open thread – December 22-23, 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.

{ 801 comments… read them below }

  1. Too big too fast*

    I’ve been struggling lately with feeling like I’ve got nowhere to go in my career, but also feeling like maybe I don’t want to go anywhere and also like people expect me to continue to grow. For reference I’m a female in my early 30s in a male dominated field.

    I got an entry level job after grad school and within a year and a half I was running the department in my location. To be honest I didn’t want to take on leadership that early, but I knew that there were two other people applying who I wouldn’t do well working under and at the time I really liked the company and wanted to stay at least another couple of years. Fast forward a few years and I was managing my department globally. I didn’t ask or express interest in this, it just kind of happened by default. At this point it had become clear that the company was super toxic, and I was dramatically underpaid for the work I did so I decided to move on.

    I took a job at another company doing something related to what I was doing before. I thought that this job would be a step back (in a good way) with an almost lateral move salary wise. In some ways it was a step back (in terms of day to day responsibility), but in others it was a step forward (I’m higher up in the chain of command than I anticipated). I like the work, but I hate the added higher level responsibility. Most of the other people at my level here are about 15-20 years older than me, and I feel like I’ve skipped ahead several chapters and missed a lot of the on ramp to my career.

    So I’ve more or less kind of stumbled my way in to being about 10 years ahead of where I thought I’d be. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m generally good at it, but I don’t necessarily know that I want to go any higher than this. I see how much stress those above me have to deal with, and I just don’t think it’s for me. Maybe I’ll change my mind one day, but when you’ve moved up super quickly people seem to want to keep moving you up, and I feel like it’s frowned upon in general to say “ya know, I’m good where I am thanks.”

    1. Pam Adams*

      My “moving up” consisted of becoming a subject matter expert. It let me stay where I am, while still growing.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        The world needs and now wants more people like this. I am passively looking for a new job and have noticed that people are not impressed with titles the way they used to be and most companies hiring now only care about technical skills.

      2. LilPinkSock*

        This is my ultimate career objective. I have absolutely zero desire to be a manager, but I love what I do and I’m looking forward to spending the next 30 years developing and evolving my skill set.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think it comes across fine to say something like “this role is exactly where I want to be right now, but I definitely want to keep learning and growing! I want to educate myself on Chinese-style teapot painting in addition to Japanese, so I can better train our painters in that style and answer questions about it.”

    3. Stoney Lonesome*

      My experience is a little different since I am in the non-profit world, but I think it’s totally fine to stay at you current job level for a while. You can keep “progressing” within your job role with out actually moving up the ladder. If you have a boss that is pushing you, you can say that you want to really master this role before looking at moving any farther up.

      At my current organization, it is super normal for entry level people or first level managers to stay in their position for only 2-5 years, but director level people to stay in their position for decades. Every industry and organization is different though.

    4. Anna Badger*

      one of the things I appreciated about working at an absolutely massive company was that they had a model for this! there were 6 personal development personas, one of which had the strapline “I want to be the best [current job title] I can be”, and that was a completely accepted bucket to put yourself in.

    5. not nice, don't care*

      I am enjoying being a subject expert in my field, even after 10 years of being in the same role. Professional development, training newer folk, committee work, etc are ways I contribute beyond my actual duties, and my workplace seems fine with it.
      In a past life I had high stress leadership jobs, and when life presented an opportunity to reboot, I gladly left all that behind.

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      A lot here. First off, you seem unhappy so as a stranger I will tell you you are doing way better than you think. I would try to focus my thoughts a little bit (working on this myself). You seem to be picking random stuff and being unhappy about it, not realizing it’s contradictory. For example, you say your career is stalled but you also got pushed up to managing a location very quickly. You insinuate demographics (age or gender) are holding you back but your posting doesn’t show you’ve been held back at all. So I’d do a bit of soul searching about how valid these concerns are, or whether you have a usual level of unhappiness and are just attaching it to random stuff you see and hear out in the world.

      This one stuck out to me as an area of improvement:
      “I feel like I’ve skipped ahead several chapters and missed a lot of the on ramp to my career”

      I’ve seen people like you my age (10 or so years ahead of you) and it only works out if you’re completely honest about the missing knowledge/experience and put effort into getting it, volunteering to do or at least be a backup for the low level and mid-level work in the new job. I’ve seen people in their 40s sort of turn into mediocre managers and directors because they skipped a phase, like you write you just did, and never wanted to admit it. You see it in their eyes when you try to discuss mid-level issues and can tell they’ve never heard of such problems before. You don’t want to be that person!

      1. Anon for this*

        “You insinuate demographics (age or gender) are holding you back but your posting doesn’t show you’ve been held back at all.”

        I don’t think that’s why OP included this info. Speaking as another woman in a male-dominated technical field, I think this was included because it’s relevant to feeling like you got “too big too fast.”

        Research shows that women in some technical fields are often pushed away from technical work (into management) due in part to stereotyping. It’s also easy to feel like you got “too big too fast” because other people treat you like a token. Possibly a la “pet to threat.”

        Obviously OP could provide more info here, but I will say I’ve been experiencing something similar. I took a step down because after I was promoted, my manager started making comments about how I don’t know everything, trying to put me in my place, which made me feel like I had only been promoted to be a token. And this made me deeply unhappy/anxious in general. And this made being the sole SME stressful. I became very anxious about having to make judgment calls and wanted to step down so I wouldn’t have to make as many judgment calls.

        However, in my new job, I found I was actually unable to complete the work at a lower level now that I do (it turns out) know a lot more than the average person working at this level. I also found that almost every time I asked a question of the higher level analysts, they couldn’t answer it anyways – I still had to go teach myself and make my own judgment calls. I still have a very patchy background, with deep expertise in some areas and very little knowledge in others – but I’m realizing this may actually be normal for SMEs in my field.

        That being said, I don’t disagree with a lot of the advice here. I think it’s fine to say you want to keep developing expertise where you are. Just set specific goals for yourself related to that. And OP may want to think about why the responsibility is stressful for her and whether or not this would actually be solved by stepping down.

    7. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Have you thought about saying to anyone who does ask if you want to move up about what your reservations are? Along the lines of ‘I was thinking in a few years of being vice president of llama services, but I’ve been looking at what Mark is doing right now in the role, and I don’t particularly like having to be in charge of things such as managing the budget.’ Or in my field that’s a mix of engineering and management, as in the higher you go, the more management focused your job becomes, a lot of people will say ‘I’d rather be doing the hands-on work.’ That way you could potentially get a mentor who can help you work through the things you don’t think you’d like to see if you may in the future or after some practice, or someone could know of a position that allows you to move up but doesn’t contain the parts you don’t like. Or in the case of the engineering rather than managerial you’ll get people who are more understanding on why you’re wanting to remain where you’re at.

    8. Momma Bear*

      I’d be clear about the “I’m happy here, thanks” if there’s talk about you moving farther up. Not everyone wants to be a VP. We have several people here with titles like “Data Scientist” who are really good at Thing They Do but don’t manage anybody on purpose. Tell them you want depth of knowledge vs a promotion to further management.

    9. ReallyBadPerson*

      Keep telling them you’re happy where you are! My husband had a similar career trajectory from being an individual contributor in IT to senior VP by the time he was in his early 40s. His job was horrible. He now says the money was worth it, but at the time, it didn’t feel like it.

    10. Qwerty*

      You aren’t alone and its totally fine to say that you don’t want to move up! My career path looks like a roller coaster – I’ve gone quickly upwards and then moved down a few rungs a couple times. I left a director role to be an developer again and eventually moved back into management. I’ll probably get promoted as my current company grows and I fully expect that somewhere around senior manager or director I’ll leave again to go back to being a developer.

      Feeling like you skipped the on ramp is also normal! I think it is common for people who are natural leaders to jump rank like that. I took a switch from senior dev to mid-level earlier in my career for that exact reason, because I felt that I had missed some skills during my quick ascension.

      I might be biased because I’m in tech where it is really normal for people to decide a senior contributor role is a high as they want to go and stay in that position for a couple decades.

  2. Constance Lloyd*

    I present a little Festivus thread for all who wish to air their most petty workplace grievances. I’m hoping for a lighthearted and entertaining thread of things that drive you bonkers and are in no way worth trying to address. I’ll start:

    I have a coworker who thinks the phrase “lump sum” sounds too stuffy and formal, so instead I get to hear her utter the words, “one lump chunk” several times a day. For reasons which remain inexplicable, I have fight back a full body shudder each time.

        1. MassChick*

          Wouldn’t she be confusing them? Also, isn’t a chunk almost the same thing as a chunk (maybe with more definition)?

    1. Elle*

      Someone on my staff begins all emails with “Good Day” instead of hi or hello. For some reason it drives me crazy.

      1. t-vex*

        Ugh. I had a supervisor who began all emails to me with


        Two dots. Not a period. Not an ellipsis. The written equivalent of “sit down little missy, you’re about to get a stern talking-to.” It’s been 8 years and I still get pissed off thinking about it.

          1. vombatus ursinus*

            I think I get it! Here’s why this would be annoying to me, at least:

            1. Depending on the relationship, it can feel a little rude/abrupt to just start your email with someone’s name rather than a salutation (e.g. Hi t-vex)
            2. What are they trying to convey with the two dots? It’s not standard punctuation. Is it supposed to be a full stop/period? If so, that also comes across as quite brusque — the written equivalent of saying someone’s name sharply and giving them a *serious look* before getting on with the rest of the sentence. Is it supposed to be an ellipsis (which is always *three* dots/full stops/periods, not two)? If so, that would convey the feeling of an expectant pause after saying the person’s name. Either way, it all kind of adds up to making me feel like I’m in trouble with them for some reason. I think that’s what t-vex means when they say it felt like they were getting a talking-to.
            3. Given all of the above, the fact that the punctuation is so ambiguous/nonstandard/incorrect would irritate me too, especially if it’s happening multiple times per day. I’d internally be like, “Argh, two dots is not even a thing!”

            Another possible option: were they trying to type a colon (“t-vex: ”) and couldn’t figure out how to get the dots to sit one on top of the other instead of side by side? :D

        1. Can I go home yet*

          I’m so confused about why two dots (but not one or three) would mean all that?
          Was the supervisor just really awful in other ways?

      2. Space Coyote*

        Ugh, we had a department supervisor at my last job who started every voicemail with “Good Day.” It was peculiar and made her sound pretentious.

      3. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        I hope they don’t have Willy Wonka’s disdainful tone when they say “Good Day”

      4. nws2002*

        I have a coworker who starts nearly every email with “I hope this finds you well.” I know it shouldn’t bother me and I should skip right over it but it drives me batty.

        1. ampersand*

          That one drives me bonkers, too! It seems innocuous enough—I think it’s something about reading words in email that (most) people would never utter in person that puts me on edge.

        2. Lexi Vipond*

          For some reason I struggle not to read that phrase as if it was the same structure as ‘finds you easily’, and end up picturing the brave little email setting out to hunt me down!

        3. allathian*

          There’s a meme for this, google “I hope this email finds you well” for examples. AFAIK it’s a standard phrase in Indian English.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Aside from the fact that lump and chunk are synonyms, so it doesn’t make sense anymore, I couldn’t hear that without imagining all sorts of lavatory unpleasantness. I am now feeling your pain.

      1. Junior Dev*

        This sounds like one of those situations where someone tries to avoid a plagiarism detector by looking up random synonyms without considering context, so you get an article referring to a square root as an uncool tuber, or whatever.

        1. Legally Brunette*


          “Uncool tuber” would be a great label for many of the people who inspire LWs to seek advice to here!

    3. CTT*

      After we did a renovation going on 10 years ago, all of the kitchens in my office were equipped with a combo water and pellet ice machine that went on the countertop. These are THE WORST machines in the world. They run hot trying to make the ice, so half the time the water comes out lukewarm, and it instantly melts the ice. It can also only make so much ice at a time, so if someone else has gotten ice in the last ten minutes, there is none left. It is also constantly convinced that the drip tray is full and will not dispense any water, even when the drip tray is bone dry. I keep thinking that SURELY these machines are soon to be past their useful lives and we can get new ones, but no luck yet…

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Could you clean it with vinegar, and let the vinegar soak for a weekend, then complain about the water and ice tasting funny?

              1. Little John*

                Don’t listen to me, listen to ThatGirl below. It’s definitely more “asfault” than what I said.

                1. curly sue*

                  It still sounds like ‘buttcrack’ either way. ;)

                  I am now wrenching myself away from a half-dozen tabs on language drift and trying to get back to work. Thanks for sending me down the rabbit hole!

                2. Happy meal with extra happy*

                  Nah, I’m American (mid-Atlantic region), and my pronunciation is definitely the same ass-fault. :)

              2. Glitsy Gus*

                Yeah, at least in a West Coast dialect it’s more or less ass-fault. There isn’t a hard break, it does blend together, so it is more “aszfaalt” but, it’s close enough.

          1. Kardemumma*

            Western Canadian here -also “ash-fault” BTW – how do you pronounce flaccid? And ophthalmologist? (Two of my faves) :)

              1. Kardemumma*

                Apparently it’s “offthalmologist”. The ph sounds like an F. And flaccid is pronounced “flaksid”.

            1. Rainy*

              Asphalt and ophthalmologist are both English words from Greek roots.

              Asphalt is from ἄσφαλτος, “ah-ssphal-toss” (ish, the φ is more aspirated than a p but not quite a full-on English f sound) meaning secure or firm. So yes, I’d pronounce it “as-fault” in North American English.

              Ophthalmology means “eye-study”, from ὀφθαλμός and λόγος, and I pronounce it “ohf-thal-moll-oh-jee”, personally.

              Hopefully my polytonic Greek shows up or this is going to look a mess.

              But basically, no, it’s not “ash-falt” and the p in ophthalmology isn’t actually a p, it’s half the ph digraph. :)

        1. vombatus ursinus*

          I grew up in Australia pronouncing it “ash-felt” and so did everyone around me :)

          Always assumed it was just one of those delightful English words where the spelling and pronunciation were derived from different sources and kind of smushed together without attempting to match them up. A bit like ‘colonel’.

      1. Limotruck87*

        I had a coworker who would say “granite” in place of “granted,…” and a supervisor who was a huge fan of doing things in “One fowl swoop”. I still cringe about it.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          Ah yes, one fowl swoop, the exact thing that takes me out when I’ve angered the parking lot geese for the final time.

      2. Phony Genius*

        I’ve heard NYC highway workers call it “ash-a-fault,” and they teach newbies to say it that way.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          This is probably me massively jumping to conclusions, but…that sounds rather like applying Irish language phonic rules to English and…well, there was a time when a lot of construction workers in the US were from Ireland. It’s probably a coincidence, but my immediate thought hearing that was how Irish often puts in an “a” sound between two consonants, for example “seanbhan” is pronounced “shan-a-van.”

    4. jane's nemesis*

      oh god, that phrase “lump chunk” is definitely shudder-worthy. It just makes me think of barf??

      My petty grievance: I had a director briefly who was promoted beyond her abilities. All of us associate/assistant directors reporting to her were women. The director would address emails or chat messages that were coming to all of us with “Ladies…” and I just hated it. It felt so condescending?? Blech.

        1. jane's nemesis*

          Right? I’m a cis woman but I am NOT a lady and I don’t want to be reduced to being part of a group of “ladies” at WORK!

      1. not nice, don't care*

        OMG flashback to the mansplainy jerk who always greeted his non-male coworkers with a smarmy cheesy ‘hellooo lay-deez’.

