open thread – November 3-4, 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.

{ 901 comments… read them below }

  1. LinkedIn Skills*

    LinkedIn users, how do you decide what to list in the skills section, given that the maximum is 50 items?

    I’m struggling because listing hard skills (software, work methodologies, etc.) quickly fills up the list, but then I see jobs listed that want a bunch of soft skills (communication, teamwork, etc.) too, and there just isn’t enough room. My gut tells me it’s more important to list hard skills, but I’m curious if anyone has found a best practice for this.

    1. King Friday XIII*

      Are you applying for jobs via LinkedIn? I’ve never had much luck applying directly via websites like that so I’ve never thought it mattered. But I definitely think hard skills are more important, out of the two.

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I honestly wonder how much those are looked at, even when you apply through LI, since you usually have to attach a resume

    3. pally*

      I think this just a way for LI to present jobs to you that seemingly match your skills.

      I don’t think the job poster is listing the skills from the ad that the candidates 50 skills must match.

      Use LI to search for jobs and then apply -directly- to the company website if at all possible. Don’t get hung up on the skills stuff.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        Your first sentence is how I think about this.

        Say you can do both data analysis (hard skill) and presentation about data (softer skill).

        But you really want a job as a corporate trainer. Well then emphasize presenting! If you put data analysis, assume LinkedIn will send you jobs that emphasize that skill and have it has a primary.

        So don’t put skills that are secondary to the job you want. When I was switching away from, animal care industry to teapot making companies, i removed all my animal-specific skills and left only the ones that would make a teapot hiring manager realize that I could do the teapot making job.

        It does not ensure that the job posts sent to you by LinkedIn will be more up your aisle but it helps

    4. Datacontractor*

      Assuming you’re directly applying with a resume, LinkedIn sites are mainly for recruiters to look over; mine is basically SEO word soup in sections they might look over. I’m in a technical role where I’m not expected to so a lot of writing however, where that’s most common

    5. English Rose*

      I would also go with hard skills, but much more importantly, you want to give a lot of focus to an effective personal profile. Make sure your summary and your About sections contain relevant key words – not in an obvious way, weave them in.
      Turn on creator mode if you haven’t already and use it to showcase content.
      It’s what you show towards the top of your profile that’s more important than a list of skills, and you’ll still be discoverable via search.

    6. Opera X*

      Depends on where you are applying. I apply to large engineering companies, and largely, they put emphasis on soft skills.

      Fifty is a lot. Surely you can narrow down your technical skills to the ones you use the most, or the ones you want to focus on, or some other criteria.

    7. Sneaky Squirrel*

      I would consider putting in hard skills that set you apart as a priority. I’m not a recruiter nor do I use linkedin much, but I would have to assume that if a recruiter is going to keyword search the skills, they’d be looking more for the hard skills that make a person qualified for the job. Everyone can claim they have communication and teamwork skills and those skills aren’t industry specific that anyone searching by them will get a wide spectrum of people.

      1. ecnaseener*

        +1, I’m also not a recruiter but I think this is the most likely case: the more specific the skill (so like, specific programming languages rather than just programming), the more likely a recruiter will bother to search by it.

        Communication and teamwork count for very little when listed on a resume, and even less when one of FIFTY skills on your LinkedIn.

        If you want to nod to those qualities / soft skills, touch on your approach in your bio for the benefit of whoever reads those.

    8. Beth*

      I think this is mostly useful to help linkedin recommend job postings–if an employer has listed a given skill keyword in their posting, and that skill keyword is in your skills list, then linkedin will recommend the posting as potentially relevant to you. I don’t think it’s something employers actually look at–that’s what your resume is for.

      Which, that kind of matching is really useful if you’re looking for a job that aligns with your skills! But I haven’t seen linkedin be very smart about it–from what I can tell, they’re looking for a clear match between the skills listed in the job posting and the skills listed on your profile. But most soft skills have a lot of different ways to phrase the keyword (like, say, communication might have “communication”, “verbal communication”, “written communication”, “verbal/written communication”, “interpersonal communication”, “spoken communcation”, etc). That makes that kind of matching difficult–you’d have to fill a LOT of your 50 slots just to catch all the keywords for one soft skill. I think that alone makes hard skills more useful to list.

    9. ThePear8*

      I would definitely prioritize listing hard skills on LinkedIn. I believe Alison has covered the topic before, but soft skills are a lot more subjective so listing them yourself on your resume or LinkedIn doesn’t carry much weight, whereas hard skills are more measurable. This isn’t to say soft skills aren’t important, but I always feel like it’s more something to demonstrate in an interview than include on something like a LinkedIn because it’s a lot easier for someone to think they’re detail oriented or great at communication and turn out to not be, whereas it’s a lot more clear cut if they know how to use a particular software or not. And to be fair, I’m not sure how much anyone looks at skills in general on LinkedIn, but I think if you do have hard skills to put there it doesn’t hurt.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Human beings don’t really look at the skills section, but they affect the search results when people are searching for candidates / sorting applications. It also affects the “percent match” when you view job listings or (I presume) when recruiters compare your profile against an open listing. Whatever is most high-value / relevant for the jobs you’re applying for is what you should use.

      For me, that’s a mix of specific applications / hard skills, and a few soft skills that crop up most often in job postings.

    11. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Pay attention to the words in the job postings that you’re responding to. Those are the tags you’d want on your LI skills. And think about what’s specific to the position and what should be a given for your professional level. For an administrative assistant, I’d want to see MS Office programs listed, maybe time management and organization. For a marketing manager I might want Excel, but also the other specific tools of the trade as well as things like supervision, presenting skills, and analysis.

    12. TX_TRUCKER*

      I think soft skills are critical, but I tend to ignore the list that folks put on LinkedIn or on their resume. I generally don’t believe a self assessment about “teamwork” or any other soft skils.

  2. Anonysaurus*

    The setup: Pretend that I’m a chef in a fancy restaurant, but in reality all jobs in this scenario are remote. I, along with my other chefs, prepare appetizers, entrees, and side dishes. Levels are Chef 1, Chef 2, and Chef 3, all salaried. As a Chef 3, I don’t just cook, I also come up with new menu ideas and create fantastic new dishes. I and another chef have been doing this for 40+ years, and we have many regular patrons who love our food. For desserts, however, our skills only run to plainly frosted cupcakes and sheet cakes. But that’s okay because this restaurant also has Pastry Chefs 1(hourly), 2, and 3 (salaried), and they design and create beautiful fancy desserts that would be at home in the finest of patisseries. The most experienced pastry chef has been a pastry chef for 12 years.

    Plot twist: Three years ago the restaurant owner decided to stop serving appetizers, entrees, and side dishes, but they wanted to continue to make and serve those fancy desserts. The owner offered to let the chefs stay if they wanted, but they had to become pastry chefs. I and my coworker decided to stay and were converted from Chef 3s to Pastry Chef 2s (because of our lack of skills in pastry but to acknowledge our general kitchen skills), and we both agreed with this decision. Our salaries just barely squeezed into the top of the pay band for Pastry Chef 2 (this is the important part).

    For the last two years my coworker and I have only worked on making, let’s say, tarts of all sizes, shapes, and flavors, and we got good at it. Two months ago, we were assigned to start making fancy cake toppers. This is new to us and we are still learning and are not yet as skilled as the pastry chefs who have now been doing this for 15 years. But the Pastry Chef Manager has been supportive and seemed, all in all, to be a very reasonable manager. However, last week when I mentioned a cake topper that we are struggling with, he snapped out, “YOU MAKE $20,000 A YEAR MORE THAN THE MOST EXPERIENCED PASTRY CHEF HERE!!”, implying, I guess, that because of that I should be Perfect at Everything Pastry. I was so shocked that I didn’t even reply, and he ended the call quickly. Then two days later, when my coworker, manager, and I were meeting to discuss that same cake topper, he snapped out the exact same comment about our salary and said flat out that the (15 year) pastry chefs do better work that we do. He sounded very angry and upset over what he apparently perceives to be a pay inequity. Neither of us responded to his outburst and the meeting just sort of went on, somehow.

    Firstly, of COURSE the other pastry chefs who have done nothing but desserts for 15 years are better than us at everything pastry! My coworker and I think we earn this salary because we have been working in the cooking industry for 40 years, not because the restaurant owner thinks we are better than the other pastry chefs. Our pay still fit into the pay band for Pastry Chef 2, even though we didn’t reach that level AS pastry chefs. Is that a correct assumption or is there something we are missing? Also, if owner is underpaying those originally HIRED as pastry chefs (and we don’t know if that’s the case or not), that’s not our fault.

    If we are correct in our thinking, do we need to address this with our manager, or just let it go? If we try to address it, should we do it in a simple email, like “We earn this because Forty Years, not better skill”? Or would a meeting be better? We’re a bit concerned about our yearly reviews, plus his continued perception of us. Never had something like this happen before so honestly don’t know what to do about it.

    Pertinent data: When the Chef role was eliminated, the ratio was 13 chefs to about 50 pastry chefs, with about 200 people overall in our department alone. This is not a small company. Also, coworker and I are near retirement and have no interest in learning the complicated skills required to be promoted to Pastry Chef 3.

    1. IWorkWithCakeToppersALot*

      Definitely bring it up with your/their manager that this is happening. What starts with discontentment can lead to sabotage later. Document it now rather later. Cake topper is being angry with you because its easy to show anger to a fellow employee, who did not cause the pay inequality, than it is to show it to the employer who is responsible for it.

    2. Serious Pillowfight*

      My feeling is Alison would recommend you meet with him and say, matter-of-factly, “You’ve mentioned our salaries twice now and seemed upset. We’re at this pay rate to acknowledge our 40 years of experience in the industry, not our level of pastry-making skills, which we are still learning after our own specialty was eliminated from the company’s offerings.”

      But I can see not wanting to rock the boat in case he decides to cut your pay or something like that, although that seems extreme.

    3. Annony*

      I don’t know that there is much you can do if you don’t want to look for another job that is more in your skillset. It seems like you are objectively being over paid for the work you are doing now. You are being paid at the top of the pay band when your work is worse than others in the same pay band making less. If you were an outsider who applied to the pastry chef job, you never would have been offered the salary you make now. Having a long time in the industry is usually valuable because you should be able to pick up related skills quickly. At this point you have had three years to adjust to your new role and your boss is making it clear that he expects more from you now.

    4. Opera X*

      IME, the expectation when you shift over to a growth area is that your years of experience in your area of expertise allow you to come up to speed very quickly in new areas. If your experience is not allowing you to do so, then think about whether you really are underperforming for your paygrade and take steps to do better.

      I also wonder whether your strategic skills are still in use. If you shift from C++ to Python, your software architecting skills should largely transfer even if newbies write better code than you do.

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

        Yes but you still have to give someone room to learn. It sounds like the first option Pastries is great, but its only been a few months doing cake topers. There’s bound to be mistakes. And no manager should scream at employe over their salary.

    5. BellyButton*

      I would address this with your manager. “Pastry Chef Manager seems to be frustrated with the progress I am making in updating our skills. PCM has now twice yelled about my salary in comparison to other PC2. I am concerned that I am not picking up newskill at the rate that is expected.”

      The next time PCM yells about your salary, you can say “I realize that my skills aren’t as developed as other PC2, however this is new to me and I am learning. If their salary isn’t where you think it should be then please address that with Boss. If my skills aren’t where you think they should be at this time, we can discuss that and the best way for me to develop them. But, please, stop yelling at me about my salary.”

      You do not need to justify why you make the salary you make. Don’t defend it. You and your boss know why you make what you do.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Momma Bear*

        I like this response because really if the PC2s are underpaid, that is a different problem. OP makes within the pay band for PC2 so it’s not astronomically off. I wonder if the PCM is upset about something else (their own salary, maybe?) and is taking it out on OP. I do think OP needs to loop in their boss as this has happened twice now.

      2. Dasein9 (he/him)*

        This script is good because it focuses on where the PCM is overstepping.

        I also recommend thinking of your salary less as “acknowledging” 40 years’ experience in related work and more as your experience means you have skills and institutional knowledge that your employer considers worth the salary you are earning and worth going to the trouble of upskilling you.

      3. Velociraptor Attack*

        I’m pretty sure Pastry Chef Manager IS their manager as they are now classified as Pastry Chefs, no Chefs.

        Their manager is the one has a possibly legitimate concern with their output.

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

        I like this idea except I would change the last sentence from “I am concerned that I am not picking up newskill at the rate that is expected” to “I am concerned that PCM has unrealistic expectations being we just learned how to do cake toppers 2 months ago.”

        The first way makes it sound like the OP is the problem “not picking up skillset” where its really the manager’s expectations problem. And really I don’t think its their expectations more that they are pissed that someone is making more than the other pastry chefs but doesn’t have the same unique skills and is angry about it.

        1. Cyndi*

          If you wanted to be SUPER diplomatic and neutral it could also be “I’d like to clarify PCM’s expectations for how quickly we should be learning to make cake toppers.”

    6. Katrine Fonsmark*

      Yes I think you do need to bring it up – it sounds like it’s being discussed behind your backs since you’ve heard the exact same comment twice now. If the other pastry chefs are being underpaid compared to you, they need to advocate for themselves (do they even know??) or their managers need to advocate for them.

      HOWEVER. I do think it’s a valid point that if you do the same work they should not be that much better at it for that much less pay. Which, again, is not your fault, no one should be upset with you for earning what you earn. I also don’t think you should point out that you earn more because of seniority rather than skill, because that makes you look kinda incompetent TBH. The more skilled people should earn more for doing the same work IMO.

    7. Jessica*

      I’m confused because your pay is at the top of the Pastry Chef 2 range, but there are Pastry Chef 3s which would presumably be a higher range.
      Is there no one currently holding the PC3 title, and all the experienced pastry chefs are PC2?
      Do the PC3s make more than you, but he just meant you make more than the PC2s?
      Do the bands overlap such that you, a highly-paid PC2, make more than actual PC3s who are low in the PC3 band?

      1. Yorick*

        I wondered about that as well. The comment doesn’t make sense since there’s another level above them, but it could be hyperbole.

      2. Opera X*

        I can’t speak for OP, hopefully they will explain. However, in my experience, the way levels like this work is the salary bands are very wide, have a lot of overlap, and might get further apart and wider as levels go up. It might be something like:
        Pastry Chef 1: $50k-$90k
        Pastry Chef 2: $70k-$110k
        Pastry Chef 3: $90k-$130k

        So a midrange Pastry Chef 3 would make near the top of the Pastry Chef 2 band, and a midrange PC3 is making a lot more than a midrange PC2. A low range PC3 could make less than a high range PC2.

        I don’t actually think it’s relevant whether there are PC3s. What the PC Manager sees is that the highest paid people making pastry are the lowest skilled, and said manager is probably frustrated that he’s not getting the value of the salary out of OP. The PC2s are probably also pissed off.

        I doubt that the PC2s are underpaid, either. They are probably paid per their experience, and it’s a circumstantial fluke that OP got knocked down a job title but kept their salary.

        1. Anonysaurus*

          “…it’s a circumstantial fluke that OP got knocked down a job title but kept their salary.”

          This is it, exactly.

      3. Anonysaurus*

        There is a very particular skill that one must have/learn in order to be promoted to the PC3 role, and they are on their own team, which my Pastry Chef Manager also manages.

        He was speaking specifically about the PC2, and we are at the top of the PC2 pay band. I didn’t see the pay band for the PC3s because I wasn’t offered that role and have no interest in going for it.

    8. SoloKid*

      “My coworker and I think we earn this salary because we have been working in the cooking industry for 40 years, not because the restaurant owner thinks we are better than the other pastry chefs. ”

      I wonder if the Pastry Chef Manager got input into the decision to let regular Chefs be integrated into the same pay bands as the Pastry Chefs. This is an issue between all your managers and the owner. I personally think pay should cover the role needed, not just blanket years served.

      Overall, this sounds like higher ups just went over a budget and skills alignment meeting and the pastry chef manager might have learned things he didn’t know. Maybe the owner thought you could pick up Cake Toppers easier than you did. I would be worried. Especially mixed with the attitude that you don’t want to learn anything new. The Pastry Chef manager might very well want to give the pastry chefs a well-deserved raise, and to do that the owner might say “ok, cut other roles”.

      1. New Senior Mgr*

        I understand where you’re coming from here and mostly agree. It’s been my experience that when one gets close to desired retirement, no, they don’t want to learn anything new pertaining to the role. I get it. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to learn other things. LW, I’d follow the advice to have a chat with the manager.

    9. Cyndi*

      Could you clarify whether Pastry Chef Manager is the boss you’re asking about addressing this with directly, or they’re two separate people? I assumed you were talking about one person, but most people seem to have read you as talking about two.

      1. Camellia*

        Yes, sorry that wasn’t clear. Pastry Chef Manager is now our manager. Lots of good responses anyway, I will read all of them carefully.

    10. Ashley*

      If you are both close to retirement, I am wondering if this is supposed to be a subtle push out approach. It isn’t great if it is, but something to keep in mind as you look at your retirement timeline and how you approach this.

    11. JSPA*

      I think you can turn this into an actual conversation, rather than a pissing match.

      “Now that you’ve mentioned it twice, I wanted to address the situtation with the sober consideration that it deserves. You’re not wrong that some of our salaries are misaligned. If I were you, I’d likely be looking for a pay boost on the basis of the discrepancy. However, those of us who have transfered from the appetizer and entree sections are not simply overpaid and underskilled pastry chefs.

      Some of the difference in pay is due to total time with the company. If you remain with the company, you will presumably also benefit from from the company’s willingness to retain people who have served diligently and are eager to cross-train, when they pivot into something else, when you have been here 35 years.

      But our pay is not just a historical artifact. It is also recognition that even though we are fairly new to Pastry Topping, our backgrounds in appetizers and entrees brings not only various immediately transferable skills, but also institutional memory, differing points of reference, broad awareness of the food preparation landscape, and the banked possibility of pivoting into new menu items, if there’s a further evolution in the restaurant’s focus.

      That doesn’t mean you can’t critique our pastry skills, or wish, in your heart, that all of our 40 years had been pastry-focused. But calling us out for not being able to go back and change the past 40 years of our career development? That isn’t going to do anything except breed resentment.”

      1. Katrine Fonsmark*

        Eh, I’m not sure. They aren’t able to do the tasks they were asked to do even though they’ve now been in this department for quite a while. It’s definitely not their fault that their previous department was shut down, but it doesn’t sound like they have the skillset needed to survive in Pastry if they’re unable or unwilling to learn what’s required in THIS job. The value of institutional knowledge only goes so far.

        1. Annony*

          I think you nailed the root cause. They were probably expected to learn more or learn faster given how much experience they have. But they are nearing retirement and not motivated to learn a new (adjacent) field and want to coast to retirement. They have had three years to come up to speed and it sounds like the pastry manager has decided that is enough time and is no longer willing to lower expectations.

          1. JustaTech*

            Reading the OP again, it sounds like they’ve only been assigned to cake toppers for 2 months, and before that (after the switch to Pastry) they were doing tarts and doing those well.

            So it sounds like this is another, recent, task switch, and one that might not leverage their existing skills (tarts or appetizers) as well.

            Now, it might be totally reasonable to expect someone who was trained in Pastry to be able to switch from Tarts to Cake Toppers quickly, which is why Pastry Chef Manager is upset that two people who aren’t trained in Pastry are still getting up to speed on this new thing. (Especially if they got up to speed on tarts more quickly.)

            As for what OP should say to the PCM, I don’t know. If the PCM thinks, as you do, that they are just coasting, then they may want to point that out explicitly and say “no, we’re not coasting, this is just a new thing and we don’t have the same experience base to pick it up as quickly as you expect that a PC2 should. Is there something more that we can do to communicate our process to you?”

        2. Serious Pillowfight*

          While they’ve been in the department for two years, they only started learning how to make cake toppers two months ago, which are very different from the tarts they had been making for the first two years after switching departments. At least that’s how I interpreted the symbolism. It sounds like there’s a disconnect between what the manager expects their timeline to master cake topper making to be, and their actual ability to master it within a certain timeframe.

          1. JSPA*

            I took cake toppers to be a highly specialized niche sub-field of pastry, while tarts are a core function. Someone who has trained exclusively on “all things pastry” has at least a passing awareness of cake toppers (and the standard pitfalls thereof) whereas it’s niche enough that, coming in from outside, they would be expected to have gaps in their knowledge. If so, putting them on something extra-specialized might be intentionally setting them up for failure, or it might just be a brain fart (these folks have made a solid transition to mainstream pastry, but that should not be expected to extend to arcane sub specialties, unless there’s time for extra learning or training baked into the process).

        3. Cj*

          I absolutely agree with this. while they’ve only been doing cake toppers for a few months, and that is what the manager made the comment about, they themselves say that obviously the pastry chefs with 15 years of experience are much better at all things pastry.

          as far as institutional knowledge goes, I might have missed it, but I only saw that they’d been in the food industry for 40 years, not that they’d worked for this company for 40 years . and even if they have worked there for 40 years, some of that institutional knowledge may be obsolete or out of date by now. Plus at least one other employee has worked there for 12 years, which is not an insignificant amount of time to gain such knowledge.

          they also outright admited that they don’t particularly want to learn these new skills, or seem to be particularly motivated at all.

          the one thing I do agree with the op on is it’s not their fault that the owner set their salary higher than some of the experience pastry chefs. and the manager shouldn’t be harassing them about it now.

          as far as actual advice, they do need to find a way to shut down the comments. they need to be extremely careful about how they go about it, or they may find themselves out of a job. particularly if the owner is already rethinking what he set their salary at. I have more years in the industry, therefore I deserve to be paid more than employees with higher skill levels certainly won’t cut it with me.

    12. sulky-anne*

      This is a frustrating complaint because it isn’t clear what the pastry chef manager actually wants you to do. I assume they aren’t expecting you to forfeit part of your salary, so what do they actually want? For you to pick up pastry skills more quickly? For you to receive additional training? To replace you altogether with more seasoned pastry chefs? It sounds like their frustration may not be with you but with the higher ups who set up this situation, in which case they really shouldn’t be dumping it on you.

      1. Momma Bear*

        This is a good point. Okay, so they make more. And? Does PCM want to cut their salary? Is PCM going to write them up for not doing a better job? Etc. Unless PCM is giving something actionable, then OP and coworker are left with just an angry manager.

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

      was the pastry chef manager the one that snapped at you? if so, since hes done this a few times, I think its time to go to his boss or HR. Was he part of the conversation when you moved from regular chef to pastry chef?

      I think it would be fine to say “I have X years as a chef, which is why I make Y amount. I’ve only been doing pastry chef since we stoped doing appetizers, etc. This was the decision of the owner and they chose the salary since we have 40 years in the cooking industry.

      1. TechWorker*

        This is fair but to some extent it’s not the companies responsibility to continue employing someone if their skills are no longer required. Saying ‘but the owner decided’ feels a bit naive – the owner decided to keep on current employees, but not necessarily indefinitely if they are not contributing enough value to the company.

  3. Justme, The OG*

    I started crying at my desk this morning (briefly) and it wasn’t for anything bad. I got a promotion at work, my boss retired. My promotion was in the daily newsletter this morning. I’ve had so many people email to congratulate me. It overwhelmed me. I’m so happy to be working where I am with people like this.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        I work in higher education, in a multidisciplinary masters program. It’s people from the departments emailing me. They really are overall a wonderful group.

    1. Rage*


      Tears are just our bodies’ way of releasing an excess of emotion. Good or bad, doesn’t matter. :)

  4. Serious Pillowfight*

    What’s a good answer for when a colleague asks conversationally what I’m working on, but the answer is nothing at the moment? I don’t want to be vague but I don’t want it to seem like I have no work to do.

    1. English Rose*

      Depending on your role, maybe something like “Working through my list of regular scheduled monthly tasks, how about you?”

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      My answer for this question is almost always “brainstorming for XYZ project” – which is often true! Even if I’m not actively writing or working on anything, it’s mulling around in the back of my brain. I might also be reading an article, organizing my email inbox, or about to go for a walk.

    3. Dinwar*

      “Just taking a mental break between tasks.”

      If you want, you can print out some guidance on eye strain–the 20-20-20 rule (every twenty minutes spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 ft or more away from you) and keep it on your desk. Then if someone says you’re wasting time you can mention the ergonomic issues. But generally people asking “What are you working on?” are merely making polite conversation and don’t really want to know the answer, so stating you’re taking a brief break is usually good enough.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      Is it “nothing,” or is it “no real projects, just the daily tasks?” If you’re really without work, you should probably check in with your manager to find out if there’s something else you can do. If it’s the latter, though, you can say something like “just my usual daily tasks–feeding and watering the llamas, cleaning their pens, etc. How about you?”

    5. Kay Tee*

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying “things are a little slow right now”, especially if this is a peer asking in casual conversation! They’re almost certainly not looking to expose you for not being busy enough. Maybe think of some background tasks (“oh, just the usual monthly reports”/”just responding to customers”) to open with, and ask if they have anything exciting. Maybe you could even help out.

    6. Rex Libris*

      When I don’t have anything in particular going on, I just say “The usual day-to-day stuff, nothing interesting at the moment. What about you?”

    7. This Old House*

      Is the situation such that something like “taking a minute to catch my breath after finishing XYZ” would be appropriate? Or “getting my ducks in a row before it’s time to buckle down on ABC”? I assume that either you have regular daily tasks like other have mentioned, or it’s more that you have slow periods in between busy periods.

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

      Skills training or career development. Have a list of on-demand webinars or LinkedIn Learning courses that you’ve been meaning to get to.

      But it also depends on why the answer is nothing. There are times that I’m so on the ball that all of my projects are out to proof or at the vendor waiting for final delivery. I might say, “I’m waiting for X, Y and Z to get back to me on the TPS report, and Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3 are at the vendor. I need to close out and update tickets and have a list of follow ups.”

    9. Sneaky Squirrel*

      My workload is very dependent on the time of year so when I’m in the slower parts of the year I can tell my colleagues that “I’m embracing that we’re in our slower part of the year and tackling day to day tasks”. It’s okay not to have to look swamped every time someone asks you what you’re doing.

      Also, I think people forget that checking emails and doing those 5 minute tasks is still considered doing work that needs to get done sometimes.

    10. Jessica*

      It also seems like you could answer this at several different levels. Do they mean what are you doing right this minute, or today, or this week, or this month, etc.? You decide! If you’re not doing anything this minute, “I’m working on Big Project XYZ.” If you don’t have a current project, “Just keeping up with some email.”

    11. Cacofonix*

      If you really don’t have much going on and wish you did…
      “Oh, just some non urgent tasks – it’s a little slow. Is there something I can help you on?”

    12. HonorBox*

      I think something like, “working on my plan for upcoming project, upcoming week,” or “spending a couple of minutes trying to think through my approach to _____.”

    13. Buffy*

      “I just wrapped up X project, getting ready to jump into Y!” Or “Taking advantage of a lull to tackle cleaning out my inbox/organizing my desk/some other maintenance task!”

    14. Not that kind of doctor*

      Something like: I’m finally getting a chance to clean up old emails / tie up loose ends from X project / I’m do some big-picture planning for the next few months.

    15. fhqwhgads*

      Is the concern that you’re literally not doing anything that minute? Or more generally, like “today” or “this week”? If the answer to the first is “nothing”, I’d answer as though they meant “today” or “this week”.

  5. English Rose*

    I’m after some advice on how to be more effective in meetings, especially brain-storming meetings.
    Frankly, I ramble.
    Our boss likes us all to contribute in team meetings, but I need time to process new ideas. I end up thinking out loud, awkwardly with long pauses, ums and ahs. Often co-workers think I’ve finished talking and I haven’t. They are polite but are clearly impatient. Hell, I get impatient with myself!
    Anyone with this issue worked out how to solve it?

    1. BellyButton*

      Is there an agenda sent before these meetings? Are you able to think of some bullet points prior to the meeting that would help you focus? Another technique is to write down key words that the person speaking is saying- and then from each word- draw a line and write down your key words. All before you speak. Also, let yourself have time to process. You don’t have to jump right in and get your ideas out, take the time to process and write down some ideas before speaking.

      1. English Rose*

        Sometimes agendas, but most often ideas just come up as we’re talking.
        I really like key words while someone’s speaking idea, thanks. I think I’ve just been focusing so much on friendly eye contact and looking perky and engaged that I’d forgotten I could write things down!

    2. ferrina*

      First, get more cognizant with what you are saying. Are you identifying when you say um and ah? If not, that’s where to start. Practice having a friend or trusted coworker point this out to you until you are able to do it yourself. This process is often frustrating and exhausting, because your brain is having to do extra work to do this.

      Next, practice what you want to do instead. I recommend having some scripts ready. One of my favorites is “Sorry, I’m rambling, so I’m going to stop here.” I’m a rambler, and I’ve used this a lot. Most folks have reacted really positively to this (they appreciate the self-awareness and the self-moderation). You can also say “I need to think on this for a bit- can you come back to me?” or even “My brain is currently processing and going to need 20 minutes. Can I send an email with some ideas?”

      Finally, see what steps can be taken to avoid this in the first place. Can you get an agenda from your boss? If your boss is generally reasonable, you can say “I’ve notice that I’m able to contribute better ideas to the meeting when I have a chance to think about the topic in advance. It’s just how my brain works. Can you share an agenda an hour before the meeting so I’m able to prep?”

      Good luck, and kudos on taking this on!

      1. English Rose*

        Thanks, I like the idea of coming up with some scripts and the self-awareness. And I’m sometimes aware of the ums and ahs, but I just realised while thinking about this some more that I’m probably silent when I should be using the ‘currently processing’ script, so folks think I’ve finished. (In my mind I’m contributing but people don’t know that because I’m silently thinking!) Thanks, appreciated.

      2. Mimmy*

        I’m obviously not the OP, but I am not very good at thinking on my feet, so this language is helpful if I’m asked a question during a meeting without any time to think it over.

    3. Opera X*

      You should socialize your boss and team to letting you take notes and contribute minimally in the meeting, and then go process on your own and share your thoughts later.

      Brainstorming meetings are just one way to generate ideas, and they aren’t even as effective as people think they are.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Oh heeyy, you must work with me! Partly, I blame the unstructured brainstorming structure for the way my coworkers ramble. I would be better to do something where the topic is shared in advance and people bring their “top five” ideas on post its, or they type onto a jam board, or something. Shouting out ideas as they come is not always good for the neurodiverse among us. So perhaps you can ask to mix up the way the team approaches this task so you can generate ideas but also edit beforehand. Great on you for recognizing it.

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      One thing you could try is to jot down the key points you want to make before you start talking. Sometimes the action of writing can help you focus your thoughts and then stay on topic.

    6. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      What I do: Upon receiving a request/ prompt for ideas, I
      Have a germ of an idea that I need to process more/ flesh out; don’t speak up yet.
      Jot a brief note about the basic germ so I don’t lose it while further processing.
      Talk it through in my head (or write/diagram it) while other people speak their ideas and I half-listen. Sometimes their ideas inform how I expand, adapt, or explain my own– mine solves a problem with theirs, or theirs solves a problem with mine, or they are related or contrasting and I can say “similar to what Bob said, except XYZ” instead of explaining my whole thought process.
      When I feel my idea is pretty well fleshed out, summarize it to myself in 1-2 short sentences. If I can’t summarize, I don’t understand it well enough to share yet; think and listen more.
      When I can summarize, offer the summary to the group discussion.
      If I’m asked to talk before I have a summary ready, say somet5hing like “I have an idea but I need to think more about how to express it clearly. Please pass me for now. I’ll share in a few minutes when I can do so without obliging you to listen to rambling while I think out loud.”

      I’m a person who can ‘talk through’ ideas in my mind or out loud. If you’re a person who actually needs to talk out loud to process ideas, this may not work; then I might suggest requesting the prompt/question ahead of time so you can think out loud before the meeting and have an idea mostly ready to present coherently by the time you get there. Or if you can’t get the topic/prompt in advance, offering during the meeting to go think out loud afterward, and bring back your idea in a followup meeting or email.

      Good luck!

      1. English Rose*

        Thank you, I like this idea of jotting the brief note so as not to lose an idea – I think this is what I’m concerned is going to happen. And the talking through in my mind – I’m not sure I’ve ever analysed if I can do this. Will try. Really appreciate your suggestions.

    7. HonorBox*

      I think owning the rambling with a statement on the front end like, “I’m processing this as I speak, so it might take a second of rambling to get to where we need to go.”

      1. English Rose*

        And there’s always that. Maybe there’s a ‘Meeting Rambler’ lyric to the tune of that old Stones song…

      2. Sloanicota*

        I’d caveat this with, if you say it, really do take the opportunity to “land the plane” promptly, because flagging it but then continuing to ramble doesn’t endear the speaker to the listeners – it just shows you’re aware you’re trying their patience but going to keep doing so anyway. I might be biased because my coworker will ramble for ten minutes, say “I’m rambling, I know” and then *keep doing it* while we’re all thinking, yes, you sure are, please stop.

    8. Jeanne Christiansen*

      I had a co-worker who needed time to process, so we would brainstorm in one meeting, then give him a day to cogitate. He’d send an email with his comments, and then we’d meet briefly to make a decision.

    9. JSPA*

      1. it’s not always wrong to think in real time. If other people are allowed the time, then allow youreslf the time.

      2. try starting with notes on a (physical) pad of paper. Brainstorm silently, cross out, draw arrows; speak up when you have something that’s at least 70% of the way to coherence. Subvocalize while jotting if you need to “hear” rather than only “see” yourself think.

      If people ask: “just organizing my thoughts.”

  6. Fringe Benefits*

    I am over the idea that my work needs to be deeply fulfilling. I have no desire to get to C-Suite, VP, or even Director level. I wouldn’t mind getting to a point where I manage a small team, but mostly I just want to do my work and be done. I want 40 hours (or fewer even) and done. Give me my paycheck so I can do the things that are actually fulfilling.

    I’m wondering how I find a job where the “perks” or “fringe benefits” help make the grind more bearable. How do you search for jobs where you don’t really care about the duties (as long as they are in your skillset), you just care that the salary is right, there’s a bonus or two, and maybe you get to travel internationally or only work 4 days a week?

    I don’t even know where to start. If there even is a place to start for that.

    1. Anonymask*

      I have no ideas to assist, but following because I feel the same and I’d like to hear what others have to offer!

    2. ferrina*

      I’ve found that the company culture is a big differentiator. Either a culture where they respect the work-life balance or where I’m actively invested in who I work with. This is something that is best sussed out in the interview with careful questions. When I’m in a job interview, I am absolutely interviewing the company and thinking about whether it would be a good place for me.

    3. Datacontractor*

      I did this in my early 20s and don’t now that I’m more settled, but I used to take 6month-1year contracted positions, then let my employer know early I wasn’t seeking to renew, and take 3 months off at a time after. A DIY 4-day work work week, highly concentrated, if you will.

    4. Harper*

      I agree with Ferrina that culture makes all the difference. If the company truly cares about people and focuses on retention, things like schedule flexibility, great benefits, fun perks and events, etc., are built in. Maybe make this a focus of your job search, and the questions you ask during interviews?

      I have found that sweet spot after years in crappy companies. I left a toxic, stressful management position and accepted an individual contributor role with my current company. I was very lucky that they were willing to match my salary and PTO so I wouldn’t be in the negative by coming to work for them. If they like you enough, everything is negotiable! So with bonuses that actually reliably pay out, I came out ahead. Don’t be afraid to look for roles that are a step down if you can afford it and it positions you in a much better company.

      I put in 40 hours a week, 2 days of which are from home, and I travel domestically several times a year (just enough for some variety, but not enough to stress me out). Their benefits are unmatched and the culture is very much “people first” and “give people the benefit of the doubt”. It feels safe and supportive. There is little to no drama and everyone here genuinely seems to care about their work. I didn’t know a job could feel this way. I have landed in the perfect situation and if it doesn’t change, I don’t see myself leaving for a long time.

    5. Colette*

      I’d start by identifying the perks that matter most to you. Is it the amount of vacation? Having every second Friday off? Working from home? Earning donations to a charity by doing volunteer work outside of work?

      But I’d also think about what work you find meaningful to do. It’s OK to want to leave it behind you at the end of the day, but are you doing something worthwhile while you’re there? (What does worthwhile mean to you?)

    6. Penny Wise*

      Hello, may I suggest Academia?
      I’ve been in Academia Admininstration (low level, not like Dean/Provost level) for 25 years now, and its great. The pension is good, the roles and duties are very defined, many have a union, and very rarely does work bleed beyond the 9-5 boundary. There are entire armies of admin people hidden behind doors doing all the mundane “office work” required to keep academia running. Look up local colleges and universities, we are almost always hiring.

      1. Dragonfly7*

        Seconded. The pay may not be very high, but I felt like I was doing something worthwhile. I generally like the people I work with in a different industry but am looking at going back to working in this type of role in academia, especially a community college.

      2. DEJ*

        I also had amazing health benefits when I worked at a university. But as Dragonfly7 notes, you are probably going to take a bit of a pay cut from the private sector.

      3. LivesinaShoe*

        Absolutely this. And while the pay may be less than the most exciting private sector areas, in my university, administrators are paid pretty well. Great atmosphere, great interesting but not overwhelming work, competitive benefits, both pension and 403b choices. . . I am extremely happy.

