open thread – November 10-11, 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.

{ 796 comments… read them below }

  1. dot*

    Thoughts on company holiday parties post-layoffs? I’m sure the planning and payments were done before layoffs had to happen, but the invite wasn’t distributed until a couple weeks after the culling. And not talking a little thing hosted at the office, this is a large catered event usually at a hotel ballroom or a country club.

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Can say that I understand that it may have already been well in the works, and I can say from watching, if not handled carefully, the optics are quite lousy. (Source: OldJob, Holiday part 2008 edition)

    2. the cat's ass*

      yeah, it’s a bad look/tone deaf, even if everything was locked in before the layoffs. And remembering my 2008 holiday party at ExJob, it felt like a wake.

      1. WorkNowPaintLater*

        Ours that year was so awkward.

        We found out the reasons for the awkwardness the following week.

    3. Gyne*

      Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. There are going to be people who resent the company spending extra money on trying to do something nice for the staff after positions have been cut, and there are going to be people who would resent canceling a party that might be, at most, a month’s pay for one person after the company “saves” money by eliminating multiple positions. I personally would fall on the side of “have the party” but I think there’s just not an answer to this one.

      1. Duckles*

        At most a month’s salary??? Unless you’re talking C-Suite, that’s way off– a lot of company holiday parties run $100-200K (based on what my friend who’s a corporate event planner tells me), and that sounds like the type of event the poster mentions. Not saying they shouldn’t have the party, but just clarifying it’s probably more like 1-4 full year salaries cost-wise.

        1. Gyne*

          You work in *way* fancier places than I do! My company’s holiday party last year ran us around $500 (dinner and drinks for everyone at a nearby restauarnt.)

        2. Karo*

          The company holiday parties I planned were always less than 10k. I think it’s one of those where the industry and executive mindset changes a lot about how they’re handled.

    4. Cyndi*

      Sounds like a great way to have a party where the attendees all load up as much food as they can get away with, and immediately go home with it.

    5. Panicked*

      I’m in the same situation, but for a smaller company. We paid for the venue and catering before layoffs. We decided to continue the party and focus on strengthening what’s left of the organization with some much needed time away to de-stress. We let our staff know that the money we put out was paid prior to layoffs and that it was non-refundable.

      While it’s probably not relevant to your org, we used rewards points for all of our prizes and giveaways. We couldn’t translate that into money that would save anyone’s job, but we could buy in-kind items. We made that very clear to our staff to ensure they understood we weren’t using company funds.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I resolved not to be the “I hate office parties” guy here, but that “much needed time away to de-stress” pushed me into it. A holiday party is, at least for me, about the furthest thing from a chance to de-stress. Quite the opposite. The physical environment often is a crowded and noisy room. I hated that kind of party even in college. But unlike those college parties, you are there with your coworkers and bosses. You want me to de-stress? Send me home to lie on my own bed and watch mindless YouTube videos. If de-stressing is the intent of the party, this is one of the worst possible ways to go about it.

        1. TechWorker*

          Okay, but if you hate that environment then you’re probably not going to attend regardless of circumstances. There are indeed people for whom an evening of free food and drink is a way to destress.

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      Very much depends. To play devils advocate as a Director over here.

      Even $10K for a nice event has little to do with paying five or ten people $80K + benefits. What would we do with the extra $10K? Extend severance payments an extra week? OK, maybe we’ll do that anyway and still have a party.

      Many companies overhired. Not every employee proved themselves. Half of the people do 90% of the work, others are pushing paper or actively causing harm because they aren’t picking up on problems and legal liabilities and financial errors in their areas. If we had someone who was better even superficially looking at their stuff, the department would flow so much better. Lay offs is a good way to get rid of the people who aren’t adding value but aren’t bad enough to fire for performance issues, when you also need to save money.

      Put another way, being bitter after layoffs only makes sense if the laid off people were doing great jobs and got treated unfairly by virtue of measly severances.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          I am not talking about myself personally AT ALL I am commenting on the great resignation trends as I commented elsewhere. That being said, a very common thread I am seeing online is “mean company did something horrible to my perfect coworker” and people repeatedly miss that other peoples’ performance issues are not public TO YOU. We afford the same courtesy in your direction as well. You might think a coworker is doing fine because you see a snippet, but I see they are on Facebook for hours a week, just push papers around, and then making some mistakes that you don’t see.

          That’s not “scrooge” thats just running a business and trying to retain the better people?

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          Not me in -particular!! But it’s been a pretty popular trend that companies overhired during 2020 -2022 that’s come up in the media and then layoff announcements repeatedly. It’s not something I personally did (I am not Bill Gates!)

          Bit confusing people think I meant me personally when….didn’t everyone else catch all those great resignation articles and then the layoff announcements a year later

      1. Qwerty*

        Former director and long time manager here – you caused the problem by overhiring.

        People don’t get trained properly, there aren’t as many opportunities, the experienced people become frazzled and actively prevent new hires from doing things to avoid having to clean up a mess later. People rise *and fall* according to their circumstances. When meaningful work stops being available, people stop searching for it. When no one understands what is going because of the flood of new people and teams, people realize there is no point to working hard. If you give people crappy tasks, they’ll mentally check out.

        Employees absolutely get to be bitter about a lay off caused by overhiring. Senior leadership lured people away from stable jobs with the promises of something new and effectively wasted company money which resulted in a layoff. Careers were set back. I’d rather be laid off because the market wasn’t interested in my quality product rather than leadership making a dumb and egotistical mistake. Because during the overhiring period senior leadership is often crowing about how awesome the company is and using that growth in headcount as a sign of company stability.

      2. Dasein9 (he/him)*

        Oh, no. Layoffs aren’t always a failure of management; sometimes a market crashes. But errors like overhiring result in those who have the least power paying the consequences.

        Telling the people whose lives are upturned how to feel about that is some gall.

      3. Duckles*

        I mentioned this above, but just reiterating that 10K is not a standard number for many companies. It’s often ten times that amount or more.

      4. Despachito*

        It is also worth considering that not every layoff is due to bad performance of the employee. I was laid off once with my entire department because the company did not need us anymore. It had nothing to do with our performance at all.

        I also felt no bitterness at all – we knew it long beforehand as the trickle of work going to us was steadily declining for quite some time before (actually, I was surprised we weren’t let go three years earlier, but the pay was so good we wanted to hold there as long as we could, and bad management was on our side this time), we got a generous severance money (more than required by law), and I had something lined up already.

        So I’d be for holding the party – it has probably already been paid for, and the layoffs per se (unless there were some low blows or unfair treatment on the part of the employer) should ideally not be taken as a personal outrage. It is still just a business thing, and if it is the other way round and the employee is the one who terminates the employment, we do not expect the employer to act hurt, even if they had invested in the employee in terms of training, recent promotion etc., and we would perceive it as not professional if they do.

        I understand that an unexpected layoff affects more the employee (and the more so if their health insurance is tied to the employmen as I understand it is in the U.S.), but unless there was some injustice I think this should be handled with the same professionalism (and ideally no feelings hurt) as the other way round.

    7. ThatGirl*

      Last year, we had a significant reorg and round of layoffs on Dec. 1 and two weeks later they had an office holiday party like nothing had happened, including lots of food and random door prizes. The really wild thing was that two of the party planners had been laid off.

      It was a nice enough party, and I don’t know that canceling it would have done any good, but it did feel a bit strange. That said, it was just my office, and the layoffs came from “on high” so there was a sense that someone else was responsible for the layoffs and we were responsible or the party.

    8. kiki*

      This is tricky because the optics aren’t great, but cancelling likely won’t save money– the time to get deposits back may have passed already and, tbh, holiday parties cost very little in the scheme of a company. Cancelling also risks hurting morale for remaining employees even further.

      It’s not great, but it seems like the best path forward is to continue with the holiday party but acknowledge that it comes after a hard year.

    9. Katie*

      The thing is payroll for one person (plus benefits) is way more that a typical office party. Then as you mentioned, they already paid for it for this year so it would be incredibly wasteful not to use what was already spent.

      However don’t be shocked if it’s not in the budget next year.

    10. fhqwhgads*

      I’ve seen it happen and the organizers made a point to make it as clear as possible at every turn that the money was spent long before and not retrievable, so while yeah it might feel icky in light of things, it shouldn’t feel “wasteful” because that money couldn’t have been spent on anything else to save anyone’s job. Cancelling would’ve meant out the funds and nobody gets their theoretically-enjoyable-event. So unless you’re inherently anti the company party every year and would prefer the $$ to bonuses or something else, this year’s no different than others. I’m not sure if it helped morale per se? But that was the gist.
      On the flip side if cancelling were actually possible and would get the company $$ back, that’s the better choice. But if the option is Have the Party They Already Paid for or Paid for a Party That Never Happened, the latter’s worse.

    11. Vanilla latte breve*

      Back in 2008, my old company had a big layoff in the fall. Old company was an advertising agency, and they used to invite tons of clients and vendors to the party as well. The party was typically a pretty splashy affair, and it was no different in 2008.

      Several of my friends lost their jobs in the layoff. I decided not to attend the party because it just felt icky celebrating. I didnt make a big deal about not attending, so im sure it wasnt noticed that i wasnt there.

    12. Momma Bear*

      It’s not a good look but if the loss of deposits would be bad, at least be transparent/acknowledge the Awkward. We had layoffs and a summer picnic. Big Boss said it was because money was already paid and cancellation fees would be almost as much as just forging ahead. Event had been many months in the planning by that point.

    13. Jelly*

      Sounds depressing as hell. I wouldn’t be able to go if I were laid off unless I had a new job lined up already. Talk about tone deaf.

    14. kalli*

      Cancelling team-building or training retreat for the employees you kept because it would look bad also signals to those who have remained that investing in them is no longer a priority.

      It feels weird because ‘party’ isn’t thought of as ‘team-building’ in the same way as a day of trust falls, but part of the function is actually for boosting morale and fostering team unity and connections. The need for that doesn’t go away just because many people see the party as a reward or event and not ‘I spend time with people I work with without immediate deadlines and maybe learn to identify them as people instead of fellow work drones’.

      Even if the booking didn’t have to be made months in advance and the money wasn’t already spent, it’s probably severely needed after a round of layoffs. Inviting after the layoffs is definitely a kindness and better than inviting people before they’re let go, and the best way of handling that aspect of it. It’s also worth noting that lay-offs aren’t always because of financial distress; they can be strategic, due to restructuring, due to lack of renewal or changes in grants, contracts or other funding (we don’t need the llama team now that the government llama culling management plan hasn’t been renewed, that money will now go to the panda team in preparation for the government negotiating for the loan of another panda pair by 2026), and qualified by ‘the org no longer needs that exact role done by anyone’ not ‘the org is losing money’ or ‘the org no longer needs those functions performed at all’. In many cases ‘here remaining team, have a meal on us’ can be intended to signal strength, reassurance that they won’t be next, encourage loyalty and similar, even if to an employee who doesn’t have all the information or doesn’t think that way, it feels more like ‘your friends were fired, have a schnitty’ unawareness.

    1. Throwaway Account*

      I just bought social thinking at work (before the discount, no worries, but I cannot speak to how that part works)! I’m looking forward to reading it this weekend.

  2. Performance punishment*

    How do you win the game of favoritism?
    I like my job. I’m great at my job. But I’m not the favorite on the team. My counterpart has less experience and is bad at the job (many complaints lodged against her from several people she has to interact with) and yet she has a higher title and higher salary. She gets the training and development opportunities while I just get more work. So how do I get past some obvious favoritism with my boss and start to get what I need to stay happy there without sounding whiny?

    1. Dek*

      Can you ask for the training and development opportunities too? Like you said, you want to focus on what *you* need to be happy. I know it’s not always possible to smother the bitterness of other people being treated better entirely, but can you make a case to your boss, without bringing up your coworker, for you getting those things (including, potentially, the pay and title), just by discussing the work you’re doing?

      1. Elle*

        And when you make that ask be sure to include how it will make you better at your job and benefit the company.

    2. Generic Name*

      Honestly? Leave. Yes, I know, easier said than done. I’m recalling my experience at my last company, which was run on a system of favorites. In my opinion, any company that advantages favorite employees over non-favorite but more competent companies is not a well run company.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Same. I’m looking for a new role, because my boss plays favorites. (It’s not a wider pattern for the organization, just his general obvious preference for people who do not predate him.)

        You can and should advocate for opportunities for yourself, but a system of favorites is a broken system.

      2. Throwaway Account*

        Left a job that played (mean girl) favorites and I’m so happy! I was a Friday Good News post a while back and I’m still really happy and Old Job still plays favorites even though there has been a huge staff turnover. Out of my large cohort of friends-who-were-not-favorites, only 2 are left.

        As the saying here goes, your boss/workplace sucks and is not going to change.

      3. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say “FLEE”
        It ain’t getting any better, any time soon. You’ll do all the work, and she’ll get all the glory

    3. Hamster*

      I just feel like there’s no coming back from blatant favoritism.
      A few months ago I noticed that my boss was treating other coworkers more favorably. Even though they were more senior, and competent, I don’t think I deserved to be treated the way he treated me. I had just thought of starting to look when I was let go.

      1. kalli*

        You weren’t treated differently, from what you’ve told us your boss went to quite a bit of efforts to give you the same chance of succeeding but it didn’t work out.

        You also seem to have a habit of every time something doesn’t work out, framing it as ‘I don’t deserve to be treated that way!’ like people are doing things at you when they’re just normal work things. People who are more competent will get more work because they have shown they can handle it. People who are more senior accrue benefits over that time. It’s not always about you or at you or favoritism, especially when someone who’s struggling with the work and is severely unwell is the one not getting opportunities – it isn’t even always some senior person pretending to be benevolent about not overburdening the low performer, it’s just that work allocation tends to mean work goes to who can get it done, people tend to gravitate to people who are like them and require lower cognitive load to engage with. Sometimes there isn’t a reason and that also doesn’t make it wrong, or something to go ‘I don’t deserve’ about it – at the end of the day we are not automatically entitled to these things, it’s just a social convention that people shouldn’t never give a chance in the first place. It isn’t actually favoritism unless there’s something you haven’t gone into extreme detail about.

      2. Lurky McLurkerson*

        Even though they were more senior, and competent, I don’t think I deserved to be treated the way he treated me.

        This is not what you want to hear, but it’s what you need to hear: people who are more senior and competent getting privileges that you don’t get is NOT favoritism. That’s their reward for being more senior and more competent. They worked hard to get that. From what you’ve described, you struggled mightily at your prior job and you had significant performance issues that you couldn’t fix. And the stress made you physically ill! That was not the job for you, and the boss was doing you a kindness by letting you go. I hope that when you start looking for a new job, you really think hard about what kind of tasks and workload you’re capable of doing, and focus on roles that are suited to what you can actually do and not just what you wish you could do.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Can you tell whether it’s related to something she is/has (similar educational background, similar personal interests), or something she does (a particular way of building rapport with the boss, a way of self-marketing that buffers negative feedback)?

      If it’s something she does, you could try replicating her approach.

      1. Performance punishment*

        From my point of view, she is very extroverted while I am quite introverted. She is also looking to move into a sales role on the team, but she’s been talking about this move for roughly 8 months and it hasn’t formally happened yet.
        I don’t care to replicate her extroversion or follow her into sales.

        1. uncivil servant*

          That definitely sounds unfair, but I wonder if they’re looking at it as “Jane kinda sucks at X but she’d be good in sales, let’s try to get her there instead of having to fire her. Especially because we love her.” Would the same career development be useful to you, or do you just want an equal amount?

          Again, it’s not fair if a pleasant but less competent person is rewarded for being bad at her job, but from management’s perspective, all might just be good with you while Jane’s a mismatch for her (relatively senior?) position.

        2. AnonToday*

          I think you need to think about what actions and social skills (which can be learned) being “extroverted” entails.

          Someone who wants to go into sales is likely doing more specific things than just being extroverted. They might be:

          1. Knowing their audience
          2. Tailoring their communication style (and level of technical detail) to their audience
          3. Preparing for difficult conversations beforehand, bringing evidence
          4. Understanding management’s strategy and goals, and aligning their suggestions for training/development with that
          5. Taking the time to slowly build relationships based on things like sharing useful information, helping people

          You’ve said she has less experience, but if her experience is more specialized or relevant to the direction the company is going in, of course she’s getting more opportunities. You’ve said several people have complained, but what percentage is that? And are they reliable narrators?

          I do wonder if you’re letting some jealousy color your view of this. If this person is a rising star, building a relationship with her with help you more than being bitter about it.

    5. Baldrick*

      I left and my new job was the best so I was lucky. I recently happened to see the guy who replaced my old boss just as I left that job and he was so happy for me. He reiterated how undervalued I had been and that I had made the best choice.

      1. Baldrick*

        To add: Mine played favorites based on gender and race so it was never anything that could be resolved other than leaving. Thankfully boss is now retired.

    6. Alternative Person*

      Honestly, I don’t think you do. A new manager at my job drew a circle of people around them that they clearly value and want to develop and left others out without so much as a courtesy e-mail when things got reassigned (I’m not sure if this was particularly deliberate for various reasons, but the end result is the same either way). It sucks. The best you can probably do is advocate for yourself a bit more and work out where you want to go/what you want to do next.

    7. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Hmm, in my workplace training is basically punitive – just double-check those training “opportunities” she’s getting are not related to all those complaints! And sympathies, that sounds like a frustrating situation

  3. Cyndi*

    I’m in the office on a court holiday and there are still things I could, in theory, be doing, but they’re all things like “watch hour long training video for management software I already use daily” and frankly neither the body nor the spirit are willing.

    1. Phony Genius*

      I can relate a story that might help just a little. I was talking with somebody who worked in a lab that tested materials that were collected in the field. These samples had to be tested the same day they were collected. They could not collect these samples in the rain, so he said on rainy days, they cleaned the lab. I asked what happened when it rained for two days in a row. He said then the lab was really clean.

      1. Cyndi*

        I’m reviewing my to-do lists (both work and personal) and planning out next week, which I do on Fridays anyway, but today I’m doing it veeeeeerrry slowwwwwwly.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Years ago,bI worked at a small, independent ear-piercing and costume jewelry place at the mall during the recession of the early 90s. As long as the store was neat and well-stocked, I was allowed to read if no customers were in the store, but sometimes almost nobody came in all day (I only worked weekdays).

        We had some fancy sets meant for proms, etc. One day, I polished them all. They looked great! So shiny! One of the owners was super impressed and thought I was the World’s Best Employee. Probably just the Mall’s Most Bored Employee.

        I did get a lot of reading done that summer.

          1. GythaOgden*

            I read Mansfield Park in a single afternoon at a backwater grocery shop. I wasn’t necessarily allowed to read, but there was rarely anyone else there, including the owner, so I took the opportunity. (It was a local shop that by itself was unprofitable but was kept subsidised as a non-profit by the parish council so people didn’t have to go two or three miles just for a pint of milk. We got a very canny person interested in it and he did build it up into something that was actually commercially viable by letting his small chain of shops subsidise it instead until it was profitable itself. Say what you want to about grocery store retailers in general, but that man worked every hour he could to make it his livelihood and it’s still around even though he’s retired. That kind of lifestyle requires 24/7 dedication and I’m in awe of him. I kind of did it as a voluntary thing to get some work experience under my belt while battling mental issues — I wouldn’t have lasted at a properly busy shop but I could manage the quiet place pretty well on my own while the owner did the rounds of his other branches.)

            And yeah, I know I’m replying to someone with an Austen reference as her username but I swear it’s a coincidence. The book itself isn’t my favourite Austen work, but it’s more memorable because I remember when I read it and why I had time to sit down with it in one go.

        1. A different reading job*

          I had a great job once working in a tourist shop in a very beautiful nature reserve. The tourists generally only came along in coach loads. So, for 20% of the day I’d chat and laugh and sell trinkets and scoop ice creams, and for 80% of the day I’d read my John LeCarre book. A beautiful job.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Is this video mandatory? If so, while watching it would be a tedious waste of time, this would be a good time to “watch” it.

      1. Cyndi*

        Nope, it’s not mandatory or time sensitive! In fact I put a lot of this kind of stuff on my to-do list on purpose–partly to fill up downtime, but partly because we use some software that’s really deep on features that my boss doesn’t have time to dig into himself, and I occasionally do actually catch something and go “Hey, that’s a feature we can make use of that we didn’t know about before.” But even then, I can only handle an hour or two of YouTube videos about spreadsheet editing permissions before my brain starts turning to static.

    3. Jelly*

      Polish your resume’? Doesn’t sound like you’re ready to leave or anything, but it can’t hurt to have a freshened resume’, ever.

    4. Vio*

      This happens to me sometimes. A big part of my job is being here to manage the building and react to anything that happens, if it does. I usually have a lot of other work to do as well but once in a while I either run out or it’s too near the end of shift to start a new task and none of the waiting work is of the easily pausable to resume later kind. So sometimes there isn’t actually anything specific to do. My boss is understanding about this and doesn’t insist on make-work but there is still a kind of professional expectation to seem busy.

  4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Two weeks from now I will discuss with my boss whether I am good at my job. The problem is that I have no idea whether I’m bad at my job or not. I don’t want to have a situation where my boss says ‘ actually I was too busy to say you sucked, and you should have known because of ( ambiguous information) you’re fired.

    1. MsM*

      Do you have goals? Are you meeting them? If you’re not, do you know why, and is it things you could be doing better, or are they out of your control?

      If you don’t have goals, do you have a job description you can refer to? Does what you’re doing match up with what’s on it? Are you doing more than what’s called for, or feel like you could/should be?

      If none of this stuff is in place, than talk to the boss about getting it so you can track your progress. You can also just say that you’d appreciate more feedback, or clarity with instructions, or whatever will help ease your mind about whether you’re missing things.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        my goals are to not die of stress and to not traumatize anymore more than they need to be! Lololol . My job seems to consist of a zillion people requesting me to do things and then complaining that their thing isn’t the first thing or I forgot a thing

        1. Momma Bear*

          I’d look at what you do and what you get accomplished. If you have a ticket system, then cite number of tickets closed/resolved. If boss brings up a lot of complaining, discuss the day to day nature of requests and how best (if necessary) to prioritize them. Not knowing/not having good feedback about performance can be something to bring up.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            This might be a really good time to establish a ticket system if you don’t have one. We all know that *everything* is top priority, right?

            1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

              Ticket systems don’t actually exist in my industry and it would be funny if they did. ‘ I know you told me to drive someone across town, but that’s ticket #100 after getting someone who doesn’t care to give us paperwork, making someone do s doctor’s appointment, etc’

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              If everything is top priority , nothing is top priority. A manager’s job is to prioritize. A ticketing system gives your boss something concrete to decide on.

              One thing I like about computerized ticketing systems. Is that if someone changes the priority, it keeps a record to show I was responsive to the priority at the time. The system can show if the person complaining has a history of last-minute urgent requests that disrupt another group, or of expanding/changing the request after you start.

    2. Angstrom*

      When you meet, ask if you can schedule a regular recurring(weekly, monthly, whatever makes sense) meeting with your boss to review your work and catch any problems early. It is much less stressful than only hearing from your boss when something bad happens.

      1. debbietrash*

        big +1 on asking for a semi-regular meeting with your boss/manager. I’ve been doing this at various jobs for the past 6 years, and it’s really helpful in reducing that feeling of being blindsided when things aren’t going well. I find going in with my own agenda/list of questions, and being able to write my own notes and action items immensely helpful in ensuring we’re on the same page.

        Also be aware of your manager’s management style. My experience is that a good manager will tell you, “you’ll know if things aren’t going well before we get to talk about PIPs or termination”, and then they’ll act accordingly. Some managers will tell you the first part, but not act on it (that’s where asking for meetings is helpful).

        Best of luck, and I hope you don’t stress too hard about this.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        We actually are supposed to have those but my boss is swamped and often just assumes because I’ve been here a long time ( 4 years) that I’m not messing my job up… ( I am please don’t leave me up my own devices!)

        1. Girasol*

          What if you just said that? “We meet so infrequently that I’m never sure if I’m still doing okay or slipping. I know you’re busy but I need a little more feedback. Is there a convenient way for you to check in with me more often?”

            1. Momma Bear*

              I agree. If you need to touch base, then ask to do so. I request one-on-ones at least a couple of times a year, even if it’s very short.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      It’s literally their job to tell you if you suck or are adequate or are awesome at the job. If you’ve been there more than a month and have no idea if you’re doing ok or not, they’ve completely failed you.

  5. Nothing is going to happen with this*

    Has anyone ever been in a position where they are attracted to their boss? What was the story and how did you navigate with processing your feelings and not acting on it?

    We just had a company offsite event recently where I finally got to meet my boss and coworkers in person, and I was extremely attracted to my boss. I’ve been at the company a little less than 6 months, but the boss who hired me ended up getting fired a few months ago, so I got moved under my current boss. My current boss helped put out some bad fires I was dealing with, and I feel very listened to and validated with him, which definitely helped with some emotional attraction on my end. He’s been my first good boss in years, so that likely has something to do with it, that I can depend on him. Before this event, I had a slight attraction to him, but when I saw him in person it was like “wowza”.

    Both him and I kept it professional during the days at the offsite. We actually only chatted 1:1 twice, once when we both got there and the last night we ended up sitting next to each other dinner. During our chat during dinner, I felt so awkward because I was so attracted, I kept imagining him kissing me, and had such a strong urge to grab and kiss him. It was difficult to have a conversation with him because I kept feeling all this energy and wanted to kiss him. He was also way more joke-y with other coworkers, with me it was more serious and we really only chatted about our pets and work.

    He also ended up canceling 2 of the weekly meetings we usually have with just us, which to be fair, he was probably working on more important stuff, but now I’m like, what if he thought I was uncomfortable around him or he was getting a weird vibe off me so he didn’t want to have full meetings in person.

    It doesn’t matter if he’s attracted though, it will never happen for several reasons…it’s just the first time I’ve felt a jolt in awhile. I’m still processing the energy I felt, and needed to get this off my chest lol.

    1. Rachel*

      If you are single, go out with other people. If you are attached, put more energy into your relationship.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Adding to this: I’ve heard the “crushes can highlight what you’re missing in your current relationship” advice before and I think that’s true in this case, whether you’re currently in a romantic relationship or not. You identified in your post “I feel very listened to and validated with him,” so I think you should specifically seek out those interactions with friends and/or your romantic partner (if you have one).

        1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

          There’s also the possibility of an aspirational crush, your hindbrain saying, this person has stuff to teach us about being the human we want to be, let’s motivate ourselves to spend as much time with him as we can.

          One expensive and rather traumatic divorce later, I can say that acting on these crushes in a romantic way can turn out a bit less than optimal.

        2. Angstrom*

          Building on that idea: Esther Perel said “Most affairs are not about wanting to be with someone else. They are about wanting to be someone else.”
          You want to be someone who is listened to. You want to be validated. You want to be supported. Those are all normal, valid things to want!
          Your task now is to find those things outside of work.
          That big jolt of crush energy can be fun. You can enjoy it for what it is, laugh at yourself(kindly), and move on.

        3. Not another Teams meeting*

          It’s a shame I didn’t come here and hear your advice on this when it happened to me a few years ago. It took me a loooong time to work it out for myself and lots of people got hurt in the meantime.

    2. Angstrom*

      Both things can be true.
      – I’m really attracted.
      – I’m not going to act on it.
      As has been said many times here: You can’t control what you feel, but you can control your actions. It is unprofessional to express your attraction in any way or to anyone at work. It is unprofessional and unethical to treat a colleague differently because you are or are not attracted to them.
      There’s nothing wrong with a work crush as long as you keep it to yourself.

      1. SomeWords*

        100% this.

        I love my best friend. For many years I was also >in< love with him. It was also true that we were never EVER going to be romantically involved.

        I had a number of very honest talks with myself about what was, what I valued, and how to protect our friendship. That meant some serious compartmentalization. We do not have to act on every feeling we experience.

        We've now been friends for over 30 years. We still love each other to pieces, in a completely platonic way. I don't always make the right decisions but this was one time I got it right.

    3. BubbleTea*

      Tell yourself repeatedly that you are almost certainly projecting or misinterpreting the different vibe towards you versus others. Don’t let your brain create elaborate stories about how it’s evidence he feels the same way, or even that he noticed how you feel – it could as easily be that you look like his cousin who he was scared of as a kid, or remind him of a former boss he respected, or any number of other things. Or that there’s no difference, it’s just chance.

      Also, if you have a friend or relative who can be trusted to respond appropriately, and not treat it like a special little secret they want to nurture and hold private huddle chats about, naming it out loud as a problem can help. I developed a crush on a peer in a non-work but quite important activity, and naming that to my then-partner took the power out of it. We talked about why I liked this person, why it would be a terrible idea to get involved with them, and why it was annoying to have the crush. It stopped being my little secret feeling and became a shared problem (and strengthened our relationship, although it has since ended for other reasons).

      1. no longer crushed*

        This happened to me once. I ended up watching a movie with a character who reminded me of the crush. I transferred my feelings onto the movie character. It’s kind of silly and weird but worked. If you can find a character like them, might be worth a try.

      2. RagingADHD*

        While I agree that OP should definitely not take the boss’s actions to distance himself as a sign of mutual attraction, I disagree that they should ignore those actions altogether.

        If the boss is as emotionally intelligent & observant as OP describes, it is very likely he is partially or fully aware of their crush and is deliberately keeping them at arm’s length until he figures out the best way to deal with it (or see if OP can behave appropriately). People who are in the full throes of sudden pantsfeels are not usually the most self-aware or as good at hiding it as they think they are, rather like the way people who are drunk or high think that nobody can tell.

        OP, you gotta lock this down hard, immediately. Go put that energy anywhere else. Best line I ever heard about this was: “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you don’t have to let them build a nest in your hair.” Second best was “don’t shit where you eat.”

        Whenever the rose-filter thoughts come over you, don’t entertain them. Choose to interrupt that pattern, change the subject, go do something different, talk to someone else, just break it up any way you can. Invest your feelings into someone who is available (even if that’s yourself), or someone who is entirely inaccessible (like fictional characters or performers).

        It will pass, as long as you don’t invite it to linger.

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      Yes, not sure if he were aware while I was working under him. At least one co-worker was, even though I tried to keep it under control.

      I was laid off, and then after HR left, I was honest and let him know I was attracted to him.
      Nothing happened afterwards.

    5. NotTheSameAaron*

      Don’t worry, you’re not the first person to have a “boss crush”. My advice would be to keep your fantasy life and office life separate.

    6. Anon for early 20s thirstiness purposes*

      At my first job out of college, my boss was an honest-to-goodness underwear model. I don’t just mean he looked like one, I mean that’s how he paid for college. Also, I was good at my work, but he was better – easily good enough to get promoted to a senior position, though he was only a few years older than me. Yeah, I had a crush that could’ve melted steel beams.

      And I kept it very firmly to myself. One, he was my boss. This was a great job, and I did not intend to mess up a fantastic opportunity because I couldn’t keep it professional. Two, he was about twenty thousand leagues out of mine, so it was never going to happen.

      To put it bluntly, I made sure to keep my free-floating energy as low as possible by using it up as quickly as I could generate it. A well-spanked monkey is a tired monkey, and a tired monkey doesn’t start eyeballing the boss’ banana. I also made an excuse to change my work station so I didn’t have to look at him all day. Otherwise, I just dealt with it, and the crush eventually faded. That boss is a great reference, and I have no regrets.

      1. Gathering Moss*

        ‘A tired monkey doesn’t start eyeballing the boss’ banana’ is the best thing I’ve read today, thank you!

    7. it happened*

      Umm, yes and we’re dating now. We did not handle it well; don’t do what we did. It also wasn’t instant attraction, but developed over months. We’ve both moved on to other employers, but not before we should have. But there was a very long time of not acknowledging the attraction at all and just showing up to do our jobs.

    8. Always Tired*

      Any energy you felt was entirely internal on your end. I mean it. He really purposefully set a boundary with you if you compare how he was jokey with the rest of the team, but more formal with you. Additionally, it feels like you are still rolling this idea around like a shiny bead in your hand. Your response to this should be the same as if you mispronounced a word in a presentation: “Whoops, that was weird and a little embarrassing” and then move on.

      I think you need to take a moment to seriously divorce how he treats you at work from how he looks. I have had my share of ridiculously attractive coworkers, however I’ve always thought of them the same way I think of attractive movie stars. They are visually attractive and do compelling things (Mads Mikkelsen wandering the moors greased up without a shirt, Coworker was the only one who would help me move water jugs around the office or stand up for me to crazy boss.) but those compelling things are within a specific context (Valhalla Rising and office politics specifically) and are not romantic or really about me. So I treat those coworkers the way I treat Marge, the 60 year old AP Manager, because that is how they treat me and is the extent of the relationship. I am Marge, he is Marge, we are all Marge, just in different costumes.

    9. Dana*

      Yes, and it was very difficult. What worked the best was minimizing the triggers: communicating via chat when possible so I didn’t hear his voice, avoiding working with him alone (having 1:1 meetings at my desk where there were other people around so I’d be forced to keep my game face on), and strategically choosing a seat at meetings where I was a few seats away but not across from him, so I didn’t have direct line of sight). Also, don’t chat about anything personal beyond polite small talk, bring a bottle of ice water when you meet with him and pick it up when an urge hits (basically like a discreet cold shower), and avoid meetings late in the day (when your resistance will be lower). Ultimately what worked in the end was getting a new job, but that took a long time and these strategies helped in the meantime.

      One thing I wished I’d done better at was acting confidently professional while making the adjustments I needed to. He seemed to know what was up and pretended not to notice, but it was awkward for a while before getting used to the new normal.

    10. mreasy*

      My boss is a stone cold fox. Everybody knows it. Eventually the novelty just wore off and now he’s just another zoom face. But yeah, having a hot boss is weird! I mean hot people have jobs too I guess.

  6. Underscore*

    I didn’t ask for time off following an assault but now I really need to. I don’t have any vacation hours left. Managers/HR, how would you approach an employee asking for such a thing? What would you recommend?

    1. Generic Name*

      Do you have any sick time? I think it would make more sense to use sick time, because needing to take time off to care for your mental health is not a “vacation time” purpose.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        First off, I’m so sorry for what you are going through.

        Echoing the other comments to use sick time if you can. I’ve recently had to ask for time off for mental health reasons as I’m finding a bunch of traumatic stuff that happened in recent years is only just hitting me emotionally and energy-wise now that I am out of the crisis/survival phases. I felt awkward having to ask my manager when “everything now is fine” but I just framed it as needing time to deal with some personal stuff. She and all my colleagues have been super supportive and have even shared that they have done something similar before (I know not all workplaces are as good with mental health still, but I do think there are more people who get it than we sometimes expect.)

        Really hope you can take the time you need!

    2. Llellayena*

      This seems more like a medical accommodation (mental health?). If you’ve got non-vacation sick time left, what about that? Or short term disability (there’s definitely a doc out there that’ll write a note for that)? FMLA?

    3. Tio*

      Hm. If the manager is aware of the assault, you can say you’re dealing with some leftover stress from the incident, and would like to request some time off to handle the fallout. If they are not, I would frame it as you had a personal emergency (they don’t need to know what/when) and ask for some time off to deal with it.

      In terms of time off – do you have sick time you can use? Mental health is wellness, so you could potentially use that. I would not be specific about what you’re taking it for though. If you’re out of all time, you can ask your boss if they will approve either a negative vacation balance or unpaid time off. Both would be heavily reliant on what your company’s policies/culture is like though, and if you do go to a negative balance, be sure you understand the implications if you leave or are made to leave before it replenishes.

      Sorry you’re having a rough time

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

      First, I’m really sorry you are going through this and I hope you have all the support your need. If you haven’t maybe you can talk to a therapist or counselor. They might be able to help you with asking for time off too.

      Second, Does your manager know what happened? They might be able to help you navigate getting time off, or even just lightening your workload.

