remember that you didn’t make the decisions that led to this broken situation, and it’s not within your power, nor is it your responsibility, to fix it on your own.

    11. Michelle Smith*

      I felt that way at my last job. You know what ended up happening? Our ENTIRE TEAM save me, one other guy, and our immediate supervisor quit and moved on to other jobs. I was stuck with the work of 4 people for months until new folks got hired on.

      What did I learn from that experience that might help you?

      (1) As mad as I was about the shift in my workload from bearable to unreasonable, I never was mad at my departed coworkers. They did what was best for them and I actively cheered them on. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to blame them. They weren’t at fault. Our management was.
      (2) I learned that perfectionism doesn’t have to be the standard. If someone is giving me more than I can handle, something is going to get dropped. So while I was told I was responsible for all that work, I certainly didn’t do all of it and didn’t do everything I did do well and I learned to be okay with that. I prioritized my workload and let the stuff that wasn’t as important slide. Your coworkers will adapt too.
      (3) Seeing other people I cared about get out and move on to other things was in some ways motivating for me. It was proof that I didn’t have to stay stuck – I would get my turn to leave eventually too. And I did and I have zero regrets except that I wasn’t able to make it happen sooner, before I burned out and started having major health problems.

      Save yourself. You are not responsible for your coworkers and I guarantee you you will be kicking yourself if you sacrifice your wellbeing to stay for them and they quit. Save. Yourself.

    12. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      You can also make it your boss’s job. “I can do X and Y, or I can do Z, but I can’t do all three this week. How would you like me to prioritize?”

      Be clear, “X will take about 20 hours and Y, if we are lucky, will take 25. Z takes about 30, but it can slow down if interrupted. How do you want me to prioritize those?” and “Ok, so I’ll get to next week/after first-things. Agreed!”

  13. Not Elle Woods*

    I’ve been looking for a new career path and though I’ve dismissed it in the past as a terrible, terrible choice… I took a practice LSAT recently and scored well enough that I think I could go to law school without (significant) debt.

    Which leads to my question: do people *actually* hate being lawyers, or do they hate having law school debt?

    1. CTT*

      To give a very lawyerly answer, it depends!

      I don’t think the debt stress is particular to lawyers or any more stressful to that profession than it is to others. But the job itself is often not fun. And not just criminal law/family law/the types of things you can imagine would be stressful. I’m a real estate lawyer and I am having a terrible week right now where I’m having some “why did I ever do this????” thoughts because a lot of the deals I’m working on have gone south and the clients are upset and expecting me to fix everything and a lot of it is out of my control. You are counseling people and they’re counting on you, and that can be a burden.

      I am lucky that I work with a team I really like and know are invested in my development. And I really like the type of work I do. That helps balance out the stress of having to steer all these decisions. But there are a lot of people who are in awful firms or end up hating the work because it’s not what they anticipated. So I think a good next step for you is to think about what sort of lawyer you want to be and your reasons for it. The people who don’t have a real reason are the people who I see burn out quicker.

    2. IANAL but am related to one*

      There are so many different types of law and law firms. Many people hate working for Big Law; the money you make comes with a hefty obligation of work hours and availability. But many, many, lawyers enjoy what they do. Our son is a lawyer; hated his first job (not Big Law but a big regional firm so operating similarly) and is now in a small practice with a lot of autonomy. He also graduated without debt and that makes a HUGE difference. He felt like he could jump ship from the first firm to one that paid less (and now, after a number of years, is paying quite well).

    3. MigraineMonth*

      I’d be sure to check the job prospects for those with a new law degree. I know when I was looking at law school there were far more people with law degrees than there were decent opportunities for them; I hope that’s changed.

    4. Anonfornthis*

      I like being a lawyer. I work in a very niche field for a government agency, almost entirely from home. I have a really good work/life balance and I’m just a couple months off PSLF.

      But it’s seriously a personality thing. If you’re the kind of person who like minute details (like, if you enjoy knowing small details about things like Lord of the Rings), law might be for you. But if you’re watching legal shows or TV and thinking it will be exciting, it’s really not. I worked for a judge and even trials are mostly slow procedural issues, and that makes up a minority of court time.

    5. *daha**

      I am not a lawyer, but I read the AboveTheLaw blog for fun. You’ll find lots there about personal aspects of law practice, among other coverage of lawyers behaving badly, law schools and law firms in the news, and a bunch of other stuff that turns out to be interesting.

    6. LadyByTheLake*

      I’m a lawyer and I love it (in-house in banking field). I enjoy the problem-solving aspect, helping the business to achieve their goals in a compliant manner. That said, I hated my first job in BigLaw, and the fact is that law is a high-stress job. Clients want things faster than is possible, they don’t like the answers and people are relying on you getting it right. All of which is to say that it depends. There are so many different options, so many different specialties, so many different kinds of jobs that pretty much everyone should be able to find their niche.

    7. Donkey Hotey*

      All I can say is this: I know six people who graduated law school. Only one is currently practicing.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I really like being a lawyer. I’m not sure how much I would like it, though, if I felt that I was tied to it because I had a six-figure debt to work off.

      I’d caution you to be realistic about law school scholarships. Law schools are notorious for promising aid for high LSAT scorers, and then making it nearly impossible to meet the requirements after your first year to keep getting free money for your second and third years. And of course you’ll likely need a cost-of-living loan for 2 or even all 3 years, because working outside of full-time law school is frowned upon, if not outright forbidden. So even if you get your first year’s tuition and fees paid, you still may have to borrow $30,000 to $50,000 x 2 years, plus another low six figures in COL loans, plus the opportunity cost of leaving full-time employment for 2-3 years.

      1. AnonforThis*

        Yes, the no job outside of law school thing was shocking to me. I worked multiple jobs all through college and ended up doing gig work during law school (babysitting mostly) to pay bills. Most of my classmates relied on parents to cover the gaps. I graduated in the top ten so that babysitting clearly didn’t hold me back.

      2. LadyByTheLake*

        Yeah, I thought I would get a scholarship because I was penniless and got one point short of a perfect score on the LSAT. Nothin’ doing — my “scholarship” consisted of qualifying for more government loans.

        1. Not Elle Woods (OP)*

          Uh oh – this is… what I assume my situation is going to be. (I scored very, very highly on the last practice LSAT I took, and I didn’t feel stressed by it.) Where did you apply?

          1. Casper Lives*

            I wouldn’t count on scholarships. If you want a full ride, you can get it by going to a less prestigious law school. But you need to make sure that aligns with your career goals!

            This is a while ago now so take with a grain of salt. I had a good LSAT score. I was offered a full ride at a lower ranked school. I’m from in state and I knew the school’s reputation wasn’t great.

            I got into a more prestigious private school without any offer of scholarship. The price tag was hefty but same state. If I wanted a Big Law job, or a job outside of my region, I would’ve gone to that school. The connections and prestige follow you.

            Instead, I got a small scholarship at the school I attended. The tuition was half the cost of prestigious school, it’s still a top 30 school, and it’s well-respected in my region with a large alumni network in good positions. I could also have gone to Big Law from this school, even though it’s not quite as prestigious, if I had the grades. I had neither the grades nor the desire for Big Law.

          2. Yeah, no.*

            Even most of my friends with scholarships hate being lawyers. And the ones without scholarships, with a lot of debt, spent decades working at places they hated so they could pay off the debt and finally quit. Some quit the law entirely. It’s no way to live whether you have debt or not. I feel so strongly about this that when my law school asked me to be on their entrance committee, I told them they wouldn’t want me — I would talk most applicants out of going! Only become a lawyer if you really really want it, not as a fall-back position.

          3. avocado lawyer*

            So there are definitely scholarships out there for high LSAT/GPA – but absolutely avoid “conditional scholarships” where you need to maintain a certain class standing to keep the scholarship after the first year. The only thing that a non-predatory merit scholarship should require is that you remain in good academic standing. There are ABA disclosures for every law school that tell you whether they provide conditional scholarships and what percentage of students lose them.

            Another thing to consider is whether a part-time/evening program would work for you and your goals. Not all law schools have them, but if there’s one near you that does, you could potentially continue working and having an income, which may allow you to take on far less debt, or potentially none at all. This is the path I chose, and it worked for me. It is definitely not easy, and there are tradeoffs in terms of availability to do things like summer associateships and such. But it is an option.

            FWIW – I attended a decently ranked public law school part time while continuing in my full-time job and had a 75% scholarship for my entire time there (4 years rather than 3 because part time). It was very affordable, and I graduated (recently, so the dollar amounts are still relevant) with no debt. I’m not currently in a practicing attorney role because I’ve opted to stay in my JD-advantage job for now, but that was my own choice. I did pass the bar, so I could shift to a more traditional attorney role if I wanted to pursue that, but I’m pretty happy where I am.

            As others have said, it’s definitely a very individualized decision, and you should think through all of the pros and cons, what you’d be looking to get out of a law degree, what type of law you see yourself practicing (or if there’s another way you’d want to use a law degree), etc. For me, it was worth it, and I enjoyed the experience. But YMMV. Good luck!

    9. The Rain in Spain*

      I know lawyers that love it and hate it. No one I know is particularly excited about the debt load, and it has definitely made people pursing PSLF feel ‘stuck’ regarding their options, and it’s made others opt out of public service careers altogether because they can’t bear the debt hanging over their heads. If that’s not a factor for you, that’s great! The people I know who hate lawyering tend to feel stuck in their roles/undervalued/ underpaid/ overworked etc. Some frankly also get bored- there’s a tendency to specialize and things can start to feel repetitive.

      The people I know who love lawyering tend to have felt ‘called’ to it, not just in general, but to a specific area (labor/unions/criminal defense/prosecution), or they find it in clinics/internships/etc. I went to law school with no clear path in mind, and I ended up finding my niche a year or two post-graduation and am overall satisfied with my job (in house, narrow area of practice, good work life balance, reasonable pay). The fun part is that I hated this area of law when I took the class, but I love it in practice!

      Income potential varies drastically, as does work-life balance. It really depends on what you want to do. I agree with the others who suggest that figuring out the why/what is important here, and only you can do that!

    10. Casper Lives*

      I like some parts of being a lawyer and dislike other parts. I highly recommend going in with a plan for what you’re doing after law school.

      Law schools make big promises about salary etc. that aren’t realistic for many fields of law. If you want Big Law, you must be in the top 10% of your class in a well-respected law school. Unless you’ve got a relative that’s a partner. Focus all your efforts on grades, getting published in the journal, and maybe the moot court team. Make your life law school.

      I didn’t want to do Big Law. So I focused on practical stuff – internships, clinics practicing under a professor, working at a law firm during the summers (and during school 1-2 days per week. Hush-hush, it’s frowned upon. My grades weren’t going to be the top so I didn’t stress about it. Cs get the law degree) I lucked out by going to a top 30 state school that doesn’t charge outrageous tuition.

      I got hired at small / medium firms based off work experience. I hit the ground running. Now I’m an in-house litigator. I auditioned and failed to make mock trial team. That didn’t stop me getting trial experience in the real world nor hold back my career. I’m thinking about leaving litigation but not law as a whole.

      Ultimately, think about your long term career plans. What area of law are you interested in? Do you like details, high pressure situations, can handle disgruntled clients, act professionally even if someone is yelling at you (rate in my field, not in family law for example), handle juggling deadlines, good at remembering small details or keeping a calendar? Some of these skills can be learned.

      Good luck to whatever you decide!

    11. Blueberry Girl*

      I am not a lawyer, but am the daughter of lawyer, sister of a lawyer, niece of a lawyer, and granddaughter of several judges and lawyers. All of the family members I have who are lawyers, love being lawyers. All small private practice, with a little government work and state work in there. However, they all also went into it being fully aware of what it actually looks to like to be a lawyer. Working as a lawyer is, according to everyone I know, so very different from Law School that often people who love law school end up hating being lawyers. None of them went into Big Law and none of them wanted to. Do you love minutiae? Does the exact meaning of a word matter? How do you feel about reading seventeen different things, extracting the similarities and then carefully reconstructing that information in a short, well written document, to hand to a judge? Are you okay with people’s SERIOUS PROBLEMS being yours to solve? Can you let go of people’s SERIOUS PROBLEMS when you leave the office? I think it’s tough, because it is expensive and there’s also so many different types of law work out there.

    12. Misplaced JD*

      Oh dear. Unless you really, really want to practice law, please don’t do this to yourself. I backed into law school the way you are — did well on the test, then got into good schools, then thought “well, I better go then.” I landed one of the very best jobs you can have as a lawyer, with stellar people, doing work I could be proud of…and I have spent 25 years at it. But it isn’t for me. I should have taken a different path. And that’s with a great job and great people!!! Most folks I graduated with have been verrrry miserable, in spite of being successful and rich (many of them). I never encourage anyone to be a lawyer unless they do a lot of research about what it will really be like, their realistic chances of landing where they want (most of my classmates wanted to do public interest work; almost none of them managed it because there aren’t that many jobs), and are willing to work their butts off for long hours — possibly for clients and causes they don’t believe in. I like my quasi-public service job and I am paid well, but it’s still very stressful and really not what I should be doing. Don’t go into it just to do it.

    13. Pivot Time*

      I have a little bit of a different take on this question, because I’m in a Master of Legal Studies program right now, trying to move from being a librarian to the legal field. I chose this path because I know I don’t want to be a lawyer. Beyond the debt aspect, I’m 46 and don’t have 4 years of my life to devote to law school.
      However, there are several people in my program who are using this degree to feel out whether they want to go to law school, and some are going to finish and apply to law school. I think what others said about examining why and what you want to do with your degree is very important. Before committing to any path, it might be helpful to think about where you see yourself in general and how a law degree may or may not fit in your life plans. Good luck!

    14. JM in LA*

      All of the above? I hated law school (competitive, oddly mean-spirited – I went to a top 10 Ivy, maybe different elsewhere?). I hated the loans. Took me 12 years to pay off. Hated practicing law. I tried different areas, family, criminal, corporate, litigation, real estate, etc. Some were better? than others. It’s kind of a really boring job and I love reading and research and puzzles, but not in the demanding services way.

      My friends who trained as doctors and lawyers all agree that the service aspect of these jobs kind of sucks and it’s not something people talk about. Client/patient surveys? Yelp? I mean OMG. Not saying ratings are a bad thing, but it’s not food service with fairly objective standards.

    15. Law-adjacent*

      Hi! I work for a regulatory agency and work with a lot of attorneys. Their expertise allows them to do other things at the agency that are law-adjacent. So it’s not just like the attorneys’ jobs on Law & Order, a joke I make at work that falls flat every time. I still think it is funny.

  14. Llama Wrangler*

    I wrote in the open thread a couple of weeks ago trying to figure out how to bring my boss who was just returning from leave into some of my dissatisfaction with my role due to some organizational shifts. We’re now approaching our annual review cycle, and planning our goals for the upcoming year, so I have some more opportunity to talk about what I would like my work to be, and I’ve done some clarification for myself about what I’m frustrated by – but having a hard time thinking through what is realistic to share with him.

    I think ultimately I’m frustrated that because of organizational changes, my role has shifted over the last year to one where I was a key part in strategic decision making to one where I’m basically just implementing on projects that I don’t have full ownership. This isn’t a reflection of my work (I have exceeded expectations for my role and helped our team get to a higher level), but came about because (1) we sunseted some projects in order to increase the amount of time we could have on our main area of work (let’s say llama sales), which means some of the things I previously led on are no longer our areas of work; and  (2) we have more work to do with fewer people (to hit our llama sales target), and so my boss leadership is being more intentional about not having everything be a collaborative process.

    To illustrate it, let’s say last year I was leading our team in strategic visioning how to scale our llama sales initiative in FY24; on the lead team for our llama sales for FY23 (and then implementing those decisions in one market); and then on the side doing a couple of llama grooming projects where I had full ownership. Now that we’ve successfully scaled our llama sales initiative we have a smaller core team who is doing the strategic leadership, and I’m in charge of implementing those decisions as they come out for my market, and project lead for some of the infrastructure we need to continue implementing our expansion.

    Is it reasonable to name this dynamic and see if there are places for me to step back into strategic leadership in some places? When I talked to my partner about it, they said I should be able to name what would be the benefit for our company, and I’m not sure I can name that (other than it’s good for company to have me be satisfied in my role; and I think my strategic leadership has been helpful in the past.)

    1. Reba*

      yes, of course! You are no longer doing what most people could understand is the more interesting, visible work. Rather than saying “you guys effectively demoted me” a way to put it in a positive light would be to say that you really enjoyed that strategic work, you had good results, and you would like to talk about planning to get back into that kind of work.

      I see your partners’ point, but you exceeded expectations and yes, the company benefits from your not looking for other opportunities. Good luck!

    2. Lily Potter*

      I have the lyrics to “The Room Where It Happens” in my mind as I read this letter! Anyone else?

      I think it’s a fair topic to bring up. I’d frame it as a feeling that your overall career development has stagnated recently, and that while the work you’re doing at moment is sufficient, you won’t be happy in the long term without a more strategic focus. See where it leads! If you have to leave the job over this, your boss will have been given fair notice as to why.

  15. The 8th World Wonder*

    I could use some advice, y’all.
    I just accepted a new job and am leaving my current employer. I have wanted to leave for awhile and my new job will have plenty of opportunities to learn, an easier commute, allow for remote work, and has a pay raise. But my current employer is posting a job soon that they have talked about for a while that sounds really interesting and I wanted to apply for it before I got the new job. This soon to be posted job would allow for some remote work, has better pay, and opportunities to learn, plus working with my previous coworkers, who are great.

    I am feeling conflicted about my choice to leave. I feel like there is a strong chance, even if I was in a position to apply for this other job, they wouldn’t have hired me. I don’t know if this entirely rational but it is an instinct I have based on being here for a bit of time. I would like to not feel conflicted about leaving and I am annoyed at myself. Has anyone else faced something like this and if so, how did you knock some sense into yourself?

    thanks for reading my rambling thoughts!

    1. My Brain is Exploding*

      I have a friend who once told me, “you made the best decision you could with the information you had.” Sounds like you did that!

    2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      I think this depends on why you are leaving, it is because you want to grow in your role or are the problems with the company itself? If there are problems with the company itself this will not change with a new roll the problems may just look different.

      1. The 8th World Wonder*

        That is a good point! If I somehow did get the other job at my current employer, I would still be here. While there are many things I appreciate about them, there are some things fundamental to the company that don’t work for me. The new job I accepted is in the same industry as my current job, so some of those problems are just part of the industry as a whole but the new company will probably be better about some of those things.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I had a hard time leaving a Toxic Workplace #2 workplace after 10 years there, even though it had become clear I would never move up within the organization. When I was feeling conflicted, I found it helped to frame it to myself as “you can always come back one day.” I’m not sure I could have found it in me to leave if I didn’t feel like the exit was not forever. Now, five years at the new place and I know I don’t WANT to go back. But I’m glad I gave myself a helpful narrative at the time. Try to find your version of this thought and good luck! Remember, the other opportunity would come with some of the same problems of your current workplace.

      1. The 8th World Wonder*

        The job I had before the job I am leaving now was with a very toxic employer. I tried so hard to stay there but in the end, it was way better to leave. My current employer, while significantly less toxic than my job before, has issues that are related to it’s identity, which it is very proud of. These issues will probably never change. At least until a lot of people retire and a major religion changes it’s opinion about quite a few things lol.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      Most of us don’t seek out a new job for only one reason. There’s usually a “and also”. So, it’s like, “I’m bored with my work, there’s no promotional path, and also my employer really does this thing and this thing that was super annoying.” If you got the new promotion, and you weren’t bored anymore, the “this things” are still likely true. So, you have to remember that some of the fundamental features of your work are always going to be the same as long as you work for the same employer, even if you move into a new role.

  16. Kitten*

    I’ve been fully remote the past 3.5 years. My current company mostly has remote employees but we now have an available coworking space available for about 10 of us in our city, but I’m finding I’m having anxiety around it.

    It’s more around the technical pieces, but it might be social too. I went once last month, and I enjoying meeting my coworkers but I got stressed about leaving my laptop out while going to lunch, and leaving my purse out if I went into a meeting room or bathroom.

    I felt safe doing that stuff when I worked in an office, but it just feels weird after being remote for so long. My coworkers left their laptops at the space when we went to lunch, while I brought my laptop. As a result I ended up sitting in a few different spots throughout the day because when I’d take my laptop/purse with me, someone would take that available computer.

    I felt like a mess honestly lol. Has anyone experienced this?

    1. saskia*

      To try taking the anxiety piece out of this — is it actually safe to leave your stuff out or not? Can non-coworkers get into the work area? Does the place seem safe enough, or do you notice random people lurking around? Is there typically at least one person from your job in the workspace at all times? Are there cameras?

      Finally, does your laptop belong to you or your work? If it belongs to your work and you regularly back up your files, I’d say it’s probably safe leave it in the coworking space when you go to lunch, especially if that’s what everybody else does.
      If the workspace seems, to the best of your perception, not particularly secure, then get a bigger bag that can comfortably fit all your stuff (laptop and purse items) so you can pack everything up in one go and take it wherever you need to.

      Finally, if you want to save your spot, maybe it’s not great ‘open office’ etiquette, but you could leave an assortment of items in your space to ‘mark’ that you’re coming back — old coffee cup, big open notebook and pen, old sweater on the back of the chair, etc.

      1. Kitten*

        Yep, it seems safe to leave my laptop out, I don’t think non-coworkers can get into the work area. You do need to get dialed in to even get up the elevator, and they usually have people at the front, checking people in. Not sure about cameras?

        Laptop belongs to my company. That’s a good idea about leaving stuff there!

        1. saskia*

          Then it sounds like it’s fine to leave your stuff! I’m sure you’ll get used to the new norms soon.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’m presuming from what you’ve described here that your coworking space does not have any form of sign-up/desk reservation. In that case, it might be time to strategically deploy a jacket or a shawl over the chair, or perhaps even adding a little sign – “I’ve stepped away from the desk but will be back momentarily!”

    3. amoeba*

      For the laptops – could you buy a Kensington lock and fix it to the desk (or anything else that cannot be moved)? Or even suggest to your employer to buy those for everybody? I understand that feels weird, mostly because my employer is very strict about never leaving a laptop unlocked! (Even though we’re on a campus and then inside a building, both of which are badge-secured – so I leave my wallet on my desk without any second thoughts, haha!)

    4. Llama Llama*

      FWIW my work is not a co-working space and makes us lock our computers if we are away from them.

      Get a cable lock to protect the laptop from being stolen.

    5. somehow*

      “…leaving my purse out if I went into a meeting room or bathroom.”

      Why not just take your purse with you, or lock it in a drawer or something?

      Sorry, I’m honestly uncertain about why you would have to leave your purse “out” and not be able to take it with you to a meeting or to the restroom.

  17. Library Worker*

    I work as a public library paraprofessional. Last year I moved from a full time community engagement role to a part time role in a single branch.

    While in my full time position I was moved around a bit, and usually had a manager who was “in charge” of me in the grand scope, but I also often had a manager in in charge of my day to day work (more in the vein of working out of one library but being managed by someone somewhere else). To put it bluntly, if you count everyone who was in charge of my schedule and performance evaluations (both would be), I had 11 managers in less than 10 years. One of my managers left for a change in position, one became her replacement (4 years and a lengthy hiring freeze later!), three were temporarily assigned to fill that gap, and the rest were all because they moved *me* around (“temporarily” (three moves)) until my recent position change. In my position change, I’ve had two managers.

    This isn’t normal in the public library world, right? Other context: we’re government and union.