      4. C.*

        Thirded. My university is far from a utopia and it does come with plenty of its own challenges, but I can safely say that I never have to think about work once the day is done. My day is over at 4 pm, and when it’s over, it’s over.

      5. EA*

        The only downside is if you want WFH; academia has been slow to take to that, although hybrid seems more common.

    7. not nice, don't care*

      I have learned by decades of observation that managing a team usually requires a higher level of investment than independent work, if done well.

    8. Sloanicota*

      Oh, are you me. The words I was looking for were in my last job search were “flexible work week” and “four day workweek.” I would not have lasted five minutes in my current role without the latter. These things should not come at a salary discount. The jobs are out there. However, I’ve made a shift into working on things that are really within my own control, not managing a team. I’m not as sure if that’s as common in leadership roles. I’m team independent contributor for life now.

    9. ThePear8*

      I’m still pretty early in my career but I had this same mindset when searching for a new position after being laid off. Others have already made a few good suggestions, so I would like to throw out there that if you love travel, I would recommend looking into jobs in the travel industry! A lot of travel industry companies like airlines, hotels, tour providers, deal finders, etc offer great perks like free/discounted flights, tours, etc. In my case, I ended up at a tour company where employees get to go on a free trip every year and get employee discounts on all their other tours.

    10. Wordybird*

      I don’t know of anyone who has perks like that in any in-office role. Maybe in a very large city and for either a very small private company or a very large international public one?

      My research has always had me come back to remote-first/all-remote tech or tech-adjacent companies who offer benefits like the ones you mention. Buffer, for instance, has benefits like that:

    11. sulky-anne*

      I really recommend looking for a union job if that is feasible in your industry/location. In my area, health, government, and education tend to be unionized and there are a variety of types of role in all of them. I love being part of a union. Great benefits, and it’s nice to feel the union has your back.

    12. Morgan Proctor*

      I want to second the suggestions of academia or tech. My partner works in academia and I am FLOORED at how incredible his pension plan is, like genuinely jealous. And he’s unionized. Tech will offer you more WFH opportunities and better benefits and perks, and probably higher pay.

  7. Kay Tee*

    I’m feeling bored in my current role, but massive layoffs in the news and at friends’ companies have me a little shaken. If you’re job-searching right now, how are you feeling?

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      Very passively looking because I want to relocate a little bit out, but it does feel like many companies are just looking for nice-to-have hires and aren’t truly looking for people

      1. Kay Tee*

        Good way of putting it–I’m nervous to apply for a job where I could see my duties being semi-easily absorbed!

    2. Kay Tee*

      Context, I’m in the nonprofit sector, currently at a university, eyeing some development openings at museums, a public radio station, and other culture institution-type places. I don’t hate my current role, but I’m not feeling super fulfilled. I feel slightly more layoff-insulated at a university (although, is that even a valid premise??) than, say, an NPR affiliate or large museum. A friend who works for a fundraising platform (so a for-profit tech company, but nonprofit sector-adjacent) just had her manager and half her team laid off. It’s scary out there.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I’m nervous. I hear hiring isn’t as good as it was, and people aren’t having to raise salaries even though COL is still really high where I am. I need more money to make a switch and it’s not clear I’ll be able to get it without taking on something really onerous.

    4. Alternative Person*

      Frustrated. Most of the current market is looking for individual contributors, but very little for anything a step or two above that. I’m maxed out at my current position, but there’s not many places to go for a better salary and/or more responsibility.

      Sending you positive vibes.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I dislike my job. I dislike it quite a bit. I was laid off early this year and landed this gig a few months later, and I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it but it pays well and the people are decent. Now I’m just unhappy. I also have a whole lot of friends and colleagues who were recently laid off, and my industry (tech-adjacent) took a massive hit. I had a job that I loved, it went away, now I’m here.

      The good thing is that jobs are opening up again. I’ve seen better postings in the last week or so than I’ve seen all year. I’m now ready to jump on anything that looks promising, though I may have to make some more compromises and I’m wrestling with that a bit (for example, I want something hybrid but I don’t want to relocate unless the opportunity is amazing, and most of the jobs in my field that look good are fully remote or not enticing enough to make me want to move).

      So I’m feeling better but still not great.

    6. Dragonfly7*

      I’m more willing to look for any job that gets me to my destination (relocating) that just the right job.

    7. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I expected to leave my job by now, either to a new job or freelancing, but am delaying due to the market. When layoffs happen, that’s usually a good time for freelancers because the work still has to get done. But the market is SO shaky in my sector(s) that the work just isn’t getting done by anyone. Hiring for jobs and freelance are both stalled. On the job side, I am looking at listings and feeling discouraged that of the few that existnon solve my biggest reasons for dissatisfaction in my current role so hopping feels unhelpful. I’m hoping things get better soon.

    8. Mostly Managing*

      I’m low-key job searching.
      It’s tough out there, and I’m glad to be searching from a position of restlessness and curiosity rather than a place of needing to find something quickly.
      There are not a lot of options that appeal.

    9. C.*

      I’ve been feeling frustrated by my job search this whole year. I work in higher education, and I’d like to stay with my (massive) employer. Even as an internal candidate with a high title, it’s been slow going and meh. I turned down a couple opportunities I didn’t think were the right fit, came veryclose on one I would’ve loved to have had, and didn’t hear a thing on a couple I thought I would at least get an interview for. I can feel the insane competition—internal and external—for positions creeping in, and it’s not exactly rocking me to sleep.

    10. Past Lurker*

      There’s been company closures in my area, so the competition is fierce for any positions now. I was having trouble finding something decent even before that :(

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m frustrated because I’d been planning on wrapping up a few really neat projects to put on my resume— and various technical problems have delayed them. Problems are not from my department, but we get rework on top of the general chaos I am done with.

      The one thing I want is mostly remote work or an extremely short commute, and I’m not seeing anything I trust to stay that way.

    12. Lemon Chiffon*

      Low key job searching because I am trying to stick it out until maternity leave. But, burned out at work, bored with what I am working on, dealing with some sudden changes of workflow and processes that don’t work very well with my brain. Would love to find something after kiddo is born that is remote and/or more flexible (preferably that pays better — daycare is expensive), but I will have to go outside my industry to find it and the whole thing vaguely exhausting.

  8. ErinWV*

    Weird situation at my job this week. I just discovered that my boss thought that I made 15% more than I do. We were having a conversation about a new benefits enrollment period and she commented that I would be in the income bracket for the higher monthly premium; I said I wasn’t, I was below that. Her: “no, you make X.” Me: “no, I make Y [X minus several thou].” I confirmed what I knew to be my salary with my pay stubs. Her misinformation came from a spreadsheet she was given by our company payroll last year, with all the salaries in her division on it. It declared, in black and white, that I made X/year.

    We are both flummoxed. She says if she knew I was making Y and not X, she would have agitated for more money for me. I personally think she was deliberately told the wrong figure for exactly that reason.

    1. ThatGirl*

      If it was based on bad info from payroll, I would contact them and see what the deal is. Loop her in as needed. Cause that’s pretty weird.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I would start by asking your boss to investigate and see what she finds out. (I would not assume that there’s anything malicious going on without some evidence.)

      1. Ama*

        Yes, if the spreadsheet was created by someone manually copying data in from the payroll system it could be that someone mistyped, or misread your number, or someone else got a raise to that much and they typed it in the wrong line.

        Now if it was a spreadsheet pulled automatically from an internal system somewhere, that definitely needs to be sorted out because that would suggest there’s a discrepancy between the official record and what the payroll system is set up to pay you.

        We’ve had our entire finance department turn over in the last year and a bunch of incorrect payroll/PTO things have been discovered where someone changed things in one system but didn’t update another system that doesn’t talk to it. (Our new finance team is in the process of upgrading all our systems to try to minimize these kinds of errors.)

      2. ErinWV*

        Yes, she’s trying to figure it out. Also curious about how correct the rest of the salaries are on the spreadsheet she was given, as you can imagine.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Any chance it was one of those weird numbers that includes fringe and benefits? My old job used to pull this out all the time. “Total compensation” or something. But, it was kind of crappy because a lot of that “compensation” wasn’t that flexible for me (so like, their insurance rates were really high, and that made my “compensation” look better than it was in terms of the employer’s share of that).

      1. Kay Tee*

        Seconding this–it could be factoring in retirement plan matches, employer-covered insurance, maybe even employer taxes for Medicare and Social Security.
        There’s a spot on my payroll platform that lists my “adjusted compensation” 28% higher than my regular salary. Useful for the employer to consider the full cost to them of an employee with benefits, but they shouldn’t represent that as your compensation!

      2. ErinWV*

        That was the first thing I asked, and my boss said no, it was definitely meant to represent base pay.

    4. Cyndi*

      I had a similar issue a couple months after I started my current job; I get a healthcare stipend instead of insurance, but I wasn’t getting it on my paycheck and my boss insisted he had been paying it to me. When we finally compared screenshots from our respective ends of QuickBooks, it turned out that the paystubs on his end were listing the amount under a separate heading but it wasn’t being added into the final total of money actually being deposited to me, for some reason. Meanwhile it showed as $0 on my end and I was just getting paid my correct hourly amount minus deductions.

    5. ecnaseener*

      Wow! See if you can get adjusted up to that number — operate on the assumption that the mistake is with your paystubs, not with the spreadsheet. Sounds like your boss would be willing to give it a try.

      1. ErinWV*

        She would be on board, but unfortunately the institution is not. We’re in the red and they said it’s not possible this year. I probably couldn’t ethically accept a major raise in the same year we’ve had layoffs anyway.

    6. darlingpants*

      It miiiiiight have been a spreadsheet with “total comp” aka all the monetary value of your benefits rolled in? I know my “total compensation” is about 30% higher than my actual salary.

      1. EllenD*

        Sometimes managers are sent the budget cost of positions, which includes, gross salary and in the UK employer national insurance, pension contributions, etc – to enable them to assess the cost of the posts in their team. However, it should be clearly labelled as total costs – and not salary.

        1. ErinWV*

          I didn’t see the spreadsheet, but my boss said it was my base pay, so I’m assuming there were other columns with my benefits package and a different total.

  9. JustMeInAP*

    Does anyone have any tips for getting vendors to send invoices to the correct person? The billing information is printed on our purchase orders, and includes both an AP mailing address and an email address just for invoices–and vendors still send things to the wrong place! They then complain when their payments are late. I feel like this is just part of the job of AP, but it gets old. Why do vendors not set this up correctly when you have given them the information they need to get their bills to the correct person so they can be paid on time? Is there a way to fix it? Thank you!

    1. Tio*

      We mostly fixed this by not paying them unless it was sent to the right place. You can also have whoever’s getting the emails write back “This does not appear to be the correct place for this email, please resend to the correct party” although that might be annoying depending on how often they come in.

      1. Miette*

        This. My sis works for a big consumer company and that’s what they do. Back this up with some communications back when they send it to the wrong place, maybe the first few times, then leave it there. It’s not your responsibility to run their business for them.

      2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

        The prior owners of my home ran a business out of the house. they rented it for at least 1-2 years before we bought it… about three years ago. I spent the first year dutifully giving them the opportunity to pick up random invoices, tax refunds, etc. That wore off pretty quickly. I have returned mail to several senders a dozen times (“no such person” note on the mail so they see the issue) and they just… keep sending stuff. it’s first class mail too.

        1. Rick Tq*

          Consider getting a self-inking stamp in red that says Addressee Unknown, Return to Sender. Stamp the letter across your address, drop it in a mail box and move on.

    2. Generic Name*

      I mean, when they contact you why an invoice hasn’t been paid and you tell them they need to send it to X in order to get paid should be a good way to get vendors to send invoices to the correct location.

    3. Dulcinea47*

      don’t pay them. Maybe give them a heads up first like “Please send invoices to (repeat correct address, again). Going forward, invoices not received here will not be paid.”

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

      I know you want to make the vendor change their behavior, but this sounds more like an internal issue. The thing is, your employer owes them money and they think THEY don’t need to jump through hoops to get paid. Whoever is doing the ordering with these vendors needs to be the one to remind or update the vendor where to send the invoice, and to make sure to forward any invoices they receive to you. If that’s not possible, and if you have a contact person at the vendor in their Accounts Receivable, contact them directly to see if this is a database that auto generates and sends the invoice to the person on record for the account…that can be solved by updating the contact info. Or on their invoice, if they list a sales rep call them too. But really, kick it to the person in your company that is placing the order.

    5. Yikes on Bikes*

      I feel your pain. I have one vendor who keeps sending invoices to someone who has not been at my company for FIVE YEARS. Then they get annoyed when it doesn’t get paid promptly.

      1. Corelle*

        I still get shipping notifications from a supplier I haven’t bought from in NINE years. I tried to resolve it last year…I talked to their buyer, their buyer’s manager, and eventually called the supplier directly to figure it out. My buying group didn’t care, the supplier had no idea why or how they were sending me notifications or how to fix it in their own system. After about six attempts to talk to someone about it, I gave up and set up an Outlook rule to delete the emails.

    6. Cacofonix*

      I worked on a project at a company that had vendors formally agree at PO level or vendor account level the terms of invoicing and payment among other things. Bigger companies can do this. Then AI to identify and automate responses to invoices incorrectly sent clarifying payment terms. As a consultant, I can verify it worked because my consulting invoice was flagged in this way which I thought was pretty funny when I didn’t follow the rules I had just implemented. Vendors will follow if:
      1) payment terms are simple, clear and acknowledged at the outset
      2) responsive and polite communication and acknowledgment of invoices received, with brief corrective actions if they are incorrect.
      3) Consistent application of rules; no exceptions. Rules are thought through to ensure different scenarios such as pre-payments, contract terms are accommodated to make it easy as possible for vendors to comply.
      4) And this is key, leadership is trained on protocols so that they back up AP every time a vendor escalates. Lots of compliance came from this alone.

    7. kiki*

      If multiple vendors are sending invoices to the same wrong people consistently, I would investigate a bit more– ask the vendors why they reached out to X instead of Y, potentially do an audit as a vendor to see if there is any confusing information being presented to vendors that you’re not aware of. In a past workplace, we had some automated messages going out that internal folks didn’t see that hadn’t been updated in some time. Maybe something like that is happening?

      1. JustaTech*

        Or it could be that some vendors are *terrible* about updating their information.

        I had a vendor who consistently wrote the wrong person and wrong address on a service contract for 5 years, despite me correcting them every year.
        Then somehow I got into their system as the *only* contact person for my company and got a very harsh phone call demanding to know why they hadn’t been paid for some items owned by another department in another state, where I didn’t have the first idea who they should be calling (besides “not me”).
        Their contact system was completely opaque and it took a long time to get everything worked out.

    8. Hillary*

      Whoever owns the relationship needs to talk with the vendor about it and tell them to fix it. It’s probably set up wrong on their vendor/supplier master.

      The person entering the POs shouldn’t have permission to change anything on the vendor master and may not even be able to see it. Bill-to and remit-to are extremely susceptible to man-in-the-middle / impersonation fraud and should have multi-level controls. The people who could verify the bill-to never see the POs.

    9. Ann*

      Some vendors really, really like to send invoices directly to the project manager for whatever reason. They want the PM to make sure the invoice is correct, or they don’t want to email someone they’re not working with directly, or whatever. Do you have a contact/dedicated email for invoices? You could then work with PMs to get vendors to cc this contact when sending invoices to whoever they prefer to deal with.

  10. not not burnt out*

    Can I crowdsource some ways to use up vacation time from y’all? I get more than double what my partner does and I’m not interested in traveling without them, so I’m coming up on the end of the year with 4+ weeks banked. I can roll over 8 weeks, so I’m not worried about losing it, but I know I need to be better about using it — it is part of my compensation.

    An additional wrinkle is that my usual coverage person has been out for months dealing with health issues, and he isn’t that great at coverage anyway. I’m a department of one so it’s honestly a huge hassle to take time off, and coming back after any absence longer than a day is really stressful.

    The point is not that I don’t want to take vacation time, but I really need it to be fun/exciting/restful enough to justify the headache (so staying in bed for two weeks is out). I’m happy to hear general suggestions or ones specific to the NYC metro area, and yes, like most New Yorkers, I don’t have a car. Thanks, and hopefully you guys can think of something or at least point me in the right direction!

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Are you able to take Fridays off or half off once a month or so? I’ve found that I like sprinkling in random little bits of PTO instead of big chunks. I often use them to clean, read, or go to a museum or concert. Sometimes just to sleep in!

      1. Colette*

        Or Wednesdays – it breaks up the work week and every day is either just before or just after a day off.

        1. Yikes on Bikes*

          I’ve always said I would love to have Wednesdays off – breaks up the week, and I could use it as a “life management” day to do all the chores and errands that now I have to do on the weekends. Being in the middle of the week, I think I’d be more likely to actually get them done versus Fri or Mon, when I’d be tempted to let my weekend run long. Getting everything done on Weds would mean I could truly relax on the weekend.

          1. Bo Peep*

            Days off during the week are so good. You can do all the stuff you can’t do on a weekend because banks and doctors and the electric company work the same hours you do and you can’t always get things done during a lunch hour (which those places often have as their own lunch hours!)

        2. Sandi*

          I have a flexible workload and take days off depending on the weather. If it’s beautiful in spring and I want to enjoy the warmer day, or if there’s a bad storm and I want to avoid traffic, then I confirm with my boss that I have no meetings and take the day off.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      When I lived and worked in NYC, I used to take a couple of days off every October to go to movies and yoga classes. There is something wonderful about doing things in NYC when it’s not as busy.

      1. Nea*

        Seconding this. There’s so much going on in NYC, take a day to see a Wednesday matinee, or a museum exhibit or lecture or something. It can be incredibly rewarding to see your home through a tourist’s eyes.

        Longer term, so that you use your leave, feel refreshed, and don’t add a lot of stress from being out for a long time, perhaps you could find an interesting class and take off a few hours every week to attend it?

    3. Alex*

      Can you take a bunch of long weekends? What are some things that you’d like to do but never seem to have time to? From NYC there’s a ton of places you can go for the day on the train–take yourself to the movies, a museum, out for a spa day, a fall hike, or whatever you enjoy doing. Sometimes even taking a day to deep clean your home or purge your closet or do a big cooking project can be satisfying.

    4. Tio*

      Take a cooking class or something every Tuesday or Wednesday. Or golfing, or painting, or a personal trainer – whatever seems most appealing.

    5. Kay Tee*

      Find a daytime event or workshop that you wouldn’t normally be able to attend! Maybe an art or fitness class.

    6. Potato Potato*

      I like taking a day off at a time to play video games, go hiking, or do the more infrequent chores. Just little things

      Another thing that’s fun, which I haven’t done a lot of- playing tourist in my own city. Like the things you’d do if an out-of-town friend visited, except you can call all the shots.

    7. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I used to live in the DC area. Nothing better than spending Wednesday just roaming through a museum, especially in off-months without a lot of tourists. Can you do a week where Monday is the Met, Tuesday is the Bronx Zoo, etc? Do the deep-dive culture/tourism stuff – especially anything where you might move away and then say “I really regret that I never went to the (whatever) when I lived there”.

    8. ThatGirl*

      Pick a month and take all the Fridays or Mondays off. Or take every other Monday off for a couple months. You get the idea.

      Spend a day going to your favorite museum, or exploring Chinatown, or your favorite park, or have a little spa day… whatever kind of activity interests you.

    9. librarymouse*

      You could take a few life admin days throughout the year like a Friday or a Monday so that when the weekend comes, you and your partner can spend the time you both have off doing something fun instead of running errands/doing housework.

    10. WantonSeedStitch*

      What about dedicating some vacation time to hobbies? I’d love to take off a few days when my son is in daycare and spend that time sourcing spiffy ingredients and cooking complex dishes like mole poblano or making bread. Visiting museums is fun, too: being a tourist in your own city, sort of thing. And then there’s the idea of taking a train somewhere for a few days.

    11. PricklyHedgehog*

      I’ve been (weekend) exploring the city like a tourist and it’s great; during the week is even better because crowds are smaller. There are great walking tours of neighborhoods like Chinatown, of the catacombs (a little underwhelming vs Paris but still cool), and of course all the museums. The Met, AMNH, MoMA, and Guggenheim are all awesome. Day-of shows are also great (and pretty cheap) both on Broadway and Lincoln Center.

    12. Too Long Til Retirement*

      I also would do a lot of long weekends, OR a random Wednesday or Thursday. NYC is so full of things to do, I am sure you could EASILY use up those days by taking one day a week all winter. You could get a cheap matinee theater seat from TKTS, go to all of the museums at less busy times, stroll the more hidden areas of Central Park, visit all the parks in Manhattan and Brooklyn, explore all the boroughs, go to the Botanical garden, try a new coffee shop every day, hit up all the indie bookstores, try the new restaurants at lunch when they’re cheaper, do architecture walks, etc.

      I don’t live in NYC but I love it, and using up vacation days there would be so easy for me.

      1. The Narrator*

        Seconded getting matinee tickets, but with the additional advice of going directly to the box office for day-of tickets if you know what show you want to see! No fees, and I got a great deal on second row seats to Into the Woods last year!

    13. IrishGirl*

      do you have any slow times of the year you can take extra days around? How about taking extra time around a regularly scheduled vacation? If you are planning a week off with partner, take an extra day on either end. Or make longer time off for holidays when a lot of other people are doing the same thing. Maybe take days around Christmas to do your shopping or wrapping when partner is not around. Or even jsut to enjoy NY at Christmas. Take a day to travel over to the ginormous mall in NJ that has a water park and indoor ski slope and other things that are super crowded during the week. I think there are public transport options to get there. Maybe take in an early show on Broadway that your partner may not be interested in but a friend might be.

      1. Miette*

        Seconding this. Make every holiday into a long weekend–so many of them are observed on a Monday or Friday anyway, you might as well go for that. Take Thanksgiving week off.

        Perhaps volunteering is another option. If you can work it so you’re off every other Monday or something, that could be of interest to some orgs.

    14. Jamie Starr*

      If you’ve never been to Dia Beacon, I highly recommend. It’s a beautiful space (a former box printing factory) full of site specific modern and contemporary art. You can take the Metro North from Manhattan; then it’s a short walk from the train station in Beacon. But make sure you check their website in advance for their hours because I think they close earlier once the time change starts.

    15. Tammy 2*

      A friend and I used to take a day off together every so often to go to lunch and a movie, get pedicures, etc.

      Are there museums that interest you that your partner isn’t into? I love going to museums by myself so I can go at exactly my own pace.

      Also, I don’t know if you are in the same boat, but I am also a department of one and…I really shouldn’t be. I am always active about lining up coverage and diligent about preparing/catching up (you’re right, it’s a lot of trouble!), but I think taking my allotted time helps my manager and grandboss really understand the full scope of what I do and is helping me make a case for an additional FTE.

    16. K*

      I’m taking every Friday off between now and Xmas so I can take a day-long pottery class. Bonus is that it only starts at 10, so get the luxury of a lie-on every Friday.

    17. Dublin liver*

      Suggest a friend or relative come to NYC and take time off during their visit to go around with them for some or all of their visit.

      1. Yikes on Bikes*

        Definitely this! I would love to have extra days off for this. I have a few friends coming to visit next week but I sadly am only able to hang out with them on the weekend.

    18. Jm*

      Hit up management for a better backup plan. If returning from time off wasn’t such a PITA you would feel free to use some of the time you are entitled to.

    19. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      Following the general theme of “nickle-and-diming it” –taking little bits of time rather than a massive chunk– I really like it when I can use vacation time to leave early or come in late or take a long lunch.
      I can schedule it even if I don’t have a substitute for the coverage-based aspects of my job, I don’t get far behind on my non-coverage-based workload (coming back to more work than I left is a huge stressor for longer vacations), it lets me avoid the stressful rush hours and have a more pleasant commute, I can do errands or amusements that are more available during business hours, I don’t need to travel without my partner or deal witht he extra logistics and expenses of a long vacation–lodging, transportation, meals, house/pet sitter, etc.

      1. T. Wanderer*

        Seconding this! Especially in winter — one year I took an hour off every day in December, which you might think did nothing…except it meant I wasn’t commuting home in the dark, and the quality-of-life change was enormous!

    20. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I add a day to pretty much every long weekend, usually the day AFTER the holiday as that tends to be less in demand and I don’t care either way. Depends whether you get stats off and how many there are, but that adds ~10 days yearly for me.

    21. DannyG*

      Any opportunity to do professional development during the week? Take a class, attend a seminar, do a certification? Essentially, let the company pay for your next move up.

    22. Ama*

      I often add one or two extra days on to the end of any scheduled long weekend — it’s amazing how much longer a 4 day weekend feels than a three day weekend. My work also gets really quiet around holiday weekends so it also decreases the amount of missed messages I have to deal with.

      I also have a busy period that gets over right around Thanksgiving, so I will sometimes take every Friday off in December — I find having 4-6 weeks of 4 day weeks feels pretty restful and it gives me more time to do all the extra personal stuff that I want to do around the holidays (shopping, sending cards, decorating, etc.)

      I lived in NYC for twenty years — I’m always a fan of planning a day trip to a museum, or if you like outdoors Governors’ Island is a great mini-escape from the city (you just take the ferry from either Brooklyn or the Financial District). Or sometimes I just go get a massage or a haircut (I have a lot of hair and my haircuts take about 30 minutes longer than a standard appointment so my stylist always liked it when I could schedule in the middle of a day).

    23. Nicki Name*

      Hone your NYC subway knowledge and try to beat the record for riding the entire system the fastest!

    24. Cacofonix*

      What I do, which may not be for everyone is to learn something outside of the job. For me, a hobby or a language. I just got back from a foreign country where my spouse and I travelled for 3 weeks and I stayed on afterwards to take a short intensive course to further a hobby and soak up the culture. I do the same at home…start a project or volunteer where I need to learn something that gets me out in a different environment.

    25. Pajamas on Bananas*

      Are you allowed to use vacation in increments? I like to take 2-hr late starts personally.

    26. Seeking Second Childhood*

      NYC is a train hub—you have daytrip destinations galore if you check out Metro North, LIRR, the PATH train and Amtrak. Just as simple as figuring out the bicycle rules or connecting buses will open up even more.

      Museums from midtown to New Haven CT would be my personal preference since I’m not currently in bicycle health.

    27. HonorBox*

      I’d be on the lookout for things that you’d find fun/exciting/restful in your area, especially if they take place during the work week, and schedule a day every now and again. This may allow you to plan around your workload a little bit, especially if your boss is open to you planning things without weeks of notice. Maybe you take a random Wednesday because there’s a great activity in a park. Maybe its a Thursday and Friday because things are slower that week and you can slide off and hit a couple of cool restaurants that are harder to get into.

      I don’t want to sound preachy but as much of a pain as it can be sometimes to take time away, it is good for your health, even if you’re just going to your favorite coffee shop with a book and then catching up on a few things around the house. I will randomly take a day just to get caught up on laundry or to grocery shop at 1 in the afternoon versus trying to get in when everyone else is there over the weekend.

    28. Loux*

      Take some Fridays or Mondays off, just to create a bit of a long weekend. Take whole days off when you have appointments – it can be a hassle to schedule appointments around work hours, so take an appointment during the work day then just take that whole day off.

      Or take more half days, either to allow you to sleep in or get off work earlier – whatever your preference is!

    29. Pocket Mouse*

      If you hike, take MetroNorth up to Cold Spring or Beacon and spend the day in Hudson Highlands State Park! It’s especially beautiful this time of year. Otherwise, mid-week life admin is always valuable, or weekday performances/events, or take time off to spend time with family/friends visiting from out of town, or with friends who have different work schedules than yours. You could even have lunch with a friend near their work as part of a day spent in that area doing other enjoyable things.

    30. Justin*

      Day trip to Hudson Valley on Metro-North, Day trip to some of the more forest-y parts of NJ on the train, you can get a lot of places on the train or bus within 90 minutes. Pick a town you want to see and a restaurant or museum you’d like to try.

      My son and I ride the subway to new neighborhoods for fun. He is, however, 3, and I am a dork, so.

    31. Ranon*

      When my spouse had a lot more vacation than me he would take an extra day on either end of our trips to do the life logistics stuff associated with the trip, which made our lives and the vacation a ton nicer. And I’d get clean underwear, lol.

    32. HE Admin*

      Every year when the weather gets nice and the outdoor pools open, I take a week off and just hang out at the pool. Most of the time I don’t even swim; I just read, dip my feet in, and people watch. It is so relaxing without traveling anywhere.

      Alternatively, a few times a year I take a day off and spend the whole thing at a giant Korean spa nearby getting treatments, soaking in the pools, lounging in the saunas, and eating Korean treats in the cafe. Any day spas you could visit?

    33. Contracts Killer*

      Do you have any kids in your life – your own, nieces/nephews, close family friends’ kids? School is usually out an hour or two before offices let out and there are always random breaks and e-learning days. Maybe spend the day with them at some kid-centric places. It will be fun memories and if they completely wear you out or it’s stressful, you can take an extra day off to decompress.

    34. C.*

      Beyond the long weekends idea that others have already suggested, I’m a big fan of stacking days around vacation—e.g., the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the Monday afterwards, etc. The holidays are exhausting with travel and cooking and other obligations, so carving out a few days of genuine rest make a huge difference for me.

    35. Informal Educator*

      I think volunteering would be a great way to use your time. Your partner won’t feel like you’re off having fun without them, and you can use the time to make a difference for a cause you care about. That’s something that can be difficult to fit into a busy working life.

    36. Lemon*

      If this were me, I’d be looking at (and tbh, this is already how I spend my PTO!) learning-intensives for my hobbies that are week long or similar. I sew, so it’d be: extra learning at FIT, doing some 1:1 classes and couture projects with teachers.
      Other ideas: going to the rehearsals of the opera/orchestra/ballet/similar, “being a tourist for the day”, going to Zoos/parks/Botanic Gardens you haven’t been to in years, a day trip to Boston (or anywhere else by train). Once you get started, you’ll probably find more ideas flow.
      Also, keep a list of ideas that pop up during the stressful times at work (“man, I wish I could be xxx”).

    37. Sarah BRB*

      Take the train and visit DC or Boston! They are close enough so it may not feel like a “vacation” and more of a trip, but both are super accessible via public transport, just like NYC.

  11. AnonHere*

    Any advice on how to cope after you make a mistake at work? I’m so embarrassed and I can’t stop feeling this way.

    For context, let’s call this a medium-sized mistake. Not the end of the world, but definitely not small.

    1. IWorkWithCakeToppersALot*

      Forgive yourself first. Accept that mistakes happen, its what you do with that knowledge that’s going to help in the long run. Every time that thought comes up and you cringe about it, ask yourself, “What have I not processed about this mistake?” The processing can be adding guard rails to your current process so it doesnt happen again or if it happens again, any fail safe in the process, if that is not possible too then just accept it happens time to time. We make mistakes, its human!

    2. Potato Potato*

      Something that helps me is separating the feelings and the actions. It’s okay to feel embarrassed! The feeling isn’t gonna go away until I process it, so I might as well let myself feel my feelings.

      But also- there’s a reason you’re there at your company. And you’re more than your mistake. Is there any work-related things that make you feel confident? And is there a way to do one of those right now? If not, you can just reflect about them

    3. Tio*

      Apologize to your boss and come up with some corrective actions/procedures to avoid it happening again. That’s pretty much it. If this is uncommon for you and you’ve been there a while, even a medium sized mistake probably is not as big of a deal to them as it is to you. I remember crying after I made a $450 mistake my first year on the job; ten years later I wrote off a report’s $10,000 mistake with a shrug. But their reaction was most important! You want to be contrite and conscientious, so I know I can continue to trust you to do your job and this was just an outlier, but not fall all over yourself with guilt and apologies and I have to manage your emotional state.

    4. Rex Libris*

      My advice as a manager would be to just own it, and be able to state what steps you’ll take to avoid a similar problem in the future. What I always want is just that someone recognizes the issue, apologizes for it, and learns something from it.

      Everybody makes mistakes, the trick is to just be professional about it.

    5. English Rose*

      Things do get better, people forget. But more importantly, everyone makes mistakes. If you can understand why it happened and put steps in place to maybe alter process or develop a checklist or something that will guard against similar in the future, that will reassure others.
      Maybe think about if your closest friend or co-worker had made the same mistake. I bet you wouldn’t be judging them as harshly as you are doing yourself.

    6. Exhausted Electricity*

      write out a personal “lessons learned” document, what did you learn from the mistake to grow from? how can you prevent it from happening again?
      I paper my monitors with sticky notes of things I’ve messed up more than once so I remember the process correctly.

    7. Sloanicota*

      For me, I focus on the mistakes my boss makes, or other employees I respect: how do they handle it? Do they own up immediately without seeming overly ashamed? Do I judge them so horribly when I see what happened (no). Mistakes do happen to us all.

    8. Jessica*

      Think about the advantages this situation will have once you get through it. You’ll have demonstrated to your manager and anyone else who knew about this how professionally you handle it. You’ll have demonstrated, and built, resilience: instead of thinking “I’m pretty good at Job but oh no what if I ever did something Wrong?” you can know you’re competent and remember that time you did a mistake and the world did not end. You’ll be a more valuable role model and mentor to others, because you have your own story of a time you messed up, and can model surviving a blunder.

    9. Sherm*

      The more I work, the more I become convinced that mistakes at work are only infrequently just the result of one person “messing up,” but instead point to a systemic problem. For example, if a typo causes thousands of dollars in losses, then is the major problem really that someone made a typo, or that there should have been multiple people checking the text, automatic processes in place to remove typos, and so forth?

      A mistake is therefore an opportunity to improve things for everyone in the future. As in: “Hey boss, I was thinking about how we can avoid X from happening again, and I thought Y or Z could work.” In general, a mistake is a large way in which we learn. After I make a mistake, I often tell myself “I’m more capable now, because I’ve learned from this and know how to improve in the future.”

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Yes, I think this is so great!

        Lots of people have very practical advice in this thread which all seems good to me, but I wanted to share a framing/mantra that helps me a lot when I am feeling like a waste of space:

        Where does good judgement come from?
        Where does experience come from?
        Bad judgement.

        This is just literally true in my experience, and helps me to calm down by understanding that mistakes really are how I have learned.

    10. Elle*

      I made a pretty bad mistake at work this week and also feel awful about it. What’s helped me start to feel better is correcting it and showing my boss how I’ve fixed it. And my boss is not holding over my head.

    11. Cacofonix*

      There is lots of good advice in these comments for owning and thinking through what you learned and how to correct for this or next time.

      In addition, as someone who tends to ruminate on mistakes I make, I received the most useful guidance years ago that I always hold on to. A manager told me when she saw I was beating myself up for an embarrassing error… “If you didn’t reflect thoughtfully and acknowledge what led us here, I’d hold you in much less esteem than I do right now. You do some of the highest quality work on this team in part because of what you learn from your mistakes. All you need now is to hold on to that gift and let go of everything that is wasteful. Forgive yourself.

    12. Miette*

      A colleague once made the following comment about an error our department made: “No one died.”

      It helped to put something that, in the long run, wasn’t all that big a deal into context (even if dealing with a displeased sponsor was a big old PITA in the moment).

      Assuming that’s not the case for you, and that people have not been harmed, perhaps this simple realization–plus all the good feedback above–will help you gain perspective.

    13. RagingADHD*

      How long has it been? Sometimes we have unreasonable expectations of how long it takes to get past something or for feelings to fade. If it just happened this week or last week, give it time. If it was like, several weeks ago and you are still constantly (not occasionally) feeling intensely embarrassed about it, and can’t even put it out of your mind for a few hours, talk to a non-work friend about it IRL and see if you can process through it.

      If it was maybe three months ago or more, and the embarrassment is still with you daily, maybe look at EAP resources for some pro support.

      There is no hard line between “it *just* happened” and “that’s a long time to be stuck,” but ballpark.

    14. Hillary*

      What would you say to someone else on your team if they made the same mistake? I bet you’d tell them it isn’t the end of the world and stuff happens.

      So my advice is (1) if you have a work friend you trust talk to them about it. Try to internalize when they tell you it isn’t a huge deal.

      and (2) if there’s a corrective action to prevent it put it in place. My first big mistake of my career helped us understand that we needed someone to check the first person’s work on a complicated process that started with a hard-to-use system.

    15. Goldenrod*

      The most helpful advice I’ve ever received on this topic was: “It’s not the mistake that matters. It’s what you do to correct the mistake.”

      So that means – immediately reporting it, acknowledging it, taking responsibility and – most important – fixing it in whatever way is possible. Sometimes that’s just an apology.

      Another thing I’ve learned is – some mistakes are very serious and need to be taken seriously – but *sometimes* if it’s something without huge repercussions, you can just lightly say, “Whoops! Sorry about the mistake!” or even, “My bad!” and let it go. Not every mistake needs to be treated like a major event.

      Humor also DEFINITELY helps.

    16. Unkempt Flatware*

      This may not mean much to others but I am pretty anxious and had very tough and authoritative parents–I still fear being in trouble at age 37. But what works for me is compartmentalizing the “trouble”. I tell myself that my neighbor, mother, father, brother, mayor, etc do not know about the mistake I made.