      Third, I’m not in HR or a manager but I would say that this would qualify for FMLA. If you have any sick time that is separate from your PTO that would be ideal. Otherwise, maybe there is something your company offers for extra paid time off. For example, at a previous company people who had extra PTO and were going to lose it could transfer it to another employee if that person had a need (Like one person had been taking care of a sick family member and used up their time but still needed time off). Maybe there is a similar program that you don’t know about. If nothing else, you should be able to get FMLA unpaid time off (as long as you and your employer qualify) Which really sucks but sometimes you have to do what’s best for yourself.
      Good luck

    5. kalli*

      If you don’t have vacation or sick leave left, and you’re willing to take the time unpaid, just pull out the ‘personal emergency’ nugget. If you need more than a few days and you’re comfortable with and can get to a doctor, get a medical certificate and cite that.

      It’s late enough in the year than you might be allowed to borrow against next year’s leave or volunteer to cover holidays and negotiate a solution that way. But yeah, just say you need to take x time for medical or personal emergency. If you can demonstrate low impact on your work, even better.

    6. Hiring Mgr*

      As a manager, I would completely support this – even if you didn’t have any vaca left (another plug for unlimited time off), we’d figure out a way to make it work

    7. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      Can you frame it as PTSD? At least that’s a term people recognize and should be able to understand.

      1. cleo*

        No, don’t say PTSD. People recognize the term but there’s so much misunderstanding about it. Better to say you have a personal emergency.

    8. Rage*

      Agreeing with everything everybody else has said. You didn’t ask off immediately after the assault, but that is absolutely 100% OK. Not everyone has immediate trauma response to events like that, and it doesn’t say anything about you that it’s rearing its head now. Totally normal. If anybody says that “you should have taken the time off when it happened” – don’t listen. And don’t beat yourself up for it either. You are 100% non-bananapants.

      Do you have sick time? Do you qualify for FMLA? You should go talk to a professional (licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, or even your regular doctor) to see about getting a formal PTSD diagnosis, which would then qualify for accommodations under ADA. And I can’t recommend entering counseling or therapy enough anyway – it’s incredibly useful to have somebody to help you process through this and begin healing.

      I’m sorry you had to go through this. But know you’re not alone – not with the event, and not with the timeline your response is taking.

    9. SomeWords*

      Is short term disability an option? It may involve a few days off without pay if you’re out of sick time. Mental health needs are just as important as physical ones.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Summary of response: “I can’t approve you going in the red on your PTO, that’s outside my capacity, but we have a benefit that allows two weeks off, at full pay, once per twelve months, for an FMLA-qualifying event, so if you can talk to a medical provider and get them to document the need for health reasons, that’s definitely an option. If you need additional time beyond that, with continuing FMLA documentation, the short-term disability benefit (company-paid for all team members) will kick in at half salary after the two weeks. Here’s the link to the EAP, if you need assistance in getting connected with mental health care providers, someone to talk to, or any other support needs.”

      1. Slartibartfast*

        Talk to your EAP people. I work in a doctor’s office. This is a not unusual request, unfortunately. It’s quite likely to be something FMLA would cover.

    11. Union nerd*

      People respond differently to traumatic situations so I would strongly recommend not saying why you need the leave because you might get judgement about not being over it by now. If it was related to work then that’s very different of course! They would already know about the assault. Keep in mind that I always recommend people share as few details as possible about sick leave.

      This is completely within the umbrella of sick leave. I know not all employers are the same, but my employer has said as much (I’d rather not get into the specifics but when we asked about getting special leave related to situations where an assault has occurred, and the mental health related to this, they responded by saying that it should be taken as sick leave).

    12. shannon*

      Every state has a victims compensation program. The rules vary by state but some pay time off work if you need to take off unpaid. If you’re in the US, look into the program, there’s usually a lot of benefit to it.

    13. Momma Bear*

      It’s really not uncommon for things to unfold over time, so I’d ask them about short term disability/FMLA options for you to deal with what you are currently experiencing. You can also ask about the EAP if you haven’t already. There may be resources there for therapy and support.

    14. RW*

      I’m here late, but I just wanted to say, I’m a primary care doctor and I would absolutely write a note for that (the note would say “underscore cannot work for medical reasons for x period” and wouldn’t specify cause, if you’re worried about that, but check with your own doctor what their standard note would say because I don’t know if we all write the same way)

  7. Anonymous elf*

    Thought I’d share a laugh: earlier this during our staff meeting the manager said she wanted to personalize our holiday cards this year maybe by putting our faces on elves or something (ugh but whatever). That led to a painful discussion of not being so Christmas focused with others trying to think of something less Xmas (no, tree ornaments won’t work either). The manager actually said “can’t elves work for both Christmas and Hannaukah? I think I said, “I consider Santa and elves to play on the same team.” Hanukkah elves! And no, we haven’t figured out a solution yet.

    1. Alianora*

      Snowflakes maybe? Hot cocoa? Snowmen? If you’re in the northern hemisphere, winter-themed might be the way to go.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This. Winter festival type stuff (snowpeople, pine boughs or trees [but not decorated ones] cheery winter themed mugs with people’s names) that corresponds to “winter fun” but not a specific holiday.

        Take the song “Sleigh Ride” for a jumping off point, maybe? It’s sung as a Christmas carol, but the lyrics are totally secular–the only party is a birthday a the home of Farmer Gray!

        1. Tammy 2*

          I don’t disagree about Sleigh Ride being a more secular carol, but I always thought the “birthday party” was for Jesus’ birthday. Is this one of those things where it’s just me being a weirdo? I am in my forties but have literally never discussed this assumption with anyone. I’m also totally unreligious.

          Winter Wonderland is a good choice, too.

          1. Mill Miker*

            My understanding of the history of “Sleigh Ride” was that it was written in the middle of a sweltering August, and the composer was just taking “Think cold thoughts” and applying it to his art.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            I don’t know? There’s no other reference to Christmas at all in the song, just that it’s wintertime and we’re listening to the sleigh bells jing-jing-jingling. So I just assumed it was a regular birthday party.

    2. Llellayena*

      There are snowflake designs made out of people’s names in a radial pattern. If they’re really stuck on faces; snowmen or penguins?

    3. Ranon*

      Just sent the weird group photo card, there’s no not weird way to do this anyways, might as well go basic.

      1. Ranon*

        Also as someone who has worked at some small companies on the sending and receiving side of these things- there is no personal feel for an office to office card, it’s fine. If it’s supposed to be personal it should be from one person to another and have a note in it.

    4. Quinalla*

      Agreed with others, winter themed is the way to go to keep it more on the generic holiday side and less Christmas but we are calling it holiday side :) Also, making the theme something related to your industry/jobs can also work great! My old boss did mixed drink recipes but on blueprints (we did design for construction) and everyone loved those and the cards were blue & white so wintery colors.

    5. LCH*

      penguins or polar bears? champagne bottles (to celebrate end of the year/new year)? dunno!! it does seem like a workplace should focus more on accomplishments/milestones for that year as a “thanks for being with us for another great year” or whatever.

      1. Be Gneiss*

        or any other winter theme thing. If they are stuck on faces, something like ice skaters or skiiers or something?

      1. Flames on the Side of My Face*

        This! It’s a holiday without religious implications, and it comes with lots of shiny, fun imagery.

        1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

          Well, except that it’s not the new year for Jews, that was in September. So it’s still not as good as generic seasonal stuff.

          Cinnamon sticks, cranberries, holly berries, mistletoe, pine needles/cones, dried oranges, cloves, snowflakes, snow people, skiers, skaters, white lights, cocoa. What would you do if you needed to throw a party in mid-January? <Whatever that is, is the solution.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “Welcome to 2024” is the most universal solution.

        Yes there are other calendars– but January 1 is the one used by the internet.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Gingerbread house, in the shape of your office. Those Who Still Believe can tell themselves that the house is full of Hanukkah elves.

    7. RagingADHD*

      New Year’s. Go for a New Year’s theme: good wishes for the new year, happy new year, celebration, Father time and the baby, Auld Lang Syne, all kinds of stuff.

      It also gives you an extra week to get it done.

    8. fhqwhgads*

      If she must, snowmen, sleds, skis, snowflakes, icicles are better and not x-mas. But as you note, the whole idea of faces-on-something sounds ugh but whatever.

    9. Lucy P*

      Holiday cards are tough for us. We have clients around the globe. For the longest time we had to be conscious of the fact that people in other parts of the world were celebrating holiday seasons in November/December that didn’t revolve around winter. Usually we’d get a lecture from upper management about how not everyone thinks of snowflakes and fir trees as holiday items, then upper management would pick a Currier and Ives themed card.

      1. Clare*

        Elegant geometric patterns in red, green and gold are a good way to go. The colours scream Christmas for those who celebrate it (either North or South) and a lack of any recognisable motif allows everyone else to think ‘December Greetings’ without handing them a picture that annoys them in some way.

        I also use plain red, green and gold wrapping paper so I can re-use it for birthdays. Nobody’s caught on yet.

          1. Clare*

            This was intended as an answer to “How can one do Christmas cards for the Southern Hemisphere?”, not ” How can one do all-inclusive December greeting cards?”.

            Anyway, happy Diwali :)

    10. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Semi-serious suggestion: Amateur photo shoot at the local shelter. Each employee chooses an animal waiting to be adopted and use photos of them posed together.

      Skips all of the pitfalls of a holiday/seasonal theme entirely.

  8. Glazed Donut*

    I recently quit my job with the hopes of taking time off before jumping back into working.
    It feels SO FREEING, and I have run the finance numbers enough to know I’ll be okay not working for a few months. I still feel a tinge of guilt (other people can’t do this financially! other people are desperate for jobs! etc) but am really trying to lean into time to myself to do what I want with who I want…& not deal with the BS from my last job.
    High five to everyone else who has been in this situation and written about it in the past.

    1. BubbleTea*

      Yay! It is lovely to have some headspace. For the guilt, keep in mind that you working wouldn’t actually free up anyone else to be able to take time off. It would simply reduce the total freedom in the aggregate population of all people. You aren’t taking time off at anyone else’s expense.

    2. nopetopus*

      Thank you for this, what an inspiration. I’m working on paying down debt first, then build my savings with the goal of being able to do the same. Enjoy every moment, Glazed Donut!

    3. Sloanicota*

      Best thing I ever did for myself. After a couple months I think the lack of structure started to get to me, but the sense of freedom in the beginning was a huge boost. Have a great time!! True, not everyone can do this, but there are also plenty of people in the world who never had to work, so just take good fortune when it comes.

    4. ampersand*

      Congrats!! This is an awesome thing to get to do!

      I’ve considered doing the same myself—I can afford it for a bit and I desperately need a break, but what stops me is not knowing what to do with extended time off.

      If you’re comfortable answering, I’d love to know what you’re doing with your time off. Partly because I want ideas, partly because I’m genuinely curious what people do on sabbaticals. And if you prefer not to share, no worries, and I hope you enjoy it thoroughly! :)

      1. Glazed Donut*

        So many things! I am trying to (of course) not go crazy and blow through my savings.
        The biggest underscore: I am not checking email regularly and/or feeling obligated to respond to anyone. Of course, I’m checking my personal email daily but I don’t spend all day tethered to any device and needing to respond to other people’s requests.
        I’m setting up dinner and lunch dates with friends! I am exploring local museums that have new exhibits I haven’t been able to see (during the day with no crowds!). I’m checking in on elderly relatives and visiting them (again – without needing to get back to work/be tired from work/thinking about responding to a work request while visiting). I’ve got a few small trips planned to meet up with friends from past chapters and hear about their lives. I’m finally going to lean into Netflix and Apple+ shows I’ve missed out on. I have a few small home improvement DIY bits to do. I’m sleeping in and staying up late and going on walks and generally getting to see what life is like on my own terms :)

        1. ampersand*

          Oh this sounds so lovely!! And freeing. It sounds so nice to visit people or do things you enjoy without having work and everything it entails hanging over your head. I’m happy for you, and thanks for sharing! This gives me ideas for when I (hopefully) do the same myself. :)

    5. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Oh, HELL yes. It’s been more than a few months since I ditched my terrible, awful, no good very bad job (complacent authoritarians in management; raging disability discrimination), and it has been effing GREAT. For one thing, I don’t feel a shred of guilt. Sometimes I imagine former coworkers peevishly demanding to know exactly what I have been doing with myself and WHY I have not INFORMED THEM of such, and I can answer in one word: “Healing.”

      …. at which they would like as not scoff and tsk demand to know exactly WHAT I thought I needed to HEAL from while I go skip skip skipping away, trilling “who the eff cares, who the eff cares, who the eff cares what you think” hee hee let’s make soup and go skating

    6. NoJobsOnDemand*

      congrats! just be aware that it may take you time to find a new job when you’re ready so leave many months extra time from your must work for budgetary reasons date.

  9. How to answer interview question*

    The company I work for just announced their new work from home policy, which is basically nonexistent and we’ve been working hybrid (2 days in office) for years. If I’m job searching and the interviewer asks the reason, is is acceptable to say due to their change in the remote/hybrid work schedule?

    1. Generic Name*

      Sure, but only say this if you’re applying to remote or hybrid roles (obviously). You’ll find out pretty quickly if the advertised roles are actually remote/hybrid and not in-person roles that someone in HR stuck the words “hybrid” into because they weren’t getting enough qualified applicants for roles only advertised as in-person.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Yes, makes perfect sense to say “my employer is switching to 5 days a week in-office and I’m looking for something hybrid around 2 days in-office [or whatever you’re looking for].”

    3. Sundae funday*

      If it’s a remote or hybrid job, for sure. I think it’s actually a really good opening so you can see if the employers have plans to revoke the flexibility.

      If it’s an in-person position, I wouldn’t. My office has very little WFH possibilities and if an applicant said they prioritized that kind of flexibility, I would conclude it’s a bad fit on both sides.

    4. SC in NC*

      As others have mentioned it certainly is but if I was going to do that I would approach it from the perspective that I’ve worked 100% in office, 100% WFH and hybrid and found I was most effective working the hybrid schedule (or whatever your preference is). You could then give a brief explantion as to why. That way the emphasis is on work performance as opposed to I want to have some remote time so I can squeeze-in some Xbox while I work (which by the way I am currently doing).

    5. RemoteHiringManager*

      I hired an employee for a remote job who used the same reason: They were at a company that was going to force them to go into the office 5 days a week and they didn’t want to. By talking after they got the job, I suspect it was partly that and partly that the office itself was miserable, but either way, they’re a great member of the team.

      It’s a good reason since it’s perfectly reasonable and difficult to shift on both sides. It doesn’t suggest you’re a bad employee and it will make my offer more attractive to you if I choose to extend an offer.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’d also feel free to use a variation if I have a hour-long commute and the new job is a 10 minute trip on a bad day. Or new job is on the public transit line. Because for me at least, less drive time means I get to work more ready to be productive.

  10. RMNPgirl*

    Changing career directions at 40?
    I’m turning 40 soon and am thinking if I’m going to make a change I should do it soon. I don’t want to completely change fields (I’m in healthcare, specifically transfusion medicine, but love the entire medical field), but I do kind of want to do something different.
    I have a couple problems:
    1 – I’m not entirely sure what I want to do or change to
    2 – I’m single, so I only have one income to rely on which makes going back to school difficult
    3 – I’d really like to move abroad, specifically London, but not sure how to go about getting a work visa over there
    Any advice or information that anyone can offer on this topic or my specific problems would be greatly appreciated!

    1. dragonfly7*

      No advice to share yet, just empathizing because I am with you on 1 and 2. The past year was the change. The field I chose to do it in is a poor fit, but I’m not certain if I should continue doing it somewhere else or try something else.

    2. You can do it!*

      No advice as I was a kid so not up on the financial details, but my dad changed fields at 40! He was a salesman before and got his masters and became an accountant. (I think he and my mom both worked part time during the time he was in school, but I was in early elementary school so not sure of specifics.)

    3. pcake*

      I made a career change at 40. It started with freelance, part time work, which allowed me to test-drive several options, some while getting paid at the old job, too.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      So, I have worked for a health insurance company and a government health agency. You are far from the only person with that story! I have worked with so many people who went from active direct healthcare to healthcare-related office jobs.

      Not sure how big a transaction you’re looking for, but your experience is valuable to more employers than you think.

    5. Throwaway Account*

      I made a career change in my 40s AND in my 50s – go for it!

      I cannot speak to your finances or how slowly you need to do this but I’m so glad that I did it both times!

      We also moved abroad early in our marriage and had no money and it was tough but it was my favorite time of life except right now.

    6. Ripley*

      Does your employer or your union (if you’re unionized) offer professional development or education funds? I’m not sure where you are, but I’m in Canada and both my employer and my union will pay for me to retrain or improve my education, if it means I would go into an in-demand job (and let’s face it, all healthcare jobs are in demand). I have been mulling a Master’s degree, because my employer will pay $5000 a year for it and my union would kick in too.

      I had no idea these funds existed until a coworker clued me in – maybe there in something similar you could apply for?

    7. I just wanted to do something good this morning before alcohol class*

      Greetings fellow 39 yr old. I think it would be ok to change even after 40, which I say as someone who only recently accepted that there will be a me after 40.

      To the actual question, I have a few disparate thoughts. if you don’t have any ideas on what career to change to I would recommend looking at grad admissions pages for different schools and lookout for the “what you can do with the degree” section, especially for a program with a wider or general focus and more broad career path (i.e. something like Health Informatics and not PT). You might see some options there that don’t require additional schooling. If you do see a program you’re interested in it would be worth looking at employers that cover education, this is extremely common for the grad students I work with.

      I’m not familiar with looking at working in healthcare in the UK but everything I know about the NHS makes it seem like looking at alternatives in the private sector might be preferable.

    8. Rage*

      I’m 49, and will graduate with my Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling next May. I started my Masters when I was 47. Never too late to switch directions!

      I’m single, too, and it is possible to go back to school while working full time. Challenging, sure, but I am still working full time and getting my full salary. Oh, sure, I’m taking out loans for the degree – I probably could have asked for tuition reimbursement, but since I started back in the middle of COVID, my employer had halted that program (along with our ed assist). It’s back now, but I’m just 1 semester away, so it’s kind of moot. But does your employer have such a thing? Assuming you want to remain somewhat in your current field.

      Really, though, I think 1 & 3 are going to be your biggest challenges. I might start with #3 – figure out what it would take to get a work visa, then start researching employers there. Companies that have locations both here and overseas might be a good place to look as well, as they are already handling the dual-nation thing. You might discover something that sounds interesting and would pay enough for you to live abroad.

      As for finding out about visas, I’d probably just start Googling.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m in HIM (as a medical coding manager) and I see a LOT of people moving from clinical areas into administrative areas in health care. One of my team leads came to coding from being a RN, two others have backgrounds as medical assistants, several of my coders were previously LPNs or MAs. If that’s something that might appeal, you could look at clinical documentation improvement/auditing or utilization management. Research study design/management might also be a direction to look in, for pharmaceutical or medical supply companies.

    10. Speak*

      I can’t answer #1 or #3, but for #2 I may have an idea that could work. A single friend of mine was an RN and worked for 6 months at a remote location for high pay with room & board included (I think it was an oil field). Almost all of the money she made during that time went into a savings account to pay for additional schooling which she started as soon as that contract was over. When her schooling was complete, she did the cycle again (6 month high pay contract followed by more school) and is now working in a new position (I can’t remember what), still in the health care field but not as a nurse.

    11. C.*

      When you say “something different,” do you mean something where you could (fairly) easily transfer your current skillset to? Or do you mean a completely different specialty (or industry) where you would need to get some education and/or training to make the jump?

    12. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Look for gigs at associations or educational institutions like Infectious Disease Society of America, American Cancer Society, National Board of Medical Examiners, Educational Commission for Foreign Medial Graduates, etc. Medical adjacent, but not actually hands on healthcare.

      You might need to make the switch first and then parlay it into working abroad. I don’t think you can practice in another country without getting certified and possibly schooling all over again.

    13. RagingADHD*

      Value-based primary care and population management, and chronic care management are growing fields.

    14. pally*

      When’s the last time you attended school? Before you embarked on a full-time career?

      I found that going to school the second time was a better experience than the first time.

      Working full time gave me skills that served me well in school. Like time management, prioritizing tasks in a way that worked best for me, meeting deadlines with no excuses, knowing how much time to allot for any given task, project management-like approach to completing big assignments.

      I bet the British embassy website can help with how to obtain a work visa.

    15. Nesprin*

      At my mother’s cousin’s 40th birthday party her brother stood up and asked “who here thinks Pat should go to medical school?” Everyone in the room raised their hands.

      And so she did, getting her MD at 45.

    16. Daphne (UK)*

      Try the website, there’s a section on visas and immigration that will likely be a good start in finding out what you would need to come over here/work towards. Best of luck!

    17. WorkingRachel*

      I’d make your decisions around #3. My information may be outdated, but when I was trying to emigrate to London, the availability of work visas was very dependent on the specific jobs you were qualified to do and how much the UK needed them. It was not easy to get a work permit unless you were in specific high-demand occupations.

      The healthcare sector in general tends to be good for this, and if you’re switching focus, you’d want to switch to something that they need in the UK (for instance, you wouldn’t want to switch to something where the skills you develop are specific to the US insurance market, like medical coding).

      Another option would be to go to the UK on a student visa, which is easier to get. Depends on your long-term plans and if you’re trying to stay there permanently. If moving to London is something you seriously want, and especially if you want to stay there long-term rather than just for a year or two, I’d recommend talking to a UK immigration lawyer sooner rather than later to evaluate your options. Good luck!

  11. Diatryma*

    A shout-out to Hlao-roo, who I’ve noticed is super helpful in the comments finding old posts and updates. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Thank you! I lurked here for a few years before I started commenting, and I always appreciated commenters who included/added links to old letter that were being discussed. I read a fair portion of the archives during COVID and realized I could help out and comment with links/post titles and dates.

  12. Tradd*

    I work in a very international industry here in the US. We have many customers who are in the US, but are from elsewhere. My big boss has demanded we talk on the phone more with customers. The problem is that the non-native English speakers have VERY heavy accents. I get MAYBE one word of every 10. We don’t have to talk to customers. I need to have everything in email anyway. 2nd in command is a non-native English speaker and agrees this is nonsense and that the heavy accents are impossible to deal with. Anyone else have to deal with this?

    1. Tradd*

      I should clarify that a lot of the customers don’t call us, but big boss wants us to call and check in, etc. That sort of thing. I think it’s more of a hurt to business if I can’t understand the customer. We have several staff members who speak the language that a lot of our non-native English speaking customers speak, so in my mind, it makes more sense for those staff members to contact those customers.

      1. Kez*

        This sounds like a case of an ask coming before the details are worked out. If your big boss had suggested something like, “Call repeat clients on big anniversaries to congratulate them and keep us top of mind” or “Call clients who haven’t responded to an email request after X days” I don’t think it’s unreasonable and I think it would become important for you and other coworkers who struggle to understand someone with an accent over the phone to practice, be humble and polite, and try your best.

        One thing I want to highlight about your second comment, however, is that asking native speakers to perform an extra job duty without appropriately compensating them would probably be tough on the morale of those employees. If you really think they should handle all these calls, I’d suggest getting used to the idea that you might need to take on more of their work to balance the extra time or that they might get a monetary bonus you wouldn’t have access to.

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

          I agree with this sounds a bit like the boss hasn’t thought this completely through, or doesn’t know the ins and outs of this part of the business. This might seem weird to the clients and maybe even hurt the business.

          On your second point, I see where you are coming from. I took the OP to mean that these coworkers are in the same position as she is and that they are all required to call customers back. I do think that it would make sense for those who speak the language to call those clients, as long as the majority of clients are not going to just a few people.

        2. Tradd*

          That’s a good point about the compensation, but many of these customers are already handled by the employees in our office who speak their language. These coworkers are front line and I handle stuff more without ad much direct contact with customers. What I do is very specialized and I only have contact with customers concerning my specialized area. Customers will call me, leave a message I cannot understand, and I respond via email. I might only understand their name out of the entire message.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          That second point especially! Too many people have been “the one who speaks X” in the office and suddenly have become the go to PR/receptionist person on top of whatever their actual job was (and usually without any acknowledgement, financial or otherwise.)

          If your boss wants this done, I would suggest outlining what’s required so these phone calls have the desired effect rather than being annoying or baffling to clients. “We’ll need this many people devoting X hours per week to making these calls, plus a clear outline of what the calls are meant to accomplish, who our people should talk to, how often, and how/who to pass off the information gathered so they generate more sales and goodwill. When is a good time to meet and discuss the plan for this new project?”

          Because it is a project. These calls, if they’re going to be worth the time and effort, aren’t one offs–if they come across that way they’re a waste of time and resources at best and annoying to the very people you’re trying to cultivate and encourage relationships with at worst.

    2. Invisible fish*

      First off, do the *customers* want this? Because I can’t imagine I’d be happy if I was trying to handle work and then BOOM! Here’s someone calling to check in- messes up the flow of my day. Then you’re telling me I *have* to use my second language to work with the caller, since he does not speak my first language? Well, then I’m more irritated. (Maybe some folks prefer email because it allows them to process and verify they’ve understood/will be clear when they respond, especially if they’re writing in a second language.)

      1. Tradd*

        One customer has made comments for two years that me and the other person at my level (neither of us speak his first language) that we don’t talk to him. But 2nd in command at my company – who is a native speaker of this customer’s language – agrees customer’s accent when speaking English is very difficult to deal with, even for him! That’s the only customer I’ve ever known of to say anything. Again, I need to have everything discussed in a call on email anyway as that’s required for our industry and CYA. 2nd in command told me today he’s going to talk with big boss about this.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          When customers complain, that’s when the bosses usually start listening :)

          It might not be appropriate for you specifically to talk to them, but it sounds like at least this one customer wants more interaction and there should be a way to figure that out

          1. Tradd*

            That one customer wants ME to talk to him. I cannot understand him at all. 2nd in command at my company – who speaks his same language – has explained that we cannot understand him. Customer bellyaches about dang near everything anyway. He’s NEVER happy.

            1. allathian*

              That’s… interesting. Why does he want you to talk to him? I’m getting awful vibes of him complaining to your boss that you don’t understand what he’s saying and then you get written up or fired for it. I’m sorry, but that’s where my mind went.

              Just how much business is this customer bringing in, anyway? It sounds like he’s more trouble than he’s worth, TBH. I fully realize that as a CSR you can’t fire him, but in your shoes I’d check if your boss and the XO have your back on this. Good luck!

              1. Tradd*

                The 2nd in command has told me to not worry about it. This customer calls me, I see his company name on caller id. He leaves a message I can’t understand aside from his name, and email him back. This same customer bellyaches about other coworker at my level not talking to him on the phone either. I’m in the habit of not picking up the phone in the office anymore as there are lots of sales cold calls. I let everything go to VM and I respond to the people I have to. I actually talk to very few people on the phone. Email is much better for what I do as I need a record of everything.

    3. Kate B.*

      From your replies, it sounds like many of the customers you’re concerned about are speakers of the same language, and possibly have similar accents/dialects. I’ve found that more exposure leads to better comprehension. This could mean watching TV/movies with subtitles on, listening to podcasts/radio featuring hosts with similar dialects, etc., or even just listening to a voicemail you have trouble understanding a few times in a row to give your ear time to “tune in”. If personal phone contact is very important to your boss, and depending on your job, even the media-consumption part could be an acceptable use of work time.

  13. Poppy Dart*

    Advice on dealing with an awful skip level boss who isn’t going anywhere? I love my immediate supervisor and we get along great, but for the last year we’ve had to work under a man who embodies every single White Man Fails Upward stereotype (sexist, racist, thoughtless, and completely incompetent re: our department’s functions). My boss and I both despise him. Unfortunately senior leadership confirmed there are no plans to replace him– he’s been friends with our head of HR since childhood, and the work my coworkers and I have put out unfortunately has made him look too capable when it comes to running the place.

    Is there anything to do beyond start polishing up my job hunt materials? I hate to leave my boss behind but I know it’s a terrible idea for job security to say hey, let’s you and me both split.

    1. Tio*

      Unless you want to start gathering evidence and money for a lawsuit, probably nothing you can do. If he’s friends with the head of HR, they’re not going to handle it until they are forced to or one of them chooses to leave.

    2. Ranon*

      Embrace the Machiavellian spirit and learn how to manipulate him so you can do what you want. This type is honestly usually not that difficult to work around if you find the right levers and make the right allies.

      Otherwise new job is pretty much your other alternative.

  14. Oversight*

    Due to a restructuring in my company, some of my coworkers and I–including our manager–have been disbursed to different teams. I was assigned to a team that has oversight responsibilities for my prior team, along with other responsibilities. The people on my prior team have been moved to a new team with a new manager, but are keeping their same responsibilities (plus, taking on additional responsibilities for the people who were moved).

    To be frank, the people left on my prior team are the weakest. My manager had been working with them to improve, but it was very slow going for minimal improvements and required a lot of clean up work every month. It was very frustrating, but I understood his goal, and it was possible that they would have improved over time. Those of us who were stronger performers were able to work with him to keep things going.

    Now that I am on this new oversight team, I have been assigned the bulk of the oversight of my prior team. I am acutely aware of the weaknesses of that team, and how much oversight they are actually going to need. Their new manager (new to the company, even) has no idea what she’s inheriting. My old manager has been moved to an individual contributor role and was immediately assigned a very high priority project, so has no standing to really address them nor the time. My new manager has no idea the extent to which my old manager was, well, managing the problem.

    An example is: this team has a shared mailbox that they are supposed to check every day, and respond as needed. I still have access to it and I can see they have not checked it since last week. It is really basic things like this that they are not able to handle.

    The advice I’m seeking is…any ideas of how to handle this? I don’t think my old manager was doing anything wrong, but now that he’s not there, the cracks are going to become evident really quickly. How do I explain the situation to my new manager? Should I be very frank about how weak the remaining team is? Will that be throwing people under the bus?

    1. Glazed Donut*

      If I’m understanding this right, you used to do a lot more work/crossover work with the weak team, who now has a new-to-the-org manager who isn’t as familiar with the work.
      I’d start by offering to have a meeting with the new manager to clarify the background of work streams or explain how things were done efficiently in the past (if so). I’d give new manager a week to get a grasp of things, and if nothing changes, then I’d mention it to your own manager in your next 1:1.
      At some point, the new folks and the new structure will need to pick up the pace and take responsibility for the assignments – that doesn’t mean that you can’t at least show some good teammate skills and OFFER to help at the onset. Whether or not they act on it will be on them.

      1. Oversight*

        Sorry if it’s confusing.

        Basically, we were a team of 10 people + manager.

        5 of us + manager were sprinkled around to different teams across the company. The team I landed on happened to have oversight of the old team.

        The other 5 kept all the responsibilities of the team, but were moved to a new manager.

        1. Wonderer*

          I would say you need to have a direct discussion with your new manager on this, so they are aware. Also, probably a good idea to talk to their new manager about some of the things you’re already seeing that are problems.
          Most importantly, as someone who has changed roles a number of times in companies, my experience is that you need to really embrace what your new role is. It’s always tempting to slip into the old work tasks/responsibilities – especially if you were really good at them! The company wants you doing something different now, so you need to make sure you don’t just change your email signature. You need to be actively doing the new job.

    2. Anon-E-Mouse*

      What you do likely will depend on how much authority/responsibility and time you have in this situation to try to help the manager course-correct the team. A few suggestions:

      1 Do you have up to date individual and/or team role descriptions?
      2 Do you have documented descriptions of daily, weekly, monthly and ad hoc tasks for the team?
      3 Is there a divisional and/or company level strategy for the coming year that you or the manager can access?

      If 1 and/or 2 are incomplete or not updated, you could suggest to your manager that you and the team members you oversee work on those (time permitting). The reason for involving the team is that it might improve their understanding of their responsibilities and promote buy-in and increase motivation. If it doesn’t, that’s data for you. You could frame it to your manager without throwing people under the bus by saying that with the reallocation of staff there might be some gaps in understanding of responsibilities etc.

      Next, look into mapping each team member’s responsibilities against a grid where you assess their level of knowledge/experience and motivation/confidence. Do that without team input and share summary results with the manager. Those assessments will help you come up with a plan for how to manage people. For example, a knowledgeable and motivated/confident person benefits from an enabling style of management where you delegate a lot to them. By contrast. a person with low knowledge needs a more directive management style.

      The assessments can also help you and the manager figure out if you need more resources or support (eg training, additional staff etc) and what kinds of actions are needed. For example, the actions to improve a team that lacks knowledge but is motivated is different than what you need for a knowledgeable but unmotivated group.

    3. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      I think you can talk about what you’re seeing right now without needing to bring the past into it too much. If you want to handle it gently, wording like, “I think it’s going to be very challenging for this group of people to stay on top of all the work the the Llama Grooming Team did before the reorganization. I expect that you’ll need to work with the team to make sure that they’re doing things like triaging the Incoming Llama queue, brushing the llama’s teeth daily, and checking their feet to make sure that they’re clean and there aren’t any signs of infection.”

    4. Hiring Mgr*

      Does that mean that now 5 people are supposed to be doing the same amount of work that 10 were doing before….because if these were the strongest five that’s a tough adjustment?

    5. Hillary*

      Talk to your new manager first. This isn’t throwing someone under the bus, it’s important business information they need to have. And it’s much, much better to get it out in the open before everything’s on fire. Everything you said here is impersonal and quantitative. If you can do it in person do so, if not it should be on video. This isn’t an email. You can frame it as “this is super awkward but I think you need to know” and then find out how they want you to proceed. In their shoes I would probably meet with old manager and their new manager to get the scoop.

      In an ideal world, old manager would do a handoff with their new manager, but it sounds like that didn’t happen.

  15. Mynona*

    What tools do you use to manage multiple medium- to long-term projects (1-3 years)?

    Context: My job is totally unstructured day-to-day, and until now I’ve managed 2-3 major medium-term projects well using Outlook tasks and calendars. But I’ve been promoted, and my projects have increased in number, complexity, and timelines. My existing system just isn’t working!

    I’m an individual contributor (no need to delegate tasks), and my work is solo research, development, and writing projects. Also, my nonprofit employer only offers the standard Office suite of software and doesn’t permit 3rd-party downloads. My peers and superiors who do the same type of work are less organized than me. Thanks for your ideas!

    1. Generic Name*

      I used to manage over a dozen small projects at my last company, and I used an Excel spreadsheet to track the status of everything. It worked….okay? I had to be very diligent at checking the sheet at least once a week (ideally daily). Thinking about it now, it might be better to have a table in OneNote so you could flag due dates and things that are tasks/deadlines (OneNote integrates with Outlook and you can initiate an Outlook task in OneNote, if you weren’t aware).

    2. BubbleTea*

      If you’re truly limited to Office software, Microsoft Project exists. There are a lot of better project management tools online though – Asana, Trello, Toggl… it depends what you need it to do. I’ve had success with Workflowy and Complice (now called

    3. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish*

      I like Trello for project management of tasks and timelines of this scale. The cards and lists can look a little basic at first glance, but there are hundreds of power-ups and add-ons to tailor it to exactly what you’re looking to track and review.
      As far as managing documents, links, contact info, I second the OneNote recommendation from Generic Name.
      I’ll also throw out here that a lot of people swear by Notion, so you may want to look into it, though I haven’t found it that helpful. (It may be better if you don’t have access to OneNote and don’t want to pay for the Microsoft Office Suite.)

    4. LCH*

      i use a mix of a color-coded Excel spreadsheet to create a visual timeline and my calendar to set various deadlines/check ins/whatever.

      i’ve heard people also enjoy using software like Trello or Airtable, but that doesn’t work for me in terms of visualization.

      1. LCH*

        i also prefer my current method because the Excel sheet provides an easy to archive document. i don’t know what the output is of some of the others in case you need to maintain a record. (i’m an archivist so i’m concerned about the access and longevity of file types, plus work with grant funding so need to maintain documentation). but i’d hope they output a PDF or csv.