    5. Emmers*

      My coworkers asks me for a ConFLAB (formatted that way) 2-4 times a day. Its irrationally annoying at this point in the year.

      1. Rainy*

        I have two coworkers who really badly mispronounce two different words and it drives me absolutely bonkers. One doesn’t come up *too* too often in the ordinary course of work but the other one DOES and it makes me all Hulk-smashy after a couple of repetitions.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          My grandboss (who I spoke about lower downthread) mispronounces “cache,” which we don’t use too often but it does come up with regards to a software program where you have to clear the cache sometimes. She pronounces it “cachet” and this DRIVES ME UP THE WALL. Honestly, until this second I had no idea that there was a T in cachet but now that I know this it bugs me even more. THEY AREN’T EVEN THE SAME WORD!!!

          1. Rainy*

            That’s one that bothers me a ton (not a tonn-EH) as well! I honestly can’t identify these words because anyone who works with me will immediately recognize our office and probably know who I am.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Grandboss also says “sunk” as the past-tense of “sync” which is absolutely not correct and drives me nuts too. My boss used to do this when I first started, which she most likely picked up from grandboss. I always say “synced,” and I think after I’d been doing this for awhile boss realized that was the correct word to use and has stopped with the “I sunk the accounting batches,” which pleases me very much.

              1. Dog momma*

                I think if someone told me they ” sunk” the accounting batches ( in this economy) ..I’d be looking for a new job! lol

          2. The Prettiest Curse*

            That’s the French pronunciation, so maybe she’s just being pretentious – or she learned the French pronunciation first and her brain now defaults to it automatically.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              I dunno. I don’t know French but from my google search I’m finding that in French “cache” is pronounced like “cash” and “cachet” is pronounced the way my grandboss is saying “cache.”

              1. Crooked Bird*

                You’re correct; also if cache were really spelled caché (which it isn’t) your grandboss would be saying it correctly.

                My husband briefly pronounced it like caché before I explained it to him.

                (Now let’s see if the accents on the E’s come through, otherwise this’ll be incoherent.)

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The cadence of that phrase definitely had me hearing “one pump chump”. (NSFW, don’t google that at work.) You could act really offended next time you hear her say it to someone else and act as if that’s what you thought you heard.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        HA! Totally.

        On a side note, I’m nearly 40 and quite tired. That man sounds like my dream man.

        1. Ellis Chumsfanleigh*

          I am eating a jalepeno pretzel dog and, let me tell you, jalepeno juice in the nasal cavities from that wheeze-laugh I just did is not a pleasant feeling.

    7. Ginger Cat Lady*

      There’s a software I need occasionally on my work computer. I use it maybe 2-3 times a quarter. IT has been on a “simplicity kick” these days, and so things that haven’t been used in two weeks get uninstalled. IT’s “solution” is for me to remember to open it at least once a week.
      I’m going a different route. I’m going the “make IT come and install it on my computer for me” method instead. (They also won’t allow us to install anything ourselves, so making them come do it is just what happens when they uninstall stuff I need!)

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        They definitely need to be able to make exceptions for, say, perfectly innocuous software that is only used for a quarterly report. Heck, two weeks is nothing! I have plenty of calendar reminders for monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks, and if I also had to add reminders for those to “open program every 2 weeks”, my calendar would be even more ridiculous. Malicious compliance FTW!

      2. KeinName*

        Haha how infuriating! I got presented with such a solution last week. They removed a website plugin that has automatically created an archive. It was deemed that we must look in the future rather than dwell on the past but we can manually create the things we want to archive into another section of the website so as to create a DIY archive

      3. LadyByTheLake*

        I worked at a company where IT went on a similar simplicity kick. Without telling or checking with anyone, one day they shut off any software that was used by fewer than 25 people. Which meant that suddenly all the support groups (legal, accounting, audit, etc) couldn’t do their jobs because those groups relied on special software. Heads rolled.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Whoa. That’s insane! I work at a very small company and there are a ton of software programs that fewer than five people use. That would never fly round here.

        2. Observer*

          Without telling or checking with anyone, one day they shut off any software

          How does any IT person or normal cognitive ability do something like that?!?!??! It doesn’t matter what filter they used, you do NOT shut off stuff without telling someone.

          they shut off any software that was used by fewer than 25 people.

          What universe do these guys live in? Honestly, unless you are working for a major-mega corp that has only one site or is cookie cutter to the n-th degree, there are ALWAYS going to be pieces of software that only a few people use.

          Which meant that suddenly all the support groups (legal, accounting, audit, etc) couldn’t do their jobs

          What about the security staff? Even in a fairly large organization, generally a relatively small group has access to the back end software. Hopefully they didn’t have access to any of the servers with any of the security (and possibly building maintenance) software.

          Heads rolled.

          I would hope so. This is the kind of story that should make it into the textbooks. How was this even possible.

            1. Crooked Bird*

              For some reason I’m currently reflecting on just how *visual* a metaphor “heads rolled” is…

      4. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Brilliant! Make it their problem and maybe they will fix the problem that was entirely of their own making!

      5. Busy Middle Manager*

        I can relate! One time someone parallel to me went through a phase of “our software is too complicated” and found out that many reports weren’t ran frequently so wanted to delete them. That was a very heated meeting. I said a bunch of stuff, like, is this really the priority you need to be focusing on? Not all things need to be ran daily and that’s fine. If you don’t run something that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable for someone else, you realize we paid to write these reports, etc.

        I feel like people who are not hands on read management articles or “software for dummies” type books and pick up bad ideas like this

        1. Wired Wolf*

          My company once replaced all of the computers…without telling anyone in advance. A lot of us had locally saved docs and folders that we needed. The way I found out about the physical swap was when I was trying to recover my files the usual way (Win11 must have put them in another folder…hmmm, other folder isn’t there) and texted a cohort in another store. When confronted by all the department heads, our manager claimed to know nothing, and even the DM gave us the runaround before finally admitting what was done.

          Of course IT’s response to everyone was “but those documents are available on the intranet” (not the versions we actually use, and the network is a joke some days). Took about a week to get everything back to something resembling normal; we’ve now set up an interdepartmental sneakernet arrangement (management knows nothing) if something like this happens again.

      6. Llama Llama*

        Ha my company decided that no one needed anything but the most basic version of Adobe and shut it down. Then like 100 people in my division were like we need that to complete our work after they secretly got rid of it.

      7. Slartibartfast*

        This Internet stranger approves of your approach. It’s not a problem until it’s their problem.

    8. Junior Dev*

      One of our project managers likes to express the idea “Wakeen is working hard to finish the teapot project” as “Wakeen is coming in hot and heavy on the teapot project.” Maybe it’s a generational thing but it always sounds weirdly sexual to me.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Oh gosh, I’m right there with you! This is like that Wheel of Fortune category Before and After. He’s mashing coming in hot together with hot and heavy and I do not enjoy the result!

        1. Christmas Carol*

          Actually it’s an old timey military thing, coming in hot and heavy is attacking overloaded with armed ammunition.

          1. Ginger Cat Lady*

            Yeah, and “old timey military” was pretty sexualized and misogynistic, so it’s still NOT OKAY.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Ew. I get “coming in hot,” because that sounds like landing a plane, exciting, adventure, urgency, etc.

        But not with “heavy.” No.

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

          With you on the plane analogy, sort of.

          Coming in hot means, to me, landing in an emergency — out of fuel, no landing gear, lost an engine, bad weather — clear the runway I must land NOW.

          Coming in heavy, means overloaded — typically with full fuel tanks — gonna need the WHOLE landing strip to stop this plane… and have fire crews standing by.

          So coming in hot and heavy is worst of all landing scenarios — no landing gear and full fuel tanks.

    9. A Nonny Mouse*

      One of my indirect reports–someone OVER 50, not a Gen-Z person who thinks email is passé–sends emails to me addressing me by first initial, instead of typing out my (relatively short and lacking-in-confusing-variations) name. He’ll email me with, “W– I finished the report on Trespassers William and sent it to Jane.” There’s nothing technically WRONG with it, and I don’t think he does this with internal clients or anyone senior to me in the organization, but it irks me. Please, use my dang name!

      1. Cacofonix*

        Tell him to stop it. Pretty easy. I had an indirect boss once who absolutely despised not adding a line space between salutation and message on an email, and would correct me the odd time I forgot, even on very simple emails. It was just… meh… easy to comply and make sure they are not ignoring the content because they are irritated by something so minor.

        “Please use my full first name when sending me emails going forward” is all it takes. Why be irritated at someone for something they have no knowledge irks you?

        1. Ellis Chumsfanleigh*

          Because addressing someone with their full first name in an email is pretty standard.

          And, also, because this thread is about things that annoy us that aren’t worth spending any capital on. If the across-the-board answer to these little nagging things is, “Why be irritated at someone for something that they don’t know irks you?” then threads like this wouldn’t exist.

        2. Momma Bear*

          I agree to mention that some people might not take it the way he intends. I privately nudged a PM to stop using SA as shorthand for “situational awareness” because without the FY part it’s often used as a trigger warning on social media. He was horrified…but grateful.

          1. Bast*

            We have several acronyms in my field that mean something different in the “real world.” SOL is probably the most commonly used, followed by DP. DP is actually a code used to determine what phase the case is in, but if you have a particularly dirty mind it can mean something else entirely.

            In our company the software logs us by our initials, first and then last. We have two SA’s in our company, so there is SA and then SA1. In my old company, which used the same software, we had a DIFFERENT SA and also a BS and BM.

          2. HBJ*

            Honestly, acronyms can mean so many different things in different scenarios. I don’t think this is a big deal at all. In the sewing community, SA is very commonly used to mean seam allowance.

      2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        Haha oh man. I have a senior boss that does this, but everyone in the email is referred to by their first and last initial. It would be like WM- I finished report on Trespassers and sent it to JK. Normally everyone referred to in the email is on that email so you can figure out which ‘JK’ he’s talking about, but one time my cubemate and I were on the same email, and we have the same initials, so we had to sort out which one of us he was talking about in which part.

        1. Ellis Chumsfanleigh*

          My previous manager would schedule 1:1’s and performance reviews with me using my initials in the subject line.


          He never got the initials right.

          I go by my middle name but, of course, all the HR systems have both my first and middle name.

          Let’s say my first name is Francine. He has sent meeting invites with CE, FE, EF, FCE, CF, CEF, and on and on in the subject line. Literally every possible combination except EC. Or even FEC.

          He’s a great guy, so I always found it endearing.

        2. Momma Bear*

          I have the same initials as a higher up. When I was first hired it weirded people out because they thought it was someone else checking up on them in Teams calls.

    10. KeinName*

      I‘m enrolled in a mailing list from a lady whose rather brusque manner grates me when I see her in person and she starts every email with ‚good day, I hope everyone is alright WINKING SMILEY‘, and then come her event announcements. I get these in 3 shared inboxes maybe weekly, because her unit also doesn’t seem to know that you should just collect several announcements so as not to spam people unnecessarily.

    11. Rick*

      I have a coworker who is nice enough, but he has a habit of talking *at* people for minutes at a time. Everyone he does this to either don’t mind or are being very Midwestern polite about not ending the “conversation” early, but it just drives me slightly bananas.

      1. Pine Tree*

        I have a coworker like this. And she gets super angry if she is interrupted. But she won’t shut up and let anyone else talk, so inevitably someone has to interrupt her or we’d be there all day listening to her monologues. Ugh.

        1. Anon for this*

          I have a coworker who cannot ask for the afternoon off without a 30 minute monologue on everything they, the kids, the grandkids, the dog, and all other involved parties are going to do during that afternoon. I’ve considered asking if they need additional time off to explain their time off.

          1. ampersand*

            Bwahahahah! Please do ask if they need additional time off to explain the time off, and report back here on what they say. :)

    12. TootSweet*

      Thank you for this! I have a coworker who consistently leaves expired items (like coffee creamer and yogurt) in the shared refrigerators on my floor. Yes, she uses them, but not quickly; they’re sometimes months-expired. She also has used the refrigerators on both floors of our company (four total fridges) as her own personal storage for things she bought on sale. Case in point that actually got formal pushback from the office manager (OM): about a dozen loaves of rye bread filling the freezers.

      If the OM announces a fridge cleanout for our floor on a particular day, she’ll try to hide her expired food in the 2nd floor fridges until it’s done, then bring it all back right at the end of the workday. I have to wait to see how this pans out today: the OM has announced that all four fridges are being cleaned out on the same day: TODAY. :)

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          You mean the bread? “Oh, are those yours? I assumed that since there were so many of them that they were for common use.”

        2. TootSweet*

          Artemesia, she has taken to writing her name and DO NOT TOUCH!!! on every one of them. I’ve been tempted, but when I’ve spoken to higher-up people about the expired stuff, well…let’s just say they don’t usually want anyone to do anything. I just move them to the bottom shelf on the door if they’re expired so that if a container leaks, it won’t leak on other people’s good food.

      1. Nonymous*

        If there weren’t multiple fridges on multiple floors involved, I would think you were talking about my boss at last job. She’s a lovely person and we’re still friends. But fridge clean-outs were fraught and contentious and usually ended up coincidentally happening while she was on vacation. A compromise that actually worked well was that one of the crispers was hers and was exempted from the clean-outs.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Man, and I thought my place was bad. I’m the (un)official Fridge Cleaner Outer, and have seen quite a bit of “used for storage indefinitely” fridge hogging, but nothing equating to four freezers full of rye!

    13. The New Wanderer*

      I have a manager who I think is great in many, many ways. The one tiny thing that annoys me just a bit is that in staff meetings she responds to everyone’s updates with the same exact phrase, every time. The phrase itself is fine, it’s just the repetition that gets me. It’s the verbal equivalent of a default email sign-off.

      1. WellRed*

        Omg. At our fairly useless weekly group meeting, my otherwise lovely manager says, every time, “let’s do a quick around the horn.”

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I find that kind of endearing, but I’m sure it would eventually start to grate after the 300th or so time.

    14. DJ Abbott*

      We have a new manager (6 months) who talks a lot and uses phrases I haven’t heard since childhood. Putting them here would be to identifying, but the thing that annoys me is even a quick question will take 10+ minutes. Many of her conversations are 30 minutes to an hour, with only 10-20% about work.
      One day she’ll get in trouble for this…

    15. The Prettiest Curse*

      Recently, signs saying “please don’t stand on the toilet seats” appeared in every bathroom at my office, without any explanation. I don’t want to use a toilet seat on which someone has stood, but at the same time I kind of preferred my previous blissful ignorance of this apparent trend.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        In my experience, this was a cultural thing where someone from a place with squat toilets suddenly was thrust into the western world and didn’t know how to use. Could this be it or was it a matter of being anti-social and gross?

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          It’s possible that this was the reason. It’s a pretty diverse workplace (university) and we have a lot of staff and students from countries other than the UK, which is where we are based.

      2. Linda*

        Usually these signs are for folks from countries with squat toilets. I don’t know how true this next part is, but I read once that your body gets used to evacuating a certain way and it’s difficult to adjust to a different position.

        1. Girasol*

          Family member who was then a first line manager told about having to take a group of men into the bathroom to explain how an American potty is properly used. They were indeed from a squat potty part of the world and were putting muddy footprints on the seats. I was very young then and had my sights set on being a manager. I think that was my first lesson in how management isn’t all unicorns and rainbows.