    1. too many dogs*

      I work as a public library professional, full time. I don’t really know what a “community engagement role” is, but if moving around the system is part of that position’s responsibility, it would be normal to be moved to where the library felt it needed you at that time. Having more than one person managing you is awkward, but also common when you’re in a position that requires being moved. There would be one person in the main office who’s in charge of your evaluations, and where you’re going next. The managers/supervisors at whatever location you’re at would deal more with whatever you’re doing at their location on a daily basis. We have some positions in this system that go wherever they’re needed on a day by day basis. It sounds exhausting to me, and I don’t wee how they (and you) do it.

    2. Anne of Green Gables*

      I’ve been in libraries for more than 20 years, and over half of that was public libraries. No, this is not typical. It doesn’t sound like it’s been for any bad reason or anything, but I would say it is not typical.

    3. Lemon Chiffon*

      I’m a librarian in a type of community engagement, and this would be unusual for me. However, I work at a midsize library with no external branches, just the main library. Our staff is small enough that I only have one direct supervisor.

      Was your FT job in a city library with a number of locations? If you are working with a large population and enough branches to have supervisors at every branch, that would make more sense.

  18. Anonysaurus*

    A new-hire notice this week prompted some thoughts, and a question – should I try to call out my department for a lack of diversity and inclusion?

    About twelve years ago I accepted a position at a company that is a quasi-governmental entity (I’m in the USA, and this is state level, not federal level). My profession is either salaried or contracted, and the deadlines and overtime can be crazy.

    My department is great in many ways. Neither deadlines nor overtime is crazy. They try to communicate and to listen to employees – town halls, smaller “chat sessions”, surveys (where feedback is often acted upon). They make sure we don’t lose any ‘official’ holiday time, e.g. if July 4th lands on a Sunday, they give us Monday off.

    When the Great Panini first started, they PROACTIVELY had everyone set up to work from home in less than two weeks. Last year they did a survey to see if we preferred to continue to WFH (we still have to reside within the state), work in the office, or a hybrid. No surprise, folks voted to continue to WFH, so that is now our official configuration, and they’re in the process of adjusting real estate to support that. Yay!

    BUT now to talk about how my department has changed over the last six years.

    When I started here twelve years ago, my department was about 60% female and 40% male. The management levels, starting with Team Leads and going up to Chief, were about 70% female (with about 20% POC) and 30% male. For example, my team lead, my manager, her boss (Assistant Director) and our Chief were all female; only our Director was male, and he was the only Director at the time. There was also one Manager (MAN1) and one Team Lead (TL1) in our department who are from a country where women still struggle within a permission-based culture, are “second class citizens”, so to speak. (I’m trying to convey what I hear in discussions with many women from this country.) Initial employment from these men’s country (let’s call it MenCo), is on H1B visa.

    So twelve years have passed, and people have retired, been promoted, and left for other opportunities, as people will. My department has tripled in size, to about 200 people (the company has about 1400 people now). MAN1 has been our department’s Vice President/Chief for six years, and TL1 is a Senior Director. But the latest new-hire notice, of a Senior Director from MenCo, made me realize some things.

    Out of the 24 management positions we now have in our department, only three are female. One is a male not from MenCo. All four of them are (only) Managers. The remaining 20 are men, from MenCo.

    The other employees in my department are in two roles, and one is considered ‘more prestigious’ than the other. All the people in that role are men; all but two are from MenCo. The ‘lesser’ role is filled predominantly with women from MenCo, mixed in with maybe 4 men from MenCo, and only a few of us old-timers left from before. Also note that prior to our WFH situation, one coworker came out as gay and another came out as trans-woman, and both left within a year due to negative attitudes that were dismissed as part of Menco’s culture.

    I…don’t quite know what to make of this. It’s really just now hitting me that my department has moved from diversity and inclusivity to…what? I’m not even sure what to call it. The change in perception and treatment of women has happened so slowly that I only really noticed it when I was moved to a different team early last year. Now that I’m working with people who are newer to the company, I’m seeing it more and more.

    I’m not sure what I could, or should, do. Try to call out this lack of diversity? Town halls and chat sessions do not seem appropriate or safe. We don’t have a DEI committee. I have no idea how HR would handle an observation like this but based on what happened with the two that left, not well. Should I just leave it alone?

    1. Winds have shifted*

      With the recent court cases banning race-related and sex-related exclusive programs I’d leave it alone.

    2. Goddess47*

      IF – and only IF — you get along well with your supervisor (your grand-boss would be better but probably unlikely), you could have a gentle conversation wondering about diversity. “Gee, it’s so interesting what has happened over time!”

      Sometimes, knowing there’s awareness about the lack of diversity will at least put it on the table.

      As a single person, you’re unlikely to affect changes. And unless you’re in a position to be on a hiring committee, you’re not going to get too far.

      Yes, it’s a mess. But especially since it’s government hiring, there’s likely not a lot you can do. Unfortunately.

      But do mention it in casual conversations… no one can stop you from stating facts. ::grin::

      Good luck!

    3. RagingADHD*

      So it’s turned into a good ole boy network from MenCo? This seems like it will be tricky to call out without appearing to be anti-immigrant or anti-MenCo ethnicity/culture.

      What is the org structure like above your department VP?

      Does your company or your state’s regulations for quasi-govt entities have rules about public posting of jobs and standardization of interviews? Because the first thing that comes to mind is that it looks like VP and SR Dir are hiring extensively from within their personal networks. Even if that’s not true, the optics suggest it and are not good for a quasi-public entity. That might be a different perspective to bring up with HR or other avenues in management, if you think a straightforward appeal to DEI issues would not get heard.

  19. had it, officially*

    Any advice for or success stories of convincing the higher ups to hire more people for a struggling department?

    The teal deer is when I started, the Llama Grooming Dept had 5 groomers. Then they moved/fired people around so now there are only 3. They also dissolved the Llama Farmers Outreach Dept and folded the work of the 3 people doing that into one (!!) of the groomers’ workload.
    This was never tenable in my opinion but it wasn’t my department so I didn’t see the point in saying anything.

    Now one of the groomers is on unexpected medical leave for an unknown amount of time so the work of 3 (+) people is falling to 2 people. Both people said they were drowning (& have been for awhile) so…now I’m a temporary emergency llama groomer on top of my own job.

    I’m willing to help out as a good team player & my workload is definitely smaller but this cannot continue. Higher ups claim this is temporary, but they also told the groomer who now does all the outreach work the same lie 2 years ago.

    Is there any hope here or should I be quietly job searching?

    1. Colette*

      The answer is to stop drowning – do what you can do, and let the other stuff fail. Right now, the only people feeling the pain are the groomers; you need to change that.

    2. Rick Tq*

      First, all of you should start working your normal day and go home. No OT, no weekends. Drop jobs. Miss deadlines including deadlines for mandated documentation.

      Management doesn’t feel your pain so they are focused on being under budget (lower salary cost) and not caring about poor delivery.

      1. had it, officially*

        I wish I could get the groomers to see that. The one stuck in two roles routinely works past 7 (we start at 8!) & weekends. I’m very adamant about not bringing work home with me and I don’t plan on changing that.

      2. pally*

        Yes!
        Might let management make the decision on priorities.

        In fact, you might approach the manager and ask them to be very specific as to which tasks are to be prioritized in the 8 hours of the workday. Then tell them what can be completed in that 8 hour day. Which tasks shall we leave undone?

        And then physically leave for the day at the end of the regular workday. No OT.

    3. Tio*

      Well, honestly they’re probably not going to change until the work stops getting done. Especially if it’s not really your department, you probably can’t do much.

      There’s a chance the actual department manager could bring them some actual figures – average llama grooming time, divided by eight hours, show that each person could groom 4 llamas per shift but we’re trying to get 7 each in, based on that we would need X additional full time spots, and if we continue this way we either will not get the llamas groomed or the haircuts will be bad and people will stop coming in for them. But again, that’s not really something I think you could do, and I’m not sure they would listen even if the manager did say it.

      1. had it, officially*

        There’s no department manager. The defacto leader is the groomer on medical leave

        The more I think about it, the more I realize how dysfunctional this place is. Sigh.

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      Yes. As a manager…keep a journal of your activities and the problems you face for a few weeks. Make lists of things not getting done. Be ready for them to say they want to automate away stuff or that it’s ok for some things to not get done. Then don’t do those things and see if it causes problems.

      also try to tie dollar amounts to it. “KMG left us because we couldn’t respond to their requests quick enough and they used to pay $20K a year” type stuff.

      In other words, be specific, not just “I am busy”

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      I lead a team that had two people leave last year. It didn’t take terribly long for us to get approval to backfill those positions…but then upper management and HR put the brakes on and said “don’t post those positions until we give the go-ahead.” It took months. I had to have advocacy from my boss and her boss (my grand-boss’s boss is the level of management that had put the brakes on). They got me the access I needed to be able to directly plead my case to great-grandboss and the head of HR, talking about all the stuff my team actually does that they never really saw, and about how much we were going to have to STOP doing if we couldn’t fill those positions. Eventually we got the g0-ahead.

    6. Nailed It!*

      Let the disasters happen. The department accidentally double paid everyone in the entire company because they were understaffed. After that, magically the extra employees budget was approved.

    7. Brain Flogged*

      You are not helping, you are working, and sounds like it’s not your job, are you being paid for it?
      Also, if the higher ups lied to the groomer two years ago, would you believe then now?

  20. Exhausted Electricity*

    any advice on navigating office politics as a lower level independent contributor? I had to draw out a map for myself as I figured out who had which secret alliance and obviously that’s wrong, but there’s so many project managers that constantly swap duties without telling anyone. They leave the Independent Contributors off calls so we don’t know about scope changes and process changes and then get mad we did a project wrong.

    With my dumb lil map that looks like Europe Pre-WW1, I can now usually predict which manager got which new job duty, but that feels unprofessional to have to keep referencing and updating.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      You have a map? I just keep it in my head for my own amusement. I would do something like directly asking people about the projects but I’m kinda blurry on the details

      1. Exhausted Electricity*

        i had to draw it out because if I ask the wrong person about it they say they’ll follow up, and suddenly it’s 2 months later and I’m pulling up my email begging for answers that they never forwarded.
        with the map, when Project Manager A says he’ll follow up, I know that this means I have to go to Project Manager C because PM B refuses to do that kind of work and is best buddies with PM A, but PM C hates work in general so if I want the answer to my question I have to be prepared to do a bunch of admin work that PM C doesn’t want to do.
        It’s a terrible constantly updating mind map in OneNote because PM A and PM D had a fight so if you need something from either of them, they cannot know if you approached the other first or their allies will refuse to give information.

        1. Overeducated*

          OMG, why do you even have project managers?! They are not sounding very useful as far as coordinating work….

    2. JustMyImagination*

      It is unprofessional to have to update your alliance map but that’s because it’s an unprofessional way to run a department. And that’s not your fault!

      You could point out some recent failures where projects went wrong and use it to suggest a shared drive, Microsoft Teams Team, sharepoint site, etc where all project related documents like scopes of work, roles, meeting minutes and agendas, etc are saved. Say you could make sure everyone has the same information so if they’re OOO and miss a call, they can still get caught up and keep everyone working together in the right direction.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      This can be harder in a remote work environment, but think about your relationships with colleagues at a similar level to you as talking things through often can provide insight into office politics.

    4. olusatrum*

      I have found some limited success trying to let go of feeling like I need to anticipate people’s needs when they don’t communicate them. You and I aren’t in high enough positions for this to be our problem. I am very used to trying to be a detective/mind reader when it comes to figuring out what other people want, so it takes effort for me to let it go. But it helps me be less stressed out at work. I try to notice when I’m guessing what someone wants, and that prompts me to just ask instead.

      It helps if I keep my own work as straightforward and transparent as possible. Sometimes it feels like I’m throwing someone under the bus when I point out the communication gap that led to the project being wrong. Or it feels awkward to admit that I don’t know something I “should” have known. But that’s not my fault. I’m alert, engaged, and paying attention at work – if I was supposed to know something, someone should have told me. Over time, the more I’ve just stated outright that I didn’t know I was supposed to consider info I didn’t have, the more people have started including the details I need in their requests.

      If appropriate, maybe you could turn the map into a sort of directory for job duties and show that to someone in a leadership position, see if it’s something they’d want to implement as an actual solution. Maybe it’ll at least illustrate the problem: no one’s telling you what’s going on. My PMs shift around all the time too – we stuck a document like this on our Sharepoint. Sometimes it’s not up to date and I ping the wrong PM, but that’s their problem and they get me to the right person. I open a lot of emails with “I asked so-and-so this question and they pointed me to you.”

  21. Utility worker*

    Does anyone have experience hiring or managing a customer service team that you know is going to deal with a lot of angry customers? I work for a utility that is required by the state to make certain changes and the public is… upset to say the least.

    Before the change we spread customer response around to a few different departments so people with the right specialties could answer questions, but this is increasingly taking up too much time and we need to hire dedicated people to deal with the customers. The problem is that mostly we can’t do anything to help them? We’ll be hiring someone whose job it is to repeat, “yes, I hear you that this change is difficult for you and will cost you money, but we’re require to make it by the state,” to people who just want someone to yell at because they don’t believe climate change is real.

    Does anyone have tips on how to hire for this, how to make his job not suck? We’re in the early planning stages so I would really love any experience anyone can share.

    1. Colette*

      Although the job requires dealing with upset people, it should not require dealing with abusive customers – your CSRs should be allowed/encouraged to hang up on people who are swearing at them or threatening them.

      Other than that, you just have to be clear what the job is when you’re hiring. Be honest that they will be dealing with people who are upset, and that they have limited options to help them.

      And think about your infrastructure to support them – what is the message you want them to communicate? If the customer insists on escalating, what should they do? What does success look like when dealing with an upset customer?

      1. jellied brains*

        Agreed, give your CSRs the power to terminate calls with abusive customers without any professional repercussions.

        Also, are there any assistance programs they can direct customers to?

        1. Utility worker*

          We absolutely let people hang up if customers are abusive, it’s more the ones who toe the line of not raising their voices or cursing but are still very difficult to appease. Is their further criteria you would say warrants hanging up? I would love to add to the list, but it’s hard to put a finger on describing in what way the calls are unpleasant.

          Our managers are happy to take any needed escalations, but for the most part they don’t have the time to talk to everyone (and the answer stays the same so it’s not like they can do anything except make the customers feel like someone important listened to them).

          We do have some programs to help people who need it, but the problem is people don’t want to make changes because they don’t think there is need. There’s a lot of climate change denial wrapped up in “this is how I’ve always done things”. The people who genuinely can’t afford the changes are actually the best calls to take, because we can actually help them and find a solution.

          1. nopetopus*

            You could set a time limit for these types of calls. After all information has been communicated to the angry caller, clarification has been given, and now the angry person is just ranting or re-asking the same questions, allow X minutes more listening to/empathizing with the caller, then disconnect politely.

            “I really hear what you’re saying, and I’m sorry this change is impacting you this way. Unfortunately, it’s out of Company’s control. Please feel free to access the resources provided, but right now I have to help other callers who are waiting so I will need to disconnect. Thank you for calling Company, and have a good day.”

          2. WorkerDrone*

            I bet it would help to offer a few scripts for responses/answers, but also to offer your CSRs a general time frame for calls.

            For example, 5 minutes of soothing and listening and repeating the same answers might be reasonable, but by 10 minutes, maybe it is obvious it is time for the call to be over.

            So I would add to that criteria the time spent on a call – that after X amount of minutes, the CSR is empowered to professionally and politely say something like, “I am sorry to hear of the impact and I will absolutely pass this feedback on to the relevant person. I need to end the call now so I can help someone else.” (Or something like that – I’m sure someone else can come up with better language!)

            It will also be easier for your CSRs to handle those more unpleasant calls if they know that there is a time limit to the unpleasantness.

          3. Lexi Vipond*

            I’m being a bit flippant here, but it sounds like you need some of the people basically roleplaying supervisors each day – not organising each other, but using a slightly fancier title and being the second person who takes time to listen…

            1. Random Academic Cog*

              That was my thought as well. And have them switch off as the “second line” so they get to role play a little – help break up the depressing part of the job.

          4. Mad Harry Crewe*

            – Pay well
            – Be clear during hiring that a lot of people are just upset and part of the job is being a sympathetic ear while people are upset
            – Set a time limit for non-productive calls, and give the rep scripts for getting off the phone. “I hear you that this is super frustrating. I can see we have a lot of other folks calling in, so unless you have another question I do need to let you go”
            – Give your reps something they can offer to the customer. “Oh, let me get your info, we’re collecting feedback on these changes.” Will anything happen as a result of the feedback? No, but, but you are Collecting Feedback. Doing something, even if it’s not the thing the customer really wants, is going to feel like less of a dead end than a flat no. This also lets them end the call. “Ok, I’ve got all that down and I’m submitting it. Anything else I can help you with today? Ok, you have a great afternoon” and end.
            – Make sure pay and professional standing are not linked to complaints or customer ratings. There’s a fine line here where you don’t want to keep on people who are actually bad at the job, but you know a lot of people aren’t going to be satisfied with the service they’re getting. Don’t set people up to fail by requiring them to satisfy a certain number of unsatisfiable people.
            – Is there a way your reps can use tools like forced teaming? I used to be a supervisor in a travel-related call center, and I cannot tell you how many times I got unhappy customers onside by framing it as us against the airlines (this had the advantage of also being true). It’s probably not appropriate for your team to be like “oh my god, I know, right, how could the state do this to us” but if there’s some way to cast this as “I’m on your side” that’s all to the good
            – Spitballing, since I don’t know what the change is or exactly what role your org plays, but “I’m on your side, I want to make sure you don’t get dinged by regulators or inspectors when this rolls out next year” is the main strategy I can think of
            – Get really clear about the different types of customers and what the goals are for them. Train your team on how to recognize who they’re talking to and what they should be aiming for with each group, especially the ones who are just mad and in denial that this is a necessary change. Is the goal that they are persuaded that this is necessary and appropriate? Is the goal to collect info about who may be likely to violate the new law so you can check up on them later? Is the goal that they stop calling? Is the goal that they comply, whether or not they like it? Your call center is going to be able to effect some of these better than others. For instance, your call center can’t fix compliance – the best they can do is maybe nudge things a bit. Inspectors and permit folks and regulators and whatever are going to need to enforce compliance. But your call center can probably manage “most of them stop calling back” by making people feel heard and not giving them a ton to latch on to.

      2. Utility worker*

        I think your last paragraph really gets at what we need to think about, so thank you for those questions. I will bring them to our strategy meeting and I think they could help us frame our training.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m only partially joking — pay somebody who works customer service for your local cable company to train your staff.

      1. Utility worker*

        That’s actually a really good idea! we just don’t have the experience healing with this kind of thing and have beed talking about outside training, so I’ll bring it up.

    3. TX_Trucker*

      The local municipality provides free yoga classes for all their CSRs. Also, try doing a search for 911 operators and “behavioral nudging.” It’s not exactly the same thing, but it’s still about dealing with burnout and stressful situations.

      1. Jane Bingley*

        Is there specific advice your CSRs can give angry people for directing their frustration to the “right” people?

        I’m thinking: “I understand your concern about the impact these changes have to your family budget. We’re required to make these changes by state/federal law. Your legistlator is the one who needs to hear your concerns about the impact. You can reach your legislator by phone at (123) 456-7890.” Or: “the government has set up a feedback website at gov.org where you can raise your concerns for upcoming policy discussions.”

    4. Eviltwinjen*

      A few thoughts from my experience working with the public (in the library world): ignoring rude/inappropriate language is always a bad idea, and can make it escalate further if the caller consciously/unconsciously wants to get a reaction. Staff need to set boundaries right away, sometimes this nips the problem in the bud. If the caller’s behavior isn’t over the line, but is unproductive, keep redirecting back to what the employee CAN do/CAN help with. We often say things like: “I can’t get into that with you, but is there something the library can help you with today?” (in response to questions about my political/religious views) or “I can’t comment on that/help with that, but do you have a library question?” (when patrons want to discuss their conspiracy theories). Validate what you can, sympathize where you can.

    5. NaoNao*

      There is a “silver b*llet” phrase that I deployed in my call center days that calmed about 50% of unreasonable people down “Do you have a solution in mind for this, given what we’ve covered already?” or “What is your suggestion?”

      This can sometimes get people to realize that they don’t have any suggestions and there IS no solution!

      Another magical phrase is “I wish I could tell you differently but…” like acknowledge that the situation is difficult and not changeable.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Another strategy is to be on their side: “I know – can’t believe that’s happened! Here’s what we can do…” If you agree that their concerns are warranted, it’s hard for many people to keep arguing.

    6. Good luck!*

      When I’ve dealt with angry consumers it has always helped if they realize I’m in their shoes too. I’m not just a faceless uncaring gov’t bureaucrat who doesn’t give a damn about their issues — I’m a consumer too. I have to make ends meet, I have to deal with frustrating ted tape , in your case your employees may even be subject to the same changes folks are complaining about. I found when people understood this that they calmed way down, and many times thanked me for being empathetic. I don’t know if you can let reps get that personal, and it can also result in longer calls — but it’s something you might want to think about. Of course only do it if it’s genuine! Don’t have reps feign similar circumstances when they aren’t true. As to how it might help your reps — I felt better doing a stressful job and giving bad news when the consumer understood we are all in it together, and they were not being unfairly targeted.

  22. Tired*

    How do you navigate being a finalist for two internal positions with your current organization? I had my final interview for Job#1 last week, and my final interview for Job #2 this week. I have never been a double finalist before.

    Job #1 pays more than my current role ( $1 to $3 extra per hour) but does not offer upward mobility unless I pursue a second master’s. The job duties would be more compatible with my extroverted personality and the hiring committee seemed to really like my ideas and personality. I learned today that Job #1 is checking my references which is a positive sign.

    Job #2 is $0.75 less per hour but has more advancement opportunities. It is more of an introvert job, although I also got good vibes from this hiring committee as well (although I think I am more of a standout for Job #1’s committee).

    I am currently in a department where I am overlooked by my supervisor and team (I earlier made efforts to remedy this but realized it was a lost cause). I have been trying to get a new job for three years. My personality does not mesh well with my current team. Based on my situation, should I take Job #1’s offer before hearing from Job #2? So far, I plan to accept whoever gives me an offer first since I have endured years of being stuck.

    I am open to any advice and ideas you have. My loved ones think I should take Job #1 if offered and figure out long term goals later.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I vote more money. You can always switch companies to job hunt the next upward mobility or even go after that 2nd masters. Decrease of 0.75/hr at 40hrs/week is a loss of like 1,500 annually. That doesn’t bode well for your future raises either. If you need social, being in a role without it is really tough and demoralizing.

    2. Elsewise*

      Sounds like you feel more likely to get Job 1, prefer the work and culture around Job 1, and will make more money in Job 1. There aren’t opportunities for advancement, but you’ve been stuck for years already. If you got both and took Job 2, you’d be taking a pay cut for the possibility of advancing in a work environment that doesn’t appeal to you. It might be better than your current situation, but I agree with your loved ones, Job 1 sounds like a better fit. My advice: If you hear from Job 1 first, take Job 1. If you hear from Job 2 first, wait to see what happens with Job 1.

    3. Nailed It!*

      More money. Just because that specific department requires a master’s degree doesn’t mean you can’t go up in another department or another company.

      Plus in my experience a MUST for external is less of a MUST internally (but I don’t work for your company so I can’t really speak to that).

    4. Tired*

      Thanks for your feedback everyone! I got an email that Job #1 is doing a reference check, so there is a chance a job offer could be in the works!