    5. Turnipnator*

      There’s some good suggestions here, I’d also suggest to do some research into project management strategies, since many methodologies are really pretty software-agnostic; you can make a pretty decent Gantt chart in Excel (but Excel won’t teach you how to do it). A lot of the companies that make project management software have blogs about project management. Monday dot com’s blog is pretty good for general info; they have a blog post called ‘8 project management techniques every project manager should know’ that links to more in-depth sources about a handful of strategies for breaking down projects. In the end most of the methodologies are probably much more than you need (splitting tasks among a team is a whole thing usually; I don’t think any of the agile strategies will probably work for you either) but maybe there’ll be an approach to organizing tasks that really suits you/your projects that you can implement with excel and outlook.

    6. Tammy 2*

      This is going to sound somewhat bonkers but I’m in a similar individual contributor role and while I generally embrace technology, the best thing for keeping track of my tasks is a paper notebook, kind of like a bullet journal but I don’t fuss around with layouts, etc. I do a two-page spread for each week where list the following things: basic tasks, meetings (which are also on my outlook calendar, of course), issues I’m tracking, and things I need to follow up on. I put a little box next to each task and x it out when it’s done, which is satisfying. Every Monday, I carry anything that still needs to be done over to the new week. This whole process takes about 10 minutes on Monday morning, but hand-writing the things that are on my plate really helps me make a mental map of what I need to do and how I should prioritize it. As an individual contributor, I also like having a record of what I’ve accomplished each week should anyone ever ask, because I could literally watch Mary Tyler Moore reruns all day and no one would notice for months and months.

      For more in-depth notes/project documents, I use folders on OneDrive.

    7. Quinalla*

      I’d try using Planner (also sometimes called Tasks but it is different from outlook tasks). It’s in the office 365 suite, it’s not perfect, but gives some much more in depth ways to track tasks, move them from bucket to bucket. It’s similar to Trello and other software.

      I use that when I have a bunch of projects going at once where I need to be able to better see everything.

    8. SofiaDeo*

      Learn how to do dynamic scheduling in Microsoft Project! The Task Calendars were especially helpful for me, in seeing how date changes affected outcomes. With more projects to juggle, this will be helpful to see if “due dates” are clustered together, and help decide how doing work on H instead of A means the finish date might be significantly sooner, whereas if you did thing in order A-H alphabetically the 2 due dates would be the same. Without this, just looking at a list of tasks on a spreadsheet, it wasn’t quite as clear how changing the order of my tasks might help manage time. This was especially helpful to me when I needed key things others; I could go to Boss and show how my work was affected.

  16. LizB*

    US expats who live and work in other countries: how did you end up where you are, and what resources do you know of to find jobs for someone who wants to be an expat?

    I have a friend who is interested in becoming an expat, ideally in a developed Western country like Denmark or Australia. Their skills are wide-ranging enough that they can potentially pivot into a number of different industries and roles. They just don’t quite know where to start looking. Are there job boards or online communities for people looking to emigrate? Is it best to start with a multinational company, get a US-based position, then try to move internally into something overseas? Any insight would be very much appreciated!

    1. BubbleTea*

      I don’t know about Denmark, but Australia has quite tight immigration rules and only certain high-demand roles can get work visas.

    2. matcha123*

      With those of us working abroad I would say that “expat” refers to someone sent abroad on a fat package by their home company. They make a ton of money and don’t really have to learn the local language or interact with the local people. They are in a bubble.
      For the rest of us, we are “local hires” who are paid much lower wages, generally need to know the local language to some degree, and don’t have handlers who can guide us through the process of moving or taxes and so on.

      If your friend is in the US and wants to go abroad, and they like their company, their best bet is to look for an inter-company transfer. With that said, some companies probably need more justification than “I’d like to live in New Zealand.”

      Just like me trying to job search for US-based jobs from Japan, they will have a hard time searching for jobs overseas from the US. With Americans in particular, we don’t have the Commonwealth passports that can allow us to travel and work (I believe) visa free in certain countries.
      For places like Denmark or Australia, what reason would locals there have to hire an American over a local hire? Both countries are filled with skilled English speakers.

      All hope is not lost, however. If they have companies they are interested in, they can go directly to those websites and look for openings there.

      Basically, the big thing would be getting a work visa, finding housing, and setting up bank accounts. If they are willing to pay for their own flight over and able to find their own housing, that could give them an edge. They should also know that as an American living and working abroad, they are still responsible for filing a 1040 every year, if they have more than 10kUSD in a foreign bank account they are expected to report that to the IRS, many banks don’t want to open accounts with Americans, and Americans can’t contribute to 401K/Roth IRA/investments/stocks while abroad…for stocks at least, it will be a significant financial hit. I’ve spent my whole adult working career working overseas and I have no 401k and no way to invest because I don’t have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to make it worth it for the fees.
      So, that’s something they need to look into, too. If they make the equivalent of over 100kUSD while overseas, they will need to do extra tax stuff. Basically the tax stuff is a huge pain if they are making true expat money (not lowly local money).

    3. Pajamas on Bananas*

      The UK has HPI visas, which your eligible for based on earning a bachelor or master degree from the published list of universities.

    4. anon for this*

      I’m an American who moved to live permanently in another country (NZ) a little prior to the pandemic. I’m white, <55yo, physically and mentally healthy, and I have an in-demand skillset on immigration registers.

      I think "want to become an expat" is not a focused enough start. Your friend needs to research either 1) industries they wish to work in, or, 2) countries they wish to live in.

      1) the industry will have countries in which it is the most developed, interesting, thriving, or engaging. Your friend will be able to decide which of those countries is most appealing to them from a lifestyle standpoint and which are most accessible from an immigration standpoint.

      2) the countries will have economies and immigration policies for your friend to research. Some will be favorable to them and their skillset and some will not. Some won't need their professional skills very much. Or, if this person has significant chronic medical conditions or a disabled child, many 'developed Western countries like Denmark or Australia' will not allow them to become permanent residents or citizens without very very in-need skills plus immense time, effort, money, and luck.

      You can't just want to leave. You have to want to go somewhere. It's a lot of work and long process, so they need to find out now what they want the most before they — as they say in NZ — get stuck in and do it.

    5. Biglawex*

      I’d suggest narrowing down the countries. Immigration/visa/work rules are so different. There are tons of FB groups for each country on immigration, jobs, housing that can be super helpful.

    6. Bah humbug*

      Try the amerexit subreddit. It’s full of people saying how hard it is (it is) but there are some useful resources there too.

    7. Joron Twiner*

      1) Pick a country. There is no advice that works for every single part of the world universally

      2) Look up immigration requirements for that country. They will probably be very strict. Need to be young, in good health, have lots of money, English-native-speaking, local-language-speaking, and bringing family/dependents could be tricky. And most importantly, you usually need a job offer.

      3) Get a job offer. Helps if your industry/position is in-demand. You can try to start with a multinational and get moved, but finding out if that is possible is difficult, as most companies can find locally skilled English speakers in Denmark/Australia. You can try applying overseas, but most Western developed countries require companies to fill locally first, and generally discourage immigration–plus companies don’t want to fill out paperwork and sponsor a flaky/expensive foreigner. You can try going over on a tourist visa, then changing while you’re there to a work visa–easier to apply to places in person, but some countries forbid you to change from tourist to work while in the country.

      Ironic after the letter about immigrants the other day.

  17. NaoNao*

    Help me understand this weird remark from a former boss:

    I keep going over it in my mind because it felt so off and nutty. It’s minor in the grand scheme but it bugs me.

    Short version, I made a couple serious mistakes at work and my boss called me in for a meeting where he raked me over the coals—really sh*tty stuff, raising his voice, accusing me of major misconduct rather than mistakes, etc. This was in a white collar office job as a knowledge worker mid-career, FYI.

    The meeting itself was confusing because he sort of acted like he was considering if he was going to fire me or not and then fired me anyway a couple days later, which was extremely stressful and crappy. But during this meeting he said something along the lines of “And X project had better get done. I know you know what to do because you were always taking notes”.

    The thing that confused me was that he spit out that last part about “always taking notes” just dripping with disgust. This boss would have 2-3 hour meetings with me where he would ramble on and on and I would dutifully jot down notes on the computer or my notebook to refer later. I had never once “called him out” or gotcha based on notes so I just can’t seem to reconcile what was going on there. In my mind I was like “was I supposed to just sit there gazing adoringly at him and not doing anything? Argue? Do nothing but supportive non verbal noises?”

    It’s so minor but to me it’s indicative of a certain pattern where I think I’m doing the right thing and trying really hard and in fact I’m rubbing someone the wrong way and angering them or irritating them. And that remark seemed to be a hint as to the reason that rather than putting me on a final warning, interpreting my actions in a positive light and working to help me, he fired me instead in a really dismissive way.

    Anyway, if anyone has any takes on this, I’d really appreciate hearing them. Thanks!

    1. T. Wanderer*

      Taking notes is super, super normal, and I’d be more concerned if someone DIDN’T take notes about a complicated. It sounds like this guy had an issue with you and was in BEC mode. I’m sorry, that sucks!

      1. ecnaseener*

        I agree, sounds like BEC.

        Or possibly every time you missed/forgot something that he thought should be in your notes, he was riling himself up about “NaoNao’s always taking notes and not using them!”

        1. Admin of Sys*

          That’s my take – it’s not the note taking that’s an issue, it’s that even /with/ the notes, mistakes are being made.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I agree. That’s like saying ” I know you can do this because your shoes are ALWAYS tied.”

        Like, if that’s what he’s getting butthurt about, this was about him, not you.

    2. Sherm*

      Ugh, sorry. Sounds like a super-stressful time. I can think of two possibilities: 1) It wasn’t that he was irritated at your taking notes, but that he thought that your performance should have been better given all the notes you were taking, and he was frustrated that (in his opinion), it wasn’t.

      Or 2) He might have been irritated (but he should have said something) that, even though you were listening, you could have been a little more engaged in the conversation. In such situations, it might be good to look the other person in the eye from time to time, nod, and ask any follow-up questions that come to mind. It doesn’t sound like he expressed his reactions maturely at all, but he possibly felt like he was having a one-sided conversation.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Or (3) HE got called on the carpet for missing something on a project and he’s trying to find a way to pin that error on OP since she’s made others.

        I’m sorry, OP, but I dont think there’s a way to know for sure.

        Two things to think about your notes for future— are you capturing the right info at the right level? And do you take time after the meeting to reread your notes to add details that can’t be caught in a live meeting?

        I used to work with someone who would miss major points of a discussion because she was trying to take things down word for word.

        The most effective note taker I knew would make bullet lists of key names and words, then add summaries for each bullet point from memory after the meeting. Even she had trouble with it when back-to-back meetings kept her from expanding her notes right away, or when emotions ran high.

        OP, do look through Alison’s archive for ways to answer interview questions about firings and mistakes. It helps to prepare and practice your answers, including a pivot to what you learned. When I know I have a logical answer, I can say it more calmly than if I am unprepared and thinking on the fly.

    3. Twenty Points for the Copier*

      The fact that he raised his voice at you makes me think that he’s just not a very good boss. Either he’s got no idea what he’s doing and the frustration is boiling over or he’s a jerk on a power high or something else… but nobody should be yelling at work. It’s important to point out mistakes as a manager, but if he was too angry to do it professionally he needed to calm down before talking to you.

      Between that and frequent 2-3 hour meetings I’m thinking this is about him and not you.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        Hard agree.

        Also, even if there were something problematic about your notetaking — he was your BOSS. It was his job to tell you that he wanted you to look at him when he talked instead of paying attention to your computer, or that you were taking too many notes and not getting the point of what he was trying to say, or some other thing about the way you took notes that annoyed him. Saving up his resentment about your notetaking and then spitting it in your face is bad management.

        (Also, as a manager, “Jane took notes while I was talking” is not how I know that Jane knows what I want from a particular project. It’s a good start, but “Jane gave me a recap of what she heard me to say” or “Jane wrote a project plan and I approved it” is how I know that my reports and I are on the same page.)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          My manager takes TONS of notes and still seems to have a poor grasp of what most of us do. (I am so curious to see them.)

          I have a different thought. Maybe Boss (who sounds like The Worst) suspected you were documenting his behavior. Perhaps to go to HR or something?

      2. Rex Libris*

        This. I have never understood managers that yell or otherwise lose it at their staff. What do they think that accomplishes, other than lasting resentment from their staff for the sake of a momentary temper tantrum?

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          I think there are two types of people who yell in this kind of situation.

          The first are just jerks who like to intimidate people. I think some of these people see authority as “having people frightened of you” and think that if you make somebody cry, it’s an achievement. I’ve come across the occasional teacher who thinks this way (thankfully, mostly in my early career; they seem to be becoming less common) who would boast about how they made a student cry or even express disappointment when a student didn’t, when they were telling them off. As somebody else mentioned, it seems to be a kind of power trip, “I want you scared of me.”

          I think the latter are more common though and these are people who do not go into the meeting intending to yell. They are more likely to go in, thinking “oh gosh, how do I say this? What if she doesn’t listen? I’m going to mess this up, aren’t I?” and the stress comes out in yelling. I guess a bit like the parent who yells at their kid after the kid ran across the road without looking because they are so freaked out at the thought the kid could have been killed.

          This crowd don’t think it accomplishes anything and likely go away from the meeting thinking how badly they’ve messed up and how the employee will never respect them now. They are “losing it,” in the sense that they have generally lost control of their own ability to deal with the situation.

          I suspect the boss in this case could fall into the first group, because of saying stuff dripping with disdain and so on. That doesn’t sound like somebody out of control; it sounds like somebody being deliberately nasty.

    4. RVA Cat*

      Your boss is an abuser. None of this is your fault. The notes thing annoyed him because it made it harder for him to gaslight you.

      1. NaoNao*

        I really sincerely appreciate you saying that. I had a therapist at the time and when I described the final meeting with that boss he was appalled and said “well, firstly that’s abuse” and I got choked up and teary-eyed because it felt so good to be validated. I knew it was wrong and crappy but I also struggle with social norms and I know I rub people the wrong way a lot.

    5. Busy Middle Manager*

      It was a very b*** thing for him to say, but you yourself say you made a few serious mistakes. It can be very confusing and confidence shattering when you’re managing people and they say “yes” and seem to understand, and acknowledge the tasks or take notes, and then forget about it or somehow mess it up and drop the ball. Then you start questioning everything. “I said can you run the crucial process when I’m out, they wrote it down and said yes, then just didn’t do it, what else is going wrong that I don’t see yet?”

      Not to blame you, but sometimes when you see your part in something even if it’s not your “fault” per se, it helps move along mentally, which is ultimately what you want.

    6. BubbleTea*

      I had a really similar experience with a mentor/manager in a training job (as in, I was being trained- like how doctors do rotations in different hospitals). She was mean to me often enough that I frequently cried at work, and one day she made some snide comment about how I must go home every night and read my textbooks, but real learning is only through experience (as it happens, no, I didn’t go home after a 14 hour shift to read textbooks, I went home to feed my cat and go to bed!).

      With hindsight, the issue was her. She had started in the field when an academic qualification wasn’t required and she had a paranoia about being seen as inferior for not having it. She projected her biases about accent etc onto me – I didn’t do anything to deserve it, I just rubbed her the wrong way by being who I am.

      1. I am woman*

        Oh I feel your pain here. As an educated, intelligent woman I have been treated this way by women who are afraid I’m there to take their jobs or that I’m smarter than them, all my life. I have cried many tears wondering why they’re so hurtful. You’d think we women would band together not turn on each other, wouldn’t you.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Oh heck no. Why would we band together when we can eat our young?

          ARRGGHHH. I have seen this throughout my career – military through corporate finance. I do my best to mentor young people (women and men) to help at least show how it’s done! There’s enough room for all of us!!!

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      It sounds like the boss is a complete jerk to put it mildly, but on the other hand you mention that there’s a pattern of this happening so maybe there’s something in your tone or attitude that you’re not aware of?

    8. Ellis Bell*

      I think he just has really poor judgement and you probably shouldn’t pay any attention; saying anything to a subordinate in a contemptuous tone (except for something harmful or deeply wrong like assault or hate speech) is more weird than what he’s objecting to (note taking is a super normal thing to do after all). As to why he might have criticized your note taking; some people have wildly different preferences when it comes to paying attention and memory. Some people find notes incredibly helpful for reference and it stops their brains turning off, some people pay better attention by listening without the distraction of note taking, and remember just fine (but this is less true the more one sided the dialogue is). If he’s the latter, he may not have the basic managing sense to realise that people differ (and I bet he had no idea how much he was droning on either). When people are bad at leadership, they take it out on their subordinates. He had no idea how to hold those meetings, so staring at him and making noises would have been received poorly too. If the notes had resulted in your being perfect and never making a single mistake, he probably would have decided they were great, and his rambles were great. I’d have a different read on this if he wasn’t contemptuous but since he was, I’d huge amounts of salt with his advice (but there wasn’t even any advice!)

    9. Girasol*

      Sounds like this is about him, not about you. Some bosses just have a temper and fly off the handle. You know how some people argue irrationally – “…and you left the cap off the toothpaste six months ago, too!” If he was being irrational, don’t take his criticism seriously. Find a better job with a better boss and take all the notes you need.

    10. Qwerty*

      My take is this isn’t worth spending your time on and the more you think about it the more it’ll stick around in your brain.

      It sounds like he thought you were underperforming on purpose rather than being confused, especially considering that what you saw as mistakes he saw as misconduct – misconduct requires an element of deliberateness. That comment was just a pre-emptive rebuttal against you saying that you didn’t know what to do it. His view through his ego lens is that he spends hours telling you what to do and you turn it into written materials to follow but then don’t produce what he wants – normal managers figure out where the communication goes wrong. I don’t know see where the theory about calling him out would come from or that notes would be a bad thing.

    11. Pocket Mouse*

      He sounds like a jerk. In addition, some people can be jerks specifically around taking notes – maybe they don’t need (or feel the need) to take notes themselves, or they’re risen to a position where others take any needed notes, whatever. I once had a supervisor who, in a 1:1 after our relationship had already soured somewhat, told me to “put your pen down and have a conversation like a normal person”.

  18. Mimmy*

    Two-part question relating to inflexible online job applications.

    Has anyone applied for jobs that use the Workday platform? Of all the systems I’ve seen, this is probably my least favorite.

    I just applied to one of the few remote positions in my desired field that I felt reasonably qualified for, so I jumped on it. Where I ran into a problem was in putting in my education. My recent master’s degree is very niche, so I did not expect it to come up in the list of choices when searching for the field of study. What bothered me is that Workday’s system does not allow you to type in a field that isn’t listed–you can only put “Other”.

    I got a rejection notice only 5 days after applying, which I think means that the system rejected me before it was seen by any humans. I’ve applied for remote jobs at a different institution that also used Workday, and I was never invited for an interview. If a system rejects my application, does that mean it was rejected based on what I inputted, not my actual resume? For context, I had to separately input all of education and work experience – it was not parsed from my uploaded resume.

    Second part of my question: If I run into this again, should I select a field that most closely matches my actual degree? If so, would it be worth it to reapply to this job with the hope that my application passes the system’s check and human eyes will evaluate my actual resume?

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

      If this is the same platform that I think we are moving to I can so understand your annoyance. I would say choose the option that most closely aligns with your degree. For example, If you have a bachelors in English but they don’t list that as an option but it does list a bachelor’s in liberal arts I would say go with the liberal arts option rather than the bachelor’s. Because someone should then see your resume and note that you have an English degree. And honestly, the people who are looking at your resume are probably just as annoyed as you are with the system. And they should have a way to list your degree or whatever.

    2. ecnaseener*

      For what it’s worth, it probably doesn’t take 5 days for the system to auto-reject you. So there was probably a human involved. (Very possible that the human just rejected everyone without one of the degrees they were looking for and didn’t bother to check the “other”s!)

      But yes, I’d say pick the closest match if the degree is relevant to the job.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        I agree with this.

        And yes, Workday is the worst applicant tracking system. We’re now using it at work, and if it’s any consolation, it’s awful as an internal HR etc. system, too. I have no idea how it became as popular as it is; the user interface is consistently awful.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          YES, it is the absolute worst for employees. I haven’t applied anywhere through Workday but did have to use it at my last job and OMG it was unbearable. They have no respect for UX, UI, or usability in general, it’s like they never once considered how actual people would use the system.

        2. NotTypical*

          I cannot stand Workday and I don’t understand why it is so prevelant. I’ve always figured it does some complicated accounting function really well or has some kind of C-suite level reporting that is dazzling in demos.

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          Yeah, unfortunately, I think when you’ve been rejected from a particular job, you don’t get another shot at it.

    3. king of the pond*

      No advice, but commiseration: I have the exact same problem every time. Bioinformatics is unusual but not super niche, and I’m shocked it’s not an option! You also can’t put dual degrees, but I’ve seen a lot of systems with that problem.

    4. Red Flags Everywhere*

      We switched to WorkDay a year ago and every application went through an HR review, then was routed to one of the hiring manager inboxes. I don’t remember what the labels were, but one of the applications was deemed “not competitive” and was in a different box.
      I could see there were more candidates and I had full access to everything. Had to contact HR to get my perfect candidate moved to the main inbox so I could interview her. I’ve referred a couple of excellent candidates recently for positions with an adjacent team and none of them have even gotten an interview. After I’ve seen the hiring announcements, I can see that they had multiple excellent candidates. Once they have 2 or 3 excellent candidates, including at least one with the perfect experience set, they stop pulling people for interview. They expand the net a bit if none of the candidates are a perfect fit, which gives strong candidates who aren’t a perfect match more of a chance to stand out.

    5. Mimmy*

      Thanks for the responses and commiseration so far! I think employers risk losing excellent candidates when using some of these platforms, either because interface isn’t flexible or applicants just get fed up with having to manually input everything that is already on the resume, especially if they can’t match the information exactly, as in my and king of the pond’s case.

  19. T. Wanderer*

    What’s the difference between a mentor, a team or project lead, and a manager?

    I’m the project lead for two of my coworkers, and what I do for them was often described as a “mentor” role, but it feels like it’s beyond that — I meet with them every week (as far as I know our official manager does not), I pass along their assignments from our manager, I pass along THEIR concerns to HER…basically the only thing I don’t do is the performance evaluations (although I consult on those). It wouldn’t affect my title or salary, but I’d like to know if this is still within usual mentorship bounds!

    1. Glazed Donut*

      I think the roles can overlap and are not distinct.
      In my mind:
      Mentor – someone who has more experience or expertise in a particular area (not necessarily older) and can guide others. Can be informal (like a friendship) or more formal (like an official mentoring group at work).
      Project lead – someone who takes on the responsibility of being the “point person” for a project while working with peers. Does not have supervisory expectations.
      Manager – someone who is formally the boss of others. Includes giving performance feedback, approving time off requests, delegating tasks, etc.

      It sounds like your work is very much project lead! The project lead may be a little more senior or experienced – or just the person with the bandwidth to take on the responsibility of these parts. I think you could likely continue to do project lead tasks and show your skills if you aim to be a manager some day.

    2. ThatGirl*

      In my opinion/experience, mentors are focused on the person, team leads are similar to managers (maybe without hiring/firing/reviewing authority), project leads are focused on the project, and managers are the “boss” of a person or team. I don’t know if that helps? but it does sound like your role is slipping more into “Team Lead” territory.

    3. kalli*

      That sounds like a team lead – a mentor is more someone who helps out with advice, tips and tricks, recommends training and professional development directions and useful skills (you should take a course in apple carving, it will help with the fruit salad), industry knowledge; a manager has the administrative oversight and assigns/delegates work tasks, monitors performance and should be organising or facilitating access to training (we’re all doing our apple carving refresher next Wednesday afternoon) and ensuring necessary insurance and certifications are maintained. Some managerial functions are delegated to HR for efficiency, but the manager interfacing with HR to make sure they happen is then important.

    4. LizB*

      I think of mentor and project lead as two very different roles, although it’s possible for one person to play both for someone. The tasks you’re describing sound right for a project lead or project manager – handling the logistics of a shared project, communicating across levels of the project team. Mentoring I think of as more based around soft skills – being someone a less experienced employee can ask awkward questions or bounce ideas off of, helping them reflect on how they’re getting their work done rather than making sure they do get it done.

    5. single woman in own for many many many years*

      This sounds like project management to me…mentoring is usually outside direct workflow.

    6. Tio*

      Mentoring is generally more focused on the individual and their growth. You’re passing information to and from them and the manager, but mentors usually help develop skills beyond what they’re currently at and look at their future and career path and personal development. This might mean talking about their goals, directing them on what skills to develop and how, what sort of trainings and certifications they should pursue to get promoted, and so on. You sound well within the team lead/project lead box, not the mentorship box, from what you list here.

  20. Flailing*

    How do I tell if my boss is being unreasonable or if I kind of suck at my job? My boss is very detail oriented and a bit of a micromanager. She told me at a recent check in that I need to improve my attention to detail. I work in a very busy nonprofit managing program work and being managed by the finance director.

    Since that talk, every single time I present any work product, she scrutinizes it and calls out any mistakes. And often there are some, mostly minor. Sometimes it is mistakes that I am not catching from my teammates. Often these mistakes are issues in datasets due to things being miscoded (not by me, although I should be catching them) or with discrepancies with how our program system categorizes things vs. our financial system – the variances get noted in the official financial records but not trued up in our systems so they can be hard to catch when running new data sets.

    I do realize that I am messing up, and I can’t tell to what extent this is because my workplace is so chaotic it is hard to get things straight (it took our finance person three months to sort out our official numbers from last year), or because I am just too sloppy or not detail oriented enough for this position. And while I need to know when I get things wrong, having every single work product torn apart is a bit disempowering. I feel like if you did that to anyone, you could find something. (one of the things she got angry with me this week was using language that she herself had provided to me…so I repeated what she said and was called out for being wrong).

    I am working on being more detail oriented, and each day provides lessons on blind spots I have or where things can unexpectedly go sideways. But I still make mistakes. And it has been five months at this point.

    This is a rambling way to ask….how do you know when the problem is you and when it is your manager?

    1. T. Wanderer*

      Can you talk to her about it? It sounds like even if you need to improve your attention to detail, the way she’s going about it isn’t helping. Maybe saying something like: “Since you mentioned it, I’ve been trying to improve my attention to detail, but finding it hard to know where to focus and catch everything. Sometimes I’m also getting mixed messages — last week, you provided [this language], and then told me later it was incorrect. Is there a way we can work together to familiarize me more with the expectations? Maybe [your suggestion, like reviewing work products with her before presenting them]?”

    2. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      Going out on a limb – I think it’s your manager and your workplace. Getting mad at you for using language she gave you is a huge red flag. Sometimes the pace of work makes it impossible to be as thorough as is necessary to catch every mistake. I don’t know what to tell you to do about that, but my outside opinion is it’s not you and you shouldn’t take it personally.

    3. Ashley*

      It sounds like it may be a bit of both. You may not have the detail needed for how your boss wants this role to function. Is there someone else in the organization you could get feed back from about the level of mistakes? But the fact this has been going on for five months and you are still being called out for that level I would be at least soft looking for a job.

    4. kitryan*

      My guess, based on the provided info, is that you started off missing too many things for the role/for the boss’s expectations and then you improved and really made an effort after that meeting but are still not perfect. Lack of perfection is not possible, however it’s not clear to you whether your current level is sufficient/reasonable.
      From your perspective you are trying hard and it’s not being recognized and the effect of other issues with what’s provided to you is not being factored in.
      Boss either genuinely needs you to make fewer errors to succeed in the role or they have a mental expectation of your work not being up to standard so now everything they find goes to reinforce that perception, and that’s when you see a focus on insignificant errors or correcting language that came from them initially- it’s a variant of the BEC phenomena.
      It may also be a combination – you need to continue improving attention to detail AND your boss’s perception of you is overly negative.
      If boss is a reasonable person in other ways and you genuinely think that they’re overlooking improvement, maybe reviewing recent work against old work will show them you’ve made real progress? If they’re self reflective seeing that sort of ‘hard evidence’ may get them to look at the work with fresh eyes.
      It’s tough to work against this kind of issue- it’s like they have the opposite of rose colored glasses.

    5. Lasuna*

      I think it is likely to be a bit of both, but I want to flag something I noticed in your post that may help you think through the issue. You seem somewhat focused on the fact that a lot of these mistakes are not your fault/not mistakes you made, but ones you failed to catch. Is it possible that your boss views your role as including some QA functions that would include catching these kinds of mistakes? If that is the case, the distinction you are making does not exist for your boss. If your boss sees it as your job to catch other people’s mistakes, then in her mind this is your mistake – other people are “allowed” to make the mistake, but you are required to catch it. Honestly, I think that perspective is reasonable as long as it was clearly communicated to you as being part of the role. It is much easier to hire one person with excellent attention to detail into a role that includes some QA functions than to hire an entire team of people with excellent attention to detail.

      1. Lana Kane*

        Yes, that stood out to me as well. Are these mistakes catchable? Or would you just not know because it isn’t part of your role (as in, you are depending on people with specific expertise to provide you with correct data to then do your own work)?

        If they are catchable then it might be time to adjust your view of your role in that direction.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I agree with this too. If the job is supposed to be “make sure all the llamas are facing left,” and some are facing right, that’s a failure to do the task correctly.

          But if they keep throwing in things like “and all the llamas are supposed to be in toe shoes BEFORE they line up” and it isn’t your job to supervise putting on the toe shoes, what exactly are you supposed to be doing? Is it your job to oversee the toe shoe person? Was that outlined in your duties?

      2. Quinalla*

        Agreed, this stood out to me too. Also agreed that there is some of both going on here, the one where your manager gave you language and then told you that was wrong is one on them for example. Did you tell your manager (politely) that they gave you that language, it’s unclear to me from your post.

        It also sounds like there are some serious process issues at your company. It sounds like you need to QC regardless, but can those be improved?

    6. Flailing*

      Thanks for all the comments – I definitely will focus on QA moving forward. I’m trying to slow down, but it is hard to do when I have fifty million things on my plate. Also soft looking for a new job. Thanks again!

      1. Tio*

        Can you also try and include more of the things your boss wants or more of your communications in email? This would help with some of the “use x language/you shouldn’t be using x language” issues

        Also, are the duties of your job clearly outlined anywhere? If not, can you ask her to clarify for you?

  21. The Riddlee*

    I asked my manager what I need to do to get promoted. Among other things, he said that a person at the next level, even though it’s still an individual contributor role, needs to not just do their own work, but be involved in the work of everyone on the team, helping them improve their output and grow their skills. The problem, in my eyes, is that we already have someone on the team who is involved in practically everyone’s work. They are at the same level as me but were only just promoted to that level in January this year, so they won’t be up for promotion themselves for a while. I feel like to get involved in everyone’s work I’d either need to wrest control from this person or basically duplicate the involvement, neither of which seem good for the team. I am not even convinced of this concept of being involved in everything everyone does. I get that even individual contributor roles need to have a bigger impact than just individual contributions at higher levels, but being an expert in ALL THE THINGS doesn’t seem realistic or sustainable to me.

    1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      I’d say exactly what you just said. “I feel like I’d have to step on so-and-so’s toes or we would be duplicating efforts for me to demonstrate I’m ready for this promotion. How can we work that out?”

    2. Angstrom*

      I don’t think you need to be actively involved in everyone else’s work every day. You do need to understand their work, and use your skills where appropriate to help them. That helps the whole team.
      One way is to ALWAYS share useful information. When I learn something that might be useful to others — a new-to-me function in Word, or a useful tool in Excel — I’ll write a short instruction with screenshots and send it to the team.
      Your letter made me think of something a famous guitarist said later in his career: “I used to want to take a lot of solos, but now it’s more rewarding to figure out how to make the whole band sound better.”

      1. Lana Kane*

        Agreed, and I’ll add one more thing: If it’s common in your team to ask for help, don’t be afraid to volunteer even if that other person has volunteered. I work with someone who is similar to your coworker and is usually the first to answer when someone needs help, but someone else will say “I can also help out.” When that happens, most people reach out to the 2nd person to offer :) Many times even seeing that you’re offering your help is noteworthy for managers.

    3. Red Flags Everywhere*

      What I look for are efforts to go beyond their day-to-day responsibilities. That doesn’t look the same for everyone. One person was actively working on process improvements and learning about related areas to better integrate workflows. Another volunteered to take on additional responsibilities when the opportunity came along. Sometimes I’ll get (or make) a proposal for new duties that would add value to our primary role or our customers. All of these are valid routes to promotions. Some jobs do have very rigid roles and job progression paths, but even in that context I’ve seen motivated staff members identify opportunities for improvement and take on being the problem-solver to get promoted – sometimes into a custom-built role that didn’t exist previously.

  22. LittleBoss*

    I have two temp employees in a clerk-type position until the end of the year. Thoughts on tasks to have them do with little training and doesn’t open a can of worms if they don’t get to a good stopping point.

    They got extended, so a lot of the tasks I had created instructions for either got finished, as finished as much as they technically can (they don’t have user accounts for a specific system because they are temps and I don’t trust their attention to detail), or they don’t have the skill set and wouldn’t by the end of the year.

    One is on the bubble, which complicates matters as they need a lot of attention and often do a subpar job. File naming has been a challenge for them, so reorganizing files is probably out of the question.

      1. LittleBoss*

        They are in person. They are doing some physical file purging now, though the part of the problem is that a lot of records are project based rather than just forms. This means you have be flexible and critical thinking skills.

        The one on the bubble has struggled with these tasks. Good enough but a lot of hand holding just to get them to weed duplicates or arrange in the order needed based on record type (some might be alpha, while others are chronological).

    1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Maybe they can compile lists of where they think the files belong for reorganizing. No actual reorganizing, but might give a hot-start to whomever does the reorganizing.

  23. Grrr Arg*

    I’m in my first official “Equality, Diversity & Inclusion” role. I am a disabled person. I am OBSESSED with accessibility, equity, diversity, inclusion strategy. I love, love, love this topic. And I am diplomatic and pick my battles. But I am so dispirited by – these people giving me this job because (they say) they want my input, and then actively resisting most of what I say. I get undermined and spoken over, and it hurts because I’m trying to speak up for people who have less of a voice in decision-making, and of course I care. (Because you’d have to be quite cold not to care!) Is this what “EDI” is always like? I know it’s common. Should I get out of this line of work? But I love this topic so much…

    1. ThatGirl*

      I do not work in DEI but I have seen it (attempted to be) implemented at a few places. I think that unless the C-suite is truly all-in, you’re always going to have an uphill battle. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing, but I think you have to be willing to both stick your neck out on the really important stuff and also understand what you’re up against. In a lot of cases, when people say “we want your input!” what they really mean is “please tell us we’re doing a good job!”

      Good luck to you, either way.

    2. Throwaway Account*

      I think you need to develop a support system of others working in DEI. Are there professional orgs you can join, create a local meet-up of sorts, things like that. Like you are doing by asking here!

      Once you get a sense of how this plays out for others, you will have a better sense of whether or not you want to stay in the field and in what role, what investment you want to make.

    3. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I’m really happy you’re doing that work because it gets pushed aside so often! From my experience, heavy resistance is very much par for the course but some resistance is easier to bear than others.

      Lots of people pay lip service to DEI but are only willing to commit to changes if they can happen without any inconvenience or expense to themselves. Plenty of people are against DEI or anything in the neighborhood of “woke” and not quiet about it. Some people are very aggressive or even hostile to DEI work.

      That means there’s a real risk in deciding to actually do this work. Even for people that value it and genuinely want to move it forward, I see them push back by meeting every recommendation with a laundry list of reasons why they can’t do it or it wouldn’t work. This kind of pushback is still tough to deal with but I don’t find it quite as dispiriting. Fear can be overcome.