          1. Not the First Time*

            Can confirm. My dad’s company built a plant in a rural-ish area of a country where there were seated toilets in the cities but generally squat potties in the rural areas. Yes someone had to explain the the workers that came from the rural areas how to use those toilets.

    16. LifeBeforeCorona*

      “One lump chunk” sounds like something my cat used to after gobbling down his food. Every time she does it think of me screaming “Fred! outside, now!”

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Like that old Sylvia cartoon: “Tried alarms without success? Send for our special tape, ‘Sound of Two Cats Upchucking!’ Guaranteed to have you out of bed and alert in seconds!”

    17. Slow Gin Lizz*

      My outgoing grandboss (retiring soon; was supposed to be today but alas, her replacement hasn’t started yet and she will definitely need to train said replacement so grandboss is sticking around for a few more weeks, sigh) and another new employee on the same level as outgoing grandboss both do the thing where they thank us profusely all the dang time for doing the most basic of our job tasks, and it drives me absolutely bonkers. I had a meeting with just the two of them last week and it lasted at least a half hour longer than necessary because the two of them kept going back and forth about what a fabulous job I have done with the thing we were discussing.

      The fact that I didn’t really have much to do with the thing they were discussing (a previous employee in my position developed it and grandboss herself actually did a big improvement on it but either forgot she was the one who’d done that or just really likes praising me for absolutely no reason; either explanation is possible) made it even more repellent than usual. If they are thanking me for something I’ve done I find it irritating (a quick “Thanks!” is nice but I don’t need a “Thank you so much for this, you’re really doing an amazing job” for sending a report that took me two minutes to create, for example), but the fact that I really had barely had anything to do with developing the system they were praising me on was reeeeeeeally annoying.

      (It’s possible this is just a me problem but honestly, isn’t empty praise or over effusiveness kind of off-putting?)

      Anyhoo, thanks for letting me vent, Constance!!!

      1. Autofill Contact*

        Oh yes this would grate me. Especially the “this isn’t even yours but I’m going to thank you effusively anyway” part. It is the counter to my old boss gently and painfully giving me critical feedback on content he’d originally developed.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Oh jeez, really? How the heck did you respond to that? “Huh, I’m not sure why the bread database was set up without an option for rye; I think it was like that when I started working here” or something to that effect? Or would that not have worked on him at all?

          1. Autofill Contact*

            We had a safe enough relationship that I could cheerfully say “Sure, that’s fine! You wrote it, anyway.”

    18. RagingADHD*

      There is a coworker in my suite (doesn’t sit near me) who has an unbelievably loud and grating laugh. Think Janice from Friends, only even louder and more shrill / high-pitched. She is also very peppy and jokey, so she laughs a *lot.* Her sense of humor is the type where she’ll just walk by and say your name in a drawn-out way, and that’s hilarious to her. Everything is hilarious. There are three walls between me and her desk, and I can hear her all the time.

      Super nice person. Warm, friendly, generous, helpful. Very good at her job.

      Just…arrrrrrrgh, with the screeching.

      1. Space Coyote*

        Oh nooo. Is there a possibility that you secretly work with three hyenas disguised in a trenchcoat?

    19. CL*

      My boss changes every document I send so the text is fully justified (text is a straight edge on both the left and right sides). I have to change every document back to meet our style guide and accessibility recommendations. Not the end of the world, just annoying.

      1. Generic Name*

        OMG, the company I just left loved full justification. And they chose a non-standard font for text that I think is very hard to read.

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I dunno, if what he’s doing isn’t meeting the style guide, you might actually have standing to mention it to him. Except of course if you have done this already, disregard my comment.

        1. CL*

          I did. Got a blank stare when I mentioned the existence of the style guide. This is the least of my issues.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            I figured. :-) He sounds extremely annoying and I am 100% with you on what a PITA it is to have to change justification every single dang time you get a doc back from him.

    20. Autofill Contact*

      None of my current grievances are petty, so I give to you from my last job:

      Coworker would come in every Friday and announce “Happy Friday!!!” If she were taking Friday off, she would come in on Thursday inevitably announcing “It’s my Friday!!” Something about the way she said it drove me bananas.

    21. I was wrapping presents last night*

      I work with a person that does this one specific set of tasks in a really odd order and I can’t handle it!
      Imagine the job is wrapping presents So her steps would be put the present in the box, tapes the box closed, measures/cuts wrapping paper, measures and cuts ribbon, measures and cuts pieces of tape, makes a tag for the gift, wrap the paper around the box and fold in the ends, tape the ends then tape the middle puts on the gift tag then puts on the ribbon. There are some items that, for legal reasons, I am required to be present when wrapped, most I do not. I just feel like the order she does things is bonkers (The present wrapping isn’t a great substitute example). I know it doesn’t matter what order things get done as long as the whole task is done, but this really makes me crazy.

    22. Roy G. Biv*

      It is difficult to imaging a phrase containing the word “lump” as stuffy and formal. “Chunk” is so much worse!

    23. Rainy*

      I have a coworker who either can’t figure out how to turn off Teams notifications or refuses to, so he has become the Teams Chat Police and yells at anyone who uses Teams Chat “too often” or for “non-work-related purposes”.

    24. LifeBeforeCorona*

      My greivance is a thankfully ex-coworker who liked to experiment with the first pot of coffee in the morning because “new flavours are fun!”. One day it’s cinnamon, then chocolate, or chai. They finally stopped when the boss smelled the coffee and said it had to stop because of “allergies”.

    25. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      People who use the phrase “Happy hump day” in work communications. Even worse, “Happy HUMP day!” like what is the purpose of that extraneous capitalization. Let’s do not talk about humping at work in any context, thank you.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Haha, that phrase came out of my clock radio recently and I hadn’t heard it since the 90’s. It seems crude to me, too.

    26. Piscera*

      I wish people wouldn’t forward work-related emails to discuss something totally unrelated, simply because it already includes everyone they want to talk to.

    27. LucyGoosy*

      In higher ed, whenever we implement something new we need to think, “Will your average sleep-deprived 20 year old college student who is marginally skimming over these instructions still have an idea of what to do if we give them this form/process/document/whatever?” This inevitably leads to questions about how much we expect our students to know, and often times we reach conclusions like, “If the student does the online ‘Housing Form’ but doesn’t click the submit button, the form will not be submitted. If the student doesn’t get that they need to click the submit button, then there’s not much else we can do for them.”

      One person in my office never reaches that conclusion. The meetings always become, “Should we explain to the student that the form will not be submitted if they don’t click the submit button? Should we build a process to evaluate complaint emails from students who didn’t click the submit button? I find this process EXTREMELY confusing, so they’ll find it even MORE confusing!”

      Sometimes it takes all my will-power not to completely rage.

      1. Generic Name*

        For some reason this is reminding me of the lady in my last company’s DEI committee coming to the conclusion at every meeting that DEI “isn’t a problem” at the all-white company.

      2. Watry*

        I used to have a coworker like this. At about the point the rest of us were just staring at her during a redesign of an online process, one of the managers just said “Name, if they don’t get it at that point, they can come into the office or send someone else.”

      3. Grrr*

        Oof! I’m in hospitality accounting and there’s kind of a similar thought experiment process around changing POS or accounting procedures. There’s a ton of financially-related admin work put on people who are very early in their careers and more senior people who just tend to be aggressively not tech savvy and not financially literate beyond their direct realm. Exec chefs always know their food cost and can discuss menu engineering with f&b director, but I swear they would rather write you a note with a sharpie on the back of an invoice and text you a photo rather than typing a message into their work email.

    28. Frieda*

      The most attention-seeking and least email-savvy of my co-workers just replied all to an email sent by our manager announcing the birth of another coworker’s baby with a congratulations to the new mother.

      1. She’s not checking her work email right now. She literally just had a baby.
      2. This is not a reply all situation. Neither are any of the many other situations in which you reply all. You sent your personal response to the new mother to 60 people, none of whom care how you feel about someone else’s baby.
      3. You have her number – you can just text her if you actually want to wish her well. I know you know how to text because of how regularly you text me at 7am to share some extremely minor insight you’ve had into the world.

      No love.

      1. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

        Then you really don’t want to hear about the response that I sent to the (secondary) manager who texted his team at 1:05 a.m.
        The number he had for me was my PERSONAL CELL (because I didn’t get approved for a company phone when I told my direct management that I needed one) and I had it charging next to my bed in case of emergency.

      2. FricketyFrack*

        I HATE reply all. I was never so happy to see that the weekly emails I get about an ongoing issue explicitly say not to reply all because it will violate the law because of who some of the other recipients are. It’s so nice not to have my inbox full of dumb crap like, “Great, thanks for the update!” that no one else needed to read.

    29. Generic Name*

      YES! I live for airing of petty grievances! lol My grievance is the annoying sounds the coworker who sits next to me makes and the fact that he is nearly always in my line of sight when we are both at our workstations. He makes gross sounds when he eats food, he belches, and he yawns frequently. It was driving me batty to see him out of the corner of my eye nearly all the time, so I fortunately was able to move my monitors so I don’t see him in my peripheral vision all the time anymore.

    30. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      I work on a team of 3, and we are all WFH full time, living at least 250 miles from the nearest corporate location. My co-worker has been complaining non-stop this holiday season about the employees who have to go into the office getting potlucks, holiday parties, or being taken out to lunch by their managers while we get “nothing”.

      She refuses to see it as a trade-off to being able to work in your pajamas or throw a load of laundry in between meetings. Some mornings if I don’t have any early meetings I can lay in bed answering emails and chats on my phone until 10 am. Our boss is very much of the opinion that as long as you get your work done he doesn’t care if we do other things in our down time, and boy do we.

      She is otherwise great to work with, but this constant negativity, especially this time of year, really bugs me!

      1. WellRed*

        Tb fair, a lot of companies do try to offer remote employees something. Our local group did a small in office party (we all went in specifically for it from WFH) but for the two out of state employees, they were allowed to expense a lunch of their choice.

    31. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

      I had a co-worker who pronounced “e-mail” as “e-mel” and for some reason, it drove me nuts.

    32. metadata minion*

      I’m working with old books, and sometime in the past — conveniently long past the era of anyone who currently works here, so I can loathe this unknown person to my heart’s content — they were repaired using pressure-activated book tape.

      a) It is very ugly.

      b) Over time the adhesive starts to kind of leak out of it making the entire book vaguely sticky. I cannot express how gross this is.

      c) It’s pressure-activated. Which means that if you, for some strange reason, line up books on a shelf close together (what library would do that?? oh, right, all of them…) the adhesive activates and sticks two or more books together.

      I am developing a weirdly satisfying loathing of the stuff.

    33. Llama Wrangler*

      I have a coworker who says “Correct” instead of “I understand” or some variation of “got it” when someone elaborates or clarifies something he’s shared, and it drives me up a wall. I think it’s just a language usage thing, not something he’s doing it to save face, which is what makes this just a petty grievance.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        Like Alexander Armstrong saying ‘that’s right’ when the Pointless contestants tell him something about themselves :D

        (Contestants on a quiz show called Pointless, not contestants who are pointless.)

      2. captain5xa*

        Could he be hard-of-hearing (HoH) or have a HoH family member?

        I am HoH and this is something I prefer someone to say instead of ‘yeah’ or ‘yes’ or ‘sure’ as it is easier to hear due to the hard consonant ‘c’ sound and long ‘o’ sound. I’ve trained my partner to say this to me.

        1. Llama Wrangler*

          It has not otherwise come up, but I appreciate that as an interpretation of an otherwise inscrutable action!

          1. PhilG*

            During flight training we were told to not use “right” in ANY context other than direction to avoid possible confusion.

            1. Llama Wrangler*

              Yeah, I think this is more often a case when someone is offering a clarification or correction where he says something slightly off. Like, he’ll say, “We’re going to groom the llamas on tuesday,” and someone will say, “Don’t you mean we’ll trim the llamas on Tuesday? We’re grooming them on Monday.” And then he says, “Correct.” (Which in my less charitable moments feels like he’s just saying, “yes, I always understood that.”)

        2. Dog momma*

          My husband says this all the time. He’s also hard of hearing. . If I’m unsure what he’s talking about, he says that to me to clarify a point. instead of ” that’s right “, esp if I’m doing a task at the same time.
          also, is that something they use in the military? Or that pilots use? bc he was a paratrooper, and also was a private pilot…

    34. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      My work nemesis stole my Christmas party idea and took credit for it. also she said she was the only person who did any work when the problem was that everyone did so much work things started to fall between the cracks!

          1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

            Oooh this is evil (though also, there is a hairdressers that I drive past which is called “Niche” with an acute accent on the “e” so I guess you would pronounce it like that? Though my region is a bit prone to the belief that an acute accent makes things fancy and does not affect pronunciation, so your guess is as good as mine.)

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

      This is already resolved but I had a grand boss for about 2 years who would ask constantly “are you excited?” about every project or event or issue. It just came across as soooooo infantilizing because it was often mundane things — the brochures were delivered today ARE YOU EXCITED?! We’re reviewing the budget on Friday ARE YOU EXCITED?! We’re meeting with the Llama department on Tuesday ARE YOU EXCITED?! Weekly department meeting on Tuesday morning ARE YOU EXCITED?! Something about the question and tone of voice reminded me of a kindergarten teacher talking to five-year-olds — we’re learning our colors today class, are you excited!

    36. Apt Nickname*

      Our building is secure, meaning I have to scan my badge four times before I get to my workspace. You need a badge to even get into the building, and it has always been this way since it was built. A woman who has worked with us since before they moved to this building over 15 years ago NEVER has her badge ready. Instead, what she does is plant herself directly in front of the badge reader, set down all of her bags (at least 3) and then rummage through them. Your choices are to stand around in what is sometimes very cold weather and wait, or get in her space to scan your own badge. Every. Morning.

    37. Biscuit*

      My petty grievance is that my boss thinks there should be two spaces between sentences. To the point where he’s gotten into extensive, heated arguments with people over it! (That and the fact that all of the bathroom sinks splatter so my sleeves get wet every time I wash my hands!)

      1. Another Academic Librarian too*

        I would never argue about the two space thing, but I have thirty years of touch typing under my belt. I am sorry to all the editors and graphic designers who have to look at my copy. I don’t even see it.

      2. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

        I have argued the two spaces between sentences because I think that it eases the eyes when it’s read. But the company’s style guide has it as one space. The only justification that I’ve heard is that MS Word has it as one, so we should follow.

      3. The Prettiest Curse*

        I was trained to leave two spaces when I learned to type and I still do it sometimes (even though I know it’s the visual equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for some people) purely because it’s a hard habit to break. Getting into heated arguments about it is ridiculous, though!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I learned to type in HS on a typewriter and it was definitely two spaces. Nowadays I don’t even think about doing one space, though.

        2. Once too Often*

          Indeed. I also learned to type with two spaces after each period, & still find that easier to read or scan than text with a single space after a period.

      4. Anon. Scientist*

        I had a boss that erratically spaced things (up to five or more) and every doc, first thing I did was find and replace 2 spaces like 5 times. He never complained…

    38. Middle Aged Lady*

      Coworker who spoke veerrryyy slowly on voicemails. Drove me nuts until another, wonderful coworker told me there was a ‘speed up’ button on our phone system.

    39. slashgirl*

      People who want to send an email to the entire staff and do a reply all to one of the principal’s emails and then do NOT change the subject line. ffs, it’s not rocket science. If you’re too lazy to set up your own groups to email in our version of gmail, then change the subject line.