      Besides reminding myself that my whole world doesn’t know about my error, the only thing that helps me move on is time. By this time tomorrow, you’ll be comfy and safe at home and hopefully not thinking about it.

    17. I Have RBF*

      Focus on fixing it. Then you can go from an embarrassed “I made a mistake!!!1!!!” to a proud “I made a mistake then I figured out how to fix it!”

      In my field we all make mistakes. What separates seniors from juniors is our skill at fixing them, IMO.

  12. ConstantlyComic*

    Does anyone have any advice on how to stop seeing a coworker as a BEC? I’ve been nursing a grudge against one of my coworkers after she made some changes to a procedure I developed without telling me (one of the changes does make sense despite being redundant and something that the other department involved in the procedure explicitly told us was something we don’t have to do, the other is completely stupid and unnecessary). I normally get along with this coworker, but as soon as this procedure becomes involved, she can’t do anything right in my mind, which is a problem as it’s a two-person procedure that we tend to end up doing together multiple times a week.

    I recognize that I am the a-hole in this situation and would like not to be, so does anyone have any advice on how to tamp down the anger that springs into my mind anytime she does anything involving this procedure?

    1. Not Julia’s Child*

      Mantras I’ve used in this situation:
      “I get paid the same no matter how it is done.”
      “My work is not my worth,” or alternatively “[Coworker]’s worth is not in how she does this work.”
      “None of this will matter when I’m not working here anymore, so don’t let it matter now.”
      “Being right isn’t worth feeling angry. Let it go.”

    2. Opera X*

      There are a number of empathy and gratitude practices from mindfulness that can help you. Do some googling on that topic. Calm has a number of videos online, if you like video, and the Greater Good Science Center has articles if you prefer to read.

    3. Rex Libris*

      It’s not about being an a-hole, but realize that your anger about it is damaging you, not your coworker. Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?

      1. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

        AMEN to this one. Old but relevant chestnut: holding on to anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

        Maybe try saying “Today I’m not gonna be mad about this.” Just today. You get to be mad tomorrow; just not today.

    4. Tio*

      Write out (to yourself, not in view of them) a list of the things they do well and their positive qualities. Refer to the list when they annoy you. It can help recenter you on them.

    5. K8T*

      Truly the best reply I’ve ever gotten when I’ve been a BEC and was venting was simply (and a mildly sarcastic): “hope you get over it”
      And I did haha – mind over matter until you’re able to let it go

    6. HR Exec Popping In*

      Honestly, you need to just decide (for real) to let it go. Tell yourself you are over it and every time you find yourself falling back on those feelings remind yourself that you let that go. As others have said, feeling upset with someone else feels like you are punishing them, but in truth it is only effecting you. By letting this go, you are prioritizing yourself and your own feelings. Don’t be held hostage for such a small issue that 5 years from now will not mean anything to you.

    7. JSPA*

      Think of other things that people just naturally and comfortably do differently.

      (Example: I cut vegetables in mid air, over the pan, towards myself, in tightly controlled gestures; others do so only downward, away from themselves, on a chopping block.)

      Tell yourself, “this is something that makes deep and comfortable sense to her, even though it seems insanely stupid to me; my method likely grated on her as badly as hers does on me.” And then address it with that sort of “I” language.

      “Brains are so interesting! I figure you must see or feel a real value in doing X, as you’ve added it to the process. The benefit is somehow invisible to me, and frankly, it really grates on me to do it, because it feels pointless on a deep level. If we’re committed to doing it, is there any chance we can [insert tweak here, whether that’s her doing more of that part…or you only including that column in the spreadsheet for specific accounts…or both of you doing it for only two months, and then checking whether it has decreased errors and increased the ability to cross-check…or whatever.]”

      It’s possible that someone asked her to do it. Or that it’s some sort of unofficial accomodation to avoid errors. Or it makes something in her job easier.

      But even if it comes down to, “my eyes skim it better that way,” that’s a valid reason for her to want to do it.

      I worked with someone who chose to put every value in…let’s see…the equivalent would be a column for miles per liter, and column for liters per mile, and a column for miles per gallon, and a column for gallons per mile. Made for a dense and ugly table (in my eyes); but given how she intended to use it (as a call up for another table), it made sense computationally.

      If each of your can put your competing reasons into words, that may go a long way towards refocusing on, “what gives us what we need” rather than “who feels ownership over what,” or “how I have become accustomed to its face.”

    8. Honor Harrington*

      First, kudos to you for realizing it and trying to be better. That’s wonderful!

      That does seem like a strong reaction for one issue, so I have to wonder what else is going on. Is the person difficult or exhausting in other ways? Are you stressed and burned out with the job in general and this is just the last straw? Maybe stressed outside of work and she is a safe place to direct the frustration?


      I’m in this situation a lot with one of my colleagues. When I recognize that my grudge is bubbling up, I’ll ask him a question about his personal life (not anything too deep, something like ‘how is your cat doing’ or ‘do you have any weekend plans’). If we can get into a nice conversation about something non-work related, I can remember that he is a full human person and not just a BEC. In your situation, it might also help initiate better communication overall and she’ll be more inclined to come to you before making changes…or maybe it won’t, but at least your fury might diffuse.

      1. Goldenrod*

        “If we can get into a nice conversation about something non-work related, I can remember that he is a full human person”

        Related to this, something I used to do when I worked in retail and had an annoying customer was to pretend they were a relative. Like – “Grandpa’s being cranky today” is something you can tell yourself that re-frames the annoying customer as a person. The reality is, they *are* someone’s beloved mother, son, whatever, and their relatives likely love them despite their flaws.

    10. Busy Middle Manager*

      Well, they did something that is not right! Get that “we, other department, will handle X” in writing and share it! Then see how she reacts. If coworker is apologetic, change your opinion.

      Who knows, maybe there is a rational. I definitely duplicate a few things to “shadow check” calculations other people do, so don’t 100% agree that coworker copying a step is the end of the world

    11. English Rose*

      Just here to say I’ve never come across the term BEC before, and now Google has told me what it means I’m going to use it all the time! :)

      1. Vio*

        You’ve had more success with google than I have, all I’ve gotten is engineering consultants, Cambridge degrees and French cathedrals.

        1. RagingADHD*

          “Bitch Eating Crackers.” It means when you’re so annoyed with someone on so many levels that even the most innocuous things they do just add fuel to the fire, and make you irrationally infuriated over nothing. Giving rise to the phrase, “Look at that bitch over there, eating crackers like she’s entitled to.”

          When of course, that person isn’t actually doing anything wrong and is perfectly entitled to eat all the crackers she wants.

          OP is saying they are at the BEC stage with this coworker, because they know there’s nothing objectively wrong with doing the procedure slightly differently.

    12. Still*

      You’ve probably been that coworker before. Who knows, maybe you’ve done something recently that means that you’re someone’s BEC right this moment. I would assume that you occasionally do things that other people vehemently disagree with, and make ill-informed decisions without meaning to, and try to extend the coworker the same grace you would like other people to extend to you when that happens.

    13. goddessoftransitory*

      It sounds like you’re in a default anger loop, mentally, with this situation. I would try adding a neutral statement about something completely bland to the end of an angry thought, like this:

      Brain: RRRRRRGH, so pissed about this situation and coworker is a {angry word!}
      You: The sky is blue. Two plus two is four.

      Just a simple, factual statement that has nothing to do with the actual emotions, or your coworker. It may help neutralize the charge that comes from hissing invective in your brain to a dial tone.

  13. Anon in Canada*

    I’d like to see some discussion on what seems to be a new trend in job applications: ATSs requiring people to provide details on not just the previous jobs that are on their resume, but on every single job they’ve ever held, no matter how long ago, no matter how short-term, and no matter how irrelevant. I’ve never personally encountered such an application, but many commenters here have mentioned having ATSs require them to provide such information.

    It’s hard not to think those employers intend on discriminating based on age. And also, if you omit a short-term job from a long time ago, or a short-term job that was in a different city… how would they even find out?

    I think this is a crazy trend, that those employers are abusing their power, and that it’s high time for governments to regulate what ATSs can and can’t ask for.

    1. NaoNao*

      I’ve only seen this a few times, in 100s or perhaps 1000s of job applications, and it’s usually for jobs that intersect with the gov’t (contracting) or finance in some way so I tend to think it’s rather uncommon.

      I can absolutely see a case for making the application more rigorous than a simple screener using the resume, and I do see applications that ask for every job in the last 7 years (which is still very irritating) or very occasionally see jobs asking about every single residence in the last 7 years.

      I suspect that the designers and implementation teams are collecting requirements from people who’ve been burned by a specific situation, got scope creep, have no idea how good interviewing/applying/hiring works, etc. as well.

    2. Opera X*

      Is there an ATS Police Task Force that enforces this? How exactly do employers know that a candidate held other jobs? Unless there is something I’m not seeing, this really seems like a non-issue.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        That’s part of what I’m wondering. Unless there’s some sort of central file where employers report that you worked for them – like how insurance companies have a central file of who made claims – how would they even know? They might ask about a gap, but if it’s a long time ago, it’s hard to see the employer investigate your statement that you were unemployed for a year at that time.

        OTOH, if the ATS contains a stark warning message that they require you to list every single job you’ve ever had, and that they’ll pull the offer or fire you if they find out about any incorrect information or omission in the application, violating that warning would seem scary!

      2. computerJanitor*

        The Work Number is a credit-like score service run by Equifax that basically does this. More and more employers use it to look up employment history of applicants. I wouldn’t be surprised if automated systems are being set to reject applications where the histories don’t match.

        1. Anon in Canada*

          Someone else mentioned The Work Number here; it would partially explain the ability of those employers to verify the information – but would that website even know about jobs from the pre-Internet era? (or even from before the creation of the website) As is like, would the employer know that a candidate omitted a fast food job from 1993… or even 2000? And if the website depends on employers submitting the info themselves (as opposed to having a way to collect the info automatically), then clearly not every employer is using it.

          1. Opera X*

            Looks like the Work Number verifies the data that is given, but it doesn’t look like they provide additional information. That is, they will verify that candidate X worked at Acme Solutions, but they will not provide the additional information that Candidate also worked at Home Depot in high school. Or whatever.

            I think the concern is overblown. I’ve noticed that readers frequently see something that throws them once and write in asking whether it’s a trend.

            1. beware the shoebill*

              “I think the concern is overblown. I’ve noticed that readers frequently see something that throws them once and write in asking whether it’s a trend.”

              I have noticed the same thing from the letter writers. I wonder if it’s the new normal….

          2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            I believe most of their info is from large employers, so there are definitely holes. Only some orgs provide data, and only some orgs use the service to vet applicants. And not everything on your report goes to the employer requesting TWN.

            That said, Equifax has incredible data tentacles so it will still contain more than you’re comfortable with. You can request a copy of it for yourself to see what’s on it, and correct errors. There is a (very hidden) tool that will allow you to look up if a specific employer has contributed data.

        2. KittyGhost*

          That would be ridiculous because 1)The Work Number costs a lot of money per pull and 2) it has wrong data all the time. It’s really common for it to have wrong job titles. Of course that won’t stop some ridiculous companies but the cost factor means it won’t be widespread.

        3. Retired But Still Herding Cats*

          This was the first I’ve ever heard of The Work Number.

          Out of curiosity, I went to see how to pull a copy of my own record there. Their public-facing info page contains this boldfaced lie: “Remember, *you* are in the driver’s seat.”

          The sheer shamelessness – not to mention their apparent expectation that jobseekers are so stupid as to be fooled by THAT! – is infuriating.

    3. Rex Libris*

      It’s crazy on the face of it. I am 100% certain that I could neither count nor even remember all the fast food and retail places I did 6 month stints at 35 years ago… and good luck to anyone on verifying any of it. Most of the places are gone, and most of the managers would be unlocatable or dead by now, if I could even remember their names.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I would be in the same boat.
        Thanks to 3 layoffs and a natural disaster, I’ve temped for 4 agencies in 2 states, done some freelancing, and had fixed-term contracts.

        I hadn’t been worried about it for my current resume because I’ve been at my company so long. I have a new amorphous fear.

    4. Insert Pun Here*

      I have no idea if this site functions in Canada, but in the US an employer could use a site called The Work Number to find out. (There may be other similar services but that’s the one I’m familiar with.) It doesn’t pick up every previous employer (and will definitely tend to miss small companies) but it sure does catch a lot of information. You can register with them to see what they know about you (similar to a credit report.)

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Ironically we had to do that for my company many years ago during a reorg—including our increasing responsibilities at the company itself. But when I recently went to pull the file I learned they’d deleted all of it. So much for referencing THAT document.

      It doesn’t really address your original question but it’s been weighing on my mind so thanks for the chance to sputter.

      1. Johanna Cabal*

        A recent job requested my work history but only going back seven years. Then, the application asked me if I’d ever been fired. So, I was fired once from a three-month job that was the epitome of Bad Fit. But that job was 13 years prior, so I answered “No” with little guilt (and it has never come up).

        1. Anon in Canada*

          Such yes/no questions that don’t allow for explanation or nuance should really be banned from ATSs. We know the ATS will automatically reject the application if the candidate checks “yes”, even if a human may have found the candidate to be great! This hurts both companies and jobseekers. Humans, not poorly designed ATSs, should be reviewing resumes.

          This reminds me of the case where an ATS asked if the candidate had a bachelor’s degree in fields X, Y or Z, as a yes/no question without an option for explanations or nuance; and the candidate had a masters in X. The ATS would automatically reject the applicant without the resume ever being seen by a human.

          This is total garbage and needs to end.

  14. Cyndi*

    I am a non-celebrator of Christmas and I’ve just realized that, because the big tourist trap Christmas market is outside the courthouse, I’m going to have to navigate through or around it every time I have to go to the courthouse for the next two months. Hooray!

    But at least I’m free of my last job, where the so-called “end of year celebration” involved plastering the whole workspace with Christmas decorations and blasting explicitly religious music through the office for several hours straight. At this point in my life I’m pretty sure there’s no job where I wouldn’t be trapped into at least a minimal amount of Christmas; it’s just a matter of degree.

    I complain about this a lot, so in happier thoughts, you know what’s a good winter holiday? New Year’s. I love New Year’s. I think mashing “partying and glitz and self-indulgence” and “introspection and goal-setting” into a single holiday is a great tradition.

    1. Bast*

      Blasting explicitly religious music for hours at a time is obnoxious.

      What gets me a lot of the time is how early it starts. I’m not an anti-Christmas person, (as some people think when I make this statement) but when people are starting to play Christmas music before Thanksgiving, and sometimes even before Halloween, by the time it actually gets to be Christmas I am sick and tired of it. I think if it were a good 2-3 weeks of it, people can get their fun in, but it doesn’t get overplayed, which I think is a big part of the problem. That, and the fact that you can’t escape it.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes, I celebrate Christmas but I do not need to celebrate it for a long time. I like holidays to be in a defined time period

      2. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

        TWO radio stations in my area have switched to all Christmas music as of this morning. IT’S NOVEMBER 3, PEOPLE.

        1. I Have RBF*


          I don’t celebrate Christmas, especially the religious part. Christmas music is 90% religious, and irritates me after maybe 10 minutes. Hearing this in November would provoke me toward rage, or at least removing myself from any location doing it.

          Let us have our harvest festival (Thanksgiving in the US) in peace.

      3. Anon in Canada*

        This year, Walmart and dollar stores in my area had Christmas items out even before Halloween! I used to think that they brought Christmas stuff out a day earlier every year, but the advance this year was by way more than a day compared to previous years.

        I’m all in favor of a “War on Christmas” before December 1 (or it could be set as “the Monday after Thanksgiving” in the US).

        Playing religious music in a workplace should be banned, unless the workplace itself is a religious organization.

      4. Anon for This*

        Agree. I am on the older side, and when I was a kid you never saw Christmas stuff until the day after Thanksgiving. It was almost magic, how overnight the world changed. (As an adult I know there was a lot of work involved – people worked late the night before Thanksgiving, windows etc. were covered and then Friday morning (or sometimes Thursday as soon as Santa arrived at the Macy’s parade) all the coverings were removed, lights lit, etc. It made for a special time. Now we already are hearing Mariah Carey!

        1. English Rose*

          As another older side person, yes it made it much more special. A bit like waiting until summer for fresh juicy strawberries rather than having inferior versions of them flown in from wherever all year round.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Santa and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade yes!

          And for Gen X NYC kids, King Kong is a Christmas movie because it played right after the parade for many years. :)

      5. Clisby*

        I love Christmas, but I absolutely agree with being deathly sick of Christmas music well before the actual holiday. Perhaps oddly, as an atheist, I prefer the explicitly religious songs to Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer and Rocking Around the Christmas Tree playing every hour on the hour. At least the religious songs usually have better music.

        Plus, I was raised as an Episcopalian, which possibly led me to think Christmas should be somewhat restrained. For example, the clergy kind of discouraged “Christmas” parties, since they almost inevitably were during Advent, not Christmas. And there were traditions like, you put up the tree and decorate it on Christmas Eve, and take it down on Epiphany (Jan. 6). None of this put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving and then hustle it out the door on New Year’s.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I hear you. I don’t want to hear any Christmas music or see any decorations before 1st Advent. I’m in Finland and most people here seem to put up the tree on Christmas Eve and take it down on Epiphany. One year we had a very good tree that didn’t shed at all, so we didn’t have the heart to throw it out until the following week, Jan. 13 (the Feast of Saint Knut).

      6. sulky-anne*

        I am an official Christmas curmudgeon, and a big part of that is how all consuming it is in public. I don’t like having Christmas music become all music for 2+ months of the year. I don’t like having Christmas immersive theming take over every public location. I don’t like all of the messaging about required Christmas activities constantly. If people were free to quietly celebrate in private I would have a lot more goodwill about the whole thing.

    2. Earlk*

      I work in a very multicultural office and to avoid any drama about Christmas (people getting annoyed we weren’t celebrating it more than people annoyed we were) we actually went with the NYE theme, no decorations because we don’t really have the budget but we had a quiz of 2022 (Like big fat quiz of the year) had a couple of cakes and did some jokey awards for achievements over the past year. scratches the Christmas celebration itch without actually making people do something religious that they’re not comfortable with. IT was also made clear if anyone didn’t want to participate they didn’t have to and we’re hybrid so it was very easy to avoid.

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      I love New Year’s too! I hate Christmas for several reasons, but New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays. The looking back at the year and simultaneously setting goals for the new one energizes me every year. I love putting away the Christmas decorations, cleaning everything up, and enjoying the stark wintertime look of my house.

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      It won’t help now, but I’ve found that in mid- to late December, if I answer “Merry Christmas” with “Happy New Year” people don’t seem to notice that I didn’t say anything about Christmas, because “merry Christmas and happy New Year” is something of a set phrase. That includes people who would react badly to “happy holidays” (even though I’m prepared to point out that Christmas and New Year’s are two holidays, not one) or even a cheerful “thanks, you too.”

      1. Bast*

        I’ve never quite got the whole “You can say Merry Christmas to me” camp that gets upset if you say happy holidays. If you start saying it in November, we have Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years alllll rolled into one. This isn’t even counting the multitude of other holidays that people celebrate, which I am not pointing out as the person who typically says that gets wildly offended by the idea that something other than Christmas is celebrated. Perhaps I’m just being a smart aleck, but I’m always thinking to myself — so, should I only pick one holiday for you to be merry? Like… You can have a merry Christmas, but have a crappy New Year since you’re clearly hellbent on ONLY Christmas being acknowledged?

    5. SofiaDeo*

      Perhaps find eays to minimize the exposure, and be pleased with how creative you are/minimum times achieved/minimum exposures achieved. You can sort them into day comparisons (can you meet or beat an earlier Monday parameter?) or alternaywly, you can count things that occur. I did something similar when I first moved to Miami Beach, literally on the ocean deep in tourist land. I quickly became angry/upset at dealing with tourists and how tourists affected trying to do daily stuff.
      Then I decided to make a game of it. And be pleased when I successfully shortened times, found parking, or decided to count how many times I was asked “which way is the beach” and be amused/look forward to seeing which day of the week got what question, or how high the count of, say, the various questions or songs blasting out from businesses as doors were opened. If you can turn it into a source of amusement, it’s much easier to get through!

  15. R*

    There have been a few discussions of team building activities and accessibility lately on this site. I would like to ask a question about my department’s team building activity, which is planned for later this month.

    I am a new employee (my probation period ends in 2 weeks, shortly before the activity date) in a big, but fairly new (around 3 years old) department inside a massive company. I am in a fairly senior individual contributor role.

    Apparently the company stopped planning any kind of team building activities during the pandemic, so nobody in my department has ever gone to one. Some of my colleagues have been requesting one for ages and are extremely excited, trying to get everyone to join.

    I have a great relationship with my team and would really like to go. However, it is in a surprise location (which will be revealed before the date!) which the rumor mill says is an amusement park. I have really bad motion sickness that can leave me with vertigo for days, so I would not be able to go on any rides and would spend the day freezing and twiddling my thumbs.

    I already said I would join, but if it turns out the rumors are true, should I tell my boss the truth (I have a condition that prevents me from enjoying the activity / prevents me from doing the activity, fullstop)? Make up an excuse? Just say I can’t go, despite having confirmed my assistance before knowing the location?

    Thanks in advance for any advice!

    1. Cyndi*

      I would absolutely float the question to your boss, and I don’t think you even have to wait for confirmation on what the trip actually is. “Hey, I said I’d go and I’m looking forward to it, but it’s occurred to me that I might have a medical concern with certain kinds of activity…”

      Were people actually asked to commit before knowing what the activity is? If so it might also be a good idea to mention to your boss that that might not be the wisest way to handle things going forward.

    2. Tammy 2*

      There are lots of reasons thrill rides wouldn’t work for people–pregnancy, bad backs, size, phobias, etc. I think bringing up the idea of an alternate for people who can’t do the planned thing for whatever reason might be helpful.

      It depends on the park, but sometimes there are fun things to do, like shows or exhibits, that don’t involve motion. (Also slower rides like trains or dark rides, but maybe those are also an issue for you.)

      1. Sloanicota*

        I do agree, and I realize it doesn’t address your question, that I’ve had a reasonably fun time at amusement parks even though rides make me sick so I don’t go on them. I guess it depends a bit on the park – is there a biergarten or anything else to do, is it the kind where the lines are literally 45 minutes of waiting, meaning most of the team will be spread out and gone for that long, are there *any* types of rides you can do (I can do the ones that go around and around, like the swings kinds they have at midways, for example). If you can see any way to have a reasonably good time eating funnel cake and browsing the shops, I’d probably try to go, after floating an alternate suggestion and having a few ideas for next time. They literally can’t pick anything that works for everybody so this may not be “your time.”

    3. nopetopus*

      I hate surprises! Your situation is a perfect example. I am disabled and also work in accessibility and it’s maddening that people don’t get that things usually cannot be made accessible on the fly.

      I’d definitely talk to your boss about it. I like your wording, too. Good luck, hope it works out and you have fun!

    4. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      My advice is, ask the location and nature of the activity to not be a surprise. Be as insistent–cordially, not aggressively– as you think you have capital for.

      A possible script to start with:
      “Hey Boss, I was really looking forward to team-building activity, but I realized I shouldn’t actually have committed without knowing what it is. If it’s something I, or any team member, physically can’t join in, it won’t be very team-building. Can we lift the embargo on the location and activity details so if there’s any difficulty we can work it out ahead of time?”

    5. Angstrom*

      I suspect you won’t be the only one not riding rides. Many adults prefer to keep their feet on the ground. The actual time spent riding the rides is usually a tiny fraction of the time spent walking and waiting, short, and you can hang out in the lines and chat with your colleagues without getting on.
      Can you come up with a role that would be fun for you? Official photographer? Scout?(finding good place to eat, etc.)

    6. HonorBox*

      Talk to your boss and mention the rumor that you’ve heard. If they’re a good boss, knowing that someone has extreme vertigo and can’t ride the rides, or even the majority of them, would leave me a) wondering if the location is indeed appropriate b) understanding of your situation and I’d offer you the option to not attend.

    7. R*

      Thanks everyone for your replies! Like some of you suggested, I’m going to mention the rumor to my boss in our 1 on 1, but if he’s not helpful or I get the feeling that pulling back from the activity would spend capital I don’t have, I will try to do as Angstrom said and try to find an alternative to pass the time and still be involved during the day.

      I actually don’t know anything about the rumored location, so I will also do some research before bringing it up!

  16. Ripley*

    Does anyone have any advice for me regarding training people to do my job? I’ve trained 3 people so far this year, and two of them were completely unable to do the job after several weeks of training. I think I’m good at explaining things, and everyone I have trained has said so, but having 2/3 people be completely unable to do the job has got me wondering if I need to do something differently.

    I work an admin job in a large medical clinic. Mostly I book appointments for providers, answer the phone (we get lots of phone calls), and do various admin tasks. It’s not a hard job but it has a lot of parts. I have created a training manual, which goes over all the parts of the job and how to do each one in detail. My boss has gone over it and says it is good. The one person I trained this year that was successful said the same thing as me – it’s not a hard job.

    I am about to start training a fourth person, and I’m both a) exhausted by the prospect of another person who can’t get it; and b) wondering what I need to do differently.

    1. PricklyHedgehog*

      As a person who struggles with organization and gets muddled in forms, it might be that you are training folks who really aren’t as skilled as you. The tasks all seem simple alone, but get overwhelming all together and they don’t have the strategies to manage that. I wonder if you might talk to the folks who struggled to see patterns and maybe there are ways you can help support folks who aren’t yet rockstars at this like you and your colleague.

      1. Ripley*

        I appreciate this, but I am struggling to know when to be more patient and encouraging and when to be clear that the trainee needs to pay more attention, or is simply not well suited to the job. My boss has said that perhaps I am too nice and need to be more clear that at a certain point, fewer mistakes need to be happening. For example, my last trainee had done a particular task 30-40 times, and still needed oversight, even though she had written detailed, step-by-step instructions for herself. She couldn’t/didn’t follow her own notes. How do I know when a trainee needs more support vs them just not being suited to the job?

        To be clear, nobody is getting fired. They just get reassigned to a different part of the clinic.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I don’t think you need to get bogged down in deciding when a trainee needs more support vs is unsuited for the job, assuming that’s not actually your call in the end.

          Are you usually giving corrections verbally or in writing? If a lot of it’s written, it can be helpful to have a struggling trainee go back through your previous corrections and make a list, counting up the repeats. That can give both of you a better sense of whether the trainee is making (perhaps slow) improvement or not.

          1. Ripley*

            It’s mostly verbal, as we’re sitting beside each other. Perhaps I can try to make notes each day to help track this. Thank you for the idea.

            1. Tio*

              Yeah, I think if you start tracking it, then you might be surprised how much it really is when it comes out in writing. Someone should not be making regular errors on any standard part of the job after probation or a few weeks of training – that’s the point of the training. Either they are not paying enough attention to their work, or they just don’t get it at a fundamental level. While it would be nice if everyone could succeed, if you have to continue to devote someone to oversight of a standard job function, that’s not good.

              1. Ripley*

                Yes, this is a great idea, plus my boss always asks for a written report of the training at the end, and I can’t always remember everything we’ve done. Daily notes will make that much easier.

                1. goddessoftransitory*

                  When I train we do a kind of overview report at the end of each session with the manager on shift–what was covered, what’s coming up next, what the trainee may be having trouble with or skipping over. This is the time to nip any bad habits in the bud, because the job is very repetitive and if they start shortcutting or entering the wrong thing at that stage, it gets ingrained really fast.

                  One thing I stress to trainees is that there’s always some procedure or step that’s going to give them trouble–that’s the nature of the job! So training is, partly, to figure out that trick step and learn how to navigate it so it isn’t continually throwing them off.

        2. saskia*

          I’ve trained everyone on my team and have trained at least 50+ people in this job. Some are stars that get extra responsibility, some are very good, a few just do the job to the minimum parameters, and then a bunch of them don’t work out and have to be let go or trained in a different job function.
          From everything you’ve written in this thread, it sounds like you’re a good, thorough trainer. Your sample size is small enough that your training style/method may have nothing to do with the outcomes. Some people just aren’t meant to do certain jobs.

          One random suggestion on top of what ecnaseener said below — you can make the training report together -with- your trainee at the end of the day as a way to reinforce the training topics. I’ve also had a lot of success asking (really, telling) trainees to take their own notes or let them make notes in a copy of the manual. People tend to remember what they’ve written down and feel more invested in what they’re doing.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Notes in the manual! Invaluable! Notes are the best way for someone to tell themselves hey brain? This means THIS.

    2. LCS*

      Do you have to train them on everything all at once? It sounds like you’re not leaving the job, just getting additional coverage added. So maybe divide and conquer certain tasks (at least at first) and only add others once they’ve mastered certain aspects? Even if not individually difficult, it may be tricky for some folks to internalize so many unique requirements in a short burst of training activity.

      1. Ripley*

        I definitely only train on the essentials of the job first, then the secondary stuff if it seems reasonable. This is a coverage position only, the person will have their own job and come to cover me when I am off, so I understand that they won’t do everything, and they won’t do the job to the level that I do it (and I make that clear to the providers!). There are some things that only need to be done monthly, or can wait a week while I’m off, so I don’t overload folks with all that info too. Just the basics of the job, and then practicing those over and over.

        1. Ripley*

          But also, I’m balancing my boss’s expectations too – she’ll often be asking where we’re at, and why we aren’t further along, and say that the trainee should be ready to cover me after a week or two, and I have to explain that the trainee is nowhere near ready, and maybe will never be. My boss is generally supportive but extremely busy and doesn’t always have a good sense of where people are at.

          1. kitryan*

            This is very similar to my position, people are just getting to a certain level and stalling out on getting to where they need to be when I’m training them.
            It’s tough to point out where things are just not being done correctly with the emphasis needed to make it clear that it’s not ok but without getting unhelpful negative reactions or demoralizing the trainee.
            It’s also tough for me to figure out when to say to my boss that I’m not sure it’s ever going to happen with this person.
            Sorry I don’t have much helpful advice on this, since I’m struggling with it myself, but I can provide commiseration!

            1. Ripley*

              Yes, exactly! I don’t want to demoralize anyone, or make people feel bad, but also, things need to be done properly, especially in a medical setting! And I also struggle with telling my boss the person isn’t working out, I feel like that’s a call I can and and need to make sooner, but then also I feel like I’m not giving the trainee a fair chance. It’s hard!

              1. kitryan*

                Yup – maybe if I explained it again/differently/better it they’d get it this time (and remember it), maybe I’m not trying hard enough, I have lots of those thoughts when I’m trying to work out if I need to raise concerns.
                My trainings have a particular rough bit in that there’s some procedures/exceptions where the different ‘special’ situations might only comes up every 1 month/3 months/6 months, so how do you real-world test whether someone’s going to retain enough info to catch that sort of infrequent event- even just to remember that they should not process this one like all the others and check their notes on ‘special’ procedures.

                1. Ripley*

                  YES! This is it exactly. This thread has helped me realize that I’m on the right track with training, and it’s not all on me if someone isn’t suited to the job. But there are some tweaks I will make.

              2. goddessoftransitory*

                It sounds like one problem might be the intermittent nature of the training vs. how often they actually fill in–I know that no matter how much I train on something, if I don’t do it for a while the fine details are going to fade.

                If the trainees aren’t doing this job/aspect of the job regularly, this may be part of the problem. It might be worthwhile reworking the schedule so they’re performing the basic tasks a couple times a week just to keep their hand in?

        2. linger*

          Others have noted that the hiring criteria (prioritising internal transfers over existing skillsets) are a major limiting factor: per your replies, the two unsuitable candidates were internal hires with backgrounds entirely unrelated to your position. Following on from that, motivation may also be an issue: if (i) covering your duties was not to be their day-to-day role, and moreover (ii) they could easily be reassigned away from that being any part of their role (as in fact they were), then there doesn’t seem to be any way of forcing someone who is less than enamored with these duties to make any progress in learning how to do them. So were these candidates specifically interested in learning to cover your duties, or was it for them at best one possible route to try to get to a position more suitable for them?

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      My experience with training people is that a) most won’t read a manual even if you’ve meticulously documented everything they could ever need to know about the job, and b) that they won’t be able to do the job unless they’re doing it regularly and build up some muscle memory for doing the work. I can’t tell if that’s the case here (i.e. are you training for coverage in your absence, or training because multiple people do this job).

      Someone shared with me something they picked up at a conference somewhere once, which is that people will only retain a bit of what they’ve read, a lot more of what they’ve actually done themselves, and almost all of what they teach other people. She adapted this to how she trains people so that first she demonstrates a task, and then has them do that task with her watching, and then gets them to teach that task to someone else (pretending they don’t know how to do it if they already do).

      This reinforces the info they’ve learned but also makes it clear where the gaps in understanding are when suddenly they’re teaching someone and it becomes clear to *them* that they’re still a bit out of their depth. I do the first two steps of this because the teaching someone else part doesn’t really fit into how we work, but I’ve noticed a difference between that and merely showing them how to do the tasks.

      1. Ripley*

        The manual is definitely designed for folks to use when I’m not here. Like a backup. Or if I get hit by a bus and some one needs to step in. My approach is I spend a couple days (up to a week) with the trainee sitting beside me, explaining each task as I go. Then I spend a couple days (up to a week) sitting beside them, helping them when they get stuck. Then ideally they spend a week or two doing the job themselves, while I’m in the same area but doing other tasks, and I encourage them to use the manual if they have questions (to simulate what they’ll have to do when I’m not here).

        Do I need to change this approach?

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          In Week 4, are they still doing the tasks if you’re in the office or have they gone back to a different set of tasks? Three weeks of training feels like a lot, but if they don’t need to recall those skills until two months later when you’re on vacation or whatever, it doesn’t surprise me that they’ve basically forgotten everything. You’d think they could muddle through with the manual, but I’m always impressed by how strenuously people try to avoid looking anything up. It’s there for their benefit, and yet here we are!

          1. Ripley*

            Still doing the tasks and haven’t mastered them at all. At least, that was the case for the two unsuccessful people. It is a lot, and it’s exhausting. The two unsuccessful people had no opportunity to cover me when I was away – my boss decided that was not going to work out well. So they forgot stuff from day-to-day, not from two months etc.

            And yes, I constantly encourage trainees to use the manual instead of asking me (when they’re far enough along) and it never sinks in!

            1. Caramel & Cheddar*

              I’ve tried to use the “What did the manual say?” when people ask me questions I know are in the manual. The ones who can improve will eventually start saying “I checked the manual, but I still have questions about X” so that at least I can tell they’re trying.

              Can you set up some sort of evaluation format with your boss to assess the new folks, say, monthly for the first three months? If it’s happening often enough it may just be that it’s not the right folks in the role as someone down thread mentioned, but it would also be helpful if there was a way of saying “After a month, Admins should be able to complete Task A without supervision, Task B with minimal supervision, and Task C with support” or “After three months, Admins should be able to complete X, Y, and Z without oversight.” And then also give this rubric to the new folks so they can be more aware of how they’re doing.

              Honestly, I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong here from the sounds of it, I think this might just be a skill mismatch. Keeping your boss in the loop is probably the only thing you can do, which doesn’t solve your problem but at least makes it clear where the problem lies.

              1. Ripley*

                The challenge is, the expectation is that the trainee with be with me for 2-4 weeks, then return to their regular job, then come and cover me for vacation and sick days. So tough to do regular assessments. I do feel like I need to be more open with my boss about how the trainees are doing in the 2-4 week timeframe, because maybe she would end the training sooner for the ones that are not going to be successful.

                I like your suggestion about the manual – I do that, but not enough. I will make it more clear how the manual should be used.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            I’ve found manuals tend to make a LOT less sense to me than to the composer of the manual a lot of the time. Not on purpose or anything, but how they’re organized and indexed can be completely obvious to one person, and ancient Greek to another, who will probably avoid using it because it’s too time consuming or frustrating to use regularly.

            I think the idea of personal copies of the manual that can be written in and rearranged to suit the individual user (as mentioned above) is a great idea, especially since it seems like there’s a time gap between the training and actually performing the task without any coaching.

        2. MaryLoo*

          If your job includes multiple tasks, is the trainee watching you do all those tasks over the course of a week? You say the trainee doesn’t actually do any of the tasks themselves until the second week. You need to “chunk” your training differently.

          Even if you are explaining each task in detail, if I were the trainee I would want to actually do each task after you demonstrated it to me. Observing many tasks over several days without ever doing any of them is not a good way to foster memory. People need to learn things in smaller chunks than that.
          Ideally you would show a task, then have the trainee do the task with you annotating. Then trainee does the task again, with less coaching/annotating from you. Third time, trainee does task on their own.

          If I was watching a whole week’s worth of tasks without practicing any of them, by the end of the week everything would be a giant blur.

    4. Sloanicota*

      It could also be a hiring issue – are they screening for the right kinds of skills to be successful at this job? It’s not just the objective difficulty, there are different strengths and weaknesses for every role.

      1. Ripley*

        This is definitely part of it. We’re unionized, and our most recent crop of hires were internal candidates who’ve worked in things like food service, so the learning curve is definitely tougher for them. Also, it’s healthcare – we are chronically short staffed so we sometimes have to take what we can get.