      But a lot of the time, these roles are here so companies can advertise themselves as valuing diversity and as a place to lay the blame when they face criticism. I think for every 1 genuine position you find at least 2-3 that are just deflections. That’s pretty soul crushing, but if you can endure it these roles can help move you forward until you find the one that’s real. And you never know; leadership can change and social pressures can change and the role can transform with you still in it.

      All this to say, you will face a lot of this experience while doing this work. Try to find a way to insulate yourself from the hurt of that, but it’s okay if you can’t. I personally don’t do work that’s strictly DEI because I’m not sure I have the emotional fortitude to push through that resistance, and I’ve found it’s equally important for people in DEI roles to have people in other roles who are equally committed to the work.

      I can’t tell you what to do, but I send you all the good will I have!

    4. KeinName*

      You shouldn’t get out of this line of work – not after your first official foray into it. I’d try to understand the organisation I am in as much as i can. What can people tell me about leadership, about big changes in the past and how they were made possible, about where when and by whom decisions are made, about what the topic currently is that leadership likes the most. Then try to tie your suggestions to these topics and show that they are solutions that enable reaching your company’s goals.
      And by researching the questions above, you might see that it‘s just unlikely at this point in time that your suggestions are a priority for leadership – and adjust your expectations accordingly. And continue working more subversively and stealthily. Eke out spaces in which you can exercise your power and make small changes that still benefit people.

      1. Alternative Person*

        I like these ideas.

        I’d also suggest looking at how things like the org chart and salaries have changed over the years. A few things some co-workers attributed to DEI were in fact caused by the thinning of the management structure and the lack of salary movement over the years.

    5. Anna Held*

      Try to think through why whoever you’re talking to should buy in to DEI. Whether it’s to comply with ADA, to help retain the workforce/raise morale, enlarge the hiring pool, attract diverse customers, whatever. Talk about community resiliency and how everyone has needs at some point, and it could be them at any time. People need real, concrete reasons to buy in, not just it’s the right thing to do. Once people “get” it, it’s easier for them to accept why you’re there.

      I do some of this work too, and it’ll be an uphill battle. But this stuff wasn’t seen as important at all a few years ago, and now your position exists! And mine! Focus on moving the conversation and your workplace forward, not achieving big goals (which are up to the C suite anyway, not you). Make a file of little goals you’ve achieved and how you’ve helped, and use that to remind yourself what you do has an impact. Making people’s lives a little better, helping one colleague get what they need, educating that little bit so that one old codger is nicer, it all helps, though you may never see the results. Think of it as pushing a boulder for a while then handing it off — just because you don’t get it over the edge doesn’t mean you didn’t move it forward.

      But if you’re still getting actively undermined and spoken over, remember you need to stand up for yourself too. You can’t make anyone do or be different. Take care of yourself, and if you need to, find a different job! There are other places and ways to do this work without harming your mental health! Big change comes from the top — you’re just one way of implementing it.

    6. anonforthistoday*

      I am old and grizzled and have been fighting this fight for a loooong time, both as a general change agent/OD type person doing EDI work before it was ever called that, and as someone with a titular EDI role. I’m pretty resilient but I still have days when I don’t know if I can go on. My biggest problem is getting over-invested and then crushed, even though theoretically I know better. It is really difficult to work effectively from within a system to change it, and to sustain your own energy & emotional well being in the process. I think you should reflect on whether this is a good career choice for you if you want to be in it for the long haul. And if you want to be in it for the long haul, what you need to do to make that possible.

      If you were passionate about history and became a high school History teacher, you’d quickly discover that the subject matter of history is only a portion of the job. And you’d have to deal with classroom management, and resistance from students/parents/administrators to what you’re trying to achieve, all the failings and complications of the education system, and the drudgery of grading and attendance-taking and other day to day tasks that have nothing to do with the subject of history. Maybe once the reality of all that hit, you’d figure out how to switch gears from history lover to history teacher, and you’d end up being great & loving what you do despite all the limitations. Or maybe you’d realize that your passion for history as a subject doesn’t translate well to actually working in this field.

      Having a formal EDI role in an organization is similar. Your love of the topic and desire to help people/create change might have gotten you interested and helped you develop some of the expertise you need, and that’s a great start. This work is hard and I believe that you are encountering the resistance you say you are. I see some red/pink flags in your post that make me wonder if your passion and personal investment are also getting in the way and making it harder for you. You’re “obsessed” with the topic and you think someone would have to be “quite cold not to care” about the things you are committed to and bringing up with leadership. If that’s how you’re coming across to others, it can hurt your credibility because they may see you as being led too much by your heart and not enough by your head. And they may think you are judging them negatively (which in fact you might be if your personal beliefs and values are driving your work and if people are blocking things that in 2023 should be done as a matter of course). It is really hard to be truly strategic and business-oriented when you feel so strongly about something that is inherently value-laden, and when you have so much of your identity wrapped up in something. It sounds like you really want to advocate for people which of course is great but there are lots of pitfalls there, including becoming a “crusader” who can’t get things done because what you’re asking/expecting is too unrealistic at the moment, or who burns out because you internalize the defeat and frustration. I’m not trying to judge you or infer too much about you, but these are the things I’ve experienced and have seen others go through as well.

      Can you separate your personal beliefs and goals from what you need to do in this role? Can you repeatedly dust yourself off and get back to work when your ideas are shot down, when your best-laid plans come to nought, when you have to compromise your ideals for practicalities? Can you accept 20% progress, even when you were hoping for a 150% transformation? It can be done! I’ve been doing this type of work for decades and I’m still around. I know lots of others who are, too. But is this the road you want to go down?

  24. Past Lurker*

    How icky is it when your new boss keeps plugging his spouse’s gig at work? “If anyone is interested in hand-painted teapots, my spouse does that as a side gig!” and “Here’s some flyers about my spouse’s teapot painting, everyone take one to their nearest community bulletin board!” What if things at work sour if there’s no interest? Any advice that doesn’t involve purchasing a teapot? (It’s actually a service, not a product, and I don’t have any need or funds for it.)

    1. the cat's ass*

      It’s really icky! My ExBoss sold MLM crap and was always handing out brochures and talking it up. I just said “thanks!” and binned the brochures and was frequently able to be someplace else (doing my JOB, y’all) when she would float around chatting about skincare and toothpaste.

    2. Admin of Sys*

      Definitely shades of ick, but try treating it as if it’s totally harmless adoration on their part. Like when someone is showing off how ‘amazing’ their kids art is or whatever. A cheerful “That sounds really neat, but isn’t my thing, thanks” should be enough to get them to back off. (and if they don’t, then it becomes way more ick and may involve hr if it goes to far)

      As to the flyers, I am torn between accepting them and not ‘getting around to posting’ them, or turning down the idea with a comment like ‘oh i don’t really go anywhere it’d be appropriate to hang these’.

    3. Rex Libris*

      It’s not just icky, it’s unethical, and HR actionable due to the power dynamics involved. Even if there wasn’t any blowback for not participating, (and it sounds like there is) the boss cannot put employees in a position where there is even a chance they will feel like they need to donate to some cause or purchase some widget to retain their favor.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Yeah, that’s stream crossing and inappropriate. Any time a higher up is trying to get employees to invest money, time or both in something not work related, and especially if it involves family members? Nope.

    5. Nope to Nepotism.*

      My old boss’s wife is a psychologist. She is also incredibly indiscrete – would spill the tea on clients all the time if she had a few drinks. No names, but it was still wildly unprofessional.

      You can imagine how horrified we were when old boss suggested that we look into using her for our EAP. It is one thing when the people she is talking about are anonymous strangers, but when you know it is someone you work with it would be very uncomfortable. He was obsessed by it for months. Every meeting he would pitch the idea & every meeting it would be shot down. It got to the point where HIS boss ended up having to come to the office (he works in big capital city, not small satellite office) to talk to him.

  25. Cookie Monster*

    Question about the new(-ish) policy of not negotiating salaries to make sure you’re paying people equally. I saw people complaining on this on X, saying it was unfair because then how would raises work? Can you not get a raise because that might mean you will then earn more than someone else?

    To be clear, I’m all in favor of companies doing everything they can to ensure pay equity. I just haven’t heard anything about this aspect of it.

    1. kalli*

      It means everyone gets a raise – but also, paying people equally means for the same work. People asking for merit raises can often point to duties that they have picked up or expanded on since their engagement – if people are performing different duties it’s okay for their pay to be different to reflect that! If we’re both assistant llama tamers but you also make the llama teacups then you asking for a raise to reflect that is fine. However, if we are both llama tamers working 6 shows a week and attending the llamas for 6hr/s day, and responsible for 4 llamas each, then we should both get raises – usually based on CPI, corresponding increase to the minimum wage, or agreed under contract or policy/job dictionary where years of service are linked to pay bands for each role.

      1. Cookie Monster*

        But what if a coworker and I technically perform the same duties, but the quality of our job performance differs? Like one of us is faster, more reliable, takes on more of the same kind of work, more punctual, etc.

        1. Rex Libris*

          Most jobs like this have some sort of metric for what is considered acceptable performance. Going above and beyond that will affect other things, like your consideration for promotion in the future or other opportunities available to you, but not your raise.

        2. zyx*

          Lots of companies that don’t negotiate (like mine) still give raises for performance, and adjustments happen twice a year. I think the key difference is that nobody gets more money just because they asked.

    2. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      Wouldn’t this be similar to how some union payment structures are set up? Based on job title/responsibilities and tenure without wiggle room? It seems a bit unusual to use a system like that for non-union roles, but there is something to be said for transparency and taking all the messiness out of negotiating.

      1. Cookie Monster*

        I’m not sure, I’ve never been part of a union and I don’t work in an industry that uses unions.

      2. Ripley*

        Yup. In my union, everyone in the same classification gets paid the same. So all Llama Groomers, Class 1 get $20 per hour, all Llama Groomers Class 2 get $22, Class 3 gets $24, etc. So if you start work as a Class 1 Llama Groomer, you will get paid the same as a Class 1 who has 5 years of experience. Raises come once a year and are the same for everyone.

        There are obviously pros and cons to this setup, but it prevents any kind of wage disparities.

    3. Procedure Publisher*

      At my job, there was no opportunity to negotiate salaries. You would get merit based raises which made active participation in end-year reviews more important. Even though I was there for nine years, I never understood how the merit based raise were calculated. I suspected this process was to ensure pay equity.

      I have mixed feelings on all of this because of how the process worked. Maybe if it was not a black box, my feelings would be different. The more I think about this, the more I want to look up to see what other people have said on this topic.

    4. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I’m in municipal gov’t and our system is similar to this. Negotiation is possible (as long as its still within the posted range) but you have to do a memo and get layers of approval and it slows down a process that’s already too long, so it’s usually only something you see in high level roles like city managers or directors of prestige departments like planning.

      We don’t do raises at all. Everyone gets the same COL increase every year, but otherwise your path is to take on more work until you can argue to be reclassified to a role with a higher pay band. But in reality, most people just apply for different jobs as they come open because few departments have the budget to change the role itself.

      It’s a really contentious system in our org, though. High achieving workers get really bitter about making the same or less than low achieving peers. I think if you’re going to implement a system like this, accountability and equal distribution of work become even more critical than they already were.

    5. Girasol*

      The way my company did it was to have pay bands. A given title like Admin 1 had a range of pay divided into 5 bands based on performance levels. If you were probationary (either on a PIP or the new guy) your pay would be in the lower level. If you were ranked 5 – exceeds expectations – you’d be paid in the top level of the pay range. If your current pay wasn’t at the level of your performance, you had to be given a raise of a certain percentage, a little if you had improved by one level, a lot if you were several levels off. (So the new guy who came it by default at level 1 and proved in six months that he was level 5 stellar would be up for a big raise.) Managers would get together to hash out examples of who was performing at what level so that one manager didn’t rank everyone 5 while another gave everyone 2s. Arguing for raises wasn’t much of a thing but the system worked well enough that it wasn’t really needed.

    6. JelloStapler*

      I had this happen to me, was told they could not pay me for experience because I would make more than others…. with less experience.

    7. Alternative Person*

      It’s a too simple solution for a very complex issue. One of the reasons I left my last job and am exploring other options at my current one is the pay band rigidity. Pay equity is important, but too often I see it applied in a way that results in high-flyers not being rewarded for doing great work because doing so would be unfair to others.

  26. GoldenHandcuffs*

    Thoughts about a major OEM/major brand no longer having a social media presence? It’s something that is being considered at my workplace and I think it’s a terrible idea for a variety of reasons. But I’d love hear other’s thoughts on it.

    1. Elle*

      We’re not a major brand but are giving a good look at how successful social media has been for us. We hire professionals to do it and aren’t seeing a lot of engagement. We get way more bang for our buck through e newsletters and in person engagement. Plus it takes up staff time to ward off the trolls, porn etc.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      There is one good reason a company might consider this.

      The company probably want the social media presence to be for marketing and PR.

      But there are customers who use it for making public complaints, especially Twitter – go search the handles of airlines and you’ll see what I mean. And there are activists who will criticize companies on social media for all sorts of things – niche advocacy issues, business presence in foreign countries involved in armed conflict, adverse legal results, etc.

      So if the company thinks that the downside of dealing with all that negative publicity outweighs the upside of the material they publish on social media, then from a strict $$ perspective there’s a fair argument to be made for withdrawing from social media, and just relying on the corporate website and traditional PR channels.

    3. Hillary*

      It depends on who the customers are. B2C social media is necessary. B2B not so much. I just started a B2B software company. We’re doing some stuff on LinkedIn for awareness but none of the others – our customers aren’t looking for API solutions on instagram.

      If they have a presence today they have a lot of metrics around engagement that can tell them if it’s worth the spend.

    4. Rex Libris*

      I haven’t done any extensive research, but I’ve personally never run across a study that actually shows that social media presence increases sales or new customers (that wasn’t produced by a social media marketing company.) There are some studies I’ve seen showing that it may increase engagement with existing customers, but really I think there is a growing sense that the power of social media as a way of engaging with customers or raising brand awareness is largely overblown.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Some of it is even silly.
        Once in a while I see an Instagram ad for say, Chevron Oil, for example.
        Uh ok. What do I supposed to do with it? It’s not some eye shadows that looked good in the ad and I can go to a store to buy.

    5. Angstrom*

      As a customer, I have zero interactions with any major OEM or brand through social media. As far as I’m concerned they can save the money. :-)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Even when a company like Wendy’s breaks ahead of the pack and gets media notice, I may find their posts amusing and appreciate the effort involved, but honestly I’m not more likely to stop by Wendy’s.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      The company I work for (a medium one) is a manufacturer and wholesaler of own’s products, there is no social media presence at all. There is an Amazon business store, and our own website, and that’s it. Most sales go through human CSRs anyway.
      As a consumer of various everyday stuff, I can tell that I do not interact with a single brand over social media. I do not follow any, I specifically avoid “liking” any brand, I use ad-blockers, and I turned off every tracker by any SM I could have done.

    7. Distractable Golem*

      The one company I can think of that takes this approach is Trader Joe’s. I think it keeps them out of social media conflict and culture war stuff. No one is @ing them saying “Three bells!”

  27. Attic Wife*

    I have recently moved to a new job (yay!) and have the opportunity to purchase a new chair. I have never in my working life found an office chair that works for me. For context, I am built like a Hobbit. There is almost always very painful pressure at the top of my thighs that can be alleviated with stretching and movement which I try to do as much as possible. I do have some major projects coming up that will need me to put significant time at my desk. The office is temporary until the new building is built so a standing desk is not an option for me as of yet. Any recommendations for chairs, stools, techniques would be so, so helpful!

    1. Ranon*

      Sounds like you need a chair actually sized for you! Do you have the ability to actually go try chairs in person? Second hand office furniture places often have a wide variety of quality options (more variety than dealers that carry specific lines)

      I also like if possible to assist adjust my seat tilt down enough that I very nearly slide off the chair, it helps my spine stack on my hips better.

    2. Trotwood*

      If a standing desk works well for you, could they get you one of those desktop-mounted ones that slides/lifts up and down? I had one of those for a year or two and it worked pretty well.

    3. Throwaway Account*

      I’m short, I have a footstool and extra lumbar padding that I add to chairs. I’ve never found one that works well for me but the footstool is essential equipment for me!

      If you do find a chair, please come back and share what it is!

    4. glouby*

      I was fortunate to be able to have an ergonomics consult & learned that a footrest is key to relieving tension in the whole body – don’t rest your feet on the chair wheel-connecting-branchy-things. I got my footrest from Staples for about $16.

      1. grumpy*

        I have to second (or third) the footrest recommendation. 5 feet tall here and it makes all the difference in the world, I drag it to meetings booked for more than 60 minutes.

    5. Red Flags Everywhere*

      Not sure how far the budget will stretch, but I’m pretty happy with my new BeYou chair. It’s listed on Amazon for $650 (after a $50 coupon that was showing last week). I also like my Varichair, but that’s really for occasional use in context of a standing desk. I used to sit on a $15 yoga ball, so I’ve tried lots of things over the years.

  28. phylloxera*

    In July, I moved to a small company/firm (<10 employees) in a field adjacent to the one where I spent 10 years moving up the ranks. My new company is a great fit, however I feel like I could be learning more with some additional guidance from my boss.

    My boss is highly respected in our field, and I know I look good simply because I sit next to him in meetings. But during those meetings, he'll have lengthy, jargon- and first name-filled conversations and rarely provide much context or background to get me up to speed. Or he'll send me to a webinar, and I'll give my opinion on its content in my notes to him, but he doesn't address them at all in his response (they are often one-sentence replies). Our weekly check-ins are about my to-do list. I always ask if there's more I should be doing or that I need to know and his response is generally "I don't think so." The highest praise I get is when I repeat back what I think his (vague) instructions are with more detail and he nods his head with his eyes closed. He's described as super intellectual and a bit prickly, but everyone loves him.

    I'm used to being a boss's Girl Friday. I'm an eldest daughter, people pleaser type. It's totally thrown me off to have such a different dynamic with this boss. Ultimately, I think it's great that I'm focusing more on what I want to achieve here rather than who I want to impress. But since I've pulled back to match boss's energy… the relationship hasn't progressed at all.

    He has a lot on his plate, so even if he were Fred Rogers, he wouldn't have the time to prep me for every meeting or dialogue about every webinar. But I need a little more from him. How do I ask for it while not sounding unrealistic?

    1. NaoNao*

      I think two things:

      Firstly (and perhaps most importantly) of what benefit is it to him to give you “more”? Really think through the financial and career reasons *for him* that it makes sense for him to be more hands-on, more proactive, more responsive, etc.

      Secondly: what is “more”? If you’re able to give him very specific, concrete and measurable requests, I think that will go a long way towards getting “more”.

      When you present it to him, I’d go with the “sh*t” sandwich:

      “Boss I just love / I’m so honored by…”

      “I’ve been thinking about how to increase/improve X”

      “I need X”

      “…and I’m really looking forward to X pet project/event, thanks so much for the mentorship and guidance you’ve provided.”

    2. WorkerDrone*

      I think it would help if you could clearly articulate in a few bullet points what you need from him – “I need a little more from him” is vague, and I didn’t really get any specifics from the post before that sentence.

      For example, could you ask for 5-10 minute de-briefs after important meetings? Ideally, you’d be really specific there, too: “What did you mean by [jargon]?” “Is the Mike you mentioned Mike Brown or Mike Stiranikowski?” “I didn’t understand why the llamas rioted… is there context I am missing there?”

      Was there something about the webinar specifically you wanted to discuss with him? Maybe pulling out that bit from your report on the webinar and have it front and center, so that the report opens with the major question/concern/compliment/whatever, and then discusses the content after?

      With the weekly check-ins, could you ask for feedback on how you’re doing? Spend the time going over the to-do list, and at the end, say something like, “I’d like to check in on how you think I’m performing so far. Do you have any feedback?”

  29. Ann O'Nemity*

    What is a fair way to determine scheduling for a small team that needs to maintain in-person coverage?

    Our company boasts flexible and hybrid scheduling, but the small team of four is also required to keep our office open M-F 8-5. No one on the team wants to stay past 4 pm, and everyone would prefer to WFH on Friday or Monday. I want to come up with as fair of a compromise as I can, knowing that not everyone can pick the schedule they want.

    I’d love to hear how other teams have handled this, and what worked best.

    1. Rachel*

      I had this set up 2 jobs ago.

      I would separate out staying until 5 from the WFH issue. The in-person work days are until 5, period, that is just part of the job.

      WFH: nobody had a permanent work from home day. We all rotated so people got (roughly) the same ideal WFH days. This had its downsides but it was better than one person getting a significantly better benefit than another, like every Friday WFH.

    2. stunning and brave*

      when I worked on a team that had a “late shift” like that (ours was until 6 pm), a calendar was put out every quarter. Everyone was required to sign up for at least five shifts, but we could pick them. One person liked to pick one work week that she just worked late every day and knocked it out, and other people picked, like, every Wednesday for a month. With a team of only four, it’s not quite as easy, but maybe something like that.

    3. Throwaway Account*

      The person who stays past 4pm always gets Fridays as WFH.
      Or create a rotating schedule every 4 weeks: Week 1, person 1 works till 5pm and is WFH on Friday, Week 2, person 2 works till 5pm and is WFH on Friday, etc.

      But I would say to have a few conversations with the whole team about the options you think of and the options they suggest so that everyone can at least hear all the options. In the end, you might have to decide but its best to have everyone participate in the discussion.

    4. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

      I would assign each person a letter (A, B, C, D) and then code the work days at the beginning of the month; everybody works until 5 p.m. on their day:

      Friday (1): A
      Monday (4): B
      Tuesday (5): C
      Wednesday (6): D
      Thursday: (7): A
      Friday (8): B

      And so on. That way it’s a continuous rota, and everyone equally works Fridays/Mondays over the course of the year.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        That works unless people have regularly scheduled things on a given day of the week. Which many people do. Like, I wouldn’t mind working every Monday and Friday if I knew I could leave early on Wednesday for my knitting club and Thursdays for my volunteer thing. I’d be super annoyed at a continuous rota, because planning when I can do things would definitely be more difficult, even if I know ahead of time.

    5. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I agree with what Rachel said about separating the time from the WFH. If you’re in office responsible for keeping it open, if you’re down for a full day or an afternoon, you’re there until 5pm. If you’re supposed to be there for a full day or a morning, you’re there by 8am.

      I think also, you should make people pick between Monday or Friday WFH. If you get one of those for a whole day, you don’t get the other in a given week. If someone wants both, they have to come in the other three days of the week/cover more time in office.

      Make people rank what’s important to them; are you having some people who want to WFH half days or whole days? If so, do people have a preference for the morning half or the afternoon half? Here’s what I’m thinking a sample schedule could look like:

      Alice–WFH Monday & Wednesday; in office all day Tuesday, Thursday Friday
      Bob–WFH Tuesday & Friday; in office all day Monday, Wednesday, Thursday
      Carrie–WFH Tues and Thurs all day, Monday, Wed, and Friday afternoons; in office Monday, Wed and Friday mornings (since she comes in the least, make her the first call for coverage)
      Derek–WFH Thursday all day, Monday, Wed, and Friday mornings; in office all day Tuesday, then Monday, Wed, Friday afternoons.

      That gives you in office:
      Monday, Bob all day, Carrie in the morning, Derek in the afternoon
      Tuesday: Alice and Derek all day
      Wednesday: Bob all day, Carrie in the morning, Derek in the afternoon
      Thursday: Alice and Bob all day
      Friday: Alice all day, Carrie in the morning, Derek in the afternoon

      This has everyone coming in just 3 times a week, except Derek, who comes in 4 times, but only one of those is a full day. And they will all see each other at least one day, though Carrie and Derek will basically be tagging in/out of the office when they see each other.

      Mainly, just sit down with everyone’s preferences, and do the best you can to give people at least some of what they want, and once you share it with them, be open to adjustments.

    6. Ann O'Nemity*

      Thanks to everyone for the suggestions! I especially like the idea of separating staying until 5 versus the WFH requests. That makes this easier for me to wrap my head around.

      I think the challenge will be walking back the company’s promise of flexible schedules. With only four people, it’s tough to maintain coverage when everyone wants the same early start schedule. We don’t need four people starting work at 7; we need people to stay until 5.

      1. Two Fish*

        Let us know what arrangement you work out. Especially since you do have to cover five days with only four people.

  30. managerthatneedshelp*

    Removed. I believe this is trolling as it’s from a commenter who has posted TERFy things in the past. – Alison

  31. Jill*

    I started a new job eight months ago and in that time there have been some shakeups. Our old boss resigned two month ago and so did two coworkers (all in pursuit of moving to be closer to family, not issues with the job itself). My new boss and I work well together, but we have large workloads and I’ve dealt with multiple time-sensitive and rapid-fire demands. I’ve now been noted as someone who produces consistently high-quality work in the face of pressure.

    For the past month I have been coming to grips with the idea that this just *is* the job. Fielding tricky questions, directly answering people 2-3 levels higher than me, and handling complex issues on a day to day basis. But there are three other people in my group and my boss has admitted I produce much higher-quality work product, so he’s been asking me to do much more. I never get to see any of the simpler questions that come in because I’m wrestling with more difficult problems all day. We have a tracker for certain types of matters, and I have essentially all of the thornier “active” ones, while they’re babysitting dormant or cookie-cutter ones.

    I keep getting told that things will change, but I’m unsure of whether I should say something now (and what I would say) or give it more time. I can’t seem to articulate anything other than “I can’t keep going at this pace, and it’s demoralizing to feel like I’m expected to pick up everyone else’s slack.”

    1. kitryan*

      I have not solved my own similar issue but it is possible that it will continue or get worse. Some/many places are totally fine with continuing to use the reliable and skilled person on a team up without doing more than paying lip service to keeping a balanced workload and having other skilled/reliable people on the team.
      So, my recommendation is to speak up before it’s any worse.

    2. Trotwood*

      It may be your position in the group to tackle the more difficult or sensitive issues, but that doesn’t mean you can’t push back on some of the balance of work or the amount of time it will take to deliver it. You just need to be clear and transparent with your boss about how much you can handle and discuss what the priorities should be. Also, is there a way to involve other team members in elements of your projects that are within their capability? If these are tasks that they’re not experienced with, but they have the capability to learn, it would be good to involve them rather than having all of the work default to you. If your boss is saying “the other three people on your team are losers and there’s no point in trying to teach them”…that’s a management problem he needs to fix or else it’s probably not a place you want to stay long-term.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      It seems like you are doing a more senior role than the others. Ask for it to be made explicit, along with the pay that goes with it.

    4. So many questions...*

      Do you have any control over the assignment system? This has happened to me, and the way I was able to manage it was to go into the system and assign myself some easier tasks as well. (We had live coverage and email/vm coverage).

      Also, maybe return this to sender.

      Higher up: Can you solve this difficult problem?
      You: I’m swamped with all the other difficult problems. You should call Fergus.
      Higher up: Fergus isn’t capable.
      You: Hmmmm. *Repeat your boundary.*

      In my case, I did an internal transfer because they said they never fired anyone no matter how bad the performance. (From what I could see that had been true for over a decade), and the small secret raises I got weren’t enough to take on the burden of more work.

  32. kitryan*

    Last week I said I was going to leave my job and was having trouble training my replacement/not feeling guilty-that sort of thing. I got some really appreciated advice/encouragement that I’ll be coming back to.
    So, this week- current counter to giving notice is 83 days. I may have to go through February (not because of work stuff really but for personal reasons that make me clearly identifiable), which would add a month onto this but not sure yet. If I do, I will hopefully be able to save more and have a better cushion for regrouping and then job searching, and that’s what I’ll focus on.
    This past week I made basically zero progress on training documents and zero progress on training new person. The first is because there was too much other work and the second was because they’re splitting the tasks of the new person on the team. The team’s work is pretty thankless but also crucial to workflow and dividing this person’s focus is not a great idea (which I said) whether or not I leave. So I’m really starting to see ‘my’ tasks and training are being treated like they’re less interesting and secondary to other responsibilities. Since I’ve not been given info on how the person’s job is actually being structured, between that and the attitude, it’s really started to feel like I’m imposing by asking for training time and so forth. Which is hard to work through- no one likes feeling like they’re just being put up with.
    I think I need to try to meet with my supervisor next week to get clarity on this so that I can do trainings without these issues (because I will know what the ‘other’ expectations are more clearly).

    1. Anonymous elf*

      You are too invested in this. Let it go. It may feel like a big deal but eventually it won’t be your problem and you can’t care more than the company.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      If they don’t think training is a big deal, you have to accept that’s the position they’ve taken and move on. Do your normal work, perhaps spend some time adding to a document or list of what you do/how you do it, and let them make the decision.
      Part of the reason you’re likely leaving is that you don’t agree with their decision-making – and this is emblematic of that. The higher ups get paid to make decisions and then deal with any repercussions of those decisions.

      1. kitryan*

        Yes, I agree that I can’t force boss to prioritize training, what I do want to resolve is what the current priority actually is for training-they’ve been vague and I don’t know much beyond ‘new person will also have other tasks’ and I don’t want to throw up my hands and absolve myself of responsibility for doing any training because I didn’t ask about it like a reasonable person.
        Not knowing makes it feel like I have more responsibility for how things are going because I’m either training and being uncomfortable because I’m forcing it on someone who has officially designated higher priorities or not training and feeling like I’m avoiding doing it because it’s uncomfortable. If I were better informed on the situation then I’d be following set expectations, which would be simpler.
        Asking about it is also kind of a ‘last chance’ for boss to prioritize it and thus be better prepared for the future.
        If boss says training is the priority for the new person’s work, then I do that and report back to boss on if it’s going well or not (if there’s comprehension and if new person is engaged, that sort of thing), and if boss say that it’s a secondary priority, I’d ask for clarity on what boss’s expectations are (around when training would occur and how much) and do that, like checking off a box, and if it’s not enough to get new person up to speed in time then that’s not my problem.
        I just want to get the uncertainty out of the way so that the decision on how much of my time goes to training is boss’s decision, not mine based on vague info and vibes.
        And if boss is still vague about it and doesn’t give me clearer expectations then that’s also a decision boss has made.

        1. I just wanted to do something good this morning before alcohol class*

          I think your plan makes sense. I put in my notice 3 weeks ago and am starting a new job in a month. I’ve been training someone to take over my second biggest task who is outside the department and lacks a lot of context for it. This was also ambiguous at first- I didn’t know until this week if he was going to be actually doing the work or just needed to be aware of what it was.

          We’ve had multiple meetings and he’s never taken any notes. I know it’s not going to end well, but after a certain point it’s not my circus and not my monkeys anymore.

          1. kitryan*

            Thanks! I think knowing what I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing according to boss/management will help me let go of the feeling of responsibility for making everything work out. If, after I explicitly told boss that it’s not a good idea for them to count on me being there forever (which I did do), then if boss still decides that the best use of the new hire who was supposed to be in this department is to timeshare them with another department and allot only x amount of time to this work/training and that’ll all be just peachy, well, fine. I will follow that plan for the remainder of my time here and then leave.

  33. matcha123*

    I think there may be a few manager-level people who post here, so my question is for you all. Do you guys take time to read and understand unconscious biases? Do you make an effort to question whether you are judging someone’s performance fairly and not allowing racial, ethnic, socioeconomic status to cloud your judgement?

    I am not a manager or supervisor, but I do sometimes have to check the work of others or offer guidance. As a racial minority myself, I try to make an effort to look at situations objectively and based on what I know about the person and their abilities. I have noticed, unfortunately, that some of those around me in former jobs were easily swayed by assumptions.
    Aside from reading this site, I also read HBR and they have a lot of great case studies that I have found helpful. I don’t feel comfortable leaving a copy of HBR on someone’s desk, so I’m wondering if you all in those positions talk amongst yourselves and proactively look for ways to ensure that the people under you are being judged fairly?

    1. Dr. Doll*

      “Do you guys take time to read and understand unconscious biases? Do you make an effort to question whether you are judging someone’s performance fairly and not allowing racial, ethnic, socioeconomic status to cloud your judgement?”

      White woman here, and: Yes. Constantly. I’m always aware of it, in every situation. I can never be 100% *sure* but I am 100% confident that I am *asking myself* the question.

      I TRY to provide clear expectations articulated with attention to issues of cultural competence and inclusivity (e.g. not judging a zoom background for squishmallows or books), support to meet them, feedback and coaching, documentation — all the stuff we learn from Alison.

      1. matcha123*

        That’s great to hear. I feel like asking on this site is a bit like preaching to the choir because I’d expect readers here to be more open to these kinds of topics, but I’m still curious.

          1. matcha123*

            Yes, sorry it’s Harvard Business Review.
            I’ve recommended it to co-worker friends and their responses are more like “Uhh…” than “Sounds interesting.” I think it’s a great resource. A bit expensive, but good.

            1. LCH*

              i dunno! i would be fine with this recommendation so it doesn’t seem weird to me. sorry i’m no help.

    2. Zennish*

      At least at my org, we do think about, discuss and have trainings on it. Personally, as a mindfulness meditation practitioner, I’m also very used to asking myself “Am I reacting to reality, or to some story I have in my head about reality?” which helps a lot.

    3. Qwerty*

      I do but I feel like a lonely island. Often I’m educating men about biases.

      I like to look at trends. There can be a really good reason why you have an engineer focused on documentation and she happens to be a woman. However when all of the women are doing documentation and support-style tasks rather than the meaty coding then no amount of logical sounding reasons will convince me that gender isn’t a factor. Same if all the women dislike and avoid someone – he doesn’t have to be a creep or overtly sexist, but clearly there is some gender item at play.

      I try to make sure decision making groups have respresentation from various groups. Especially when hiring someone in management or an influential role.

      I question strong reactions both positive and negative. I think we tend to focus on the negatives, but I realize that sometimes we really like a candidate or coworker because they remind us of ourselves or we just like talking with them rather than being backed by skillset. I usually wait to pass on interview feedback to our recruiter until the next day because I realized that my write is more balanced.

      I do think it is good to remember that what one person finds educational doesn’t work for others. I love the book Invisible Women because it spoke to me in data driven language, but only recommend for leaders who are also very data focused. I think it would come across strangely to push HBR on someone if they haven’t expressed an interest – maybe bring up a good article in casual conversation once or twice but that’s it.

      1. CheckYourOwnBiases*

        and this comment shows an implicit bias that writing documentation is less than other coding-related jobs – an attitude most developer-level female tech writers know happens because tech writing traditionally skews more female than male.

        Signed, a female tech writer who has also worked as an architect, database designer, data mapper, tester, coder, business analyst, product manager, and more

    4. Esther Greenwood*

      After discovering this site, I personally make an effort to be conscious of this when managing my team, even moreso as I believe this is a significant issue within my organization and industry. I probably still have a lot I could improve upon myself, but I am working on it. I also have a really good relationship with my boss, and the other managers in my department, and try to professionally challenge them on some of their biases and assumptions, and have started to see some progress there.

    5. nonprofit director*

      I am a white women and I am aware of it and make efforts to specifically ask myself if I have any assumptions about this person, and then I follow up with: does it matter?

      I am not certain this is universal at my workplace, however, and I recently created an “unconscious bias worksheet” to be used in two important situations: performance assessment and recruiting. I recently conducted training sessions on using the worksheet and why it’s important, and plan to follow up to make sure our managers are actually noticing their own unconscious biases and developing strategies for dealing with them.

      HBR is a good resource and I think it’s possible to read a lot of articles online without a paid subscription, which is what I do. You are probably also aware that Harvard has an Implicit Association Test. It’s free online, and is really interesting for helping everyone see where they may have blindspots regarding bias. I will put the link in a reply to this comment.

  34. Two timeouts and 45 seconds*

    TL; dr: Has anyone ever taken a FT job and offered to stay on doing their current (for the most part) a as a contractor?