  23. Grizzly Barrister*

    Can anyone suggest some leather flats for work that stand up to wear and tear? I’m a US Women’s Size 11 and I am really hard on shoes, one reason being that I’m tall and weigh a lot. I’d like something that looks more expensive or luxurious than my usual cheap patent leather or synthetic that I have to replace at the six month mark, but I’m afraid to bite the bullet and spend $500-750 without a real-world recommendation. I typically go for solid color, non-flashy shoes that would be appropriate for court.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Check out the brand Keens, I’m not sure if they have flats right now, but their oxford dress shoes for women have lasted me 2.5 years now with at least 2mile of walking daily. REI usually stocks them in store if you want to try on.

    2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Taos have some flats that are comfortable and offer arch support. So does Vionic and these can have a dressier look.

    3. SereneScientist*

      Grizzly, you might like Cole Haan shoes. They’re middle of the road in terms of cost, but hold up well and have a lot of styles/cuts of flats available.

      1. Miwa*

        I’d recommend Cole Haan’s, too. I used to buy new flats every year but my last pair is from Cole Haan’s, and they have held it together for a little over 3 years. Financially, it’s cheaper if you think of it as cost/year. I only have 1 pair of flats and have altered between headquarters and manufacturing environment, so they have gotten a lot of wear.

    4. BellyButton*

      Portland Leather — they have amazing loafers and flats. All are 30% off right now. They are so comfortable and made so well.

      1. Anecdata*

        fyi Portland leather is ALWAYS 20-30% off (and it’s always the “last day of the sale”. I like their styles but don’t feel like you need to decide in a hurry when you see their marketing

    5. Area Woman*

      Vionic makes ones with arch support. I am also a big, athlethic build with some extra pounds and I wear a size 11. They are comfortable. Naot is another brand I like, they are not cute but bland and very, very durable.

      1. Quandong*

        Seconding Naot for extremely durable shoes, suitable for conservative work environments – and which come in more than one width, and removable innersoles (so, good if you wear orthotics). Mine last for years with daily wear and I am average height but quite fat and heavy.

    6. Flats for all*

      Hotter shoes. They definitely have some grandma shoes but also some cute, leather flats, Mary Janes. They’re known for having comfortable walking shoes in many sizes and widths

    7. Jenny*

      I really like Tieks. I think they hold up well and I’m not a small person either. They have lots of colors and I wouldn’t call them flashy.

    8. Milton's Swingline Stapler*

      Have you tried Clarks? They’re study, high quality, comfortable, have a wide variety of styles, and mid-range in terms of price (in the $100-$150 range if you buy direct) but everyone is having sales right now, and you can also find them at secondary retail stores like DSW for less.

      1. WestsideStory*

        Seconding Clark’s. They come in a broad size range, the flats available are passably stylish and they last! I walk 3-5 miles a day in the city nearly every day, and am just replacing the pair that lasted two years. DSW will have the best prices.

    9. Grimley*

      Try Nordstrom or Zappos, both of which have excellent return policies. If you spend $$$$ and they fall apart, you can and should take them back. I wore AGLs for years, although some were like slippers and others uncomfortable despite being same still. Classic look, I was on my feet constantly including outside and they did fine.

      1. Kay*

        Here to second AGL. If you have the outlet version of Nordstrom (forget the name) you can find them for amazingly cheap – like well under $100 cheap. These and Vionic have held up well and were comfortable.

    10. Pretty as a Princess*

      If you have wiggle room on the leather, I would look at Rothys. They are made from recycled soda bottles and you can toss them in the wash to clean them.

      My college kid has had a pair of black Rothy’s pointed toe flats for 6 years and they still look brand new. I have 3 pair that are a few years old. They hold up for hours and hours on foot (think running around state legislative buildings, the Pentagon, running through airports etc). They are very nice looking – there are some funner colors/prints than can be more casual/funky, but in the solid black they are a perfect flat dress shoe.

    11. Lemon Chiffon*

      How do you feel about oxfords? I love my Dr. Marten’s, and I wore them almost every day before I got pregnant and shoes became The Evil. I stick arch support inserts in for extra cushion, but I have had them for years and they are still going strong in spite of lots of work-related dancing, running, and walking.

    12. Can't Sit Still*

      The Office of Angela Scott has comfortable shoes that look professional and don’t have flashy branding. They use Goodyear welts, so they can be resoled. You can go directly to the Little Black Shoe section on their site to avoid metallics/flowers/velvet, etc.

      The brand IS pricy, but is having a sale right now. Sales are typically on their solid colors, as the flashier styles are the ones that sell out.

    13. MaryB*

      I bought my favorite pairs of leather boots from Thursday Boot Co. They just came out with a range of flats. I can’t vouch for those specifically, but the boots have lasted 3 years of near-daily use Oct-Mar and I expect to get another couple of years out of them. I believe the flats are about $120.

    14. JM in LA*

      I’ll second Keen (works well with inserts) and Taos (most also take inserts). Would you consider DocMaarten’s? They have a new line that doesn’t require breaking in. I like them generally, BUT they do require breaking in.

  24. Rubies*

    Any tips on handling corporate long-hours culture in the short term? My husband has been trying to set boundaries around his working day but he’s not getting anywhere. His manager has flat-out stated she expects him to work evenings and weekends. She refuses to engage in conversations about how to prioritise his work, stating that it is all important. She does not believe in time-in-lieu. Previous colleagues have been driven to the point of quitting due to the expectations. My husband’s grandboss is a bully who previously damaged the progression of another colleague who stood up to him, so there’s no use going to him.

    My husband knows that the only real solution is to find another job. In the short term, is there anything that might help, short of holding his ground? Are HR ever helpful in these cases? Can anyone recommend other sources of support or advice? My husband’s health is suffering. We’re in the UK, he’s a salaried employee.

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      what is the industry and general level? This is very job dependent. Some people take higher pay for this trade off. TBH I’ve seen people do that and then 10 years later decide they want work life balance and you’re thinking, yeah, that’s not something this job offers, which is why you make so much.

      That being asked, “it’s all important” seems like too lax management but could be a separate problem.

        1. allathian*

          Finance is notorious for long hours all over the world. There’s a reason why people switch careers to something else in their 40s or 50s.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      This won’t necessarily help with the crazy manager, but it might help with the boundaries: make sure there is total separation between work electronics and home electronics. If he’s been getting email/teams/text messages on his personal phone, that’s not going to help in the least. Google voice numbers are free to cheap, and can be forwarded to your personal phone if needed.

      I wish him good luck in job searching!

    3. Grizzly Barrister*

      My understanding is that you have relatively robust laws in the UK about how much you’re allowed to work, your right not to be contacted after hours, etc., so it might be worth a chat with a UK lawyer to see if your husband’s profession has those types of protections. Aside from that, I would definitely consider going to HR and framing it as a work and prioritization issue. As in, “I’ve tried multiple times to discuss prioritization with my boss, who has refused, and at this point we need HR to mediate the issue because we’re at an impasse.” Additionally, keep everything in writing, keep notes of times when his boss is contacting him after hours, and keep pushing the narrative that prioritization is required and not being provided in emails. When he gets a new email, say something like “Hi boss, I’ve received your email, I’m working on X and Y projects and they’ll be done by Z date. Let me know if you’d like me to prioritize differently.” And then stick to the timeline, and bring those out as examples for HR discussions.

    4. Bobina*

      if he has been employed longer than 2 years, it becomes much, much more difficult to fire him. so if that’s the case, he can just…not work ridiculous hours while he job hunts.

      HR may or may not be helpful, it depends on the size and company culture. if he wants to go down that route, it’s best if he has a clear idea of what it is that he needs.

      if his health is actually suffering, I’d also see about getting a sick note from a GP to support working less hours or just taking time off work due to stress (assuming it’s not just statutory sick leave).

    5. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      I have no advice about handling corporate long-hours culture.

      But I do have this about trying to set boundaries and not getting anywhere because other people (with power over the boundary setter) won’t cooperate.

      Boundaries don’t require other people’s cooperation; boundaries are about what the boundary-setter will or will not do, themself, whatever other people may think, say, feel, or do about it. Setting boundaries or deciding what your boundaries are, is all about what is actually inside your own control. It needs to take into account likely outcomes/consequences and how you will deal with those while maintaining your boundary.

      So for example, manager can say “you are expected to work evenings and weekends” (with “or else consequences” implied). Husband (in consultation with you, since you’re affected by his choices) can recognize what’s within his power to control (how much/under what circumstances he will work evenings and weekends, or whether he will at all; how or whether he will communicate that decision; NOT whether his manager/company will agree to that, allow it or support it) and estimate likely outcomes depending on what he decides to do. If manager or company penalize a choice the don’t like, or pressure him to do what they want instead, what will he do to ensure whatever choice he makes is one he can and will stand by?

      Then he decides what he’s going to do, and –this is the key– he does what he decided.
      If he sets a boundary that is within his ability to control and cope with consequences, and he sticks with it, then everyone else who tries to override his boundaries will be the ones not getting anywhere.

      1. Awkwardness*

        Agree. And according to the expected consequences you might assist the approach.
        How did your husband frame these conversations so far – is there room for little white lies as: He has to regularly take his turn in watching the kids in the evening or has he another commitment? He needs to take a sports class for health reasons? A hobby you both do together as dancing classes? This might help with occasional free time. Things you do with/ for others are more difficult to dispute.
        Have clear boundaries between work and home mentally and physically (dedicated workplace if WFH together with a dedicated drawer, so laptop and papers can disappear in the evening instead of looming over you).

        And then go job hunting. You cannot change company culture/ industry culture on your own and I doubt HR would take this task either.

    6. Anecdata*

      Does he have so much work to do it /actually/ requires weekend andv evening, or is the boss just invested in appearances?

      If it’s more the second… occasionally use schedule send tofire off that draft that was done at 5pm at midnight?

  25. WorkerJawn*

    Does anyone have links to an explanation of how healthcare strikes work? I am curious how providers navigate caring for patients while advocating for their rights. Thanks!

    1. Rara Avis*

      Having gone through one as a patient before the current one, a lot of things get delayed — my kid was seeing a provider for an issue and our appointments just got canceled because it wasn’t urgent/life-threatening. I try not to get angry at the strikers however inconvenient it is for me.

    2. cactus lady*

      I’m a Kaiser patient and I probably have strep throat. I got a phone appt with a doc today but I can’t get a strep test because of the strikes. I’m actually going to an outside clinic and paying out of pocket for it (and i’m very grateful it’s withing my means to do so – I know that isn’t the case for a lot of folks) and having it sent to the doc. He prescribed me antibiotics already, but I don’t want to take them unless I actually need them, so this is the route I chose. My other options were to take the antibiotics without getting tested (normally not an option when there aren’t strikes), or to hold off until the strikes are over and then call back to arrange a test if I still feel like I need one. And to go to urgent care or the emergency room if things got much worse. He did mention that I am the first patient he had spoken with who couldn’t get care because of the strikes since they began.

      Also, as a former medical assistant, they def need to get paid more for the stuff they deal with.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      We have recently been having a lot of health care worker strikes here in the UK. (You know your gov’t is crappy when they inspire most of the country’s nurses to go on strike for the first time ever.) Our health staff have specific strike days, so they don’t walk out indefinitely, they will pick a specific number of days in a specific period to strike. Elective procedures and outpatient appointments are rescheduled.

      Minimum service levels for Accident & Emergency (ER) departments and services like maternity wards are agreed in advance by the unions. If there is a mass casualty incident, A&E staff will abandon picketing for the day and go back to work – this has happened several times since strikes began.

      NHS health care workers are, in general, hugely underpaid and over-worked, so I support the strikes even though I suspect the strikers won’t get their demands met.

      1. The Coolest Clown Around*

        In the US, unions are required to provide healthcare organizations with notice at least 10 days before a strike happens, which gives places like hospitals enough time to hire for emergency care coverage. They also have predefined strike lengths – ex: we will strike for four days. Unlike strikes in other fields, generally the goal is to minimize the impact on Healthcare customers while reminding employers that refusing to pay people their worth is MORE expensive in the long run. The real threat, especially lately, is that people will leave the career field – and at that point there’s nothing the hospitals/medical facilities can do to turn the tide.

    1. hypoglycemic rage*

      not today, but i’ve had issues the last couple weeks both posting and seeing new comments.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      Sometimes comments get unexpectedly caught in moderation. In my experience, it’s common for the comment to show up five minutes (or more) after I’ve submitted it.

  26. A turtle in shark waters*

    What can you say to a boss (or grand boss) who abuses your time to feed his own ego?

    Each meeting we have time stamps and he cannot abide them! I’m talking meetings running 30-45 minutes over consistently. Two days ago we were promised if we finished a project ahead of time, we would have the time back to finish other projects that are more detrimental to our jobs. However, at the end of another meeting that went over, he told us that because 80% of the department had finished the project early, he felt comfortable going over by 30 minutes.

    I bristled, and I think that’s messed up, but I don’t know what I can say if anything.

    1. BellyButton*

      Can you say “I am so sorry, but I have another meeting” and rush out? I do it all the time, but that is acceptable at my company. My boss and I rarely go over, but I have said it to him. However, he isn’t an egotistical as$ ;)

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Can you feed his ego by thanking him for his (imaginary) consideration before he pulls this crap? So, instead of letting him say “Since the project finished ahead of time we can go over time by thirty minutes”, get in first: “Thank you again for diverting some time back to Critical Unfinished Project, I’m going to get straight on it when we finish at 3”, or “Great idea, to use any spare time on the more pressing issues, I thought that was excellent prioritisation”.

  27. Sage*

    Some time ago I read a comment on a forum, where the poster was commenting on how it is best to pretend to be a bit dumb and slow at work so that you don’t get more and more work dumped on you with no pay increase.

    There where other comments that where advising the same thing, or to make sure to look busy.

    Isn’t this dishonest? Or is it indeed better to make yourself a bit dumber, just don’t overdo it?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      In my experience, if you work faster/better and do 70% of the group’s workload you are not rewarded with more pay, or a higher title, or a promotion. You just do 70% of the work indefinitely, and when you dare to slow down and only do 50% of the group’s workload your boss comes down on you for “slacking” never mind that the other 4 people are still doing less than you.

      I don’t think you should play dumb though. If you have the ability, picking out tasks/projects that get you noticed by upper management, or give you experience with the skills to go the direction you want are better. So being smart about what work you take on is better.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      I see someone who works on my team struggle with this. If he explains rationally why he’s tabling one request to do another, they realize he’s smart when he explains the other request. Then they reason, if he’s smart enough to do that, 1) he’s smart enough to multi-task and 2) he can be reasoned with and convinced to rush the thing.

      so unfortunately he “plays dumb” out of necessity.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      Saying “act dumb” is a bit of an exaggeration, I think, but it’s good to spec your workload to 85-90% of your max capacity. This allows you to be tired, to run to a doctors appointment, etc. If you run at “all hands on deck” speed for months, you’ll burn yourself out.

      Obviously this is office-culture dependent. But in general management will see only the output without the effort, and they’ll come to expect that level of output from you. If you can really stretch yourself to paint 10 teapots a day by skipping lunch, only taking one bathroom break, and you’re exhausted at the end of the day, management won’t see that, they’ll just see “can paint 10 teapots a day.” Then when you only do 9 teapots they’ll ask what’s up. Better to start with 9 and be able to heroically paint 10 on a day when it’s really necessary.

    4. Cyndi*

      It’s not dishonest, it’s self-preservation. I have a close friend with a well established pattern of being too proactive at work, stepping up to support and train colleagues in ways outside their job description, flagging procedural issues and offering solutions that never go anywhere, etc. etc. And they hit BEC status and burn out at every job within a year or two, over and over. These days, whenever they start making noises about going Above And Beyond at work, I make it a point to go “Nope! Don’t do it!” Because we both know it’s just going to make them miserable.

      1. Sloanicota*

        It also disempowers other colleagues and coworkers when you’re always leaping into the rescue. My last boss was sooo guilty of this.

    5. Cedrus Libani*

      I agree that “give 110% effort to your employer at all times” is bad advice, but that doesn’t mean “just play dumb” is good advice. It’s more nuanced than that.

      You want to be known as a reliable, steady worker. Nobody can give 110% every day; life happens, and so does burnout. It’s far better for your reputation to give a consistent 80% rather than ping-ponging between 110% and 20%, even if your average ends up higher in the latter case.

      You also want to be known as smart and competent. That will earn you first pick of the available projects, so you can grab the promising ones that will look good on your resume. Less capable workers get the scraps.

      If you’re “fully booked” at 70-80% capacity, you retain the option to go above and beyond. Maybe there’s a stretch assignment that would move you towards your goals. You can miraculously find the time. Maybe you messed up, and/or something’s going to take longer than you thought. If you were already at 110%, you’d have no choice but to blow your deadline, but since you aren’t then you have enough time to clean up your own mess before it attracts undue attention.

      All this applies whether you have good people above you or not. But let’s say your boss is incompetent. They order you to do something that’s going to cause a huge mess. You tell them so. They don’t believe you, and they make you do it anyway. There’s a huge mess, exactly as you predicted. But you put in a heroic effort, and your project is saved. Are you the hero? The boss doesn’t think so. You told them that XYZ would be a disaster, but actually it must have been a great idea, because the project was a success. You’re obviously just a complainer who doesn’t like taking direction. This is going to keep happening, over and over, until you either quit in disgust or get yourself fired in a blaze of insubordinate glory. Yes, I’ve been there, still have the T-shirt…and yes, it was my fault, because I could have reacted differently. The correct method, as painful as it may be, is to step back and refrain from unauthorized heroics. “Boss, we’ve got a mess here, please advise.”

      1. Sage*

        As someone above already wrote, if you are constantly at 70-80%, you can prevent burnout better than if you try to be always at 100% (happened to me already a few times!).

    6. TPS Reporter*

      The discussion on weaponized incompetence yesterday was interesting. I think it makes sense to “play dumb” regarding specific tasks that are not in your job description and you have no time to do, so there’s no need to put yourself out there. You don’t want to make it known that you can do this thing and set the expectation that people can come to you, when maybe they should be going to another team or using a specific IT tool instead.

      Generally though I think setting boundaries for what you do within the scope of your job is a strategic move and I wouldn’t call that playing dumb. I think it’s okay to be more clear in these instances, to give people realistic turnaround times and a good faith assessment of how skilled you are in certain areas. In a healthy workplace you would be able to be transparent with your manager and colleagues about what you can or can’t handle, without having to pretend you are incompetent.

    7. Sage*

      Thank you to all who answered. Now it makes more sense to me how and when the tip about slowing down on work and playing dumb makes sense.

  28. DisneyChannelThis*

    Does anyone have advice on how to be your own project manager? My workplace is def lacking in middle management, and 90% of the issues I’m having would be solved if we had a project manager for the department. Things like handling 3 people all thinking their request is the most urgent and wanting it now when I cannot physically do all 3 requests at once. As well as things like giving out accurate timelines on my end. No one sees the full picture so it’s hard.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Ooo. Are you into kaban boards? Perhaps you could have a board where everyone puts requests and you can order them and say ‘ ok I’m getting to you on the 3rd’ and then they aren’t so nervous

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        I am so into them! I have a wall and a digital copy of the wall haha. It’s just for my use only, but yeah I could probably clean up the digital one and let other people access it.

    2. Bobina*

      come up with a process and communicate this to people. ideally get your boss involved as well, but basically with no PM, you need to do more of the prioritizing, planning and communicating yourself which is inefficient but there you go.

      don’t skimp on the communicating – that’s a huge part of project managing. ideally if you can find a way to make it async or self serve so people don’t have to bother you, even better.

      1. Mountain Climber*

        Can I ask what you mean by “making it asynchronous or self serve so people don’t have to bother you”?
        I’m interested in improving my project management skills.

        1. Bobina*

          So I’m not a project manager but have worked with them often in my work. Things I’ve seen them do which (I think?) make their lives (and mine) easier: have a regular cadence of reporting so I always know that for example, on Fridays there will be an update email/slack message on how X is progressing, so I can just wait for that. My current company project managers have a template they all use which has a traffic light system for what’s on track, commentary on whats been achieved and any help needed which helps make sure stakeholders have a good idea of whats happening.

          Roadmaps and status of things are stored somewhere I can easily access so that I know whats going on (And again, I dont have to bother them to ask). If you are in charge of prioritising, then it also helps me if I can know whats coming up next.

          Basically if there are things you can do to share information more widely and *not* in a meeting, all the better.

  29. A. Nonymous*

    My idiot coworker managed to accidentally commit fraud for two years, and her useless lump of a manager is doing nothing to oversee her work going forward.

    I do however have a sick sense of satisfaction that said loser manager’s complete and total lack of standards for hiring assistants has finally come back to bite her in the ass in a very public way. Maybe you should have had standards, Meghan!!!!

    1. BellyButton*

      OO this sounds juicy! I wish you could give more details. I am trying to figure out how one “accidently commits fraud”

      1. A. Nonymous*

        In concur. Allocating to the same, singular company rather than the company that was visited during business trips.

          1. A. Nonymous*

            It’s escalated beyond the point of me knowing what’s going on, but the fact that NO ONE at the company caught this for two years (and this is a nationally recognized name in finance) is deeply alarming to me…. and no one else.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          OK, what? That’s an easy mistake to make but it’s also a really easy thing to discover and fix. Two years?

          1. A. Nonymous*

            Yeah, I’m not part of finance/accounts payable so I can’t speak to HOW it happened, but HOLY SHIT IT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED

  30. Carmichael Lemon*

    I’m struggling with long term burnout in my job. I’m job searching but it is slow going, and I shouldn’t quit because health insurance. So I’m in a situation where I need to try to work less and pace myself so that I don’t end up quitting out of desperation.

    What would really help me is a long, long vacation, but my boss is notorious for messaging me on weekends, vacation, holidays, sick leave, whether I respond or not. So instead I want to work slightly shorter hours (like 7 hours instead of 8) to give myself more time to rest in the evenings. My commute is about 90 minutes a day and I’m the only person on my team who is in the office 4-5 days a week, so I feel it would be a fair trade off. But what do you think? Am I asking for something unreasonable? Obviously I can’t tell my boss I’m job searching, but I do think I need to let them know I am riding close to the edge on burnout, and this is the only (minimal) solution short of a leave of absence.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I don’t think you’re asking for something unreasonable, but I’m going to repeat some advice I mentioned above: your boss should not be able to access you after working hours. If they’ve been contacting your personal number, it might be time to set up a Google Voice number and let them talk to that after blocking work numbers on your personal phone. Shut your laptop down at 5 pm.. Practicing a full electronic communications blackout will hopefully get your boss off your back during times when you should be able to recharge.

      1. Cookie Monster*

        In addition to WPX’s comment, you can also just hide notifications from your boss when you’re out. You say you don’t respond anyway, so why bother even having to see them? Temporarily block/hide/mute them.

        1. Premium Hot Towel Warmer Replacement Bulb*

          When I block temporarily numbers on my Android phone (Google Pixel), the messages just go into the ether, they don’t get delivered if and when I unblock.

    2. Lily Potter*

      Time to take a vacation where the phone doesn’t work. The locations are getting harder and harder to find, but they do exist. Make a point to talk with your boss about your trip for weeks ahead of time, emphasizing the remoteness of the location and remind him/her that cell phones do not work there. Tell him/her that you’re putting your phone into your suitcase after you leave the airport and THEN DO IT. Boss can text/email to his little heart’s content; by the time you see any of it, the problems will have solved themselves one way or another.

      Besides – if you’re job hunting, you’ll be starting over again with PTO balance and won’t be able to travel for a while. Take the time now.

  31. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m trying to brainstorm different jobs but a problem is that I’m ok with working hands on with people but am terrible with paperwork. Ask me to be detail oriented, I have lost your paper. Ask me to be with your horrible children I am having fun. I also am looking for a job that’s only 40 hours a week and has benefits. Ok, that sounds impossible.