        I have no input into hiring, and very little into who gets trained with me. It goes generally by seniority as my area is seen as more desirable than some others.

    5. DH*

      Along with the detailed manual, would some simple flowcharts be helpful? If X, then follow with Y? Then they could have a very basic visual reference at hand and can look in the manual for additional detail if needed.

      1. Ripley*

        Yes, this is a great idea, thank you. My boss and I had talked about these with the last trainee but it ended up being moot. I will work on these.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      I know two examples don’t exactly make a pattern but were there common things that both people had the biggest issues with? Things they just always forgot to do, or did incorrectly every time. If there are, that might be a place to focus most of the training on or have lower expectations about the speed at which people master those tasks.

      Like Sloanicota, I also think it could be a hiring mismatch. Can you feed back the skills that the successful trainee has (maybe they had X background which turned out to be directly relevant to the key tasks) vs. the skills the unsuccessful people had (maybe basic admin experience but not for the key tasks) to whoever does hiring?

      1. Ripley*

        The biggest thing I struggled with is they needed a LOT of repetition, like would do a task 30-40 times and still need help with the steps. Both seemed to struggle to remember things from day-to-day, and both would do things totally outside what they had been trained to do. For example, we process referrals to our providers from other providers in other places in the centre. It’s straightforward, just a bunch of clicks in a computer system. My most recent trainee, after processing 30 or so of these over two weeks, starting calling patients asking them if they wanted the referral. We had never done that, would never do that, and when I asked her why she did it, she had no answer. She didn’t know. I find I’m struggling to get trainees to be aware of their thought processes, and to use their critical thinking skills, instead of just learning the job by rote (which neither of them could do anyway).

        My boss is aware of all of this, but I said in a previous comment, we are unionized and sometimes have to take what we can get in terms of hiring.

    7. HR Exec Popping In*

      Have you talked to the person who did pick it up after you trained them and ask them for feedback to help the next person you need to train?

      1. Ripley*

        I have, I asked basically if my approach worked, and what didn’t work. They said what I say, that the job is not hard but there are lots of parts. (They went to a different job that they can’t leave to come and cover me, if you were wondering). They said I explained things well, that the approach worked for them. They were able to learn the job in about a week, with another week of doing the job independent of me, with few issues. They did make some mistakes, which is obviously to be expected, but didn’t need help with every task, which was unfortunately the case with the unsuccessful trainees.

        I am feeling like I got a really easy trainee, and very difficult trainees. I am curious how my approach will work for a middle of the road trainee…

        I actually encouraged them to apply for the job they have now, which is a step up, because of how well they did with me.

    8. Ann*

      Do you remember how you were trained? Asking because I’ve also tried training people to do my job, and struggled. In hindsight, they’re not getting the same kind of training I had – not even close. My training involved lots of getting things wrong and getting feedback, and for reporting that meant 2-3 rounds of revisions. I’m really struggling to give people even one round of revisions because our schedule is much busier and everyone has more than one person assigning them work. Not surprisingly, without getting input on their work, they make the same mistakes over and over. When I’m able to build in extra time for feedback, the result is much better.
      I’m also trying hard to get people to ask questions if they don’t understand something, rather than making wrong assumptions and running with them. Unfortunately it seems like no matter how many times I mention this, some people will ask questions and some won’t. It’s very much a personality thing. For people that tend to not ask questions, I try to remember to check in with them halfway…

      1. Ripley*

        Honestly, I mostly trained myself. My job had been vacant for about 18 months before I started, and a couple people were doing it off the sides of their desk. I got maybe 1-2 days, total. But I’m fairly good at figuring things out for myself. That is making things harder, for sure, because I had to start from scratch with how to train for this job. We also got a new computer system since then, which is harder to learn by yourself.

        I do the same thing with questions, and I also try to ask questions, like “What do you think is the next step,” or “What have you already tried?” But often I just get a blank stare back.

        1. kitryan*

          We are totally job twins – I never had much of an issue learning my gig and had something like a 2 hr training on one of the more difficult tasks.
          Then everyone I try to train seems to take so much more coaching than I did, which just makes it weirder – why was it easy for me and it’s so hard for everyone else?
          However, in some ways it sounds like we both had at least a bit of an advantage, you have a new system complicating things for your new people and my position has developed a bunch of special rules and exceptions (partly because I could remember and apply them all as they developed) making it harder to train, since it’s not a single process to apply but a single process with a mountain of special options to remember and correctly apply.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Writing a manual is a skill in itself. You say you have access to your previous backup. Can she make the time to review the doc you wrote and add her own comments?
      Can she see if your index or table of contents refers to tasks and steps the same way she thinks of them? if not, list both words.
      And the new software— is there a possible difference in GUI that throws them? People who have mever used keyboard shortcuts can have teouble remembering mouse sequences and vice-versa.

    10. SofiaDeo*

      As a clinical pharmacy instructor who saw the information explosion over the past decades, my profession shifted more to “teaching the person where to find the answer” than memorizing the exact steps. It became more about “where /how to find the answer/steps in the process”, and memorization/learning those steps followed. So the trainees should be possibly jotting notes as well as listening to you, and you need to step back and let them find the steps in your documentation to follow. Your metrics for the position possibly need to be changed; finding & accessing any procedures directions/instructions needs to be really high on the list, then following the steps correctly, then speed at completing tasks. I was told to change my teaching focus from the actual details of the information, to where to find it, ways to double check myself so that it was correct (medical field, so needs to be correct the first time whenever possible), then finally speed at the task. You’ve got to allow for slow learners, slow readers, because the ultinate goal is to do the tasks *correctly* within time parameters. So initially, finding the documentation (which can be a double check for newer staff) quickly, then *correctly* following it, should be more important than speed of task/number of tasks. I saw this once mentoring a woman that took what I perceived as the longest time I had ever seen to learn, as well as complete, things, but boy once she got it she was near perfect and then her speed increased drastically once she finally “got it.” We had a 90 day probationary oeriod. Her supervidor went from “I dob’t think she eill cut it” at 30 days, to “she’s a Rockstar!” at the 90 day mark. So IMO your training should watch out more for people unwilling/unable to find & follow the steps correctly. After an initial/several showings, don’t prompt or give the answer, ask THEM “where do you think you need to find out how to do this?” I was told I needed to focus more on “teaching students to think/problem solve” than memorize steps.
      Then as time goes on, that persons accuracy plus increasing speed was one parameter used in assessment for grading (or job evaluation).
      I’ll mention many were uncomfortable with this type of “training” at first, it wasn’t the norm. So some resistence is normal if they have never had to think this way, but “ability/willingness to adapt” is often a metric in medicine, so you can get an early read on this!

  17. IrishGirl*

    My boss was fired abruptly this week. We have no idea what happened and we are all in a state of shock. The meeting to advise us of this, the grandboss said if she reached out to talk business to report that but personal conversation were ok and to reach out to HR with any questions. This left us all wondering what the hell happened. Nothing seems amiss and it sounds like this may have come from higher than the grandboss. My team is so disheartened as we all though she was a great fit and doing good things for us and the business. Now we are manager-less again which seems to be a yearly occurance. Out last manager left for another job which was a great opportunity for her but the one prior to that was also let go out of the blue. Any advice other than leave? Will HR actually give us any information if we reach out?

    1. K8T*

      That kind of abrupt announcement makes me think your boss committed an immediately fireable offense. I think it’s okay to reach out to HR but you have to accept that you may never get the full reasoning.
      Re: job searching – is everything else okay right now besides lack of a manager? There are a LOT of layoffs happening in my market so unless you can get something lined up before quitting, I’d stay

    2. Rex Libris*

      HR, probably won’t tell you anything surrounding their firing, for confidentiality and liability reasons. At a guess, the grandboss meant reach out for things like who handles approving PTO or similar stuff you would have normally asked your boss about, maybe?

    3. Common Sense Not Common*

      HR will probably tell you they cannot discuss it for confidentiality reasons.

      I personally would assume you’ve gotten all the information you’re entitled to based on your rank and also company policies.

      You could try reaching out to your now dither boss to check in on them and then see if they offer any further information, but I wouldn’t ask them outright what happened.

      As shocking and disheartening as it is, I would assume you’ve gotten all the info you will get and carry on. When these situations happen the last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself by possibly looking nosey to management.

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      What exactly do you want to know? Why your boss was fired? They won’t tell you that or shouldn’t. Imagine if you were let go for breaking a policy (drugs, stealing, sexual harassment, etc.) would you want your employer to tell people why you were let go?

      If you want to know when the job will be filled, the best person to know that is grandboss and they have not idea right now. After all, the job just came open suddenly.

      I am sorry you are going through this, but I’m doubtful any information you want to know will be available to you for very good reason.

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      I’m sorry you are dealing with this. Real question – what do you want HR to tell you? They won’t or shouldn’t tell you why your boss was fired. Imagine it was you, would you want everyone to know the reason why? It could be stealing, drugs, inappropriate behavior, you never know. The only other thing I can think you want to know is what the plan is for the job and when will it be filled. HR won’t know that. The Gradboss will eventually know that but doesn’t know right now. After all, the job just became suddenly open.

      I would encourage you to take a breath, grieve the loss of your boss. Maybe reach out to them in a day or two if you want to maintain a relationship with them. And wait to see what happens.

    6. OxfordBlue*

      I’ve had this happen to me about 22 years ago and it still bothers me even now. We never found out what happened and the period after the abrupt departure of the manager we all liked was very difficult. We had a very rapid turnover of interim managers and various people from head office who weren’t at all interested in our unit and then finally got a new manager only to lose her after a couple of months because she was offered a job with a better commute. The unit and the group I worked with disintegrated during all the churn and I was the only one of the original team of five left.
      There’s also the day to day experience of working with a vacuum at the top which I found demoralising. Because we had lost our contact with the higher levels of the business, information about overall strategy, direction and feedback on our performance was not flowing back to us in the way we were accustomed to and that showed clearly when we were trying to prioritise our tasks and allocate work.
      When I did start applying it was then difficult to sort out referees who knew my work and impossible to show what I’d accomplished during this rather rudderless time.
      With hindsight I should have started looking immediately and I should have applied for the manager’s post, not because I wanted it at the time but because doing it for six months would have given me a better springboard to move on. If I’d done that with the focus of moving on to better things I’d have come out of it better.
      Have a hard think about what a year or two with no leadership might do for your organisation and your work, if you’re rudderless does that mean less of a public profile or less interesting assignments etc. If you’re a unit within a large organisation will you struggle to get good references because no-one really knows your work or is responsible for managing you.
      Overall how does this job fit into what you plan to do over the next five to ten years and what, even if very generally, do you plan to progress to? Try and imagine looking at your CV in five years from now as a prospective employer and what they might think if you stay or if you’ve gone elsewhere.
      I’m rambling and not being much help because when you’re in the middle of a situation like this it is hard to know what is best for you and looking back I felt very obliged to keep the show on the road by staying in my post.
      If I had this happen again I would look for a much more stable situation because of how hard it was to do my job well with no leadership and it was very much harder than I thought it would be to move on when I did decide to go. Generally I can see that employers probably thought I’d stayed and stagnated because I hadn’t learned anything new nor could I show I’d taken on more responsibility for those couple of years and I didn’t have good up-to-date referees either.

    7. Ginger Cat Lady*

      This happened to my brother a few months ago and….let’s just say he found out on the local news that his boss had been arrested and was being held without bond because of the seriousness of the crime. Don’t want to say more and doxx my brother.

    8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      From the mention of reporting it if she tries to talk business I wonder if it is some breach of confidential info or passing company info on to a competitor, something of that nature.

      Do you have any aspirations to management? if you can get promoted to the role (and are interested) you’ll have control over what the next manager is like!

  18. Renee Remains the Same*

    I’m not sure if I have a bad team or if I’m a bad manager. I have 4 direct reports and issues with 3 of them.

    SHANA is currently on a PIP because they simply aren’t able to manage the basics of the job without extensive support. (They are not doing well).

    DANA is lazy and has been with the company for 5 years, very comfortable doing what she knows, but gets very agitated when learning new things. (Though also thinks she should be promoted to manager).

    LANA has been with us for 2 years, thinks she knows everything, gets irritated should anyone every imply she does not. Also makes a lot of assumptions about what people think and sometimes responds to things as though someone has accused of her something, when in fact they are just sharing information she may not know.

    I find none of them particularly reliable. (Though credit to Lana that she does execute things within timelines, though 50% of the time it’s not without some kind of interpersonal drama).

    My manager has implemented a bunch of new processes. I’m now at my wits end trying to support my manager, while also giving my team what they need to succeed. But I am very much starting to think that I am not the right person for this job and despite the people above me being relatively happy with me, my team — not so much. And I’m not sure how much longer I can take the passive aggressive-ness (and there’s also been some whining).

    I think I need a mantra?!

    1. ferrina*

      Are you sure your team is the right team for the job?

      This might be a case where the wrong people are in the wrong jobs, and now that you are holding them to account, it’s making life tough for everyone. Keep setting clear policies and goals, giving them appropriate support to meet those goals, and holding them accountable for their end. Set clear expectations with Dana on learning new essential information. “By Dec 1, we’ll all be using the new process. I’d like you to set aside 4 hours* this week to read through and try out the process. What should I take off your plate so this can happen?” Let there be no excuses. She may lash out. That’s fine- if she fails to comply, it’s PIP time.
      *I’ve found it helps to give them a twice the time that they need. Some folks are slow learners, and it gives them a nice buffer without them needing to say “actually, I’m a slow learner” (because no one will say that). The quick learners will use 2 hours, learn everything, then teach themselves more or move the next task, and the slow learners will be happy that they have all the time that they need. The folks that refuse to do it will refuse no matter what you do.

      Keep your manager in the loop. It sounds like Shana is on their way out. That’s not a bad thing- keeping the wrong people in the wrong spots is a bad thing. Having the right people is not just better for the company, it’s also better for the rest of the team.
      Good luck!

      1. Renee Remains the Same*

        I am not sure. They all have some strengths, but holistically there are fundamental gaps. Whether that’s taking the initiative, or collaborating well with other, and in some cases they do need to build up their skillsets (but also think they’re good at things they’re not great it.)

        To be honest, I’ve always been pretty upfront with all of them on areas of growth. Some take it better than others. But none of them identify ways to do it successfully. So, I end up telling them what to do or try to lead by example, and on all fronts, it feels unproductive, because they’re not using critical thinking skills to support themselves. They’re still relying on me to give them explicit direction. And if that’s the end result, it’s easier for me to just do it myself.

        1. ferrina*

          How do you feel about the Socratic method? As Sloanicota pointed out, usually this kind of thing has been building for a long time. Sometimes it helps to ask leading questions so that people can come to the conclusion themself. And sometimes they even surprise you with new ideas. So…

          You: “I want our team to get more involved with TPS reports. I’d love to hear from you about ways that we can do this. Lana, what do you think?”
          Lana: “We shouldn’t do that.”
          You: “Why not?”
          Lana: “Because we’ve never done that before.”
          You: “Yes, that’s true. But some things are shifting at Organization, and we need to start getting involved. We have the option to either have some say in how we are involved, or let the leadership tell us what to do. I’d rather have feedback from our team, since we know what the day-to-day will look like. So, what might be the best way to do this?”

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Here’s your mantra: “I can lead a horse to water, but I can’t make it drink.” The best thing you can do for your problem employees is give them clear and timely feedback, and make sure they know what they need to do to be successful. If Shana fails her PIP and has to be fired, that’s not a failure on your part. With Dana, you need to tell her “learning new things is part of this job, and I need you to be open to that. You can always feel free to ask questions or express concerns, but you need to accept that we can’t just ignore or push back on new processes,” With Lana, it sounds like you need to coach her on communicating in a professional and courteous manner with her colleagues. But if folks continue to screw up in spite of your coaching and your feedback…you have to make sure there are consequences. Maybe a mentor or some support from your manager would be helpful to you! It sounds like you’re in a challenging situation for a new manager–not that you aren’t suited to the job.

      1. Renee Remains the Same*

        Thank you for the mantra and the support! I’ve had some of these clarifying conversations with both Dana and Lana. They both get defensive. Dana cries (she’s confused or busy). Lana gets argumentative or quiet/disengages. It’s gotten bad enough that I dread having to talk to them during my one-on-ones with them. Because they take everything as some kind of attack, when really I’m pointing out how they can help themselves.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          I have an indirect report who can be a lot like this too–some of all of it, really. I’ve been coaching her manager, my direct report, on dealing with it. Her manager sometimes checks in with me before having a conversation where she has to give some critical feedback, just to kind of go over the approach and plot how to respond to her potential reactions. Would your manager be able to help you in a similar way? Also, sometimes, actually saying outright “I’m giving you this feedback because I want you to be successful in this role, and I want to make sure you know how to make that happen” can help.

        2. NaoNao*

          What’s the ratio of praise or acknowledgement to “feedback” that’s critical? I ask because I’ve had bosses who give only the most perfunctory (if any) thanks or praise but every single “feedback” item was (or felt like) a vague accusatory attack on my personality or choices/behaviors, and not one I could immediately straighten out.

          Not to defend these people either but I’ve had really toxic situations that scarred me and I do get into a bit of panic/emotional mode when bosses give well meaning and constructive “feedback” so that might be part of it.

    3. Sloanicota*

      When a group hasn’t been very well managed for a while, this kind of thing can result. The best people have moved out, and the people who are left are comfortable with mediocrity. The team culture may have also shifted that way, reinforcing itself. You might have to break it up / make a clean start somehow. Reorganize roles, transfer some people, anything to shake it up. Even on new hire may also help (the team changes every time any one person changes). Also consider, their attitude may have been adaptive to the past state of management, allowing them to persist through uncertainty or poor control.

      1. Renee Remains the Same*

        We did lose a very strong director. I’ve been left holding the bag and unfortunately, I think me and my other staffer are the last ones standing to keep this department functional.

    4. Frickityfrack*

      I worked with a Dana and a lot of the issues with her stemmed from our boss being mostly hands off. She (the boss) wanted to do the other work of her position, but not the managing part, and didn’t really want to have tough conversations, so Dana was able to dig her heels in and just not do things (which then fell to me, which is part of the reason I ended up leaving).

      Anyway, I think the only way you’d be a bad manager is if you allowed team members to run over you and decide what they will and won’t do without consequences. Setting clear expectations and consequences may mean they don’t last in the job, but it’s better for everyone in the long run, especially the staff that IS doing well.

    5. Rex Libris*

      One of the toughest things I’ve had to learn as a manager is that I can’t (and it isn’t my job) to make dysfunctional people functional. I am not a therapist, I am not a life coach, I am a manager.

      It sounds to me like you just have 3 relatively unmotivated, minimally functioning employees. They may all being using different strategies, but what they’re doing is simply resisting any attempt to engage them in being more productive.

      1. Renee Remains the Same*

        It’s good to remember. I think I’ve always worked really hard to find consensus. We don’t all have to love the compromise, but I’m pretty good at helping people see why things ended as they have. But I just can’t seem to find a middle ground between all these people and because they all are so different, it’s near impossible to get them to be productive. My boss, who is perfectly nice, is actively helping/pushing me to execute strategies to get them on board. But, it really feels like it’s just making them push back harder to the point that this just makes my job miserable and there’s not really an end in sight. (I am looking for a new job)

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Sounds like you are putting in a huge amount of effort trying to Make This Relationship Work, and they are not meeting you where you need them to. Whether that’s because they can’t or because they won’t, it doesn’t really matter in the end. Your obligation as manager is to be really clear about expectations and feedback. If someone’s not meeting the bar, then you need to replace them – that’s your obligation to your employer, it’s literally your job to make sure the team is performing up to spec.

          It is so easy to get invested in making things work that you lose sight of whether this is something worth doing. And unlike in a friendship or romantic relationship, with a manager/employee relationship there are things you can’t compromise on – like whether they’re performing the requirements of their jobs.

          Make sure you aren’t sunk-cost-fallacying yourself into spending a ton of effort on these folks if they aren’t meeting you half way. This job may no longer be the right fit for them, and it’s ok if you decide they aren’t working.

    6. Goddess47*

      Document. Document. Document.

      Yes, it’s extra work and you’re likely already doing it with Shana but do it for the others. That way you have specific and concrete things to discuss with your manager about what is going on.

      Document how this affects business. “I spent X amount of time explaining process Y to Lana, which I also did on [dates].”

      It may or may not be you but until you write it all down, you won’t have proof.

      Good luck!

    7. HR Exec Popping In*

      It sounds like you have a very week team. The thing is you can’t address performance for all of them all at once. Start with the lowest performer (sounds like you have as someone is on a PIP) and focus on dealing with that while trying to keep the others afloat to some extent. Replace them with a strong performer and then focus on your new lowest performer. Hopefully some of these folks will rise to the challenge and improve their performance – especially once their are more strongly performing team members (sometimes people set their own performance expectations against their peers so if most are weak, that reinforces that is the appropriate benchmark for performance). Good luck!

      1. Renee Remains the Same*

        That’s been my plan. It would be amazing to bring in someone great who demonstrates what success looks like. All my fingers are crossed!!

  19. Frickityfrack*

    Today is a very good day. We finished interviews to backfill my old position so I can move fully into my new one, and everyone we interviewed was good, with a couple of standouts. It was a tough decision, but in the way of, “we’d love to hire all of them,” so a good problem to have. We’re going to make an offer on Monday once the HR director is back because apparently we have to clear a higher salary with her. I’m crossing my fingers that it works out, because the candidate is someone I’m very excited to work with. PLUS, I won’t be trying to juggle learning about one job while still doing another.

    Happy Friday everyone, I hope everyone’s llamas are perfectly groomed and your teapots are beautiful.

  20. Nessun*

    Looking for resources to learn webparts and such! My office uses SharePoint for all our intranet sites, and I need to learn how to do it. I do have a mentor who will train me, but she goes fast and she is super busy, so I want to augment whatever notes I take and training I get with her, with some books or online resources. Anyone have any good suggestions? I’ve seen the back end of SharePoint but I am very, very new to this – assume total noob – so anything and everything about where to start and what to watch/learn would be a big help!! TIA.

    1. ferrina*

      Google and YouTube.
      I’m also a hands-on learner, and I love to set up a test environment. It’s pretty easy to set up your own SharePoint so you can play around with “what does this button do?” and learn the mechanics better.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Seconding a test environment. We had one that was just another SharePoint site that people could experiment with without fear of breaking something. Someone with more expertise set up a sort of “Create Your First SharePoint Page” activity that gave you a bunch of different tasks to complete that would require you to try out a bunch of different web parts and then end up with a finished page with lots of different types of content on it (e.g. “use Quick Links in the tile format to link to these five websites” or “use the document library to display the contents of this specific folder” etc.).

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      There’s a website called SharePoint Maven that I used when I was first starting out with it and he’s got a ton of tutorials on how to do things. He goes beyond just creating web pages with webparts, but there’s also a ton of stuff about webparts.

      Failing that, Google and YouTube have also helped me a lot. I like to limit my searches to results from the last year maximum because Microsoft is constantly adding new features and deprecating others and it’s incredibly frustrating to find an article you think will help only to discover that function no longer exists.

      If your company is open to it, there’s also a thing called “Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways” your IT team can probably create. It’s basically a SharePoint site on your own domain that has guided learning (video and written) by Microsoft for all of their major applications, including SharePoint, so it’s a good training tool in general to help people get oriented to the various apps. They can also customize it to come up with new “pathways” if they want. All the content is created, hosted, and updated by Microsoft, but I think you can add your own as well.

    3. Choggy*

      Also make sure, if possible, to record the sessions you have with the mentor to reference as needed. I have done this with someone I’m cross-training to take over part of my job when I leave the organization.

  21. Rayray*

    I’m curious if anyone had experience moving roles within a company. I’m at a good company but don’t feel like I’m in the best role. I do have qualifications and skills well suited to other roles. The company is actually good about letting people grow within and move to new roles, but you do need to be in your current role for at least a year. I’m still only a few months in, and I know soon I’ll have Development meetings where I can discuss this with management. What’s a good way to bring to up without ruffling any feathers? Just to say that I’m not necessarily interested in a trajectory within my current role but that I’d like to move elsewhere?

    1. PricklyHedgehog*

      I have! I would wait to bring it up until closer to the nine month mark. It does take at least six months to settle into a role (honestly probably closer to a year especially if it’s more senior) so I think if you bring this up too early it will raise some red flags about how you approach a new role. In that time, figure out what your « superpower » (easy for you, maybe not for everyone) is and what you enjoy. What do tou really want to grow at? Are there new ways you can approach current work to show these skills and explore? This will leave you in a much better position where folks are excited to have tou shift.

      1. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

        +1, do NOT bring it up too early, even if you aren’t sure about your current role.

        The best thing for you right now is to be all in on learning your current role — think of it as learning some useful skills / learnings about that part of the business that will serve you in future roles!

    2. English Rose*

      Yes I have made such a move, although after a longer timescale than you. I’m very happy in the role. I agree with Prickly Hedgehog to leave until nearer the year to bring it up, but meanwhile do what you can to build relationships with other teams, find out what they do, who the friendly people are who could put in a word for you when the time comes.
      One thing that I did was volunteer for a couple of internal committees which allowed me to learn new skills and raised my profile in the org.

  22. Tammy 2*

    The post this week about swimsuit photos sparked a question for me.

    I’m an author with a book coming out next year–it’s ‘women’s fiction’ comparable to Jennifer Weiner. Not erotica or even steamy romance by any means, but the characters aren’t chaste, either. For several reasons, a pen name is off the table.

    I don’t post about work on my social media and rarely talk about writing at work, but my name is not very common–there are 4 or 5 of us who come up in a Google search, and there are photos of me online associated with both careers. My work is not very public, but I do work for local government and my workplace is public.

    Maybe I’m just looking for reassurance that this is fine, but are there steps I should take to mitigate any negative repercussions if an issue arises? I am already extremely diligent about separating time I write from work time.

    1. Magda*

      I feel uniquely qualified to comment LOL. I write mystery, but my last book did have one explicit scene (which I sort of regret in retrospect TBH) and the genre isn’t always nice and clean like my work persona. I do use my own name – a pen name is a real bear these days when authors are expected to do a heavy lift of promotion. If you need to pack events with your supporters it’s helpful to be able to admit who you are and include coworkers, extended circle contacts, family etc. I’ve been surprised by who has been really supportive. I have a separate, book-only social media platform (IG and FB, I’ve let Twitter go and didn’t TikTok). My posts stay professional but they’re book-focused; who I’m reading, what events are coming up, etc. Nobody has to follow and I don’t “cross the streams” there by posting about anything work related or even all that personal – just some pet photos. Literally nobody has given me a hard time about it and some people do like/interact with my posts, which boosts them in the eyes of the algorithm, which is nice (nothing worse than posting a cover reveal and getting sheer crickets). You have nothing to be ashamed of and most people will think it’s a cool fact about you. My advice would be different if it was legit erotica.

    2. WriterMe*

      Also an author with two books out/two books forthcoming in a job that is public facing with a very uncommon name (at least in the U.S.)! I don’t post about work on socials, and my socials are also private. What are you worried about? Happy to talk through your fears.

      1. Tammy 2*

        Do you find having private socials is a problem with marketing? I’m with an indie press so a lot of publicity is falling to me (though that’s often the case with big publishers, too).

        I guess I am worried about someone not liking something in my book or just being a jerk and going to my employer about it. This is probably more of an anxiety thing than a realistic worry, I’ll admit.

        I don’t generally post about work on socials, either, but I did work on a fun extra project that’s book-related (books in general, not mine–think book-themed public art) that I have posted about without saying “I did this as part of my day job.” There is a small chance this project could get negative attention from book banning enthusiasts that dovetails with my writing work, which has a strong progressive viewpoint.

        I really think it is probably fine and I’m just having a case of nerves, which I appreciate y’all talking through with me.

        1. ItIsARisk*

          Unfortunately that’s a reasonable fear. I used to be a prolific reviewer back in the day and got a lot of guff for not loving everything I reviewed (and sometimes had other even less pleasant interactions with readers). While I didn’t hide my real name per se, I did use an alias for reviews and it was not electronically linked to my real name. I had friends who did not use aliases and lost jobs because their prospective employers found the pushback and vitriol in comment sections on their reviews via searches and decided the reviewer was divisive or had trouble getting along with people.

          I stopped reviewing when using an alias was no longer an option rather than letting my reviews and my real job potentially intersect.

          I know you said a pseudonym isn’t possible, but be aware there absolutely can be spillover if you don’t use one. In my experience it’s more of a problem during job searches than while actually working, but these days job hunting is much more frequent than it used to be for most people and it can still jump out and bite you at an existing job when you least expect it.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      From what you have said it, it sounds fine to me. If you are talking a mainstream work of fiction in which the characters occasionally happen to have sex, I don’t see why that would be a problem in most workplaces. As far as I know, John Marsden was working as a teacher for a lot of his writing career and Dear Miffy gets rather explicit in places.

    4. Victoria Everglot*

      Is it possible to set up a personal website that has a highly visible disclaimer that nothing you write represents or is sponsored or whatever by your employer, without mentioning the employer so there’s no link to them and anyone who finds it might not even know if it’s really you? That might help a bit.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This is just going to create a Streisand effect and prompt people to be very curious about where OP works and try to find out.

      2. Ama*

        This is what I have done — I’m not an author but I have a sidegig I promote through my social media and a website (that includes a blog), on my “About Me” page I have a note that “If you happen to know me from my day job, all opinions expressed on this page and my [sidegig] social media accounts are my own and should not be construed as endorsed by my employer.” (I don’t have anything super controversial on there but I figure better to be safe than sorry.)

    5. Policy Wonk*

      Check your employee handbook – I am federal, not local, so YMMV, but we need to clear outside employment to ensure it does not present ethics issues or in any way reflect badly on the government.

    6. RagingADHD*

      This is fine. One hundred percent fine.

      There are two people on the entire Internet with my name. I have been published for nearly ten years now and done a LOT of self promotion on social media and though my website / email newsletter, video, and local book signings / readings. I can count the number of people who have spontaneously connected my real-life self with my author self on one hand.

      Unfortunately, not nearly as many people are or will be interested in your book as you think / hope. On the rare occasion that someone connects the dots, it will be a nice treat.

      And people who read women’s fiction are not scandalized by characters who are not chaste.

      1. Tammy 2*

        Thanks! I think I have fairly realistic expectations about how many people have expressed interest vs. how many will actually buy/read the book.

        I’m not expecting readers to be scandalized (beta reader feedback consistently asked for more heat, but it just isn’t my thing), but concerned that people who don’t read or don’t read that kind of thing to have different idea of propriety.

        Also I want to make sure I’m not leaving an impression that I think there’s anything wrong with erotica or explicit sex in books! It’s just not what I do.

        1. RagingADHD*

          If they don’t read the genre, they won’t know about the scene anyway. And the people who do read the genre won’t find it out of the ordinary or create a lot of buzz about it.

    7. So many questions...*

      I’m about a dozen years in as an author and as a caveat, I use a pen name. I have a lot of author friends who write under their own name and have outside, unrelated work. One who writes romance for Harlequin, etc., while working for the CDC.

      It’s a mix. Some only talk about writing in social media. Some have separate personal (private) and public (writing) social media accounts. Others mix it all together, kids in Halloween costumes, sexytimes.

      I’d have a deep dive into authors’ social media/websites/online personas and mimic that which feels most authentic for you. The sex is not as big an issue as you might imagine unless you’re a public school teacher, highly religious, etc.

    8. Morgan Proctor*

      You’re totally fine. I also have a writing career outside my day job, and a fairly unique name. There are a couple other Morgan Proctors out there, but I’ve done a lot of hard SEO work to make sure that the first Morgan Proctor that comes up when you google that name is me. I have an extensive online presence, including social media and a website, AND I include my day job on my socials, because it’s a cool job and people are interested in it.

      What negative repercussions are you expecting? The only thing I’ve ever experienced is people looking me up and sending me fan emails, which is always lovely. That’s not to say that nothing weird will ever happen! But weird things can happen to anyone. Honestly this is part of having a public persona, which you now do, and stressing over “what ifs” isn’t productive. Just enjoy this experience as best you can!

      And for what it’s worth, I found the bikini question absurd. The LW went to the author’s instagram. No one expects a scientist’s instagram to be work-related. It’s like this person just really wanted to clutch their pearls that day and went looking for a reason to do so. Instagram is designed to be about your personal life. Also, bikinis are not inherently sexual! Argh that question and its answer just really rubbed me the wrong way.

      1. Cyndi*

        Both LW and Alison confirmed in the comments that the Instagram photos were in fact all really suggestive boudoir-style photography and not just someone Existing In A Swimsuit. A couple of people also said it sounded a lot like what happens when someone’s Instagram account gets taken over by a spambot, which I think sounds really plausible! But from where we’re sitting there’s no way to know.

      2. So many questions...*

        Readers at general reading events do ask inappropriate questions a la – do you practice what you do in love scenes *wink, nudge* – you have to have a cheeky reply at hand. I *have* been asked that of acquaintances – same response – return awkward to sender.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      Well, think of it this way: Scott Turow was a practicing attorney when he wrote The Pelican Brief and his other best sellers, which were thrillers with lots of shooting and smooching (lots of steamy sexy sex in The Firm, as I recall) and not only did it not hurt his career, he became rich and famous and had his books made into films with Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise. And he was “revealing secrets” of the legal profession.

      As long as you’re not writing hate fiction, revealing trade secrets, trying to flog your book at work or otherwise blurring the lines, I think you’re fine.

    10. NancyDrew*

      I am also a trad-published author with a full time day job and I decided years ago to just embrace it. Honestly, it sets me apart and totally impresses people. Enjoy it!

  23. New Senior Mgr*

    My Uncle asked me to go into a 50/50 side business with him, Co-Sharing Work Space. I currently work fulltime elsewhere. He bought a small residential home and turned it into a beautiful space that holds 2 offices (bedrooms), a lobby area, kitchen, conference room, bathroom, front porch, and back deck with lots of outdoor space. I reviewed his business plan and my attorney is taking a look at the house details. In the meanwhile, does anyone have experience with owning or using a co-share? What did you like about it? Didn’t like? Wish they had XYZ?

    1. Sloanicota*

      I may not be understanding the question (are you going to be running a coworking space as your business, or are you talking about running another business out of a coworking space your uncle owns) but I did work in a WeWork for many years and it was actually nice until the company went insane. The main advantage from my company’s perspective was the more flexible lease – we could upsize, downsize or vacate on relatively short notice – which I do understand is a liability on WeWork’s end that they were trying to make up for in volume. Also, and this may be personal, but when I think of renting one now instead of working from home as an independent contractor, a main draw is that WeWork was pet friendly so I wouldn’t be leaving my dog at home. That’s another liability and hassle on WeWork’s side though, and some would feel the exact opposite. The main other draws to going there versus just working in my own home are a) better environment – everything clean / well maintained (internet, printers, conference space) and quiet / well adapted to work and also the social aspect, which WeWork did really well by organizing lots of food and drinks in a downstairs commons area to invite collaboration – but that was opt-in and there were enough people that it didn’t feel pressure-y, plus careful moderation. Hope this is useful.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Oh! And the WeWork had a concierge desk that offered some really nice perks for our small org – they got the mail and sorted it, handled deliveries with FedEx, etc. These things can have an oversized impact on small orgs.

    2. Jane Bingley*

      One of my frustrations with these spaces is that it can be hard to rent short-term. My boss travels frequently and it’s often the case that he would be more comfortable in a co-working space than a hotel room, but the spaces have requirements to rent for a month or six months at minimum. I get that long-term rentals are more reliable! But it’s so frustrating when a space has empty rooms and I can’t get them at any cost. Consider offering short-term options if you’re having trouble getting clients or filling up the space, especially at first.

      1. So many questions...*

        Before the pandemic, my friend ran a few of these in various European cities. They were rent by the day, month, etc. That short-term option was excellent – like when my upstairs neighbor was renovating. The ones here in the US always required a longer commitment OR a monthly fee, and that felt daunting since I don’t mind working from home 95% of the time.

        1. Tio*

          I think the problem with daily passes is that you have to hold those spaces open for potential daily customers with no guarantee of income. Most places that do daily passes have whatever percentage of monthly customers they need to guarantee staying in the black. The smaller the space, the less likely they are to do daily passes.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I assume zoning won’t be an issue? It was the first thing that popped to mind if the house is zoned residential.

    4. Alisaurus*

      My company rents at a local coworking space, and we love it. Free coffee was a draw for one of our guys. lol Also, we liked that it was comfy but also business-y – if that makes sense. It didn’t feel as formal/stuffy as some of the coworking spaces we tried out but it was just “office”-y enough that it still feels professional.

      The day pass option is great for people who just need a quick spot to work but don’t want to commit to a whole lease. And the fact that most places offered a free trial day for prospective tenants was also really nice. The one we ended up going with let us work from the common space for free for a day to get a feel for the place.

      A few other perks that are really nice: monthly community events, organized free food periodically, mail service (front desk staff receives/distributes mail and packages), organized deal with a local dry cleaner’s where there’s a designated pickup/dropoff spot in the office. Also, their team are all notaries and offer that service free of charge to tenants, which has been super handy several times for us (I am a notary, but no one else in the company is to return the favor for me lol and I sometimes need business docs notarized).