    Longer: I’m getting an offer for a job that is better for me in the long term but I really like my current job/supervisor/organization. The work I do is also crucial to the operation of the organization and it would take extensive training to get someone up to speed on everything under my purview. When I get the offer for the other position (assuming I take it; the only reason I wouldn’t is if they can’t meet my salary requirements, but they’re within the range advertised) and tell my current manager, I want to offer to continue doing my work on a contractual basis, which will obviously save them money and not really result in many changes as far as expectations, etc go. But should I offer that off the bat or see how my supervisor reacts? If anyone has navigated this before, how did you do it? Thanks!

    1. Anonymous elf*

      Don’t do it. You need to focus on your new job. They will manage without you (sorry but it’s true). If for some reason you decide to do it anyway (don’t) make clear the hours you will devote, your availability and the consulting rate you charge.

    2. Antilles*

      not really result in many changes as far as expectations
      I would actually think their expectations *need* to have a bunch of changes if you’re working FT elsewhere.
      You’re not going to be able to be responsive during the day on normal business hours since you’ll be at your new job. You won’t be attending many (if any) meetings, calls, etc. Anything that requires back-and-forth discussions is going to take a lot more time since you’re working on stuff at night so there’s an inherent time lag. You’re going to be working significantly fewer hours overall (e.g., 10-20 rather than the current 40), which means they need to cut down on the workload they give you.

      1. Two timeouts and 45 seconds*

        That’s actually what I mean: right now I’m obviously available anytime during working hours, so that would be an adjustment. Both jobs are remote but not meeting heavy at all. FWIW, I’ve been in a similar job to the one I’m getting, so I have a sense of the workload. Both jobs are also remote and doing consultant work in the field is incredibly common even for people who are in FT positions.

        1. Tio*

          Ok, but you’re at a new job and supposed to be training, not doing consultant work during business hours.

          You could suggest it as an option to your boss, but I would not do anything during business hours while you’re new.

    3. WorksWithCarefulGuardrails*

      I have, but with the understanding that I’d work off hours, may not work every week, would do no more than 10 hours/week, and only work on my favorite task that I both loved to do and knew I could do mostly on my own with an infrequent email question every s[ often.

      It worked pretty well and I did it for about 3 months, but they managed to hire a replacement at that point and I handed everything off to her.

    4. kalli*

      Don’t – it is not exactly considered legal for an employer to convert an employment role to a contract role, even if the employee chooses to leave and is willing to take on the contract (see: sham contracting) as the employer gets the same work done without having to pay benefits or manage payroll taxes etc. It doesn’t necessarily save them a boatload of money either – if it does, you’d be being underpaid for the role (as contractor rates tend to be higher because you have to pay your own insurance and taxes) and setting up whoever eventually takes over for you (unless the company folds before you do eventually move on) with unrealistic expectations about what the role pays and how performance is assessed.

      It’s an employer’s job to make sure they train someone to take over your role, not yours. If they haven’t done that yet then they have to pick up the pieces. If you want to stay in the role and it really wouldn’t change if you had both jobs, then moving to a contract is unnecessary, you can just stay on. If you get and accept the offer for this other job and they do turn out to be incompatible (overlapping hours, combined cognitive load, conflict of interest) then you will need to pick one. There really isn’t a way to go ‘I’m quitting but if you pay me more I’ll stay as a contractor’; the ‘pay me more’ tends to be handled as asking for a merit raise, while the ‘I’m quitting but I will stay if’ tends to be more like ‘I’ve been offered this, can you match it?’ or ‘I’ve been asked to start elsewhere on X day, so I’m giving notice and we need to sort out handover.’

  35. Nonprofithelp*

    Hello! Work for a nonprofit here. Do other nonprofits give annual COLAs or is it generally every couple of years? What metric do you base your COLA on?

    1. Rara Avis*

      I work for a private school which is non-profit. We always get COLA and usually a tiny bit more, a percentage or two.

      1. Throwaway Account*

        I work for a private school and we always get COLA but about 2%, sometimes a little more. And once in a while there is more that the boss can distribute based on merit (he always distributes it equally as there are no slackers or anything).

        My spouse works for the state university system and there are almost never COLA or any other kind of raises. I’m talking 10 years straight of no COLA.

        1. Nonprofithelp*

          Interesting. Our org ties it to the social security COLA per our fiscal policies so everyone got almost 9% last year. It’s 3% this per SS. 12% in two years is… tough.

        2. Anon in a Large State*

          I work for a state university system, and same with no COLA raises — the last one I recall was maybe in 2000.

          I get a merit raise every year, and I’ve been promoted multiple times; when inflation is accounted for, while I do make more than I did when I started nearly 30 years ago, it’s the equivalent of about $7500/year more.

          (Why do I stay? a. Stellar insurance; b. flexible schedule; c. family members with complex needs that benefit from a & b; d. niche skills that I haven’t figured out how to transfer to another industry that’ll pay me more; e. grandfathered under old pension rules, so may be able to take early retirement — I’d still have to get another job to afford my city and keep up insurance for dependents, but I’d have a nice cushion.)

    2. Jamie Starr*

      The arts nonprofits I’ve worked for have used the following on an annual basis. (Annual corresponding to fiscal year, not necessarily calendar year or start date.)
      – SSA COLA + CPI data for specific region
      – SSA COLA only
      – no COLA, but a flat % increase as a baseline for all staff, plus additional increase based on merit/performance (e.g. maybe everyone starts with 3%, but if you did a great job, you would get 5%)
      – for executive level positions: contract plus Guidestar and review salaries from peer org 990s

    3. Macaroni Penguin*

      No, the nonprofit I work for offers 2008 era wages. Funders haven’t increased staff salaries since then.

    4. I just wanted to do something good this morning before alcohol class*

      I worked at a museum for 6 years and a university for 9, almost always it’s been a 2% COL or nothing. Last year we got 3-5%, which they have stopped complaining about. This year it’s back to nothing.

    5. Alianora*

      I worked at a private university for four years. No COLA during that time. I usually got “merit” increases of about 2%, but even that was put on hold for COVID.

    6. NoCola*

      I work for a non-profit and we don’t get COLA raises at all. Raises in general are periodic, dependent on the company finances (not every year – my last two were 32 months apart). We have gotten small bonuses in the years we didn’t get raises.

    7. nonprofit director*

      Yes, though they are capped at 3%, due to the terms of the contract that provides most of our funding. Essentially, it’s the greater of the CPI or 3%. Better than nothing, though!

  36. kalli*

    When you see ‘verbal communication’ in a job ad or position description, do you read it as ‘speaking’ or ‘communicating in person’?

    1. Cordelia*

      speaking and listening, as opposed to written communication. I’m not sure how that differs from “communicating in person” though?

      1. RagingADHD*

        I think they mean public speaking / presenting vs. interacting 1:1 or in small groups.

        And to answer the OP’s question, I would assume the phrase was a catch-all for both.

      2. kalli*

        There are more ways of communicating than speaking – sure there’s a bunch of offices where a degree of personal interaction is done by IM and that might be counted as ‘written’ if someone thought about it, but what I’m looking to get a sense of is what people who aren’t always looking from a disability accommodation perspective might be thinking – whether ‘verbal’ is a hangover from boilerplate/just part of the stock hiring phrase and the assumption is ‘someone who has conversational fluency’ or ‘someone with a basic grasp of professional language’ (essentially ‘someone who can communicate with others in real time and be understood’) even if that means with accommodations (so the role can be performed by someone who is fluent, but types or signs), or the assumption is need someone who can physically talk, and it is a core part of the role to the extent that it reasonable adjustments cannot be made even where the role doesn’t list any duties that require actually physically speaking.

        Like if someone is advertising for a researcher and advertises duties of ‘finding and summarising case law, preparing memoranda, and assisting with legal drafting’ then asks for a law degree, high level of written and verbal communication, attention to detail and 80wpm typing speed, do they mean someone who can be told what to do, ask questions and spell correctly and they just dropped in ‘written and verbal communication’ because that’s the default wording, or do they mean someone who can read their memo out loud and physically speak – even though the role doesn’t list answering phones, court duties or presenting in meetings, all things that would need explicit accommodations and buy-in from other staff to facilitate vs ‘I can hold a conversation with you I just need my trusty ACD’.

    2. kalli*

      Thanks everyone – I didn’t want to cloud initial reactions because context would have changed the answers but also then not been accurate to what people mean who don’t have that context!

      As I’ve mentioned before, I’m mute and looking for a job where I’m not the token disability hire with a bunch of busywork. I have run across ads where ‘excellent verbal skills’ are required for things like document control in large multi-office organisations where none of the duties listed actually require physically talking and it’s likely there’s a digital request system as not all documents would be created locally, they say they’re an equal opportunity employer – so are they dumping in the phrase that means ‘needs to be very good at language and we need to be able to communicate in real time’ and they just didn’t think about it, or are they specifically and deliberately saying ‘we need someone who can physically talk for this role’?

      I’m aware of the legal requirements surrounding accommodations here and of course the presumption is that if the role can be performed with accommodations it shouldn’t hold me back from being considered equally, but I was interested in what people thought *without* the context of ‘this question is being asked by the mute chick’ as to getting an indication of what people might be thinking when they’re building an ad (or PD) in the first place.

      1. Cordelia*

        ah I see what you mean. In that case, I would think it means ‘needs to be very good at language and we need to be able to communicate in real time’ rather than being good at e.g. writing reports, advertising copy etc. We do have it in our job descriptions as a stock hiring phrase – people do need to be able to communicate in the moment in a reciprocal conversational way, but also write more considered, planned and technical documents and reports, so I think that’s why we make the differentiation, but that wouldn’t necessarily mean the ability to speak out loud. Thankyou for your post, it’s given me something to think about

    3. Talk*

      verbal communication == conversing clearly. Speaking is a different skill that should be listed separately.

    4. Mimmy*

      I always interpreted “verbal communication” as actually speaking, whether it’s regularly meeting 1:1 with clients, students, etc., or presenting to small and/or large groups. However, kalli’s additional context gives me food for thought. It very well could mean being able to write clearly–not necessarily a report, but perhaps emails or in virtual chats.

      Very interested in others’ thoughts!

  37. Rogelio*

    How do you all handle decorations for the holidays in December in your office? Not people’s individual spaces, but the lobby areas that the organization provides.

    In the past, they’ve only put up (non-religious) Christmas decorations, which the leadership and staff like a lot. We’ve been doing a lot of DEI work, so the folks who put up decorations normally raised the idea of trying to be more inclusive.

    One option is to get stuff for other December holidays like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, and the other is to just do generic snowy/winter stuff. I lean towards the former since I feel like it’s more authentic, but there’s a vocal person who doesn’t want anything tied to an actual holiday.

    1. Kate B.*

      Unless you decorate for other major religious holidays at other times of year, I’d go snow/winter. “We want to decorate for Christmas; what’s your version of Christmas so we can be ‘inclusive’?” is starting with a false premise (that everyone has a “Christmas” and that it’s in December).

      1. Rogelio*

        This is such a good point and an excellent way to put it, thank you.

        They’ve done some observances for Diwali, Holi and the Lunar New Year in the past, but there’s not a set schedule and frankly I’m unsure of how to pick the “right” holidays to highlight throughout the year. And so many major holidays are not celebration-y ones to begin with. It does make sense to avoid the “this is the x version of Christmas” framing.

        Plus it sounds like the few employees who do celebrate those were sort of voluntold in a tokenizing way to explain them or celebrate them in a public way you know? I don’t like that and want to avoid it.

        Any suggestions for how to pitch this to leaders/staff and deal with disappointment or frustration that we’re taking Christmas away from them?

      2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        I grew up in a place that doesn’t have snow (only snowbirds escaping winter), so I’d have a hard time not joking “a saguaro with lights.” I was in my 30s the first time I experienced a white Christmas (and I didn’t like it!).

    2. Ranon*

      Honestly I’m team just put lights up, we can all use some sparkle this time of year. There’s not really such a thing as “non religious Christmas decorations” and there are, quite frankly, a lot of religions out there many of which don’t have any particular December tradition.

    3. Generic Name*

      I work for a huge employee-owned company based in a red state. A Christmas tree went up in the lobby yesterday. :/

    4. Diatryma*

      Do wintry stuff, not Christmas, But Jewish or Christmas, But Black. In the spring, you can redecorate with miscellaneous springness, and on through the year.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I’d probably go with wintery and cosy, like a bunch of twinkle lights if it’s getting darker were you are, and winter-appropriate vase arrangements, like greenery with berries and poinsettia, or maybe prelit twig trees with frozen fruits on them; but I’d try to start making more year round efforts if you do this, like changing out these winter arrangements for springtime and summer flowers and have pumpkins or sunflowers in autumn, or changing the seasonal decor on twig trees (like swapping frosted fruit for eggs and chicks). It would probably be super annoying to non Christian religions if you only make a big deal about December holidays, because you only care about Christmas and things close enough to it to be annexed.

    6. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      I am Jewish. I strongly dislike having Hanukah stuff up with Christmas stuff. It is a minor holiday, can come as early as Thanksgiving, and it really bothers me. It’s not Jewish Christmas, it’s closer to Fourth of July. So I vote winter themed.

    7. Vic WembanLlama*

      I’m Jewish and personally am fine with Chaunkah and Xmas stuff going together – despite Chanukah not being a major holiday, it’s still celebrated so why not ?

      But in the end it’s always safer to just go lights and snow/generic winter

    8. ItsNotReallyChristmas*

      there’s no such thing as non-religious Christmas decorations. Christmas is a religious holiday. Every Christmas decoration is a religious decoration.

  38. kersi*

    How do you deal with professional jealousy, for lack of a better term?

    I work for a very small library with very little funding. We keep the place running and do the best we can for our patrons (which I’d say is pretty good, considering!), but there isn’t the money or space or staff to do a ton of programs or fancy new tech or anything like that.

    I recently got to travel to a meeting at a much larger library in a huge city. The meeting was for a certain type of specialist (My library director managed to get me an invitation because it was relevant to a project I was working on and I think she knew the person organizing the meeting) so every other attendee was from a library large enough to justify having that particular specialist. The meeting was great, I learned a lot and met some fantastic people, but when we got a tour of the library all I could think was “We don’t even have that department… That piece of equipment costs more than our yearly payroll… You have four+ people doing a quarter of my job description and I bet they’re all still busier than I am…” And then when the conversation turned to makerspaces and everyone started talking about their new 3d printers or Cricut machines I just stood there and hoped no one asked what setup my library had, because I would have had to say a pouch laminator from the 90s and a bucket of crayons.

    I know I’m just being bitter, and I want to get over it. I know I’m comparing apples to oranges and of course a massive state university is going to have more money than a tiny private school. I love my job, and even though the extra space and resources are REALLY COOL I know from past experience being in a huge place like that wouldn’t be a good fit for me. And even if we had them here, I’m not sure what we would even do with them. But I keep thinking about it.

    1. Hatchet*

      My suggestion is just to put the blinders on, so to speak, and focus on your library and your patrons, and try your best to not think about the other library and what they’re doing… but I know that’s hard to do. It sounds like you’re supporting your patrons and are doing amazing things for your library, so remind yourself of that! Just remember that what works for one company/library, won’t necessarily work for another one – and that can go both ways. (It might also help to be a bit petty – “whelp if I don’t have that new toy, then I don’t have to spend time learning that new toy & promoting it &…and I can go and work on this other neat thing instead”)
      It also sounds like you’re becoming an expert in making a lot happen with very little, and that’s something you should really be proud of!

  39. MC Escher, that's my favorite MC*

    Question for the retail (or ex-retail) crew: Couple days ago on my lunch break I walked past a store from a fashion brand that’s… not quite luxury but still on the high end or “”classy”” side. Not fast fashion. One of those middle-end retailers that I’m surprised survived the pandemic. One of the store’s employees was lingering outside the store taking a phone call, and I noticed they were wearing clothes from that brand, and pretty expensive ones at that.

    I’ve never worked retail anywhere with a dress code beyond “here’s a red polo, wear bizcaz pants and closed-toe shoes” so it got me wondering: do they just… give you the clothes as a sign-on bonus? Do they loan you the clothes? Is there a massive employee discount? Do they expect you to spend thousands of dollars on a wardrobe for a retail gig?

    1. Wonderer*

      They might be getting a steep discount! I’ve seen some people who are fans of a fashion brand and end up taking a job selling it just so they can afford to buy it themselves.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        A friend in college was getting a degree in finance (on her way to an MBA). She got a part-time sales job at Ann Taylor in order to build up her business wardrobe with the employee discount.

    2. T*

      Ex-retail here – I’ve never worked anywhere super high-end, but a lot of places had pretty good employee discounts (like, 40% good) that could be combined with other sales to get stuff for surprisingly cheap. Some stores will lend clothes as well, but that’s less common.

      I’ve never heard of getting clothes as a sign-on bonus but I supposed it happens somewhere.

    3. Ranon*

      I worked at Loft years ago- we got 50% off on hiring and then 40% off as the baseline discount. Limited brands at the time I think were 30%

      We weren’t required to wear the brand but lots of folks did- I also worked with many folks who were teachers or had some other kind of job and worked retail as a second gig where the discount was a significant part of why they worked there.

      1. MC Escher, that's my favorite MC*

        Huh! Interesting. I think this is probably the case with the store I walked by, which is in that category of “career woman” retailer as the Loft, but with slightly higher price points?

        …actually, why be cagey here? The store in the OP was Theory, and the employee was wearing a suit that retails for about $600. Even with a 40% discount, that seems pricey to me.

    4. kiki*

      There’s often a pretty huge employee discount and seasonal promotions for employees to encourage them to buy clothing from the more recent seasons. For example, when I worked in retail, every quarter each employee was given coupons for 70% off each type of garment the store sold (so one coat, one top, one skirt, etc.). All year round, employees got 40% off everything. A lot of people I knew working at higher-end retail shops worked there in large part because of the discount. I worked part-time at the shop I did for the extra money but also because I could cultivate a pretty nice professional wardrobe for relatively cheap after college.

      I don’t recall the exact details, but I think there are laws prohibiting stores from requiring employees to buy their merchandise to wear as a uniform. So stores can’t require their employees to buy and wear their clothes, but they can very much encourage it with discounts/ promotions/etc.

    5. NaoNao*

      I’ve worked at such places—they almost always offer a steep, steep discount. Some companies offer “gratis” items as well (although that’s more rare nowadays). Employees also get first dibs on desirable returned items or items that went on sale (depending on store policy).

      When I worked for Eileen Fisher, they had a sliding scale based on hours worked/scheduled of a $ amount you could borrow per month in clothing allowance. At then at the end of the month you could return the items (to be recycled in the store renew plan) or pay $5 per item and keep them as yours. We also got 30-50% off the price of anything, including sale, so if something was already on a 50% discount, that added up to a significant discount and in the range of affordable. The store did expect us to wear current-season/currently-available clothing to essentially “model” for the customer (relaxed during the pandemic) but they made it easy to do so.

      When I worked at Gap for many years, we got 30% off all items including sale, and I recall buying *many* returned items or one-off items (like something from the flagship store that got used on a mannequin or something) or “last one” that I got to grab and put on hold before the store opened.

    6. Janne*

      My cousin just got a job at a clothes store – not high end, but not as cheap as H&M. She told me they let her choose a top from the store’s racks every time she starts a shift, wear it with its tags still on (but hidden), then at the end of the shift hang it back.

      So wash your new clothes before you wear them! haha

    7. AMY*

      My friend used to work at a clothing store that did require you to wear their clothing at all times when working. They said they didn’t want to have a situation where a customer said “Hey, I love your jacket! Where did you buy it?” and then the clerk would have to answer “Oh, 2 store down at Competitors R Us.”

      But yes they did offer a very steep discount on the clothes, especially during change of seasons when they were getting entirely new stuff in.

  40. Overpaid, Underworked*

    I have about 16 to 20 hours of work to do on a week, if I’m lucky. I’ve always felt slightly overpaid because of this , and the level of work I do and I’ve just found out that from January I’ll be getting bumped up about 4 pay grades and my boss has pushed for me to be made eligible for our xmas bonus even though I don’t work in the area that has always got it and have never had any issue with this at all.
    I don’t know if management are simply clueless in a nice way, or they know but this is all a bribe to retain me, but they haven’t done any of this for anyone else, although my role does have a statutory component to it, so it might be the latter?

    1. Ranon*

      Sounds like you do a very valuable 16-20 hours of work every week! Clearly your company feels like they’re getting a fair deal.

      1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

        Think about being paid for the quality of the work you do, not the time it takes to do it. I think we need to move away from what 8 hours of work ‘looks like’ and focus more on the overall quality, where that can be applied. If you do superb work in 20 hours and it takes someone else 30 to do the same, should you be paid less? Of course not. It’s all about bums in seats – quantity rather than quality.

        1. Throwaway Account*

          I think I work at a pretty average pace, but at my current job (about 2 years), I work more closely with others, and I can see that I am sooo much faster! I was shocked.

          At my first year review, my boss had glowing praise for all I had accomplished and new areas I expanded us into. I felt like I had only done about half of what I hoped to do in that year. I also produce work much more quickly than the person I work most closely with. And we have different styles – they need perfection before they finish; I feel like 80% is great and fine-tune as it gets used (which is fine for what we do).

          So yeah, the 8-hour day is a weird concept! And after about age 40, you get as much done in 20 hours as a younger person does in 40 hours but at better or similar quality.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      hard to say without knowing the job

      Maybe they’ve priced out doing it through a consultant, and it was a waste of money

      Maybe you’re pay isn’t that high in the grander scheme of things

      Maybe you save them from a small PITA once a week and that’s enough for your boss

      Maybe boss thinks it takes 40 because it did back in the day when you had a different system

      Maybe your boss things you’re filling the day with process improvement, self-training, and strategizing. In which case, you may need to reevaluate. You might be thinking “if my boss wanted me to do marketing strategy, he’d give me access to ___ software.” But he/she may not see things the same way, and is waiting for you to go to them to ask for access/permission/approvals to do more work

    3. Rick Tq*

      If your position is required by regulation or law then I’d say the company is happy with your work and wants to keep you onboard. Being well compensated isn’t a bribe, they are paying you what *they* think your time is worth to the company.

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Another aspect to remember (paraphrasing from another commenter here):

      You’re not being paid only for how many hours you work, but also for the experience and skills you’ve developed and are bringing to this job.

  41. Azulao*

    Long time reader here. I have a team member that I’m not sure how to help any more. They’re long-term struggling: Unmotivated, sketchy hours (arriving a bit late, leaving a bit early), bare minimum, drag things out, hard to approach because they grey-rock with a smile so well. In fact the smiling grey rock is masterful, a good fraction of the AAM community would love it.

    The personal problems are depression, anxiety, etc., which they’re actively managing and is under medical care for, which I appreciate and applaud and is the main reason I’m tolerant of the constant megrims. The job problems are low pay and hybrid work. I can’t influence pay. They want fully remote work (“I hate every minute I am physically here”) but the organization does not allow it. I have been honest that they may need to look outside the organization for better pay and for fully remote work.

    I listen, which is how I know what the problems are. I try to give projects that are interesting. I don’t hesitate to approach them although it’s not fun. Their work is “satisfactory.” It’s their overall unhappiness, low energy, wish I was anywhere but here vibe that is a drag especially because our entire job function relies on emotionally intelligent interactions.

    Any advice for me?

    1. Anonymous elf*

      Frankly? Disengage. Stop with the talking or lending an ear ( not clear if that’s what’s going on). Can they do the job with the low pay and in office requirement or not because that isn’t going to change.

    2. kiki*

      I guess one thing I would check on is how much their megrims actually impact the job and are yours to try and manage beyond what you’ve already looked into. If they are doing a satisfactory job but just sort of a bummer, that might actually not be something you can or should be trying solve. If they’re causing issues at work because they’re extremely difficult to work with, that’s another issue and you have to iron out some specific, actionable steps they need to take to improve, regardless of the motivation level.

      But I would encourage you to check-in on whether you’re trying to manage some things about this employee that aren’t in your purview to manage. It can be frustrating to see an employee who you think could be performing better if they just found the motivation, but you can’t actually make that motivation happen for them.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this.

        And if their job performance is, in fact, satisfactory, what are you looking for, OP? You admit that the pay is low, and that this employee has depression. I sure hope you don’t expect performative enthusiasm from them.

        If they’re constantly arriving late and leaving early, that’s certainly something you should be able to address as a manager, at least if they’re hourly and not getting their full hours in. But if they aren’t interested or able to do more than the bare minimum, there isn’t really anything you can do about that, as long as the bare minimum is as satisfactory as you said.

        You can’t change the pay, but is there anything in the job description that actually requires them to be at the office, beyond a vague preference for face time?

        If an employee came to you with ADA paperwork and requested 100% remote work as an accommodation to manage their mental health, would your organization be able to work with that?

    3. Qwerty*

      You can’t want them to succeed in this role more than they do.

      The pay sounds like a non-starter. It sounds like they are a low performer and not behavior you want to reward.

      Be honest – this is what the job is and there are no plans to change it. Knowing that, do they want to continue in their role? (I recommend pre-empting that question with “don’t answer this now” so they don’t accidentally say “no” out loud). And stop letting them complain about the job to you. I get how you landed there but it has gone on for too long.

    4. Anna Held*

      If they’re low paid, be honest with yourself about who you’d get to replace them. How happy can someone be when they’re not rewarded well for what they do? How long will they stay and how enthusiastic will they be about work?

      You can talk to them about their attitude with specifics, like the coming in late, but that’s all. And maybe stop listening to the problems! There’s listening and then there’s letting them dwell on the bad. As you’ve pointed out, the only way for them to make things better is for them to leave, and you can’t send out resumes for them.

    5. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “I hate every minute I am physically here”
      If they actually ever say that, they need to go.

  42. Dumped and sad*

    I wanted to get some calibration on what to do when dealing with a boss that expects their mind to be read. In my case the decision is already done – I got forced out and this has seriously harmed my financial future – and this boss had MANY other toxic traits, but this one really threw me and I’m not sure if there was anything I should have or could have done.

    I work in a field and role where almost everything is a judgment call – what to work on, what meetings to take, what to say in meetings, etc. At this job, I had a vague role description full of high-level objectives like “manage relationships with stakeholders in categories X, Y, and Z,” etc., but there was very little in the way of specific recurring duties. I was hired for me experience and judgment.

    However, over time and increasingly, my manager grew more and more frustrated with me. I did my best to use my judgment to do what I thought was appropriate or optimal, sometimes in direct response to a managerial request, only to get negative feedback that this was “not what I expected.” I can break these down into two general categories. First were the things were my manager didn’t know what they wanted until I did something, after which they became clear on one or two things they know they didn’t want (which always happened to be what I turned in). And the second were just the the times they just didn’t like what I did or how I did it, because it wasn’t exactly what they would have done (down to the wording of specific common phrases in emails).

    My manager was horrible with communication. I was never given clear instructions or training. There was no consistency in what they wanted, so no matter how much I tried, something was always wrong, and I lived in constant fear of tongue-lashings. If I asked for clarity, my manager was annoyed and suggested (or in some cases, just straight up told me) I was incompetent and lacked judgment for needing that information. On the one or two occasions I pushed back on that, I was told “I expect my reports to manage upwards” as if that was a magic incantation that solved everything.

    As I said, there was a lot more than this, but there is just no winning when working with someone like this, right?

    1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      Nope, no winning with someone like that. In a highly autonomous role, you NEED higher-ups who will have your back as long as you were exercising your best judgment. Even if it wasn’t what they would have chosen, if you can explain WHY you made the decision and it was in the company/customers’ best interest, they need to leave you be to do your job.

      I have this sneaking suspicion if you had started coming to this boss for direction before you made every decision to avoid being told you were wrong, boss would have said “You need to be able to make these decisions on your own.” So yeah – no winning. This boss was totally gaslighting you and you’re better off without them!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      For the first case (not knowing what they wanted until they saw what you did), reasonable people can be like this. Some things are difficult to articulate, and it’s easier to say “please change that part of the widget to X” when reviewing the preliminary widget design than it is to say “please design part Y of the widget to be X” when assigning the “design a new widget” task. But in those cases, generally a preliminary design and then a design review (or whatever terminology makes sense for your field) are baked into the schedule. It sounds to me like your manager wasn’t reviewing your work until just before the work was complete/due, so there wasn’t time to make the changes they wanted.

      Add in the second case (not liking anything that wasn’t done exactly as they would have done) and you are firmly in “you can’t win when working with someone like this” territory.

    3. Dumped and sad*

      Sorry for the typos – “me experience,” “were my manager”, etc.; I didn’t have a chance to proofread this before submitting! So embarrassing.

    4. Glazed Donut*

      I’d think that mid-project check ins or draft sharing would help with some of this but it does sound like a person who is not a good fit to be your manager.
      Ideally you’d be able to say “Hey, because this is similar to the Z project from before, I ran it this way- what do you think about the Y?” but if consistency is lacking and there’s really no clear feedback or initiative from the boss for what they expect, it’s not a good fit for either of you.
      Managing up may have included setting mid-project check ins, being a bit more self-leading (using prior projects as examples and justifying with that), etc. In general I find that managing up can work periodically or for short seasons but is a recipe for disaster if it has to happen all the time in the role. Hope you find success and happiness in your next position!

    5. Cedrus Libani*

      I’ve had that manager, and there’s no winning. My read was that the guy needed to have someone to blame, no matter the truth of the situation. He would have preferred an outright failure that he could blame on “the help” failing to execute his perfect ideas, rather than a qualified success where we all worked together like grown-ups to bring that idea to fruition and it was able to be judged on its own imperfect merits.

      That job did a real number on my sanity. I wasn’t in a position to quit at the time, so I sat there and took it, hoping it would get better. It didn’t.

    6. Generic Name*

      I used to work for a micromanager who expected mind reading. It was also in a job that required independent judgement, and I felt like every time I copied him on an email, he would find fault in how I handled things. It was very demoralizing, but if asked about his management style, he would say that he’s doing for “continuous improvement” (as if how he would do things is the pinnacle and perfection; he was fine, but not all that). I got a different job, and I’m much happier not being managed down to that level. I’m a professional with 20 years of experience, and my manager trusts my judgement. It’s refreshing.

    7. The New Wanderer*

      Definitely a no-win situation. I had this person as a professor once. He didn’t indicate anything was substandard in my work until the very end of semester when it was too late to do anything. I participated in class (as required, but apparently he didn’t like that I … asked questions?), I carried way more than my half of a two-person project (which he said he knew but “had” to give me the average of mine + other person’s grade), and I gave him a draft version of the final paper for early feedback *as he recommended* (he gave it back with “good work, no notes” and then dropped my grade on the final with a bunch of surprise criticisms). When I asked about this, he said he felt it would be ‘unfair’ to have given me feedback that, again, was part of his instruction… So yeah, you can’t win with this person.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Definitely no winning. And I’d bet a dollar this manager used lots of “gut feeling” type language: as in, she always had bad feelings about whatever your work was and made that your fault.

      Because when I’ve run into these types, the actual truth of the matter is that they’re like Mary Hume in the Shel Silverstein poem–almost perfect, but not quite is their life motto. I didn’t mention I wanted this, that or the other, but now that it’s NOT here, you should have guessed it was supposed to be.

    9. ABC123*

      If you want to have an answer for what you could have done to fix the relationship or manage the situation, I think you have found it: leaving. Why would you want to work for someone who doesn’t trust you to do your job? Who doesn’t see you as competent? Why would you want to spend your entire work day with a person who gives you anxiety? It sounds like you want a supervisor who suports you and provides clear feedback and examples, which wasn’t that place, right?

      Once you have some distance, there will be time to do an emotionally neutral accounting of the situation. For now, congratulations on leaving a situation that was a poor fit. I wish you the best of luck in finding your people.

  43. Hamster*

    I was let go last week due to performance issues. What do I say to recruiters/prospective employers when I begin my job search? If they ask why I’m looking, The only thing I can think of is that I want a better fit, but that doesn’t sound right. My first 11 months here I was getting praise and good feedback from my boss but my performance evaluation was “needs improvement” in almost everything. After that my boss’s behavior towards me changed. There was no PIP or a conversation.

    (I am begging that we please just stick to this question? I’m not trying to be sneaky or lie about anything neither here nor with prospective employers. The last few months have been extremely stressful for me and this is a big thing for me to process and I’m doing my best here. I just want to be prepared for when I begin searching again.)

    1. MsM*

      I think “better fit” or “different office culture” works, but you can elaborate in other responses that clear communication and accountability are really important to you, or whatever you think diplomatically covers “I’m still not entirely sure what happened, but if I am doing things wrong, I’d like to know before it gets past the point of no return.”

    2. NaoNao*

      Wow, oof! That’s terrible, I’m sorry. What an awful feeling.

      I don’t think you have to “lie” per se. Firstly, I’d focus on the praise and the accomplishments–don’t proactively bring up the firing/letting go.

      If asked why you left, you could say something like “the needs of the business shifted unexpectedly and I wasn’t a match for the role any longer” –that’s true! It sounds like whatever they wanted or needed, your boss didn’t articulate that or see that in your work/output and decided to part ways.

      If really pressed and you feel for whatever reason you *have* to be transparent, you could say “I was hired to do X job. About a year into the role [or whenever], leadership realized that what they really needed was Y. Unfortunately that’s not my skill set or strength and I struggled for a bit before mutually agreeing with the company to move on.”

      But it sounds like they pushed you out for other reasons that aren’t “performance” (I’ve had that happen and it’s the worst feeling) so please don’t let that affect you and get to you.

      1. Hamster*

        Thank you.

        When I had interviewed I had made it explicitly clear that I lacked experience in XYZ. They still hired me and I was doing ABCD and XYZ. There were lots of things I didnt’ know and for a long time no one even knew what my role was.

        As for the nonperformance issues – yes it’s true I wasn’t a good personality fit. It’s hard not to take personally but my team didn’t consider me part of them from the get-go. I had come back from sick leave about a week before termination. There’s a million possibilities but I’m trying not to dwell on things I can’t control. I did my best.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Ok yeah that sounds like a good way to frame it: “My last job ended up really needing someone experienced in XYZ, and that’s not my skillset. I’m looking for jobs focused on ABCD.”

        2. Hillary*

          If no one knew what your role was, that can be a great explanation. The role wasn’t really defined when I started and they ended wanting it to focus on XYZ. My skills are more in ABCD and it wasn’t a good fit anymore.

          If it came up (and it didn’t always) I would say I had three bosses in five years and the last one wanted to put his own team in place.

        3. kalli*

          That sounds like they expected you to be able to pick up on XYZ on the job and for whatever reason it didn’t happen, while previous comments would indicate that your team were prepared to help you out initially but expected you to be able to take their answers and advice and move to working independently a lot earlier than you were capable of, and didn’t have the time in their roles to accommodate close training. People didn’t need to know what your role was, exactly, because you were meant to be able to function independently after initial training.

          You’ve also said your boss went out of their way to be kind and display interest in your personal life, HR offered you extra paid leave for your recent illness, and you could have worked from home if you were up to it. These things aren’t likely to be possibilities – you were told you needed to improve and it didn’t happen fast enough for them to afford to keep you on and not have someone doing the all work your role was responsible for, and that predates your sick leave and is documented. Typically ‘needs to improve’ does not mean ‘job secure just not outstanding’ but actually does mean ‘need to improve to keep the job’, and the only thing missing is an explicit statement of that delivered in a way you understood at the time.

          1. carcinization*

            I think that even in situations where co-workers function independently, it’s still very important to know each others’ roles… for example, I work with Speech-Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists, and since they have very different job functions, I definitely need to know which is which, even though most of the time we work completely independently of one another, and we need to know each others’ roles, because otherwise parts of the things we collaborate on would never get done, since I can’t do what the OT can do, the SLP can’t do what I can do, etc.

            1. Hamster*

              Yes, exactly!

              The nature of my role was collaborative. I would handle my clients and if something came up, I would research and then ask.

              And, hey I’m the mother of a 3yo who has been getting speech and OT therapy. They may not do the exact same functions, but I know our therapists had to collaborate with each other and the other therapists. So, thank you for what you do!