      I’m not sure if this is our local school board IT or a provincial DOE thing but forcing the installation of google chrome AND adding it to my toolbar. I do not want it and I’m an adult and should get to decide what goes on my task bar (yes, I’ve tried the Windows 10 setting for not allowing adding/removing anything to my task bar, but this overrides it), so I manually have to unpin the blank link (because I keep removing chrome). The task bar thing really pisses me off. And I have to do this on two computers as I work at two schools.

    40. Winter Court*

      I work with someone who uses two salutations for their emails. Like this:

      Good Afternoon Dr. Franklin,

      Dr. Franklin,

      In regards to your recent question…

      They have other quirks, but for some reason this is the one that is most irksome, albeit the least disruptive.

    41. Always Tired*

      several of our (older, male, former construction worker) managers were apparently RAISED IN BARNS and don’t know how to close doors behind them. Going out to smoke? not going to latch the door so it slowly swings open and everyone can smell the cigarette smoke wafting in. It’s raining? leave the back door open so we end up with a wet spot on the floor. The ladies in the back room are freezing and have the space heater on? better leave that door open to let all the warm out after grabbing your print job. They also leave their office doors open when they are on conference calls so we have to stay quiet or worse, you are also on and hear an echo through your headphones the whole time. I have taken to pointedly closing doors while maintaining eye contact.

    42. Dark Macadamia*

      I have a coworker who does the “email to everyone about an issue with one individual” thing and it drives me up a wall. Sometimes it’s just typical “clean up after yourself in the break room” type stuff but twice in the past year it’s been a super condescending and offensive lecture. A real example would probably be too identifying so here’s a fake version: Student distributes a petition about something trivial. Teacher is overheard saying it’s a silly thing to disrupt class about. ENTIRE STAFF receives a lengthy email about the history of labor rights, and the people who fought to secure fair hours and wages, and how as union members ourselves we should all be grateful we haven’t been killed in a factory fire, and and and. She ended up being told to send out an apology for that one but it hasn’t stopped the all staff emails.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I would be too busy trying to see the connection between the original petition and the history of labor rights to be offended right away, but…yeah. I actually don’t need to get finger-shook to about the subject, especially since it seems odds are good I have no idea what caused this flip out in the first place!

    43. Girasol*

      One of my petty grievances is a company that works people at least 10 hours a day, plus voice meetings with other parts of the world in the middle of the night, plus on-call nights and weekends, all on penalty of rank-and-yank firing, and then they offer condescending wellness advice like, “If you’re feeling stressed, maybe you should try a yoga class!”

    44. goddessoftransitory*

      Customers who say “I appreciate you.” For some reason it’s like rubbing a balloon while running fingers down a chalkboard to me. I’ve never had anyone say it sarcastically or anything, but I simply despise that phrasing. You appreciate THAT. I did a small service for you for which I am renumerated. Quit trying to make it so damn The Secret/Let’s Hug!

      1. DJ Abbott*

        I first started hearing that phrase a year or two ago, and I take it as an attempt to make people feel valued. It appreciates more than just the action, it appreciates the person who did it. It makes me feel more valued, and I hope it does the same for others when I say it.

    45. Bast*

      People who don’t seem to know how to use the phone. You call them and they just… breathe heavily… instead of saying hello. And then when it comes time to hang up, instead of saying anything remotely close to a sign off, they just hang up. No “goodbye” or anything.

      My other item is that I have a coworker who is a very “do as I say, not as I do” person. For example, she will read someone the riot act for leaving papers on the shared printer when she is biggest offender. She will complain about others coming in sick when she herself regularly comes in sick (despite having both the ability to WFH and sick time that she refuses to use). I grit my teeth and try to just walk the other way.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        My entire job is answering the phone, and I talk to SO MANY people who apparently were handed one for the first time in their lives thirty seconds before calling me.

        1. Autofill Contact*

          I worked on a project that involved high school students. It required them to contact local professionals by email and phone. The students identified in the post-project survey “learning to write an email and talk on the phone” as some of the most valuable things they learned. So uhhhh apparently if no one is making them, they’re not learning.

    46. Yikes Stripes*

      I’m a home health care provider and one of my clients has recently started leaving the radio on while she watches tv, and it’s been driving me batty. Some days she’ll let me turn it off when I ask, but other days, no, she’s “listening to it.”

      I’m sure it would still be making me crazy if it was just music, but it’s not. It’s right wing talk radio and it regularly makes me want to walk into a volcano.

      1. AnonRN*

        I’m an inpatient nurse so granted I have a little more control over the room when I’m working with a patient (since it’s not actually their living room!) but I will 100% grab the remote and mute the TV so I can listen to their lung, heart, and stomach sounds/hear them better/not shout over the TV at them. Depending on the program, I usually ‘forget’ to unmute it, though the remote is also their call button so I do make sure they can reach it when I leave the room.

    47. Venting*

      Into my co-workers including those who report to me: if you say you’re going to do the thing then can you please just….do the thing?! Preferably before the deadline passes!

    48. GermanGirl*

      C-Level management putting their foot in their mouth during all staff Q&A. Our eldest has finally learned to stay calm an be diplomatic, after an absolutely disastrous Q&A a year ago, but apparently he forgot to brief the other two.

      So the head of HR and finance reacted to all questions and suggestion directed at him with the equivalent of “I don’t even understand why we’re talking about “feel good” items when the company is struggling.”

      Uhm, yeah, I don’t think he understands that employment is a two way street and especially the knowledge workers could easily get a higher paying job elsewhere – most don’t because this company used to be big (even award winning) on the not-directly-monetary benefits, and we still have those, but the company needs to go with the times a little on these things, because compared to what others are currently doing we’re very much in danger of falling behind.

      Anyway, even if C-level management is currently thinking that it’s not the time to implement the suggestions, I do expect C-level management to be able to word this in such a way that the employees feel like their opinions are being heard, even if they’re not implemented …
      … I mean C-level management represent the company so they should have at least a basic grasp on how to be diplomatic, shouldn’t they?

    49. For the Love of God Look It Up*

      My contribution to the Festivus thread: I once worked at a nonprofit where the COO had a vocabulary so limited it was practically criminal. They wielded the verb “matriculate” as if it was the equivalent of a verbal Swiss Army knife that could do everything from scale a fish to uncork a champagne bottle. Did the organization design, launch or evaluate programs? No, it “matriculated” programs. Did managers communicate and execute the organization’s goals? No, they “matriculated” goals. Did individual contributors assess and treat clients? Again, no: they “matriculated” clients. Did finance analyze an income statement? No, no, and no: those statements got “matriculated” . People would sit in pained silence, eyes locked on the floor, the word matriculate raining down around them, as this person flailed their way through speeches, presentations and meetings. One day in an internal meeting, the COO decided to try a new verb (perhaps someone gifted them a dictionary? Or taught them how to find Merriam Webster online?). Best day ever, because the word was “cross-contaminate”. And what they said, in reference to a fragile relationship with a high value new funder, was “We should cross-contaminate that!” The CEO stopped the meeting, picked up his pen, and said “I’m going to write that one down and note that it’s something we should NOT do.” The floodgates opened, laughter erupted across the room, and the COO turned bright red. I wish I could say the COO expanded beyond “matriculate”, and that they learned to use “cross-pollinate” rather than “cross-contaminate”, but they did not. It continues to this day.

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        This is amazing. Reminds me of the Kids in the Hall “ascertain” sketch, except the Bruce McCulloch character didn’t make usage errors.

    50. Slartibartfast*

      Our kitchen and our break room are at opposite ends of the clinic, so you have to carry your hot soup or Lean Cuisine or whatever down the hall and sometimes past patients. It’s a small clinic,not a long walk , but weird and annoying.

    51. Irish Teacher*

      I have a coworker who basically dominates conversations and rarely listens to anybody else. She once came over to me and another colleague who were chatting, raised her hand to silence us and started telling us something I for one had no interest in – something like she’d got a great bargain when shopping. Another time,she interrupted two colleagues who were having a work discussion to tell them the weather in Chicago. We are in Ireland, neither of them was going to Chicago, Chicago was in no way relevant to what they were discussing.

      Her monologues are usually long and repetitive: “I got a great bargain, would you believe I got this coat for €60…€60; it was only €60. My sister couldn’t believe it. She said they are usually over €100, but it was only €60. Can you believe that? It was a great bargain.”

  3. Making Things Happen*

    Can you demystify project management for me? Is it just…organising for a particular thing to happen?

    I organise events, for non-profits. I get a brief (eg. Make a fun party where the mayor meets an ilama), and I sort things and people out until a group of people find themselves having fun at a party where the mayor meets an ilama. Am I a P M?

    Am I missing a tech element? I don’t use software to map tasks and keep tabs on progress. Instead I do that by making notes and sometimes making myself an evolving, rough visual plan on paper. I don’t share milestones with the people involved – well, I don’t call them milestones, I just…update people when they could do with knowing where we are with things. I don’t see the point in using a software to record and document our progress, unless they actually help people. (And maybe they do, I just haven’t seen that?) I have a timeline in my head, and usually some scribbles of dates on different bits of paper, and I remind and support everyone to do whatever needs to happen, and we use phone and email and WhatsApp and meetings (with no visuals or presentations) and it comes together on time and on budget.

    My big question:
    I feel I should go for P M jobs (in the right industries/contexts for me), because they pay FAR better than what I’m paid. But am I cut out for it? Would people think I’m hopelessly inefficient and out of step? I’m ready to adopt the use of software and more visual, digital communication in order to fit in, but I know I’d struggle to BELIEVE in it and I’d fall back on other methods.

    I know I might sound naive. I am, in relation to this. Advice?

    1. jane's nemesis*

      a) what you’re doing is project management, albeit it sounds like self-taught and without using any formal PM system. I’d recommend doing some free online courses in Project Management to see if you’re interested in PM roles, and please try out using the free versions of pm software, such as Trello or Asana. I know you feel you’d fall back on other methods, but honestly, if you give it an honest effort to adopt them, I think you’ll like them. They’re more efficient and far more likely that things won’t fall through the cracks because a post-it note or scrap of paper fell by the wayside.

      b) what’s an “ilama”? Is there a critter the mayor is meeting with that I really need to know about??

      1. JaneDough(not)*

        Oddly, there *is* something called an ilama: Annona macroprophyllata, also known as the soncoya or sincuya, is a kind of fruit, and also the name of the tree that it grows on.

      2. Making Things Happen*

        Snort laugh! Turns out project management isn’t the only thing I’m naive about! I thought llama (what? what is this word? I have to look it up) was ilama. With a capital I. For years.

        1. jane's nemesis*

          oh my gosh, I suspected that was what was happening but didn’t want to call you out too hard… this is very adorable, I hope it doesn’t seem condescending to say!

          1. Making Things Happen*

            No, I am laughing a lot at this today. I told my partner and we had such a good laugh about it. And they brought it up later. I don’t think I’ll ever live this down.

    2. MsM*

      Speaking as a fellow nonprofit person, the problem with notes on paper is that they’re a) idiosyncratic to you, and b) easy to lose. Even just creating a spreadsheet timeline or best practices writeup ensures that if you’re hit by a bus tomorrow, someone else can step in and at least have a rough overview of what needs doing first, instead of having to chase all that information down piecemeal.

      Also, the more complex the project, the more pieces of it where you’re not necessarily the right person to be laying out the plan or filling in the updates; you just need to be the one in charge of nudging the people who actually need to weigh in. That’s where tools that allow multiple people to go in and make edits/comments, or that can be configured to show different displays for people who do better with different types of visualization come in handy.

      So yeah, I do think you’re going to be at a disadvantage if you don’t at least learn to use the digital tools. Not because they’ll necessarily help you do your job better, but because they do help coordinate and communicate things out to other people more effectively.

      1. GythaOgden*

        I’m doing this with a spreadsheet and it’s great. I really didn’t know I had it in me, as all my previous paid roles were reactive and task-based rather than having too many ongoing projects. In the interview I had to dig deep for examples, but then I realised that I had experience with planning academic and creative projects — even something as trivial as a cross stitch pattern requires a lot of planning and set up before you can actually start stitching. At university I never missed a deadline either and it was usually because I started brainstorming things as soon as I got the essay title. My Masters was heavily weighted towards my dissertation but my programme guided us through the various steps of planning and executing the project and I learned a lot about that process and scored very highly on the literature review (my tutor actually said the opinions and my critique about competing needs and lack of credit given to individual agency within the main critical theory paradigms were publishable) and the actual dissertation itself. So even just that interview process drew out for me the bits and pieces I’d actually done and gave me enough confidence to start the real practical bits of keeping track of a project and ensuring consistency in application across the various plans I’m editing rather than just relying on scattered bits of memory here, there and everywhere else.

        My dad is a retired civil engineer who now runs several village projects on a volunteer basis, and so although he’s more at home with paper maps and diagrams (when we were kids he’d visit his sites on a Saturday
        just to make sure things were ok and we were treated to his highlighter stash to keep us amused while he talked to the weekend crew keeping the site secure; when I first started playing ‘office’, it was setting up my stationery on my desk and then wondering what on earth happened then) since that’s what he trained on in the 1970s, I’m channelling his experience for my first job with significant ongoing projects in it, and since it’s his birthday tomorrow (yeah, Christmas Eve is a big deal in our house) I’m going to write a short note thanking him for eventually ensuring I could step up to the plate when necessary and find project management is not as daunting as it seems.

        Even though I’m working mostly solo on it, I need other people’s input on it and getting that in the run-up to Christmas is hard and requires a bit of nagging of people to give me information I need to flesh out some business continuity plans that lack enough detail for anyone to use them in an actual emergency. That’s something which I’m not very good at, and which I could have done a bit better at in previous roles, but luckily I know now delays are because people are either slammed or on holiday (or in one case, in a very active role and seldom directly in front of her computer) and not because I’m being a shrinking violet.

    3. Cat*

      I am not a PM so your mileage might vary… I think project management can encompass event management but has a larger scope:
      Event Organizers – Opening ceremony and mixer for a new community health centre.
      Project Manager – coordinating people/materials so health centre meets building codes, health care legislation requirements, has tech support etc…

    4. JaneDough(not)*

      I don’t know whether this will help, but: A friend who was a PM in office-space planning did EVERYTHING. It was highly involved, highly labor-intensive, and highly stressful.
      * He met with employers (big / well-known ones, in NYC) to determine what their needs were with regard to moving in to a new space.
      * He had to understand what each employee-subset did, in order to figure out, for ex., which type of desk was going to be most efficient, where the shared office equipment would go, how many pieces of shared were needed, and which layout would ultimately be most efficient + cost effective + attractive.
      * He had to stay current on what Knoll, Herman Miller, etc. were offering n order to meet the clients’ needs.
      * He had to create floorplans that were essentially blueprints.
      * He had to be able to read architects’ blueprints (because these spaces were either new or completely re-done), and he needed to be able to communicate with architects when, for ex., the latter hadn’t allowed for enough electrical outlets.
      * He needed to understand building codes and understand appropriate electrical load, placement of water pipes, etc.
      * He had to ensure ordering and delivery of everything, and he had to oversee the installation of everything.