    5. CoWorking*

      The free food, drinks, printer, copier was a big draw. Most coworking places have multiple locations and having the option to work in a different location than your office was a major perk (doesn’t sound like this applies to you).

  24. ThatGirl*

    I don’t know if any of yall are familiar with this kind of thing, but my company, post-merger, is now very big on Total Associate Engagement. And my department, which consists of a lot of people who were part of the “acquired” company, is still kind of low on engagement based on their survey. (This is all a ploy to make the company look good, honestly)

    We had a meeting yesterday to go over the results, because their process calls for “action items” so that the scores can be improved. But the questions we scored low on were things like “senior leadership values diverse perspectives” and “I believe positive change will happen as a result of this survey” — we can’t make the C-suite do anything! we are but lowly individual contributors! and no, I do not believe the nearly all-white, all-cis-het-male executive leadership and board value diverse perspectives. And nothing we suggest is going to make that happen; they have to make it happen. Feels like an exercise in futility.

    1. ferrina*

      Action items:
      -C-Suite makes changes based on survey (see: we don’t believe positive change will be made) or C-Suite quits asking questions they don’t want to know the answers to.
      -C-Suite makes some commitments and holds to them.
      -C-Suite has someone to do some basic research around DEIJ in a corporate setting. Or spends a whole 10 minutes googling and hires a consultant.
      -We all become better at lying. C-Suite should consider incentivizing this initiative by increasing our compensation.

    2. Capt. Liam Shaw*

      No offense but, don’t assume “diverse opinions” has anything to do with gender or color of skin. I worked for a het-cis white female. There was a het-cis white guy who she would listen to over everyone else, including other het-cis white people.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Genuinely – I’m not sure what you mean? Of course diversity of opinion can be separate from gender or skin color (or sexuality or religion or class…) But the point is, when the top people in the company are demographically similar, and they have shown in various ways that they don’t really intend to change that, and they don’t seem to “hear” what us common folks are saying – then I have no confidence that they have any interest in ACTUALLY listening to diverse voices.

    3. JustaTech*

      An observation (as someone who has taken a lot of the surveys and learned to lie because of unreasonable consequences) – *you* didn’t score low on “I believe positive change will happen as a result of this survey” – you scored *the company* low on that area.

      But somehow it always comes back around as “the employees scored low on this thing” rather than “upper management scored poorly on this thing by employees”. It’s frustrating.

      (I had an upper manager once declare to me that he didn’t see the point of our year-old Employee Resource Groups (that he was a sponsor of!) because in the year that they had existed we had not gotten one woman or person of color into the C-suite. This was never the point of either of the ERGs, but somehow he thought that we should have magically replaced the CFO or something. It’s really disheartening when upper management takes something that could be good for employees and the company and just trashes it.)

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yes, you are correct – we scored the company low on these things, and yet it is somehow our responsibility to suggest ways we can fix it.

  25. sam_i_am*

    Does anyone have advice for (1) not getting overly attached to jobs you’re applying to and (2) continuing to do your job when you’re planning on leaving?

    Re: #2, we’re doing a lot of grant-writing for future projects right now, and it’s really hard for me to participate in the process while I know that I want to leave but my boss doesn’t. It’s especially tricky since I don’t think they’re going to be able to fill my position when I leave, at least not for a long time. So on one hand, I feel like I’m eventually going to leave them in a bind, but on the other hand, I have no idea how long I’ll be staying b/c the tech job market doesn’t seem the hottest right now. Alongside grant stuff, I’m also just having a lot of trouble concentrating on work for a variety of reasons, but one of them is definitely “this (hopefully) won’t be my job for much longer, why bother?”

    1. PricklyHedgehog*

      If you like your coworkers, leaving them with an awesome, funded project is a great way to go out. I had a coworker do this and we ended up collaborating on the project later (with him in a new role a different org). He left with a huge amount of goodwill and folks dying to work with him and has definitely been moving up in the world.

      Also, maybe also try a therapist if you’re feeling really low. I often find lows are not 100% about what I initially think.

      Good luck !

    2. Dulcinea47*

      Reframe most of that mentally. Some of those things are Not Your Job.

      Its not your job to worry about what people will do when you’re gone.
      *You’re* not leaving them in a bind, they’ve got themselves in one b/c (whatever reasons they wouldn’t be able to hire someone). It’s most likely not b/c you’re the only person in the world who could possibly do that job.

      OTOH, when it comes to things that *are* your job…. personally, I consider my job a deal between me and my employer. They pay me and I do whatever their priority is. For my own self respect I want to do a good job. That’s why I bother even when I don’t care much.

      I try to think of jobs I’ve applied for like a lottery ticket. You can fantasize about that money but most likely it’s never going to be yours.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I feel you on the stress of trying to write great grants in the face of uncertainty. My job is very much this, and that uncertainty definitely hurts our applications because we don’t really know what staff we’ll have under various scenarios. But, you have to just pretend you’re going to be there or that things will be the way they are now (or whatever is in your plan). Grants are a vision at the time of submission, not a contract. They may become a contract at the time of award, but that’s tomorrow’s problem, and by the it will come with money.

    4. Alisaurus*

      It can be so easy to get attached to jobs you’re applying to, especially if you really like the sound of the job/company (and if you’re like me and have a very vivid imagination)! With varying degrees of success based on the job, I’ve found it can be helpful to remind myself it might *not* be as great as I think it is. Also, this might sound silly, but sometimes pretending I’m just playing a role and my character applied for a job but hey, now I’m done with acting for the day and it’s not going to affect me. It may not work for people who have different brains than I do, but that’s genuinely what I’ve done before.

      As far as 2, I’ve always told myself, “This is my job now, and those other jobs may not even pan out, so I owe it to myself to do a good job at these tasks right now.” Because, in addition to not wanting to leave coworkers in a bind when I go, it truly still is the job I’m being paid for, so I might as well do it to the best of my ability while I’m still at it. (And that ability might be different depending on the season you’re in – I don’t think anyone is over-the-moon cheerful about their job all the time, even if they’re not looking to leave – but the key is that it’s your job for now either way.)

      I hope that helps! I know this is a weird season of life, but you’ve got this!

    5. Hlao-roo*

      For #1, when I was job-searching I was generally had a handful of job ads on my “start an application for this” list and a few applications I was actively working on at any given moment. I worked on personalizing my resume/cover letter for each job I applied to, but after I applied to a given job ad, I turned to the next one in my queue.

      I gave myself a goal to send out a certain number of applications per month (I think I was aiming for ~6/month) so I felt like I was approaching my goal by sending out applications, instead of feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere when I didn’t hear back from companies.

      I also used the “assume you didn’t get the job” technique that AAM mentions in her job-searching advice. After I sent out an application, I’d take a little time to feel accomplished, then I would assume my application would be rejected, so I’d start working on the next app instead of fantasizing about working at that one particular company.

    6. Miss Lemon*

      I’m in a slight similar situation. It’s work I used to care about a lot, but at this employer I just don’t and plan to leave in a year or two.
      A trick that motivates me is to think of one or two of the mentors who’ve inspired me and ask myself how they would see my work right now. I don’t want to be known as someone whose work isn’t good.

  26. Nea*

    I’m spinning up the documentation side of a software group, and we’re trying to hit the sweet spot between “give the users what they need to know” without tipping into “swamping the users with banners and emails.”

    Assume you’re a user of Llama Grooming App, which tells you which llamas need to be groomed next in the rotation. The app has been updated with a major new feature, allowing you to track individual llamas and allowing you to add personality notes like “Bingo is afraid of the yellow clippers but doesn’t mind the silver ones.”

    How is the best way of notifying you of the change? A banner? An email? A tool tip on the new fields? All three? Something I haven’t thought of?

    (Take it as a given that there are release notes and an updated user guide)

    1. Danish*

      I would say an email in both cases, and either tool tip on the feature or site pop up depending on circumstances. If people will see the new feature as part of their daily app experience (like if you need to look at each llama every day), then tool tip on that screen seems fine. If I have no reason to go look at my llamas then a site pop up directing me to the llama screen would be helpful.

    2. Pie Fight*

      I personally like the banner, but only if I can dismiss it and not have it appear every time I open the app. When I see tooltip icons I assume they are for all fields (or potentially confusing fields), so that option wouldn’t indicate “these fields are new” to me.

      The banner and email could also be helpful, because the email can include more info and links to your release notes and user guide. Once the user closes the banner, they can still refer back to the email. Do you release on a cadence? If you do release every month / quarter, maybe a release summary email would be useful if you aren’t already sending one.

    3. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      I delete emails about app features without reading them… I’d rather a pop up within the app saying ‘this is new – want a tour?’ and let me either find it at my own pace or show me there and then what is new.

      1. Nightengale*

        oh my word I am the exact opposite. I can get an e-mail and read it when it is a good time for me. A popup invariably, well, pops up when I am trying to use the application in real time conditions and then I have to figure out how to turn off the tour they are pushing at me.

    4. Mad Harry Crewe*

      For the actual users – tool tip and one-time popup notif.

      Not clear if you’re B2B or B2C – we’re B2B and this is also something our customer relationship managers would help with: identifying which customers would likely appreciate the new feature, talking it up, training customers, and making sure it gets adopted is a big part of their job.

  27. CzechMate*

    Feeling pretty frustrated with my manager and looking for advice.

    My new-ish manager (he has an assistant director title) has been with us for 18 months, and frankly, he’s been pretty lackluster. He’s out of the office so much that he’s basically the equivalent of a part-time employee (I’ve actually done the math). He’s supposed to be overseeing a software implementation, but because he’s gone so much it’s really fallen on my office mate (who is below him on the org chart) to spearhead it, and I’ve done quite a bit as well. When he is here, I’ve been pretty surprised by how little he seems to know about some of the database processes and/or office procedures. We’re getting complaints that he’s taking several days/weeks to answer emails, and so sometimes I will just take over some of his urgent tasks because I don’t believe he will do them in a timely manner. Our admin assistant has told me she ends up coordinating a lot of events/projects that technically are in his purview.

    I think the biggest thing that bothers me (and some of the other staff) is that he seems to “get away” with a lot, while much of his work falls on lower-level employees who are paid less and don’t have as illustrious titles. I don’t know if I have the capital to raise these concerns with the Director, but I’m also pretty fed up with having him as a “manager.” At the same time, I also know that there could be more happening behind the scenes–for example, he could have already been PIP’ed or given warnings about his performance. I’ve had plenty of incompetent coworkers, but never an incompetent manager–any advice on how I can keep my sanity?

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I don’t know if I have the capital to raise these concerns with the Director

      You also don’t have to do his work for him. When people complain to you about him not responding to urgent tasks, then you and your teammates may need to redirect those people to the Director, i.e.,

      “Oh, I’m so sorry, I haven’t seen Associate Director since Monday. Maybe you can send your request to Director and they can help?”

      Right now, he’s getting away with it because you’re shielding leadership from the pain of his incompetence. Stop doing that and see what happens.

      1. CzechMate*

        That’s good advice. Once concern I have, though, is that my colleague (the one who was taken on the software implementation herself) is conscientious to the degree that I don’t think she would allow a project to fail. I’ve taken up some of his tasks because if I don’t do them, I know she will. Any ideas about how I can convince her to stop covering for him?

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Take this with a huge grain of salt. Like, a salt lick’s worth:

          In that specific case, instead of convincing her to stop, can you both use this as a way to spotlight how much you all are *accomplishing*? The “read between the lines” piece is that you two are doing this work and Associate Director is absent.

          So, start emailing Director for approvals, CC’ing Associate Director with questions and relevant updates on the project, i.e.,

          “Dear Director, I am working on leading the contractors setting up the Llama Cuddling module of Big New Software Project. We need a decision about which direction to go with regards to whether or not to incorporate the Brusher 3000 now or if we should leave if for phase 2. We need the decision by tomorrow (Friday) and Associate Director hasn’t available to discuss since Tuesday. Could you give us any guidance?”

          “Dear Director, An update, thank you for your guidance (alternatively: Associate Director was able to chime in) and now I am having thebl contractors build space for this in Phase 2. The rest of the module build is going well, I was able to cobble together a team to do XYZ while Associate Director was off-site last week and we should be on track to complete this module beta build on-time. CzechMate volunteered to take the lead on finding the beta testers; we know this might usually be done by Associate Director as the project lead, but since we’re getting close to needing the testers now, we started the setup.”

          The tone is…I’m asking for help, keeping you in the loop and asking for the appropriate authorizations and, oh by the way, we’re doing this because someone needs to otherwise it won’t happen. Very delicate, could definitely blow up in your face and WARNING: Could get you fired.

          I am an internet stranger, ignorant of the details of your company, job, life, etc. It’s entirely possible Associate Director *is* prioritizing and delegating correctly. Or he could be incompetent. Or both!

          1. Lasuna*

            I was going to suggest something similar. If you don’t have the capital to raise it directly, can you raise it indirectly under the guise of asking for permission? Maybe you could convince your coworker to at least send emails to the director along the lines of,

            “Hi Director, Because Assistant Director is out, we are concerned we will miss XYZ deadline. Unless we hear that you would like us to handle this differently, I am going to take over ABC to ensure the deadline is met. Please let me know if you and the Assistant Director worked out another plan for how to handle this.”

            It might be on the passive aggressive side, but it has the added benefit of being a CYA in the event that the Director is ever upset about how something was handled.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          You can’t, really. You can’t make her care more than he does.

          I would give her a heads up about “dropping” some of these balls so you’re on the same page, so she isn’t blindsided, but what it comes down to is taking care of your own career.

    2. Generic Name*

      He “gets away” with it because you and two other (at least) employees are doing parts of his job for him. As far as keeping your sanity, stop doing stuff he should be doing, even if you know that means it won’t get done at all. Any time anyone asks you about stuff under your manager’s purview, you can say, “I’m not sure, you’ll have to ask Manager”. Or “I wouldn’t know, that’s not under my purview. Have you talked to Manager?”. If your company is at all functional, someone will start noticing that Manager’s stuff isn’t getting done.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Wouldn’t it be a coincidence if all the things needing priority calls, sign off etc fell on days where he is MIA and so had to be escalated to the Director?

    4. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Y’all need to let him fail. Right now, you’re covering for him, which is enabling him to keep doing it and preventing his management from seeing or needing to address the issue.

  28. nopetopus*

    A bit of an odd ask: does anyone know of free web resources for me to learn more about equipment/tools/processes for blue collar jobs? Things like welding, HVAC, flooring/carpentry/plumbing, etc?

    I’m a sign language interpreter and sometimes I need to interpret things like that, but I don’t know the English word for the thing the deaf person is saying, or I need to know what a tool or process looks like for me to interpret the English word effectively. We get there eventually but it would really help if I had more of a knowledge base.

    Anyone have anything they can recommend?

    1. Angstrom*

      Would a visual dictionary help? There are several of those.

      Home Depot is one place to look. Try Home -> DIY Projects & Ideas _> Home Improvement Ideas -> Hardware & Tool Guides

      When I was starting in the engineering world i learned a lot by leafing through the McMaster-Carr catalog. So many things I never knew existed… BTW, the website is an excellent design for drilling down through multiple options to find a particular product.

      1. nopetopus*

        Oh my goodness, that Home Depot tools guide and McMaster-Carr are exactly the type of thing I’m looking for!

        With my current job I don’t know what types of project or even which field beforehand, but those look great for getting me more familiar, thank you so much!

    2. A Girl Named Fred*

      This may sound like a weird suggestion and I’m not sure it’d be totally free, but – do you have a community college near you that has programs for the areas you’re wanting to boost your knowledge? I work at a college in a non-credit program adjacent to the fields you’re talking about, and we have a few classes that are aimed at helping ELL students learn the more technical terms for their fields before they jump into classes to help them be successful. If there’s a similar program, you may be able to either get into a class or they might be able to put you in contact with someone who would have worksheets or similar you could study!

      Alternately, I agree with Alex. My dad watches a ton of different YouTube channels that do farming or repairing equipment, etc., so I’m sure you could find similar channels that use the terms you need and most likely would be showing what the piece is on screen, too.

      1. nopetopus*

        Thank you for your suggestions! I tried to YouTube but I’m in the spot where I don’t know what I don’t know, which makes it hard to search. When I’m doing my own little DIY repairs (rare since I rent, ha) YouTube is super helpful and if I have a greater knowledge base it’ll come in handy.

        I do have several community/technical colleges in the area, but most have stopped letting people audit courses so I hadn’t looked deeper into it. I’ll try to look for ones with strong ELL programs to see if they’ll be sympathic to my problem and let me sit in on a few sessions. Thank you!

    3. DannyG*

      Maybe contact Mike Rowe’s foundation: mikeroweWORKS Foundation. They do lots of work with the trades and lots of contacts.

  29. MailOrderAnnie*

    I’m looking for companies that hire people to do technical training, company wide rollouts, etc. I am linked with one and will be finishing a contract with them in 2 weeks and I’d love to list myself with a few other organizations to get some more work. Does anyone know of any companies like this? I have a lot of experience in legal tech, training, instructional design, course development, floor support, and project management. Thanks in advance!

  30. Why is this okay*

    I’m over 40 so I have no education dates on my resume. Yet every online application requires you to put valid start and end dates for education.

    It’s illegal to ask a candidates age but it’s not illegal to require education dates, which when looked at can roughly give you an idea of a persons age.

    Why is one illegal and the other not illegal? They can be equally discriminatory.

    1. ThatGirl*

      It’s not illegal to ask a candidate’s age — it’s illegal to make a hiring decision based on that.

    2. CTT*

      It’s not illegal to ask someone’s age, it’s only illegal to make employment decisions based on the answer of the person is over 40. But because of that, interviewers are discouraged from asking.

    3. pally*

      I don’t know the official reason, but an argument can be made that the education dates can identify how up-to-date a candidate’s knowledge is. And that can be cited as reason for rejecting a candidate.
      (I know, just one more way to cloak age discrimination)

      I don’t know whether one can just put in 1/1/2023 for all start and end dates. I know, it’s lying. But hey, tell them you had difficulty entering actual dates (which is true!). So you did what you could.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        I think I’d be careful of following your last suggestion – while I know it’s been recommended to put 0 in a required salary field as that sends a pointed message of, “I’m not going to answer this,” I’d worry that any phrasing equivalent to “I couldn’t get the form to work” would only give an employer a “valid” reason to say “Well, they clearly aren’t the most competent with technology so we’re going to pass,” especially if they were going to factor age in anyway. If you’re going to put the wrong dates and are asked about it, I’d err on the side of, “While I understand having the degree is relevant, I think my recent work history speaks more to my competencies because of (XYZ accomplishments).”

        1. pally*

          Very true. But if the ATS has been set to reject those with education dates older than 10 years ago, there’s no chance you’ll be selected for an interview. What do you do?

    4. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Probably because education dates (I’m assuming post-sec here?) don’t necessarily tell you how old someone is. There’s a strong correlation, but since there are lots of people who go back to school again later in their careers or go for the first time when they’re a bit older, it doesn’t necessarily tell you what you think it does.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Except that it works the other way around for people who are facing ageism and went to college on a standard timeframe. If college graduation was in the 1990s, the idea that they might have been an older student at the time makes it worse, not better.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          I’m aware. I was drawing attention to the fact that determining someone’s age based on the year they graduated is imprecise guesswork, whereas if someone actively tells you their age, you have an actual number to discriminate with. The law is based on an actual age, not a ballpark figure you might be able to glean from context clues.

          1. Tio*

            In addition, if you graduated in the 90s you probably have quite a bit of work history that will indicate you’re older as well. (Not always, but common enough.) Plus, if someone’s determined to not going to hire an older person, then even if they don’t skip your application, when you interview they’ll just pass on you anyway

      2. Ginger Cat Lady*

        I got my undergrad in 1995, my masters in 2022. Those dates absolutely give away my age to within 5 years, not just a “correlation”
        It’s denial to claim otherwise, even if there are a few edge cases.

      3. Too Many Tabs Open*

        My dad was 36 when he got his bachelor’s degree, and he said there were quite a few interviews where the interviewer was very surprised to see someone 15 years older than they’d unconsciously expected.

    5. Fluffy Fish*

      It’s not illegal to ask a candidates age. It’s illegal to discriminate against people over 40.

      Because of that most employer won’t ask for your actual age, but it’s not illegal to do so.

    6. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

      Maybe it’s so they can verify your education with the college? I think very few employers actually verify, but could be checking a box so they can verify later if there’s some problem or suspicion.

    7. Irish Teacher.*

      If we are talking about college here, you can’t really tell a person’s age from those. People can attend college at any age. Yeah, most people are probably between 17 and 20, but there are enough mature students that I wouldn’t assume somebody who graduated in 2020 is necessarily still in their 20s.

      Now, admittedly, if somebody graduated in 1998, you can assume they are over 40, as it’s unlikely they’d have graduated college before the age of 15, but I don’t think it would be a very effective way of excluding older people, given that I just googled and at least in Ireland, 7% of university students and 12% of those attending Institutes of Technology are mature students (over 23 on entry), so there’s a very good chance some of those with recent graduation dates would be older than one might initially assume

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Education dates don’t necessarily give away your age. I got a bachelor degree when I was 39.

  31. name of the day*

    Any advice about changing careers? Or has anyone moved from one line of work into HR specifically? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

    1. Yes And*

      I moved into HR sideways and sort of by accident. I’m a finance person in an industry where HR is frequently lumped in with finance and administration, and I found myself taking on more and more HR and HR-adjacent roles. Last year I finally accepted that this is part of what I need to be able to do, and got my SHRM certification. The frustrating thing about that was that most of the HR training I encountered was about “it is important to listen to people,” not “here is what a Form 5500 is and how to fill one out.” But I am finally starting to feel like I have my feet under me.

    2. HR Friend*

      I don’t think many people grow up wanting to be an HR director. I fell into the field, as a lot of people do. I started as a general office admin at a tech startup, and my admin job had many HR functions. As the company grew, my role grew, and pretty soon I was doing only HR. Along the way I saw a title change, and now many years later, I run an actual, well staffed, professional department, and I LOVE my job.

      That’s one path. Another I’ve seen is to start as an in-house recruiter and try to gain some generalist experience when you’re not busy recruiting. I’m not a big believer in HR education; I don’t think it opens any doors the way work experience does. I have my certification, but that was more for my own personal confidence and development, not because my job demanded it.

      If you’re considering moving into HR, I’d recommend researching the different areas of the industry. There’s work that’s heavy on employee relations and contact, and work where you never talk to another soul and are face down in data all day. Figure out what exactly appeals to you about HR so you can plot a course that makes sense to you.

      Good luck! I love my work, and I hope you find something that you love too.

  32. The Riddlee*

    My manager is continuing to drive me nuts by constantly asking questions, and then misunderstanding the answers. A newish pattern is that I misunderstand his question and answer the wrong thing. I don’t know if it’s me, though I haven’t had this happen before with any previous managers. Another newish thing he started doing is asking me what other people meant when they said X or Y, instead of asking the other person directly to clarify.

    At first I thought all this was because my manager was still ramping up on a new-to-him domain & company, but at this point he’s been around a whole year; if he hasn’t figured stuff out yet, I fear he’s never going to.

    1. Dulcinea47*

      good lord…. I’d be replying “You’d have to ask Other person” whenever he asks you what other people meant. This sounds infuriating.

      1. The Riddlee*

        I know, right?
        I have decided to save my sanity I need to start fighting questions with questions.
        “What do *you* think he meant?”
        “Why do you ask? What’s your concern?”

    2. Sloanicota*

      I tend to want to help by providing lots of context, but with some people I have learned I need to act like a witness on the stand: answer ONLY the question asked, in as little detail necessary, and then wait to be sure you were understood. Perhaps you can default to written communication more on these questions: “I think you’re asking X, right? I checked Y resource and it seems that the answer to X is 42. If you want more information perhaps we can ask Peter, Paula and Marty to explain.”

    3. ferrina*

      If he is the only one this is happening with, it’s definitely him, not you.

      Sounds like you have a pretty crumby manager. If it’s already making you question your competence, start working on an exit plan. It doesn’t need to be right away, and hopefully he goes before you do, but this isn’t healthy long term. Don’t wait until it gets Extremely Bad- this is already bad enough to quietly start working toward better things. Again, hopefully he’ll be gone soon, but if he’s not, how long is too long to work under someone like this?

      1. The Riddlee*

        I do have an exit plan – I am trying to put up with it for another six months plus or minus. If things haven’t improved by then, I will quit, spend the summer with my kids, and look for a new job in the fall.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      Are you me?

      My manager also has the fun habit of asking a question then continuing to talk so I can’t answer. (Note: These aren’t hard or confusing questions.)

    5. JustaTech*

      Ugh, these are the worst, and really hard to work around.
      I had a manager (years ago) who had the terrible habit of not using NOUNs when asking questions. Like, he wouldn’t even say “thing”, he would just pause briefly when the word should be then keep talking, and then get frustrated at you when you had to ask “The widget or the wombat?” and the answer would be “The whale, obviously!”
      It was always like you had come in in the middle of a conversation, except he would come up and start talking at you.
      The only way we figured out to deal with it was to check with our coworkers on what the most likely “thing” was, and hope for the best.

  33. Summer*

    Does anyone have experience with getting colleagues to stop… gaslighting seems like too big a word, but forcing me to prove in exacting detail that a particular conversation (which we were both present for) did happen and did cover what I say it did and was treated seriously by everyone involved at the time? I’m coming off another round of “Why do you say people care a lot about X? [Conversation where people very clearly cared a lot about X] didn’t happen… well, it did, but people didn’t say they cared a lot about X in it… well, they did, but they decided it didn’t matter a few weeks later so I don’t know why you’re saying people care a lot about X.” This is all happening over Slack, so it’s not hard to cite conversations.

    If I preemptively bring in the Slack citations (there’s a way to link existing messages), the conversation derails about how hurtful it is for me to feel like they wouldn’t believe me. If I don’t bring in the citations, they… don’t believe me. The conversations where they expressed the opposite view vanish down the same memory hole as before.

    I do not think this is happening with intentional malice (these conversations are often months apart, and I have an unusually good memory; they almost certainly actually don’t remember these things), and it’s definitely not a sexism issue (the colleagues doing this are women). It’s just intensely frustrating to be essentially accused of lying because other people forgot what they said. This includes the managers, so they’re not going to help because they do the exact same thing.

    Is there any sort of solution to this, or does it just come down to “you can only change the people around you by changing where you are”?

    1. Dulcinea47*

      If they are moving the goalposts when you bring in actual proof, they’re terrible and there’s nothing you can do (yes that is gaslighting-ish). Mostly I would avoid the whole conversation unless it’s really necessary for your work.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Boy, can you follow up on some of those slack conversations with email updates, or better yet periodically update some sort of master document that is shared with everyone in a central place? This seems frustrating.

    3. ferrina*

      First, talk to your manager. There may be more going on here. You need may need your manager’s support if you’ve accidentally stepped into the dreaded Office Politics.

      Next, start taking charge of conversations. Walk in the room talking and set the tone, “Okay, so last time we met, we talked about XYZ and we agreed ABC. And today we are talking about JKL, right?” (you can leave off the “right?” if it just gums up the works. Sometimes it can help people buy in to what you are saying, but some people see it as an opening to create Reasonable Doubt). If it helps, drink extra coffee before the meeting (not kidding- it can help with the extra chattiness if needed)

      Then, treat the gaslighting (because that’s what it is) as a simple memory lapse, give them a quick reminder then immediately move the conversation along. Yep, I’m saying you should gaslight the gaslight if needed. If it helps, use flattery- it can be amazing what people “remember” when you credit them for the idea you wish they had.

      Finally, make the conversation into an Either/Or. Either they do the option you like, or they do another option you are fine with. Ask closed questions, now open ended things. Give them a chance to contribute, but guide them into contributing only in a certain way.

      Gaslighter: What is it important that we not alienate our customers?
      You: Great question, and you may remember that we talked about it last time. I obviously don’t want to waste your time rehashing that convo, and it’s all covered in the slacks, but the main thrust is that alienating our customers drives down sales. I think you were the one that brough up that customers were buying less because they saw us as empty suits, and I love how your analogy is so elegant to what the data is showing customers feel. So to help customers feel included, I’m proposing that we do a campaign centered around either customization or around community. Which do you think would be better?”

    4. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve fallen into the trap before of being pushed into defensive position and asked to provide evidence when I disagreed with someone’s (mistaken) interpretation. It leads to scrambling and frustration at feeling like I have to prove my side all the time. I’m starting to get better at recognizing when this trap is being set up and making sure I stay well clear. (See also, dealing with colleagues who’d rather ask you than Google, or try to use you as their external memory)

      If you can do it in the moment, a possible strategy is to push it back on them in a completely neutral way. “Hmm, I don’t remember the conversation that way, can you be more specific about/help me understand why you are claiming X?” Think of it as conversational jiu jitsu. If they’re going to be adversarial, let them expend all the energy around the situation. If the evidence exists and supports you, have them do their own evidence gathering.

    5. NaoNao*

      Do you need their approval/memory to get the work done? It sounds like this might be a case of work by committee where there’s a mistaken belief you need consensus before starting to develop a project or deliverable.

      Is it possible to just…sidestep the agreement part, and go in as if it were a done deal? Or just steamroll them?

      Like let’s say you have a conversation about requirements, and you need a radio button showing temperature per an earlier discussion where you agreed it was important to the customer.

      If they’re like “I don’t recall the customer feedback group saying they needed that!” just respond “They did. Moving on, let’s take a look at colors for our radio button.” Just basically grey rock/don’t engage.

      If they ask you “well, can you prove that?” I’d give them a look like they grew another head and go with the ol’ “I’m not sure that’s the best use of any our time. Is there something else you wanted to work on instead?”

      I would also try to get to the root cause of this gaslighting. Is your clear recollections creating more work, harder work, boring work, challenging work etc for these people? Try to figure out what the benefit of “forgetting” the conversations and demanding proof is. Then you might be able to nip it in the bud from the beginning.

      “I realize making a radio button means a few extra hours of work, but it can’t be helped. So let’s focus on choosing a color for today.”

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Argh! I wish I knew the answer to this, you have my sympathy. I have a great memory for detail and can recall most decisions and the discussions that led up to them etc. I can usually manage to convince people that I’m telling the truth (and that I’ve interpreted the situation correctly, so it really was the case that people cared a lot about X, to use your example). But then they will say “yeah, maybe, but I don’t remember that discussion at all”! What do you even say to that? I admit I’ve been a little bit rude and said “but you were there” and showed a screenshot or other evidence that they were part of the situation. Do people really forget all this stuff or are they just denying it?

  34. Exhausted Electricity*

    I’ve been having a really rough time and I got publically recognized (complete with benefits, not just a pizza party) for actively making the workplace better and more inclusive.
    I want to thank you all for writing back to me and helping!

    I know I write a lot about sexist coworkers, and it’s still frustrating, and I’m devastated that it’s 2023 and I still have to deal with discrimination and biases like this. I’m going to keep at it.

  35. InHigherEd*

    I’m thinking of applying to a part-time production worker job at a manufacturing plant.

    I’m currently in a white collar, client-facing office job.

    Any advice (general, resume/application)?

  36. Operation Holiday Stress Ball*

    Want to know what your non-profit fundraising friends/family are doing going into end of year fundraising?

    Vent: You’re a rich neighborhood country club garden club with a private FB group. You want to meet next week to tour our facility, then you want a PowerPoint so you can recommend us to the Board for a gift that will likely be under $1k but only after I’ve prostrated myself. OH, we also only have 2 FT staff and 2 PT interim staff still working on our annual and quarterly report, direct mail and e-campaigns for Giving Tuesday, Thanksgiving and End of Year. Thanks, but no.

    Vent: You’re a donor who wants us to design and print 250 holiday cards so you can send them to your financial services clients as a ‘a gift has been made in your honor.” You want them next week but we’re BUSY. When you don’t here from us within a day you write, ‘Please cancel our order.” Ma’am this isn’t an Arby’s. No fries with that. Sure you give us $3k and after the FMV of the cards, $250, the ROI is net positive, but c’mon. No.

    Vent: You send us a list of 80 contact names, handwritten on a paper, that we have to data enter into Excel, merge letters, to send on your behalf as ‘tributes’ to your gift. Your gift is $500 and the FMV is $50 after postage. Nah dog, put that in Excel first and we might talk.

    Vent: You want to do a FB fundraiser (thank you) but you want a whole bunch of social media about your work (not on my stewardship matrix, I checked) and a big faux check donation at a convenient time to you. Nope – move on.

    I’m telling each one that we’re down 3.5 people. I’m tired of being told ‘don’t show them the inner workings’ but if respecting a donor/community member includes not lying, then why are we lying through our smile saying, “Sure we can!” when we can’t. I’m tired of tapping someone from a whole other department to ask for favors.

    Leadership BUILD OUR TEAM darn it! We’re dying over here!

    And yes, I think the work can be shared in some way, but we can’t make those changes until we have our directors in place to speak to leadership about the shift change.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Aw man this sounds like a lot of trash to deal with, I’m sorry. I’m in a small nonprofit too, in development, and we don’t have this kind of weird entitlement. It sounds like some of these people think they’re major donors when they’re actually not.

      1. Operation Holiday Stress Ball*

        You feel me – my people!

        “It sounds like some of these people think they’re major donors when they’re actually not.” Totally! We used to a be team of 5.5 with 3 staff who’d be the ‘go get the checks’ people. Now we’re always punting the ball around. It usually doesn’t end up with me; I do the data and reports, not the grips and grins.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, Lord, the “good customers.” Whenever I get a complaint about this I check and nine times out of ten they’ve ordered maybe three times.

        The problem with capitalism is that everything gets treated like a store where you just pick out your feel-good thing and expect magical elves to create gift cards and fawning thank you letters while groveling for your donation of …well, let’s say I would be giving an actual, physical building before I expected that level of recognition.

    2. Stress sucks*

      Ooh, that’s crappy. I know this doesn’t help now, but Maybe at some future point you could identify these issues and list some perks for donations of X amount? I know at least one org that does that. Like donors over $x can get a full tour, donors over $y can get a full tour OR 25 holiday cards or some such.

  37. crunchable_birdses*

    Anyone ever get rejected from their dream job internal promotion, only to later receive an even better internal promotion?

    I ask because I just learned they are hiring externally for a job that 90% my coworkers thought I was a shoo-in for. I’m devastated, but still value other things about the organization, and wonder if I’m delusional for considering staying and hoping for something new to come down the line in a couple years.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      This isn’t directly answering your question, but may be just as important for you to ponder: What feedback did you receive about why they went with an external hire? How did they acknowledge (or not) that you were not selected and how they can help you develop and have an upwards path?

      And finally, what will it cost you to start casually looking for a job elsewhere? An application is not a commitment to take a job, it’s the start of a conversation.

    2. Overeducated*

      This can happen! I just got a tentative offer for an internal promotion that I thought was a huge stretch. I’m in shock but excited.

      I wouldn’t say it’s delusional to hope, but at the same time, it doesn’t hurt to keep your eyes out for external opportunities either. You should hold out for the best next job you can get, don’t rush to leave for “good enough,” but that best next job could come from anywhere.

    3. Katie*

      Remember that it may not be as great as you think? I was once turned down for job internally that was supposed to be a half accounting half tax (in reality the accounting part was completely ignored) and wasn’t even interviewed. I was so upset I cried in front of my grand boss (and I don’t cry!!). A year later they split the role into two – one for accounting and one for tax. I got the accounting job. This was in early 2020. They are on their 4th person for the tax person (and this is a role people would spend many years in) because the work is so terrible.

    4. Velociraptor Attack*

      It’s not clear to me, did you apply but they’re hiring externally or did coworkers think you were a shoo-in who would just be moved into the role but they’re opening the job to external applicants?

      If you apply and get rejected, I think a big tell is how they handle that. Ideally, they would have a more in-depth conversation with you about why it wasn’t you and what you can do moving forward. If you don’t get that, while it wouldn’t make me immediately leave, it might make me more likely to look for upward movement outside of the company.

  38. Casey*

    This is very specific, but managers with ADHD, how the hell do you do it? I am in a role that’s supposed to be 50% deep technical work and 50% people managing. I feel like if I’m going to do even a half decent job at thing 1 and not make silly mistakes, I have to go through my rituals to get in the Focus Zone, but when I have meetings every other hour and my direct reports asking me questions that they expect an immediate response to, it just doesn’t happen. I’m medicated but it only goes so far.

    1. Dulcinea47*

      Not a manager, but I have to go work from home to get deep work done. You will have to have “closed office hours” or some such if that’s not possible. Just do it and hold the line.

    2. BellyButton*

      I don’t have ADHD, but I do need focus time. I book it in my calendar, announce it in Slack. I say I am pausing notifications for the next 45-90 min and that I’ll respond to any messages or emails after that. It is necessary! We need time. I have a couple of regularly scheduled times for this in my calendar and if I need more I will set more.

    3. Earlk*

      I work different hours to my direct report, I get 8am-10am in the morning before they start and usually, that’s enough for me to get most of my focused work done and most of my other work is putting out fires for various people so asking their questions fits in with it so this may only work for jobs like mine.