    Also does anyone have a clean desk? I swear mine has socks on it now

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Is it all paperwork or just physical item paperwork, like how are you with digital paperwork? Like my friend who tutors carries around an ipad at the center and just makes notes after each session in it that the parents and her boss can read, she does not even have a desk.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        2nd reply to add -Have you considered Nannying? Lots of kid time, lots of helping kids reach milestones. If you live in HCOL the pay is good and usually includes some benefits. You can set your own requirements for hours. Just make sure you get a contract.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Digital is better because all I have to do is remember although getting other people to sign it is the worst lol.

    2. Area Woman*

      I am not detail oriented so I am a manager :) Messy desk, bad with details. I built a team of detail people and they make my vague plans happen. Not sure what industry you’re in but people thought I had ADHD until I realized I was burnt out and having high anxiety from a bad boss. Once that person was gone I could get things done. Details are not my thing, but I am not neurodivergent. As a manager I find people’s strengths.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I’m good at telling people how to do my job but am not a manager because managers have to work extra ( me: I had to work 50 hours cry cry management: I worked 60 hours this week and I’m not done yet )

    3. miel*

      How about a teacher?

      There was a really cool letter a few years back from someone who was having a hard time with details, and really found their stride as a K12 teacher. Lots of in-the-moment thinking.

      You could start out as a sub (usually just requires a bachelor’s degree) or para, while you work towards your license.

      1. Miss Lemon*

        Teaching could be a possibility but teachers have a lot of paperwork. And you can forget about working only working 40 hours a week, especially during the first year. Paraprofessionals get to work with kids and don’t have all the responsibilities that teachers do after the school day is over for planning, grading, communicating with parents, etc. My sister in law really enjoys being a para. However, it could be hard to live on a paraprofessional salary and you may/probably wouldn’t get benefits. In the schools I’ve worked in, they are mostly retired or have spouses with better paying jobs. (Actually the second part is true of many of the teachers as well.) I am a teacher.

      2. Flower necklace*

        As a teacher, there is unfortunately a lot of paperwork involved. Also takes up more than 40 hours a week.

    4. Clare*

      Do the 40 hours have to be during normal business hours? If you’re open to working weekends and holiday season and having ‘normal working hours’ as your break, that opens up a lot of options. Off the top of my head:

      -Running escape rooms
      -Setting up exhibits/kid’s programs in a science library
      -Scouts or a similar program
      -Science outreach in schools
      -Arts programs in schools
      -Action adventure tour guide
      -Glamping attendant
      -Sales in the toy dept (hard to find people who are actually keen for this)
      -Social media/inbox for children’s entertainment group
      -Family portrait photography
      -Swimming teacher

      I’d recommend looking up a bunch of the kids programs in your local area. Find as many as you can in a big brainstorming session. Exclude nothing. Then the next day do a big cull and strip the list back to things you’re actually interested in. Then the next day work out if there’s any role that suits your personal criteria in amongst those. After that, you’ve got your list of places to start stalking and you can check to see if anyone is hiring.

      Good luck!

      1. Feather Boa*

        If you do this, try to screen each employer for how admin-focused they really are. I officially do very practical jobs like these, and they do involve paperwork. Some managers help you keep the paperwork to say, 30% of the job, but others LOVE procedures and checks and reporting that will take paperwork to 60% of the job. Which is delightful….

  32. Twenk*

    I have a job offer I’m feeling really torn about and have to respond to with a decision today. I’m worried my judgment is clouded because I want out of my current job very badly. It’s got a couple of hard and soft advantages and disadvantages over my current role. Just wanted to toss that out there to the universe if anyone have tips for deciding such things!

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      My tip – toss a coin. And if the decision that comes out randomly makes you unhappy, then it’s probably the wrong decision after all.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        This is my advice too. Pay attention to your first reaction at seeing the result; it’s telling.

    2. Rosyglasses*

      If the money is pretty equal, I’d probably go with the new opportunity. It may relax enough tension and anxiety about your current role that you can keep job searching for something that feels like a better fit.

      One person I talked to when making a similar decision said, “Have you accomplished everything you want to at current job?” “Is there anything you are excited or passionate about at current job?” If there are more yes answers to those two, you should probably stay. But if it’s more no, then you should pursue other opportunities and experiences.

    3. Sherm*

      If you expect you could get another offer somewhere else within a reasonable amount of time, I would pass on this offer. If you fear that it would be a while before another offer materializes, I’d write down the advantages and disadvantages of each role. How do the disadvantages of the new role compare to the disadvantage that is making your current role a pain? You could even pretend to be a lawyer for “each side,” trying to make the strongest case possible, and see if you can tell which argument sounds more compelling.

    4. C.*

      If I’m feeling especially torn about a job offer, for me, that always means it’s not the right fit. Something is telling me to hold off, so unless I’m in a position where I can’t afford to put food on the table or keep a roof over my head, I’ll turn the offer down. I’ve never regretted it, either.

  33. A question for engineers*

    Can any engineers out there tell me if there’s any value for the student to the 3+2 degree programs that a bunch of US colleges have, where you do 3 years at a one college then 2 years at another (possibly MIT) and graduate with 2 bachelor’s degrees? (I’m wondering if it’s a way for a college that doesn’t have much engineering to offer engineering, but just an extra year of time and money invested by the student. I would get it if it led to a bachelor’s and a masters, but is there any value to two bachelor’s?)

    Also, does anyone know if there are any issues with working as an engineer if the US is you go to a college in Europe?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m surprised the 3+2 thing is still around. When I went through engineering school in the 80s, this was mostly for Ivy and Ivy-wannabe colleges who were stuck with the ‘liberal arts BA/BS is the only way to prepare you for a professional degree afterwards’ mindset, implicitly equating engineering with, I dunno, law. If your goal is to get a BS in Civil Engineering, and the 3+2 means you also have a BA in European History, then there might conceptually be a career path where that’s a slight plus, but I doubt it outweighs the cost of the extra year.

      As for your second question, I think it depends on whether you intend to eventually get a Professional Engineer (PE) certification – which only a small percentage of practicing engineers in the US get; most notably civil engineers and structural engineers who end up working in architecture or public works. (And there’s a whole professional/political thing around the PE that I’m not going to get into.). The typical path for that is to take the Engineer-in-Training (EIT) exam during your final semester of engineering school, and then after 4+ years of working under the supervision of a PE, you’re allowed to take the PE exam. You might have trouble prepping for or taking the EIT exam if you’re going to school in another country.

    2. Angstrom*

      Value to an employer, or value to you?
      If I could rewind I’d go for a program like that. There are so many interesting things outside the engineering cirriculum.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      I havent heard of this. Did a BE (bachelors engineering) degree about 10 years ago now. There is wayyyyyyyy more value in doing a 5 year BE with a strong co-op program than there is in the name brand value of the school. Students who did the co-op program all graduated with solid jobs waiting and experience at them already. (Also students who hated their co-op found out as early as freshman year that they needed to adjust and switch their career goals or majors).

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Also adding, for engineering upperclassmen years (junior, senior) you’re going to have a ton of group projects and labs where being able to work with eachother effectively is essential. Transferring in year 3 may make that more challenging than if its the same students you’ve worked on smaller projects on prior years.

    4. engineer grad*

      I don’t see much value in a 3+2 program unless you really want the liberal arts experience, or your first 3 years are extremely cheap.

      I do think there’s value in doing your first 2 years at a community college – some of my classmates saved a ton of money that way (and actually had a lot of useful skills too).

      Regarding a European degree – I personally don’t know anyone who’s done this. But I would imagine that studying in Europe would put you at a disadvantage with US employers, in large part because many employers recruit directly from specific universities, so you’d be missing out on a lot of recruiting pathways.
      (A semester in Europe is easy to do and I’d recommend it.)

    5. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m about 20 years younger than Alton Brown’s Evil Twin, but my perception of those 3+2 programs is about the same. The “standard” 4-year degree in the US is roughly equivalent to the last year of European high school, plus the more focused European bachelor’s degree. Liberal arts colleges have more breadth requirements. For most, that just means you take fewer classes in your major, but you still graduate in 4 years. If you want to be a proper engineer, though…there’s a set amount of training you need before you can design things that might go boom and kill people. So, if you want liberal arts AND a proper engineering degree, that’s going to take five years.

      (That’s five years in the classroom. There are other “5 year” programs where you’re expected to spend two semesters working, in addition to the standard 4-year curriculum.)

      In my experience, people fresh out of school are hired almost entirely based on technical skill. You won’t be expected to communicate, persuade, or otherwise do liberal arts until you’ve been promoted a few times – and by that point, nobody’s looking at the specifics of your degree. The knowledge may help you in the future, but the degree itself may not be worth the (considerable!) cost.

    6. Generic Name*

      I don’t think having 2 engineering degrees is some magical thing that opens doors for engineers. My ex has 2 engineering bachelor’s degrees, completed concurrently, and his career hasn’t exactly been dazzling (I have less experience than he does, in a less highly paid field, and I make just about as much as he does now). For engineers, one degree is plenty, and it’s what you do with it on the job that matters. One of my close friends is a c-suite executive at an engineering company (with a single engineering degree), so I think (like most industries) it’s about your skill and what you do with your degree.

    7. Miwa*

      I have a MS in Engineering from an European university and I am working as an engineer in the United States. In my experience, it’s important that you have a bachelor’s degree, the master’s is usually listed as “preferred” in the job posting. Most of the engineers that I’ve worked with have one bachelor’s degree. Worth noticing, not one company has offered more money because of the master’s. It’s was difficult to get the first job with a degree from an “unknown” university, but it can be difficult to get your first job in engineer in general. It’s the experience that counts, and working for a a well known company helps a great deal when your market yourself.

      I’ve worked in both automotive and aerospace, and I’m now working for a very well known defense contractor. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

    8. Hillary*

      I’d be hesitant about Europe just because coop programs are so useful here. They’re real, well paid work experience that often result in jobs after college.

    9. Sparkle Llama*

      First off, I am not an engineer but I went to a liberal arts school that offered 3+2 and work with engineers a lot.

      If you think you will learn better in a smaller environment 3+2 may make sense. My public liberal arts school had 100 people in the freshman sciences and then went down rapidly, a large university is likely to have 500 students that goes down but still ends up with large class sizes. Also, I know the big school that the 3+2 fed into had so much demand for those early classes that if you didn’t have registration priority or did something in the wrong order it pretty commonly takes 5 years anyways.

      From my professional life, whatever you do, please take classes that teach communication and writing. A liberal arts school may be a better environment for that where the teachers are more invested in teaching. I know my semesters at a liberal arts school are what grew my writing and communication. At the big school where I did an away semester I got no meaningful feedback. I spend a ton of time rewriting stuff engineers wrote and reminding them of implications of decisions and when I don’t do that work, it shows! Also, if you are considering engineering where you would be a consultant those soft skills are very important for the sales aspect of the job. I have been a regulator reviewing engineering work for a while and there are some people who are bad at the engineering, but the bulk of engineers I deal with (mostly civil) are fine at the engineering but not so good at the people aspect both in terms of being able to talk to other people about their work but also considering that what they are designing is for people to use and they have feelings and preferences. What makes the top 15% stand out is getting both of those skill sets in one person.

  34. Anne of Green Gables*

    My boss recently left. Their job would be a step up for me, and I am well liked and well respected. I have never been particularly interested in her job, but have applied for money reasons. There is also another internal candidate. While I like them personally, I do not like their management style at all. Several of our colleagues have mentioned that they hope I get the job (and in a obvious way that they hope the other candidate does not), how great I’ll be, how I’m really the only viable candidate, how I did most of my boss’s job anyway, etc.

    I appreciate the support, but. I really don’t want this job.

    I’ve known that from the start, but the interview is now next week. The plan was to take the job so that I have the higher pay and title, and start looking for what else is out there in early 2024. But I love my current job and don’t really want to leave, even though I’m significantly underpaid. More pay in this job is not an option. (Yes, I’ve asked, and I don’t want to go into detail, you will just have to trust me.)

    I’ve been fantasizing about pulling out of the process, but am worried that will have a negative impact on my reputation with both my higher-ups and my peers. (I’m less worried about my reputation with my direct reports.) I also know that pulling out basically hands the job to the other internal person, as I think they are only interviewing the two of us. I could work for them, I think, but I don’t really think they’d be good at the job. And our department head does not get rid of people even when they are extremely low performing or unable to do the job they are in.

    Thoughts? Advice? Sometimes the perspective of strangers can help.

    1. Rara Avis*

      I applied in a similar situation — didn’t really want to new job because it isn’t the stuff I love about my current job, but I was worried about the management profile of the other candidate. She got it, and I’m 100% happy I didn’t. She has been a fantastic team leader, and all the headaches are hers, not mine.

    2. Pocket Mouse*

      It’s pretty close to early 2024. If the role you applied for isn’t a role you would want in 2024 onward, I’d say: pull out of the running, explain that you love your job and want to stay there (/realized this isn’t the right time to make a switch), and give input on what you’d like to see in the person who does get the role. Be sure to list skills, experience, or qualities that the other applicant doesn’t have, and explain why they’d be important in the role. Maybe even offer to assist with candidate selection? Worst case scenario, your colleague gets the job and you’ll start looking elsewhere in a few months as you had already planned to do.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        The position has already closed. I could have been on the search committee had I not applied. Our pay is really low compared to other similar institutions in this metro area, so our candidate pools lately have been lacking. I suspect that is part of why they are only interviewing the two internal people.

    3. Eviltwinjen*

      What aspects of the new job in particular are you most concerned about? Is there any chance the new job could be somewhat customized to you to make it better? Could you keep some of the parts of your current job that you enjoy and offload some of the new tasks onto someone else? There’s always the possibility that if you pull out the search will be opened up if they aren’t 100% sold on the other internal candidate. I wouldn’t worry that much about damage to your reputation for pulling out. People pull out of hiring processes all the time for all kinds of reasons. Taking a job you’re sure you’ll hate does no one any favors. Another thing to consider is how you’ll feel watching someone else do your old job if you move up. Part of what keeps me from moving up in my workplace is that I know I’d have a hard time letting go of my current work.

    4. Miss Lemon*

      If you’re concerned about the other person’s management style, are you sure you will still like your current job once they take over?
      I would take the new job if offered. Since you already know you want to be making more money, it may be a chance to build your resume and skills that you wouldn’t be necessarily able to get at another company that pays more and attracts more candidates.
      I had an opportunity to work in a leadership role that I wouldn’t normally have enough experience for because I had worked with the hiring manager before. It gave me the chance to earn some valuable experience and put some things on my resume that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do. Even though I went back down a step (back into the classroom, I’m a teacher) due to a cross country move, I now feel a lot more confident about being able to get a job I’ll like if/when I decide to leave teaching. I have more options.
      Plus, you can always continue your job search if you really don’t like the new position, and you already know your current job is going to change one way or the other.
      And your direct reports are already rooting for you.

    5. Random Academic Cog*

      I almost didn’t apply for my first manager position. I liked what I was doing, and didn’t think I was ready or able to step up to my supervisor’s position. Coworkers were strongly encouraging me to throw my hat in the ring. The horrible business manager was gossiping about the applicants and it was clear if I didn’t step up I was going to end up working for someone who would be a nightmare. So I applied. I figured at least I knew what things needed to be changed and would have my team’s interests as a top priority. It was the right move and I was able to thrive.

  35. Miss Bianca*

    I have a positive update!!

    I wrote in a few weeks ago how I had a new employee check-in with my boss’s boss and was struggling with what to say because my boss has been so horrible (doesn’t listen to me, ignores my email which have caused fires, throwing me under the bus a few times, terrible communication skills, downplaying information to me, refusing to answer questions, doesn’t step in and correct me etc.).

    The check-in ended up being fine (last Friday morning), I actually kept it positive. My boss’s boss was engaged while my boss didn’t say anything. Well this past Monday morning, my boss told me he put in his 2 weeks!!! His last day would be 10/13 and he was going to “step back and focus on other endeavors”. So short term, another teammate and I will be reporting to another director in the company starting 10/9. I felt like a weight lifted off me lol.

    So this week, even though I’m still technically reporting to him, my boss canceled all the meetings with just us and hasn’t been attending other meetings this week. And last week he canceled our 1:1 for that week. I know he said he put in his 2 weeks, but I wonder if something else went on, because he has been acting like a brat with me. Not making an effort to support me and canceling meetings. I don’t know if his boss doesn’t what him working on stuff this week, or if he is just not coming to meetings/talking with me. But either doesn’t reflect well on him.

    Meanwhile, even though I’m technically reporting to the other director this week, he’s been stepping in this week and meeting with me. Already a HUGE improvement!

    I got very lucky here.

  36. Sarah S.*

    Our HR department is making big changes to our healthcare benefits for next year and it’ll be a huge downgrade for me personally. I realize that they’re doing this to make things more equitable for the team as a whole (the current offering didn’t work for everyone) but I can’t get past the fact that my OOP healthcare costs will go up. It feels like a pay cut. Especially since my husband and I were hoping to start a family in the next couple of years (I’m keeping that info private), this change could determine whether we can still do that. The thought of having to find a new job is frightening but the amazing healthcare was the biggest selling point and the reason I took this job to begin with.

    Do I bring this up with my manager or HR? What would I even say?

    1. Sloanicota*

      I think it’d be easier to advocate for a raise for yourself than anything else. It’s unlikely they’re going to rollback the healthcare decisions based on your feedback IMO, and telling them you want to leave isn’t helping. But advocating for a raise, with one factor (but not the whole argument) being the increased healthcare cost you’re going to have next year, may make you feel better about the whole thing.

    2. WellRed*

      I’m guessing they are simply adding a cheaper plan with less robust coverage? Which isn’t really making it more equitable but I digress. Be sure to let them know it’s a big downgrade for you. And ask for a raise. I bet iou aren’t the only one in the same boat.

  37. Elevator Elevator*

    I work for an always-small-and-recently-smaller company, which is currently down to two owners and two employees. We just had a key employee resign and we’re heading into several large transitions, so there have been a lot of recent conversations about what the next few months will look like and what the new normal will be after that.

    I do most of the industry-specific tasks that keep the business running, and the other employee is our admin. Between the staff just being down to the two of us and the number of Conversations the owners have been having with us recently, the difference in the owners’ attitude toward us has become really apparent. All of their conversations with me are about how much they value me, and they’re lukewarm at best with her. It’s not helping that she and the newly resigned employee are good friends, and the owners have taken it personally that she quit at such an inconvenient time.

    I’ve never been on this side of things before – I’ve had bosses who specifically disliked me, but I’ve never been the favored one, and I don’t really know if there’s anything I can or should be doing to help my coworker out. I did specifically tell my bosses that I don’t know how we’d get by if she ever chose to leave, and I’m doing what I can to prevent them from sticking her with my lower-level tasks. (This is part of a longer story.) She knows I’m doing those things, and she and I do talk about the disparity in their attitudes towards us. I wish there were more I could do, but I don’t think there is. Any thoughts?

    For the purpose of any responses, you can take it as a given that there aren’t any performance or behavioral issues that I’m not privy to. She’s a rockstar and with the way we’re structured, I would know if there were something like that going on.

    1. Goddess47*

      I suspect the best you can do is to include positive notes about the other employee in conversations/reports when it’s appropriate. “Lucinda was helpful in completing project X” sort of thing.

      In a small environment, it can be awkward. But if you’re happy with your interactions with the other person, say so. It’s probably all you can do.

      Good luck!

    2. Eviltwinjen*

      Hmm…maybe they will simmer down after some time goes by and they get over their irritation about the person who left? Keep an eye on it, and do whatever you can to support her. Keep praising her to your bosses and gently pushing back if they bag on her to you (“Wow, I’m really surprised to hear you say that!”) If it continues too long, that would be a bad sign about their reasonableness.

    3. Miss Lemon*

      I would also start dusting off my resume. With this much upheaval, you want to be prepared.

  38. Purple Jello*

    I changed my employers and rolled over to a IRÀ the Old Job 401k, closing out the account, and paying the $100 termination fee to the financial institution that Old Job uses for retirement funds. Some months later, Old Job deposited additional funds into this closed account due to an accounting error on their part. Financial Institution is now charging me another $100 termination fee to close the account and withdraw the money. This is just wrong.

    The account administrator at Old Job is not returning my call. Financial Institution cannot waive the fee because they are “following the plan’s rules”.

    Any suggestions on how to get that $100 back?

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      Start putting requests in writings and eventually leave a BBB type complaint that they need to respond to

    2. Rosyglasses*

      You probably can’t. There are pretty strict plan rules. However, I would try to keep leaning on Old Job. Are you sure it was an error? I know for myself that I will end up having to do the same thing myself next year, because I was around long enough in 2023 to be vested in 401k employer contribution which will mean they have to re-open a 401k employer account, deposit the money, and then I will have to transfer again. Although our provider doesn’t charge that fee – that seems really exorbitant.

      1. Purple Jello*

        Yes, it was an error on the old employer’s part. If I remember correctly, they send a letter (who knows if I still have it) saying they made a mathematical error and are depositing the adjusted additional funds into everyone’s accounts. I thought it was under $40 so I was going to just ignore it, but realized that it was actually closer to $160+

      2. Purple Jello*

        If I remember correctly, I received a general letter that there had been a calculation error and that they deposited the adjusted amounts into everyone’s retirement accounts. I thought at the time that it was minimal amount (<$10) so I kind of ignored it. Guess I should have jumped on it at the time.

        I figured they'd eventually close the account and send me the balance ($180), which they finally did after a year – but took $100 of that.

    3. WellRed*

      Is the additional money yours? And how on earth did finance institution allow money to be deposited in an account they charged you $100 to close?

      1. Purple Jello*

        Ya know, I asked the service rep at the financial institution that exact question: how they allowed money to be deposited into a closed account. She didn’t know, and couldn’t escalate me to anyone who would know the answer to that question.

    4. Undine Spragg*

      Tell them that if it is not resolved by X date, you will complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I had a bank with 75$ in an account that they wouldn’t give me, and that was the fire they needed to look into it further and get a resolution.

  39. GladGirl*

    Two questions about my supervisor that I would love input on.

    1. My supervisor repeats herself numerous times in the same conversation as if she doesn’t think others are hearing or understanding her. I have observed her doing this with staff at varying levels, so it’s not just with me. She will repeat herself and then follow it with, “Do you get what I’m saying?” multiple times. It doesn’t matter how affirmatively the other person responds, she will continue to repeat herself. Yesterday, this happened again, and I was somewhat firm with her that I understood, I repeated it back to her, and then she stopped, but I could tell that she wanted to keep going with it. If it helps, she’s also one who follows up a detailed email with a phone call and a visit to the other person’s office—to make sure they “get it.” I know it’s anxiety, but it comes across as if we’re all too stupid to “get it.”

    2. This is weirder. My supervisor is taking a vitamin supplement that has strengthened her nails, so now they are longer. She shared this information with our team. She is very impressed with her nails. So impressed that she no longer knocks on our office doors; she taps her nails loudly and, of course, repeatedly. In every meeting, she will drum her nails constantly on the table or desk, like we’re all supposed to notice how fabulous her nails are now. The nail-tapping on my door is squicking me out. I cringe when she does it. It’s obviously an active choice to tap her nails vs. knock on the door, and I just find it incredibly weird to be so much into her nails that must use them to announce herself. I have been reluctant to say anything because she’s my supervisor.

    Thoughts?

    1. Casper Lives*

      Okay, #2 is worth a letter to Alison! Your supervisor is amazingly weird. I wish I had better advice than “pretend you’re an anthropologist observing her.”

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      See if you can Nerf the entire office so there are no hard surfaces for her to tap on! But yes, send this to AAM!

    3. Goddess47*

      For #1 – if you’re on decent terms with your supervisor, maybe gently ask? “You repeated yourself 3 times about topic X in yesterday’s meeting and no one asked questions when you called for them and yet you repeated it yet again.” Then follow up with “How can we help you to know we understood something the first time?”