      This is only a partial list — and there is an enormous amount of checking / rechecking, or even backtracking, with project management, because one segment’s missed deadline throws everything else off, for ex. (you need to able to think fast on your feet and figure out truly good solutions when something falls through). Depending on the industry, being a PM is hugely involved and hugely demanding; if you can, try to get a better sense of what would be entailed in yours before you throw your hat in the ring. Good luck.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Agreed. I’ve seen some title inflation for PMs the past few years and it’s probably confusing people applying for jobs. I’ve even worked with a few PMs who were clearly coordinator level and it was frustrating, they couldn’t help with or answer anything beyond basic questions. I work in software and successful PMs here and in our sister companies and vendors can answer a variety of questions off the top of their heads – how often processes run and should run, what we should do to backup data, what our competitors are doing, what’s going on with our physical servers, etc.

        Put another way, the tracking tasks in a software is the easier after-thought part of a job; knowing the industry and customers is 80% of it.

      2. Rick Tq*

        That isn’t a project manager. That is an Office Architect and Contractor. A PM in my industry wouldn’t be responsible for product selection or office design, their task is to get the planned design completed per the contracted schedule.

        Your friend is carrying an impressive load to do all that.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          At my last job that dealt more with renovations and large equipment purchases (in software now) the PMs weren’t officially in charge of those things you labelled “architect” but they sure as heck needed to be expert in them.

          I’ve commented elsewhere but I definitely think we need to push back on this idea that all of these PMs are making 100K-150K just from keeping timelines and following up on tasks. That is a coordinator at the vast majority of companies. To get into that paygrade you need to have technical knowledge of things like those JaneDough described.

          I don’t think having misconceptions out there about jobs helps anyone advance; they’ll just be applying to roles they aren’t qualified for.

        2. JaneDough(not)*

          With respect, his title was Project Manager; his duties were extensive; and his salary was high bc he knew so much / could do so much. This was mid-career, not early.

    5. I have this degree!*

      You are doing project management activities, but in an informal way. It may be hard to break into a PM role because you don’t know the terminology or formal steps which may make an interviewer question what you know. I would recommend taking a PM certification class, you will see how what you applies to the formal framework and will be better able to show that you have been already doing this type of thing. Also know that pay and experience needed ranges dramatically between industries. My husband works in tech, project managers are not entry level but can be more early in their careers. I work in the construction industry (heavy civil) and our project managers are a more senior position.

      1. I have this degree!*

        Also, start with looking at Assistant Project Manager or Project Coordinator roles. Those can be a good place to start as there’s more flexibility with formal project experience.

        1. Lilith*

          I’ve also seen these jobs called Project Officer or Project Support Officer – I moved from being an Office Manager, to Project Support Officer, to Project Manager

    6. Someadvice*

      Take classes on MS Project & Excel. Get PMP certified. Maybe some legal classes on contracts if you’re ever going to work with the government.

    7. Anna Badger*

      so while what you’re doing is project management, if it’s simple enough to keep on scraps of paper then it’s unlikely to be the level of project management that people get paid the big bucks for. projects where project management tools (and the project managers who use them) are worth their weight in gold have aspects like:

      – complex dependency chains where only certain amounts of work can be parallelised

      – a tight scope : resource ratio, where someone needs to be on top of exactly what is feasible with the time, people and moveable/immovable deadlines that are in place, and exactly what needs to happen to adjust those things if you tip over to impossible

      – multiple stakeholders who care about different aspects and who need to be able to tell where the project is at without talking to you

      – multiple teams with different priorities working on the project

      – lots of assets/ documentation/ plans, esp if the different teams from the point above work in different ways and use different formats

      – complex requirements, whether regulatory, internal, user-centred or any combination of those

    8. Nela*

      What you’re doing has a different name: event management, or event coordinator. And it’s funny how the stereotypical image in my mind of an event coordinator is a person walking around and making calls carrying a binder, and that of a project manager is a person watching tables and diagrams on a screen.

      I know quite a few PMs and it’s not just about the software. PMs use specific methodologies you’d be expected to have experience with before you’d be considered for this role.

    9. Generic Name*

      I was a project manager at my last job, and what you’re describing sounds like event planning rather than project management. BUT events are a type of project! So I think you could manage a shift to project management jobs, but you’d want to start integrating software based tracking systems rather than paper to be more marketable. Honestly, only the huge huge companies use formalized project management software. At my small firm, I used an excel spreadsheet to track the overall progress of all my projects, and then I just had a word document with some tables and a running list of notes in each projects file on the network drive. I mad reminders for myself in outlook tasks, and kept track of dates in outlook calendar. Pretty low-tech, honestly, but I was managing upwards of 20 different projects when I left, so it was workable.

      1. Camera*

        It’s not true that only huge huge companies have this software. There’s so much software available out there for precisely that reason.

        I work for a 50-person company with so many projects running that we do have PM software. We have a PM who is certified and a person who also works in tandem with them to make recommendations for shifting timelines and resources as needed.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Agree I worked for a 40-50 person consulting firm that used PM software. Also had about six PMPs on staff. There is a wide variety of project management software out there and whether it’s applicable is more based on the nature of the projects themselves than the size of the company. Although the cost of some may put them out of reach for smaller companies, but there’s plenty of options that are not that.

    10. lost academic*

      You will need to learn more tools and strategies. Once you get into more specific roles that involve managing large scale, high dollar and large number of stakeholder efforts, what you’re doing now will be useless. These tools and practices exist because without them large projects cannot be managed successfully, in particular by a manager who has more than one project of that type to manage.

      It sounds like what you have is a nascent interest in project management and you’ll need to explore further if you have both the interest and ability to take it further and to what level.

      And as to your real first question… no… I don’t think you’re a project manager. You’re an event organizer. Events can be projects and managed similarly, but if they’re small scale and short time horizons, they can get by without more rigorous planning, particularly if you’re not interested in documenting and making it improve for the next time it’s held.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Very much agree, commented elsewhere on my experience in software. My previous job at a company doing building maintenance had even higher technical-knowledge standards for PMs.

        I am not sure why others think this is PM. I believe there may be a letter of people wanting to be polite but I don’t think it’s polite to give people hope that they can transition into a role they won’t get interviews for.

        I think in OPs case it’s best not to focus on what your called and just be the best you can at your job. If you’re an event planner and finagle yourself into a fancier title, people will see right through it. On a larger scale, this is why we need to stop treating roles like “coordinator” or “analyst” as lower level stepping stones and treat them as the final destination for many careers

    11. Cacofonix*

      I’m a PM and teach PM courses to non-profits. You are definitely doing PM work. Nearly everybody does if they’ve ever done a piece of work that had a beginning and an end with a verifiable outcome, especially if you’ve had to lead and collaborate others to get it done. That’s the first agenda item in our course. Technology projects are just one type and you don’t need any fancy technology conduct a successful project.

      You’re more intentional about PM work when you have a repeatable, reliable method to conduct your project, and can show that to prospective employers. But to really apply successfully to employers as a PM, you need to have some exposure, knowledge or training on standard PM practices. The PM profession has grown a lot in the last couple of decades, so having demonstrable background on this is usually key. Possibly including software supports commonly used in PM work. Can’t speak for all industries though.

      1. Green Goose*

        Off topic but I just wanted to comment, what a cool job. At my nonprofit I’ve been become a project manager with no formal training and I e always wished our org had invested in teaching us ways to do it better than “throw them in the deep end and hope for the best!”

    12. Yikes Stripes*

      I’m not a PM, but one of my good friends is one for a well known medical software company that’s based out of Wisconsin, and she pivoted to that role after working as a stage manager for several years – which is actually what she has a BA in. She was headhunted for the job, but I know for a fact that her company hires people who aren’t coming to the field through traditional means.

      If you’d be willing to move to Madison (which is a shockingly awesome little city) and travel quite a bit it might be worth looking into as a way of starting that career. I know that they don’t require prior experience as a project manager and I think that your event planning would be a good thing to have on a resume for them.

      1. Yikes Stripes*

        You would have to be willing to work with software though, given that they’re a software company and lean heavily into tech.

    13. Making Things Happen*

      Great advice, thanks everyone. I will never see the word “llama” again without smiling. And I will see what PM training I can take. It will have to be free or inexpensive, ’cause I don’t have spare cash.

      On that note – the Google Project Management course – do you rate it, if I can’t afford more expensive training?

      I like the point some commenters made – that you’d have to really know the industry to do a good job. That makes perfect sense to me.

      Thanks, Yikes Stripes, for the thought about moving to Madison! I don’t live in the US, but I do enjoy a fantasy of moving to a shockingly awesome little city …

      1. Lilith*

        I found that only the proper PM certifications counted when looking for jobs, which is not to say that the more general courses weren’t helpful to me personally. If you’re aiming for APM qualifications (which I think are only (mostly?) a UK thing), you can do the exams by just buying the textbook and paying for the exam, rather than paying for a week-long course.

        Alternatively, you could sign up for the free version of Trello / / etc. and use those for your event planning to give you the experience of them.

  4. Following a dream*

    Hi all! Sorry this is long but light hearted to start off the holiday weekend.

    The background: I have a creative hobby that I have literally done most of my life (I’m now in my late 40s). Over the years I’ve developed and learn new techniques. I’ve have gained a small following locally by through craft fairs as well as on sites like Etsy and eBay. While I am by no means a professional artist I do well enough to pay for a family vacation each week ayear plus a few pairs of cute shoes ;-) . Geographically I live in an area that’s a smallish town: surrounded by bigger towns and about a half hour from a major US city.

    There have been a lot of larger independent businesses moving into the area (not corporations) that I think I can sell my product at. I would like to reach out to these companies. I have a decent letter introducing myself (thanks AAM) and I also plan on sending a few samples.

    Now my question. I’d like to send them a portfolio/ catalog highlighting some of my work.

    What’s appropriate? This is going to be a DIY portfolio. Is a professionally printed and bound packet ok? A mini 3 ring binder? Just a packet stapled?

    Yes I will refer them to my website but potentially customers are receiving a physical introduction letter with samples. I’d like to have a packet for them to skim before tossing my letter or deciding to go to my website. What’s the best way to present a DIY portfolio that’s presentable but doesn’t have to be “corporate professional “? Any ideas?

    1. JaneDough(not)*

      I used to work for a city mag, and we received product pitches on glossy paper, often in high-quality folders that were personalized for the product. I would think you could create a good-quality adhesive label for a pocketed folder either on your home printer or at a copy shop; ditto for high-quality glossy pages.

      I wouldn’t do a 3-ring binder, even a slim one or an undersized one — too bulky / heavy, and not easy to fit in a file drawer with other pitches of interest. But this is just one perspective

    2. Nela*

      If you’re sure you want to go with the physical portfolio route, I’d just stick with a standard sized (A4/letter) folded brochure printed on thick paper (180gsm or more). Use fewer, larger images of your bestsellers, and add the web link with more designs. (Large images are used in fancy clothing and jewelry catalogs, small images look like a supermarket catalog.)

      Not sure if you’re looking for design tips, but you can probably find decent templates on Canva, and get a print-quality PDF with the free trial.

      While professional print shops have minimums for brochures (50-100), copy shops will print just a few copies. If the quality they offer is good enough, go with the latter.

      1. Nela*

        In case I wasn’t clear enough: a folded brochure is literally one sheet of paper folded in half, so you get 4 pages. I really don’t think you need a full multi-page catalog just to pique someone’s interest. And in my opinion it looks more professional (and more environmentally friendly) than anything stapled, spiral-bound, or in a ring binder.

    3. what even*

      As someone who used to manage one of these stores, I would skip the portfolio. Honestly, I’d start with an email instead of a letter, linking your website, and offering to drop of samples, if they are interested. And instagram message might work too, depending on the vibes of the store. They are either open to the idea of local sellers or they aren’t. No printed product that you put time and money into is going to change that.

      1. cat sweater*

        As an artist that has been on the other side of the wholesale thing I would second this route.

        If you are interested more broadly in wholesale I’d telegraph you’re open to it on places like your business cards and website. I’ve been approached after events like craft fairs by local shops who had people in attendance scouting for new inventory before and I assume having “contact me about wholesale” type language on my promo stuff helped them know I’d be interested. You could also set up shop on the website Faire, which is like a wholesale version of Etsy.

      2. HBJ*

        Could not agree more! I’m thinking of the independent stores I know of that sell local vendor products. This is what they ask for initially.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        And on that note: check the stores’ websites as well–they may say whether they’re looking to sell from local creators and save some steps on the OP’s end.

    4. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

      You might want to look at Shutterfly-dot-com
      My service club recently used them to put together a recipe/keepsake book with lots of photos of members.
      They’re not cheap, but I think they might be worth looking into.
      Good luck.

    5. Haven’t picked a name*

      I agree with another comment. I work in corporate America and also I am a potter. I have a few wholesale accounts. Skip anything printed.

      Every year I update a 2 page wholesale catalog with good pictures of products and brief information. It is. PDF.

      Reach out by email and ask if they are looking to work with local artists (you are an artist!) and attach your wholesale catalog. Then if they are interested you can meet in person and bring a few samples.

      You didn’t ask this specifically but for wholesale- the cost should be between 60-70% of your retail if you can handle that. For me pottery is a labor intensive process and I either hand carve or paint all my pieces, I actually offer a thinner marking for wholesale because it isn’t worth it for me to sell mugs for $20 it isn’t worth it. That means some wholesalers don’t want my products but that is okay with me because I don’t have enough time to make enough for everyone who asks.

      Good luck, and be thoughtful about your prices.

  5. Emmers*

    Anyone have recommendations for resources on internal job negotiations?

    I’m in a challenging situation at a large academic hospital/university where I’ve been involved in a year-long promotion process which changed in June when my manager left. Originally, there were two job options: 
A. a union senior trainer role with set pay raises and no direct reports, and B. a non-union manager role with 60 part-time reports but uncertain pay raises and advancement opportunities. However, HR presented a third option, C. a non-union senior trainer position with 60 part-time reports, offering a lower salary than the union role with no direct reports. This new role also comes with a confusing job title (a title thats a union job) and is obviously short in compensation. My manager has limited control over this, and the HR person handling the case has been unhelpful and, at times, sexist and retaliatory.

    I’m currently in a union role and sought advice for moving up within the union pathway. However, my past manager’s departure opened up a non-union position, which is outside the union’s scope of involvement. The ideal choice would be the manager role (Option B) but I inadvertently asked for more than my boss’s current salary. HR discussions are stalled as my boss is unavailable for the next two weeks, although HR did acknowledge that the proposed pay rate be looking at once I showed them the union numbers before signing off for the year. The union advised holding off on accepting any backpay and suggested walking away from the offer. I want to be able to make this work because they are the only game in town and I want the promotion and the work.

    1. Someadvice*

      Stay with the union. Union members are often shocked when they find out how much less non union people make and some even have worse health benefits than the union has.

    2. Siege*

      Are you classed as a public employee? (IOW, does the Janus decision in 2018 apply to you?) If it does, the two jobs should have equal benefits, etc. You can receive the benefits of union membership without paying for it because union-busting is important to America.

      My vote is always union, though. The protections of the union contract are a pretty major benefit, to me.

      1. Emmers*

        Not a public employee, for better or worse. For those saying stay in the union, I see the benefits but I also want to get into leadership. It’s an interesting position to be in because if I was going to stay in this role and town forever I would pick the union and just coast within that role. But that feels like a old school approach in terms of job duration and moves these days. I also don’t want a manager above me calling the shots on this program instead of me but I can’t say yes to the offer as it stands.