    4. Cyndi*

      This might also be too specific to be helpful, depending on the nature of people’s work and also because I’m in a situation where my boss and I are the entire business? But we’ve been talking more about our respective time usage because I’m transitioning to hybrid soon, and it turns out we BOTH have types of work we tend to block in for when we’re not physically in the same place and aren’t likely to interrupt each other. (For him it’s higher-level planning tasks; for me it’s self-guided training and longer-form writing tasks.)

      I admit I’m not sure if this would actually translate into a team structure, but I wonder if there’s a benefit to establishing your Do Not Disturb time as mutual. For whatever chunk of the day, your reports need to let you focus and save their questions for later–but in exchange, they’re also getting that chunk of time to poke at problems undisturbed.

    5. Lily Rowan*

      How much control do you have over your meeting scheduling? Instead of a meeting every other hour, could you have meetings all morning and not in the afternoon? And then block that time for focused work. (Or vice versa, of course)

    6. Anonynonybooboo*

      I white-knuckle it most days, honestly. The medicine helps but I’m not 100% convinced that it’s worth the price (for me at least).

      Generally as others have mentioned:

      1) I work different (more, really) hours. The quiet hour or two before anyone else is online is where I’ll get a lot of administrative tasks done without distraction. I’ve also found a couple of hours in an evening or on a weekend day in the office is a really, really effective way for me to just knock out work without distraction.

      2) I work from home when I can (and it’s a lot). I can just be my quirky little self, take phone calls from my deck to reset my brain, stuff like that

      3) A notebook. I literally keep a spiral notebook with me and each day, put the date at the top of a clean page and take notes. Every meeting I’m in, there’s notes – if it’s just “Bob said XYZ won’t work”. Something comes in I need to do, I make a note. Every Monday morning I flip through the previous week and anything that didn’t get crossed out gets moved to that new page for Monday. This travels with me to/from work when I go into the office, and old ones are kept on my bookshelf at home (and yes, I’ve referred to them in the past).

      4) I set expectations each day (yes, really) with my direct reports. “I have a lot of meetings today, call my cell with any emergencies and email anything you need for later”. If I have a day without a lot of meetings, I’ll tell them I’m going to go offline for a bit and get a good stretch of work done. I’ve found that it’s not the lack of immediate response that bothers them when they ask something, but rather not knowing when they would get a response. If I tell them they won’t be getting one for a while, everyone is calm.

      5) I’m honest about my quirks with them. I’ll say I’m having a hard time concentrating today and ask them to email me a summary of something we are discussing for example. We make a list of stuff that must get done the days we are in the office, and I frequently check it out loud with them throughout those days, citing my focus issues.

    7. No Meeting Day*

      My department has a general practice of not scheduling meetings internally on Fridays so that at least we’re not bothering each other one day a week. If we happen to have no other external meetings, then it’s a good day to get things done without m/any interruptions.

      I also block out time on my own calendar for work, and will even sometimes put myself in a conference room so I’m not easily interrupted by people passing by my desk. That helps block off focus time for me, and also helps track your work during review time.

    8. Qwerty*

      I tend to do my coding after hours or sometimes I get larger gap at the start/end of the day. I plan on not doing any coding during heavier meeting weeks like when we’re doing quarterly planning.

      I set up Slack on a different monitor than I use to code when I’m in concentration mode. The team will be fine if they have to wait 15min for an answer. They can call if its an emergency.

      Balls will drop and you’ll learn what things your team needs to learn so that their questions become less urgent.

  39. Nonprofiteer*

    Navigating the politics of the Israel-Palestine war

    I don’t want to get into a debate about Israel and Palestine, but I would love help from people who consider themselves Zionists or at least not totally anti-Israel about how to navigate this current situation.

    I work in progressive spaces in the SF Bay Area that have nothing directly to do with Israel or Palestine. The progressive left in the area is in general very pro-Palestine. Many groups, including the city council of Richmond California, have made statements criticizing Israel and supporting Palestinians. Some of these statements have contained language that Jewish members of the community consider anti-Semitic and inflammatory. In the wake of the Oct 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas, before Israel had begun its siege of Gaza, several U.S. progressive groups put out statements praising the murders of hundreds of Israeli civilians as an act of righteous anti-colonial resistance moving the Palestinian people towards liberation. Few to none have walked those statements back. It would be an understatement to say I strongly disagree with this framing.

    My question is, for people who share my beliefs and who work in similar spaces…what do you do? How do you approach this beyond shutting your mouth? I’ve been really appalled that in the response to this conflict from progressives, there is often zero space given to the context of why Israel exists in the first place, the terror attacks of October 7 are barely mentioned if mentioned at all, and there is often implicit or explicit support for Hamas and terrorism in general, and Hamas’s goal of wiping Israel off the map. There has been so much coded or not-so-coded anti-semitic language used. I strongly disagree that municipal governments in California should be taking positions on a conflict in the Middle-East that is complex and impacts community members very differently. I am most shook by how the language of resistance, decolonization, and liberation have been used by some groups to describe the murder of hundreds of civilians. (I am also horrified by the siege of Gaza, its civillian fallout, and by the acts of anti-Arab hate that have come in the wake of this conflict.)

    How are you all navigating this?

    1. Elle*

      Unless your work is directly impacted by the situation it does not need to come up at work. A few people have asked me about it (because I’m Jewish) and I’ve said that it upsets me to much to discuss. I have someone on my team who is Palestinian and I’m making sure that they are aware of our Eap services and are welcome to take PTO when they need it.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Yeah, our HR sent out an email that was basically about how obviously a lot of people might be feeling a lot of things right now on all sides and that the EAP was there if they wanted to take advantage of it. It’s probably the only time that someone has suggested the EAP that has made sense to me, since obviously this is well beyond the scope of any workplace to solve.

      2. Nonprofiteer*

        It’s not directly impacting my work, but I have been asked to take a position on the past and it feels like it is assumed that I will support the positions being put forward by groups I am tangentially connected to. And when I’ve been asked to take a position in the past it often feels like “support this deeply problematic, potentially anti-semitic position/statement/policy, or else you support the oppression and murder of Palestenians” which…doesn’t feel great.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          I’m so sorry.

          Depending on how much capital you want to spend (seems like you’re open to spending some, though this may be a lot), I think you can shut it down when it comes up. Interrupt them, i.e.,

          Coworker: “Did you hear the latest numbers about the civilians in Gaza? How cou-”

          You: Please stop. This is a capital T Traumatizing event for many people. None of us know who is directly impacted by the war. Active consent isn’t just for the bedroom. Given this isn’t relevant to our work, please help keep this a safe space for EVERYONE by not talking about this actively traumatizing event.”

          Walk away if they try to debate this, even if it means getting up to get a glass of water or to go to the restroom. If they bring it up again or try to engage you in a debate, get your manager and/or HR involved.

          I intentionally suggest centering the harm that talking about the war causes, both because that’s true and because it’s true regardless of one’s views of either side.

          WARNING: Some people will take issue with this and it may harm your relationship with them. Talk with your manager and/or HR if there’s any blowback. You need to decide if it’s worth the risk.

          1. Cyndi*

            I agree with cutting it off decisively but I don’t think “Active consent isn’t just for the bedroom” is an appropriate or useful addition to this script.

    2. Alex*

      Wow, I work at a university that has been in the news for pro-Palestinian protests, but even here it hasn’t even come up in my own office (which has nothing to do with politics, etc., just general university function). The discussion is so inappropriate to have at work because of the strong feelings it evokes. I would just say that I don’t support any acts of terror (which is true to how I feel) and then say that I don’t want to discuss it anymore because it is a sensitive topic to many and I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel unsafe.

    3. Ann*

      I don’t know how your HR is – maybe they would have some helpful advice, or would be able to make a mass request to be sensitive in discussing this topic? If they’re also… well… actively unhelpful, I’m sorry.
      But also, given all the details, I’m not sure that this situation is fixable or that any one person would be up for tempering the culture of an entire municipal government (and the general culture around you). In the long run, I would be looking to put several states between myself and the progressive spaces.

    4. It's always different when it's Jews*

      As Tom Lehrer once said in his song National Brotherhood Week, everyone hates the Jews. That’s the underlying problem and you’re not going to solve it. People who are otherwise alert to discrimination, treating people fairly, and talk about the pros of diversity (and mostly mean it) don’t really mean it when it comes to Jews. When it’s easy they may not think about it too much, but they’ll say or think things to/about Jews they wouldn’t dream of saying to any other group of people. It’s so baked in that most of the time most people don’t even notice, but when given license it always rises to the surface.

      I don’t think there’s much you can do except note who is being reasonable and who is being reactionary and do your best to avoid people and organizations that are being unreasonable or willfully blind or worse.

      For me, it’s been a depressing exercise in realizing that certain people I thought fell in one category actually fell in a different one.

  40. LangAnonForThis*

    Short version: Outside roles where embodying a distinct voice is the point or cases of offensive language, how much can employees be asked to change their speech patterns? Is it actually a problem if I don’t say “folks”?
    Long version: I’m from a place in the US known for a “funny accent” that I learned as an adult working internationally can genuinely be difficult to understand if you’re not used to it. I’ve “standardized” my English a bit, as I still work on international/multilingual teams, and it can just be a matter of considerateness (like the previous question about pop culture references in interviews: sometimes my localisms or pronunciations were creating a barrier). I’m not forcing anything; it costs me nothing and can make interactions easier.
    A year ago I started a job where most people are from the US Midwest or South. A manager I sometimes contribute to a project for has mentioned to me several times that it’s “off-putting” and “not inclusive” that I don’t use words common to this/most? parts of the country, like y’all and folks (or folx). What I’m using is “you/you all” and “people”, in sentences like “Do you all think blue buttons would appeal to more people than lime?” The way I spoke all my life, those words just weren’t part of my vocabulary – I don’t have any negative feelings about them, just thought it was a different regional thing expressing the same meaning, and it feels much more awkward to fake (what I thought was??) a regional way of speaking I don’t belong to. (and yes I do know y’all and folks are catching on among people who didn’t grow up saying them to convey a warm tone, it just still feels forced for me!)
    I was wondering if there’s something else I’m doing, like if my general mannerisms aren’t at the level of friendliness, so the next time it came up, I asked her about it, and nope: in her words “it’s just so weird that you don’t say folks/folx, we’re trying to be an inclusive space”. I’m…baffled by this, but am I being close-minded?

    1. ThatGirl*

      To me, it would be one thing if you said “you guys” a lot and people objected to that because “guys” can be gendered. But you’re not – you’re just literally not saying the word “folks”?? I live in the Midwest and hear every kind of collective noun I can think of besides “yinz”.

      You’re not being exclusionary. You’re just not using the same literal words. This is silly and I would push back against the idea that using the exact same words as everyone else is necessary (hey, maybe they’re not being inclusive by refusing to recognize your personal speech patterns)…

    2. Danish*

      How strange, especially the note about wanting to be inclusive. I could see that if you were using “guys”, but “people” is a pretty encompassing term!

      That said, if it’s causing friction and it’s a change you can make, I guess you may as well. Easier than trying to explain to this manager why “folks” is inclusive – it seems liek she thinks it’s ++inclusive language without context.

      1. LangAnonForThis*

        “++inclusive language” this was my read on it too! You and ThatGirl both bringing up “guys” is really salient, I agree that’s usually habitual and well-intentioned but should still be avoided. So I was trying to figure out what a similar gap in meaning between “people” and “folks” could be – maybe “folks” signals more that there’s already a community type relationship? (pure speculation tbh)
        This project should be completed soon, so I may just go with it or restructure my sentences in the meantime, but honestly it does give me pause of how this manager would treat the 2L speakers on my primary team, who are unfailingly polite and kind but almost certainly won’t come across as friendly enough by this standard.

        1. LangAnonForThis*

          and to be clear “gives me pause” is understatement…I gave this so much benefit of the doubt because I care a lot about how language can advance or set back accessibility and inclusivity! But non-US and 2L+ English is also at the heart of that for me.
          Thanks, everyone ;)

    3. londonedit*

      This is really weird. I’d have thought it would have come off as stranger if you *had* started trying to say ‘y’all’ or whatever – if I did that with my southern English accent I’d sound ridiculous and it’d most likely come off as sarcastic or like I was taking the piss out of the local dialect. It’s very, very strange to say that someone isn’t being ‘inclusive’ because they’re not using exactly the same words as everyone born and bred in the local area uses.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Agreed, definitely on the manager and not you. It’s great that you’re considering whether your language has been accidentally non-inclusive, but the manager only seems to want a pretty limited set of acceptable-to-her terms and that’s … not inclusive.

    4. Capt. Liam Shaw*

      Honestly, if they are from the south, saying you all versus y’all might come off as condescending to some people. Weird as heck for sure. But your manager might feel you are correcting their speech. I don’t agree and think you are doing nothing wrong, but some folks in the south take things weird like that having lived here for 20ish years.

      1. LangAnonForThis*

        Ah this is a good point, I would never want to sound condescending in general but especially bc of the stigma northerners have about southern speech (unsurprisingly often just racism re: AAVE, though this manager is white). I’ll keep this in mind and see if I can convey support/affirmation without awkwardly appropriating it myself. Thanks!

        1. Billy Preston*

          I’m from the south and still live/work here, working with both people who say y’all and people who don’t. I actually grew up not saying it so I wouldn’t be labeled as southern or ignorant by others. But I’ve started using it again and it feels good.

          I don’t think I’ve ever noticed specifically when someone used you all or y’all and it caught my attention. It’s just a phrase some people use and some people don’t. So it seems like this particular manager is weird about it, maybe for the reasons suggested above. But not everyone in the south would even notice this. It’d just be “how that person talks” for a lot of us and neutral.

        2. Budgie Buddy*

          Unless you’re pointedly repeating “You All” every time someone says “y’all” then this is just the way you talk and your manager is the one with the problem. It’s hypocritical to exclude people in the name of inclusivity.

          You could have the poshest language ever and it’s no one’s business as long as they can understand you.

    5. ecnaseener*

      Folx with an X is a term that’s explicitly meant to convey inclusivity, so if she was specifically saying to always use folx I would sort of understand that, as like a style guide she wants everyone to follow.

      But with “folks” in the mix and “people” somehow not, idk what to make of that.

      To answer your main question, I don’t know of any reason why she wouldn’t be allowed to ask this of you. It’s just weird and illogical.

      1. M2RB*

        Sincere question: how can one tell the difference between “folks” and “folx” when someone is speaking aloud? I would pronounce the two words the same way.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          They are pronounced the same, so you can’t tell the difference. I think this is mostly for written communication.

        2. the Viking Diva*

          I have heard people say ‘folx’ with an L that you can hear, instead of silent L, but I think that is probably people who don’t use the word ‘folks’ regularly. To me the point is that it should not sound different.

    6. M2RB*

      I grew up in Georgia, and when speaking, I vary my use of group nouns based on the formality of the conversation. For more formal situations (interviews, speaking with our CEO or COO, conversations with people outside the US), I stick with words like “you, generally,” or “people” or “the team”. For casual conversations, I might use any of those more formal terms or break out “y’all”, “all y’all”, “folks”, etc. To me, folks is a more casual word than people, and I am less likely to use it at work.

      I stay away from “you guys” because of the gendered aspect. I personally do not understand how using “people” instead of “folks” is less inclusive. I’m very curious about how she thinks people is excluding anyone…

    7. Clisby*

      I’m from the US South, and “folks” wasn’t a common term when I was growing up. “Y’all” was (and is) but “you all” can be a substitute. Be warned, at least where I come from “you all” with the two words emphasized equally is the equivalent of “y’all.” “You ALL” with the emphasis on “all” is equivalent to “all y’all.” This is part of the secret code.

    8. RagingADHD*

      My bet is that there may be some element of formality or a perceived stiffness in your general mannerisms, and your manager has fixated on this one weird detail as emblematic of it, because she doesn’t know how to articulate what she’s actually picking up on. “You all” does sound very formal to the ears of people used to “y’all.”

      Maybe a sprinkling of more generally colloquial / casual speech in general would get where you need to go, with or without using specific synonyms.

    9. sulky-anne*

      I can’t speak to the southernness of it all, but is this a particularly queer and/or progressive space? That’s what I mostly associate with heavy use of “folks” and especially “folx” (we gays love “x”s for some reason). If that’s the context, I think this person (folk?) is still being a little intense about it, but I’d go with it for the sake of team cohesion. Same thing if it’s a regional preference and this manager seems to have a good handle on the team’s culture. But it also seems very possible that it’s a personal hang-up.

    10. No Meeting Day*

      That manager is nuts. “People” IS inclusive. It’s PEOPLE. It’s right there in the name, for corn’s sake!

      Folks, folx, and every other kind, style, orientation, and identity of human beings are INCLUDED in PEOPLE. People is EVERYONE. I honestly can’t say I feel the same way about “folks/folx.” Those words have an emotional connotation of community–familiarity. And the -x is meant to be inclusive, but not everyone feels that way, so that’s going to come across as EXclusive to some . . . people. People is neutral.

      I’m going to have to get off the internet now before I have an aneurysm.

    11. Qwerty*

      When I was a kid I never used contractions and my peers found it very off putting and snobby. There is something more formal about it, I guess? I suspect that is what is going on with the y’all vs you all – they hear it as a rejection of them and their culture rather than just being how you were raised.

      I’m not saying to change it, but it is helpful context to know if something is coming off like you want it to. You could probably offset it with something else like always having a warm tone or being generally known as friendly for other reasons

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      There’s nothing weird about it. It’s much weirder, to my ear, to hear forced idioms and patterns from people for whom it clearly isn’t natural. And I find it a lot less “inclusive” to demand some kind of homogeny in how people talk, and frankly kissing cousins to making fun of someone’s accent. Not cool.

    13. KathyG*

      Perhaps this is somewhat OT, but I’m Canadian, and I have started to use y’all and youse in my casual written communication. I find having a distinct second-person plural pronoun (or two) really really useful.

  41. Amber Rose*

    I think it’s pretty obvious I need a new job. I refuse to job hunt over Christmas, that just sounds like the worst, plus there’s stuff happening in January I still want to do, so I’ll be spending the next two months on the important tasks of polishing my resume, and figuring out what I want to be when I grow up.

    This is where I need help. I’ve been running the safety program here for the last 9 years. It’s also been more than 9 years since my last job hunt, since this one was kinda handed to me. I really, really don’t want to work in safety anymore. I don’t really enjoy it, and I’m pretty mediocre at it.

    That said, I wear around 6 different hats, most of which I enjoy more. Like: I’ve headed the implementation of our ERP software, and I’ve been the system admin for a couple years now. I’ve gotten pretty good at creating custom reports, I designed our permissions tree from scratch, and I also headed the mass renaming project where I re-named all of our 2000 inventory items according to a schematic I came up with. I review terms and conditions in purchase orders to make sure there’s no problematic stuff. I write policies and procedures as needed and keep the employee handbook updated. I do a LOT of training. I’ve taught myself just about everything.

    What kind of jobs should I be looking at?

    1. Alex*

      It sounds like you might like some jobs called “business analyst.” Sounds like a fancy title but a lot of times you can cobble together disparate work experiences to be qualified (depending on the company and the job description specifics–this job title seems to be a bit different depending on where.)

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Maybe at some companies but especially now, as we seem to be going into a recession (though many still believe the “soft landing” in the economy is going to happen, which doesn’t seem likely with 5.25% interest and unemployment ticking up again, now at 3.9%) that these jobs are more technical than ever before. You’d need to combine the jack/jill of all trades with SQL and Python and R, for example

      2. Beckie*

        I was just going to suggest this — jobs with “business analyst” in the title are often in a system implementation role, or are the liaison between the end users and the actual software developers. You’ll see this role in many large organizations (especially in higher ed, but certainly in other large businesses that rely on a lot of custom databases). It sounds like you have a lot of different experiences that would make you very successful in that kind of role.

        Your experience in training others should definitely be in your resume, and your success in learning on the job is something to highlight in an interview.

      3. AnonToday*

        What about positions that support or develop EHS software?

        At the comapny I work for, we use a reputable software, but do most of the customization in house. Since we are a smaller company, the role involves all aspects: project management,
        admin/architect, training, documentation, analysis. Your skills and experience sound like a great fit, and your safety background would make you an ideal candidate.

    2. BellyButton*

      Do you enjoy the training? You could look into software/implementation training. I started my L&D career in software implementations. I took a job as a trainer for a health care management software and trained clinic/hospital staff how to use the new software. I wrote and created the handbooks and training. I loved it. From there I moved to inhouse corporate trainer and instructional designer, to leadership trainer, and now I am the head of people development. I LOVE training and think I have the best job in the world :) My whole job is helping people and my company be successful. It is very satisfying!

      Good luck!

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      You can’t really ask the internet what job you want because we are not you. I will give words of advice. You definitely need to pick a specialty and I would recommend sticking to the items that sound more technical and complicated. I would drop “renaming project” and other admin or admin-sounding tasks. When you get resumes like this, they all look the same. Someone approved payroll once and is now claiming “HR” on their resume. There are too many candidates out there claiming the “wear many hats” thing and unfortunately corporate America isn’t hiring people like that at the moment. So I’d definitely trim off some “hats” and stick to a few technical-sounding items

  42. Nonny*

    When is it appropriate to report someone to their manager?

    I’ve been working with the same finance assistant for the past two years, and her ineffectiveness is shocking. If there’s a problem with a report or request, she won’t tell you– she’ll just sit on it until it gets brought up, sometimes months later (this is a context where it’s impractical to routinely follow up on these kinds of requests– especially because these errors pop up after she’s already confirmed the request and is actually processing it). She misunderstands basic questions, and has to have the same things explained to her multiple times. I’ve never had a smooth, error-free interaction with her, despite my only requests from her being very simple, basic elements of her job.

    I obviously hate the idea of trying to get someone fired, but I am desperate to get to interact with someone competent in this role and stop wasting hours of my time chasing after her mistakes. Is there anything I can ethically do?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I think the approach here is not that you’re trying to “tattle” on her – but that you need either your manager’s help or her manager’s help in having smoother, error-free interactions with her. Instead of saying “she really sucks at her job” you say “I’m having trouble getting reports from her that are error-free; here are the things that are happening; what do you suggest?” and go from there.

    2. Earlk*

      I’d try and find out if you were the only one having these issues, some people really just don’t understand each other, and if you’re not the only one having these issues it’s better the manager knows now and can put some plans in place for improvement than them finding out when something major goes wrong.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’d go to your own manager with an overview of how it’s hindered your work and ask her for advice on how to proceed.
      She might prefer to go manager-to-manager, or she could prep you on what to say to the other manager.

    4. ferrina*

      First step is obviously to communicate with her to see if you can work through some of these things, but it sounds like you’ve tried that it’s not going to happen.

      Next step is usually to either talk to your manager or talk to her manager. If you are the same level as she is, usually it’s best to run it up to your manager. They may have tips or knowledge that you don’t. Or maybe others on your team have complained, and your manager is already talking to her manager. If you are at the same level as her manager, reach out to her manager directly. I’ve found it helps to be specific about what the issues are and what the impact is (is it hurting client interactions? wasting 2 hours of your time per week?). Just state the facts and leave the solution to them.

      By raising issues, you aren’t trying to get someone fired. You are trying to get issues solved. Most issues can be solved without a firing, and usually managers and companies like to avoid firings (because turnover costs more money than retaining staff). Sometimes it’s an issue of training or fixing processes. But sometimes it’s an issue of wrong person, wrong role. In that case, yes, the person may be let go. But it’s almost never because a single person complained. Often it’s after numerous complaints, hours of retraining, and this person still isn’t performing at basic level.

  43. Newbie Anon*

    Meta-question about recently-submitted questions – is it acceptable to send an updated/edited version of a question you’ve sent in? (I sent in a question a few days ago while in a bad emotional state, and it was super detailed about my life/feelings, but in retrospect I’m not sure I articulated the core practical issues. I feel like I could edit it into a better question but I don’t want Alison to feel like I’m hassling her, or to interrupt if she’s already working on an answer which she then might need to throw out / restart.)

      1. Newbie Anon*

        Thank you! I’ll do that, and I’ll send it as a reply to my initial email, so if your email client does threading then it should helpfully conflate them into one thing in your inbox :)

  44. Earlk*

    I’m struggling to come up with some SMART objectives for someone as a measure to prevent performance management as I’m currently very frustrated with them so I can only think of really basic things that are mostly coming out like insults. I need them to focus on taking ownership of their own tasks from start to finish (I.e. planning through to proofreading the final output) but due to the aforementioned frustrations, I can’t quite phrase it in a helpful way that we could actually use to measure improvement. I would also ideally like to have one cantered around looking for solutions or alternatives as opposed to excuses for problems but due to one of the excuses they’ve used I really need to tread carefully with that one.

    Any help would be really appreciated. I genuinely want them to improve and not just because the route to letting someone go where I work is incredibly admin-heavy and can take 6 months or more.

    1. ferrina*

      It sounds like you are looking for PIP-type goals. PIPs should be abundantly clear- not only does it CYA for the manager/business, but it also is super helpful for people that truly want to improve. I once worked at a place with such a bad onboarding, it wasn’t until the (well-written, ridiculously clear) PIP came out that people learned what their job description actually was.

      For ownership:
      Own all projects, including (but not limited to):
      1) Creating project plan prior to starting the project. The project plan should include milestones, stakeholders for each milestone, budget/resources needed to reach each milestone and date of when that milestone should be achieved. A copy of the project plan should be sent to Earlk prior to starting the project.
      2) Delivering work on time and coordinating with stakeholders that each milestone is met
      3) Reviewing all work product produced by stakeholders, including proofreading, signing off on design elements, and reviewing all technical programs to ensure that each element is meeting standards; if an element is not meeting standards, coordinating with stakeholders to fix the product by providing clear actionable feedback, communicating project needs (including timelines) and taking necessary steps to ensure all project elements are meeting standards in a timely manner.
      4) Communicating with Earlk the status of each project in weekly meetings*, including any areas of potential concern or where you may need additional support.

      *if you’re not already, you need to have weekly meetings with this person so they report on the status of all projects. That way you know what is falling behind before it actually falls behind.

      Important note: Make sure this person is as invested in their career as you are. If you have told them that you have serious concerns about their performance (make sure you clearly state this), they should be actively looking to improve and grow. If they aren’t, then you should start the steps to let them go. You cannot force someone to improve against their will.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      SMART goals make a lot more sense broken into their parts:

      SMART Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound

      Goal 1: Run a project solo
      Time: By the end of 6 months from now
      Specific: Run a whole project from start to finish
      Measurable: How will you measure success at this? How will you quantify help vs independence on it? Word that into it as well.
      Achievable: yes
      Relevant: yes

      Goal 2: Solutions not excuses
      Time: By the end of 6 months from now
      Specific: Demonstrate creative problem solving by identifying an issue that needs a solution and come up with a solution or alternative
      Measurable: Have 3 examples of times
      Achievable: How often does this occur, is 3 a reasonable number?
      Relevant: may need to clarify, this will enable you to get recognized for contributing to the team, this will improve workflow etc

      Then just write them all together
      Goal 2: In the next 6 months, demonstrate creative problem solving by identifying an issue that needs a solution and come up with a solution or alternative at least 3 times, to improve workflow and increase independence.

  45. Other Side of the table*

    Is there a good way to communicate to a candidate that I’m opening with my best offer? I feel like its an equality thing so that pay is determined by job skill rather than negotiating skill.

    But I’m getting feedback that I should be starting with a lower offer so that candidates can negotiate it upwards and “win”. This feels sleazy to me. Especially because I’m usually trying to get the candidate the best package I can – for example, if they land at 120k salary based on our eval, I’ll offer 125k. I’ve had some try to push for over 10% higher and walk away when we can only budge a little. The feedback that I’ve gotten from their external recruiters was that 120-125k was what the candidate was looking for, but they saw not negotiating as a red flag and interpreted it as being lowballed. Said candidates ended up later accepting lower offers because they negotiated it up.

    I’m getting advice from everywhere to give lower offers. My internal recruiting and HR teams cite this behavior as why they stopped posting salary ranges because candidates only asked for the top of the range or higher. I hate this whole game!

    1. ferrina*

      Out of curiosity, why are you going above the eval? Is it your general practice, or is it because you want to offer the most money possible? If your company is already paying above market price, why not start with the eval amount?

      Beyond that, I don’t think there’s much that you can do to head this off. Most people are told to negotiate no matter what (because almost no one leads with their best offer), and many places use the line “this is our best offer” when it’s really not. The best you can do is when they come back with a counter-offer, just say “sorry, this really is our best offer. Let me know if this will work for you, or if you want to decline our offer.”

    2. Anonymask*

      That sounds bananas to me. The stated salary range was listed. Of course employees want the high end, but getting an offer within the stated range should not be a reason to walk away? You were transparent about how much the position makes.

      If the range was something wild like 50k-120k, I could see there being some… discomfort? Unease? But a 5k range seems reasonable to list on the ad… Maybe I’m just too trusting and more of a pushover than others?

    3. Sloanicota*

      I’ve definitely seen job posts that say, “our company believes that posting a clear job band is in service of our equity goals, therefore we do not negotiate” – and as long as the bands were reasonable, I respected that. Perhaps you could put something like that in an email, but you’d need the support of HR to do it, and it should be organization wide.

    4. Jane Bingley*

      I would add a line like “Our company is committed to pay transparency and fair wages. Because salary negotiation is a common source of pay discrepancy, we don’t offer negotiations at this stage. This is our best offer.” If you DO offer negotiations around benefits, I’d say that too.

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      When a company told me there wasn’t room for any negotiation on salary, and that I was at their upper band already. It immediately made me leery because that sounds like no raises, and potentially no promotions if they can’t afford me above that. So that may be one concern they have. I followed up by asking about what that means for the raise schedule etc, your candidates may just be walking away if they have other options.

      Like if Job A is 120k but no negotiations on that and no raises (hiring at top of salary band for that job title),
      vs Job B 90k starting but regular 5-8% raises,
      in 10 years Job B is way better

      1. Sloanicota*

        To be fair, I’m not sure I’d think of that. I’d probably take the 120K job now and plan to leave in 3-5 years if there were no raises.

      2. There You Are*

        Nope, Job A is still the one to go with.

        $120,000 each year for 10 years amounts to $67,989.67 more than Job B (assuming an annual raise of 5% at Job B).

        10 years of earning $120,000 = $1,200,000
        10 years of 5% raises, starting at $90,000 = $1,132,010

        The jobs are equal at an annual raise of 6.3% at Job B.

        But, honestly, how many people are in their same role at the same company a decade later?

        I’d take Job A, all other things being equal. I earn more in the short-term while I’m building my skillset and positioning myself for a promotion or role change (at the same company or another one).

  46. Anonymask*

    Okay, so, another update!

    Spoke with boss and grandboss today, who verbally confirmed that I will get half of the requested raise starting next pay period, with another discussion around annual reviews (March) for the other half. I’m still waiting to see in our HR system what that will look like. I was not given a hard figure despite asking. So I guess we’ll wait and see if “half” is actually that! (I asked for 11.5% raise, so fingers crossed for that sweet 5.75%)

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      In my experience, the “we’ll do a small one now and talk about the rest later” is a trap. They’re hoping you’ll forget, or when annual reviews come around they’ll deny this promise and say “You already got a raise, so no.”
      The fact that it was verbal only, and no hard figures absolutely back up the fact that this is not an honest promise.

      1. Anonymask*

        I have that concern in my head as well. But I will fight them on it if they renege, so they best be ready.

  47. Anonymous Koala*

    When should one disclose a pregnancy at work? I’m 100% remote, due in March, and I’m up for a promotion that will hopefully go into effect after the new year. My work place is kind of a mixed bag when it comes to parental leave but my specific department is generally supportive of parents – a lot of people have elementary school aged kids and my boss never hesitates to tell us if she’s leaving early because her kids’ school called, etc. But I’m still a little wary of disclosing my pregnancy before/if my promotion comes through. I told my boss I was going through some health issues that might have me taking more sick time than usual, but I haven’t disclosed more than that. I’m taking FMLA, so legally I only have to give 30 days, but is more expected? Is 8 weeks enough notice for parental leave?

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      It really depends on your work load. If a significant amount of coverage will be needed, you’re usually expected to let them know with enough time to arrange that / hire a temp, etc.

    2. BellyButton*

      Congratulations! I think it really depends on the type of work you do. My company is very very small, for a lot of positions we do not have more than one person in the role. So getting someone crossed trained and juggling work loads can take a lot of time. We have a fantastic work/life balance and are incredibly supportive of parents, so most people tell us when they are past their first trimester.

      I would think about the work you do and how much and the type of coverage you will need. How long will it take to transfer that work to someone else? I also think some people might it find it odd or unusual that you didn’t tell them sooner. Not that that should influence you, but I don’t think most people wait until the last 2 months to announce it.

      If you are worried about your career and promotion, I would address it when you tell your boss. “I have been hesitant to announce my pregnancy because I am worried it could influence the promotion I have been working towards. I hope that isn’t the case, but I think most women have that kind of concern.”

      Good luck!

      1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        this is a big factor. if you decide you need to disclose sooner, can you just disclose to your supervisor for planning purposes? I disclosed to my direct supervisor at 14 weeks (much sooner than I wanted) because that was when we started planning for next year. telling her then would allow for the best logistical planning on her end and I’d end up with the *best schedule for my purposes*. I told her i wanted to keep it on a need to know basis because I didn’t want to be seen as the pregnant person and deal with any subconscious bias. so far she hasn’t needed to tell any upper level bosses. granted I also generally trust HER to not let this impact any opportunities she might recommend me for.
        we are in person and I’m barely keeping it hidden so it’s going to be obvious for me soon!
        good luck!

    3. ferrina*

      Seconding everyone here.

      I agree with Sloanicota- I would go out of my way to say nothing before the promotion results come through, if that’s at all an option. You don’t want anything to potentially jeopardize that. If anyone asks you about it later, you can say “in case something didn’t work out, I wanted to make clear to everyone that my pregnancy had nothing to do with anything.”

      I also agree with I GOTS TO KNOW! and BellyButton- the amount of appropriate leave varies based on the type of work you do and what your workload is. One thing that can help is if you start cross-training and documenting now. No one will ever complain about extra documentation (and you can always keep it to yourself for a couple months), and the cross-training is always a good idea, for when someone is on vacation or something.

    4. Cymru*

      You say the promotion goes into effect in the new year. Do you know when you will know that you’ve received it?
      I think that the minimum of two months (assuming early March) is enough notice since they wouldn’t get that much notice if you were leaving for any other reason.

    5. Whomst*

      I can see the wisdom in waiting to share until after the promotion is finalized, but I wouldn’t do that myself unless I really thought that they might pull the promotion or give me less of a raise because I told them. It’s out of sync with social norms and some people will take it as a sign of distrust in them and the company. It would be especially bad if your boss thought you didn’t trust her, even if it was just an unconscious bias. Now is the time to make yourself very likeable, as likeable coworkers get more slack, and you may need it with pregnancy and a newborn.

      Another consideration is how long you want to take off. My rule of thumb (in the US where we get trash maternity leave) – give as much notice as you want maternity leave. You want to take 8 weeks? You should give notice at or before 8 weeks. 12 weeks? Give notice at or before 12 weeks. The longer the leave, the more they need to plan for coverage so the more advance notice is useful.

      Myself, I ended up telling my boss and coworkers at the beginning of my second trimester, since I had a complication that needed some more active management and restrictions, (sooner than I wanted, as I was hoping to wait until after the anatomy scan) and I still got a 9% raise during our employee review cycle a month later, and was assigned as the principle developer wrapping up an important contract. I had no idea how they would react because I’m the only woman on the team. There are other similar groups in the company, but all the women on those teams are past their childbearing years and firmly established in their careers, while this is my first job out of college. As it stands, it’s been great – my boss lets me work from home whenever I need to and I’ve still gotten raises and been assigned to meaningful work that furthers my career.

    6. Erica*

      A friend gave me the advice to not disclose until I had to. I think 8 weeks is fine– you’d give way less notice if quitting. They’ll probably be surprised but you have to do what’s best for you

  48. Misshapen Pupfish*

    Is there a legitimate reason to ban talking on cell phones in the bathrooms? People talking on the phone in the stalls is really common in our women’s room and there’s even been facetiming by the sinks. I’m personally really grossed out by the thought of someone on the line hearing me pee and flush, and will listen at the door before I go in to the bathroom in case someone’s on the phone. But banning it seems a little overbearing, plus it’s usually our warehouse workers, not office workers, doing it, and their breaks aren’t super long. How would we even enforce it, anyway? Does anyone else deal with this at work?

    1. Sloanicota*

      I agree it’s annoying but the solution needs to be that the company provides a better place for phone calls, not to just ban it outright.

      1. Misshapen Pupfish*

        I think that’s exactly it. Our building is pretty small with no good place to take a call outside of the conference room. Happily, we are getting a remodel in the next year or so. I’ll bring this up to the people doing the planning for it.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      Not warehouse but similar environment where employees cannot talk on the phone while they are in their working space.

      Nope not something a rule should be made over. It’s annoying but it doesnt fall into the category of a work problem that needs solved.