      Your repeating things back to her has made that point for that instance, but if she keeps doing it due to anxiety, it will get past annoying (which is why you are here asking) and move to grating and then to tuned out.

      But if she’s doing it upward (to her supervisor) and it’s not being addressed there, you’re not going to have much luck in doing anything about it.

      Good luck!

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This! Or you could frame it as, “have we been giving you reason to think that we don’t actually understand things when we tell you that we do?”

    4. Seahorse*

      Not a diagnosis, just my own experience here! I have a close relative with diagnosed OCD. They repeat themselves constantly on topics that are important to them or require a bit of thinking (big decisions, thorny frustrations, interpersonal issues, causes they care about, etc). My response or level of understanding is wholly irrelevant, and nothing I say or do will break the cycle. They talk until they either satisfy themselves on the issue or until they apply their clinically-recommended coping mechanisms to stop.

      I manage it like any other minorly irritating communication quirk. Understand what I need to understand, indicate that I’ve heard the message, and then do my own thing. It makes them feel unheard sometimes, but they know they do this, and I cannot / will not give my full attention to the 14th identical repetition of this week’s big grievance. That will only frustrate me without helping them.

      Granted, that’s harder with a boss, but I think it’s okay to check out mentally once you’ve understood. Whether she thinks you’re stupid isn’t something you can control, and apparently, your responses won’t change her behavior. Chalk it up to a quirk on her end, CYA with a paper trail if necessary, and find a way to engage your brain elsewhere when the topical merry-go-round gets going. Whatever is triggering this is about her, not you.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I love the nails problem! I would probably get popcorn for that particular show, and leave a variety of interesting surfaces lying around and then take bets on which one she will use for her sound effects. However if it really squicks you out and you want to say something, the next time she raps her nails in announcement, visibly jump out of your skin and then say “Ouch! are you okay?” When she asks you why, just say: “Oh, it sounded like you accidentally bashed your nails against the door when you tried knocking. Are you sure you didn’t break one?” After that I wouldn’t say anything about it again, but I might let her see me wince once or twice.

    6. No Bees On Typhon*

      I’ve been on a volunteer committee with someone who does something similar to #1. Every single item was like “I compiled the quarterly finance reports, because we need to submit them quarterly, so I compiled the finance information, because it’s the end of the quarter, and the reports need to be submitted, so I compiled the reports. They’re quarterly”. She had an important role, so this kind of thing took up literally half of some of our meetings. She’s an absolutely lovely woman doing a good job at various important tasks that no-one else wants to / knows how to do, so I never said anything, but working with her for more than a couple of hours a month would have been a nightmare.

    7. Wordybird*

      My supervisor is a repeater as well. As someone who has ADHD, I have some sympathy for this as I can do this in personal conversation but I don’t at work.

      Every week during our 1:1, we will get to the end of her (implied) agenda and she asks if I have anything else to bring up & that if I don’t, we’re both good to go. When I say yes, I’m good to go, she will bring something else up, usually work-related but not always, and then when that has been discussed, she again asks if I have anything else to say to which I, again, say I do not. She also says at least twice to let her know if anything comes up. Since we are PMs and everything is documented in our department and company, she already knows the status of all of my projects so I think it’s more being able to chat with someone vs. an informative meeting.

      These conversational quirks along with a particular catch phrase that she uses instead of “Okay” and a facial expression she makes when expressing frustration have all been chalked up to just being part of her personality and since she is a good boss otherwise, I let it go. I have tried to be proactive in “announcing” that I did not have any questions or status updates for her and she acknowledges what I’ve said but asks again before the meeting is over.

      If she was a bad manager, I could see how it would be annoying.

  40. Casper Lives*

    Do you ever just feel stuck, want to quit your job and start a cat rescue?

    Okay I’m not doing those things. I probably need a vacation! It’s been a rough month personally and I’m underpaid at work. I’m an attorney. I want to get out of litigation but not take a pay cut. I’m six years into a litigation career. It’s been a tough job search so far.

    Maybe I should go on vacation. I’ve used all my sick time this year on my chronic illness (EDS zebras unite). I barely touched my vacation because it feels like I can’t catch up on work if I do. But I’m exhausted.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Ha, I often dream about running away to live on the beach or something, but I never dream of starting a rescue org – such a heartbreaking, underappreciated, overworked field! But it’s fun as a fantasy where it’s just hugging happy pets I guess. I have soo many friends who dream of quitting their jobs and starting a small business, like a cafe or a store, and I’m always like ??? That sounds extremely stressful to me! (Hopefully others in law weigh in on the rest of your comment, which I realize was probably more of your point).

    2. Random Bystander*

      Yes!! I hate my job. I was voluntold that I would be joining a new team which focuses exclusively on something that had been a part of my prior role. If you imagine having Task A taking up 15% of the job and being the part that you find the most rewarding; Task B takes up 50% and doesn’t make you actively hate your life; Task C is extremely rote and takes up about 15%, but completing C tasks mean that A&B go better; Task D takes up the remaining 20% and is something you can only tolerate because you’re doing Tasks A&B, I went from having a role like that to a role that is 100% task D. I was told I was chosen because of my analytical skills and being so good at OldRole … but whoever stated that Task D requires analytical skills either 1) doesn’t know what task D entails; 2) is a liar; 3) thinks that putting files in alphabetical order represents serious analytical skills … there is no fourth option.

      On the other hand, a cat rescue … I’d find that meaningful and it would give me joy. And I don’t even have a chronic illness. I’ve been applying to other internal positions at my company and getting nowhere for the past 8 months that I could apply (thanks to the way they’re shuffling my department around … I was working for Company A, they outsourced my department to Company B, and now Company A wants to take us back … the thought of staying in my current position is making me cry daily.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Take a day off work and go be a cat cuddler at the humane society! Or visit a cat cafe. Or adopt a cat to have at home every day after work!

      Cat rescues are so exhausting. Constantly monitory did the motherless kitten eat enough of the bottle, did we burp/stimulate glands it enough after, weigh ins. So much training. So many cans of food. So many liter boxes! And the smell!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Plus a lot of sad stories every day, and always more animals you aren’t able to help :( Truly the joy comes from adopting a cat of your own and spoiling it with love. Reminds me to go donate to my local shelter!!

      2. Casper Lives*

        Haha, I was joking about the rescue. I should’ve put in the post that I own two cats and foster kittens / sick cats for my local shelter. I love nursing them back to help and finding them forever homes. I’d need to win the lottery because lack of money is a huge issue.

        I know the smells. I’ve got a mother cat and six six-week-old kittens overcoming coccidia right now. The smell is unmistakable (reduced smell is also how I know they’re overcoming it).

        You might say that I’d have more energy without fostering, but it makes life worth living! I do take breaks to recharge.

    4. Dragonfly7*

      Yes, near daily. I took a leave of absence and determined I need to move closer to my familial support network, let alone change the work I do. If you can take vacation or leave, even just a handful of days, do it!

      1. Rach*

        HAHA well first, I’ve been in a real rut at work and loudly mumble “I’m gonna go work at Costco” to my (rescue) dog on a near-daily basis.
        Second, if said dog wasn’t such a snob, I’d join you in your rescue venture.

  41. Purple*

    I have an interview next week for an internal position. My department does a lot of committee work. Committee assignments just came out, and the position I applied for is on the two committees I would least want to be on, both due to the areas they focus on and the leadership of those committees. The person who just left this position was not on either committee, so I don’t feel like it’s critical to the job. Being on those committees will be a deal-breaker for me. I plan to ask about the committees in the interview, but know that the Department Head is unlikely to give me a straight answer. They are also likely to ask why I don’t want to be on these committees. (She has her head very, very firmly in the sand about some of our staff who are pretty incompetent. I suspect that putting the new person in the position on these committees is her way of dealing with the problem, as very few other staff want to be on them.)

    Any suggestions for language I can use when asked why? I plan to mention that they do not focus on areas of the profession where I have an interest and those areas don’t play to my strengths, but I know this Department Head and don’t see her accepting that answer.

    1. Mad Harry Crewe*

      I mean – you’ve pre-rejected just about everything. It sounds like you should be up front that being on those committees would be a deal-breaker for you about this job, and I think you should also be realistic with yourself that you probably don’t want this job anymore. It doesn’t sound like the person in charge of this assignment is open to any reason you might provide (either truth or polite fiction), which means they’re probably not going to change their mind.

    2. BookMom*

      Could you frame it more as the committees you DO want to be on? “If I took this role, would I still be on the Teapot Appreciation Week committee?” If their answer is, “oh, you’d take on the same committees as the person leaving, of course!” then you’ve learned something important without making it An Issue.

    3. Another ambituous person*

      What if you got on those committees, righted the boat, and gained another promotion in the future?

  42. aiya*

    what are jobs suitable for folks who lack attention to detail and require extreme supervision/detailed instructions for basic tasks?

    Asking this question just out of curiosity! At my last job, I managed two new hires who both struggled with time management, attention to detail, and required intense oversight. For example, if I tasked them with organizing our teacups by color, they would be completely lost. I would have to tell them explicitly, put Teacup A which is Red into the Red Shelf, and put then Teacup B (Blue) into the Blue Shelf, so on and so forth until all the teacups are put away. At which point, it was more work for me to assign them the task than to do it myself.

    My manager and I tried many different approaches to training these employees, but ultimately, it became very clear that they did not have the skills to succeed in the role. With that said, they were both charming individuals who had great presentation skills and brought fresh ideas to the table! I think they would really thrive in a different industry / role, but I struggle to think of a job where attention to detail / ability to work independently / critical thinking isn’t a core part of the job.

    So, what are the jobs that would be suitable for someone like this?

    1. CG*

      Especially because you mention great ideas and great presentation skills, I wonder if they just weren’t clicking with this role or this office specifically? I am very detail oriented and independent at work, but I am sure what you shared above is what some of my bosses/coworkers thought about me in my first few jobs!

      For me, that behavior probably came from: just plain being super green and young and not knowing office norms or having great work judgment/intuition yet, lack of confidence in my work, getting either no feedback on my work or “THIS IS BAD (but I won’t explain why)”, and working in hierarchical places that had a lot of unwritten rules that hadn’t been shared with me yet – like “red teacups must go on the yellow shelf for contrast” or “teacups should be sorted facing down with handles out”. (Having a few years in a row of regular scolding for not reading minds at work will definitely make someone timid and anxious about taking initiative, and I know that anxiety also caused me to take ages on some tasks while I fretted over whether I was taking the right approach and redid my work a few times.) It was all exacerbated by working on topics/in fields that weren’t quite up my alley, and I didn’t know until I did them.

      All that said, to the question you asked at the end… there actually was a great open thread about this earlier this year! https://www.askamanager.org/2023/02/im-unprofessional-and-not-detail-oriented-but-i-still-need-to-earn-a-living.html

      That said! For people who have great ideas and presentation skills but who aren’t

    2. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      This is going to come out a bit harshly considering the framing of your question, but some sales roles would probably be a good fit. I worked at a small supplement company for a while, and our account managers’ roles probably didn’t require much attention to detail or critical thinking. They definitely required the ability to work independently – but maybe that’s more context dependent than the others? Like, knowing you need to see every vendor every month and have clear sales goals, could allow some people to thrive independently?

  43. Lynn*

    Removed; pasting an entire evaluation here is too much for the format of the site, but feel free to post a summary of what you’re looking for help with!

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      I’ll be there one to say it: This is a lot of information to dump on folks and expect a coherent answer. Can you please point out what it is that you are questioning? because great googlie mooglies, listing a nine point evaluation verbatim is waaaaay too much.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Agree. Also if it’s your husband work performance why are you asking instead of him??? Let him take ownership for his own career development and advancement, that’s not on you!

      2. connie*

        And, like, honestly, I’m not sure pasting this whole thing in here is going to serve him well. I know you’re looking for answers to help him but this feels like too much exposure beyond the length of the evaluation.

    2. Goddess47*

      Agreed that you didn’t need all this but at the base is that this is an evaluation done by a manager who: (a) doesn’t know your husband, (b) doesn’t care about your husband, or (c) needed to do an evaluation on a deadline, was already late, and just did copy/paste to the required questions.

      Hopefully, your husband gets to do a response to the evaluation and he should be giving good answers to all these questions. But that’s his job and, sorry, not yours to do.

  44. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

    Is it sexual harassment if a coworker requires me to rub her belly before she will let me work?

    Does the answer change if said coworker is a cat?

    1. Pamela Adams*

      Is it actually allowed belly rubbing or is it a trap that leads to your hand being mercilessly hunted down and killed?

  45. Busy Middle Manager*

    As a manager, I wish people came to me with more specific complaints or actionable to-dos. I find that people will ask to talk and then generally complain about a person or point out a few acceptable errors. It feels petty to act on them and then the person leaves frustrated and like I am not doing my job.

    They don’t realize that I need to address patterns or large specific mistakes, or see that their coworkers made some sort of attempt to guide them in the right direction. I see everyone’s flaws and shortcomings and could make a case against anyone and sit them down to talk about improving, but I don’t feel that’s the direction I should be going in! I like to focus on strengths

    1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      It depends on how big a problem shortcomings are whether it is something you need to address, and that can include if they are disrupting other people’s work. If a team member is weak enough that it affects the rest of the team, you need to do more than focus on their strenghts.

      On the other hand if the issue is more the person complaining: You don’t want to get into assessments of their peer’s profile of strengths and weaknesses, but if someone is consistently complaining about, say, typos when you are looking for high level analysis in the report, that might be something you can address with the complainer. It could be “keep your eyes on your own work” or “you’re focusing on a part of the process that doesn’t need it until we are closer to the final product” or something else entirely but explaining a little that they are bringing up something that is not an actionable problem might help cut down on the complaining?

    2. Eviltwinjen*

      Are you sure they are leaving frustrated? Sometimes people just want to vent/feel heard. Are you able to find something to validate in their frustration? You don’t have to agree, but you can acknowledge how frustrated they feel–maybe offer an example of how you dealt with a similar situation in the past (i.e. dealt with coworker directly, or let it go, etc.). Also, do you ask them to think through possible next steps with you? Can you do a bit of prompting to get them to come up with suggested solutions? I might ask them what they’ve already tried, or ask them how they might approach addressing a problem directly with their colleague. Can you tell them directly what you said here, that you need to address patterns or big mistakes? Maybe you can elicit more details on the impact these little mistakes are having.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        I did ask said two people to put a few training things and instructions in writing. My problem isn’t that there is a total lack of documentation, but I can’t logistically step in when I literally have no clue what the problems are or what the person was already trained in.

        you may be right about them just wanting to vent or talk. IDK. Maybe I am the annoyed one, to have someone swing by to say someone else is generally bad but all they can provide is a few petty examples sort of rubbed me not great

        I said I can step in next time a few particular cases happen, and they said “we already gave you specifics!” but they were such petty things, there is no way I can call in an employee and be like “how dare you check the wrong box, don’t do that!”

    3. Janie*

      I’ve had to learn to ask lots and lots of follow up questions, like:

      – Is this the first time that happened, or has it been happening for a while?
      – How is that impacting your work?
      – What do you think would be a good solution?

      I guess in cases where it’s kind of petty, too, maybe explicitly state that you’re not going to re-train/punish people for one-offs, but you’re keeping an eye on patterns of behavior.

  46. Potatoes*

    I wrote last week about my HR giving me a hard time for being in the ER due to post surgery complications. So that Friday night i ended up emailing my boss and told them about that conversation and shared some concerns. My boss replied saying just get better.

    On Monday HR emailed me back their portion of the short term disability form – my name was mispelled and they put me down for having worked 2 less days than I actually did. They applied PTO to those 2 days which put my balance in the negative. I pointed out that I did work those 2 days. They replied back (copying 6-7 people as well) and said that my time sheet did not reflect that. However that was untrue but I had no way of accessing my information to back it up.

    At that point, I became extremely stressed out because of this + hospital things going on at the time, so I reached out to my boss again pleading him to intervene. I would have had no issue talking on the phone to clear it up but the emails were stressing me out. He didn’t reply and it was silence after that.

    When I got home I pulled up my timesheet and sent it over to HR and notified them when I would return to work. that day my anxiety was super high. I was worried that I’d be fired for all this back and forth with HR & my boss’ silence was making me feel worse. Luckily I was able to speak with my therapist the same day and she helped me figure some things out so I was able to put things in perspective and be calm.

    A senior HR rep reached out to me and said that I have the option of borrowing up to 40 hours PTO in my situation. After a little bit of back and forth, and careful thought I declined to take it – I know I’ll be paid less but I’m ok with that. That exchange went smoothly.

    I’ve spent the better part of the week focusing on resting and some personal things. The office did send me a little gift box so that was a lovely surprise. I go back to work on Monday. I’m keeping my expectations extremely low but Im also…..optimistic?

    I’m still recovering physically and mentally from all this. I know some will disagree due to what I’ve posted in the past, but I don’t think I deserved this treatment from them. I can see where the work things are legit criticisms but I don’t believe that my PTO/medical leave falls into that.. I’m optimistic that I’ll have a positive update soon.

    1. Sleepy in the stacks*

      I’ve followed your comments for a little while, Potatoes and I’m glad you’re on the mend. I don’t think anyone here thinks you deserve the way that they’ve treated you through this ordeal even if there have been issues with your work in the past.

      I *do* think you should job hunt though because you’ve expressed that they treat you poorly in the past. This would be the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

      1. Potatoes*

        Thank you. that’s definitely one of the things I focused on this week.

        A lot of other things happened – my friend joked that the anesthesia did something to me as I woke up different lol.

    2. dude, who moved my cheese?*

      Hi Potatoes, I was thinking about this situation today. I’m glad this at least seems resolved and I’m sorry your HR is so disorganized and made an already stressful situation that much more difficult. I’m not familiar with what you’ve posted before last week, but in my opinion work issues such as performance have nothing to do with whether or not your employees should have consistent, efficient and appropriate access to your standard leave options. I hope you get some rest this weekend.

      1. Potatoes*

        Thank you for your comment – your opinion is what I was trying to convey and you put it much better than I could.

      2. kalli*

        It’s not an opinion, it’s actual legal fact that workers should be able to access their compensation for work performed, of which accrued leave is, and not be illegally disadvantaged by having physical bodies, which medical leave without loss of job and not losing compensation directly because of a medical issue (i.e. discrimination) is. The fact y’all are saying this is an opinion rather than actual law is wild.

    3. kalli*

      Have you considered journaling? I do note the responses decrease in number weekly but some of your entries read more like a diary than ‘I am telling people who actually care things I want them to know’ and I feel like it might help you go between therapy if you can get things out of your head in the form they occur without a comments section and various other parts of the internet having opinions on it and feeling like you have to justify being distressed by actual mistreatment or invite debate about whether you deserved it. This kind of space isn’t really for a lot of what you post here either – blow by blow of your work life isn’t light dinner party conversation!

      1. Potatoes*

        That’s a good point about having to justify being distressed; 1-2 comments really hit hard and live rent-free. So that is something to consider.

        But no to not posting. I think my work questions are related to work. I’m not sure what the work equivalent of light dinner party questions would be as they are for the weekend thread…..

      2. firenza*

        I don’t disagree with the rest of this but you are conflating the rules of the weekend post with this work post. I’ve never seen AAM say the Friday open thread is supposed to be for light dinner party conversation, it’s for work advice. (though fwiw, I don’t think dinner party is in the weekend post rules either.)

  47. 2023 is Meh*

    This morning I finally reached the point of crying before work, because I had to go into work. It’s getting so hard to deal with all the garbage, the mgr that doesn’t like me and offers zero encouragement or kindness, the stupid pointless petty endless nitpicky details. At my age finding another job would be hard, and the benefits are good here.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Aw, I’m sorry :( Any chance of an internal transfer to another department or manager? If the workplace is generally good but your specific role/boss isn’t jiving …

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      Please don’t assume you can’t get a different job because of your age. I just switched jobs and I’m in my 60’s.
      Go for it!!

    3. Goddess47*

      If you have any vacation/sick time, take it.

      If your company has a (sorry, brain blockage, can’t think of the term) Employee Benefit organization, ask HR, see if they can match you up with at least some short term counseling. Maybe someone to talk to will help you get a chance to breathe.

      And find some daylight outside of work. Hobby, volunteer, gym, lessons, knitting, whatever. Find something you love to do when you’re not at work and work helps pay for it.

      Do look for another job. Even if you don’t find something immediately (and you only have to read AAM for a bit to know that the hiring process is slow) the anticipation may be helpful in getting through your work day.

      Good luck!

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      Oh man, I remember feeling like that. I just hired someone on my team who is switching careers from a related career in her early 60s, though, so don’t assume that finding another job is going to be so awful!

  48. Sloanicota*

    My new boss just started, and I can tell she’s starting to see that there’s some dysfunction going on in our small nonprofit. Would it seem inappropriate for me, her direct report, to offer her some reading material about founder’s syndrome? Do you think that’s something everyone in the executive level already knows about? Do you think openly calling that out will make it seem worse? My background was in org development so it’s very evident that a lot of our issues stem from this, and there are certain best practices for moving through it. But I don’t want to be seen as starting drama or insulting the org.

    1. miel*

      If you have the standing to bring up suggestions to management, I’d do so (gently). I’d lean into your background in org development and emphasize the best practices for moving forward – because the solutions are the important part.

    2. Rosyglasses*

      I think the methodology of giving your boss reading material on Founder’s Syndrome would not… be helpful at all. I would assume she knows what it is and sees signs of it. Unless she is in a position to remove the founder, I’m not sure what you would hope to accomplish by doing this other than now having the comaraderie of knowing she understands where the issues in the organization stem from?

      Maybe more helpful would be to have a conversation in your weekly check-ins (if you have those) about what she needs from you in navigating the org and addressing the dysfunctional areas that you see.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My rule of thumb: never offer unsolicited reading material. She just started, she’s processing things, and it’s her job to make decisions or changes based on whatever resources she has. If it comes up in conversation, sure. But she hasn’t asked for your help in this area.

    4. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      I wouldn’t give her the reading material – it’s not productive. It might be helpful to just bring up concrete areas of improvement and processes that would be developed further. Could mention how things were/are and how they need to be changed & why.

  49. Ugh*

    I’m trying to train my new staff member to actually check the documentation before asking me questions, and whew. She is just NOT doing it, and it’s starting to drive me nuts. Like, it’s right there! If you’ve read it and still have questions, yes, please ask me. But not reading it to begin with? That baffles me. She’s been in this field for a decade, her old job was also documentation heavy, this should not be a new concept for her.

    Typing all of this out is making me realize it’s possibly weaponized incompetence on her part. So. That’s fun!

    1. Sloanicota*

      Yeah, this is a real thing. Just refuse to help her when she asks questions – ask her “what have you tried so far?” and then walk her through her options until she says “I guess I could check the documentation …?” A few times of being boring and making this a pain for her and she should cut way back on the questions. If it’s taking too long, you could add “searches proactively for solutions” to her objectives for the year or whatever.

      1. CG*

        Yes! Or just come right in with, “what did the documentation say to do?” if you know it’s listed in the documentation.

        1. ferrina*

          This is what I always do.
          “I need help! I can’t do X”
          “What did the documentation say?”

          Make sure that you are not an easier option than the documentation.

          If you want to escalate (which is sometimes called for, I can’t tell if this is appropriate for your situation), go for some concern trolling. “My New Staff Member, I’m very concerned about a pattern I’ve been seeing. You’ve been asking me a lot of questions that are clearly answered in the documentation. Do you have access to the documentation? [Name the exact documents]. Do we need to see IT or escalate this to Boss?”
          If it is weaponized incompetence, they’ll generally immediately back down so you don’t get them in trouble.