        1. Cat*

          Will the sexist, retaliatory person in HR be able to make you miserable or get you fired in the non-union role?

          I also vote union.

          1. Emmers*

            probably not? not because I have any faith in him but because there are about 20,000 employees and getting on his radar is tough enough.

    3. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Why does the union recommend walking away? Is it because it’s a non-union job, or because they think that the company is not treating you well? Are all management jobs non-union? You would think (note, I’m not in a union) that if all management jobs are non-union, the union would want someone who is friendly with the union (i.e. a person who has belonged before) in a managerial role to allow for better interactions at that level.

  6. First-time reference*

    I’d love to hear from anyone who either makes calls to references or fields them. I’ve been asked to be a reference for the first time and I realize I’m not quite sure how it works. Does someone from the hiring company simply cold call references? Is it HR or the hiring manager? Do they somehow prove to the reference that they’re legit? (I have read about having a friend call your old company to check what they’d say about you, hence this question.) What if the caller veers into improper territory, like wanting to know about the person’s parenthood status or plans? (Yeah, I’m not great at graceful deflection.) Anything else I should know about or prepare for? Thanks!

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’ve been a reference for a lot of people over the years. Sometimes I get an Email asking me to fill out a form. Sometimes I get a text or EMail asking me to set up a phone call. These days I rarely get a phone call without some kind of advance warning (which is good because I don’t answer numbers I don’t know). I’ve never had anyone ask an inappropriate question – not saying it doesn’t happen, because I’m sure it does, but in 30 years I haven’t experienced it. If you’re really concerned about that, come up with an all-purpose deflection and practice it with a friend or in the mirror. “Sorry, I can’t speak to that” will do for most situations.

      Be prepared to tell them how long you’ve worked with the applicant and in what capacity. I am usually asked about specific skills and ethics that are particular to my field.

    2. Jamie Starr*

      I’ve been on both sides (at smaller nonprofits). When I’ve been a reference I’ve been called by the HR person, or the person doing the hiring, or the person the candidate would be reporting to, or a combination. IME, most of the time, someone will email me first to set up a time for the phone call, but I have gotten a “cold call” before. Once (for an admin job at a college), I was just emailed a questionnaire and asked to complete and return it!

      When I’ve called for references, I usually ask how long and in what capacity they’ve known the candidate. It should jibe with what the candidate told you. I think that the government is more thorough about vetting the legitimacy of the references?

      If the caller veers into improper territory, maybe you could simply say, “I don’t know; I can only speak to their work in X, Y Z.”?

      When someone asks me to be a reference, it’s usually for a specific job and they’re fairly far along in the process so I ask them to send me the job description and if there is anything in particular (e.g. experience, skills) they want me to emphasize when I speak with the company. That way I can reinforce what a great fit they would be for the job! =)

    3. Llama Wrangler*

      Ditto what the people above said. The reference call might come from HR or the hiring manager – it will depend on the company and the manager’s preferences. I’ve definitely known a few people who did cold calls, but it’s often an email.
      I would think about what you would say made the person stand out in the role – I usually spend a little time thinking of a few specific examples. And you’ll probably be asked about the person’s weaknesses or struggles, so it’s helpful to think through what you would say. (Alison had a recent post about this I think.)

    4. metadata minion*

      As Jay says, it depends. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to prove who I was, even the one time it was for a government position. Very occasionally the person has emailed me to set up a call, but usually they just call out of nowhere while I frantically try to remember which of the bajillion student employees we’ve had over the years they’re asking about (Which is why I really wish they’d make an appointment, because the person may have been genuinely outstanding but I’m bad with names and unless the student graduated last month they all blur together).

      Pretty much all of my conversations or forms have been pretty standard — strengths, weaknesses, length of service, etc. I’m usually giving a reference for a former work-study student employee, so some of the questions can be a bit hard to answer for me — there is little to no room for advancement or leadership, for example, and while I might love to rehire them, I’m legally not allowed to after they graduate. (I make sure to explain that, though, and for especially great employees I’ll usually say that I’d love to see them apply for a permanent staff position if one opens up.)

      If the employee is applying for a US government position, the hiring person may ask if they pose a threat to national security. This feels bizarre, particularly since I’m almost always answering this question about a college student who did library work that usually doesn’t even involve confidentiality issues, but I gather they have to ask.

      1. First-time reference*

        Thanks for sharing your experience. Glad I don’t have to deal with figuring out who they’ll be calling about; I can see how that would be challenging!

    5. Glazed Donut*

      I’ve done reference calls for hiring. I typically pick someone not at the top of the list and cold call, only when I’m down to the finalist for the position.
      I ask everyone the same questions that I have written down. Typically: how would you describe this person’s work, would you work with/hire this person again, and then I’ll give a quick description of the role and ask what challenges they see the person having.
      For me, it’s less of a major interview part and more of “how can I help this person get off the ground well in the first few weeks” along with checking for any red flags (someone who clearly doesn’t know the candidate, etc).

    6. Hiring Mgr*

      One thing I do is ask the person who’s asking me to be the reference if there’s anything specific they want me to mention or emphasize.

  7. Junior Dev*

    What are some green flags for workplaces that respect/try to foster psychological safety, without delving into inappropriate “my boss made us go to group therapy” type situations? My current manager does not care about this at all and given my history of being fired from a toxic workplace in the past I find myself having panic attacks at work and physical symptoms of anxiety when not at work. So some of it is healing work I have to do in therapy but it’s really hard to do so when I work for a guy who does things like joke about firing people for minor mistakes.

    I think stuff like clear expectations around deadlines and blameless retros are a big part of what would make me feel safe at work, but also people who take for granted that making people feel safe is a good thing worth putting effort into, rather than actively being hostile and making people feel unsafe. I don’t think it’ll be productive to ask my interviewer, hey, does the person I’m reporting to like to make inappropriate jokes and rant about how bad he thinks his reports’ work is in meetings?

    I’m a programmer with about 8 years of experience, though only about 5 of that in jobs I’ve kept for more than a year, in case that makes a difference to the advice I’d get.

    1. pally*

      One thing that can signal a good workplace is if they honor your request to speak with the co-workers. If they act like this is an imposition, you have to wonder why.

      I like to ask the hiring manager “how do you support your reports?” and gauge how they respond to this. Those who take management of other seriously will present a list of things they do to provide support. Those who are not serious about management will crack a joke (“I’m the only one who gets to yell at you!”= an actual response I received.).

      1. Grrr*

        As a fellow work anxiety haver (and lover of clear deadlines), talking to your potential future coworkers sounds great! Then you can be a little more specific/blunt with your questions. “Are deadlines generally kind of vague and handwavy or specific? I love clear deadlines that give me a goal to shoot for even if it’s not going to be realistic to hit them 100% of the time.” “I don’t care for sugarcoated feedback but I’m trying to get away from bosses who cut people down on a personal level (calling them idiots in meetings etc) when they make minor mistakes. What is X manager’s style like?”

    2. Coverage Associate*

      General psych health green flags:
      Good Mental health care benefits
      Reasonable answers to questions about work hours and available support staff

      More particular:
      How they respond when you raise issues about your weaknesses with respect to the job. I just took a non tech job in the tech sector, and when I mentioned in an interview that I was not an early adopter, not really interested in tech as such, they assured me that they understood and were used to training on those issues. As it turns out, my boss isn’t an early adopter or techy either.
      When senior management followed up with me personally as I considered the offer, that was an important sign that the business would value me as an individual and not just another employee.

    3. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      This is a great topic to interview a company on. Questions like:
      – If a bug is found in a system after deployment, what is the process to handle that? (subtext: there’s a process, not a yelling match)
      – How does the team/company support involvement of junior staff? (subtext: its’ ok for everyone to participate)
      – Does management/team members actively seek input from everyone?
      – Does the team/company lean more toward “tried and true” or “let’s make something new?

      I’m sure there are better ones on the internet… this is just what I came up with on the spot :)

        1. PX*

          Different person but in my experience it helps to know whether if you suggest an improvement or want to try a different way of doing things – will it get shot down because “that’s not how we do things here” or will people be open to change and trying new things? Technically speaking there is nothing wrong with the former, but it tells you about the kind of culture you are getting into (open vs closed) and in my experience is kind of a yellow flag (ie something to dig into further).

          For instance you mentioned blameless retros, so a logical set of questions for me based on the above would be something like “how do you normally run your retros? if you identify something isn’t working well, what happens next?” –> the answer to that could be “the team lead might do some research and we try something new for the next sprint based on X or Y to see if it improves things” [good in my books] or “well we do retros but nothing ever really comes from them…” [ less good]

          This can also apply to things like new technology stacks or ways of working or tools or whatever.

  8. Mystic*

    Hey y’all, no complaints or anything here, but i wanted to let y’all know…I had been applying for supervisor positions over the past couple of months and denied twice after making it to the last stage. Well, in another part of our company, they offered an acting supervisor position and i interviewed for it last week, and got it! I will be starting it next month.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      “Acting” is short term (or at least has a defined endpoint) by nature. Ensure you have the discussion about what happens at that point (the absent person comes back, they are ready to hire a permanent person, etc) – will you go back to your old job? Will it still be open?

      1. Mystic*

        yeah, it’s a 2-month position, minimum, but i’ll still have my previous position to go back to-they can’t even hire, because i’m still an official my position. but if i do well, i can also apply to be a permanent super at the end of this, as well.

  9. kg*

    I drunkenly posted a vent at the end of last week’s thread that implied it would have a question in there (regarding someone else venting to me about my coworkers being awful) but I did not actually have a question and just really needed to get it off my chest… I had just gotten back from a holiday party and was a little overwhelmed and exhausted and just sick of negativity.

    I did actually talk a little to my boss about it this week… I essentially said that on top of my own frustrations with my coworkers’ performance issues, all the negativity I’ve been receiving has really starting to weigh on me and making me doubt my own abilities to some degree too. he did say something was being done about it. I hope I can trust him on that, because it’s been a problem for some time now, and it’ll become more of my problem in the future as I shift into a more managerial role on our team.

    no questions here, just statements of fact, and a sort of apology for drunk posting without a clear point

    1. H above*

      Well I didn’t even see it, but I forgive you :) I hope the situation at work improves, it sounds a weight on your mind.

  10. happytobehere*

    I need helping with wording a conversation with my boss. We work for a nonprofit and she is very much all about “image”. It’s a very chill office but she’s all about dressing up every single day because you never know if a donor decides to surprise us and walk in, or we may have to meet with some government official (this has literally never happened spur of the moment the entire time our company has been around). Another way she’s about image is she does not like to rock the boat in anyway at all, even if that means her not speaking up for her staff when needed. I’m giving these contexts cause I think the whole idea of having this perfect image is what’s making her make the comments I’m going to talk about. I’m the director of a program, let’s say it’s Llama Grooming. We got a new llama that had some terrible things happen to them and was referred to our program so we can help them learn how to groom and take care of themselves. Well, their life is in shambles and we’ve been going above and beyond to help them. For example, we typically connect them to other programs such as, vet providers, how to be a llama 101, emotional support llama groups, etc. Basically wrap around services, but we don’t typically go further than that. With this case, they truly have no support so we’ve not only been connecting them with the resources but doing the paperwork for them, taking them to the appointments, researching literally everything to help them. My boss is very invested in this case being “successful”. When I say that let’s just say this Llama has another llama that’s dependent on them and we are no longer feel it’s a safe environment for either one of them and notified the local zoo for more professional support. We’ve supported them for nearly a year and unfortunately they have taken advantage of everything we’ve supported them with and have made no efforts on their part. My staff is getting burnt out and to be honest, with all the time they’ve dedicated towards this one case, they could’ve taken on two additional cases. When I informed my boss after careful consideration we had called the zoo, she stated she was disappointed and if it turns out that the zoo does decide to get involved and take over that she will have considered this a failure. I was so disheartened to hear her say that. Our team has done more for this case than any other case this program has had in the 15yrs it’s been around. I reminded her of everything we’ve done beyond our job responsibility to support them and she still said it would be a failure and would not look good on us. I’m upset that 1.) everything we’ve done is being overlooked 2.) we as llama groomers were tasked with handling every aspect of this llamas life without the education or experience needed to be successful 3.) the llamas decisions to take advantage of our program is our fault and we’ll be viewed as a failure. Honestly, if we hadn’t stepped in when we did I can guarantee this llama would be nowhere close to as supported as she is now, and I’m honestly proud of that. But we’re way out of our league here. I didn’t say anything when my boss was saying all this cause I was so taken aback, but I have a meeting with her in January and I want to circle back to it. I don’t think it’s fair for her to be saying that our program would be a failure given everything we’ve done. Any advice?

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Is there any legal requirement for you to call the zoo? If you’re a mandated llama-reporter then you didn’t have a choice. I’d say “I was concerned that you said you felt Intensive Llama Case was a failure after we called the zoo. I felt legally obligated to do that under the Llama Protection Act. I’m concerned about opening the organization to liability if we don’t.”

      If that’s not on the table, then I might say something like “I’ve had time to reflect on our experience with Intensive Llama Case and I’d like to talk to you about it. I was concerned when you said you considered it a failure. Can we talk about how to support our staff with difficult llamas and also how to best use our resources?”

      1. MsM*

        Or see if you can get a broader discussion going on exactly how the organization and your department should be defining success. Does it really need to be “WE achieved a successful outcome for this llama,” or is “we connected this llama and their dependent with the people who are actually equipped to help them” an acceptable benchmark if it contributes to the long-term result of getting the llamas on the right track?

        1. happytobehere*

          Yes, we are mandated reporters. I brought that up multiple times and she continues to say “Well, I wish we would’ve tried these other things before calling the zoo” as if we hadn’t already done all of them. I’m mostly just worried that she’s more focused on how this is going to look rather than what truly is best for this llama. My main focus and concern is supporting them AND my staff. She’s only focused on the llama.

          I like your idea of trying to define success, because in my mind I resonate with the second option of “we connected this llama and their dependent with the people who are actually equipped to help them”. Ultimately, that is what our job is and in my mind we’ve absolutely succeeded at doing that.

          1. MsM*

            Does your organization have a logic model and/or theory of change? Because those are really helpful in clarifying those kinds of questions. And they also look good to funders, which might be a helpful thing to point out if your boss balks at the idea.

            1. happytobehere*

              My program has a logic model for our specific services and by those standards we’ve met them. The company as a whole doesn’t have one that I’m aware of, but that would be a good topic to bring up when I meet with her next.

          2. Jay (no, the other one)*

            That’s so frustrating. How it’s going to look to whom? And it sounds as if she has a fundamental misunderstanding of the requirement before you call. We are required – legally obligated with potential serious penalties – to call if we have a suspicion of a reportable event. Not “I’m sure” or “I have done every single thing I can” but “I’m concerned.” That’s the standard. There are also significant equity issues if you report some llamas and not others in the same situation.

            Because we are all human and implicit bias is a thing, we are all more likely to go “above and beyond” for the llamas who remind us most of ourselves or who tug at our heartstrings, and that means not only are we serving fewer llamas but we are not using best practices to choose who we serve and how we use our (always) limited resources.

            So yeah, I agree with you and I’m pretty frustrated and upset on your behalf. Which doesn’t necessarily help you with the meeting. I might ask what, specifically, she thinks you should have done differently (because “more” is maddeningly nonspecific). If this were my report as opposed to my boss, I would validate the emotion. “It’s always frustrating and sad when we can’t do what we wanted to for our llamas.” I’m older and more experienced than my most recent boss and so I would have said that to him but it won’t fly with most bosses.