    3. M2RB*

      I am personally completely grossed out by people talking on the phone in the bathroom – speaker phone and facetime is even worse! I don’t ever say anything when it happens at work for a variety of reasons (bathroom shared by all the businesses on the floor so odds are that it isn’t MY coworkers, I don’t know if they have access to a space they can have a private phone call, etc.) but I internally judge people very much for this. (I’m refraining from sharing my judgy thoughts because I know there are plenty of people who honestly and clearly do not care about phone usage in bathrooms.)

      I do very much believe that camera usage of any kind should be prohibited in bathrooms. People are in the bathroom to take care of bodily functions and to refresh themselves, and people should not have to worry about being in someone else’s facetime call. Unfortunately, I have no ideas on how to enforce it…….

    4. anywhere but here*

      I agree with you with the discomfort, and the facetiming seems like potentially a legal issue. (AFAIK, cameras are NOT supposed to be in restrooms, for obvious reasons.) I encounter phone calls in the restroom at work but not on many occasions, and the restrooms are public so I don’t have any ability to agitate for change. If you can, though, I would recommend it – maybe have a sign posted that says cell phones aren’t to be used in the restrooms (or at least no CAMERA USAGE my goodness) to respect the privacy of women who want to do their business and go? Or could you talk directly to some of the worst culprits? While it would be an awkward conversation to have, I think the reasonable response to “Hey I feel uncomfortable knowing that my restroom noises might be overheard on someone on the other end of line/I feel uncomfortable with cameras filming in the restroom” would not be “Sucks to be you. I am just going to do it anyway.”

    5. ItsWherePhonesWork*

      In most of the places I’ve worked (often older buildings in urban areas) the bathroom is the only place where you can get (somewhat) reliable cell service. I have no idea why the bathrooms typically get service when other areas don’t, but they do. Not using the bathroom would mean going outside which takes much longer, may require being out in bad weather, and may have too much ambient street noise to hear the call.

  49. Seven If You Count Bad John*

    Alison just FYI I’m still getting the page reloading while reading problem. I’m on an iPhone 8.

  50. T. Wanderer*

    Any advice on coping strategies, to handle a QA role without dying of boredom?
    For [reasons], my main work is currently on hold, and I’m substituting in on another team as a tester. Normally I listen to soft music in the background when I have a tedious task, but this involves placing phone calls…over and over again. I’d love any tips & tricks to get through it!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Play bingo with yourself. Make a new card each week. Treat yourself to extra coffee or something each week you win it. Things like: dog barking in background, someone uses the word “Ope”, someone sneezes on the call, someone mentions football etc.

    2. sulky-anne*

      I would have to do something with my hands to get through this. Ideally I would knit or set up a puzzle on a side table or practice origami, but if you can’t get away with that, coloring or doodling can work. Or taking meticulous color coded notes with a lot of unnecessary stickers.

  51. Dek*

    This is going to be a very belabored metaphor, but it’s the best I can do.
    So. My job is making tea sets and mugs. I make them, glaze them, and I paint most of the items except for teapots. Those are painted by somebody else. We have written guidelines for how to paint most items, but not all of them, and there are only guidelines for glazing the teapots, not painting them.

    Recently, I made some teapots, and after they were checked over, I was given them to glaze and paint. I’ve been doing my best, but I’m still very uncertain, because there are lots of ways to paint them, depending on the type of teapot they are. Most, but not all, of the items I paint need to have a red and blue flowers on them. I wasn’t sure the teapots, and couldn’t find any information about that in our guidelines, so I asked out manager if they needed red flowers. Her response: “Why shouldn’t they? Have you not been painting red flowers on some items??” No, I paint red flowers on everything except for the mugs and museum pieces, as per the guidelines. So “do it unless you hear differently.”

    Except I checked over teapots painted by the usual department, and most of the ones like mine don’t have them. But I can’t ask about that, because it would mean that I went and checked after she said something (I just wanted to know where they went).

    I also messed up by not putting the blue flower on a teapot that was similar in shape to a mug (which don’t have red OR blue flowers). And I’m frustrated, because these aren’t mistakes I should be making, but also, I don’t have any clear guidelines and the general vibe of “do it like you do the other things” is making me feel crazy because some of these are different, and do get painted differently, but I don’t know what all the criteria is, and I feel frustrated because I’m always told that I should ask when I’m not sure of something, but when I do ask, the response is often low-key hostile, with an assumption that since I’m asking, I must have been doing something wrong.

    I don’t know how to address this. I’m frustrated and stressed, and I don’t know how to ask for the help I need to do this in the future without getting fussed at or interrogated.

    I’m probably making this too big, but it just feels big to me right now.

    1. BellyButton*

      Oof that does sound frustrating and your manager doesn’t sound very supportive so I am not sure if my script will be received well- you will have to judge that. When you don’t have a specific teapot to ask about I would say “I am feeling a bit uncertain about the criteria for painting of the teapots and mugs. I want to make sure I am following the correct process, is there any documentation that would help me ascertain which gets what? I want to really understand and not have to bother you.”

      Good luck!

      1. Dek*

        Thanks! I’ll try that. If nothing else, it will be proactive communication. I have to keep reminding myself I can’t control what others do, just how I respond to it.

  52. Paris Geller*

    Recommendations for good office shoes for women with wide feet? (Business casual). I tend to prefer flats but I don’t think I’m getting the arch support I need at this point. I was looking at the Dansko website last night because I’ve always heard good things, but are there any particular ones that people really love?

    1. Paris Geller*

      & I should add we’re on the casual side of business casual: clean jeans allowed every day, sandals (not flip-flops) allowed in our dress code, etc.

    2. BellyButton*

      My favorite shoe is an inexpensive Dr. Scholl’s wedge bootie. I have 4 pairs now! They were about $50 on Amazon, and they look great with jeans and with dress pants. I am not sure about fitting a wide foot- the toe is rounded and not pointy, so that may help. If you search “Dr. Scholl’s wedge bootie” you will see them. They are so comfortable, offer great support for my arch and my weak ankles. I have worn them when I have been training and on my feet for 8-12 hours straight with no pain!

      1. Mojo021*

        Bzee’s are really comfortable, they have good support and have good cushion. They aren’t the cutest shoes, but they have cuter options than the Dansko shoes.

    3. weird foot woman*

      Lems shoes and OESH shoes, both brands that have very casual to dressier casual shoes.

      These are the shoes that work for me, noting that I have wide feet and high arches. I’ve also found that zero-drop works better for me than arch supports (when I first tried zero drop shoes my feet hurt for a week or two and then my ankles and arches got stronger/used to the different alignment and my feet stopped hurting altogether), so if you’re committed to arch support then you should not take my recommendations. These shoes do come in a little pricier, but I’m willing to spend more on shoes that last longer and fit better.

    4. Office Skeptic*

      If you’re on the casual side, clean nice sneakers can be fine. Fashion changes so fast and women are wearing sneakers with dresses and skirts and nice suits! (Though I fear that too will fall out of fashion soon). I wear nice white Pumas everyday in the office.

      1. Paris Geller*

        Unfortunately sneakers & flip-flops are the two shoes we’re not allowed to wear in our dress code! I wish I could wear sneakers every day.

    5. onyxzinnia*

      I struggle with this too as a woman with wide feet. I used to love Payless’ Comfort Plus heels before Payless shut down and haven’t found a great replacement yet. I’ve heard good things about Vivaia.

      Probably too casual for work depending on your office, but I love Kizik’s Vegas shoe. I have the Black/Gold combo but I could see the all-black or chestnut versions working for a more casual office.

    6. pally*

      Maryland Square offers hard to find sizes of shoes from dressy to casual to sneakers (which I realize aren’t what you are interested in). Including the extra, extra wide (cuz that’s what I wear).


    7. Policy Wonk*

      SAS, Aerosoles, Naturalizer, Walking Cradles.

      For a wide width you will likely have to order online – my go to sites are Zappos or Maryland Square.

      1. DefinitiveAnn*

        I second SAS shoes. I have wide feet and swelling and their Roamer (a Mary Jane) is super supportive and comfortable. Also bought the Simplicity loafer, which comes in so many colors. Both of these have a WW option if needed.

    8. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      I hunt for these regularly on The brands I keep coming back to are Anne Klein, Lifestride, Franco Sarto and Journee. That should give you plenty to choose from in terms of colors, heel height, style, etc.

    9. MissCoco*

      I find that Dansko run on the slightly narrow side to be honest, but I LOVE my Larisa flats, I have multiple pairs and I walk 2ish miles a day in them.

  53. What’s next*

    Does anyone else feel like they took a big career pivot during the pandemic and are now trying to figure out what is next?

    I took a remote tech job during COVID because the market in my former industry (higher Ed) collapsed and I was worried about in person exposure. Three years on I’m ready for my next step but not sure even what industry I want to be in or if I want to try to get back to the industry I left. Help

    1. onyxzinnia*

      Yes I’m there too, although for different reasons. I pivoted roles within the same industry in order to work 100% remote and get out of a toxic work culture. I like my current bosses and the wider company culture at my new org but my role is a bit of a dead end.

      Do you like working in tech? Maybe there’s a way to combine the two (working in tech at a company whose product serves higher education customers). I would start researching those companies first to make a shortlist of companies to apply to.

      Failing that, as a starting point, I’d make a list about what I like about tech and what I like about higher ed. Visualize future you, what kind of environment are you in? Who are you working with? What are you doing day to day? Maybe then it’ll be clear where you should go.

  54. Qwerty*

    I could use some tips for an awkward conversation on Monday that I am overthinking. My employee wrote an incredible glowing self-review about himself when he’s doing neutral at best. Even the question on what he’d like to improve on or do differently was about how great he’s doing.

    What concerns me the most is that every line says that doing is a sign that his manager has great trust in him or that he was assigned because leadership has great respect for his knowledge. I think it is the misrepresentation that bothers me the most as I’ve never said anything like this to him. I’ve had level setting conversations at other jobs before where an employee and I had different assessments about their work. But this feels different because he wasn’t just saying that he thought he was doing great, but wrote it like a proxy for me.

    The most confusing aspect is that we talk about performance regularly, both in our one-on-ones every two weeks and in frequent impromptu conversations (team culture involves talking a lot) In those conversations he’s usually quick to bring up what didn’t go well and I help him come up with a plan to grow, so this is a huge 180. We’ve even talked about how I’m cutting him slack right now because of a personal life issue that’s affecting his performance and focus. He’s a super nice guy, not the personality that I would expect this level of overinflation from – I almost wonder if it was overcompensating? A few days after writing that review he even asked me if he was falling short of expectations so it isn’t adding up.

    I don’t think any of the things he’s been working on are hard. So I think I’m also concerned that he’s writing about them like they are. Like, one of the items is that he was asked for his input on a medium feature…because he asked for the chance to give input… Most of the code items were small, routine stuff that someone with 1yr quality experience could do.

    Before reading the self review, I would have described his performance rather neutrally – there are places to work on, but he hasn’t gotten mentorship before I arrived and there have been outside-of-work mitigating circumstances. My assessment was that he was pretty mid-level, so the performance was ok from an expectations standpoint, but if I were to judge him against the bar he set he’d be far below it. I don’t want to hold someone’s self review against them and am worried and surprised that he might be blindsided given how much we’ve already been talking about growth.

    1. ferrina*

      Is this his first time writing a review at your company? I’m wondering if he thought he needed to pad his review. At one company I worked at, if you wrote anything negative about yourself on your self-review, they take it as a sign that they can cut your annual raise (they did an annual COLA/merit combined raise). It was well-known there that you should pad your review if you wanted your full raise. I’ve also seen this from people who knew they were struggling, but didn’t want to give the higher-ups any ammo to let them go.

      For what to do- be honest in your review. Write it as a separate document. Make sure you address the same incidents he does, so you can add a second perspective as needed. But don’t call him out yet.
      When you sit down with him, start by saying that you were a bit surprised by his review. Give him an opening to explain, if it is a case where he thought he needed t exaggerate to CYA. You say that you are worried about blindsiding him, but honestly, it sounds like you’ve discussed it so much that if he’s blindsided, he’s got a serious case of wishful thinking going on.
      Good luck!

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      Is it possible he thinks this is what he is supposed to do? I know that student teachers have to write “evaluations” of each class they teach during their work experience and they are sometimes told to “never say anything went badly because you are being judged on this, so tell them all your classes were brilliant, the students were completely engaged, the timing worked perfectly, any discipline problems were easily resolved, etc.”

      From what you have said, it sounds to me like he may have gotten similar advice. “This counts towards your raise so you are basically being asked if you deserve a raise and how high it should be, so talk yourself us. This is your presentation as to why you deserve to be paid more, so make yourself sound as good as possible and never, never mention any mistakes you have made because if you do, your boss could use them to deny you a raise.”

      Given that he does appear to be aware of his shortcomings and that this is not entirely accurate, I’d guess it was something like that, that he assumes this is his chance to “talk himself up” and that he is expected to exaggerate somewhat, even that it is sort of a negotiation, where he tries to make himself sound as good as possible, the company points out where he is not meeting the mark and then both people meet in the middle to get close to an accurate portrayal.

      Is he young/new to the workforce? If so, I would be inclined to suspect he’s not quite sure how performance reviews work or what they are for and he is afraid to say anything even mildly negative in case it gets used against him in some way.

      He may also be assuming that you are expecting some degree of exaggeration so whatever level he grades himself at, you will assume a grade below.

      I wonder if it would be worth addressing the discrepancy between what he’s written and what he says to you, though honestly, I’m finding it hard to think of a script for this that doesn’t sound a bit sarcastic or like you are putting him on the spot. Like pointing out that he wrote you had great confidence in him, but asked verbally if he was meeting expectations.

      I really would assume it’s a fear of putting anything negative in writing.

    3. Casey*

      “Hey, I want to clarify the expectations for the self review because I realized you may not have had it explained to you clearly. The way we do it here is that we use reviews to make sure that you and I are on the same page about how you’re doing, your strengths and weaknesses, and your goals. When we talk in our 1 on 1s it seems like we’re really aligned! When I look back on those conversations, I think they’re about 60% positive feedback and 40% constructive feedback/ways to improve— you’re meeting the expectations of the role but have a few areas to work on. I’ve written my review in that same tone, but on my first read your self review sounded pretty different from that. Given that context, does it make sense for you to rewrite your self review and we’ll meet again in a few days? Or do you feel like we’re not on the same page about your performance and need to have a bigger chat?”

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      This is part of our job. Instead of saying “this is delusional” or “you over-rated your self” I’d start with “this is what excelling looks like for this field” and go through the list

      Have definitely had people say they do “project management” when they did a slightly complicated task and stuff like that, where you need to come together on what expectations are and some of these terms even mean

    5. Qwerty*

      I appreciate the other perspectives! His previous place was more corporate and it sounds likely that reviews were more formal docs especially after poking around on their Glassdoor page. Most of my jobs including the current one have followed a more casual format where the prompts are supposed to help with conversations, there’s no rating scale, and it isn’t even officially tied to compensation (we do market rate analysis several months apart). Reading it through this lens it does make it sound more like laying the groundwork for a promotion in a year to show growth in the position.

      Thank you everyone!

  55. Weaponized Pumpkin*

    Networking etiquette question:

    I am employed, but planning an exit in the not-too-distant future. Honestly I’m not great at networking — I tend to avoid it until I need something and then I feel like a jerk. Right now I am reaching out to folks for some combo of seeing what they are up to, finding inspiration from them, and letting them know I am looking around. I’m not aggressively fishing, it would be totally fine if all it entailed was catching up.

    When I reach out on LinkedIn, is it okay to simply say hey let’s talk it’s been awhile, or am I supposed to let them know upfront that part of the goal is future opportunities — or does everyone just assume that anyway? Do people want an “agenda” so they know what they are agreeing to? (I assume the answer is a little different depending on how close the relationship is.) When I write all this out it feels kind of silly but i’m an overthinker and networking is a place where it’s hard for me to read the norms.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Fellow clueless networker, so this is just my take: I’d appreciate a contact, even if it’s been a while, who was transparent and let me know what you wrote here. Something like,

      “Hello [Name], it’s been a little while and I wanted to catch up. If you’re available, I’d like to hear what’s new with you, as I’m looking for inspiration as I explore what the next step in my career could be.”

      I think the “looking for inspiration” piece makes it clear that you’re looking for opportunities, so no need to restate it.

    2. Job Hunter*

      I don’t like networking, am not very good at it, and tend to avoid it as well. What recently worked for me was to be specific about why I was reaching out to someone who I had met a conference years ago and not talked to since then. In my brief message, I also reminded them how we met and how much time the conversation would take. It worked and I learned a lot about a potential employer by talking with the person for 20 minutes.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’d probably just say something in line with your first paragraph: “Hey, I’d love to catch up if you have time. I’m curious about what you’re up to lately, as I’m low-key looking around for some new opportunities and would love to get some inspiration.”

  56. Mind the gap*

    There’s a job I leave off my resume because it was a terrible fit and only lasted a few months. Plus, it had an NDA, so that’s another reason to never bring it up. Leaving it off my resume has never caused any issues. It’s not a problem at all. But what happens if an employer does a background check? I assume that entails confirming education, jobs listed on your resume, criminal/financial, and reference checks … could it backfire to NOT list a short-term job that you regret taking?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Leaving it off a resume is a non-issue. Resumes aren’t meant to be an exhaustive list of all your work.

      Where you may run into trouble is if they have you fill out an application that asks you to list all your past employers (super common in gov, even without security clearance) which is often used for background checks. I would not skip it. But listing it there should be a non-issue. No one is going to care about one short-stint and interviews are really still based on your resume (in my experience).

      I’d advise just having a ready answer if asked – the job wasnt a good fit for your skills and you decided it best to move on so both you and the employer could find a better fit. Its really no big deal. It’s only a big deal if you have a string of short stints.

    2. NaoNao*

      The NDA doesn’t cover the existence of the job itself I would assume, and most NDAs either cover proprietary products, recipes, processes, tools, or prevent you from speaking negatively about the role/company. I’m on one such for a job from 2019 and I include that job on my resume and in my LinkedIn. I’m careful not to name the company if I say negative things in a general sense, and I don’t reveal confidential information, but I don’t think the NDA extends to the degree that you might think it does!

      However, having said that, I’d include it on applications, as most have a line about “this is complete to the best of my knowledge” and if there’s anything that IS covered by the NDA write “confidential/NDA” or something.

    3. There You Are*

      Unless you’re going for a government security clearance, it won’t show up in a background check.

      Background checks for roles that don’t require a security clearance are checking for criminal history, verifying your education, and verifying that you’re telling the truth about where you worked and for how long (in my recent job search, I accidentally put 2019 as the start year for my last job… when I actually started in 2020; the investigator from the background checking company called me when my answer didn’t match what my then-current employer said).

      My resume only has the jobs relevant to my current career (internal audit) and not any of the dozen or so other jobs I had in the 2.5 decades prior to making the switch.

      I just did the Employment Data Report for myself on The Work Number and a Great Recession retail job that isn’t on my resume is on the report. Literally no employer has ever asked me about it.

  57. Lizz*

    Should I take a job I would definitely struggle in if it’s my first offer in 2 years of searching?

    I have ADHD, I know I do badly in an unstructured environment and they say they have an “agile, self assembling team”.

    I’d basically have to medicate, I think, and hope to dog it helped – or should I just say “no” and keep looking? I’m trained as a scientific researcher, and pivoting out of that… isn’t working.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Can you ask for another meeting before accepting the offer, ideally with a few would-be coworkers? If all you’ve heard about the environment is this brief quote, it might not even be accurate. Dig into that and get a better sense of how they really operate.

      After all that, if you’re still sure you’d do badly there…idk, how dire are your finances? If you got fired in a few months, what would be your plan?

    2. OxfordBlue*

      My gut reaction is to say no because finding another job after not doing particularly well at this one is going to be even harder. I agree it sounds as though the team isn’t the right set-up for you with the caveat that sometimes the person writing the ad doesn’t know much about the actual job. Do you have any contacts you could use to find out more about the work and the company?
      Alternatively can you ask for help with your job search and applications on here? Whatever you decide, good luck.

      1. Lizz*

        I’ve been interviewed, this is what they say about themselves and having been in academica for a decade, if they say “we’re not very structured or hierarchal”, they mean “it’s total mayhem”.

        I’ve asked for help here before, it’s of limited use because I’m applying in a niche area outside the US. It would just be “take a punt that it won’t be two years of applying before I get another offer”.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      I think it really depends on your current situation. Have you been unemployed for the last two years? If so, can you afford to remain unemployed for longer? Are your benefits likely to be reduced if you turn down an offer? Have you familial or other support that would allow you to take your time finding something?

      Or is this more a case where you want to change roles for some reason? It sounds like it may be that from your reference to pivoting out of scientific research. In that case, are the benefits of the new job worth the potential negatives? If you have a job which is fairly secure, I would generally advise against leaving it for a job where you already know you are likely to struggle. Unless you are really unhappy in your current role, you really don’t want to leave a job to take another and then six months later get fired and find yourself unemployed.

      Basically, I would ask what is the alternative to taking this job. If it is remaining unemployed, possibly indefinitely or remaining in a job that is not covering your living expenses or remaining in a job that is really toxic and damaging your mental health, it may be worth taking, even with the risk of it not working out. But if the alternative is remaining in a low paid job but one that meets your basic expenses or remaining in a job that is unfulfilling but not actually harming you and you’re not actually dreading work each day or anything; you just think you could do better, then I’d be inclined to let this go.

      I will say I am a pretty cautious person, so that may be affecting my response.

      1. Lizz*

        I’m unemployed and being supported by my partner. It wouldn’t be toxic, I don’t think, they seem like really good people (I’ve been interviewed) – I just know from bitter experience that the way they say they run things is very bad for me.
        I might? be able to cope if I got medicated.
        The alternative is to continue applying for twenty things, get one interview and then crickets. (Which is also just absolutely peachy for my mental health.) This was a job I don’t want but am properly qualified for, so I threw in on a whim.

        1. OxfordBlue*

          Then I think I’m coming down on the “find out more about what the job would be like day-to-day” side and if it’s as unstructured as you think it sounds like then turn it down.
          Can you say more about which country you’re in to see if there’s anyone on here who can suggest another site that might be more helpful?

            1. So many questions...*

              Does this mean you’d have a probationary period? The folks I know working for medium to large corporations in Berlin have all had one. Is there any stigma from not getting through a probationary period? Is it truly a trial for both sides? I ask because the people I know only talk about making it through, but I’ve never considered the other side of that equation.

        2. Tio*

          If you’ve been unemployed for two years, my inclination is to say yes – if you can make the job work of at least a while, then you probably have a better shot at using it to launch somewhere else. I know people say that a 2 year work break during the pandemic isn’t much, but it still is to a lot of employers, especially if they have other options.

          You do have to accept that you’re probably going to have to do a lot of additional work to make it work for your limitations, but it could prove to be worth it. It might also suck a lot.

        3. Boss Scaggs*

          Since you’ve mentioned medication a couple of times, maybe give it a try? If it means potentially succeeding at the job, and given it’s taken you two years.

          1. Lizz*

            The reason I’m not currently medicated is I’ve had back-to-back pregnancies. I’d rather feed my younger child a little longer, but I’m not against medication. I just don’t know how much it’ll help in practice, so the idea of taking a job I’ll definitely need it for is… daunting

            1. There You Are*

              FWIW, my ex has severe ADHD and I can always tell if he has meds in his system or not, based on how easy (or hard) it is to follow what he’s saying. He’s on Vyvanse and it’s a significant improvement over his unmedicated state. [We’re friends and talk almost daily, so I still have plenty of opportunities to say, “Have you taken your brain meds today?” :-) ]

              I was also a moderator in a support group for partners and family members of people with ADHD and, as long as the med wasn’t Adderall [aka “Madderall”], then something like 90% of the people saw improvements in executive functioning in their ADHD family member.

              (I’ll note, tho, that meds are just one piece of the external support structure that a lot of people with ADHD benefit from. They aren’t magic, but they do help.)

              1. Lizz*

                Honestly, I’m not against it. I’m planning to explore it for other reasons. I just got myself diagnosed about five minutes before I got pregnant, then I was breastfeeding, then I was pregnant, and now I’m breastfeeding. So, barring something else happening, I’ll start playing “what med works for you?” as soon as I work up an executive function when #2 is weaned.

                It’s that… well, it’s that going back to the environment I did my PhD in (yes, undiagnosed ADHD and a PhD IS a bad idea, why do you ask) is competing for “keep being rejected by everyone and be a stay-at-home crapout” for “worst plan of 2023”, you know?

                1. 1LFTW*

                  I also have ADHD, in addition to other learning differences, and I feel you with the choice between “fail at being employed” and “fail because I’m not employed”. It sucks.

                  Based on that, I would recommend trying medication and taking the job you’ve been offered. Whoever diagnosed you should be able to recommend resources for other tools to manage your workflow as well. It might be that your job is much less frustrating once you have ways to cope with the overwhelm.

                  Or maybe it will be – but once you have meds and coping strategies in place, you’ll be much better positioned to figure out what works for you, instead of just feeling like “I know what DOESN’T work for me, because that’s ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING in my life so far”.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Since you say you’re currently unemployed, I’d take it. You aren’t going to be worse off if it doesn’t work out, and there’s an excellent chance that it might work out all right.

      I believe you know yourself and what kind of work environments are good for you. But I also know that 2 years of job hunting gets you down on yourself. Just having a place to go and people to talk to about work will add some level of positive structure that you currently lack. And unless you have a health condition that precludes taking ADHD medication, there really isn’t a downside to it. Statistically it is considered much safer in the long run to take it than not, because the coping mechanisms and / or negative lifestyle impact of not taking it have higher risks than the medication itself.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      An agile, self assembling team isn’t necessarily “unstructured” (I say this as someone who’s been through many variations of agile, scrum, kanban etc). Often the workload and priorities are clear. Daily stand ups give a structure to the dau. My objection to scrum etc is it often seems to focus on short term execution and overlook strategy and more nebulous things. As someone with ADHD you may find the fast and defined pace suits. I would be inclined to give it a try.

      1. Bonne chance*

        Agree! Lizz, my experience of people calling themselves “agile” in US academia was the sort of mess you describe–they never wanted to meet OR to bother with project planning/documentation and they worked independently on really long timelines, which was a disaster. The coders using “agile” meant a different, actually quite structured thing, as Captain mentioned. Everyone except Big Boss/Project Manager had daily goals (weekly at the longest). That seemed to work well for many folks who needed structure and short bursts of specific tasks.

        My neurodivergent self would give the job a try unless you really don’t want the job–lack of interest for me is a killer, whether there’s structure or no structure involved. If I’m interested, I can usually make it work for at least a year or so before the novelty wears off and the lack of structure poses a real problem.

  58. Jay*

    So my job does have a decent amount of PTO built in with our compensation package (including a separate day off for your birthday and separate sick time.) But, they also offer the option to buy additional vacation days. You can get up to 5 additional days and in return, they take the equivalent amount of your salary for the number of days you purchase out of your paycheck, but it’s spread over 4 months, so it’s not a major hit all at once. (They also offer the option for people to sell vacation time back to the company if they have a lot of extra vacation time that they won’t use.) Has anyone heard of this before? It’s not my absolute favorite thing but my partner and I are planning on buying a house next year and having the extra days to use will be nice.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I haven’t heard of it framed quite like this, but it sounds like they’re just letting you take up to 5 unpaid days off.

    2. Antilles*

      I’ve never heard of this sort of thing, at least not in the direct “pay $X to buy 1 day of PTO” style. Conceptually I understand it, but my immediate reaction is that feels off and kind of scummy or cheap.

      That said, I have absolutely no idea *why* it feels like that to me. It’s fairly common for companies to pay out unused PTO or job candidates to negotiate with “if you can’t raise the salary, what about extra days of PTO” or employees to consider work-life balance right alongside salary. None of those would make me blink for a second and this is effectively the same thing, so why does this feel strange to me? No idea, but it does.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        ‘Why does it feel strange’ – because it’s like that additional time off is available, but it’s behind a pay wall or is additional “DLC” in some sense.

    3. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I worked at a place that offered this. It’s not uncommon in my part of the world. I never used it to avoid reducing my salary, but I know people who found it valuable and bought extra days every year.

      Some employers choose to take applications for extra days in specific windows throughout the year, so it may not always be available. Perhaps that makes things easier on payroll teams, as they know when they’ll have to process this change specifically, as opposed to doing admin for ad-hoc requests. Also, depending on where in the world you are, there may be tax benefits for both the employer and employees (if the repayments get taken from their salary before tax).

    4. PX*

      Im in the UK and buying/selling additional vacation days is a fairly common thing here so not surprising to me. I’ve also encountered it in other European countries. Not sure how common it is if you’re US based, but maybe they heard about it and implemented it?

    5. There You Are*

      If they didn’t offer the option to buy back unused PTO, I’d be giving this the side-eye. But it sounds like they’re trying to find a way to accommodate both the people who highly value time off (like, they would choose it over a small raise) and the people who love to work and end up never taking full advantage of this one part of their compensation.

  59. Llellayena*

    Background: I handle Phase 1 of a project, X department handles Phase 2 but I’m still getting copied on some emails requesting info since they know my name. X department gets…fussy…if Phase 1 people stick their noses into work in Phase 2 and will only come back to consult with Phase 1 people if they’re desperate. Well, some of the info-requesting emails have been sitting for over a week with multiple prompts and no responses. I just wrote an email to the head of X department asking if there was a Department X guideline for time to response because these emails have been sitting (I’m not near the department and have no clue if it’s being worked on offline). Was that good? Is there a better way to bring up another department’s day-to-day work pace when you only see a fragment of it?

    1. Ashley*

      I would have defaulted to they did it and didn’t copy you. But if you wanted to follow-up you could maybe soften the email (since they are touchy) with, I am not sure if you responded already but let me know if I can be of help assuming you are able to help. Otherwise unless you are a manager I would just mention it to my manager in a check-in conversation about what you are seeing and if you should take any action.

      1. Llellayena*

        I can guarantee it wasn’t done yet since the last email was this morning, from the client, and the person it’s addressed to is out of office today. I am a project manager, same level as the person who’s supposed to respond. The person I emailed about it was a step above him. I went to him because he’s the one that gets touchy when non-Phase 2 people ask his people to do things.

        1. linger*

          It sounds like you covered your bases adequately regarding messaging and who you chose to contact. There doesn’t seem to be anything there for any reasonable person to object to.
          (Of course, there can never be any guarantee an unreasonable person won’t still somehow get irritated, but if so that’d be their unreasonable choice.)

  60. Cowgirlinhiding*

    So, our family is planning a week-long vacation in a few weeks. My son is graduating from high school this year and we really haven’t had a real vacation as a family since the kids were little. And my husband has been planning this for a while. Anyway, this vacation falls at the end of trimester and my son’s music teacher is freaking out because the end of tri musical presentations fall right in the middle of this vacation. He told my son not being there, will lower his grade significantly. My son doesn’t need this grade, so we told him to tell his teach to give him an Incomplete so it will not affect his grade. Doesn’t this seem a little harsh for a senior who has given his teach weeks of notice?

    1. PhysicsTeacher*


      Students are expected to be at school for finals. When your child is not at school, it means extra work for their teacher to accommodate. Sometimes, there is not a good way for a student to make up something they miss. Sometimes, if a student is gone at the end of a marking period, that teacher is running up against deadlines when their grades HAVE to be submitted.

      I have exempted students from final projects in the past. But it’s because they had some kind of medical emergency and will not be returning to school until next semester. I would not do it for a vacation.

      1. Antilles*

        Especially when it’s the end of the trimester. If it was a mid-term on some random week, I’d be more sympathetic (and the teacher might be more forgiving), but that just really doesn’t come across well.
        Sometimes, there is not a good way for a student to make up something they miss.
        In every middle/high school music class I ever was forced to take, the ‘exam’ was the semester/year end concert. So it very much fell into the “impossible to make up” category and you’d pretty much fail the class if you skipped because it effectively was getting a zero on the final exam.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      Looking from Ireland, definitely not. Here, if you missed the Leaving Cert (the final exam that lasts about three weeks), you would get 0 marks in most of your subjects (some would have a component like an oral exam for languages that you would already have done, but you couldn’t pass on those alone and you would have no idea what mark you got at that point anyway) and your only choice would be to repeat the year.

      Missing something like the orals would mean you would lose maybe a third of the marks in those subjects.

      It is only in the last…3 or 4 years that the Department of Education has made allowances for students who are seriously ill or who suffer a bereavement during the exam weeks. Before that, the options were do the exam anyway (and yes, every year, people do take it in hospital) or repeat the year. They have now added a second exam in July, I think, for extreme need. Mind you, I am not advocating for the extreme rigidity of our exams prior to that point. I do think that was problematic on a number of levels. I do think “if you’re in hospital the week of the exams, do your exam there or repeat the year” is harsh. I don’t think “if you choose to miss an exam for a vacation, that will affect your grade” is particularly harsh.

      Students are supposed to be in school unless they are sick or there is some other reason they cannot attend and this goes extra for exams. It is the student’s responsibility to be there and put anything else on hold. In this case, it sounds like he decided it was worth losing the marks; that’s a good lesson for him, that sometimes you have to decide what your priorities are and be willing to lose out on something.

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I mean, why did you plan the vacation to fall over the end of trimester presentations? It sounds like you knew about this in advance. It’s not crazy to expect parents to schedule vacations around major school exams/grades/etc. It’s no different than accountants not being able to go on vacation the first two weeks of April, or other circumstances where there’s a busy period at work that you need to be present for.

    4. Cyndi*

      By “end of trimester” do you mean your vacation is scheduled immediately after the end of the trimester, and the music final is a concert or something outside the normal bounds of the school calendar? Or is your vacation scheduled during finals week?

      The way you framed this bugs me a bit, and I’m having trouble articulating why so I hope I make some sense here. It sounds like you see this as the teacher punishing your son, I guess, but it sounds to me more like a rock and a hard place situation for all parties. Your family scheduled a vacation the best you could within tight constraints, and the best time you could slot it into is still one that conflicts with at least one of your son’s major exams. Either you didn’t realize at the time, or you broke down your options and said “well, this is the least worst time to go, we’ll make it work.” So this is really just what it is, which is a situation where your son hasn’t done anything wrong but his grade is going to get dinged for reasons that are outside his control on both sides.

      If the teacher is frothing at the mouth mad at your son for something out of his control, that’s a whole separate issue that would be worth pursuing–but because it would be a wild overreaction to the situation, not because he’s unwilling to give your son a free pass on an exam everyone else will have to take. But if by “freaking out” you mean he’s hardline not willing or able to make exceptions around your vacation plans, I think that’s totally his prerogative.

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      It sounds like the conflict was knowable and vacation plans are still in development. Why not take the vacation after your son graduates instead? Your husband messed up and now that you’re all fully aware of the conflict, you can adjust your plans. Your son shouldn’t get dinged (or miss a presentation!) due to his parent’s poor planning.

    6. Indolent Libertine*

      The end of trimester performance dates have been on the schedule for months, though, haven’t they? Like, since the beginning of the school year? If your son is a section leader, has solos, or is just one of the stronger performers in the class on his voice or instrument, his absence will affect the quality of the performance for everyone, all the other students and audience alike. And even if that isn’t the case, this is the final exam, in effect, for that course, which is only happening at that particular time, and that particular place, and you’ve decided that he should ditch it. That’s a decision that you get to make, but you shouldn’t be surprised that there are consequences attached to it. Given that his decision affects the teacher and everyone else in the performing group, I don’t think the stated consequences are harsh at all.

    7. Katie*

      I am seesawing a little on this. To note, I push my one able bodied daughter to her best in school and she does. However I have argued with my teacher sister in law school isn’t the be all end all. just because she can easily take vacation at the time her kids are off doesn’t mean others have that privilege. I cannot take off the time my kids fall or spring break occurs because of work obligations. Summer is super expensive for vacations so school time is really the only time for affordable vacations.
      However, if I were ever to take my kids out of school for vacation it would be at a time that isn’t important for their school. My kids are 10 and younger though and honestly nothing much is important. Senior year finals are important though.

    8. Boss Scaggs*

      I’m not sure if it’s harsh or not, but if this is the only time you can do the vacation, and the incomplete won’t affect his graduation or anything for college then I’d go ahead and take the trip. I think a week’s family time more than makes up for one Incomplete in a class.

    9. TeacherIsVeryReasonable*

      um, no. school is his job. the teacher has every right to expect students to be at school while school is in session. you are doing your son a great disservice by taking him out of school. if your job doesn’t allow you to take a vacation when he’s on vacation, you’ve made the choice that having that job is more important than taking a vacation. making your son take a vacation at a time when his job (school) doesn’t allow him to take a vacation is not a reasonable answer.