          1. Sloanicota*

            To expound on this a bit, for a new person, asking you is a much more satisfying experience than checking elsewhere. Think about it: she is getting an instant answer tailored to her exact situation, and it’s 100% guaranteed not to get her in trouble (because even if it’s wrong, she’s covered if she did what you said). Compare that to the cold, dissatisfying process of looking something up in some static document, wondering if you understand it correctly or if it applies or if she’s making a mistake – stressful! But alas, such is life. You have to tip the scales against you – no more instant easy answers, no more satisfaction, no more certainty.

    2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      One of the other tactics that can work in these situations is the old delayed-response. If they are IM-ing you or emailing , literally force yourself to wait five minutes to see if the issue resolves itself (it happens more often than you may think!). Even if they are phoning or popping into your office, you are just finishing something more important and will have to go back to them later on. Make them wait, make it harder for them to solve the problem by using you as a proxy.

    3. TPS Reporter*

      yeah the first time you can walk through the documentation together. then that’s it, don’t give in. she’s still new so there’s time. I have seen this with many new people, sometimes it takes months for them to really get it. but you have to be strong.

  50. HannahS*

    My work has a weird culture around teaching about EDI and I don’t know what, if anything, to do about it.

    The teaching itself is fine, if a bit too introductory. The issue is that it’s facilitated by our supervisors (i.e. attending physicians or more senior residents,) and they want people to disclose their marginalized identities during sessions.

    For example our most recent EDI teaching session was led by a senior resident, the former head of the office that deals with EDI issues, and the dean of medicine. They each shared their identity including a combination of gender, sexuality, whether or not they had mental illnesses, economic status, and migration history. Then they turned and asked us to introduce ourselves. I went first and provided my name, level of training, and current rotation–and then everyone else did the same. Later, we were all asked to reflect on *and then share* our positionality. No one wanted to answer, so when one facilitator asked if we’d ever had an exercise like that before, I spoke about how I’d had previous experiences in the program that had gone poorly, and they awkwardly moved on.

    I think it’s outrageous, frankly. This isn’t a voluntary community education night; it’s a mandatory workplace activity where we’re being asked to disclose and discuss facets of our identities that are protected under our human rights code *to our bosses and colleagues.* I have a very limited amount of capital, but I don’t have none. Has anyone had success raising this kind of issue?

    1. ferrina*

      It sounds like you did a great job raising the issue! IME, people in positions of power have trouble understanding the impact of that power. They feel comfortable sharing their (often non-marginalized) identities, so why would anyone feel different? You educated them on why they shouldn’t. They moved on without pushing it.

      Hopefully that’s the end of it, but if you want, you could gently bring it up with the organizer. “Hey, I wanted to flag for you that this is an issue because X, and I’d love to have something else in its place.” Bonus points if you are able to offer a substitute exercise- often leadership isn’t trained for these things and doesn’t know how to appropriately build these, and they appreciate an out.

    2. Nightengale*

      This is not OK. At all. Although I don’t have any experience pushing back against it. I am very involved in DEI efforts in my subspecialty area of medicine and people disclose identities all the time voluntarily. No one is ever required to disclose.

      Specifically on the topic of ableism in health care – there is so much stigma that asking health care providers to disclose mental health/disability in this setting is really dangerous. Is discrimination against people for these identities illegal? Yes of course. Does it happen? Also yes of course. Often disguised under fitness to work in licensure and staff privileges applications. And you can’t unring that bell.

      I am multiply disabled/neurodivergent and give talks to other health care providers about disability in medicine. I am openly disabled and yet I don’t mention specific disabilities/diagnoses I have, partly due to this stigma and also because I am trying to make the point that in most cases pan-disability advocacy is more useful than focusing on specific conditions or diagnoses. My professional society is (finally) starting some efforts towards Universal Design so that fewer people will have to disclose and so we can better meet the needs of possibly undiagnosed people (since accessing diagnosis also relates to other areas of privilege/marginalization under the DEI umbrella)

  51. Syl*

    I’m looking for a new job as a scientist.

    I had several surgeries on my leg that make it very painful for me to stand in one place for over an hour or two. I’m fine if I can mix sitting, standing, and walking but just standing in one place is hard.

    How do I bring this up in interviews or control for it when I’m looking for jobs?

    1. ferrina*

      You can wait until you have an offer in hand before you bring up accommodations (I assume you can get a doctor to provide any medical documentation needed to show that you can’t stand in one place for prolonged periods). Don’t quit your old job until both HR and the hiring manager agree to the accommodations.

      If it feels right, you could bring it up in the interview. Trust your instinct here- if there is any inkling that someone might react badly, maybe don’t do it. Any time you proactively bring it up in an interview, there’s always the risk that you won’t be selected because of this issue but they’ll claim it’s due to “fit”.
      Good luck!

    2. Llamas in pajamas*

      I guess you’ve been a bench or field scientist? I’m also a scientist, but theory/computer based. To the extent that you can it’s about being excited about new opportunities. “I enjoy lab work, but now want to explore the theory/computer based aspects, but I’d like to do bench science 50% of the time”. Or frame as step up, if that’s where you’re going: “I enjoy lab work, but now want to explore policy/project management/*, but I’d like to do bench science 50% of the time”.

      where * is something that you don’t have to stand up for- telling stories with data, or more in-depth analysis, etc.

      I also have a feeling that this is somewhat normal – I see the younger people getting their hands dirty at the bench (so to speak), but more senior scientists generally do more hands-off work. So, if your leg issues mean that you’re getting to non-bench work earlier than expected, just embrace that, and explore the less-hands-on work.

  52. Goose*

    I am getting way, way, WAY ahead of myself, but:

    A former boss/friend just texted me that she’s about to post a job in my area & specialty and wanted to make sure she could send it to me in case I knew anyone, hint hint.

    Now, the only reason I would want to change jobs at this point is money. I love my job, my team, I believe in the org–I am just underpaid, even for an org with good pay transparency.

    I am currently making $75k, and I want to come up with a number that would make me want to leave. Is it 10 k more? Is it 20?

    Again, there’s no job or offer yet. But it’s making think.

    How have you had these conversations with yourself?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, to me there’s such a combination of factors – to leave a job I loved it would need to be somewhere around 10K, because after insurance and commute and travel it’s not hard to end up basically where you started for less than that. For a job I thought would be stressful and demand more of my time and energy than the current job I like, that amount goes up. Travel adds a lot, as does supervision. There’s a separate question of whether you can make the case that the role deserves that salary – is 100K out of the norm for that level in the field – which would partly depend on what responsibilities you’d be taking on, and how high level they are.

    2. aubrey*

      I think it’s a number that would a) make a meaningful difference in my life ($10k early career is different than $10k late career) and b) make the risk of team or job-specific factors you dislike worth it. That will of course be different for everyone. Breaking it down to specific factors helps me though. For example, my number for any amount of in-person work is WAY higher than my number for a different industry doing the same job.

    3. Alex*

      The number that makes it worth it to move is highly situation dependent. Since you like your current job except for the pay, why don’t you map out the life impact of various amounts of money? Do you keep a budget? How would 10k affect your budget and/or savings goals, and is that worth the move?

      Of course, you need to find out a lot more about the potential job. If it is something you’d think you’d love, your “number” may be less than if you are just meh about it.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The number to leave a good job I love is way higher than the number to leave a job I hate. It’s also higher when I’m being recruited/pursued. I spoke to someone once and told her I would need $X+$75k to leave because I was happy. We talked a year later, after I was laid off, and that number was $X+$50k.

      What’s the number that you absolutely could not turn down? Is it $200k? If that sounds unreasonable for your market, take it down a bit. Is the company a good one? Are the benefits good? Is the work-life balance good?

      If you’re truly underpaid, start with what you think would be “paid fairly” and ask for more than that.

  53. CG*

    Fellow feds, I know this week and last week were very, very hard and very high-stress for many of us, between the uncertainty about a potential shutdown and the absolutely crazy prep that goes into getting ready for a potential shutdown. (In my office, at least, our workload was massive while everyone and their mom tried to task out/finish up every outstanding work item before Monday this week, just in case.)

    I hope you all have a peaceful, calm, hard-decision-free weekend with lots of sunshine, cat cuddles, or whatever your specific jam is.

  54. J-E-D-I*

    Question for the DEIJ/JEDI peeps out there. I think I have a personal hangup about the use of the term “JEDI” – because the Star Wars thing feels like it’s kind of minimizing the issue, we’ve given it this cutesy name and now we’re joking about being knights using lightsabers when I think this is actually a really important serious conversation. For my org, when I drafted our plan, I deliberately changed it to DEIJ – in part because “justice” to me is the capper, whereas diversity is just a starting point (I actually think diversity – inclusion – equity – justice makes more sense as a path forward, but I rarely see it referred to as DIEJ). However, my boss noted I did this and said, “huh, I think we use JEDI in our field” and is going to change it – which is fine, I’m not in charge of the world, I get that. But am I the one who’s out of line on my thinking here? Is this just a “me thing?”

    1. ferrina*

      I’m with you. I love some silly word play, but some stuff is just too serious for that. DEIJ is too important to risk people brushing it off.

      fwiw, I’ve never seen it called JEDI. I’ve always seen DEIJ or DEI.

    2. miel*

      I think your thinking is spot on. Honestly I’d recommend explaining your thought process to your boss too.

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      I’m torn on this.

      On one hand, I understand the frustration of a cute acronym taking away from the importance of the task. In the same vein, as much as I love the fact that LGBTQ could be rearranged to be QUILTBAG (Queer, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans, Bisexual, Ace, Gay), I don’t press the point.

      On the other hand, in addition to the popular culture reference, people will usually try to make initialisms into acronyms. Having the initials spell something pronounceable helps it stick in the head better.

      I get where you’re going with Diversity leads to inclusion, etc, but when you say it, do you say “Dee Eye Eee Jay” or “Deej”?

      1. Sloanicota*

        We actually say “Dee Eee Eye Jay” when we use the other acronym, but I guess I’m just used to it so it doesn’t seem that weird in a field that deals with TMDLs, MS4s, and CSOs. We also say “Dee Eee Eye” but I wondered if people are talking about their “deah work” or something.

    4. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      I’ve seen JEDI once and I thought it was rather disrespectful for the issue – I, someone who cares deeply about it, checked out when I heard it because I was expecting a stupid Star Wars reference on the horizon (sorry, I am not a fan beyond some books I picked up in the early 00s that don’t seem to have anything to do with the films). I can’t believe I’m invoking the mouse, but I hope it doesn’t become mainstream and they shut it down. They sued a children’s cancer hospital for their use of Micky Mouse so I don’t know how much traction JEDI will get (thank goodness).

      DEI is fine. Sometimes I feel adding letters to it is already annoying. Is Equity not already synonymous with Justice in this context?

      1. Sloanicota*

        To make it worse, my nonprofit’s national org has a “JEDI council” for setting standards. I’m sure they thought this was so funny when they set it up but it really rubs me the wrong way. It’s not funny topic, IMO, and our field has serious equity issues. Guess the majority demographic on the counsel, too …

    5. Michelle Smith*

      Different, but related issue. My organization uses Latinx. I did a Spanish major/Latin American studies minor in college and I’m nonbinary, so despite not being Latino/a myself, I’ve paid some attention to the discourse around the term Latinx. Most of the recent discourse has come down against it as a gender neutral alternative to Latino/a and either advocates for using the gendered terms, using Latine, or just using the (somewhat of a misnomer) term Hispanic instead. When the person who edits our publications made a similar correction to my writing, changing the word to Latinx, I didn’t just accept that. I explained to my co-authors why I had an issue with the “correction” and suggested we raise that with the editor. Someone with more experience in the department than me reached out to the editor, provided the sources I recommended for why we should reconsider, and asked what she thought. Ultimately, the decision was made not to use Latinx in that publication and others going forward.

      If you feel strongly about something, gather the evidence that supports your position and share it with your boss. I guarantee if you feel this term is weird, others have felt that way and have probably written blog posts or articles about it. There might even be research to support which DEI related acronyms land the best with folks. These terms change over time and terminology we used 2 years ago might not be appropriate to use now. That’s okay. But there’s nothing wrong with the gentle pushback of – “hey, just wanted to flag for you that this might be problematic for X and Y reasons, here is some more information about that if you’re interested, happy to chat further if you’d like” and THEN letting it go if there’s no positive reception to your approach.

    6. OtterB*

      My organization renamed our activities in the area “IDEALS” – Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Leadership Skills

  55. desk platypus*

    Got a bit of a weird one. So my white coworker has always annoyed me with her daily random use of Spanish. It’ll be asking “what’s up” or “who is that” or “but why”, real simple phrases but used often. (I have the hint her common phrase “que sera sera” is more of a callback to an anime dub from back day in the day, given her other interests.) I’m Latina but don’t speak Spanish, so I’ll admit that a lot of my annoyance stems from my own poor accent even if hers is nothing great. She’s not taking classes to practice in, has no Spanish speaking family, and not even a Duolingo streak happening all by her own admittance. It’s just weird to me.

    However, my other problem happening more often this week is this: There must be some guy she’s frequently watching on Instagram reels who must do skits or something on Latin culture. She described it as having to do with abuelas, Fabuloso, etc. (All with exaggerated accent.) If you’ve seen Superstore and the clip with the salsa samples you can get the vibe. Now she’s going around laughing and showing people a video that involves chanclas. I had to leave my cubicle so she’d avoid me. But if she does come around I’ll probably want to say something to the effect of, “I don’t really like joking about the chancla,” or, “I feel like some parts of Latin culture aren’t really for others,” but my script gets so fuzzy in my head because I’m so deeply annoyed. Or maybe it’s just my own personal bias against her? She does annoy me in a multitude of ways, Spanglish aside.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I think it’s totally okay to opt out of this humor. No point making it about her use of Spanish or whatever, just set a clear boundary: “Oh, pop representation of Hispanic culture usually makes me cringe. I don’t want to see the video, thanks.” If you use i-statements and don’t make it about her and what she’s doing, just you and what you think and what you want or don’t want to engage with, she will hopefully at least leave you alone if not take the hint and think more about what she’s doing.

    2. ferrina*

      I’m white, and this makes me super uncomfortable just to read!

      I’d be going to HR. You could either just ask their advice on how to get her to tone it down, or to file a formal complaint. Especially if she uses her random Spanish phrases more to you than to your non-Latin coworkers.

      1. desk platypus*

        My workplace as a whole has so many cultural/racial insensitive moments that going to HR is likely too much of an escalation. I’m saving that card for the inevitable day when something even more wildly offensive happens. And her Spanish use is on everyone no matter who they are.

    3. Oof and Ouch*

      I think there’s a difference between someone who occasionally peppers in a few phrases from a different language occasionally and actively promoting humor that’s either created for and meant to be enjoyed by people who are part of the culture OR (even worse) is created by people outside the culture poking fun at it.

      I will point out two things to think about here though.

      One- Are you 100% positive that she is 100% not Latinx? Be very very sure before you call her out for any kind of cultural appropriation.

      Two- if she is white, what’s her lifestyle/cultural background? Did she grow up in a largely Latinx community? Did she work in one? And if so is there any chance that this is a code switching issue? I (a very very white woman) recently went from working with a largely Latinx group to a mostly white group. My Spanish is truly abysmal, but I got really used to using it where I could and I still find myself occasionally using it in my new workplace. If I found a meme or TikTok that I thought my old coworkers would have found funny I 100% would have shared it with them, the same way they shared memes about my general whiteness with me and called me Gringa. I only would do it with the coworkers I had the right relationship with though, and not just share it around the office, that parts messed up.

      1. desk platypus*

        She’s been very open about her background before. She always brings up her Native American heritage when joking about how she has no tolerance for drinking too much. If I recall correctly it’s a very far down the line thing. And she’s also very open about how deeply racist her immediate and close family is so she’s technically much better based on the awful things she’s shared about them. So it’s kind of unavoidable to come from that kind of background and not be entirely free from racist/insensitive views. But in trying to “celebrate” other cultures it’s often things like making a Chinese lunar new year display with mostly Japanese items or wanting us to dress like characters from Mulan for Halloween. Our workplace is pretty much divided down white or Latin and has been throughout the years, but our department had been mostly white until recently and now we’re pretty much half and half.

        1. Oof and Ouch*

          Oh wow, ok, that’s pretty yikes.

          In that case I think it’s worth talking to your HR department if they’re the kind that’s actually going to be useful and see if their willing to have a conversation with her about what’s appropriate in the office

          In the meantime if she approaches you I’d be torn between asking her to explain the joke, or saying that you find the stereotype she’s laughing about offensive.

    4. Goddess47*

      If you need to, do a deadpan, “I don’t get it.” or “Explain it to me.” or “Why do you find that funny?” Treat it like harassment (it is!) and make her explain it to you. And frown while she’s trying to explain, like you still don’t get it.

      Hopefully, she’ll get tired of trying to explain it to you and at least leave you alone.

      Sorry. Good luck.

    5. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      I am always leery of people who have a mild obsession with a culture they have no connection to. I think you’re valid in this – sometimes your gut knows before you can find the words.

      Coming from a culture where my childhood could be played for laughs…I would only imagine that content is funny in a “wow that was messed up but I see humor in this shared lived experience.” Otherwise, it’s like…why are you laughing about me being beat?

    6. Michelle Smith*

      “Excuse me, I need to get back to work.”
      “What is funny about this exactly?”
      “I don’t find cultural jokes like this funny. Please don’t share these types of videos with me.”
      “Oh no thank you, I’m not interested.”

      If you can raise one eyebrow by itself, sometimes that with an otherwise emotionless stare can also throw people off.

  56. YRH*

    I might be going to a conference the week I get back from maternity leave. I’d love any insight into whether it’s better to bring the baby (and childcare) with me or go solo. He’ll be 6.5 months old at the time. We combo feed (breastfeed half the time and bottles/pump half the time), so he’s used to taking bottles and I’m used to pumping. The conference is 1.5 hours from my hometown, where I still have family, and across the country from where we currently live. I’d be gone for 3 days if I go solo. Thanks!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I would vote no. Read up on car seat time limits for babies, I think the recommendation is like 2hrs for babies due to breathing issues. Cross country trip is a lot at that age.

    2. ferrina*

      Childcare logistics aside, could you really get the full benefit of the conference if you have your child with you? Real question.
      For me, I wouldn’t be able to focus because I’d be thinking about when I can next see my kid and if my childcare person needs anything and etc etc.

      Now for the childcare logistics…
      If you’ll be flying to the conference, also think about whether your kid is ready to make that flight or not. You don’t say how long the flight is- that would make a big difference to me. If you are in the U.S., that could easily be a 6-hour flight, which is a loooong time for a baby. If Baby doesn’t handle the flight well, how would that impact your conference experience? What if your flight is delayed and you have Baby with you? Also, packing for a flight with Baby is a whole experience. I once took a 2-hour flight with my infant to go to a cousin’s wedding. My supplies were….a lot. Car seat, sleeping spot for Baby, essential toys, random other needed supplies…I’ve seen adults move into apartments with less stuff than I brought.

      It sounds like you are also thinking about trying to turn this into a trip to visit your hometown with Baby? Don’t do it. That is a LOT of travel with a very small child. You’d be flying cross-country, having to be ON at a conference for 3 days (with your sleep-schedule presumably set by Baby, who may or may not hold to their regular sleep schedule after travel), then drive 90 minutes to hang out with family for a bit, and family will probably all be super excited to see Baby. Baby is going to be totally over-stimulated. Then you drive back to the airport, fly back home on a however-long flight, then….what? Go to work the next day? I’m exhausted just from typing this!

      1. YRH*

        I agree that traveling cross country with the baby is a lot (and involves so much stuff, I miss my small carry on only days). We did the trip to my hometown when he was 2.5 months and have another trip to my hometown planned for when he is 9 months. He handled the first trip extremely well, though I recognize that can change. My husband was also with us, which helped a lot. I think the time change will work in our favor going there (and against us coming home).

        The flight is in the 4-5 hour range. I’d consider flying in and out of hometown anyway because it’s the closest direct flight. The conference itself is only 1.5 days; I’d have to fly out the day before but could come home right after it ends.

        I don’t know if this changes anything, but figured it might be helpful. Thank you!

        1. ferrina*

          So you’d have to fly 4-5 hours, then drive 1.5 hours to get to the conference? That’s a lot. Baby may be able to handle the flight (no way to tell- babies change so quickly that a good flight at 2 months means nothing- it’s a clean slate after a couple months), but won’t want to be packed into a car for a couple hours afterwards. Especially if they have to do it again just a couple days later.
          It will take time for you to recover from this physically. Often recovery is slower post-baby than pre-baby, just because you’re exhausted and constantly caring for Baby. This is normal. I know I wouldn’t be up for taking Baby out for a short trip, then turning around and doing it again 2 months later. I’m on Team Don’t Bring Baby (but set aside time to chat with Baby/make your husband send a gazillion updates and pics!).

          If you really want to bring Baby, extend your travel time. 5 days is a little gentler on everyone, because Baby isn’t constantly overstimulated and gets some down time. Constant overstimulation will build up in a baby, and a normally chill baby can quickly become fussy by day 3 of Too Much Stimulation. Just in time for the plane ride home :(
          Also, if you are going to attempt it, try to bring husband with you. It can really help for both you and baby to have that stabilizing person. It also gives you more wiggle room if you just need to sleep.

    3. Goddess47*

      There recently was a huge thread about this exact topic… I want to say in the past month… It had some great advice from all sides… worth looking for.

      1. YRH*

        Thanks, I’ll look for it. I remember seeing a similar one with someone exclusively breastfeeding. Is it that one or is there another?

    4. Whomst*

      I would imagine that the travel would be harder on the baby than just staying home. If your baby really is fine taking a bottle and your supply isn’t going to tank from 3 days of pumping/no baby, I’d probably just go solo. Of course, it might actually be harder for both of you in terms of eating/sleeping to be apart for that long, and if that’s the case you could make it work to bring him. Just a lot more logistical hassles, I would imagine.

      Not sure how the hometown factors into this, as I can’t imagine adding a 4+ hour personal trip into a 3 day business trip. I like sleep far too much for that, and business trips are exhausting. If they’re coming to you that could change things, if they wanted to spend a day with baby while you’re at the conference and then you get a nice dinner together or something, but your comment didn’t indicate one way or the other.

    5. KatCardigans*

      If it were me, I’d be thinking about how much benefit your family/baby will get out of the trip. How often is your family able to see the baby? Are they enthusiastic and capable childcare/hosts, or is it going to be extra work for you? If it’s extra work for you, is it worth it? People might say you won’t be at your best with the baby around, but tbh you’re probably going to be tired and feeling some kind of way about it regardless, so I think that’s a wash.

      (There’s no right or wrong answer, of course, but personally, I’d bring the baby.)

    6. West coast*

      Have you been away from baby for 3 days yet? Is being away from the kid and going back to work and going to a conference a lot for your first week back? Or would attending solo be a delightful break between being home and getting back into the swing of work?

      In my male dominated industry I’m all for people with very small humans showing up to the conference floor with the child and networking (male and female) because the stay at home parent usually has a harder time staying connected to their industry – and it’s usually the women – so if bringing the baby is what it takes, do it! (Sorry, soapbox moment).

      So really I have no answers, but I don’t think there is a wrong answer, just whatever works best for you.

  57. handfulofbees*

    State job searching pain…

    Tried to apply to a lab position for ag and markets. Crappy pay, but foot in the door, yeah? Got massively tripped up by two bits on the application and didn’t wind up finishing it. First they wanted my transcripts, which I don’t have bc I’ve been out of school for years. Does this mean the position was intended for a recent grad? Second bit was the ‘when can we contact your current employer y/n’ Apart from that wording, I don’t want them to contact my current employer. Would saying no to that have gotten me rejected?