    2. Jessica*

      This really sounds like the kind of work where, in order to evaluate your efforts, one has to be able to decouple two ideas of success:
      success = you did everything you reasonably could and did it well
      success = the llama ended up thriving
      The second just doesn’t always follow from the first, unfortunately, because your intervention is not the only factor in that llama’s life.

      1. happytobehere*

        Yes, you are spot on! I’ve tried discussing this with her and going over everything we’ve done for this specific case. I’ve mentioned that at the end of the day, it’s up to them if they decide to utilize our services. We can’t force them and I don’t think that should reflect poorly on my team.

    3. Colette*

      One of the important things to know when you’re in a helping job is when you need to pass things on to someone better qualified to help. It sounds like you’ve done that, and your boss hasn’t. You’ve probably done more than you should have, and calling in the zoo was the right call.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        And presumably your call to the zoo was well-informed and provided a brief description of the steps already taken to offer support — and the client llama’s level of personal effort to date. It would essentially be the next level of support, as all of your supports were spoonfed and the client appears unable/unwilling to eat hay on their own.

    4. My Brain is Exploding*

      Explain how it’s not a failure (tho it might not help) 1. You helped and supported them for a year. 2. You provided help well beyond what is normally done for other clients (this might be a failure, though, if it becomes a new norm). 3. You found someone else to continue to care for them. 4. Most importantly, you left them in a better situation than when they came in.

      Maybe would help: Perhaps the zoo could send an email or letter praising what your org has done for the client and welcoming the opportunity to carry your work forward (if you had a contact there and could somehow prompt this response).

    5. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Who is she concerned would interpret this as a failure? Is she concerned that donors will stop contributing if it got out that you had one llama that had to go to a higher remedial level to gt help? Is she concerned that donors will be upset that you all spent a lot of “their” money on this one llama and they still need more help? Thinking if she is that concerned about outside optics that maybe focusing on how a donor would react to the news (because I’m betting they will understand that not 100% of llamas can be treated at the same level) or how she can use what the team did to explain to the donors how your team helped the llama and ensured that they were connected to the right follow-on support to ensure that they don’t fall through the cracks may help her feel better.

      1. Piscera*

        OP indicated that the llama eventually became a freeloader. It sounds the organization should have cut that off sooner, and boss is concerned about being questioned why they didn’t.

        1. happytobehere*

          This is a really difficult situation to be. Honestly, I don’t think she’s worried about donor’s feeling as if we wasted their money. It seems like she wants this to be a success so she can boast about it to community partners, donors, and the board. While I absolutely understand wanting to have an amazing success story, I feel like that’s her main focus rather than the actual help we’ve been providing and how much of a burden it’s been. Those are just my thoughts, though. I truly don’t understand why she’s so set on this having to be a success. I really don’t think anyone else is as worried about it as she is, so I’m trying to find a way to express my frustrations when she’s the only one seeing it this way.

          While yes, I agree they have been freeloading, given their circumstances and their mental/physical age, they honestly were never going to get it and ultimately have been set up to fail. They were put in a really bad situation and then decided to stay in that situation when they were given a clear out (which is a whole different story).

    6. Still*

      This sounds really hard and stressful, I’m sorry.

      What I’m wondering is, what are the consequences if you can’t change your boss’ mind? Say she considers it a failure. What does that actually mean? Will you get fewer resources in the future? Fewer opportunities? Will she use it against you when you negotiate a raise? Will there be actual consequences or is she basically just upset?

      I feel like the more specific the concern, the easier it will be to make your argument. It’s going to be harder to argue with her feelings and the way she defines success… but maybe you don’t have to? It can’t feel great to hear that your boss considers something you’ve been a part of a failure, but it kind of seems like that’s more about her feelings and fears tied to the organization’s reputation, than about your actual job. Is there a world in which you say that you’ve done everything you reasonably could and move on, and let your boss have her feelings about it?

      1. happytobehere*

        You make a really good point and maybe that’s ultimately what it will come down to. I am so proud of all the hard work that has been put into this case, specially from the staff member who’s in charge of it, and I’ve made sure to consistently praise her for that. I know others within the agency see everything we’ve done and support our decision as well. I guess it just kind of stings more when the big boss doesn’t exactly see it that way. Ultimately, I’m worried about her views of it being a failure getting back to the staff I manage, cause she’s the one that’s done the brunt work and I don’t want her doubting herself. I have thought about not saying anything but there’s part of me that wants her to know that her making those kind of comments about such a sensitive case can be really demoralizing to her staff. She really is a great boss but I’ve noticed she cares more about “keeping the peace” and having a “good image” rather than sticking up for staff and supporting them. I guess now typing this all out I think I mostly don’t agree with her views of “maintaining a good image”, rather than supporting stuff and clients even if the end result is not what we had hoped for.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          She’s your boss and is not going to change. Ugh.

          If I were in that situation, I might talk to the staff member about it first as a kind of warning. “Big Boss is not happy that we called the zoo. I want you to know that I think you did a great job and I have made it clear to Big Boss that we did the right thing. This is my responsibility and I will deal with it.”

    7. EA*

      As someone who works in the nonprofit world, I think the caring about image and results (not always as the program team sees them) is not that unusual for directors/higher ups because unfortunately the public image of the org CAN make or break opportunities to get grants, donations, and support for the program. For example our Exec Director often focuses a lot on big numbers or a “star” community where there’s a ton of pressure to deliver certain results and it sounds similar to what you’re describing. Sometimes it’s strategic to share different success stories within your program to take the pressure off of those special cases and give the directors other results to highlight. Basically give her another success story – because she does need talking points to “sell” your work.

      I’m not a big fan of the llama/zoo metaphor for what sounds like a person and maybe a child protection issue, but I think emphasizing the legal side of it is important and maybe even suggesting to your boss that that be part of your future procedures. Clearly you did the right thing as a mandated reporter. And documenting everything you did really well is also key.

    8. Straight Laced Sue*

      I would say she fundamentally misunderstands the nature of this kind of work. The people supported by this kind of non-profit are people in situations so complex and challenging that “success” is much more elusive for them than for the average person. The purpose of this support work is to try, try again, make differences, fail to make differences, learn, keep learning, and so on forever. How does she not understand it’s part of the fabric of the work that a client can continue to have a complex and challenging situation?
      Also, it doesn’t sound remotely like your intervention hasn’t worked. It sounds like it’s make a concrete, helpful difference to the lives of two people. So, uh, well done!

  11. Amber Rose*

    I need some outside opinions on this ridiculous thing that is stressing me out. I tried to shorten this story but it ended up long.

    I held a meeting on the importance of reducing stress at work by reducing meetings (the irony is on purpose.) One of the things I said was that in a loaded day, allowing even a five minute break between meetings reduces stress and will make your day seem less terrible.

    Helga is an EA. She showed up in my office at the end of the day three days later saying she’d tuned in and got so upset because that was such a negative message and I was “probably joking but we have a lot of new staff and that’s not the culture we want to promote.” She specifically took umbrage with my use of the word terrible.

    I said I would try to be mindful of my word choices going forward, but that we have culture problems and that my word choice was a fairly small part of that (this is not news, it’s why we have so many consultants). She asked me to elaborate and I said I would not. She went purple. “UM, you can’t SAY that and then NOT ELABORATE.”

    I said, “I have had discussions about this with management and specifically my own manager and I don’t feel I need to go over the contents of those meetings with you.”

    She said, “oh well I could have talked to your manager first but I figured I’d bring it up to you directly first.” And then immediately went upstairs and complained about me to my manager.

    Now, my manager pretty much laughed her out of his office. The other manager who heard about this was furious on my behalf over what he called bullying. My husband and his boss think I was kind of in the wrong here.

    Did I botch this? Is suggesting that back to back meetings would result in a terrible day that bad? Should I have just smiled and nodded at Helga (probably yes I know, but I was tired and she interrupted me in the middle of a critical task for the third time this week over what feels like nonsense.)

    1. Amber Rose*

      Please don’t mind the pointless meetings. They are a requirement of maintaining my program certification. We all hate them, particularly me, but the government hath spoken.

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      The simple way out would have been “I’ll try to be more mindful going forward” without the “but.” Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure the “but” was entirely accurate. It doesn’t sound like Helga was the appropriate audience for it.

      Was the new staff on the call? If it was a relatively small group of people you know well who have been with the org for a while, then I think “terrible” was a fine way of getting your message across. If there really were new hires on the call then yeah, I think Helga may have a point. OTOH, she should not have badgered you and honestly it doesn’t sound like she had standing to speak to you at all – she’s not your manager. Maybe I don’t understand what “admin” means in your context – does she have a role in this culture-change process? If not, then she was sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong.

      One more piece of gratuitous advice you did not ask for: I have found over the years that when something relatively minor keeps eating at me, it’s a sign of a deeper problem in myself. That’s often been burnout. Sometimes it’s been my own insecurity about what I said or did. And sometimes it’s a red flag about the relationship. This may not apply to you at all in which case please feel free to ignore it. I hope you have a chance for some restful and restorative time.

    3. Super Duper Anon*

      I can see where she was coming from, but it is also such a small issue overall that escalating it to management level seems silly. As a new hire, I would get a little nervous about “a terrible day”, being brought up. It would put me on alert for culture issues overall. But its such a small thing that she should have just said her piece and left it there. You saying you would be mindful of your word choice going forward should be enough.

    4. MsM*

      Honestly, I’m disappointed in your manager for not more firmly backing you up that this is not Helga’s purview. And even if her responsibilities include fostering a happy office culture in some way, threatening to go over your head because you used a more negative word than she personally would have chosen is not how you do that. Shake it off unless she pulls this again, at which point I’d consider making your own complaint.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I agree. Helga sounds to my ear like a long term employee who’s pulling rank that isn’t in her lane, to mix a metaphor. This really isn’t her job, and it sounds like she does this regularly (3d time in a month!)

    5. RagingADHD*

      Could you have been more tactful, sure. But it wasn’t that bad to say back to back meetings are terrible. They are. It was very weird and overstepping for Helga to come at you about it.

      I think if you already had a good collegial relationship with Helga, or wanted to build one, explaining what you meant about culture problems would have been helpful. It could have come across rather passive-aggressive to hint darkly at culture problems and refuse to explain. And after all, many culture problems are helped by good communication and being transparent.

      But it wasn’t her place to take you to task or especially complain to your manager. Building better relationships is a 2-way street, and she certainly wasn’t holding up her end at all.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I don’t have a good relationship with her and it won’t be possible to build one. She hates me and has been going after me for three of the six months she’s worked here.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Whoa! She’s been there SIX MONTHS and has pulled this type of thing multiple times? Helga’s mouth is writing checks her butt doesn’t have the political capital to cash!

          I just wrote above that this sounds like the type of thing a really long term employee might pull because they feel like the expert in how “everything’s done.” But a new employee of six months???

    6. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I think maybe you could have made the message slightly more upbeat by saying the break would make your day “a little easier” instead of saying “less terrible,” but honestly? Helga is still completely in the wrong here. Your message was fine. Actually, I think your message is great; I always need buffer time between meetings and I luckily (purposefully!) have a job wherein I don’t have a lot of back-to-back meetings. They really are hard! You have my blessing to think no more of Helga and her weird semantics arguments. Your boss was right to laugh Helga out of her office. Is it bullying, as the other manager said? I’m not sure, it would depend on what else Helga had to say and maybe on other behavior she’s exhibited to you in the past. Is she problematic in other ways? (I will pretend to be shocked if you say yes she is….)

    7. Era*

      I’m confused about why your husband’s boss’s opinion matters enough to mention! I don’t know if he’s at the same organization, but assuming not, he doesn’t have the standing to judge whether it made sense in your context.

      From here, it seems like Helga was probably out of line and being too pushy, saying that a day with too many meetings can seem terrible isn’t that far from standard, and yeah you could’ve defused it but she was the main instigator.

    8. Liz W.*

      You did better than I would! A smile, and an “I’m sorry you feel that way” were more than she deserved. Double kudos for not falling for the tell me the gossip attempt!

    9. Jenna Webster*

      I feel like your response was spot on. She didn’t have any real reason to go to you or your manager about this, and telling her that you wouldn’t discuss it further, but that you were discussing it with your manager was exactly what you should have done. I’m glad your manager also responded correctly. Even beginning to get into this with Helga would have turned it into a whole thing, and would have been much worse.

    10. JaneDough(not)*

      Disclaimer: I don’t know anything about your workplace, its culture, etc., so my comment might be unhelpful — and sorry if so.

      Fwiw, I’m a fan of neutral language, so I would have gone with something like “make your day less hectic / less crowded / more manageable.” To me, “less terrible,” even jokingly, is demoralizing; also to me, the alternatives I suggested don’t sweep reality under the rug — they’re just not hammering it home.

      If there’s a lot of dysfunction in a workplace, employees are typically unable to change much or most of it; the best they can do is reframe it and try to change how they respond to it — hence my preference for neutral language.

    11. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’d have focused on the benefits of breaks – increased energy & focus of participants, rather than on how “terrible” the current situation is.

      So I’d propose keeping say 11:30 – 1:30 or even just 12:00 – 1:00 free of meetings to ensure a lunch break, plus a 10 minute meeting-free bio-break every 2 hours.

      Also, meetings are often important for the manager/PM to keep track of work & problems; hence a mandatory part of your work to which you must allocate time just as much as producing widgets or whatever.
      When meetings are stressful it is often because you then don’t have time for your other work i.e. it probably indicates that management have ordained too few staff for the work. In which case I’d be pushing to recruit additional employees.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I mean, I didn’t say the current situation was terrible. I said if you have multiple meetings back to back, your day will feel terrible.

    12. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Honestly I think ‘terrible’ wasn’t a good choice of language, but overall the message is correct and pretty much everyone knows about the disaster that wall-to-wall meetings becomes. Perhaps Helga is one of the wall-to-wall meetings culprits and feels publicly called out? She seems to be using the word ‘we’ to borrow power from the people she’s an admin for.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        Your latter point is what I was thinking. If you’re an EA for a high enough person in the company, then it’s possible and/or highly likely that 90% of the time their schedule is going to be jam packed with tons of meetings and there really isn’t room for a breather or break. She might have taken the training too personally from a, “But there’s nothing I can DO about it, and now you’re saying I’m making their day TERRIBLE!” perspective. Which is still her problem to deal with, not yours, and I’m glad your manager had your back. I think you handled the situation fine.

    13. Piscera*

      Helga should have taken any legitimate concerns to her manager, and let them pass it up the line if they thought it appropriate.

      At a past law firm employer, I attended a happy hour event for a non-profit that was a pro bono client. IANAL, but I had worked on some of their projects and knew them well enough to go.

      A client rep was there, but had to leave about 20 minutes in. Nobody else was in charge, and finally I broke the ice with a young attorney who was just sitting there because she didn’t know anyone.

      Another attorney colleague of mine was there, and I introduced them so that Colleague could do more introductions than I could. The next day at work, I asked Colleague to share my observations with ED. That kind of thing was better coming from Colleague than from me.

    14. Hiring Mgr*

      If Helga is the EA, she probably has to schedule meetings for a bunch of people, and I can see her viewing this as “oh here’s yet another person telling me how to schedule meetings”.

      It seems like she reacted poorly, though I don’t see any bullying here

      1. Amber Rose*

        You’d think that but she is only responsible for one person and spends most of her time complaining about window shades. She delegates 90% of her work to her assistant.