          2. Hamster*

            while previous comments would indicate that your team were prepared to help you out initially but expected you to be able to take their answers and advice and move to working independently a lot earlier than you were capable of, and didn’t have the time in their roles to accommodate close training. People didn’t need to know what your role was, exactly, because you were meant to be able to function independently after initial training.

            I’m not sure which previous comments you are referring to but this is what happened: I did seek out assistance from seniors (upon my boss’s advice, so it was “OK” to do that). But I saw how new hires were treated after I came onboard in terms of orientation and inclusion and I did not get the same treatment. I had multiple seniors/managers confirm the exact same thing.
            Also, the nature of the role is collaborative. When you’re isolated, either physically or socially, collaboration is more challenging.  
            It’s one thing to be able to go up to a senior after doing research and say “hey I’m stumped with this issue and this is what I’ve already done, I know this is what needs to be done, but what am I missing?” vs just saying out loud “oh gosh why is this software doing this” and a peer rolling over right away to help you out. EVERYONE did the latter, so why is it I’m the one in the wrong for wanting to do what everyone does?

            You’ve also said your boss went out of their way to be kind and display interest in your personal life, HR offered you extra paid leave for your recent illness, and you could have worked from home if you were up to it. These things aren’t likely to be possibilities – you were told you needed to improve and it didn’t happen fast enough for them to afford to keep you on and not have someone doing the all work your role was responsible for, and that predates your sick leave and is documented.
            I will agree with your last sentence. However, Yes my boss was kind and attentive in the beginning until things began to sour – which someone below explained why so I understand that now. He’s the reason I had a really positive experience for the first few months and actually WHY I’ve been taking this so hard.

            HR offered me extra paid leave that I was legally entitled to however I chose not to take it. Once I was terminated I would’ve been on the hook for paying back that extra leave; that was explicitly stated to me in writing, and the idea of “owing” my employer didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t think this detail about HR belonged here, but I wanted to address it

            I get your overall message, I do. But I only brought up the possibilities to address the original comment that said “it sounds like they pushed you out for reasons that aren’t “performance” not that I’m focusing on that.

            Typically ‘needs to improve’ does not mean ‘job secure just not outstanding’ but actually does mean ‘need to improve to keep the job’, and the only thing missing is an explicit statement of that delivered in a way you understood at the time.

            They explicitly said “not good enough for a title change/raise”, not “not good enough to work here.” I would have had no reason to not trust a statement that was made to me. Had they said “You are in danger of losing your job if you do not improve on XYZ in this amount of time” I would have understood that. 

            When something is explicitly said to you by someone, you’re supposed to take their word for it. That’s also the advice I’ve seen given here to me and others. So I don’t think it’s fair that I’m somehow to blame for not understanding the unsaid things. 

    3. M2*

      I’m sorry that stinks. I would say it’s fine to say you’re looking for a better fit, or that you are looking to focus more on X (x being a main focus of the job you are applying for), or if you want more in office or work from home or hybrid opportunities you can say that too.

      I know you said you want to be prepared for when you start searching again, but if you don’t have a large savings safety net and didn’t get a severance I would start looking NOW. I don’t mean to scare anyone but my organization and my partners both take months to go through the hiring process even with strong candidates. It can be really annoying. You could also temp while you look for a better fit, I know a couple people who found better fits through their temping agencies. Good luck!

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        Also start applying for unemployment, if you’re in the US. Smetimes it takes a while to approve it. Some states say you can’t get unemployment if you were fired “for cause”, so I thought I wouldn’t qualify, but it turns out that’s just for really big things like embezzlement, and I was still able to get it and didn’t even have to appeal. It’s worth looking into.

        1. Slartibartfast*

          This. Poor performance is not “cause”.

          Been there, done that, got the unemployment checks. But it did take three weeks.

      2. Hamster*

        Actually I’ve already started applying, but haven’t had any calls yet. I’ve been spending a few days getting myself together and in a better headspace and fixing my resume. I know it can take a while so I’m preparing myself!

    4. feline outerwear catalog*

      I’m sorry to hear that, I had a semi similar situation last year and it really sucks. There are some articles online about getting fired but people hardly talk about it from their individual perspective and I felt very alone.

      For me, it depended on the job/interview. My employer said it was a “lack of fit” which is bs, but that seems to be an ok phrase that some interviewers accepted.

      I did not mention being fired unless it came up, it didn’t always come up surprisingly. A few job applications had a box for why you left your job, I tried avoiding them. There was one job I really liked so I looked online and ” mutual separation” was one I used “involuntary separation” is another.

      In my situation, my boss was trying to make me miserable, then hired a new boss for us, adding back a layer of middle management we had before I was there. I see now that were weak and made the new person fire me. I sometimes said “I got a new boss and it wasn’t a good fit.” Not lying, but technically true.

      I read a line somewhere once, maybe from Penelope Trunk? that said to just say that “you left.” Which is technically true. I never ended up trying that line myself, but always kept it in the back of my mind.

      You can have more than one reason for leaving a job. You could try finding another one to mention first if they ask. For example, in the job above, I was looking to leave anyway but didn’t get out in time before I got fired. I used to be in a subset of my industry, say chocolate teapots, and that job was adjacent, say white chocolate teapots, so I started with saying I wanted to go back to chocolate ones if asked.

      Feel free to take or leave anything here that’s useful. Hang in there!

      1. Hamster*

        Thank you for sharing your experience!

        There’s lots of advice online but no one talks about the emotional part of it. The shame, embarassment, etc. I had a productive session with my therapist that really helped my headspace.

      2. Awkwardness*

        I would be careful in using “I left”. when technically you have been fired.
        This could be interpreted as a deliberate lie and has potential to sabotage job offers if you got caught.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Unless you are looking for a career in blogging / niche influencing, I would be extremely leery of any advice from Penelope Trunk. An awful lot of the things she says would absolutely not fly in the real world.

        1. feline outerwear catalog*

          That’s fair, it did at least help me with my internal dialog, technically, I did leave just not by choice, sigh. I’m not the kind of person who could pull that off but I suppose someone is, lol.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      Can you identify what it was about your performance that was the problem? Eg. perhaps you are just lousy at roles that have a lot of mathematics or rote work or sales, and shouldn’t work in them. If that is the case, you can say that the nature of the role itself was just not a good fit with your strengths, and that it didn’t work out. You appreciated the opportunity to try the function, but it’s clear that you should be in roles that focus on something else (try to be specific about what the something else should be).

      If – on the other hand – your issue was with “soft skills” – like good communication, teamwork, and working with other people – then I would look at whether you need to be in a role that doesn’t depend on other people’s contributions. Or, maybe you really need to be in a role that works closely with a team and you were unable to function because your role was too isolated.

      Basically, what did you learn about your self from the situation, and how will you apply it in your job search and in your future role. That’s an important thing to point out to the interviewer.

      Eg. I learned that I don’t function well in a position where I have to deal with multiple, competing priorities that all are extremely urgent and constantly changing. I need a more structured environment where I can plan out most of my schedule. I can deal with a high workload, as long as I can schedule about 70% of it.

      or Eg. I learned that I am good with existing client relationships management and account management, but am not ready to do new client acquisition / new sales. I just don’t have the training, experience, or comfort level, yet, and I was surprised to find that I was being thrown into the deep end in my last position. In retrospect, I should have asked more questions about the nature of the role, but it was presented to me as an Account Manager position, and I made the mistake of assuming it was just that.

      1. Hamster*

        Can you identify what it was about your performance that was the problem?

        Basically, what did you learn about your self from the situation, and how will you apply it in your job search and in your future role. That’s an important thing to point out to the interviewer.

        These are really excellent questions! Some things I already knew and won’t be coming up again, some I’ve already figured out, and yet more I’ll be thinking of in more detail. 

    6. stunning and brave*

      I think I remember that you’ve said you’ve worked for seasonal tax help in the past, H&R Block and the like? Has tax prep time started yet/are those sorts of companies ramping up yet? I suggest that because if you can get started there fairly soon, then when you go to look again, there won’t be a gap in your work history. And if doing seasonal work is what you are doing when you’re talking to those recruiters, then it’s logical that you’d be looking for full time work.

    7. Hamster*

      Thanks for the advice all.
      Also just wanted to say a thank you to the folks who left kind and supportive messages in my last post about 2 weeks back defending me and giving advice. I was feeling that some comments were getting hurtful but I tried to ignore them. I have a hard enough time standing up for myself IRL and I just don’t have the bandwidth to argue online. Generally when I ask for advice here, I try to include details that I feel are relevant. I’ve seen complaints about long posts that annoy people, so I try to keep them concise. If I were to include every single detail that I thought was relevant over the last 10+ years of my job/career history, the posts would be extremely long.
      But again – thank you to the ones who left specific advice to answer my question

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        As a medium-term reader, I notice you sometimes ask the wrong question for the situation, or try to preempt getting feedback by listing out what you don’t want to hear. Which is fine, but then you should just tell it as a story instead of trying to frame it as a question. For example if someone wrote in “I consistently fall asleep doing night shifts, but I can’t take any stimulants or drink caffeine or change my sleep schedule, how do I stay awake all night, I don’t want anyone telling me to get a day shift” then people aren’t going to be able to give advice beyond “I know you said not to question the need to work the night shift, but…”

        Which makes it impossible for people to give useful advice, on an advice column. I don’t think anyone said anything remotely bad, I think they were just saying you should reevaluate your career choice. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just life. I don’t think that should be off limits to discuss on a career blog. This could benefit you. Work can actually be very enjoyable and not feel like work, once you find something that is a natural good fit for your personality and how your brain functions. Imagine being in a place where the boss comes to you for advice, where you don’t need to ask for additional training and accomodations, but are handed things like flexibility and annual bonuses.

        You’re also always going to be competing with people who are naturally whizes at Accounting roles, which is not going to get easier as unemployment has been ticking up (SAHM recession indicator has been triggers last week – unemployment is up .5% to 3.9% which historically has been a predictor of the start of a recession, though I am not making predictions on whether it’s 100% infallible here).

        1. Hamster*

          That’s fair! I just wanted to address that since I never got to come back to comments around that time. I appreciate the time and energy people put in to genuinely giving advice. I know when one crowdsources advice, it’s natural to expect advice that wouldn’t fit and that’s OK.

          Also, I actually DO enjoy the work I do. My brain and my body and my personality will not change with any career or profession. All I can do is learn from my mistakes and move on.

          1. Busy Middle Manager*

            IMO when the job market is better, I think you should spread your search out a little to include Operations or Jr. Business Analyst type roles. I’ve seen you complain about making mistakes or having issues with Accounting specific items (such as a new job not training you on specifics), so just want to note that Accounting/Bookkeeping are note the only office jobs where you generally use spreadsheets, #s, etc. You don’t have to pigeon hole yourself into that specific niche role.

            For example, when I was an Ops Analyst I’d get tasks with slightly more freedom such as “do a report on customer complaints.” then if they wanted it changed, they’d ask. But there wasn’t that element of getting in trouble for putting something in the wrong column, for example

              1. Busy Middle Manager*

                Good luck! IMO next time you should come up with a list of things you’re good at and what you want to do all day, specifically, and what computer programs you are good at, and then let people chime in on specific jobs and maybe even companies.

                I know you’re saying you want another Accounting type job but you don’t need to literally be called “Accountant” to do this type of stuff and there might be an Accountant-adjacent job you’re better at

                Like when I was a Junior Analyst, I’d work with billing data and find problems and mistakes, but I didn’t have to worry about booking anything or getting in trouble if I put something against the wrong ledger #

    8. Qwerty*

      You have to be really (brutally) honest with yourself about why things went wrong. Blaming everyone else is fine for talking with friends and family. But when preparing yourself for your next job, you need to have a more impartial view so that you don’t end up in a similar situation in the future. Plus sugarcoating makes it sound like you are hiding something.

      Here’s some examples that have gone well:

      “I was excited for OldJob because I thought I could use my skills in X to learn Y but it turned out those skills were not transferable, so I’m focusing on positions that utilize X and Z”

      “I was assigned a database project and while I am fine visiting database-land it turns out I am miserable living there full time and I wasn’t able to produce my best work. I’m really excited for this role since it involves X and Y which I’m much stronger at”

      “I need to go back to more mid-level positions. While I have some skills at the senior level and I hope to get back to a senior dev in a couple years, right now I need focus on developing my X and Y skills”

      What I liked when hearing stuff like this is that it is neutral. You want to make sure that if the hiring manager hears your boss / coworkers’ side of the story that your version sounds like a cleaned up succinct version rather than a rose-colored glasses.

      Addressing your parenthetical – you especially want to make sure your version and your old employers version doesn’t sound terribly different if there is some history of people thinking you are being sneaky about things, even if it is just on this site or socially.

      I do want to address the “everything was all positive then I was blindsided by a completely negative review and no PIP” aspect because I want to help. Revisit this in the being brutally honest with yourself phase. During the praise time, were you never being told of anything being incorrect or skills to work on? Could it have been that your boss didn’t want to harp on those because he thought you were trying and wanted to keep your spirits up? Did you seem down on yourself about your work?

      I’m bringing this up because its something I’ve observed where there are plenty of conversations where it seems like StrugglingEmployee is very aware that they are struggling so Boss makes sure to keep a positive attitude and be supportive, but occassionally it can backfire. A review with everything in Needs Improvement does sound like a PIP in all but name. The behavior change also points to that – Boss realizes that their positive comments were hiding how much StrugglingEmployee is struggling and switches to being more direct and holding the line. Or on the other hand, sometimes writing it all out can make a boss realize how bad the situation has gotten.

      Finally – use that self reflection to safe guard yourself when looking. Do you struggle to learn new things? If so, make sure NewJob is fully in your wheelhouse, no matter how optimistic NewBoss is that you’ll learn things on the job. Struggle with attention when remote or making connections with peers? Then maybe focus on an in-person or hybrid job where the environment helps solve that problem for you. Lacking some of the fundamentals? Try taking a step down in job level where you can build that back up (seeing a lot of this in my industry where people got promotions during hiring/retention battles and now are in over their heads)

      1. Qwerty*

        Edit – when I refer to blaming people, I meant that more in response to how people generally talk after these events and am not specifically tying it to anything you said. Bad phrasing on my part!

      2. Hamster*

        Yes, I don’t want to sugarcoat or lie – impartial is the best way to describe it.

        Revisit this in the being brutally honest with yourself phase. During the praise time, were you never being told of anything being incorrect or skills to work on? Could it have been that your boss didn’t want to harp on those because he thought you were trying and wanted to keep your spirits up? Did you seem down on yourself about your work?

        Now that I think about it, the praise was directed towards the tasks I did do well. I had always been very clear at work that I didn’t have a strong background in certain things so I was learning along the way and they were (or at least seemed) ok with that. He also praised my positive attitude a lot.

        Now internally, I did know I was lacking and I could be doing better. The evaluation was more “you’re not doing well enough to get a raise” not “you’re not doing well enough to keep your job.” I has a conversation with another senior manager and he said majority of people do feel that way, that rarely anyone thinks they exceed expectations and that I was blindsided.

        I’m bringing this up because its something I’ve observed where there are plenty of conversations where it seems like StrugglingEmployee is very aware that they are struggling so Boss makes sure to keep a positive attitude and be supportive, but occassionally it can backfire. A review with everything in Needs Improvement does sound like a PIP in all but name. The behavior change also points to that – Boss realizes that their positive comments were hiding how much StrugglingEmployee is struggling and switches to being more direct and holding the line. Or on the other hand, sometimes writing it all out can make a boss realize how bad the situation has gotten.

        he was direct and I appreciated that aspect of it. But there were other behavior things that really confused me at the time. But thank you for breaking this down, it really helps me a lot!

        Finally – use that self reflection to safe guard yourself when looking. Do you struggle to learn new things? If so, make sure NewJob is fully in your wheelhouse, no matter how optimistic NewBoss is that you’ll learn things on the job. Struggle with attention when remote or making connections with peers? Then maybe focus on an in-person or hybrid job where the environment helps solve that problem for you. Lacking some of the fundamentals? Try taking a step down in job level where you can build that back up (seeing a lot of this in my industry where people got promotions during hiring/retention battles and now are in over their heads)

        Yup i am very firm that I want mid/lower level jobs even if it means a pay cut – and on site. I was struggling with verbalizing that but you gave an excellent script for that.

        THANK YOU for all of this it is so helpful! And yes I try to not dwell on things out of my control and focus more on what is in my control.

        1. Teaga*

          I think you need to hear this, in case you ever find yourself in this situation in the future. If your performance review is “needs improvement” in all categories, it will always mean you are in danger of losing your job. It means you must improve to keep your job. No matter what else your manager says, however much or little they try to soften it, however motivated you might be to find any reason to interpret it differently. So if you ever get a review like that again, you should hear, “you will lose your job if you don’t improve,” no matter what words actually come out of your manager’s mouth.

    9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      “Better fit” could work, but only if you can clearly articulate what the issues were (and, if possible, what you’ve learned from it / what in retrospect you would do differently) and why the job you are applying to is a better fit than the one you’ve been let go from.

      It does seem odd to have a review like this with no idea it was coming. I get that some managers (and some companies as a whole, if it becomes their culture) say everything is OK and then you are blindsided by negative feedback at the annual review. I have been on the receiving end of it myself. But even then, it’s typically clear what the negative comments refer to. Do you in retrospect agree with the boss’s assessment? Did they have unclear expectations in the first place? I think the review itself was the conversation, although that isn’t very good practice as a manager, but did you have any kind of dialogue at that meeting?

      I think the key to it is going to be really digging into what it is that caused this situation (and I think I saw a couple of your previous comments about previous jobs not working out?), what’s the pattern or underlying theme. And then you need to break the pattern there.

      1. Hamster*

        “Better fit” could work, but only if you can clearly articulate what the issues were (and, if possible, what you’ve learned from it / what in retrospect you would do differently) and why the job you are applying to is a better fit than the one you’ve been let go from.

        Yes that’s what I’m struggling with a bit here.

        The culture at the company was fantastic. But I was never really included in it. Socially and work wise. Socially I could get over but there were things like – I was left out of the tax dept email until halfway through the season. So any time there were meetings I was never included cz I had no idea about them. They had no idea what I was supposed to be doing so they just “made room” for me in some corner and ok figure everything out on my own. I saw ppl who came onboard after me who blended in seamlessly. A few ppl I worked with said that I was set up to fail from the start. Which I try not to dwell on.

        I think the key to it is going to be really digging into what it is that caused this situation (and I think I saw a couple of your previous comments about previous jobs not working out?), what’s the pattern or underlying theme. And then you need to break the pattern there.

        Yes So in 2020 I had 3 jobs. First one was cut due to the panda. Office shut down and 60% of staff cut.
        I had been doing fairly well before that. Then I had my child that summer and took 2 other jobs shortly after. They just didn’t work because I just wasn’t in the right headspace to be a good worker.

    10. Anna Held*

      I just wanted to say that I’ve been let go, been laid off and had huge gaps, shifted careers, all of it. I’ve been surprised at how few questions I’ve gotten about “waves hand”. They care about how well you’ll do at their job more than how the last one went. Take your own lessons from it, apply them to your new job search as needed (“I was concerned because I didn’t have XYZ, but was thrilled when they hired me because I wanted to learn XYZ. It turned out to be too steep a learning curve, unfortunately.”)

      Take care of yourself!

  44. nopetopus*

    When to make use of feedback channels, and when not to?

    My company is doing lots of bullshit that makes life hell for the workers at my level and also for our customers. Intentional understaffing, then last minute request that blow up our phones and emails to come in at the last minute, technology “upgrades” that are actually downgrades, etc.

    We have a feedback form that upper management encourages us to use, but after several condescending responses from management after I’ve used it I’ve come to believe that it’s simply a way to track who the rabblerousers are.

    Does anyone work in HR or upper management have experience with this type of feedback form? Does it actually do anything in your company?

    1. Anonymous elf*

      Well you’ve tried the official channels and gotten insults for your efforts. The best “feedback” you and your coworkers can give your company is to stop responding to last minute requests (easier said than done I know).

      1. nopetopus*

        Some people are doing that, only to them get emails from 5 layers up the management chain asking why they aren’t taking hours and whether they are lying about their availability. We submit our availability for the next scheduling round every couple months (some are full-time, some part-time, some more like freelancers) and I’ve heard of colleagues getting flack like “You said you’re available so why aren’t you taking those hours”. Management doesn’t seem to get that other companies will give a week notice or three days notice, so workers will have their schedules full by the time my company bothers to offer hours.

        It’s a maddening experience. I’m working to get out, but I’m so so tempted to explain in small words like to a five year old why their actions aren’t having the effect they want.

    2. Antilles*

      The only thing I would use those sort of feedback forms for are the super-minor items which are almost immediately solvable for a trivial cost of time/money.

      The automatic shut-off for the conference room lights is too fast, can we adjust the timer? The recycling bin would be more effective if we put it next to the printer. Stuff like that.

      What you’re talking about are major issues with the company culture and methodologies. Those are way beyond anything you’re going to get solved from a feedback form. The absolute best case scenario is a ridiculous non-solution like branded coffee mugs. The much more likely scenario is being completely ignored.

      1. nopetopus*

        Antilles, this was so helpful. Thank you! I’m from a military family and all my friends work in higher ed, so I have zero frame of reference for corporate life.

  45. Marvin O’Gravel Balloonface*

    Curious about a situation, which I will try to describe vaguely: say you work for a large foundation that makes grants to nonprofit organizations, and say that one of your recipient organizations has simply stopped pursuing the project for which you gave them a grant. What is your practical recourse to reclaim your money? Is there generally a contract involved? This is a lawsuit, are there claw back provisions, how does it work?

    1. Elsewise*

      There’s almost always a contract for grants like these- usually it’s called a grant agreement. I’ve worked with grants before, although I’m not a grantwriter, and there’s always a clause about what metrics you have to meet or what you need to be working on, and when you would have to give the money back.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I used to work for a grant-making nonprofit. We would have our grantees sign grant agreements outlining exactly what they were expected to do with the grant money before we gave them the money. They were required to send us regular reports and host at least one site visit by our program staff to show them the project activities. Program staff also had periodic meetings with grantees to discuss project progress.

      If it had been determined that a grantee was in violation of their agreement, either by not doing the project or using the money for something different, that would have been a matter for our legal department. If you don’t have an agreement signed by the grantee, there may not be much you can do, but obviously, discuss this with a lawyer.

      A couple of times, we did have grantees realise that they couldn’t do projects as originally envisioned and return their funding, because they wanted to stay in good standing with us and be eligible for future funding, so if you don’t have an agreement and can’t do anything legally, putting them on your “do not fund” list might be your only recourse.

      1. Marvin O’Gravel Balloonface*

        Thanks! This is not a situation directly involving me and I don’t want to ask a million obnoxious questions of the people who are involved, because they have more to do than satisfy my popcorn-munching onlooking, but I was so curious.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          You’re welcome! Since this is a situation involving a large foundation, I’d be very surprised if they didn’t have grantee agreements of some type. Having copies of fully signed grant agreements on file was the first thing our auditors looked for every year.

          1. Anna Held*

            Money might also be doled out in installments, and they get the next part of the grant after they’ve completed their deliverables & reporting.

    3. BubbleTea*

      I have only a very basic understanding as recipient of a grant but yes, there are usually contracts and clawback terms if the project has not been delivered as agreed. Reasonable efforts to achieve the target outcomes is typically a requirement (you can’t always achieve them but you have to try).

  46. Green Goose*

    Any advice about what to do with a 401(k) when leaving a job? I have a 401(k) with my current employer and I’m in the running for a couple of roles at places that do not offer 401(k). If I were to get either of the roles, I would likely find out during my company’s winter break so I would have to turn in my notice the day I return and then be out of there within 2-3 weeks. Are there good resources anyone could share about my options? I want to be prepared in case I’m leaving quickly.

    1. LCH*

      if you can’t remain in the 401(k) because you aren’t an employee, the usual choice is to rollover into an IRA. you should call whoever oversees the 401(k) to ask if you can remain or if you can’t. basically this is what i’ve always done (403(b)s, not 401(k)s, same idea).

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Seconding the advice to call whoever oversees the 401(k) to ask about your options. I have also been able to keep my 401(k) after leaving a company (same account number, same investments) but I am not able to put any new money into that 401(k) account.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          And if you like the results of how your 401(k) is doing, you could perhaps keep the same financial advisor/firm as well. I have done that.

          You might not get the same level of service, because that sometimes depends upon how much money you have invested with them.

    2. LCH*

      also, you usually have a grace period after leaving the job to make the decision of what to do with the account. it doesn’t have to be immediate. whoever manages it can let you know if this is the case.

    3. Hillary*

      It’s not a big deal – they should give you the options as part of your exit package. It’s probably also in the 401(k) managing documents. If you haven’t done anything about it a couple months after you leave you may start getting reminders from the management company.

      The one thing you should do now (and everyone should do) is make sure the management company has your current contact info including personal email address.

      In general plans allow you to stay in them if you have over a certain dollar amount (I think that’s set by the plan and varies). You usually have to pay fees once you’re not an employee. If it’s a lower amount you can roll it over to an IRA.

    4. Generic Name*

      I’m leaving my money in my old 401k. The only way to find a rollover is to get the money mailed to you as a paper check. I do not trust the post office with my life savings, therefore the money remains where it is.

      1. LCH*

        it depends. i had an employer account in Vanguard so it was easy to rollover to a Vanguard IRA, no paper check needed. but if it were with a place that doesn’t have IRAs or if you wanted to go with another financial company, maybe? i haven’t done a rollover to another institution in awhile, only within the same financial place.

        it looks like wiring is sometimes an option? i don’t have experience with that.

      2. Rick Tq*

        My experience is rollover transfers to an IRA are done directly to the institution that holds your IRA, not via physical check. No check means no precautionary tax withholdings by the old institution. Your new company may allow you to roll the old 401k funds in to their plan as another option, but that should be a direct transfer too.

        1. Generic Name*

          Huh. Maybe it’s just unique to my current employer’s plan/administrator then, because when I went to find out how to do a rollover, it said the only way to do it is via paper check.

          1. Rick Tq*

            If you open an IRA and have that account manager contact the 401k company they may get a different answer. The IRS gets really attentive when you have access to a big chunk of month they haven’t been paid income taxes on…

          2. Indolent Libertine*

            It isn’t a rollover unless the money goes directly from the old institutional custodian to the new one! If it comes directly to you it’s a distribution and likely taxable. Whoever is telling you this really doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

            1. Indolent Libertine*

              OK, I’m wrong about this. You CAN do a rollover if you receive the funds directly, you just have to redeposit them in an IRA within 60 days. HOWEVER, if the funds go directly to you, as opposed to an institution-to-institution transfer, taxes will be withheld, and either your new IRA will be that much smaller or you’ll have to make up the difference from your own liquid funds. If the money goes directly from the old custodian to the new one, they don’t have to withhold any taxes and the entire account balance can be transferred.

              The people at whatever institution you’ll want to use for the IRA will have dealt with this before. They may have some great workarounds already in place for your current plan administrator’s insistence that they can only mail out a check; perhaps it’s possible for the old administrator to cut the check to, say, Fidelity, with your name and new IRA account number in the memo field, and express mail it directly to Fidelity, making it an institution-to-institution transfer with no taxes withheld.

        2. Roland*

          It depends. After my lasy job, to roll over from Schwab 401k to Fidelity IRA I did get a check in the mail. IIRC they had an option to send it to Fidelity directly, but it wasn’t possible to transfer electronically. And to the people saying that’s not allowed as a valid rollover, not true. You take the check to the new institution and they get it into the rollover accounts if they know what they’re doing. IRS hasn’t called me out on it yet.

      3. Tio*

        You want to be careful with that, because some tiers of 401k providers charge increasing fees for non-employee accounts. Check your fees and management. Also, some IRA providers will handle the whole rollover process. I went with Charles Schwab and they did everything for me.

      4. Rollover experience*

        You can safely transfer you 401k to an IRA account in another institution without concern of losing the check! I’ve done it multiple times, last time a couple of weeks ago. The main benefit is having all the money in one place rather than different 401k accounts, which can help you get into a better tier of investment with lower fees.

        Here’s how it worked for me with Fidelity: I had to call them and say I wanted to do a rollover. They asked where to. In my case it was for Vanguard. They then sent me a check by mail with Vanguard + my name as the recipient.

        When I received the check, I had the option to sent it by mail to Vanguard, or deposit it to my IRA account using their app. I decided to use the app, but you can also send it by mail (registered letter for your peace of mind). Vanguard provides all the instructions on their website under “Rollover”.

        If you can, ask the provider to also add your IRA account number to the check. My last check didn’t include it and I had to add it manually next to my name prior to making the deposit via app or mail.

        What if the check doesnt’t reach you? No problem, it happened to me once and I just called Fidelity and they sent me another one. It’s unlikely that someone would try (let alone succeed) cashing or depositing the check, and if they did, your 401k provider would need to refund you (and handle it with the bank who cashed the check improperly without verifying that the recipient and account holder matched).

        You just need to be careful to deposit the check to an IRA account as opposed to a regular investment account, and within 90 days of receiving the check, which you should be doing anyway. If you don’t get it in the mail in a week, contact the check issuer right away. If you stay on top of it, you’ll be able to transfer your money safely.

    5. Cyndi*

      Ugh, this reminds me that I still need to roll over my 401(k) from a few jobs back into the one from my last job–I was looking into it while I was still there, and then I got COVID and dropped that ball until I had changed jobs again. I remember being really intimidated by the process when it was explained to me, but I’ve completely forgotten by now what it’ll actually entail.

    6. anon24*

      My one 401k I was able to leave in place and eventually it rolled into an IRA with no work on my part.
      My last job that had a 401k when I left I got notice that I had something like 20 days to roll it into an IRA of my choosing or they’d pay it out to me minus the tax penalties. I was in a panic because I understand absolutely nothing about 401ks, IRAs, or investments. I ended up rolling it into a Discover IRA, which may not be the best choice but I was in the middle of a long distance move and it was the path of least resistance at that point. I already had a Discover IT card, their customer service is phenomenal and they helped me with all my questions. It was super easy, I just had to fill out some paperwork and submit to both parties and then forward a check from the 401k to Discover to deposit into the account.

  47. Nesta*

    Does anyone here work as a knowledge manager?

    I work in higher education, and I am in advisement, but technically I am like… the brain of my department. I know what needs to be done and how to do it. I manage our systems and data, to a large degree. I provide advisement to students on a wide range of matters. I solve a lot of problems, many of which I also uncover.

    I was looking for a way to take these skills into another sector. Like so many, our hybrid work opportunities are disappearing and landscape of the college is changing. I still care about COVID and I’m around so many coughing strangers, every day. We are under-funded. I can see within the next 1-3 years being ready to take the leap.

    If you are a knowledge manager, what skills do you think are important for entering this field? What do you think of the work you are doing? Does what I’m describing sound like something that companies seeking these positions would find to be useful experience?

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I don’t think that “knowledge manager” is a field, title or role that most companies would advertise for, especially since it tends to be something that someone develops into over time as they build instiutional knowledge.

      Many workplaces have their “go ask” person (i.e., “Oh, I don’t know, but go ask Nesta, they’ll know or know who to ask”). That said, I think that’s a good material for including in a cover letter and as an answer to, “Tell me about yourself.”

      For a resume, I’d stick go specific accomplishments. Being the “brain” can be, at most, one bullet, but I’d frame it differently. Though, I don’t know that it needs to be a bullet at all, since it would be pretty clear from your other accomplishments, e.g.,

      *Manage our systems and data, leading to [RESULTS].
      *rovide advisement to students on a wide range of matters, ranging from ___ to ___.
      *Uncovered and solved [PROBLEM] by [SOLUTION]

      Alternatively, the third one could be more like what you originally wrote, with a 1-2 concise examples.

    2. Ex-college professor*

      Look at the library science field. Information/knowledge management is a part of that. KM is also a role in the tech industry. We just had a hackathon at our org and one of the key challenges was around knowledge management. You might be able to pick up a degree before you leave HE. Good luck!

  48. AnonForThis*

    So, I am hiring a young new academic professional in a support position. She seems great and I’m very excited to bring her on. I’ve been in my field for over a decade and I have the qualifications for my job, but on paper, this person is considerably more qualified for my job (has a language I don’t speak which is relevant; has a PhD, which isn’t required, but is a bonus) and I am struggling a little with feeling like I don’t deserve or should be her boss. I manage four other positions and I’ve never been this nervous about a new person starting or questioned my own qualifications quite this much.

    Any advice how to “get over this” and be the best boss for her I can?

    1. Hillary*

      You have a ton of real-world experience. I’d take experience over a new PhD any day of the week. Remember it isn’t about qualifications on paper, managing is about people and relationships. If she’s a new professional she’ll be learning about working with customers and stakeholders and so much more.

      You’ll do great.

      1. Jelly*

        It is possible to hold a Ph.D. and have a ton of real-world experience.

        LW: Just make sure you continue to be the driving undercurrent of your team, and things will work out as they should.

    2. Angstrom*

      Remember that your primary job is not to be “better” than your staff. It is to ensure that the work gets done.
      If someone brings new knowledge and skills to your team, it’s your responsibility to manage that so the whole team benefits.
      She’s not a threat. She’s an opportunity.

      1. Lana Kane*

        Yes! I had staff who were better at some aspects of the job than I was when I did it. It felt weird until I realized that they are there to do that job, and I was there to help them do that job, as well as taking care of the managerial stuff that they couldn’t do on their own. Help this new employee by onboarding them appropriately, making sure they have what they need to do their job, and like Angstrom said, parlay their skills for the benefit of the team.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      What is the real fear here? is it feeling “undeserving” or do you genuinely worry that someone (your boss? Not sure what the hierarchy looks like in an academic (?) context) will see that she is “better” and push you out of your job in favour of her?

      1. AnonForThis*

        I think… I think it’s feeling “undeserving”. I work in a really competitive field and I feel like other people deserve the opportunity I have maybe more than me? Like they have achieved more and therefore should get it. I don’t really fear for my job, but I do a little I think fear that there might be gossip that I have to deal with about it. I dunno. You’re right though, I need to sort out which of those things I am afraid of. That’s really helpful framing to think about.

  49. ABK*

    I am looking for recommendations on DEIJ consultants, specifically on institutionalizing a DEIJ committee within an organization. We have had a committee for a couple of years, and are at the point where we recognize we need outside help. Right now, the committee feels like it is just a checked box to show the organization cares about this issues to outsiders – it doesn’t have any teeth. Working with non-profits and international experience a plus.

    1. Hola Playa*

      Check out Kishshana Palmer and her org. She’s amazing at standing up this kind of committee as well as helping direct the culture change from the top.

  50. CocoMelon*

    A month ago I was required to generate a Leadership Plan because members of my team feel that over a reorganization I haven’t communicated clearly enough — in this reorg they were fired and rehired, during which time I didn’t manage them — and “haven’t created a sense of psychological safety.”

    1. Can I be held accountable for not managing people ideally who I didn’t, legally, manage at all during the time of these complaints?

    2. One of the two employees who probably complained is a terrible employee — I was coaching him for deficiencies well before HR contacted me about my team ostensibly having these issues. He has ramped up his bad behavior to open insubordination in the last few weeks, and got up in my face to argue with me about a direct instruction that I provided last week. So…I don’t want to get fired for retaliation, but objectively speaking his behavior is bad. So far my strategy has been to report everything to HR and require them to explicitly direct me in how I interact with him, but what other options do I have?

  51. Cochrane*

    One of my direct reports (let’s call “Tina”) is our intern coordinator and came to me with this conundrum. Our intern group spends time rotating with other departments during the day and spends the latter half on an ongoing project in an adjacent department. The head of that department is an old school guy (let’s call him “Walter”) who will absolutely tear into any of these interns if they’re caught using their phones or wearing earbuds while at their desks doing this project, which is mostly filing and data entry. After a couple of “incidents”, the interns got the message and haven’t been seen with the offending items out on the floor.