  61. kitryan*

    I am (probably) 90 days out from quitting my job!
    I decided to quit a few months ago. It makes me miserable and has been doing so for some time now.
    I want to be able to do a rest/reset and not need to go right into a new job for at least a couple months, to sort out what works for me and what doesn’t and what kind of work might allow me to be happier either at the job or in my life (i.e. something that’s either more fulfilling or that at least isn’t a total energy drain).
    Because of this, I want to stick it out until roughly the end of January to build up savings.
    Coincidentally, my sole teammate/coverage person quit themselves just a month or so after I made up my mind and now I’m stuck trying to train a new person, knowing I plan to leave soon. And, of course, I can’t tell anyone this at work although it might affect higher level decisions around training, especially since there’s a small likelihood I’ll change my mind and I don’t want to be pushed out before I’m ready.
    I keep telling myself that whether or not I can get the new person up to snuff in time or whether the company makes a decision that will make things worse when I leave is not really under my control, as long as I do my best with what I have (without sacrificing myself in the meantime). But it’s rough.
    I’m working on training documents but there’s a lot of moving parts and exceptions in the job and a lot of it is just remembering similar situations and researching them, which is tough to document beyond identifying some possible issues and the resources that can be used to research when they come up.
    Beyond that, I suppose I mostly needed to get this off my chest in a work-related ‘safe’ place and I’m wondering if anyone has any encouragement or thoughts on preparing for one’s departure without telling anyone that’s what you’re doing.

    1. Cookies for Breakfast*

      Here for encouragement, as I’ve been in a similar situation. In my case, I gave my 1-month notice, spent it writing heaps of documentation I was 90% sure no one would touch once I was gone, and had a total of two working days to cross-train people from another team to take over my most time-consuming duties (this was extra resource I was promised months before I gave my notice).

      This was the most useful thing to keep in mind at all times, as you’ve said yourself:

      “I keep telling myself that whether or not I can get the new person up to snuff in time or whether the company makes a decision that will make things worse when I leave is not really under my control, as long as I do my best with what I have (without sacrificing myself in the meantime).”

      With that frame of mind, every document I wrote, every handover I completed, every training session I did was a weight off my chest: I was safe in the knowledge that I was doing everything under my control, and that I’d flagged the things that weren’t in no uncertain terms. As my last day approached, I felt lighter and lighter, because the situation that was making me miserable finally had an end date.

      I hope you can focus on that side – you’re already on the right track knowing it’s a useful mindset to work towards! Enjoy your rest time to the fullest when it comes :)

      1. kitryan*

        Thanks! It’s nice to have other people tell me that I can’t be responsible for what other people do, that I can only do my best -without sacrificing my well being. Even when I already *know* that, because I don’t always believe it when I tell myself.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      Hi! I just left a job to make a similar time off pivot (but looking forward to having all the time over the holidays instead of in the new year). Miserable, planning for a while, etc – all that sounds like me!
      I think you can also look at this as a time when the management at your company may realize they need to get a better system in place for everyone in the future in terms of documentation. One of the reasons I left my job was because I did SO MANY one-off tasks that weren’t really in my job description but I was the sole person with the background/experience that others lacked and could get them done.
      After giving notice, I slowed down and only did what was asked of me – I did complete the generic transition template, I uploaded (most of) my files to many shared spaces, and I made a must do/most urgent list of next tasks – and I shared that with a few people.
      After that, it’s in their hands. It may sound a bit cynical, but this is the bed they’ve made for themselves – and it’s not up to me (or you) to try and fix things in any other way given that they’ll need to pick up the ball and run once you leave, regardless of what documentation and training you provide.

      1. kitryan*

        Yes – if they’re not allowing for proper coverage (despite my warnings) and are depending on a person (me, you) with institutional knowledge hanging around forever, just catching everything that comes up- and their system relies on that, this is not the fault of the person in question. And… I think I need to keep saying that to myself for the next 90 or so days.

      2. kitryan*

        Also, bonuses come out after the holidays for this company, so… that’s a bit of a factor, since it can be over 10% of my annual pay.

        1. Glazed Donut*

          Yes! I waited until bonuses came out, too – our bonuses AND % base salary increase were tied to performance reviews and hit at the same time. This also meant that my paid out vacation days are paid out at the higher rate, which I hadn’t thought about before.

          1. kitryan*

            I got all excited about the vacation day payout possibility for a second but I don’t think any pay increase will have hit in time in this case.

    3. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      I see you. I left an utterly rotten job recently, with a few months from decision to resignation/last day. From my perspective, you’re a little too worried about “But what will people think?!?” after you’ve left, correct?

      What other people may think does not matter, not in the least. You are making a business decision, the same way your employer makes business decisions. You know that you have done everything a good worker possibly can. Anyone who bitches about it is not worth your time. Keep your eyes trained on the light at the end of the tunnel — the holidays will help with this — and know that by, let’s say Valentine’s Day, you’ll be well shot of the place.

      1. kitryan*

        Thanks for the thoughts :)
        I just checked back to see if there were any other comments and saw this, so you may not see my reply, but it’s not so much what people will think of me as it is my possibly overdeveloped sense of responsibility/desire for control and the level of, I guess, ownership over the role that I have after spending so much time in the position – it’s been, (to retain a bit of anonymity), over 5 years and under 12 years, and letting go of that investment is hard.
        There have been issues (part of why I want to leave) where I have little control over many things about my time at work but I can control how I do the work and how well I do the work. Also, my thoroughness is what I’ve consistently received positive feedback on, which has kind of created a feedback loop where I’ve been putting my sense of personal-work value (trying to keep my personal-personal value out of it though) into having everything done correctly and catching all the issues and fixing them and all of that stuff and knowing that it will almost certainly not be handled properly if/when I go is hard to think about. I want it to continue to go well when I leave since I’ve spent so much time making it go well while doing the job myself.
        It’s maybe like selling a car you restored and drove and maintained for years to someone who you know won’t take proper care of it because you need the money. It’s just an object but you put some of yourself into it and then you have to pull that mental/emotional investment back in or something?
        However, even if the ‘what people will think’ is not quite nail on the head, it’s still the same think in removing the emotional investment in so that I can detach and not let worry/stress/etc. tarnish my ability to do good work through the next few months and then properly enjoy being out of it.

        1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

          I came back to this post just to see if you replied, and here you are. Yes. I can understand everything that you have said. You put all of these procedures and resources together that could very well survive you leaving, as long as they were maintained….. but you know they won’t be maintained.

          It SUCKS. Honestly, I think the only useful thing you can do is let yourself grieve. Like, actually grieve as you would for an actual loss, because, in fact, it IS a real loss, and it hurts. That just seems so stupid, yeah? What kind of weirdo would grieve a work process? Well, I would, for one. You did all of that really thorough work for a reason, after all; so did I. I think it’s better to accept that yeah, fine, it’s weird, screw it, then I’m weird, and I’m going to grieve, goddammit, I’m going to let myself be sad until I’m not sad anymore. It’s just as Not Fun as waiting for the work to end; but again, better to feel the feelings and get them out of your system than tamp them down.

          Keep us posted.

  62. BellaStella*

    Has anyone ever had a grievance filed against them at work? Where I work, we have a process that can be pretty simple or pretty complex depending. What is this process like where you work? Do you have an ombudsman or staff union to help? Have you been thru this filing a grievance against a colleague? What happened? Our process involves a heads up meeting with hr, then discussions to resolve and if needed others can be looped in like ombudsman or management. Curious to know experiences. And will search the archives here and reply with any links I find that are relevant.

    1. Generic Name*

      I guess you could say I had a “grievance filed” against me at work. It was at a small firm with no HR, so the “process” was my (former, thank god) coworker replied to a project email I had sent in all caps accusing me of “stealing his ideas” and he copied several of the higher-ups on said email. This triggered what I would call an inquisition by the de facto HR person. Everyone on my team was interviewed, including me. Coworker said I was “a distraction”, and the result of his complaint was that they moved my office away from his. I asked for details on what I had done wrong and what was meant by me being “a distraction”. I never got any clarity on that, and years later the CEO actually apologized to me saying that how they handled that incident wasn’t fair to me. Oh, and the guy who complained about me was eventually managed out, and now owns his own business, which my former company will not work with. Very weird, and I still have no idea of what happened exactly. I should have quit then, but I stayed for way too long after that incident.

  63. CTT*

    Just a vent: I’m president of an organization that holds an annual event. The event is in a week and I’m 99% sure it is going to be a disaster. The people who know the most about planning it in the past have not been on any of our planning calls, and things keep coming up that no one thought of before, and one of them is sending emails that I am reading a “tsk tsk” tone in, like, was I supposed to read his mind and know that we usually do X instead of Y? Because he and the other organizer have not been showing up to tell us that!! I am DREADING this.

    Lesson learned, write down your institutional knowledge and keep it accessible for future boards…

    1. Zee*

      As someone who has been event planning for 15 years, every event feels like a disaster. This does sound like a bad situation, but in my experience, as long as the food shows up most attendees aren’t going to have any idea that there are things missing/wrong. Even if they attended it last year and remember it well enough to compare, they might just think you chose to go in a different direction.

      1. WellRed*

        Yeah I couldn’t really tell you too much about what’s good or bad at any given event but I remember clearly the ones which lacked enough food.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Food, bathrooms, and transportation. And something for people to do/see. (What I learned from reading about the Fyre Festival.)

  64. Claire Carlyle*

    Did you always know that you wanted to be a lawyer? Looking for advice for a college sophomore who’s always thought that she wanted to go to law school. Now that she’s taking some undergrad pre-law classes, she doesn’t like them (they’re boring, etc). Did you ever feel that way in undergrad? If you could get a do-over, would you still go to law school? Looking for any advice you can offer. Also any advice from folks who considered law but used a comparable skill set to pivot into a different career. Part of the issue is likely her fear that she doesn’t know what she wants to do if she isn’t a lawyer. Thanks in advance!

    1. Overeducated*

      I am NOT a lawyer, but am commenting because I think my decision not to pursue law school was based on a very limited and uninformed idea of what the variation in daily work looks like among lawyers (not knowing any personally). If could go back in time I’d tell myself use my college career center to make contacts for informational interviews with lawyer alumni and get a much more well-rounded perspective. So that’s my advice for your sophomore as well!

    2. MaxKitty*

      I went to law school because I was a history major and didn’t want to teach. I have had a great career but I probably should have done something else. It’s a very stressful profession with a lot of unhappy people. It also can be very expensive to get the degree (and good legal jobs are harder to come by these days). If she doesn’t have a burning passion for the law, I would say get some aptitude/career counseling and do something else.

    3. Not a lawyer*

      I started college pre-law and had an epiphany I did not want to do that. I tend to be in house low level legal consultant and the person that takes the time to read all the contracts. From there I advise them to escalate it higher or just remind them you can’t do that because x.
      I happened to marry an attorney. I would hate their job but it works well for them. From their friends in law school there are a lot of different types of attorneys whose days look vary different from my partners.
      I would say ask why you actual want to be a lawyer and what you think you want your work day to look like. Best thing I did in college and grad school was a bunch of different internships and jobs. Every summer I went somewhere else so I figured out a lot of what didn’t work and picked up some random skills (yeah Habitat for Humanity and power tools), but it helped me narrow down things for graduation.

    4. Spearmint*

      If she’s already feeling unenthusiastic about the field, I’d strongly urge her to consider other options. Lawyers have very high job dissatisfaction rates and law school is very expensive.

      I’m guessing she has a strong verbal/reasoning skillset, but isn’t as interested in STEM? If so there are plenty of other options besides being a lawyer: sales, teaching, marketing, customer relations/customer success management, project management, mental health counseling, and HR, and I’m sure much more. Now many of these don’t necessarily have the same clean and neat path of grad school -> career that the law does. I’d highly recommend she try to get a couple of internships in the next few years to explore what interests here, and to get some white collar experience on the resume (even if they aren’t ultimately in the fields she decides to enter).

    5. Hlao-roo*

      Not a lawyer, just here to say two things:

      (1) Law school is expensive. I think most people end up taking on around $200,000 (or more!) worth of debt to go to law school. That’s a lot of debt to take on just because she doesn’t know what she wants to do if she isn’t a lawyer. It will be much cheaper to try out some non-lawyer jobs before deciding to go to law school than it will be to go to law school and realize she hates being a lawyer in her first year working.

      (2) Could she look into the requirements for being a paralegal? Working as a paralegal will give her the opportunity to work for/with/around lawyers and that can help her decide if she still wants to go to law school/be a lawyer.

    6. Another Lawyer*

      I would take the dislike of pre-law classes as a red flag. While there are big differences between law school and being a practicing lawyer, you do have to get through three years of law school.

      However, it’s worth examining what the pre-law classes are. I took some pre-law classes that were basically political science classes, but then I had the chance to take a class in my college’s law school taught by a law professor (but to undergrads). The two types of classes were very different.

      And seconding the suggestions to try to get some real-world perspective through meetings, working as an intern/paralegal, or any other means prior to law school.

      I wouldn’t use law school as a fallback. If it’s not what she actually wants to do it’s not worth the time, money, and stress.

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Enjoyment (or not) of pre-law classes or law school isn’t really a good indicator of how well someone will tolerate being a lawyer. I think she’d have a much better idea of whether she wants to be a lawyer if she can spend some time working in an actual law office. Maybe she can get a temp job as a receptionist next summer. Or she might work for a law firm full-time for a year or so after college and then decide if she wants to take the LSAT.

      If she’s passionate about helping some underserved community or other, she could look into volunteering at a public-interest law firm.

    8. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

      Part of the issue is likely her fear that she doesn’t know what she wants to do if she isn’t a lawyer

      This is a terrible reason to go to law school. I mean, she could say this about literally any job. It’s not a reason to do that job.

      I went to law school several years after undergrad so I can’t relate on the “always wanted to” angle. I did, for the most part, like practicing for a while. But it’s a grind, I’ve burned out more than once, and I’m looking to leave the profession 15 years later.

      If I had a do-over, would I do it again? Probably not.

      She should try working at a firm and doing informational interviews with lawyers.

      What does she like doing and are those things lawyers do in reality? She should make a list.

      And for a laugh, though it does really resonate with me and many of my peers, look up the “Don’t Be a Lawyer” song on YouTube.

    9. AnotherLibrarian*

      Part of the point of pre-law or pre-med or pre-anything is to learn if you think you like it. One thing I have been told (most of my family is lawyers, I’m the odd one out) is that law school is nothing like being a lawyer. Personally, I took my analytical research brain and strong verbal skills to became a librarian (much to the sadness of several generations of my family, but here we are.) Seriously though, I would really second Overeducated’s advice about finding some lawyers to speak with. I do think you don’t have to go into big law (all my family is in small private practice, except one whose a prosecutor in a small town and one whose a in house counsel for a Uni), but still, it’s often meticulous and monotonous work.

      1. Nightengale*

        I can’t speak for law, but premed classes aren’t a lot like medical school and even less like the actual work of being a doctor. As a doctor I use things I learned in my college linguistics and anthropology classes more than the required chemistry premed classes.

    10. policy wonk*

      I thought I was going to go to law school but saw joint JD/MPP programs in the law school catalogues and said, oh public policy seems much more interesting to me. Almost 30 years later no regrets.

    11. So many questions...*

      I most definitely wouldn’t go to law school all over again. That said I’m guessing pre-law classes (I never took one or know anyone who did) don’t reflect much. If she’s dead set on this path, I’d have her shadow a lawyer for a week…then decide. I don’t think a pre-law class would be sufficient data. That said, I found law school mind-numbingly boring. Law, less so, but not much….

  65. DisneyChannelThis*

    Low stakes conference question – If the attendee next to you falls asleep during the keynote do you wake them up?

    1. Ashley*

      Only if I know them, and then if they are snoring and being disruptive or if it is noticeable and will reflect badly and I like that person. Stranger or co-worker I think has an overly inflated ego, let them sleep.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      It’s when a person on stage falls asleep that you wonder! (Not a conference, but a CEO at an all-employee meeting. A few years later a coworker at another all-employee meeting fell asleep in the front row, and it was recorded for all to say. I feel this speaks to the entertainment value of those meetings. The food wasn’t very good, either.)

  66. Office Skeptic*

    Do people with really soft hard-to-hear voices know that their voices are like that? I have had multiple experiences now in the work place and in medical settings where medical professionals and others have such soft, quiet voices that people simply can’t hear them. I’ve seen it cause issues, but you can’t tell a coworker “hey, change your voice.” What to do?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      You can tell them , “hey I’m having some trouble hearing you, could you speak up please” . Frame it as a you issue, not a them issue.

      Also because it might not be common knowledge, when you start losing your hearing its often specific pitches not everything as a whole. So if all the hard to hear voices are around the same pitch (especially higher pitch) it’s worth getting a hearing test!

    2. EllenD*

      I’ve noticed some people talk to the table and so their voice, while not quiet, doesn’t travel and can’t be heard. It isn’t always about them being louder, but pointing their voice to the opposite wall, rather than the middle of the table. Getting people to sit up can make it easier to hear them. I’ve had some colleagues, who even when whispering could be heard from 10-15 feet away.

    3. Anon for This*

      Some do this on purpose, as a way of focusing attention on them. If that is not the case, just say please speak up, I can’t hear you.

    4. AnonToday*

      As someone with a softer, higher voice, I would agree with DisneyChannelThis’s advice. In my case, my husband, friends, and children hear me fine, but some of my collegues and older relatives can only hear me to various degrees, while they can hear lower-toned voices perfectly at normal speaking volume. It is difficult for me to tell how loud I need to be for certain individuals, but am always happy to do my best if I am aware.

    5. The bean moves on*

      No advice, I share your frustration with soft talkers. I’m not frustrated with them as people, but I literally can’t hear them!

  67. Leaving the dysfunction*

    To the folks who responded to my note about getting over a dysfunctional job — THANK YOU! You helped me immensely, and I shared your posts with a colleague who is still in the muck. It helped them too.

    Ferrina, Things to See, Spearmint — a thousand thanks!

  68. Mystic*

    I applied for a supervisor position at my job. 2x now. Got through the first 3 stages the first time, and all the way through the last stage this time, but denied. Part of it was while I was thinking what I could do for the people under me as a supervisor, it didn’t occur to me to think about what I’d bring to those above me or those supervisors who have been supervisors for awhile (do work together constantly.) how do you know what you’d bring to those who have done the job you want longer that one of the others doesn’t already have? How do I know what my higher-ups would need from me as a supervisor when i don’t know? (the question was specifically “What would you like your boss to know about how you work?, which I said something like “I normally just do my work, but i know as a supervisor i have to be flexible, which I can be” and “What would you bring to the table for your supervisor peers?” which I had a hard time answering)

    1. BellyButton*

      You are thinking like an individual contributor and not a leader. As you move from an IC role to a management/leadership role it isn’t just about managing people and assigning them tasks. It is about the bigger picture and what you can contribute to the strategy, culture, planning, etc. Think about your current team and role- you have been doing this job, how can you improve it? What perspective do you have that is unique because you have been on the team and in the role? that is what they are looking for. “Because I have worked in this role/ on this team for X years, I have the skills to do the work as well as help others develop their skills and knowledge. When decisions are being made I will have a unique perspective and insight on how that decision will impact the team, how best to roll it out, what policies/processes/personnel changes may be effected. ‘

      1. Mystic*

        Ah. Thank you, that helps out a lot. I have been having trouble switching to leader thinking recently.

    2. Tio*

      I normally just do my work, but i know as a supervisor i have to be flexible, which I can be

      This is… a very non-answer, to me. It’s nice to be flexible, but that’s kind of a bit of an assumption, rather than something extra and positive. What would you actually bring? Clean up processes? Morale boosting? New initiatives? Better organization? Project Management skills? New KPIs?

      Supervisors need to make sure teams are hitting goals, figuring out team structures, training, and development. Determine how roles are assigned and completed. Measure output and problem solve. They have to monitor new process implementations and course correct. They need to know how to communicate all these things appropriately to the people above you. (Eg the difference between “we need more people” and “We have one task being done by Jane, it takes an hour and needs to be done ten times a day. We need a second desk for this task because Jane cannot complete the task in a day without overtime. I suggest we open a new FTE position to take half this task plus llama counting from Cedric, as we’re getting a bit behind on that one since we lost Fergus and are training Wakeen.”)

      It really sounds like you don’t know that much of what a supervisor does. If your job would be open, would they let you sit and interview some of the current supervisors and find out what sorts of tasks they do? Otherwise, take a hard look at what you’ve seen previous supervisors do talk about being involved in that you weren’t. I think your lack of understanding of this (no offense meant on that) is what’s making you unable to answer these questions.

      1. Mystic*

        That was part of the hard part. I know it’s to help the people below me meet their goals, but because our company (govt) has had to be catching up, if you had a heartbeat, you were acting as an individual contributor too. I did ask if i could start doing some of the duties or shadow a supervisor who isn’t mine (she’ll be a good one, just not right now). Thank you!

    3. Anon for this*


      I’ve been a supervisor since June, and have been thinking about that last one as I try to learn and improve in the role. There are some general skills I have that have been very useful and that don’t require specific knowledge of what other people would need from me:
      – I’m good at taking a lot of information, summarizing it, and pulling out the parts that are actually relevant. My team might give me twenty different feedback items, but I know that I have a grand total of two minutes to talk to Frederica this week, so I’ll go “hey, here’s our most pressing thing and a précis of context, here’s the part that’s relevant to you, let me know if you need more.”
      – I’m good at asking questions. This isn’t just “I always have questions,” because some of the times I don’t, but I’m good at thinking “oh, Jimothy isn’t here this week and he’ll want to know this, so I’ll ask it,” (teamwork!) or “hey, everyone’s been talking for five minutes at cross-purposes, and as far as I can see the common theme is ________. Is that accurate?”

      Both of those are things I learned doing front-line customer service. What kind of skills do you have from your current and past roles that might be helpful? Are you a spreadsheet wizard? Do you synthesize well? Do you write good documentation? Are you good at mediation? Are you good at getting people to recognize and work towards a common goal? How’s your institutional knowledge (Oh, you don’t know who to contact for X? That’ll be Susan, and if she doesn’t know she’ll know who will.”) What kind of things do your current colleagues come to you for?

      1. Mystic*

        Thank you! Here’s the fun part-While I can do that first one, cuz I train people below me, it never occurred to me it might help my supervisors, and that was where I kept getting stuck.

  69. Anon for this*

    Will my career be hamstrung by the fact that I mostly work with legacy software in my current role? How can I pivot to something more cutting-edge (or even just mainstream non-legacy) in my next role when I’m not getting experience with newer tools?

    I started a analyst job in finance operations at a Fortune 100 company about 9 months ago. While there is a lot I like about this role, the one big downside is that it mostly involves working with legacy software: think VBA macros, 10-15 year-0ld BI software, minimal cloud software, etc. Finance operations is a very risk-averse division for understandable reasons, so change is slow and there are limited opportunities to use tools outside of what my team is already permitted to use. For example, only one team in the division is allowed to have access to the SQL database (which, let’s be real, isn’t even that cutting-edge), and I’m not on that team. My boss has fought unsuccessfully to get our team access to some more technical tools.

    I’m trying to use advanced tools here and there when I can, like sometimes I can use Python instead of VBA, but to be honest it’s somewhat limited and there’s only so much I get away with.

    I’m starting to become concerned this will hamper my career growth. Ideally I’d like to transfer to another team in my company within a year or two that uses more cutting edge tools, but I’m worried that my lack of experience in them will make me non-competitive.

    Has anyone else been in a position like this? How did you advance your career and technical skills?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Yes. Start coding on your own time, adding side projects, get a github going. You will need to be able to show ability in modern tools if you’re job hunting someday. VBA is pretty obsolete. Almost everything is on cloud these days too. Your current company sounds very behind the times sadly. Find public datasets, do cool stuff with them for fun. Anything that can show ability since your work won’t be able to. Most interviews to even get the interview you need the keywords on your skills resume section, put them even if it’s super low skill but be preferred to discuss what you can do with them.

      Also my fav python tutorial link:

      1. Anon for this*

        Thanks for the tips. People talk about GitHub a lot but I’m not exactly sure what to do with it. I’m more of an analyst than a developer. I guess I can put Jupyter Notebooks up there?

        My department is behind the times. The crazy thing is I work at a tech company you have certainly heard of, too.

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          Ha! Now I’m wondering if I should add my own VBA skills back on my resume, it’s been over 10 years since I’ve used them professionally tho.

          Yes, think of github as like a message board for all things code. You can go see a specific person’s projects, or you can search general things and come across people in results. You post things you want to share or that other people might want to use too. It also works as a tool for collaborating with others, and as a repository for hosting code (ie journal article cannot include the code used but you can link to it in git).

          The idea for job hunting is it lets them see an example of your code well before crossing to the coding test in an interview stage. Just having a link to github in cover letter or resume is a green flag for a candidate, shows confidence in their coding skills especially since you don’t have examples of times you use Python in current role.

    2. I Have RBF*

      So, if you are in finance, be aware that there are still lots of companies that use oooold software. “If it works, don’t fix it.” is a mantra in some places.

      You can try some of the self-paced training like LinkedIn Learning or equivalent, or even just reading tutorials and articles to keep up with the state of the art and “cutting edge” tools. Also, if you demonstrate an ability to upskill in place that can be an asset.

      After a while, I got sick of the constant churn of “the latest and greatest tool for X”, and now I work for a more conservative organization that doesn’t jump on every tech bandwagon company wide.

  70. JobFrogger*

    I ‘d like some advice on how long I need to stay at my current job to not look like a flake. I know being a “job-hopper” is more about a pattern than individual jobs, but I’ve had some short stays on my résumé, including the job immediately prior to my current one, and haven’t had any super-long jobs to balance it out. If you were hiring, what’s the minimum length of time you’d need to see in my current job to avoid immediately passing me over as a job-hopper?

    Length of jobs on my résumé, in reverse chronological order:
    1yr 3mo so far – current job
    [gap while in school]
    2yr 10mo
    1yr 1mo
    6mo (temp contract and labeled as such on my résumé)
    [gap while in school]
    1yr 3mo
    2yr 8mo

        1. Two years?*

          I work in tech and have been laid off at less than 2 years from nearly every full time job I’ve had, and took contract jobs in between that were all less than a year (most were 3-4 months) so I had work. Most people I know have a similar resume with maybe one job that was a unicorn and wound up being long term. Even in other fields, most of my friends have a mix of shorter and longer jobs. 2+ years for every job seems completely out of date.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I agree with BellyButton, I think you’re fine. Unless you kept getting fired for egregious reasons like theft or violence I wouldn’t worry at all.

      1. JobFrogger*

        I’ve never been fired, I just keep ending up in situations where I take jobs out of desperation and then they turn out to suck so I move on quickly. (I actually really like my current job, but I hate the city I live in – which I moved to because I took my previous job out of desperation after leaving school – and I want to move back to somewhere better.)

    2. M2RB*

      What industry are you in? I’m in corporate accounting, and when I was involved in hiring for an accounting manager position, I looked for 12-18 months minimum per position/role. That time frame is important for positions involved in period closes; if a person had a position for less than 12 months, I would wonder if they had enough time to really settle into the month-end/quarter-end cycle and how much they grew/accomplished in that role.

      That’s pretty specific to corporate/internal accounting, however, and I can certainly see how that length of time in other types of jobs would be just fine.

      1. JobFrogger*

        Non-profit fundraising and/or communications (right now just comms, but other jobs have been FR only or FR+comms). It does sound like there’s some similarity where like, if you’re there less than a year you haven’t been through the full cycle of the year and the different events/fundraisers, and if you were there less than 2 years you didn’t get a chance to make any improvements over the first year.

        1. Elsewise*

          I’m in the same field as you, and I know a lot of people who probably have resumes that look like yours. Not a red flag at all!

          1. JobFrogger*

            Thanks! I know tenures in the non-profit world tend to be shorter, but I think my current job has warped my sense of that being normal, because I work at a library now where people tend to stay for 10-20 years. Maybe I just needed to be reminded of that fact :)

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      For me, this would feel short, but I work in a field where it takes at least a year to just learn the basics of the job and at least three to genuinely get into it. So, probably not the best person to base experience on. If other’s in your field think you’re good (and it sounds like they do) and you’re probably fine. However, I would consider how you might want to screen future jobs.

  71. Koko*

    I’ve had some recent concerns at my current job, which include the discovery that I’m being severely underpaid and a newbie coworker who’s managed to anger half the staff and lower morale. I was planning to address both with my boss, but before I could figure out the best way to do so, a new job opportunity literally fell in my lap. It would include a 60% pay increase, full benefits (which I don’t have now), and save me a combined hour commute time each day. They then plan is to promote me to a lead role with an additional raise after I’ve settled into the company. I have it on good authority from a friend who does relief work there that it’s a good work culture, as well, and the couple interviews I’ve done have been very positive. They’re just waiting for my “yes.” The problem is where I work now is a specialty branch of the field. I’m worried about how much I will miss it, and if I will be challenged enough at the new job (though being a lead, will probably help mitigate that). I also feel like I’m being sneaky because I did originally plan to talk to my boss first, but the opportunity was too good to ignore. I know I shouldn’t use an offer to negotiate with my current employer, but should I still say something or just accept that I’m going to move on, and change my talk about my concerns to a talk about resignation?

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I know money isn’t everything, but at a 60% pay increase and getting back hours of your life each week, how can you afford NOT to take this offer? Plus your current employer has been happy to underpay you for as long as they could get away with it, so why worry about them?

      I don’t mean to be cavalier about it, but take the job. You haven’t done anything sneaky or wrong. This is very, very normal business and if your company wanted to keep you they should have acted like it before now. There’s no rule saying you can’t entertain a quickly arranged counteroffer, but I would have serious concerns about remaining there.

      1. Koko*

        Yeah, I know, the hesitation sounds silly. There’s a lot more behind it, but for the sake of not leaving a novel, that’s what it whittles down too. Thanks for the affirmation.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      The problem is where I work now is a specialty branch of the field. I’m worried about how much I will miss it

      Does taking the new job mean you can never go back to the specialty branch? If the answer is no, then I think you should take the job offer with the knowledge that if you do miss the specialty branch in the future, you can always apply for jobs in that branch again. (Which may mean applying at your current workplace, applying in different geographic locations, taking a pay cut, or any number of other things, but you can weigh the options of returning to this workplace/moving to a new city/taking a pay cut/etc. against how much you miss the specialty.)

      I also feel like I’m being sneaky because I did originally plan to talk to my boss first, but the opportunity was too good to ignore.

      This stuff happens. There’s never a “perfect” (and usually not a “good”) time to leave a job. There will always be a project you didn’t finish, or a conversation you didn’t have (like the one you were planning on having with your boss). It’s not sneaky to act like you are going to stay at your job forever up until the moment you tell your boss you’re leaving; it’s normal.

      should I still say something or just accept that I’m going to move on

      This is up to you. If it were me, I might cut the original list of things I planned to talk about down to one or two topics. You only had two topics originally, so I think you can choose to raise none, one, or both of them. You also don’t have to solve these issues, because you’re leaving. You can just mention “learning that I was underpaid contributed to my decision to leave” and/or “I’ve noticed that [new coworker] has managed to anger half the staff and is generally lowering morale” and then move on to “these are the projects I’ll be able to wrap up before my last day, these are the projects I’ll be handing off to people,” etc.

      1. Koko*

        Thank you for the nice breakdown. Deep down I know what the best decision is (to move on) because I’ll regret it if I don’t at least try, but the reassurance makes it a little less nerve-wracking. I’m also that person who likes to fix things, so it goes against my nature to say the heck with it and walk away. Sometimes, though, that’s what’s best.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I mean, only you can decide whether you would miss the specialty more than you miss being able to have preventative healthcare, being able to someday retire, and having an extra 250 hours a year to yourself.

      There is no job I would ever miss that much.

      Also, if you are being terribly underpaid to this extent, your boss isn’t going to do anything about it. No organization that has been exploiting you and not even offering benefits all this time is going to turn around and make you whole.

      1. Koko*

        The specialy portion of it was the whole reason I went into the field, which is not to say there’s no fulfillment in the rest of it, but yes, the perks of the job change would be life changing. Thanks for the input!

  72. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

    This is something that occurred to me this week and I thought I’d seek some thoughts on.

    I work in a team that delivers technical training by zoom. Training usually starts at 9.30 and is finished by 4, with a one hour lunch plus shorter breaks throughout.

    It’s the shorter breaks I wanted to ask about. I break about every 90 minutes, so there is usually a 15m am and 15m pm break as well as lunch. (And you can switch your camera off and go for an impromptu break if you need to, but you’ll miss bits of training).

    A colleague breaks about ever hour for 10-15 minutes, and sometimes if I’m in a session with him it feels like we’re going for a break when we’ve barely gotten back into the content.

    But is more frequent breaks better? The sessions tend to be a mix of interactive content done in breakout rooms by the group, and more formal ‘teaching’.

    (Just to add, camera on, engaged training is expected in my org. Pre pandemic this would have been done face to face, I don’t really want a debate on cameras please, thank you)

    1. Brit Bratastic*

      I think it depends on the participants. Could you poll the group you’re working with to see if they prefer one over the other? I could see absorbing a lot of hands on information in 90 minute chunks could be a lot for some people

    2. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      I’d do every 90 minutes in the morning and every 60 minutes in the afternoon. People tend to start to phone it in after lunch.

    3. Zee*

      I would get annoyed with breaks that frequent because I’d be like, why are we wasting so much time when we could just end sooner. I think two 15-minute breaks and an hour-long break in a 6.5 hour training is more than enough.

    4. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      MHO, it depends on the participants, and on what the content is and how it’s structured.

      Densely detailed informational content, or stuff that demands a lot of focused engagement from learners, but is not hands-on interactive: more frequent breaks.

      Informational but general overview, or mix of general overview and supporting detail, on a topic that learners have some familiarity with: longer time between breaks (~90 minutes is good for most adults).
      Interactive or hands-on content: break at natural points in the interaction or when most of the learners have accomplished a section of process, even if that means irregular amounts of time between breaks.
      Learners showing signs of checking out, having trouble staying engaged or connecting concepts or steps in process: adjust timing of breaks as well as how the content is organized (to the degree that you’re able to), consider swapping unstructured breaks (“let’s drop this entirely, have a snack or go to the bathroom, see you back in 10 minutes”) for breaks with more structure (“as we break, take a moment to write down 1. what you think the main takeaway was from this last section and 2. at least one question about the content. We’ll share when we return in 10 minutes.”)

  73. fine tipped pen aficionado*

    We talk a lot about return to office and how companies give BS reasons to force it for no immediately obvious benefit.

    I learned today about one reason I hadn’t thought of before. It may not be news to everyone and I’m not arguing for or against it, just sharing information that I think readers here might be interested in.

    Some municipalities offer grants or tax rebates or other deals to developers and businesses to move into their city/town/neighborhood/etc. Alternately, the zoning wouldn’t ordinarily permit them to build or move in to a desirable location so they have to apply for an exemption from the rules, which gives the municipality the chance to make demands on them. And one demand some municipalities have made on businesses and developers is to mandate a certain percentage of workers be on-site, since the point of making these deals is to generate sales for nearby businesses and thus tax revenue.

    This is probably not a huge piece of the back to office puzzle, but it was a novel one I just learned about while preparing a report for my local council and thought I would share.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Yes this is a huge factor. I started catching on to this when major newspapers (like the NYT) started running breathless stories about the devastating impact of office vacancies and loss of downtown retail. Developers, retailers, and chambers of commerce are leaning on cities, cities are leaning on employers.

    2. Head sheep counter*

      I mean… the cities have a point. Do we want thriving business centers or not? Do we value cities? It is a blight to have empty buildings and only so many of those buildings can truly be repurposed.

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        Yeah! I mean if we had developed mixed-use cities where people could feasibly live, work, and play all within walking/rolling distance, businesses wouldn’t have been as harmed by remote work because home offices would still be in the same place office offices are. I do think long term that’s the solution, but if your tax base dries up in the short term there’s no reaching the long term.

        Like many things, it is a complex issue.

        1. Head sheep counter*

          Oh I 100% think downtowns need to be a variety of things. We as a society need to value walking/rolling distances to real things… but… we value other things more (as a big over-arching statement). With the housing crisis I do hope that one of the positive outcomes is a re-think on what we value for living spaces and where those spaces are (density vs un-used square footage).

    3. There You Are*

      At least now I know for sure that this wasn’t anything the CEO from my old company had to take into consideration when he mandated in-office days of M-Th, with literally no option to work from home for any amount of time or for any reason on those days.

      The corporate HQ campus sits smack-dab in the middle of a mixed-use area. Literally surrounded on one side by houses (including a few new housing developments) and surrounded by shopping centers and restaurants on the other.

      The local branch of our state uni is a handful of blocks away, with 30,000 students living, shopping, and dining within walking distance.

      So I guess he demanded strict in-office time simply because he’s a massive glassbowl. (Because, seriously, he is).

  74. C*

    Does anyone here have any advice for dealing with a professor who’s uncomfortable with your research? I’m a second year M.A. student working on my thesis on a topic related to LGBT women. My department is focused on a certain area of the world, with specializations in a handful of humanities/social science disciplines. I’m taking a seminar in a specialization that is not my own because I need credits in all of them in order to graduate.

    As part of this class, the professor is having us workshop statements/presentations about our research. At first, I understood the assignment to be exclusively about building this academic skill, so I submitted a statement about my thesis research. The professor then made it clear that he did in fact want the research to be relevant to his specialization, so I revised the statement and discussed how my project could be relevant to it. I still felt like it was a bit weak, however, because this is the only class I had ever taken in his specialization and we have not read a single piece of work in the