    A lot of folks who are retired from high up state positions (including a guy who worked in hiring for 40 years) keep telling me it would be valuable to know a state politician who can help me get seen. This goes against what I’ve been told my whole life about civil service exams (but the things I’m applying to are open, no exam required). I also don’t know any state politicians. Can someone clarify this for me? Should I just cold reach out to my senator or assemblyman? I really just don’t know. Trying to break into the state is hard, especially when you keep reading that they’re having trouble finding people.

    1. CheeryO*

      Hm, I’m in state government but have only ever dealt with positions hired from civil service lists. I can’t imagine that politicians would be any help unless you have a personal relationship with them.

      My best advice would just be to keep trying. Figure out how to get transcripts from your school so that isn’t a roadblock. You should also be able to say “no” to the question about contacting your current employer without it impacting your chances.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I had to get my transcripts a few years ago for a federal application, and I’d been out of grad school for 15 years at that point. Fortunately I found it to be pretty easy. There should be information on your university website on how to do it. The transcripts were official PDF files and there was a small fee per copy from the third party vendor, if I remember correctly.

        I don’t think I said no to contacting my then-current employer but there was an option to select “notify me first”. I have put no to current and yes to former employers before, I imagine it’s only an issue if you always select no.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      First they wanted my transcripts, which I don’t have bc I’ve been out of school for years. Does this mean the position was intended for a recent grad?

      Nope! Government is very by the book. Usually this is a requirement if the position asks for or prefers a degree – it’s how they verify you do have said degree.

      Second bit was the ‘when can we contact your current employer y/n’ Apart from that wording, I don’t want them to contact my current employer. Would saying no to that have gotten me rejected?

      Usually, saying no won’t affect you a bit. Also very common on government applications. Now, do know that even if you say no they may still verify your employment dates if they make you an offer.

      IMO state governments are affected a little more political than county or federal. But that’s because of the nature of ultimately reporting to the governor and more about work/legislation than hiring. Government workers are (generally) decently shielded from the political stuff. Knowing someone in politics may have helped once upon a time but not really in today’s world unless you are going for a political appointee position. You can go ahead and ignore that advice.

  58. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

    When I was hired into my position seven years ago, I reported to a supervisor who oversaw my topic area and another area related to volunteer management. During a re-org in my first year, the volunteer management responsibilities were spun off to a different manager and my group was absorbed by a larger group within our department (my hiring manager took on a new role internally). I took on many of the administrative and project management responsibilities from the departing manager because no one else was doing them, but our process would not function without them. I have continued to grow in my role and finally got a promotion this summer (creating a new PD that added “Senior” to my title and reflected the back up responsibilities that I have with my current supervisor).

    I have noticed that my current boss has been sidelined and not really respected by others higher up the food chain for the past year or two. The writing is on the wall, but I have been doing everything I can to keep her looped in when people try to bypass her to involve me in projects (I usually do the projects because they are coming from my grandboss or great-grandboss, but I make sure she is aware of what is happening).

    The person currently managing an expansion of the volunteer management responsibilities (a position I applied for about 4 years ago but did not get) is difficult to work with and does not perform well, although she manages to put on a good front. Her lack of work has recently come to light, and we suspect that she is on her way out.

    Because I have expanding recognition in my own area as well as skills in the volunteer management area, I predict that I will be taking on responsibilities if one or both of the current managers leave. How can I ensure that I am appropriately recognized and compensated for any additional responsibilities (including the possible people-management of the volunteer management staff people) in light of having just received a promotion in the individual contributor role? My organization, particularly my department, is notorious for taking a group where a manager leaves and dividing it among other areas instead of just replacing the manager. My new PD was based on all of the things I’ve already taken on over the past six years, and adding further management-style responsibilities was not part of the deal, but how can I ensure that I get the recognition and compensation that those higher-level responsibilities entail? I don’t want to spend another six years getting responsibilities heaped on me while everyone just keeps on ignoring that I’m doing what bosses did before.

  59. Watry*

    Happiness thread for this week?

    I’m finally getting the training in the basics of my job that I’ve been asking for for eight months. I’m learning A LOT, and I’m so relieved because job hunting was going horribly.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I think my new boss is going to be good! At this point, I’m confident she’ll keep me on for at least six months, which gives me more time to figure out what my ideal next steps would be. Our org has gone through a lot of turmoil – I’ve had three bosses in as many years – and I would be an easy target to get rid of as one of the higher-paid employees. I was concerned someone would come in who would start off immediately antagonistic.

    2. Camelid coordinator*

      We made some great strides in my new organization this week! We agreed to evaluate our grant program and got our 501c3 paperwork from the IRS. I also posted our part-time development job on Indeed, here’s hoping!

      1. The Coolest Clown Around*

        I signed a tentative job offer this week! I’d switched jobs recently and was really not enjoying the new position – honestly, I knew going into it that I probably wouldn’t like it but I was kind of backed into a corner. A few weeks ago, something unexpectedly fell into my lap and I’ve decided to take it! The new position looks like a lot better fit and I’m excited.

  60. Watry*

    As a separate question, does anyone know of button-downs meant for those with large chests but smaller stomachs, while still being plus-size? I want to change my look a little, but the gapping is a bit intense (I could stick a cell phone through it).

    I’m in the US and would very much prefer buying in-person.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      I have had luck sewing a plastic snap button in the areas where the shirt will gap. The only company I have seen with these standard is New York and Company but I haven’t shopped there in a while.

    2. Rosyglasses*

      If you have Instagram, I would check out Caralyn Mirand – she has a TON of recommendations.

    3. Eviltwinjen*

      If a shirt fits your chest but is a little baggy below, and you can afford tailoring, that might be a good option. Same with adding snaps, hooks and eyes, etc. A slightly oversized top with slimmer bottoms can be a good look, and once it’s tucked in the extra room below the chest won’t be as noticeable.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      I know you prefer buying in-person, but I am a top-heavy person who’s had great luck with a particular shirt I bought on Amazon that has an extra button (buttons are covered so it’s not obvious) at the bust to prevent gapping. Look up “Riders by Lee Indigo Women’s Easy Care ¾ Sleeve Woven Shirt” on Amazon. It’s available in up to a 2X in all colors, and a 3X in purple at the moment.

    5. Birds aren’t real*

      I sew the placket closed below the second or third button and just permanently close the gap and then pull the shirt over my head

    6. Anonymous was already taken*

      I have had success putting a strip of double sided tape on that section between the two buttons

  61. miel*

    I’m starting a new internal job soon. I’ll be in a department of 2 – just me and the senior member of the department. The senior member has said that a lot of the work structure (division of duties, work hours, in-office days) will be up to the two of us to figure out.

    So! Any suggestions on starting a new job on the right foot, and also figuring out a work structure?

  62. lost in middle management*

    Can anyone weigh in on bullying of a manager by a subordinate? I have a case where in a group of specialists, one older employee (with adjacent but Norma exact experience) is telling a younger first time manager (with several years of experience) no and refusing to do the work as specified by the manager.

    Upper management wants to ignore the problem. He can’t do anything without upper management cooperation.

    I only recently found an article that defined what was going on (bullying, gas lighting). I’m not sure if upper mgmt knows it’s a bad issue (or doesn’t care due to understaffing or thinks it’s just a personality clash). But what happens if mgmt refuses to do anything? It should be that employee gets fired. But if that’s not in the cards, best case scenario is for one of the two to move?

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      I don’t see what makes you think this is bullying or gaslighting. Can you expand? Is the employee being hostile toward manager based on a protected class? Is he then telling his manager and other people he isn’t doing those things? As his manager, she has recourse here. She needs to manage him. Hold him accountable. Is he lying about what they talk about or something? If so, boss needs to have a chaperone from HR in all meetings.

      1. lost in middle management*

        Is there a protected class? – there are protected classes on both sides.

        Is he telling the manager he will not do X? – yes, he is directly saying no to the manager’s specific request to do X. (“Call Jeb in the llama department and ask him if he can reduce the delivery by 4 llamas.” “No, I’m not doing that.”) Including in front of other people. (HR not present at these work meetings.)

        Manager went to their upper management and upper management refuse to put problem employee on a PIP (saying it is probably a personality clash, work it out or ignore him)

        He is leaving CYA emails that do not reflect what went on in the meetings. So, gaslighting via email forthe record.

    2. Blinded By the Gaslight*

      I was the manager in a case just like this. I was a new manager at a new org (but I came with 20 years experience and advanced degrees). My new team included three people who instantly hated me, grey-rocked me to my face (in 1:1s and staff meetings), had not-so-secret little whisper gossip sessions that I could hear from my office, and influenced most of the student employees to ignore my requests/process changes.

      When I relayed this to my manager and asked for guidance, she said she’d NEVER seen this behavior from these people before (turned out to be false: they all had complaints from previous managers in their performance evals of years past), indicated that I must be doing something to cause them to behave this way, and said it was my responsibility to “win them over.” Those employees learned that my manager wasn’t empowering me to actually manage them/hold them accountable, so they took great pleasure in complaining to her (and anyone else who would listen) about me.

      I worked myself into a mental-health crisis in three years trying to manage that group, and eventually got fired. All of those effing people STILL work there. I was the 5th manager in 10 years they had chewed up and spit out. I should have quit after the first six hellish months, a year TOPS, but my pride/perfectionism/imposter syndrome had me convinced that I couldn’t quit so soon or under such a dark cloud. I will never do that to myself again.

      If upper management refuses to support the manager, the manager should save himself and start job searching. This is a cultural/systemic problem, and that one manager has not been given any power to change a damn thing – and his employees KNOW it and are already weaponizing it.

      Somebody is going to lose their job in this situation. It SHOULD be the shitty employees, but if it’s not them, then the manager will either quit himself eventually, or he’ll burn out on the job and upper management will say “See, it was his fault all along,” which is total bull.

      Reign in those a-hole employees if you want to support and keep your manager.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Just here to emphasize this point: If upper management refuses to support the manager, the manager should save himself and start job searching. This is a cultural/systemic problem, and that one manager has not been given any power to change a damn thing

        First time manager’s boss(es) sucks and isn’t going to change, so first time manager needs to start looking for other jobs.

    3. pally*

      Refusing to do the work assigned by their manager is insubordination. What does the employee manual say about how that is to be handled? Is there a process to document and subsequently terminate an insubordinate employee?

      Bullying of the manager, or any employee, may or may not be addressed in the employee manual. Might see if your company has a policy about bullying.

      If management refuses to enforce their policies, and no one intervenes, then whoever is the more motivated will leave their position first.

      Hopefully this manager is documenting every instance of bullying and every time employee refuses to complete an assignment.

    4. Blinded By the Gaslight*

      Check out the Workplace Bullying Institute online – under the link “Help for Bullied People” there’s a link “Start Here – Tutorials” that breaks down every aspect: what bullying is and isn’t, who it happens to, examples, etc. Unfortunately, my upper management did not give a rat’s ass despite me pointing to multiple examples from this site and providing multiple specifics of what my employees were doing to me. In my case, HR also did not “get it” – they were taking their cues from my own manager. If my manager didn’t support me, why would they?

      Workplace Bullying Institute: https://workplacebullying.org/start-here/

    5. WellRed*

      Absent other information this is more insubordination to me. The young manager needs to deal with it and hopefully has the support of upper mgt to get rid of the employee refusing to do the work.

      1. WellRed*

        And just saw the additional info. Young manager needs to get out immediately and the rest of you should be seriously consider working with this company and also with this coworker who s showing something very ugly.

  63. Green Goose*

    Hi all.

    Context: Our org is going through a massive re-org, re-brand, big changes and its been challenging for a lot of people, me included. A lot of people have left and we’re still getting hit with new changes on a monthly basis.
    It’s required a lot of pivoting, flexibility and openness to work in uncertainty. I am planning to leave within the year but due to financial obligations of dependents I can’t just leave right away. I’m actively getting my ducks in a row.

    Issue: My team is only two people, and with all the changes I’m pretty sure when one of us leaves the company will not fill the open position and just leave the remaining person to do everything. My direct report has been reacting worse and worse to all the changes, and when we really need to just move forward with a new direction she digs her feet in over processes and small details. It has become really draining for me. When I have tried to say we just have to move forward with something without knowing the “right and final” answers, she digs in more and brings up more details. I need her support with the work we do, I truly can’t do it on my own so I feel like I’m constantly trying to answer all her questions and “flags” because she won’t start working without being answered.
    She doesn’t outright refuse, but if I say “we just need to do this” then she’ll respond with multiple questions and say she’ll wait to hear back from me until she moves forward. I’m being pulled in so many directions, and I just need her to make calls on her own and move forward with the work. Any advice? I’m worried about saying this too strongly and having her call out sick (she’s done this multiple times in the past) and then I’ll be drowning in work.

    It’s overall a bad situation that I’m trying to get out of, but how to I improve it for the next few months while I’m still here?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Ah man this sucks. Maybe this feels radical and others will disagree, but what could you do on the “carrot” side of the equation here? I’m trying to recall how good bosses treated me when they saw I was in a morass and knew the company wasn’t getting better. I think they tried to step up little gestures of appreciation, whether that’s inviting me out to lunch with them, picking us up coffees, pitching a happy hour after work (know your audience on that one) or planning a “fun” retreat day. I realize that probably sounds like just more emotional and physical labor for you, but this is someone who presumably doesn’t make as much as you and may be actively deciding to leave, who you’d like to stay on as long as possible.

    2. Goddess47*

      No magic answer but have you asked her why she won’t go forward without answers?

      If it’s because she’s concerned about getting it ‘wrong’ then you need to be ready to back her up… what you can promise depends on your own levels. If you can promise “You will never get in trouble for getting it wrong,” then you’re golden. That’s unlikely. But if you can identify situations or individual things that “there is no wrong answer to this specific question” that *might* help?

      If there are other reasons, you need to dig to find them out. She may just not be flexible enough to roll with it and you’re kind of stuck… sorry!

      Good luck!

    3. ferrina*

      I am so sorry. This is such a tough situation.

      I’d start by responding to her emotional needs. Validate where she’s at- “You’re right, this is really tough. If I’m honest, this is definitely not my preferred way of working at all. I really wish I have a final answer, but unfortunately I don’t and I’m not likely to get one right now.”

      Next, lessen the stakes. Ask her for a draft or a mock-up. She’s right that she can’t make a “final” version without final details, but what if she mocks up something? Tell her that you’ll review it, and you can always update it. This is known as iterative development- you have a document that is based on your current needs and information, but is likely to change as you get new information. Show her how to add dates and caveats when she’s drafting to CYA. Make sure she knows that you’ve got her back and won’t punish her for getting things wrong when she doesn’t have all the information that she needs.

      Most of all, make sure she knows that you are on her team. You are doing the best you can to protect and advance her in a crazy environment. Listen to her concerns and help her brainstorm solutions. If there is necessary risk, put yourself as the person taking the risk instead of her. Good luck!

      1. New Mom*

        I think what is tough is that she doesn’t want to put any time or effort into things that might change in the future, or will get scraped, and I think that she thinks if someone tries to say we need to redo work (which really sucks, and I was devastated the first time this happened but now I just accept it is part of the work) she can just refer to the email where they confirmed that they wanted it done by Process A, not Process B.
        I want her to understand that even if we clarify that they want us to do Process A, the powers that be can still come back to us in a few months and say, actually we want you to redo everything with Process B. It’s very annoying, but I feel like no matter how many clarifying questions and long, context filled emails we send to leadership they still have the power to change the request or the stakes.

        1. ferrina*

          Oh man. I’ve been there! It sucks to see your hard work wasted. And it’s tough as a manager to coach your team through it!

          Is she open to being coached through this? Have you told her that you used to feel this way, but now you’re okay with it because ____?
          One thing that helped me and direct reports was “Hey, they’re going to pay us the same whether or not they use our work. So let’s just give them the work, they give us the pay, and if they only use the work to learn what they don’t want, well, they get to pay for the most expensive tutoring session ever.” (not my exact words- messaging varied slightly based on each person’s mindset)

          Bonus- if she’s ever interested in working at a start up, now she knows how it feels. Everything is iterative; there’s always a possibility of priorities changing overnight. Important for her to know if she ever considers a start-up job!

    4. Glazed Donut*

      This sounds familiar!
      I think sometimes, given the number of people who have moved/left, it may be helpful for her to hear reassurance that you aren’t planning on moving her (or firing, or however specific you can get) and ask if there are areas where she’d like to lean in/out given the changes (again, if possible).
      I also think specific, clear information can be best. Recently when I was going through a lot of if-then questions on revising a system, I was flatly told “Last year’s deadlines don’t exist anymore. We can’t keep acting like they hold any sway here” and it was very helpful to hear that and fresh-slate my mind.
      It sounds like she’s likely questioning her perceived value and disengaging, to be honest. Supporting her emotions, sharing your own, and letting her know you’ll be as transparent as possible could be some good guiding notes.

  64. Justme, The OG*

    Update to my post from last week re: salary negotiation. It was accepted! It has to go through HR before I sign but I was nervous for nothing.

  65. Because Higher Ed*

    Hi all–I’m an International Student Advisor at a university in the US. My students have F-1 student visas, so if they want to continue working in the US after an initial work period after graduation, they need to be sponsored for an H-1B visa or legal permanent residency. In the US, it is common for many companies to ask questions along the lines of, “Do you now or will you ever require visa sponsorship to work in the United States?”

    My students often come to me asking how they should answer this question. I’ve been polling employers, career advisors, and people who have been in this situation, and I’ve found that how you approach this is very industry specific. Some will say, “Never disclose you need sponsorship until you have a job offer,” others will say, “Always answer honestly at the beginning, because lying may cost you the job offer,” and others will say, “Say you do not need sponsorship because your application may be weeded out, but explain what sponsorship you would need in your cover letter,” etc.

    I’m wondering if any of you readers can share how you recommend approaching this question/situation AND the industry/field you work in. If any of you have navigated this personally, I would love to hear about your experience as well. Thanks, all!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      They should be upfront about it. Lying about needing sponorship calls into question their integrity and wastes time as well if the company cannot sponsor and has to remove them after it all comes out. They are not going to be able to “gotcha!” their way into sponsorship. If the company doesn’t ask, then sure let it slide until the offer. But if the company is asking upfront they need to answer honestly.

      1. Hillary*

        Thirding this. Entry level and even new masters degree jobs are almost never h1b eligible, and that isn’t going to change with two years of work experience. To companies outside tech “sponsorship” in this context means EB-2 or EB-3 and that’s usually only exceptional circumstances. My last employee only sponsored current employees who were changing countries.

        It really sucks for students, more so now than ten years ago. Remote work and globalization means companies hire folks in their home countries at lower salaries.

    2. Justme, The OG*

      If a student does not disclose that they need sponsorship, and the company is unable to sponsor them, then they’re out of a job with a company that is pissed at them. They need to disclose.

    3. Oof and Ouch*

      We had this all the time! I’m in manufacturing and hiring for engineers.

      It’s a really tough call. The company I worked for had some of those questions and we would 100% use them to weed people out because we weren’t going to be offering sponsorship unless it was a last ditch resort and we really couldn’t find someone who didn’t require it. That being said it’s usually pretty easy to weed people out anyway. I’d see a lot of undergraduate degrees in other countries and then advanced degrees in the US.

      Our standard practice was to have our HR team do a pre screen to set up an interview/phone call and ask the question again/ a different way. About 90% of the time she would find out that the person would need sponsorship in 2-3 years and they’d be put on the bottom of the pile to be returned to if and only if we went the sponsorship route. A couple of people got through that screen and then when they got to the actual interview admitted they needed sponsorship. Those interviews were usually pretty short and those candidates were removed from the list for being generally dishonest. One guy made it to the offer stage before mentioning the sponsorship need. His offer was immediately yanked, and he caused a really bad taste in people’s mouths because we lost out on other candidates.

      Our company was small and historically bad at handling sponsorships. We lost one guy when we failed to get his paperwork in time and he had to go back to India. There was also an attitude that I hated which was basically “well hire them, give them a year or two and then decide if we want to sponsor them.” So the poor kids would come, have their time eaten up, and then be told that we couldn’t sponsor them, because even if they did good work, for us to sponsuthem they’d have to be exceptional. I was always very upfront about this, but I know others weren’t.

      I’d say err on the side of honesty, because you’re way less likely to get burned and some companies just aren’t suited for it.

        1. Oof and Ouch*

          Very very rarely. I think they used to be more open to it, but the cost was too high for what we really needed people to do, and it was damn near impossible for us to meet the guidelines showing that there was a lack of US citizens qualified for the roles we were hiring for. We were hiring for entry level engineering roles. So we’d get someone in, train them, and then have to move them into a more specialized role in a couple of years, and start the hiring and training process from scratch for that job all over again.

          For us to sponsor someone they’d have to be an incredibly special candidate that we could see growing into a niche role that we had need of.

      1. Because Higher Ed*

        Thank you all so much! It’s VERY helpful to hear the rationale from your perspectives–I appreciate it.

    4. Decidedly Me*

      Definitely disclose! We recently had someone lie about this and had to let them go when it came to light. They’ve also been marked as unhirable in the future due to the integrity issue. It also set hiring back a lot, since we had to start over.

      I work in SaaS.

      1. Because Higher Ed*

        Thank you for sharing this! Out of curiosity–would your company have hired this person and sponsored them had that been known up-front (and revoking the offer was because of the integrity issue) or was the company not able to sponsor them and let the worker go because they could not sponsor them and the individual had, for example, signed a 5 year contract?

        1. Decidedly Me*

          We can’t sponsor at all. The specific situation here meant that it was a legal liability to even have them on staff for the short time they were (they technically were no longer a student, so the F1 wouldn’t have applied – this is not my area of expertise, so I may not be exact on the issue details).

          In a case where a person said “I can only work until X date until I need to be sponsored”, I’d personally still be opening to hiring, while being clear that we couldn’t sponsor when that time came.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        My partner’s company, a giant Fortune 100 one, will sponsor visas.
        But they absolutely blacklist you from future hiring if you lie.
        And these things come up in the simple background check, there is no point in lying.

    5. RussianInTexas*

      I’ve seen it on pretty much 100% of job applications. And my partner interviews candidates, this is literally the first question he must ask, by the directives of the company.
      Your students should NEVER lie about their status. A company that is not ready to sponsor someone will not do so after they hire you and they lie. In addition, most employees now use e-verify, which will flag hires not eligible to work in the US.

    6. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      Be upfront. Some companies will not sponsor, period. It’s not being weeded out because you need it, it’s because they don’t offer it at all.

    7. LCH*

      Disclose it. Generally you can only get sponsorship if there is no citizen who is qualified and wants the job (you have to give this information to the Dept of Labor during the sponsorship process.) So it is something they really need to know ahead of time.

    8. Frosty Chug-a-Freeze*

      You’ve got me wildly curious now on what your job entails and what resources your university provides to international students.

      Like I’d there any kind of American interview/office life/etiquette coaching available? I’ve interviewed people who made it clear that they’d take whatever job they’re offered first regardless of what the job is just to stay in the country. I’ve also had people answer questions/behave in ways I find incredibly off putting, only to be told by my colleagues from the same country it was a cultural thing, and that the behavior was fully appropriate in the country the candidate is from.

      I’m from a very WASPy background. Which more or less means that manners matter, but it’s bad manners to point out someone else’s bad manners unless that person is a literal child that you’re responsible for. So you can imagine how grating it was for one of my direct reports to loudly slurp everything he ate (a perfectly polite way to eat in the part of the world he was from). I never said anything because it wasn’t my place, but I also dreaded the possibility that I’d need to have him take a meal with a client or member of the C-suite.