    One of the interns took my direct report aside one day and pointed out that another intern “Michael” has a small beige device in his ear while doing the project. Fortunately, old school grouchy director “Walter” hasn’t spotted this yet to raise hell about it, but she has no idea whether this is a legit hearing aid or one of those little Bluetooth earbuds that could easily be mistaken for one. “Michael” has done some good work for us and hasn’t disclosed any need for an accommodation.

    The problem is this: I don’t want to open ourselves up to ADA/HR problems if “Michael” has a genuine medical condition that needs a device like this, especially if “Walter” catches on and blows up about it. On the other hand, if “Michael” is pulling a fast one to listen to his phone on the sly while doing this project, I want to nip this in the bud as soon as possible as not to deal with another “Walter” blowup. My direct report “Tina” has been keeping an eye on “Michael” and can’t quite tell when he has it in or out most of the time. Neither of us have any experience with hearing aids so I’m not sure if it’s normal to take them in and out during the day.

    Is there a tactful way to handle this as quickly and discreetly as possible without offending “Michael” or setting off “Walter”?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      They’re doing filing and data entry? Is there a legitimate reason why they can’t listen to music while they’re working? Is their performance suffering when they do? If you’re simply looking for a reason not to piss off Walter, then Walter is your problem, not Michael and whatever device he has behind his ear. You’re looking for a solution to the wrong problem.

      1. Cochrane*

        Believe me, I could care less about this topic and look forward to the day when Walter decides he’s had enough of this place and shuffles off to retirement, but until that day comes, he is ours to deal with. He’s not a bad guy and is an absolute fountain of institutional knowledge with the ear of influential people at our company. His downside is that he’s extremely stubborn and set in his ways. This topic is his surefire trigger button.

        After one of his tirades about how bad it looks for Mr. C-suite to be walking by and seeing interns doing this at the desk, he asked rhetorically “would it look right if you were playing Gameboy or listening to a walkman when you should be working?!”. Poor Tina had to explain to the early 20-somethings who had no idea what he was talking about.

        1. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

          Then, frankly — deal with him. You say he’s not a bad guy, but you sure don’t paint him in a very flattering light.

          So he’s a fountain of institutional knowledge. Great. That doesn’t offset him being a bully about this.

          Also, would he object if they were listening to piped-in radio music? That’s been a thing in lots of offices for a long time.

          Frankly, Walter sounds like a nightmare.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I’d bet he’s a fountain that’s abandoned in an overgrown plaza because nobody wants to seek out knowledge from a person who’s going to explode in their face for having a smartphone or listening to podcasts while filing.

          1. RVA Cat*

            This. A “good guy” might have rigid rules but he doesn’t make them an excuse to verbally abuse people.

      2. Throwaway Account*

        100% agree. Avoiding a Walter blow up is not the problem or how you manage.

        On the other hand, this is giving interns a picture of what the real work environment is often like!

        I’d be telling all of them to get the same device Michael has and to tell Walter they are hearing aids.

    2. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

      If your interns are otherwise doing good work, you need to manage Walter and his ‘old-school’ (read: bullying, my-way-is-right) BS, not them.

      Someone listening to music while doing tedious website updates because it helps me focus.

    3. nopetopus*

      If it’s beige, it’s most likely medical. Being another color wouldn’t mean it wasn’t medical since hearing aids now come in a range of colors, but I’d bet $20 it’s a hearing aid.

      Different deaf and hard of hearing people want things like this handled differently. People are individuals, yay! Some only want to talk about it if they request accommodations, others would appreciate a manager being proactive. Since there have been several incidents and the interns have all stopped using those devices, I’d even further assume it’s medical unless Michael has shown bad judgment in the past.

      I’d approach it like this: “Hey Michael, I assume your ear device is medically related, no need to confirm that. But if Walter ever gets on you thinking it’s an earbud or for listening to music, please let me know immediately so I can handle it. Keep up the great work and keep doing what you’re doing.”.

      (Not deaf or hard of hearing myself, but I work in accessibility/accommodations for deaf and hard of hearing people.)

        1. nopetopus*

          Happy to help, and hope it all works out in the end!

          To answer another question of yours, many deaf and hard of hearing people will take off their assistive devices during the day. I’ve been told that one of the best parts of being deaf is being able to take off your hearing aid/cochlear implant processor and get immediate peace and quiet to focus on something! Some people have enough residual hearing that they can manage without it in a quiet room with one speaker facing them, but need their aid for rooms with background noise or multiple speakers. Again, it varies by person and the situation.

          1. Lady_Lessa*

            It’s funny, I’m just the opposite. I wear my hearing aids at work and only take them out at home.

          2. allathian*

            Yes, my coworker does this sometimes when he wants to focus. He’s not profoundly deaf, and can hear a single speaker in a quiet room without them, especially if he’s facing the speaker and can lip read.

        2. kalli*

          Please don’t, making assumptions about whether something is a medical device and acting based on that is actually discrimination whether Michael has a hearing aid or it’s an earbud.

          While hearing aids do exist now that resemble wireless earbuds, the more common ones actually prescribed are still kinds that have part of the device behind the ear, and are visually different from commercial earbuds. Because some exist that do visually resemble earbuds, however, you can’t assume that someone with something in their ears is or is not d/Deaf, never mind that various earbuds exist that are designed for other things than listening to music – reducing tinnitus, noise management for people who are sensitive to sound being some of them.

          If you cannot address this directly with Walter by telling him it’s not his job to police the interns, then you need to address all the interns, and they all need to have the same information – either they’re allowed music if they use headphones, can still respond if someone needs to get their attention or there’s an evacuation alert, and their work doesn’t suffer, or they’re not; whatever Walter thinks being irrelevant. As it stands Michael does not need to ask for accommodations because there is nothing that you need to change or provide him with in order for him to do the same job as everyone else, and the only way he needs to is if you specifically ban not just headphones but all ear-related devices including earplugs and hearing devices and he needs special permission to keep being able to hear, which sounds a bit silly because it’s overkill – a ban on headphones generally doesn’t also include hearing aids (especially as some still exist that don’t interface with a phone, the main function is different, and a significant amount of the time people can tell the difference, and I’ve never seen an office where people walk around with earbuds as a matter of course – they go in for calls, but nobody wears them 8/5 if they don’t need to). If Walter gives anyone trouble for something after you’ve laid out your position for the interns, they should know to come to you and you’ll deal with Walter or have it kicked up the chain.

          But pulling Michael aside because you think he might be wearing hearing aids is not cool. The intern probably reported it because of the disparity between some people being told off and Michael not yet being told off. That’s where you can act – make there no disparity, and reduce Walter’s power to create it, not singling Michael out because you perceive he might be d/Deaf.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I presume Michael knows (because people talk) about Walter and his aversion to earphones etc. In that case if it’s a medical device I wonder why Michael hasn’t pre-emptively gone to whoever makes the most sense (probably the coordinator) to make them aware of this?

        1. RagingADHD*

          Possibly because he doesn’t need any official accommodation, he knows that Walter’s imaginary rule doesn’t apply to him, and he doesn’t perceive Walter’s temper tantrums as his problem to solve.

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            Yeah you could be right — but in that case Walter doesn’t know it’s a hearing aid, would see it and assume it’s an earbud, and have a tantrum as he has with the other interns. As the intern, would you want to be waiting for that tantrum and responding with “well, ACTUALLY this is a medical device” and embarrassing a senior person, or would you rather get in ahead of it and have someone discreetly clear this wkth Walter?

            1. RagingADHD*

              I’m not sure what I would do, but if the intern is more of a literal / binary thinker, it may in fact never cross his mind. Some people just don’t try to second guess what others are thinking, or worry about “getting in trouble” when they know they haven’t done anything wrong.

              If I were an intern I’d probably just want to avoid talking to Walter at all, because he sounds irrational and very unpleasant.

        2. AMY*

          Maybe he has, and all is clear between he and Walter. Maybe they just didn’t feel the need to make announcements to the rest of the office.

  52. How Far is Too Far (Of A Commute)*

    I have a job offer that is mostly remote, that will occasionally require me to be on campus and to do events with students – say, maybe half a dozen times per year to a dozen times per year. I’m in Southern California and living near where I work would, cost-wise, make it impossible for us to buy a decent condo. I’m looking at places that might be over an hour away, commute-wise, but since it’s not a daily or even weekly commute (it probably won’t even be monthly), I think the occasional hour commute would be okay. Is anyone here in a similar situation? How have you found the occasional hour (but probably hour plus) commute for being occasionally in-person for a mostly remote gig?

    1. Throwaway Account*

      I think an hour commute is more common than you think. The average daily commute in CA is 29 minutes so 60+ minutes does not seem that much for something you are doing 6-12 times a year. But only you know how that trade off will work for you.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I had a 60-90 min public transit commute for a short-term job and it was doable but I did think many times that if I were working there longer than a few months, I would want to move closer to work. I think the occasional 1+ hr commute is very reasonable.

    3. Whims*

      Never done that, but it wouldn’t bother me in the least. I’d honestly really like it – I prefer remote day-to-day, but I like to see the people I work with occasionally and a change of scenery to break up the monotony that can come from spending so much time in your house.
      It would bug my father – he is a man of habit and likes a regular predictable daily schedule.
      My husband is a pilot, and there have been times where we’ve lived across the state from his “base” airport and he’s had to jumpseat to get to his scheduled flights.
      I think that you should consider how much of an imposition it is on your life. Got any kids or pets you would need to arrange additional care for on the commute days? Habits that make or break your mental health that are incompatible with a long commute?

    4. Generic Name*

      Would your driving time on those days count as working time? I used to do a lot of fieldwork, up to 2 hours away, and the drive time to the site was considered working time, and I never minded it. If you’re getting paid for that time, it’s a lot more bearable than if the time is taken out of your personal time.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      I worked mostly remotely for an org headquartered about 2 hours away and I didn’t mind the occasional trip. 12 times per school year or calendar year? I don’t think this will be too hard at all. You end up saving special audiobooks and podcasts just for your commute and it can almost be something you look forward to for that reason.

      My job began increasing the days they wanted me in person until I finally gave up. It started compounding and I got burned out. If you can ensure it won’t go over 12 times, I’d especially not bat an eye at this. Sounds cool.

    6. AnHourIsntThatLong*

      >1 hour commutes are pretty normal here. I know many people who do or have done it up to 5 days a week every week. I wouldn’t even start worrying about it until you hit 2+ hours, but if it’s really that infrequent I’d think any length of commute would likely be msnageable.

    7. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Not quite the same, but maybe helpful:

      I had a mostly remote job for about three years that required I fly out to HQ every other month. It was totally fine, I had a bag packed and ready.

      Another way of thinking of it: How do you feel about driving for a day trip to a beach, hike, concert, etc.? Of course, those are fun activities, but as it’s similar, how much do you tolerate/hate those trips? That might help you gauge how workable it is *for you.*

  53. impostor syndrome or nah?*

    I’m being recruited for a job that would be – at minimum, a stretch opportunity for me. I’m a little worried that I don’t have sufficient experience to be successful in the job. How can I find out if that’s the case? I don’t want to undercut myself because if I were able to be successful in the role, it would be amazing for my career.

    1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      Are you vibe-ing with the people you’re interviewing with? If they seem like decent people who want to mentor and who aren’t quick to judge you would probably be fine. You could ask them what success looks like in this role after the first 3, 6, and 12 months and see if you feel like you could meet those goals.

    2. SofiaDeo*

      Some jobs need people that are *able to learn*, not that the person absolutely Has to have a certain skillset up front. Not everyone is able to learn new things quickly, or adapt to change. If you can speak to these strengths, in addition to what Mermaid said, I think you can be successful. Perhaps you have demonstrated an ability to learn/adapt quickly, and that is a big reason they are recruiting you?

  54. Skeeyee*

    Hello! So I’ve decided that I cannot keep doing the work I do. I’ve been working for a company part-time for about a year, and run my own business the rest of the time for the past 2 years. I have discovered that entrepenuer life is not for me, nor is juggling multiple jobs to pay my bills.

    I started applying to jobs that were like my old job before I opened my business. I got a call back for one and did 4 interviews with them. In each interview, I got a bad feeling, but ignored it because I wanted to know how much they would offer me and I thought maybe I could do it. The bad feelings came from multiple places–mean comments about me owning a business, finding out the workplace was in the news for a scandal, one of the employees messaging me constantly over LinkedIn during the interview process trying to convince me to join. It would also be 100% in-person with no option for hybrid, not even if you had COVID–you’d just have to take sick leave instead of WFH, even though the tasks are very easily able to do at home! (They told me that they weren’t able to hire anyone because they couldn’t offer hybrid.)

    But I thought, hey. The job market is terrible, I can’t be picky. I got the offer and it was good money, but that bad feeling kept creeping up. I ended up turning it down and felt relieved, but sad.

    I told some colleagues (not at my workplace, but they’ve been job hunting too) and they basically called me crazy for turning down good money. I explained that I’ve been in toxic workplaces before and I was trying to avoid that again, and they said for a stable job and enough money, I should’ve just sucked it up.

    I’m lucky I still have my part-time job and my business, but good lord, the relieved feeling I had has now turned to regret. If a job is offering good money (i.e., more than you currently make), is it crazy to turn it down? Was I being too picky? Going back on the job market to hunt is not fun, but I just feel like I dodged a bullet, however, I’m second guessing my choice here…

    1. the cat's ass*

      Well, my dad used to say, “make sure you really like your job, because if you don’t they can’t pay you enough.” I think you dodged a bullet there and did the right thing to turn down a job with so many bad vibes and red flags!

    2. cold and windy*

      If a job is offering good money is it crazy to turn it down?
      No, it’s not crazy. If you work *only* for money, and you are completely able to dissociate your life at work from your life outside of work, then maybe you should always follow the money. If other things have value to you – eg working from home, mean comments directed at you (??? wtf???) the place being in the news (were you able to discern anything from this? news isn’t correct and unbiased. Was it a smear campaign?) then you need to factor those things in.

      1. Skeeyee*

        The news piece–multiple news outlets reported on it! I won’t say more because it can identify the workplace quite quickly, but it was definitely confirmed in multiple places. The workplace was not shy about it which might be good. I asked about the workplace culture and they said “Well, just google us.” And then I found out. I did ask more about it in the next interview and I think they handled it ok, but I just didn’t want to risk it :/

    3. Despachito*

      NO, it isn’t worth to “suck it up”, unless you are starving or about to be kicked on the curb. A lot of jobs will offer more than we are making now but we do not want them for a reason.

      Life is short, and if you can avoid spending most of your awake time it in a toxic environment, you should.

      Let your colleagues do what they think fit, it is THEIR life, not yours. Whenever I listened to such people, I felt awful (that I would have to suck up a thing that just didn’t feel right because perhaps they know better) and in the end it always showed that my gut feeling was spot on.

      Best luck.

    4. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      Just tell yourself you’ve avoided being a letter to Alison in six months by trusting your gut. Mean comments about you owning a business is inexcusable. If they’re willing to treat an interview candidate like that, what would they do to an actual employee?

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Agreed! Maybe look at some past letters of dysfunctional workplaces to remind yourself that it isn’t worth it.

        It sounds like you’re in a place that isn’t desperate, so you can (and should!) be discerning in what job you take next.

    5. Girasol*

      If a job is going to drive you crazy, the money’s not worth it. I tried that and learned the hard way.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      If you have to talk yourself into it, that’s your brain/gut telling you not to do it.

      It’s like I read over at Captain Awkward about “whether to break up:” If you have to take the back stairs coming home because you have to arrange your face before seeing your SO, you need to leave. From what you’ve described, you would be wearing a constantly maintained mask every single day you worked there.

    7. Sherm*

      Oh goodness, you 100% did the right thing. That place sounds like it is misery every day. A toxic workplace can literally take years off your life. No amount of money is worth it!

    8. fhqwhgads*

      It’d need to be not just more than you currently make, but a LOT more, like…double. Or more. It’d need to be enough that if you got a few months in and were completely miserable, they’d have already paid you enough to quit with nothing lined up and search again and be OK financially for however long that takes. If it weren’t at least that much more, then do not second guess yourself. You’re looking for a good fit and that’s reasonable. Hell, even if it were that much more, no need to regret it. It was only worth considering if it were that much more, is what I’m trying to say.

  55. Overstimulated*

    What can I say to fend off chatty coworkers when I am taking a break at my desk?

    I’m introverted and have ADHD, and I work in an open-plan office so I’m already constantly low-level overstimulated. I sit beside a particularly chatty coworker, and we get along great but it feels like I don’t have any mental breathing room. She is respectful of when I’m working, but as soon as I take a breather and look at my phone, she takes it as an opportunity to start talking, and I feel like I don’t have a good reason to refuse since I’m not actually working. I get up and walk around when I can, but I can still feel my mental energy deteriorating fast over the course of the day.

    Is there a good way to word this that doesn’t offend her but will help her understand I need some peace and quiet, even though I’m not working? I don’t want to mention my ADHD on the off chance it’ll get back to my toxic boss.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Can you say something along the lines of “I prefer to read quietly on my phone during my break; that’s what helps me recharge best.”

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Hah, this is why when I’m on a break, I read AAM on my desktop rather than my phone. It’s SFW! I don’t know why, but there’s something about someone surfing on their phone that says to some people “I am so bored, please interrupt me”. To be fair, how could they know? You could try doing something that looks more purposeful: like a newspaper, or a book that “I can’t finish this at home so I brought it in for my breaks!”, or a visible hobby, like crochet, or those adult colouring in books. She’ll probably still interrupt this, but you might feel less rude keeping your eyes strictly glued to a distraction that’s not a phone and going “Huh? sorry I am super in the zone, right now… it’s getting me so relaxed whenever I need a brain break”. The key is to never actually respond to anything she says: just keep on looking at your distraction and reiterating how focused you are. I would also make some time to talk to her as well if you can! Alternatively you could just make sure you get more time away from your desk to recharge. For me, the tea round was perfect for this. You get to go away, take a decent breather, move your legs a bit, not talk to anyone but the kettle, but when you bring your colleague back a cup of tea, you seem really sociable!

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Put earphones on (or better – headphones) – you don’t have to have anything playing in them if you don’t want to!

      I’m afraid I’m guilty of being a bit like your co-worker, and bothering more introverted people (I do consciously try to avoid it), I’ve observed that headphones are effective against me and other chatty people!

  56. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

    Y’all, I have been waiting all week to share this!

    We have a new hire in my org (not my division, department, or even my building), who announced on Monday she ‘doesn’t believe’ in daylight savings time, and therefore, ‘doesn’t observe a made-up chronological abnormality and will thus not be changing [her] work schedule.’

    Our hours are 830-430, M-F. She legit turned up at (what had been) 730 am, her start time, at 630 am on Monday and tried to then leave at 330 pm. When her supervisor told her that’s not how ANY OF THIS works, she appealed to HR for a religious exemption.

    I work in the area where the C-suite are, and let me tell you, it’s been a revolving door of people this week trying to work out how to square this circle.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I so want to know what she thinks about Leap Day.

      And I want to explain to her that ALL clock time is a social construct. (Yes, time exists, but how we measure it is just… agreed upon as a society. The history of how that happened is more interesting than you’d think!)

      1. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

        If she’s still here next February, I will report out on that!

        I mean, I don’t like the clock change anymore than the next person (although the fall is nicer than the spring!) but you can’t just…decide you aren’t going to change your clocks and show up to work an hour early.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Seriously! If she doesn’t subscribe to DST, then why does she subscribe to clock time in the first place? At least be consistent and use sundial-hours that change to fit the length of the day!

    2. Rick Tq*

      Funny she claims she is sticking to Daylight Saving Time instead of staying on Standard Time, and even then got the change wrong.

      If she is still on orientation/probation I’d just let her go now.

    3. the cat's ass*

      DANG. That’s pretty nutty. Please update us on the Druid/physics major, or whatever she’s claiming re:the space/time continuum.

    4. Yooooo ND*

      OK, but ironically, DST (the summer schedule) is the more recent invention. Standard Time, which we’re on now, is the older one. So she’s getting her own commitments mixed-up.

    5. PollyQ*

      Tell her she needs to work the standard hours or you’ll let her go. Sure, anyone can sue for anything, but I don’t see a lawyer even taking this case, let alone its moving forward in the courts.

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      You mean multiple c-suite people have got caught up in this and are wasting their time trying to figure out if this is a genuine religious accommodation?!

      I don’t think you asked a question actually, but that is nuts and she obviously needs to be told to work the required hours or leave.

      I wonder if this is symptomatic of your c-suite people getting caught up in other trivia or overly cautious about making decisions due to perceived legal jeopardy? Worth thinking about whether this incident explains or puts into context other behaviour you might have seen from leaders.

    7. The New Wanderer*

      Was she let go from her previous job because she wouldn’t switch to Standard Time last November? I can’t believe this is her first attempt at this nonsense.

      I’m not HR but I’m pretty sure there’s no religious exemption for “doesn’t believe in time changes.” What’s her stance on time zones?? She’s wasting a bunch of people’s time and should just be let go.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I mean, I don’t believe in flying unicorns from Mars but I don’t think demanding ice cream because of that is going to fly at my workplace.

    8. Lexi Vipond*

      Shouldn’t she have been turning up at 8:30 UNTIL the clocks changed, because that was 7:30 in ‘real time’?

      And if she is actually consistently set on summer time, can you just tell her that her working hours are now 8:30 to 5:30? :-)

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        YES. We’re on standard time now. Now is the time of year to be showing up correctly per the schedule! She’s having her absurd tantrum in the wrong season.

    9. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I really hope that the “revolving door” is more due to people wanting to hear the fascinating tea and less to do with the fact that multiple people are putting multiple hours into this project.

    10. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Why do I have an overwhelming desire to say, “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” to her?

  57. Almost Academic*

    In my recent performance review, my manager encouraged me to explore opportunities make a plan to upskill my communication and general image, as the organization wants me to take on more high-profile media interviews / government relations / public speaking opportunities to share the work my team does. However, I’m really out of my depth – while our PR team has set me up with some external comms trainers a few times in the past, I’m not sure what exactly to look and ask for to take me to the next level, especially when it comes to issue of polish / poise /image. Does anyone have suggestions for what I should be looking around and asking for in terms of support? I’m not really sure what is generally provided or reasonable to ask about.

    1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      Can you ask your manager or PR team for some examples of who they exemplify, or ask for specific things to concentrate on?

    2. Rick Tq*

      Will your company pay or sponsor you for something like Toastmasters to improve your public speaking?

    3. TX_trucker*

      Is this about your public speaking skills, your appearance, or your image on social media? I think you need to clarify that before asking for support.

      Looks shouldn’t matter, but they absolutely do when you are doing media apperances.

    4. Sally Ann*

      “General image” sounds like a critique of your appearance -how you dress, etc. Unless you look really unkempt (ill-fitting, stained or wrinkly clothes, etc) what are they really getting at? Ask them to be really specific. I hope this is not gender related, like expecting nail varnish and makeup if they view you as female-presenting.

  58. Seven If You Count Bad John*

    This ridiculous memory popped up on my social media and I want to share. This happened about ten years ago:

    I had a Thing i had to do. I had to check with my boss whether I was doing the Thing right. I called my boss and said, “I’m going to assume the intention is we do the thing this way. Please call me back if this is wrong, otherwise, don’t bother calling me back, because this is what I’m doing”. She called me back to thank me for letting her know she didn’t need to call me back.

    We were very process oriented at that place.

  59. Baby Spice*

    Is it a bad sign if I’m feeling burnt out when I work in a reasonably relaxed workplace? I work from home 4 days a week and have a manager who encourages the whole team to set boundaries (and generally models this). I, however, have a very hard time setting reasonable boundaries and also have a pattern of creating additional work for myself through boredom or frustration. I have ADHD so not going “all in” is really hard for me.

    I’ve been feeling tired and more apathetic towards work. I also have not had a vacation in a few years beyond taking a few days off around the holidays or due to deaths in my family. How do I stop this from getting worse? I feel dumb for even being effected this way when none of what I’m feeling is caused by external issues like most people experience burnout.

    1. Glazed Donut*

      Can you recruit someone else to help hold you accountable to setting boundaries? A coworker, partner, etc? “Hey, I’m trying to work hard on signing off at 5 – if you see I’m still working at 5:15, please feel free to tell me to log off!”

    2. ecnaseener*

      I think you answered your own question – take a vacation :) There are different reasons for burnout to happen, it doesn’t have to be the stereotypical burnout-inducing environment. (In my experience, ADHD is just dang tiring even if I’m managing it well.)

    3. Ellis Bell*

      You are clearly due some time off! I love how ADHD makes you procrastinate even doing the stuff you really want and are crying out for on a visceral level. Before I worked in education, were holidays are set in stone, I had a boss who forced us to book in all our holiday allowance in multiple and regular time off slots for months ahead at the start of the year: “you don’t have to take it, you can totally change the dates, but book it in now, so that it’s available before you get desperate for it”. He was right. It might also be worth exploring if WFH suits your ADHD or if you actually need a change of scenery between work and home (hard to set boundaries about working late if you’re always in your workspace anyway).

  60. SubjectAvocado*

    Does anyone have experience in prioritizing competing projects that fall into the “urgent, not important” and “important, not urgent” categories, respectively? I’m currently overstaffed (a different issue) and have been told to prioritize the latter – but the former have tighter, less flexible deadlines. Has anyone been in a circumstance like this and successfully navigated it?

    1. Antilles*

      For me, it’s mostly a mental thing, because the fact something is urgent-timeline automatically makes it *feel* like a high priority even if it really isn’t. One suggestion I’ve found useful is to honestly ask yourself what would happen if you didn’t do various tasks or did them in a speedier/less-thorough fashion.
      -Meeting minutes are an urgent task, but in many companies, if you just turned your detailed “everything that was discussed” PDF into a short bullet-point email of action items instead, nobody would care. It might feel like it’s important because of the timeline, but it’s really not.
      -By comparison, marketing to clients might not be urgent, but long-term it’s literally the entire lifeblood of the business; if I don’t do it, at some point we’ll burn through our entire backlog of projects and have no work. It doesn’t have the timeline pressure but it’s far and away the biggest driver of long-term success of the department.

    2. Awkwardness*

      I can only speak as staff, not as manager, but I think it is important to track the important projects as detailed and consistent as the urgent ones so staff has no possibility to procrastinate.
      When having to choose between urgent tasks (with a deadline close by) and an important task (with a deadline far away), I tend to go for the urgent ones, even if they are not important. Because deadline is deadline. If project management is asking for updates on the important tasks again and again even though the deadline isn’t due yet, I am more likely to work on them before the time I would have otherwise. Which, in the end, is the expected prioritisation.

  61. Aggretsuko*

    I am now on medical leave for 2 weeks while I go on depression meds. I said if I have any kind of problems while adjusting to them at work I’ll be written up and have it used against me, so I was permitted to have medical leave, which has been great. So far the drugs haven’t had any side effects beyond loss of appetite, which I’m fine with. Otherwise I’m not sleeping much because they made me go off the sleeping remedies I was taking (see below) and I’m not allowed to take anything but Excedrin, so that’s fun. I’ve slept two days out of seven, that’s how that’s going.

    Otherwise I continue to be screwed. My HMO is strongly hinting that they do not want to diagnose me with a disability, and also they have problems with something I’ve done in the past for sleep that will rule me out for meds for months (I’ll be fired by then anyway), and the fact that I can’t prove much about my childhood. I got an “inconclusive” on my first eval and am trying to line up a second, but since they said they don’t want to diagnose you if you’re also depressed, and I’ve just put THAT black mark on my record…I’m screwed. I would seriously considering writing to AAM at this point, except I’m afraid of having my letter turned into a TikTok or blasted all over Am I An Asshole these days and I don’t want my awful situation REALLY all over the place like that.

    I have appointments lined up with the ombuds and the union guy, but I don’t have much hope there either.

    Honestly, my brain is roasted and I just can’t save myself right now. I can’t even function enough to apply for jobs, it’s taking all my strength to keep making appointments for well, everything. I’m just in utter despair that I have absolutely ruined my life, career, and any hopes of having either. My mom is blabbing to relatives and they are all, “Can’t you do X and Y?” and um, not really… I may be a nice person, but I’m a failure as a worker and employee and don’t deserve another job.

    1. My Brain is Exploding*

      Of course you are in utter despair. You are depressed! You are doing remarkably well, though, in getting your medical leave, making appointments, and even writing in here to AAM. Does Mom know you have depression and understand what it is (alternatively that you are “on new medication” which is taking a while to adjust to)? If she would be a good ally, she could tell the other relatives what you need (please don’t call Aggretsuko right now, if you’d like to make a meal, email). Otherwise, That last sentence is depression lying to you. Remember that. Sending warm thoughts.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I told her I’m on meds now. Beyond that, I don’t know, she questions and argues with things.

        She unfortunately does need to check with people to see if they have ADHD in the family, so it’s a requirement per the diagnosis process. I wouldn’t have involved her if I didn’t absolutely have to.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I want to hug you. I think the failure as a person stuff might be weird brain stuff. Sometimes my brain says stuff that isn’t true at all like everyone hates me! I’m not trying to be dismissive, just note that some people have brain stuff

      1. Generic Name*

        You ARE saving yourself right now!! And OF COURSE your brain is fried. Your last paragraph is your brain weasels telling you lies. I know it’s hard to not listen to them (my brain weasels say similar things to me). Sending you cyber hugs.

    3. Lana Kane*

      You are fighting so hard, and that is such a feat when you’re in the midst of depression. It’s not about deserving another job at all – it’s that you’re dealing with obstacles in your path. But depression doesn’t care – depression jumps to the worst possible conclusion because it needs your participation to stay alive. And when you fight back, it escalates. Eventually you will find the right treatment, but right now try to not let depression convince you of *anything* because all it wants is those self-defeating thoughts to feed on.

      Can you ask your mom to cool her jets on talking to others about your situation?

      1. Aggretsuko*

        She’s trying to figure out who else has ADHD in the family, so it’s actually necessary. You have to prove childhood history and genetics. So far, three cousins, all boys. She HAS to be involved in the process, there was no way around it because they will want to interview her. Right now she’s taking a mandatory survey and asking me the answers to the questions *facepalm*

        It’s just hard because man, I can’t fight for another job right now and fighting for a diagnosis is going to be very hard.

        1. Just me*

          I echo that depression is a great BIG liar. Please hold that thought as much as you can. Also, it sounds like you are trying to determine (or prove) that you have ADHD. 30%of people w ADHD will experience depression. Additionally people with ADHD can experience emotional dysregulation. This makes processing and regulation emotions even more difficult. (

          I know this is a BIG ask, is there either someone else with more sensitivity than your mother or whom you feel less negatively about that can help you navigate your medical situation? I could do this with my mom. Is there another physician you can consult? Very close people I know did not have to provide this type of proof to get an initial diagnosis and start medication to see if it is effective.

          I will be thinking of you. This is a very difficult time. I wish I could really help.

  62. Cyndi*

    I’ve been progressively taking on more duties since I started my current job and I’m doing pretty well, I’ve learned a lot quickly and I’m feeling good about things–but I assumed that as I accumulated they would use up more of my time, and they don’t seem to be? I’m looking at my time tracking numbers and I seem to still be averaging the same 4-5 productive hours a day (out of 7 working hours) I was doing five months ago when I didn’t even know how to do most of what I do now. All my previous full time jobs have been of a “there’s a continuous incoming stream of work, do the same thing all day every day” nature without much time management required, so…is this normal? Am I doing something wrong? Did I break the laws of physics somehow?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I think it’s within a normal spectrum, depending on the specifics of your tasks and position!

      For me, I’m able to work “smarter not harder” the longer I’m in a position. I create email templates, uncover tech workarounds, learn new program shortcuts, and settle in to a workflow that makes me faster. I also appreciate the things relation-building helps with over time. For example, in the beginning I might have spent half a day tracking down a specific form, but then a colleague shared that there’s a central form repository on the webpage.

  63. BlueKat*

    I left my previous job after, among other things, my boss gradually becoming very nasty to me. My current job is bringing me into the same spaces as her after 6+ months of no contact – yesterday she was an invited attendee at an event I was working on, and in a few weeks she’ll be presenting at a conference that I’m helping to coordinate. When I saw her out of the corner of my eye yesterday I had an internal freak out, pretended not to notice her and bustled off to check on some stuff in the other direction. Then I spent the rest of the evening feeling upset that I’m arguably still giving her this power over me when she’s not even my boss any more!

    Any advice on how I can handle things better when I have to be around her (and possibly interact directly with her) in a few weeks’ time?

    1. Always Tired*

      How comfortable are you with being powered by spite? Because for me, personally, the answer would be to be so cool and calm around this woman. Nearly distantly polite and clearly thriving. She no longer has any actual power over you, all you have to do is pretend she has no mental power over you. It will get easier with every interaction, because slowly she really will have no power over you. If she tries to get nasty jus raise your eyebrow and leave her to stew because really? She has so little going on in her life she has to try to claw meaning out of it by bullying former employees? How embarrassing…

      Then you go home, pour a glass of wine, let yourself feel the jitters you boxed up, and call a friend to have a little moan about the whole thing.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      Funny as I am coming into a similar situation soon with my ex-monster-boss. She was one of the top 3 worst people I’ve ever met and I’ve met some actual violent criminals. I made a civil rights complaint against her and tore her to shreds in my exit interview. And because I know how my former employer handles these things, I know she was required to respond to my allegations. Unbelievably, she wasn’t fired. We will soon be in a standing quarterly meeting together and luckily it is virtual. I plan to fully ignore her if I see her at a conference or something. I don’t see anything wrong with how you handled it but I also like the idea of the spite argument above!

  64. Procedure Publisher*

    How does everyone handle with someone uses an alternative spelling of your name, but it is not the spelling that you use?

    I have had people use alternative spellings of my first name when referring to me. I have ignored or not draw attention to it. This is something I picked up from manager because people had used alternative spellings of her name.

    1. vombatus ursinus*

      It happens to me very regularly — I appreciate the people who take the trouble to consistently get it right, and I might roll my eyes a bit if I’m having a bad day, but … some people are just bad at spelling generally? I think it’s usually not personal …

      1. vombatus ursinus*

        To clarify, I do want my name to be correct in official contexts wherever possible, but if someone starts off an email with “Hi Vombathus”, I usually shrug it off

    2. nopetopus*

      I let it go unless they need to get it right (such as for HR since they might be filling out forms that require my actual legal name) or things have gone off the rails by them not knowing how to spell my name (like if they always send emails meant for me “Rachael” to my colleague “Rachel”). Otherwise it isn’t worth it to me.

    3. Cordelia*

      For me it depends if it’s someone I’m going to encounter again. If it’s someone I have a one-off dealing with, I usually ignore it. If it’s someone I’m going to be working with for a while, I say, or write “oh, it’s Catherine, not Kathryn, by the way”. Not a big deal, no-one minds, and I wouldn’t mind if someone corrected me, I’d rather know and get it right next time.

    4. anon24*

      It depends whether or not it bothers you in each situation! I was given an unusual spelling of a common name, but I didn’t like it and preferred a different unusual spelling of said common name. Everyone got it wrong, even my grandmother, so I learned not to care and mostly let it go when people used the common spelling unless it was someone I worked closely with or if someone asked, then I’d say “oh well it’s legally Emileigh but I prefer Emilee.” Eventually I actually legally changed it to my preferred spelling and now somehow no one gets it wrong? But I do think most people would appreciate knowing if they were accidentally using the wrong version of your name.

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      They almost certainly aren’t doing it maliciously. I figure if you’ve got a name with alternate spellings – especially a common one like mine IRL – then by the time you’re an adult you better learn to handle it. Because otherwise it’ll look like you’ve got much bigger, systemic problems – anger, suspicion, lack of trust.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      My first name is along the lines of “Katherine” for “Catherine,” so I often see my name spelled “Catherine.” I worry about it only on official or important documents that affect me personally: IDs, plane tickets, the deed to my house, wedding and divorce records, professional credentials, my e-mail From: line and signature block, my tax filings.

      For almost everything else, I don’t care — including utility bills, e-mails from other people, even court records listing me as a party’s lawyer. Takes too much time (in the aggregate, over the years) to try to correct people, and wayyyyyyyyy too much energy to get emotionally invested and take it personally. As long as my client’s had a fair day in court and the check clears, you can spell my name whatever way you want.

    7. RussianInTexas*

      Happens to me all the time. Think Sara (correct)/Sarah (misspelled). Even coworkers who know me for years. Big part of it that “Sarah” is what American autocorrect will change it to, even though “Sarah” is a regular spelling for all Latin and Eastern European languages and not really odd in itself.
      I don’t care as long as it’s not on the official documents (looking at you, old INS, and my first green card).

    8. kalli*

      I just ensure I use my name in front of them and often enough, eventually someone else corrects them.

      My work email is my name so if people spell that wrong they figure it out right quick though.

      I’ll only directly address it if there are new people who might pick it up from them and think they’re correct, or it is in a pattern of more likely deliberate microaggressions that together imply it’s not just a brainfart, or it’s official/legal paperwork. Then it’s just, ‘i’m kalli, not Cara-Lee, want me to write my part of the form in?’

    9. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I don’t get it often with my first name, but my surname is regularly misspelled; the nickname I used to use was also regularly misspelled, as there are at least five spellings for it and I used one of the rarer ones. In one of my hobby spaces, I also run into people mishearing my name and calling me by a name starting with the same initial sounds.

      Unless my name is misspelled on a legal or financial document, or the person who’s misspelling it is going to be creating a legal/financial document with my name on it, I don’t worry about it.

    10. Rainy*

      I use a nickname instead of my horrible gov’t name, and my horrible gov’t name isn’t the name that my nickname is usually short for, so this happens to me fairly often in a couple of different ways, and depending on which it is, I do react differently. If someone says “Hi Raini” instead of Rainy, I usually just do my usual signoff and wait for them to realize they’ve been spelling my name wrong. It’s a little annoying (because my name is literally right there in the to field of their email!) but Raini is just as common a spelling as Rainy, so I sort of get it and it’s not worth getting mad about.

      If someone tries to backform Rainy to what they think my “real” name is, I correct them, because while I know that Rainy is usually short for Rainbow, my name is Rasputina so, uh, maybe don’t. (This one used to happen a LOT but much less so now as I’ve gotten older.)

      The one that I go absolutely nuclear on every time is people who see my double-barrelled last name and address me as “Dear Hislast” where my name is Rainy Hislast-Reminder. “Dear Mr Reminder” is annoying (I am NOT A DUDE), “Dear Mrs Reminder” is also annoying (Like, my dude, I am not a Mrs, I am a Ms, and THE SECOND ONE IS NOT THE REAL ONE, OPPRESSOR-MAN), but “Dear Hislast” or “Dear Mr Hislast Reminder” make me immediately incandescent with rage. Mr Rainy’s last name doesn’t even look like a first name! At all! It would be like seeing someone named “Robin Pulaski-Jovovitch” and deciding to address them as “Dear Mr. Jovovitch–may I call you Pulaski?”

      Basically, the things that are obviously misspellings (or muscle memory), meh, whatever, but the ones that are obviously rooted in sexism? Oh no, we’re not playing at that, my good troglodyte.

  65. Trying to translate between coworker and my boss?*

    Seeking advice on whether it’s a good idea for me to try to ‘translate’ or go between for my new coworker and our mutual boss.

    The other day, Coworker mentioned to me that Boss had said/suggested in a 1:1 that Coworker had “negative energy”. Coworker seemed a little upset/concerned over this feedback. I reassured Coworker that I didn’t think their energy was negative.

    I meant what I said, but it’s true that Coworker has a quieter and less demonstrative affect than most other people in our company, and Boss is a pretty heart on their sleeve kind of person. Coworker is also perhaps a little more pessimistic in general than Boss and the rest of the team (not necessarily a bad thing! Over-optimism is a problem!).

    I suspect it might be a little bit of a cultural/personality misunderstanding between Coworker and Boss, and Boss might be misinterpreting Coworker’s difference in affect as being negative. I don’t think Coworker will push back on this perception because they don’t seem to like confrontation. Coworker and Boss are also from somewhat different cultural backgrounds and I’m from one that has some aspects in common with both of them.

    I think Boss trusts my opinion and I’d be in a good position to try and smooth this over, but is it overstepping? Should I just let them manage their own relationship?

    1. Angstrom*

      I wouldn’t bring it up, but if Boss mentions it it’d be appropriate for you to speak up in support of Coworker.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      What a demoralising thing to say to someone! I wouldn’t underestimate the impact of you simply saying to your colleague “nahh, that’s wrong”. I bet that was so much more reassuring and supportive than you know. I would probably just use this as a warning to look at whether your boss has the best EQ: most people are able to handle people being of a different personality or culture to them without just labelling it as negative. Of course, this might be just something minor like the boss misspeaking or a misunderstanding. I would be ready to speak up in the moment if your boss ever says anything about your coworker though: “Oh that hasn’t been my experience with them; I find them very positive/whatever”.

      1. Trying to translate between coworkers and my boss?*

        Yeah TBH it seemed like an out of character comment from Boss, who is usually really supportive and kind. I wondered if what they said was something softer like “it’s important to keep the team’s energy positive”. Our working language is also not Boss’s or Coworker’s first language (it is mine), so even though they are both fluent it’s possible that could have played a role in the disconnect. But I didn’t want to probe too much when Coworker was telling me about it.

        I hope Coworker was reassured! And they’re still quite new, so hopefully they and Boss will get to know and understand each other better in the natural course of things anyway.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          A language issue makes a lot more sense with the evidence you have of the boss’ character so far.

    3. Pocket Mouse*

      I agree with the other replies; you shouldn’t bring up their dynamic or perceptions of each other. However, if you’re talking to Boss about a work instance involving Coworker, you can always throw in something like “I really appreciated how Coworker thought through the situation and gave me insightful, actionable input on potential issues.”

  66. Job Hunter*

    Should I see it as a red flag if a company is unable to finalize the dates of job interviews? I had two interviews and a site visit with one company and should have a final interview next week. For each round, I was told that they want to move me forward, ask for dates I am available, confirm a date and say they will send a calendar invite, and then not send t HH e invite. As the date approaches, t HH ey confirm my availability a few more times before finally sending an invite a day or two before the meeting. It’s fine since I don’t have a job, but this would be hard to hold dates if I had a job or multiple job interviews with other companies too. should I take this as a sign of how the organization normally functions? I understand that plans change sometimes but I can’t function if dates are never confirmed until the last minute at work. I was told during a meeting with a previous employee that the ED does things her way and sometimes schedules meetings outside normal work hours.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Could be just the one person scheduling you who’s disorganized or incompetent. Or yeah, could be the org as a whole, so I’d certainly try to probe into that but wouldn’t call this an automatic red flag.

    2. HBJ*

      They confirmed it when you originally talked and then also leading up to it. That would be good enough for me.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*


        For me, I tend not to accept external calendar invites anyways; when the interview is confirmed, I make my own calendar item with notes.

  67. namey mcnameface*

    Welp. This week, myself and three members of my team came forward to complain to our manager about another teammate’s behavior. He’s always been a slacker who somehow talked his way into a job he wasn’t really a good fit for, but in the past few months, things have gotten really egregious. Recently, this teammate has:

    – Told our manager he was taking unplanned time off because he was sick, but told teammates he pre-planned the days off for things like wedding planning and helping his brother move
    – Informed several of us that he was sick and couldn’t do major presentations just minutes before those presentations
    – Missed several major deadlines
    – Seems to have strategically requested vacation time on days he has things due throughout our busiest season (for example, if he complains that he hates a report he has to do on Mondays, he’s taken all Mondays off for two months straight)
    – Has spent the majority of his mandated in-office days actually in the office gym instead of working
    – Has repeatedly logged out around lunchtime without prior notice to teammates or our boss
    – And there may be some evidence that when he went to a conference on the company dime, he may not actually have attended and instead went to play basketball with locals at a park near his hotel for most of the time

    This teammate is exceptionally good at bullshitting, and has been able to cover up his poor work for years by being the “funny guy,” but all of us have had it with the extra stress falling on us because he refuses to actually do his job. We’re on a global team and our manager’s located in a different site/timezone from this teammate, so we’ve never been clear if our manager has fallen for the bullshit or is just totally oblivious. So now we wait and see if bringing it with receipts changes anything. I’m honestly not expecting much.

    1. Rick Tq*

      You and the team need to stop covering for him, especially for things like calling out just before a major presentation. Stop doing the tasks he is assigned in the mean time.

      Your managers won’t deal with this fungus until they feel the pain.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Don’t cover for him. Don’t do his Monday report. Make sure that the folks up the chain are looped into the “I suddenly got sick so can’t present” details. Not that you’re snitching.
      Phrase it as if you believe that the boss knows, and you’re just referring to it.

      And if you’re working as a team on projects, make sure you document a summary of everyone’s responsibilities which you can refer to when you’re noting that “the teapot handles aren’t quite attached yet, so we’re waiting on Fergus for that.”

  68. Ciela - suddenly allergic to work?*

    I think I’m allergic to work. No really. Maybe stress related hives? Been doing the same work since 1999. It got more… like a dumpster fire in 2021. But just within the past 2 weeks, every time I go to work, I break out in hives after about 10 minutes. Taking an OTC allergy pill will get them to go away. I don’t feel like I’m any more stressed now than I was say 6 months ago. There aren’t any new employees, who maybe use a different kind of perfume / soap / detergent that I may be sensitive to. No one else uses my desk / chair.

    This is just so odd. People do ask me what is up with my skin. Not a rude way, more of a “hey, you’re all red! Are you okay?” place of concern. I just say I’m having allergies.

      1. Ciela - suddenly allergic to work?*

        LOL! No, we don’t have a designated cleaning crew. Anyone who says that they are bored is tapped to clean that afternoon.

    1. Library Mold Canary*

      Mold somewhere? That usually gets me when it pops up, particularly when we are in a season change. In fact, what usually happens is I have a seemingly random bad allergy attack and a few days later they find the active mold growing somewhere.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I’d guess this–mold will grow anywhere. ANYWHERE. I have scrubbed it off everything from walls to metal windowframes to cement blocks.

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      Mold? Something else in the environment? It’s now officially heater season, so if you didn’t have a problem when the A/C was on, but you do now, it might be related. (FWIW, mold gives me hives…never been “got” by a sick building, but I’m not sure I’ve been in one that’s bad enough to swear that I wouldn’t be affected.)

      1. Ciela - suddenly allergic to work?*

        It’s still 80 degrees here, haven’t had the gas guy come yet to get the heat turned on. I’m thinking it is stress, because the day that we were boss-less (so ALL questions get directed to me) I had several urgent questions all at once, really 3 people came up to me in the hallway, all with Right Now issues, and it about a minute my arms from my elbows to my wrists were just covered in hives.

    3. Mill Miker*

      Any chance you could go into the office on a weekend or something, and hang out at your desk for half an hour and read a book? See if the environment still triggers something without the other stressors?

  69. Sublime*

    I have an interview next week for a job after quitting my last job a month or two ago. This job is a slight step up from the level of my last role in an industry adjacent to the one I left (think of a compliance role in a teapot factory versus an umbrella factory). The principles are transferable but typically this employer promotes internally so the person with this job would have started out as a teapot maker whilst I would have a reasonably sound knowledge of umbrella manufacturing because that’s what my last employer did (even though I personally never made any umbrellas as my role was in compliance!). My question is should I address this somehow in the interview? And similarly what’s a good response if they do? I wouldn’t have applied if I didn’t think I could do the work but I am light on technical knowledge about teapots.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I don’t think you need to address it preemptively per se, but do be prepared to answer questions like,

      *”How do you see your experience with umbrellas transferring to tea pots?”

      *”Why are you looking to move from umbrellas to tea pots?”

  70. gridline city*

    I messed up and blurted something in a team meeting that implied I was challenging my incompetent boss’s authority and don’t trust him. Afterward I ate crow and he said and acted like it was no big deal. But I’m having a hard time believing that. Saying what I did might have gotten me fired in some places and probably a stern warning in most. My grandboss generally has my back and knows my boss not doing his job has been making mine difficult, but he wasn’t in that meeting and may not know about the incident. Nobody has said anything to me about it (I approached my boss with the apology). It’s not the kind of workplace where biting is normal. Any advice for further damage control, aside from obviously never doing that again?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      What’s your relationship with your grandboss like? You might want to tell them what happened.

      I know the feeling, and there is only so much frustration/annoyance one can take before it’s hard not to snap at people.

    2. Fiona*

      I think the only damage control will be in the form of being professional and respectful and people will see it as a one-off anomaly. That said, when you say it was the kind of thing that could get you fired from a job, I wonder if the time has come to job search. If you’re reaching the level where you say something that really is extreme (and I can’t gauge it from this post) then it might be time to quit, even if it’s not fair that it’s because of your boss’s incompetence.

      1. gridline city*

        I want to avoid job hunting for the next few months if possible.

        My grandboss said he’s handling things with my boss and I believe him, but we don’t regularly meet, so I’d have to go out of my way to bring this up and don’t really have a script. Maybe something like fyi this happened, I’ll never do it again, but wanted you to hear it from me?

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Boss knows you were right and hopes that by “eating crow” you will be appeased. If you are still having issues with your boss (the ones that prompted you to say what you did, I mean) I would go back to grandboss. Do you have any confidence that grandboss will “handle” it or are they a weak manager that will waffle and placate without taking any action? If it’s the latter, it’s a case of a fish rotting from the head as they say.

  71. slowingaging*

    Strangest email thread
    1. I was on a email thread between 3 companies. Customer Rachel asked Vendor Bob to reply within a week. They said they would. It was a simple request. Bob didn’t reply. 8 days later Rachel emailed them and asked when they would reply and finished the email with “Thank you!!” Is “!!” sarcastic or threatening?

    1. Anonymous elf*

      Neither! It’s putting emphasis on it. I just did it today on my second phone call to a physician office to pay the bill They sent. “This is my second call. Please call me back Thank you!!”

  72. ecnaseener*

    Send me good vibes, friends… I sent something to Big Boss requesting approval and she just wrote back “Thanks very much.” Impossible to tell if that means “thanks, approved” or “thanks, received and will review later.” The little humiliations of having to write things like “You’re welcome, Big Boss, sorry to be a pest but is this your approval?”

  73. WTAF*

    I have a been at a new job for six weeks, and today I had a meeting with HR and my boss where they told me I was being placed on “administrative leave without pay pending investigation of gross misconduct.” I have NO idea what this is about. I haven’t done anything wrong. Everyone has told me how great I am for the last six weeks. My boss (yes the same one from the meeting) has told me multiple times how thrilled she is with my work and the fact that I’m there. I have had zero negative feedback. I have been out sick this week but all my attempts to apologize for that have been met with “Don’t worry, things happen! Feel better soon!” I’m so confused and upset. Does anyone have any idea about what could be going on? They’re not going to give me any more info until Monday! I work healthcare adjacent through a large university.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      If you are sure you haven’t committed any misconduct in 6 weeks… is it possible that there’s something iffy about your application which has been discovered?

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Or, perhaps, they found something you posted online that is concerning? I’m so so sorry you are in this horrible position. I don’t know what I would do to distract myself during this time. How awful.

        1. WTAF*

          I can’t think of ANYTHING. I rarely post online, when I do it’s just super ordinary stuff. I don’t post any political opinions or anything. I didn’t misrepresent myself in my application.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Is your name similar to someone else’s?

            Has anyone where you work given you any bad vibes? (I hate to go there, but some people do accuse others of things with no actual proof.)

      1. WTAF*

        I suppose it’s possible. But everyone has been so lovely and welcoming to me, it makes no sense. I can’t even fathom why someone would do that or what they would allege.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Oh no, how scary! Hopefully it’s just a misunderstanding or something and you’ll be reinstated quickly with back pay – crossing my fingers for you.

    3. Msd*

      Is it possible that they don’t believe you were actually sick? Being out a week after only starting 6 weeks ago may have raised a red flag?

    4. *daha**

      1. Assume that you are going to be fired. Maybe they’ll explain why, maybe not.
      2. Start submitting applications for your next job right this minute. Leave this job off your resume.
      3. If your work asks you to sign anything whatsoever, respond that you will review it with your lawyer first. (Then find a lawyer to review it with.)
      4. Good luck.

  74. Dorothea Vincy*

    Is it worthwhile giving advice about interviews to someone who is extremely bitter?

    I have a coworker, a peer at my same level, who’s been open with me and a few other people about job-searching. Some of her gripes with our company are legitimate (especially the cost of health care premiums) and some less so (she’s still angry that she got written up for missing several deadlines, because “I was stressed about my wedding planning and that shouldn’t count.”) She’s told me several times that she keeps getting as far as first interviews and no further.

    The thing is, I can see why it happens. From her description of the interviews, she’s using them as venting sessions about how terrible she thinks her current job is and descriptions of her stress. I asked once what kind of questions they were asking her and she got extremely defensive and said, “Well, they want to know why I’m looking for a new job, so I’m going to tell them the TRUTH!”

    We’ve worked together for a long time but aren’t close friends- I mainly hear about these things because she’ll pick any convenient audience and our offices are next door to each other- and I don’t know if it would be worth it to try to give her advice about this or not.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      Personally, based on what you’ve said, I wouldn’t. She got defensive when you just asked about the questions so I doubt she’d react any better to advice. I could be wrong, but based on what you’ve said, she doesn’t sound like somebody open to advice.

    2. pally*

      She doesn’t want advice. She won’t listen to it anyway. And she sure won’t heed it.

      She wants validation of her issues with current job. Maybe some commiseration too. That’s why she’s telling her ‘truth’ to the standard interview question. Certainly, they will understand, she’s thinking. Only thing, they aren’t there to understand. They are there to evaluate her for the position they are trying to fill.

      Might ask her why she’s wasting her time (and interviewer’s time) with these interviews if she’s not really wanting to find a new job. Course, that might draw her ire.

    3. Not another Teams meeting*

      I am in a situation where I am the bitter one trying to leave. (although half my colleagues are also trying to leave so it’s not just me)
      For me, I had to reframe it in my mind. I am upset by that but why? How can I turn that into a positive in a job interview? Eg. I’m upset that I am never considered for promotion. Dig deeper: why am I upset, because I’m unfulfilled in my current job. Translation in interview: why do you want to leave, because I’m seeking a new challenge to grow and develop in a new area.
      Not sure if you can maybe tk to her about analysing the why so she can turn it into a positive in the interview.

      1. Cordelia*

        Yeah, she’s not looking for advice, she’s looking to vent and she’s doing it in the office as well as at the interviews. I might try, once, to bring this up if it was someone close to me doing it, but I wouldn’t feel I owe this coworker anything.

  75. Justin*

    My colleagues sometimes will not respond when I ask them for comments. Fine.

    But then months later will point out that some document I created they might want differently. These are not errors, just that they’re the subject matter experts, but this means I have to carve out time to make changes to things that were finalized, and I don’t really have the time (which is why I asked for comments months ago, with a deadline).

    I have no question, just venting. I wish they’d listen when I asked for comments.

    1. Rick Tq*

      Can you just note the information for a future revision of the document instead of revising it in the moment? It seems your only alternative is to never release the document until the SMEs have provided input, regardless of the schedule your manager may expect.

      “Boss, the Llama grooming manual update isn’t ready for release, the Chief Llama Groomer has not approved or sent comments on the document I sent for review 3 months ago.”

      1. Justin*

        Well, what I’m trying to do is say we (and by we I mean, they) can create some supplements for now and I’ll be happy to update them each time we have a new cohort of programs using the material.

    2. SofiaDeo*

      Yeah, I hated this too. I started requiring “please make requests by X date”, with a reminder a week before X. I was sorry but firm when whatever they thought would be better, had to wait, and my boss backed me, we discussed it ahead of time & I got the OK. If you’ve conditioned them to ignore your dates by doing extra revisions whenever they get around to supplying requests, you have to stop.

  76. Out of the loop*

    I live in a part of the US that’s fairly insulated (job-wise) from what’s happening in the largest cities. Can anyone summarize what’s going on in the job market nationwide? I haven’t been following it lately but keep seeing references to it being in the tank or about to be.

  77. Sanibel Island*

    This week was a hell of a whirlwind, but ends positively.

    I’ve always been the type to apply for a specific position, and ended up taking on way more than what I signed up for, usually not with the pay to show for it.

    I’ve been at my new company for almost 4 months now, and this week was the most tumultuous. 4 people had to be fired, one in particular was terminated for doing incredibly shady things. We’re about to terminate a new hire due to a bad background check.

    I’m an assistant to one of those “wears many hats” positions, so I’m also wearing some hats to help out. I’m also assisting the CEO of the company, so lots of accommodations were made this week given some crazy happenstances. Made more phone calls and talked to more people than I had the whole time since I been here. The manager from another department asked me to alleviate some work from their admins so I helped on that front as well. Whenever someone asked me to jump, I got the trampoline and kept it out, and made a few jumps myself just to stay a head of everyone else (figuratively jumping here, no actual trampolines were jumped on).

    When I woke up this morning, I decided since we all had a crazy week and I helped out a good portion of the people in the office to alleviate some of the crazy, I decided to stop at the grocery store and get breakfast pastries for the office. I figured a nice treat was in order to start the weekend right.

    One of the bosses I assist pulls me aside after I put all the goodies in the kitchen, and tells me I have been doing awesome, and my performance this week in particular really solidified things. I was awarded with a raise that actually matches the responsibilities I’ve been taking on! My new job is certainly an upgrade from previous jobs; supportive coworkers and bosses, benefits, and while I’m in a completely new industry, I’m starting to take to it better than I had my previous industry.

    Oh, and everyone loved the pastries I brought in. There’s nothing left :)

    Cheers to professional things getting better!

  78. Jane*

    What to say to negative colleagues?

    Anyone got any good techniques for coping with negativity towards management from colleagues? I’m the lowest in the hierarchy so can’t take any management-style approaches, but some members of my new team are unnecessarily negative about completely normal events. Eg I can’t believe we’re being asked to fill out a form by management, it’s so ridiculous, I don’t have time for this, in the past we wouldn’t have been asked to do this, etc, etc.

    Tempted to tell them to get a grip, but need a more diplomatic approach.

    1. Awkardness*

      I have sometimes answered this along the lines of: “I always tell myself that I am getting paid to do what my manager wants me to do. And if they want me to fill out forms 50% of the time, it is on them. ” Key is to tell this in a cheerful manner and to only speak about yourself and what you are going to do. This will make clear quickly that you do not share their opinions and you will not be a sounding board for them.

    2. Generic Name*

      Do you need to say anything in response? It sounds like they’re just ranting. If it’s not something that bothers you, you could say, “Huh, I guess it can be a pain, but it doesn’t really bother me” and then turn back to your work.

    3. peter b*

      usually, if I don’t want to give a total non-answer, I’ll explain very briefly why it doesn’t bother me if I have a reason (e.g. I don’t mind the occasional mindless form-filling if I can use it to listen to some music in the background, or I used to do this even more in an old position so this is actually a breeze for me now) and then try and move the convo foward. That can be hard, and requires a really casual tone, but it’s okay to say well it doesn’t bother me and let it drop. Non-answers can be the best way to go.

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      My go-to response is a bit unique, so I think a more generic one that would be useful is a casual and upbeat, “Eh, it’s the job” and either disengage (if you’re in the middle of something) or change the subject.

      My work history means I can say from experience, “Well, it sure beats being in a storm drain with ants in my pants, so…” /Grin-and-walk-away

  79. BB*

    I tried to resign from my job this week and my boss got very very upset. For the first time in my life I felt like I was breaking up with someone and understood why people find it so hard! I work in a very personal job, in someone’s home which adds another layer of ‘not a business decision’ to my choosing to leave. I’ve found the whole thing very very very stressful.

    Any of you who who work very closely with your boss or for a small employer were your manager. Is your employer have some nice positive stories to tell about resignation that was crap but your notice period being fine?

    1. MaryLoo*

      When you say “tried to resign” do you mean your boss talked you into staying?
      You aren’t an indentured servant. This is YOUR decision, not your boss’s decision. Go back to your boss and say something like “ I’ve thought about our conversation, and I really do need to resign from this job. I understand that you are upset by my decision, but I should never have let you talk me into staying. I will not be staying. My last day will be xyz-date.”
      Write the boss a letter of resignation. Leave on your last day and don’t go back.

    2. Rainy*

      A million years ago when rocks were soft I worked as the admin (scheduling, interface between clients and service providers, maintained and updated records, did everything money, handled issues, did advertising, hired and supervised part-time cleaning staff, absolutely everything except the actual service parts, except in a crunch when I helped out) of a small family-owned business that was an absolute shit show in every possible way. I was in that role for three and a half years and lasted longer than anyone else had in more than a decade, and by the time I made the decision to leave and go back to finish my degree I was incredibly stressed by the shockingly dysfunctional environment. Because I was young and didn’t understand how little I owed them (oh, I’d also been super underpaid the whole time AND they were engaging in wage theft because I was required to work through lunch after clocking out), I gave three months’ notice, and I did work out my notice period.

      The manager (owner’s niece, rarely there, forged her time cards to show 45-50 hrs/week to get regular pay plus OT!) was pretty rude when I gave notice, which I had to do over the phone after she didn’t come in to work for most of the week, but my notice period was fine, really? Certainly no more dysfunctional than any of the rest of the time I was working there, and easier to tolerate because of the end date. I hired and trained my replacement (who lasted a few weeks working solo before putting all the phones on hold and walking out in the middle of the day, leaving a post-it stuck to the desk that said I QUIT), was able to say goodbye to many clients, and ultimately left on good terms. My manager got over her butthurt very quickly, but she was a creature of extreme moods, so ymmv.

  80. Job Hunter*

    Next week I will have two job interviews. One is the final interview for a job I am not sure I want. I would learn a lot and get a higher title, but it is underpaid and not remote. The other job is a first round interview for a job with the same title I most recently had and is remote. Should I tell the second job that I am in the final round of interviews with another company? Does that risk losing the opportunity to get a job I may like more than the one that is in the final round?

    1. linger*

      What do you want to achieve by telling them — especially before you have a competing offer in hand? Most importantly, you should wait until you get to that point, if Company 1 gets to that point. And even then it’s information Company 2 only has any motivation to act on if you are their leading candidate, which at this point you presumably don’t know.

      Assuming that is the case (dangerous):
      (a) if you’re hoping they can accelerate their decision process, maybe “I have another offer but would prefer to be working for you if possible, is there any chance a decision can be made in the next few weeks?” But bringing the decision forward obviously does not entail deciding to make you an offer.
      (b) if you’re hoping to use the offer from Company 1 to negotiate a higher starting salary with Company 2, all preceding caveats still apply. If the two roles are comparable in scope and status, and you have a firm number to give Company 2, you could try “I have an offer of $X, but would prefer to be working for you if possible, is this a figure you could match?”

      But if you really would prefer to have the remote role at Company 2, these are risky moves. With either type of request, you need to leave them the option of saying “no”, and accepting that answer.

  81. I just wanted to do something good this morning before alcohol class*

    I am leaving for a new job next month. When I gave my last day, I was pegging it to a specific task. I just realized today that this task is a week later than I thought and will be after I start my new job. Should I move up my end date? I was already planning on taking some time off that week and was really only going to cover the task and turn in the stuff. The other option I was thinking of was taking the week before off.

    1. Rick Tq*

      I wouldn’t change your end date if the task is part of the job you are leaving. Once you depart your company will deal with getting it performed.

      The exception would be if the task cannot be performed by someone else AND your industry is small enough people would gossip about you leaving the company in the lurch.

      In a well-managed company there should be at LEAST two people who can complete any task, including having two certified/licensed people if the task requires specific qualifications..

    2. Generic Name*

      Nope. Your last day is your last day. It was nice of you to consider your employer’s needs when you resigned, but you aren’t obligated to.

    3. I just wanted to do something good this morning before alcohol class*

      Sorry just to clarify I would not push back my end date, I actually already pushed back my start date for the new job once and it’s too late to do that now. I’m more wondering if I can getaway with leaving my old job a week earlier and have a solid week off between jobs, or if this is unforgivable. I may try to sell it as using my time off days for the week before I leave and keep the current end date.

      1. kalli*

        It’s not uncommon but usually if it’s not done by setting your end date with that time in in between that and starting your new position, you’d negotiate it with your employer if you don’t want to burn the bridge for reference purposes. If you take your time off before you leave then you don’t get those paid out with your severance (if that is a thing they do), but your total compensation remains the same, so it’s just a matter of applying to take that time off and ensuring anything you have to do before you’re gone – turning in company property, preparing handover materials, taking your personal things home – is done so that when you walk out, that’s it.

  82. Pinky*

    I’m currently job hunting and I’m interested in a specific company. I reviewed all of their job postings and I’m very interested in two positions: one entry-level position that I would definitely be a good candidate for, and another higher position that I might or might not be a good fit for. Would it be acceptable to apply to two different positions within the same company?

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Yes, just be prepared to answer, “Which do you feel more qualified for?” and “If we can only move you forward for one, which would you like us to consider you for”

      I’m on the fence about whether it’s worth a short sentence in your cover letter acknowledging you’re applying to both.

  83. Lisekit*

    My role involves formal report-writing to finders/stakeholders during and at the end of funded projects. Most go smoothly with positive learnings to report on; however a fair few are more challenging and some are [whatever word you like to use for things that are some way beyond challenging]. What are your favourite reporting euphemisms for when you need to indicate that conditions/processes/outcomes have been less than ideal, without outright saying the project was an underbudgeted crapshoot run by lunatics?

  84. Rowan*

    Advice for coming out as trans in a remote environment, specifically as non binary? I’m one of a corporate team of 5, including my supervisor, who talk over messenger, and interact with coworkers in the “field” (essentially not part of the corporate structure but I’m the accountant for their stuff, etc) almost exclusively through email. I only realized I was NB a few months before applying, and it was a situation where it was more important to get the job than to interview “authentically”, but it’s a year later and this is the last sphere of my life where I’m not out.

    I’ve read the posts about interviewing/coming out as a trans person, but most of them have been still on the binary. I’m agender and prefer they/them, which I feel adds another layer since most people not under the umbrella barely know what non-binary even means. A big perk of this job is there’s almost no calls or meetings, and the few we have are almost always voice only; however, between that and being agender, I can’t rely on physical changes to help people “get it” or remember.

    I had the opportunity to tell one team member this week and it went really well, and I’m planning to tell my boss next week and then the rest of the team individually. Any advice or experience would be much appreciated!!

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Does your organization do pronouns in internal email signatures or on intranet profiles? Our workplace has that (purely optional!) and I find it very useful. I’ve also seen some people add their signatures to their names on virtual meetings, but you’d have to check how that’s done in the particular program you use.

      I’m glad to hear your conversation with your teammate went well! Hopefully your boss and the rest of your team reacts just as well.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      You may have already found these posts, but in case you haven’t, I recommend reading through:

      “navigating LGBTQ issues at work: an open thread” from April 4, 2019

      “how do I change to “they” pronouns at work?” from June 23, 2020

      “how can I come out as queer mid-career?” from May 20, 2021

      Also, not that it’s your job to educate in any way, but if you would feel more confident with a quick explainer on how to get better at using non-binary pronouns to share with questioning coworkers/managers/HR departments, I recommend the post:

      “how to get better at using a coworker’s nonbinary pronouns” from October 28, 2019

      And lastly, to end on a high note:

      “changing pronouns at work: a success story” from February 22, 2022

      Links to all of the posts mentioned above in a reply to this comment. Good luck!

    3. kalli*

      I just said ‘my pronouns are they/them’ in the work IM, put them in my signature, and went about my day. You don’t need to have a big announcement or discussion, you don’t have to ‘come out’ over and over, but you don’t want to get in a situation where some people know and some don’t as the conflict between some people knowing you as gendered and some not can breed confusion that’s harder to dispel. Just tell people what they need to know – ‘my pronouns are they/them’, ‘my new name is Rowan’, and the rest tends to follow – including indicators about who might be safe or unsafe if they were to deal with you in person.

      Once I gave my pronouns, most of the office suddenly had pronouns in their signatures, the next major hire was LGBTQIA2+ and the ‘hubbies and pets’ board was relabelled ‘work pets and family’, and absolutely no big deal was made.

  85. Still searching*

    I had hoped to be sharing new job news with you this open thread but I haven’t heard back yet. I had an interview last week that seemed to go well, I was told I’d hear back by the end of this week, alas I have not yet heard. I’m not too worried about this, things happen, but it’s just getting to be intolerable in my current job and I’m feeling sad about having to show up every day, and I am hoping the desperation didn’t show in my interview. Oh well, maybe next week!

    1. I just wanted to do something good this morning before alcohol class*

      Every time I’ve heard that they’ll get back to me by x date, they always get back to me later. I hope you get the job!

      1. Still searching*

        Thank you! I truly hope so too but I also have had plenty of rejections and it’s hard not to be negative in the current work environment. I keep reminding myself ‘what is for you will not pass you by’ and if I don’t get it then it wasn’t right for me
        -but I really do want it!

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

    this happened years ago but I was thinking about it today. Can an employer require you (an hourly non exempt) employee to work overtime with no notice? Like you come in at your regular time and they say you have to work until 11( when you get done at 7). or you get to work at your normal start time of 12 pm and you’ve been away on a medical leave of absence and the boss docks you points because everyone is on mandated overtime and you were supposed to start at 10 am but no one told you.
    I know employers can require overtime but is there rules on a notice. this was a call center and was not anything like a nurse or doctor or other care provider where people’s lives were on the line. this was answering calls for a phone company.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Yes, they can require mandatory overtime with no advance notice. They have to pay proper overtime rates for the pay period if it puts you over 40 hours.

      This is a terrible business practice and leads to high turnover, but it is legal. And places like call centers tend to expect high turnover anyway.

    2. Roland*

      They can’t legally keep you on-site but I don’t see why they legally couldn’t say “stay for another 4 hours or we will hold it against you”. It sucks of course, but it’s not broadly illegal, though there could be regulations for specific situations/industries/jurisdictions.

      1. Roland*

        They can’t legally physically* keep you on site, I meant to write. You are always legally allowed to leave.

  87. Despairingly unemployed*

    I’ve been job hunting for roughly 4-5 months, wasn’t getting any response – even when I still had a job – and I just got a rejection today (3+ months later) from a potential “dream” job. I’m tired of trying to fix my resume, thought I’d applied some techniques from here, and ended up sending it in for a free review to two companies that do rewrites/LinkedIn profiles.

    Has anyone gotten their resume rewritten by such a company and what are your thoughts? Reviews seem mostly positive but the ones in the last week only are a real mixed bag and I’d really rather not waste money (unless it’s to get a company in my target country to rewrite it because that feels like a win in the long term but idk).

    I don’t even want to transfer my information into a new word doc/template because I’m that Tired of all of it, and I have a few jobs I want to apply to in the following week. Would it be better to get a rewritten resume or apply for these immediate openings with what I plug into a word doc (and a few edits, maybe) to hopefully have a better read if they use ATS? Thoughts appreciated.

    1. Rainy*

      I’ve not had my résumé rewritten but I have seen the results of such paid rewrites and I’ve not seen one yet that wasn’t garbage. Frequently the rewritten résumé now lies about the candidate’s experience. I also saw one that featured a photo of the candidate, which sort of shocked me as that is not a done thing here.

      Also, those “free reviews” are always going to tell you your résumé is bad because they do the free review in order to convince you to pay to have your résumé rewritten.

      1. Despairingly unemployed*

        Yeah those are the fears (if not fully AI generated)… I did take those reviews with a rock of salt because I know they’re trying to sell a service, but a few things seem helpful (until I try to ‘fix̵