      Do they understand the full restrictions of their visa and how to answer questions about it? We hired someone once who said there would be no issues with international travel (a really key component of the job) and then three months in we were planning a travel schedule for the group and he suddenly said “oh, I actually can’t travel until this document is renewed and I have to go back to my home country to renew it” You’ve got me wildly curious now on what your job entails and what resources your university provides to international students.

      Like I’d there any kind of American interview/office life/etiquette coaching available? I’ve interviewed people who made it clear that they’d take whatever job they’re offered first regardless of what the job is just to stay in the country. I’ve also had people answer questions/behave in ways I find incredibly off putting, only to be told by my colleagues from the same country it was a cultural thing, and that the behavior was fully appropriate in the country the candidate is from.

      I’m from a very WASPy background. Which more or less means that manners matter, but it’s bad manners to point out someone else’s bad manners unless that person is a literal child that you’re responsible for. So you can imagine how grating it was for one of my direct reports to loudly slurp everything he ate (a perfectly polite way to eat in the part of the world he was from). I never said anything because it wasn’t my place, but I also dreaded the possibility that I’d need to have him take a meal with a client or member of the C-suite.

      Do they understand the full restrictions of their visa and how to answer questions about it? We hired someone once who said there would be no issues with international travel (a really key component of the job) and then three months in we were planning a travel schedule for the group and he suddenly said “oh, I actually can’t travel until this document is renewed and I have to go back to my home country to renew it”

      It’s difficult enough to get sponsorship through at my company. I’m on the east coast and work in a field with a lot of very traditional types who place an emphasis on etiquette. If we’re open to it and a candidate isn’t going to “fit” it’s a lot harder to get them through the door (sad but true).

      1. Because Higher Ed*

        Hello! I’m on the visa processing/immigration advising side, so I can’t speak to ALL of the career coaching resources but it’s a lot of what you expect at a university (mock interviews, info sessions, career fairs, etc.) We have general programming about cultural differences and I give presentations about work permission all the way UP to the H-1B stage, but you’re right that there is certainly a cultural component we may not be addressing. I typically have my students talk to their department career centers because much of this is field-specific (the expectations for new lawyers and the culture of working in a corporate law firm is inherently different from, say, being a coaching assistant for a DI hockey team in Minnesota.)

        The goal of course is to have every student become an expert on their own immigration status so that they can confidently navigate those conversations with current and future employers. In practice…they’re college students/recent grads, so they really only become experts if they want to be.

  66. Seriously?*

    As a preface to this story, I am female and I have more than 3 kids (don’t want to get doxxed). I also work in a science based field whose nature requires the entire department I work in to be onsite. Except for one guy. Nature of his work means that he can WFH and he takes full advantage of ever since a combination of change in his manager and his kid was born (it should be noted, that the people who he manages do not have that privilege). At one point during a one-on-one call this past month, the subject of office politics and who does what and who might be a good fit for an expansion of his group (read: he’s going to try to poach people, again). I didn’t give any advice on personnel (I’m not stupid) but I did say: you know coming onsite more often would probably benefit you since you’d have a sense of everything due to interacting and impromptu meetings.” He proceeded to tell me that he’s “the one who wakes up with his [6mon] old baby and is always tired”. I reminded him “yeah, I know it can be tough…I’ve got [x] kids and wasn’t able to WFH at all.” his reply “oh yeah, so you *really* understand!”

    Nope, that was me gently telling you that other people have to go to work with small children who keep you up all night. I myself breastfed all my kids until they were over 12mons. At least one woman I know had to exclusively pump. And counting all those with insomnia and other sleep disorders. On top of all of that: we are lucky, our jobs are not physically demanding.

    I should have pointed all that out to him. But I am happy I pushed back on some of that BS (something he’s known for).

    At least now his average is around once a week onsite. So there’s that.

    1. ferrina*

      It’s silly that he thinks that anyone with a 6month old is ever not tired (and if that person is out there, I am very jealous!). But I don’t resent him for wanting to work from home when he’s got a small child. I worked hybrid with a small child, and those few precious minutes (or hours) I got back from not commuting were amazing.

      Either way, this isn’t your battle to fight. If he doesn’t need to be on-site, that’s up to him and his manager. Yes, there can be management benefits to being on-site, but remote management is still very possible. And honestly, from your opinion of him, it sounds like he’ll still be annoying no matter where he is.

      He might be a pompous so-and-so in other regards (and I fully believe you that he is!), but this one reads like BEC.

      1. Seriously?*

        You’re correct; I’m getting to BEC with him. This is tip of the iceberg and there are more serious stuff (he’s poached people, there’s accusations of nepotism surrounding his hiring and promotion).

        For me it is a pick one: you WFH with the benefits and drawbacks there of or a hybrid of some sort (and the benefits and drawbacks there of). I also know that this is his first management position and there are issues there (but that isn’t my problem, thankfully).

        1. WellRed*

          Be thankful you aren’t his wife who’s probably a million times more tired than him and has to listen to him.

  67. DeathbySnuSnu*

    I’m struggling with a bunch of negative stuff, but not sure what I can do about any of it.

    My org has always been volatile — I’ve had two top people, three 2nd people, and 2 immediate bosses in 3 years. My division was reorganized a few months ago due to a labor dispute and in the middle of that my pandemic relocation agreement lapsed. It’s been absolute chaos, and hardly any of our technology works, and I couldn’t even speak to my employees for several months. I lost an employee 4 months before, who was really my right hand — and the org refuses to replace her. So I’m now almost a year into trying to make the office work without her, and also being unable to find old documents or operate basic things like our conferencing software, and advocating to fix all that. Despite all this my performance has always been good, and I run one of the bigger divisions.

    But maybe 4 weeks ago my boss ignored the briefing and related meeting and invitation and then flipped out and accused me of undermining him and our veep because I held the same kind of forecasting and team building activities that I’ve held every year of my employment so far. And then a few weeks ago my boss called me into a meeting about “expense reports,” which was really about my lapsed relo agreement. He was extremely rude and asked me to give him a timeline for moving, but also if I’d like to just quit. My other boss, who after the reorg I don’t report to but functionally work for, told me he wasn’t consulted about this and didn’t agree with it — he’s completely mystified about the way that I’m being addressed. I said I would relocate to my primary boss and would give him a timeline, but I also wanted to know when I could replace my missing employee, some issues could get resolved, and we might be eligible for raises since we talked explicitly about eligibility at this time when I was hired. I ultimately sent him an email confirming when I would move, and he ignored it. Last week, he and HR called me into a meeting which they told me “not to lose sleep over,” but it was about my team allegedly feeling like I don’t communicate enough and not having sufficient “psychological safety” from April until now — which is interesting because not only did HR never mention any of this to me even though they have been steadily meeting with my employees to discuss this, but they didn’t even work for my organization in April or for me for a substantial part of this time. I now have to generate “a plan” to improve this. There were no specifics of any kind alleged, except that I’m occasionally not super punctual. And I sometimes have cancelled meetings — that’s not untrue, but I mostly cancelled meetings to comply with legal directives. This meeting again devolved into a conversation about my relo, my commitment, and whether I wouldn’t rather just quit. The HR person raised her voice and yelled at me about where I live and how I can’t supervise my team closely enough, which is odd considering that my team is high performing and hybrid — even if I were in the office, most of them would not be.

    So…I just have no idea what to do with any of this. I don’t believe this HR complaint is sincere, but to the extent it is I want to address it. But I don’t want my org putting this into my record, or me on a PIP based on some nebulous complaint that I suspect wouldn’t even be a complaint if my boss were not alternately badgering and ignoring me.

    Any tips? Obviously I have a lawyer and am on the job hunt.

    1. ferrina*

      If I had to guess, it sounds like you are being scapegoated and/or forced out. I suspect your terrible boss has realized that you are more competent than he is and is terrified someone will find out, so he’s doing a preemptive strike to get you out of the way.

      There’s not much you can do. By the time things get this far, it’s usually a sign that Upper Leadership is either not paying attention, incompetent or actively evil.

      You are already looking to leave- that’s good. Invest your energy in your job search, and decrease the energy you give to your job. Keep your head down. Pretend like you care what your terrible boss says, if only to give him and ego boost and stop him from escalating. Make him think he’s won so you can buy a little bit of time. But know that your boss is worse than a liar- he’s a liar who occasionally might tell the truth, which is designed to always keep you unsure. Trust your instincts and completely ignore what he says. Forget adding a grain of salt- just toss his opinions in the ocean.
      I’m not seeing anything illegal here, but also IANAL.

      I hope to see an update on Friday Good News soon! Good luck!

    2. Michelle Smith*

      You’re clearly being pushed out. This organization sucks. Ramp up the job search. Follow your lawyer’s advice about how to proceed with HR and whether to attempt and negotiate an exit plan that includes severance and an agreement that they won’t disparage you in references. Do not waste any more mental energy trying to decipher what HR is trying to communicate or if there’s any truth to what they tell you are the complaints. Just GTFO.

      And don’t worry too much about the permanent record stuff. That’s more of a scare tactic than anything else. Even a PIP would give you a specific timeline by which you know you need to get out and it’s not something that should prevent you from getting another job now, especially if you find a position before you’re terminated.

  68. Chirpy*

    So many people at work are job searching. The only one who’s actually gotten a new job took a day off to go to a job fair, which none of the rest of us can afford to do.

    I’ve hit the point where I’m snapping at coworkers because I can’t take this anymore, and I can’t seem to get out. Holiday retail hell starts next week for us (first big sale). The discussion last week about that I should journal to remind myself of things that bring joy only made it worse, since my job’s bad hours and bad pay mean I can’t do any of those things anymore. I’m so tired.

    1. ferrina*

      I’m so sorry. This is awful. Things are definitely stacked against you.

      Just a thought- are there job fairs often? Are you able to swap shifts with coworkers? I’d be tempted to work with my coworkers to get to a job fair. Swap shifts so you can go to the next job fair, then the one after that (if you are still there), swap shifts so your coworker gets to go.

      Good luck!

      1. Chirpy*

        We’re so short staffed that there’s no one to switch with… we can only switch with people in our same department, and the only other people in mine are the department head (who has set hours and will never switch) and a high schooler who can only work part time nights. The other person I’ve talked with about leaving works in an area only a handful of people are allowed to do.

    2. saskia*

      Post on social media, LinkedIn and anywhere else you can think of that you’re looking for work, and list a couple of key skills/experience. Don’t make it elaborate, just take 5 minutes and do it. And obviously, talk to friends and get the word out if you haven’t. You never know who has connections and who might desperately be in need of a good worker.

      1. Chirpy*

        My reply seems to have disappeared, but basically…I only know one friend in a field I’m qualified for (and they aren’t hiring), most of my friends work in areas I’m not interested or qualified for, or have warned me away from their bad jobs. LinkedIn keeps giving me things like neurosurgeon? I just feel like I don’t know where to look. My kind of random set of skills (in two very different and sometimes niche fields), plus limited experience (and being stuck in retail too long) makes it more difficult.

  69. Low Stakes Parking Space Drama*

    This is one of those things that just sticks in my craw.

    We are a seven-person satellite office of a large law firm. Four lawyers (one who works mostly remote), a paralegal, a legal assistant, an office manager, Wakeem. Our office suite has one parking space at the office, and a pretty annoying parking garage across the street. The garage sucks–terrible traffic flow, the spaces are too narrow and angled too sharply (so people are always spilling over), and it’s tied to the aquarium so in the summer and on school breaks, it’s just kids everywhere.

    Our parking space was assigned to Lawyer C, who was the supervisory attorney. He was demoted but kept the space because he was also the lawyer with the longest tenure and no one wanted to take it away from him. He has since moved on to another firm, and the parking space is free. The rest of us park in the terrible garage with parking passes. Wakeem doesn’t have a pass, but uses the firm credit card to pay his parking (approved).

    Wakeem has now decided that he gets the space. No discussion, he just took it. His hours are offset, so he is often the first person in the office. He is also the lowest performer, absolutely maddening to work with, and one of those people who will do everything BUT the thing you ask. (Asked to buy stamps? He will spend hours researching stamps, come have a meeting about the stamps, give you multiple options for stamp machines and stamps.com, dig into the number of stamps used per week/per month/per year–but never go to the post office half a block away and buy a roll of stamps.)

    In no metric would he be assigned the parking space–not by job title, not by length of employment, not by performance. It should go to Heloise, the current senior lawyer in the office. She works a hybrid schedule with offset hours three days a week and remote two days, and doesn’t really want the space. So it should then go to the next lawyer (me), then the next, then the paralegal, then the legal assistant, and THEN Wakeem. (Full disclosure: I do think I should have it: job title, no remote days, and I often work after 7pm, so I’m dealing with a parking lot in the dark and have to pay for the overage as our passes only go from 7a-7p.)

    It is low-key maddening that Wakeem has just taken the space, but unless we start coming in earlier than he does, he’s already got it. I can’t get here earlier, or I would happily take the space at 7am, drop my garage pass on his desk, and flip him the bird behind his back. This is not something we want HQ to deal with, as it is truly a low-stakes annoyance, but also – WAKEEM. YOU DO NOT GET THE COVETED SPACE.

    So, the question. Heloise is the senior lawyer in the office, and has worked with Wakeem a few years now. I think she needs to address this with him. But how. He is super submissive, like annoyingly so, but also incredibly passive-aggressive, so I’m sure she’s hesitant to bring it up. She probably also doesn’t feel like she has the power, but she totally does.

    What should her approach be? Matter of fact? (Hey, Wakeem, here’s the parking pass, don’t use the firm card anymore, I’m taking the space and when I’m remote, X person will use it) Reasoned? (Wakeem, the parking space isn’t assigned on a first in-first out basis. You need to go back to the parking garage, and here is a parking pass you can use.) Other?

    1. ferrina*

      Yes, Heloise should bring it up. Matter-of-fact is perfect.

      “Hi Wakeem,
      I just realized that I never reassigned that parking spot. I’m giving the spot to LSPSD, since they have the next level of seniority, and of course they are often here well after dark. I know you’ve been using that space while it was unassigned, so I’m letting you know that starting tomorrow you’ll need to use the garage across the street. Here is a parking pass for you”

      It was reasonable for Wakeem to use the spot while it was unassigned, so this conversation is to just set a new norm going forward. Heloise might also want to pop into the office randomly for a month or so after this conversation- just enough to tell Wakeem to move his car if needed. I can imaging Wakeem trying to park in the spot and claiming that it was “just until LSPSD got here”. If he does that, tell him to move his car. Every time.

      *Side note- this assumes that Wakeem doesn’t get there until 7am. If Wakeem is having to pay for overage parking because he gets there at 7am, that should be addressed.

  70. Serious Pillowfight*

    Fellow writers/editors: How much do you charge for freelance copyediting services? I set my rate at $50/hr estimating 5 minutes per page, but realized that doesn’t factor in font size, spacing, etc. which can obviously vary. I read one thing online that suggested $25 per 1,000 words but that seems steep. The other issue is, how much work does the text need? If I’m just proofreading for typos and the occasional unclear sentence, is that really copyediting? Versus doing it for someone who can’t write well and needs me to overhaul their copy.

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      It’s been a long time since I did freelance, but yes, definitely have different scales for copy edit vs deep editing work.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I’m not a fan of standard hour/word rates because it is too simple for editing. When I’ve done copyediting services (not a main line for me, but something I pick up on request for clients) I don’t commit to any firm number of any kind until eyeballing the piece and discussing their goals, for all the reasons you list. And then I use a weird math, a blend of what I think the job is worth to them cross checked against how much time it should take. Let’s say it looks like 2 hours to rework an article and I charge around 100/hour for that kind of work so I’ll do it for a flat fee of $200 or so. If they don’t have that much, I’ll pare down what I plan to do. I might be wrong about how long it actually takes but charging high means I don’t care and I put in caveats in case it’s WAY off.

    3. Alex*

      I am not a former copyeditor/proofreader, but I used freelance copyeditors and proofreaders extensively in my last job!

      We did pay by the hour, and honestly, not very well (much less than your rate, but I know we were underpaying). I’d say $50 is on the higher end of average. I’d also say that 5 minutes per page seems fast to me. Lots of places pay by the word, as, as you say, font size and spacing can make wild differences, as can images and the complexity of the text.

      I will say that copyediting and proofreading are completely different. Copyediting is looking for grammar mistakes, spelling errors, missing content, correct citation and references (if applicable), etc., as well as adherence to the style that is being used (Chicago, MLA, whatever). They may also be making recommendations for rewriting for clarity, confusing phrasing, etc., depending on the level of copyediting required.

      Proofreading has a different remit. The term “proofreading” actually refers to reading proofs–after a book or piece of writing is typeset in the format it will be published in (a pdf, or if online, perhaps the html page), the proofreader looks for mistakes that may have occurred during this process. Formatting, missing content, typos, etc. Of course, proofreaders will flag misspellings or grammar mistakes if they were missed during copyediting but generally it is assumed that their work is less “in depth” than the copyeditors.

  71. Miss Misconduct*

    At the very end of August, I was fired for “misconduct” (though nobody would say what the “misconduct” was. Was fired over the phone by HR; never even spoke to my manager). Despite this, I qualified for unemployment through the cunning strategy of applying, claiming I was fired for “Performance,” and the former workplace not responding to Unemployment’s attempts to reach out. (They’re very disorganized, and they may or may not have gotten into some sort of trouble for firing a pregnant employee the exact same day she was approved for FMLA, then fighting her unemployment. I really don’t know too much about this piece). I was the sixth person in my four-person department to be fired since May, meaning this department had a 150% turnover in three months. Basically, the only person in that department who has been there more than 1-2 months is that department’s manager. This company has an… interesting reputation in the community.

    Anyway, I was offered a new job on Sept 14. The background check process takes a long time (DCF background checks, etc), and I am slated to start on Oct 16. Everything seems to be in order, but I can’t shake the fear that this new job will somehow find out about my termination for misconduct and pull the offer. I was also recently offered another job, so I have a backup offer if this initial offer gets rescinded. I was only at this old job for three months before getting terminated for “Misconduct.” I’m afraid of this affecting my ability to get other jobs. And I still don’t know what this “Misconduct” was.

    1. Goddess47*

      If you were only there for three months, I would think you could have left the job off your resume completely. Going forward, do that. You were ‘looking’ at that point and a three month gap is nothing, if you read AAM regularly.

      If a new job does a really thorough background check and will find the job in your work history, then you should disclose that you left the job, they labeled it as ‘misconduct’ and that you don’t know anything more. Be upfront about being blindsided, to take it off the table as a sticking point.

      At this point, there’s no going back, so hopefully everything works out well for you.

      Good luck.

      1. Miss Misconduct*

        I was still employed at the old job when I initially applied at this new job, so at the time, I didn’t have a reason to leave it off. I’ll definitely leave it off in the future. Thank you.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      It is very very unlikely that your previous employer will do more than confirm your employment dates. That’s pretty standard.

      I know you are worried about it but there’s nothing you can really do – should it come up you can say something along the lines of I was let go but not told the reason (which is true – they did not tell you the actual why). Just a vague “misconduct” is not going to be enough for a good employer to pull an offer – it could mean literally anything.

      Background checks also in general are more concerned with criminal issues and general fact checking – employment dates, education etc.

  72. Mbarr*

    If your coworkers were idly (but not maliciously) talking about you, would you want to know?

    I have several friends/colleagues that I’ve known for 13 years. We follow each other from company to company. Years ago during a conversation (after knowing each other for at least 3 years), my friend, Amber, mentioned to me that she’s a Jehova’s Witness. Until then, I had no inkling as to her religious beliefs. We’re a diverse group, so I don’t know why she’s so quiet about it, but that’s her business.

    Our office is 95% work-from-home, but a few people in our office met for lunch. Amber was not present. Her boss and another manager (who’ve also known for 13 years) mentioned how Amber doesn’t come in for fun events (which of course revolved around typical Christian/North American holidays). A few people around the table (including her boss) idly theorized that maybe Amber’s a Mennonite. (I guess some Mennonite sects have a practice that they don’t like having their picture taken?) The topic was dropped pretty quickly.

    I didn’t gainsay anything, and I haven’t mentioned to Amber that people were speculating. I don’t think I will tell her about the conversation – I don’t think it would serve any purposes. But I’m curious what you think?

    1. ThatGirl*

      This is weird. I was born/raised Mennonite and … it’s mostly the Amish who don’t want their picture taken, and you would know that someone was Amish way before they got to the “don’t take any pictures of me” part.

      Personally, in that case I might have just spoken up and said “I think she’s a Jehovah’s Witness” because it’s nothing to be embarrassed by. I think you could say something to Amber if you WANTED to, but more along the lines of “you were missed at our lunch the other day!” instead of speculation about her religion.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Definitely do not “out” her as belonging to a minority religious group without prior consent.

        1. ThatGirl*

          fair, but even “I don’t think she’s Mennonite/that’s not a Mennonite thing” would work.

    2. ferrina*

      What Mennonites have they interacted with?
      I’ve been tight with Mennonites my entire life, and I’ve never heard this. Of course, Mennonite practices can vary wildly (with conservative Mennonites having similar practices to Amish, and some of the very liberal Mennonites I’ve met being closer to UU)

      Regardless, it’s not cool that coworkers speculates about her religious practices. I think you had standing to speak up- “I’d rather not speculate about a coworker’s religious beliefs, especially when she’s not here to speak for herself.”
      That will usually cue an awkward silence. Let it be awkward. Some folks might get annoyed at you, but more often folks are quietly happy that someone else spoke up when they didn’t know how. It’s really hard to know how to respond to these situations in the moment.

      1. Mbarr*

        We live in a city next to a large Mennonite population – not sure which denomination though. I’ve never heard of this either. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          1. THE PANCREAS*

            Thank you for this. I looked up Mennonites because I realized I knew very little unless I had seen a conservative community member. Not gonna lie, I think I want to be a Mennonite.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I mean we are pretty cool :) if you have questions feel free to ask in the weekend open thread.

    3. Michelle Smith*

      I don’t know whether I’d tell her or not. I probably would, but I have a big mouth so I don’t know if it’s actually the right thing.

      You were right however not to bring it up. I would encourage you to actually do some looking into the religion. It’s highly likely that the reason she’s quiet about it is because it is a highly controversial religion – a lot of people might develop negative opinions about her because of her beliefs or their perception of her beliefs. Presumably she trusted you with this information because you’ve been friendly and nonjudgmental to her, so she figured you could probably be trusted not to treat her differently once you knew. Others may not be so kind.

      1. Mbarr*

        Ha, I think she only told me cause I asked her for advice about Christmas trees that one year. LOL.

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      I don’t think I’d care one way or the other. I assume colleagues probably do talk about stuff like that, probably not speculating on my religion as it’s the major one in Ireland and…probably not that interesting to anybody, but it’s quite likely people have speculated on other things about me.

      If somebody told me that people were speculating on my religion and guessed something I wasn’t, I might be amused, but it wouldn’t bother me either to hear it or not to be told.

    5. RagingADHD*

      This seems like a very normal, harmless discussion in passing, and I can’t imagine any reason why you’d want to bring it up with Amber.

  73. Procedure Publisher*

    I received my 60 day notice this week that my position is being eliminated. I was not the only one. Everyone who worked on procedures like me had their positions eliminated if they were in the US. They had decided to make the team in India be responsible for both the publishing and writing of procedures. I’ve have started working on polishing my resume to get ready to apply to jobs.

    One of the things I am struggling with is how to handle my position on my resume. Over the nine years of being in that position, my job title had changed four times but responsibilities stayed mostly the same. Since the responsibilities stayed mostly the same, I’m thinking of just listing the last job title since it is the one that fits the best. However, should it be noted or mentioned that the job title changed but position stayed the same?