    15. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hi Amber Rose, as you say that Helga hates you, I think it is time to look at her as if she is a patch of quicksand or a large prickle bush with wavy spiky tendrils. Avoidance is the key thing. Prepare some brief replies for any interactions with her (“ok, I’ll make a note of that”, “I will pass on your thoughts to the boss” etc). Helga’s objection to the word “terrible” doesn’t have any depth to it, in my opinion, it just enabled her to grab you with her quicksandy/spiky clutches and do some hating. SHE COULD HAVE DONE THAT WITH ANYTHING you ever said or wore or smelt like or looked sideways at. In other words- steer clear where you can, be as boring as possible in any interactions with her, and don’t give her opinions any weight in your own mind. Don’t get hooked! Good luck to you!

    16. BackToBackToBackToBack*

      calling back to back meetings terrible is hyperbolic (now six meetings in a row with a context shift for each, that might legitimately qualify), but her reaction to it was insane.

      I would look askance at your original comment and think you’d lived a pretty privileged working life, but I wouldn’t have said anything to you and certainly wouldn’t have complained to your boss.

      Also, I want to work at a place where back to back meetings might be the lowlight of my day.

    17. Morning Light*

      I wonder if the core of this situation is that Helga is bullying. She’s not just being annoying, and it’s not just a personality clash – she’s engaged in that insidious and powerful thing we call bullying. If so, no wonder you are feeling bothered, and reacted defensively to her. My advice: a) document, b) ‘grey-rock’ her, c) consider looping in management if they’re good, d) increase your self-care, to arm yourself against the sneaky stuff that bullying does to state of mind.

  12. LearningLibrarian*

    Alright so I’ve heard the horror stories of holiday work parties, but what is a meaningful way that administration could recognize the holidays for their teams? I think it would be important to be sensitive to those who celebrate holidays outside of Christmas, and to also be sensitive to those who do not celebrate anything or find the holidays challenging to navigate.
    The reason I ask is that my company literally does nothing. No one even uttered “happy holidays” in the weeks leading up to our break. Not a single decoration was hung. No holiday emails. No “wear an ugly sweater” day. And of course there weren’t any gifts or bonuses, we are in the education industry. I guess I am just feeling like it was pretty grinchy, but I also came from a very spirited industry, and I can’t even put my finger on what I’d suggest for an improvement.
    Any ideas?

    1. Goldfeesh*

      It sounds like your company is an oasis from all the holiday rigmarole pushed on everyone this time of year. Why yes, I am a former retail worker.

    2. Wine not Whine*

      As the replies above me reflect, many of us are just as happy to _not_ have to deal with/navigate holiday-related stuff at work.

      If you want to recognize your team members for their hard work, separate it from the holidays. It’ll have far more meaningful impact, rather than feeling obligatory. Even pushing it to early in the new year will keep its focus on the work.

      If your folks _want_ to recognize or celebrate holidays of any sort, let it rise organically from them rather than being imposed from “above.”

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

      My org makes a very shallow attempt to disguise Christmas celebration with a ton of “happy holidays” while also having Christmas trees, gift exchanges, Christmas candy and cookies, Christmas sweater contests…

      I really wish we would focus more on New Year as the holiday we are celebrating. I realize that there are different new year calendars, but at least the western new year is not a specifically religious holiday. It would be nice to have a year-in-review message about our accomplishments, or end-of-year party without anything Christmas.

      1. Joielle*

        Same here – not a ton of parties/gifts since we’re a state agency and don’t have a budget for it, but one of the admins puts up a Christmas tree in the lobby, some people put up lights in their cubes, someone organized a secret Santa thing. I really think it’s too much for a government agency that serves the entire public, especially because we’ve made a concerted effort on the DEI front this year and it kind of feels like… did anyone actually learn anything from any of this??

        Totally agree that New Years/end-of-year celebrations would be more appropriate.

    4. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      If you’re US based, what does your organization do for other holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and 4th of July; the ones that come with more of the recognized vacation time and parties associated? Because that’s what I see this time as, a time period where a lot of people take time off to be with friends and family to celebrate something. Do you all wish each other a Happy 4th, talk about vacation plans, or have an office bbq?

    5. Ghostwriting is Real Writing*

      One of the best places I ever worked had no holiday parties. No decorations. No Secret Santa. No mention of the holidays at all. What they did have was a fabulous Kick Off the New Year party the second Friday of January. Plus ones invited. Free food and drink. Dancing and karaoke. The CEO gave a short speech on the highlights from the previous year and what the company expected to do in the current year. Everyone left feeling energized and ready to get back to work on Monday and, as far as I know, not a single employee would have preferred a holiday work event in December.

    6. metadata minion*

      Is your issue that you want Christmas celebrated at work, or that you’re feeling tired and grumpy after the end-of-semester stress and wish there was some sort of end-of-year recreation? For the first…that’s really not your workplace’s job. You can celebrate Christmas with other people who celebrate — you can even have a party at home and invite coworkers if you want, or invite work friends out for yuletide happy hour/ice cream/coffee/whatever.

      If it’s the latter, maybe bring it up with your manager/colleagues/etc.? In education there’s usually such a strong yearly work cycle that you can easily have end-of-semester festivities that aren’t Christmas-y at all. Though conversely, I like that my (university) workplace has our winter staff party in January, because December is really busy and I would actually rather not take time out of my workday to go to a party because there are things that have to happen before we leave for break.

    7. Yikes Stripes*

      As an atheist who loathes the omnipresent Christmas thing, that sounds like a dream.

      “Holiday” parties are inevitably actually Christmas parties – my work was at least honest and called it that. Decorations are also inevitably Christmas related, gift exchanges are almost always “secret Santa” deals, and the ugly sweater thing is 100% Christmas coded – as is your use of “spirited” and “Grinchy.” It’s not a thing that people who do Christmas often notice, but for those of us who grit our teeth and just bear it this time of year the whole thing can be exhausting and demoralizing.

      I do understand that it may be frustrating for you to not have a “festive” environment at work if that’s what you’re used to, but you can be spirited and festive at home, on your own time. You ask how to be sensitive to those who celebrate holidays outside of Christmas – or who don’t celebrate religious holidays at all – and that’s how. I do think that celebrating New Years is a fantastic alternative as it actually is a secular holiday, as has been mentioned in the comments already.

    8. AcademiaNut*

      Honestly, that sounds completely fine. End of year bonuses are nice (I also work in a field where these don’t happen), but the best thing an employer can do is recognize that this is a busy vacation time for many people, and do their best to let people have time off if they want it, handle necessary work coverage as equitably as possible, and not schedule unnecessary busy work binges.

      Ultimately, there isn’t really a way to “recognize the holidays” that isn’t at least culturally Christian, because “the holidays” is Christmas, at least in the Western world. If they wanted to do a totally non-religious end of year thing, I really like the idea of a New Year party sometime mid January, when people aren’t busy.

    9. Morning Light*

      This year, my org seems to have been too preoccupied to do anything for the holidays and I was just thinking yesterday what a relief that was. I celebrate Christmas, and love Christmas festivities, but December is always increasingly stressy and the best present for me is “we’re not giving you yet another thing to do”.
      We had no party, no night out, no Secret Santa… and that was nice.

  13. Anon-emoji*

    This is a sensitive one and I expect there might be a debate, so I’m going to keep the details as neutral as possible to avoid conflict. But, I think the issue might be an important one for managers.

    I recently had a weekly check-in with my staffer. While discussing their projects, they noted that they would need to adjust one project to avoid an event that has been very much in the news and is very divisive. I do have an opinion on the event, but have not shared it with my staffer (or with many people in my office) and when referencing the situation, I try to use neutral language. Though based on what they know about me, it would be very easy for them to guess where I stand. (This is very much not an assumption)

    However, when they mentioned the situation to me, they used language that is very clearly used by those who have the opposite opinion as me and not only that, it could be considered offensive by some. I have not determined whether I’m offended or just deeply upset. But either way, it was pretty distressing to me. In the moment I decided not to address it as I wasn’t in the right space to have a professional discussion about something that is so personal to me and I also wanted to be mindful that it was clearly personal to them. And the fact that I’m their boss, makes me extra sensitive to how I approach this.

    I’m still not sure how to approach it. I am capable of working with them without letting them know I am not comfortable around them. If it should come up again, I do think I will have to ask them not to use that language when talking about it with me. But, it is still very difficult for me to determine whether this was just someone not being careful with those around them or intentionally provocative. It could really be either scenario with this staffer.

    Anyway – I would appreciate hearing from anyone who may have experienced being triggered by an employee and how they navigated that power balance.

    1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Are you expecting this employee to push back if you tell them not to use that language? Because it seems like you simply need to shut this down, rather than have a discussion around it – I think its reasonable to ask that in (most) workplaces, staff keep politically charged issues out of work conversations.

      1. Anon-emoji*

        Unfortunately in this case, the politically charged issue needed to be mentioned, the issue is how it was mentioned. It’s possible they would push back. It’s not a black and white issue, so I can’t just shut it down. And while I am not comfortable having a discussion about it, I know that addressing it could force a discussion.

    2. chocolate muffins*

      I was surprised by the way the question at the end was framed because I was expecting something more about how to deal with a person saying offensive things at work, rather than being personally triggered. In other words, it sounds like this person said something generally problematic rather than something that only upsets you because of things that you’ve experienced in your past (which is what I think a trigger is, though maybe I’m misunderstanding).

      I’m not sure how to interpret the piece about the comment possibly being offensive to some. I think some things are offensive because they are problematic and some things just offend people but are not problematic in and of themselves. Did the person say something that was a problem, like using a slur for a group of people or saying something else bigoted? If so, I’d address that part in the moment, next time, by saying something like “we don’t talk like that here” or “that is an offensive term; you will need to avoid using it in the future.” Whether or not I would address it with the person after it has happened depends on what exactly they said and how bad it was.

      For managing your own feelings about it, I think a lot of general advice about how to manage feelings about hard things that happen at work might apply. For instance, you could do something soothing afterwards like going for a walk or listening to music or reading a book. But again, to me, the main thing in this context would be addressing the problematic thing if there was one. It’s especially important if the people who could be offended lack social power in some ways, and you are especially well positioned to address this if you have power over the person who said it. For instance, if you are both White and the person used some stereotypical language around Black people, it is important for you to tell them not to do that again and enforce that norm; you are much better positioned to do that than a Black supervisor or a White peer.

      I might be misunderstanding this entire situation and I apologize if so! Hope any of this was helpful, regardless.

      1. anon-emoji*

        Trigger may not be the right word. I wrote this out a bunch of times to be as anonymous as possible, so that may have unintentionally made it in there.

        I wouldn’t call it a slur, but the words used were very charged and representative of a particularly position. If used in front of those on the other side of the issue (other than myself), I think they would definitely consider it intentionally provoking and it certainly escalates the conversation.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Some people use “triggered” to mean annoyed. It’s a pet peeve of mine as I think it contributes to people not taking trauma and mental health triggers seriously, but it seems to be slipping in to the language.

    3. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      This is such a tough situation. In similar situations, I tend to not respond in the moment and take time to think about the person and their intention. If I don’t think that educating them would change their mind, then I don’t address it with them.
      Several years ago, I had a coworker use an antisemitic term in conversation and I spoke to her the next day to explain that the term was offensive and why and asked her not to use it again, at least with me. But if I hadn’t known her as well or thought that explaining it to her wouldn’t have any effect, I wouldn’t have said anything.

    4. Cacofonix*

      Your staffer, so a coaching moment not from you as a person, but as a manager who has a responsibility for not fostering a toxic workplace. If it happens again, prepare a statement so you’re not stuck in the moment. Alison would be better at this but something like “when referring to controversial topics like this please use more neutral language (example if necessary). I do this myself out of respect for people who may have differing opinions. Strong language like that has no place in the workplace, can you do that? Okay, let’s discuss how we can accommodate for the needs of the project.” Shut down any debate on the issue itself, only the business communications and your expectations. Because if they are doing it to you, guarantee you’re not the only one.

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        I agree with this, and I think given that it sounds like there are strong differing opinions about this topic, I’d focus on statements that are offensive because they are about an individual or group of people (identity, background, etc) rather than statements about the issue in general that some might be offended by (though that might depending on how inflammatory what they said was).

    5. Joielle*

      I think it depends if the comment/phrase was objectively offensive (like a slur) or just framed in a way that you could tell the person has an opposite stance from you (like “pro life” or “pro choice”). If the former, you can/should certainly shut it down with extreme prejudice. Serious conversation, loop in HR, etc. If the latter, I’d probably wait and see if it comes up again. If it becomes a pattern of bringing up divisive topics (or not treating divisive topics with appropriate sensitivity), that’s something you can address.

    6. Rex Libris*

      Personally, I’d just address the behavior as a manager correcting an employee, like I normally would. Assuming we’re not crossing the threshold to hate speech, but just being insensitive and or obnoxious, something like “You need to be mindful that we have employees with all sorts of positions and opinions around things like this. We all need to work together, so please don’t use language that can come across divisive or derogatory like “x” or “y”.

    7. Anona*

      If I’m off, please ignore this.

      It sounds like you’re a member of J-group, and a member of M-group, perhaps the P-subset of M-group, said something about a current geo-political situation that has you feeling triggered. Understandable!

      My n=2 here but some data points that might be useful: first, most of my J-group friends and my M-slash-P-group friends are also friends with each other, and I have heard a lot of “we are hoping for good news for P-group friends soon” and “we are all hoping for peace” from J-group friends, even those who have personal connections that mean they are living in a lot of pain and fear. If possible, is there a common ground you could identify (even “it is such a difficult time”) that might build a bit of a bridge between you and your employee?

      Second, my partner’s co-worker, a member of P-group, has had several articles published recently including in the Paper of Record about the terrifying and fatal experiences his family has had in the last couple of months. His extended family is gone. He has been remarkably generous and thoughtful in his grief. Partner’s org’s CEO is a member of J-group and has supported these sentiments and re-circulated the published pieces for the org as a whole to read.

      Don’t know if that’s useful or if I’m way off in my speculation. Please be gentle with yourself and your employee.

      1. annonie*

        I thought it was that same situation but in my experience what I’ve been seeing a lot is people who are in neither group making shitty comments to J-group people (such as using “zionist” as a slur, as if it’s slur-worthy to want one’s country to continue to exist) and that’s what this sounded like to me. I could be wrong.

      2. Llama Wrangler*

        I just want to note that the OP here was very careful to not make their question about this specific situation, and we don’t actually have any evidence what the topic at hand is, or which side of it they are on.

        I had the same assumption as you initially because that is what is on my mind, but I reread the letter a few times and it could really have been written from either side, or be about something entirely different.

      3. anon-emoji*

        I appreciate the suggestion of kindness and helpful information, but Llama-Wrangler is right. I wrote my post devoid of specifics to avoid discussion around the issue itself. I don’t/didn’t want the issue to overshadow the request for advice. Hope you understand.

        But to use an analogy that may make it easier to visualize – it would be like North Dakota and South Dakota competing over who has the better park. And during a casual conversation Nebraska acknowledges North Dakota is having a contest with South Dakota, and whispers to North Dakota that their park stinks. Sure, Nebraska is also a state. They even have parks. So it’s understandable they might have an opinion. But they are not competing with North Dakota or South Dakota. They’re simply stating an opinion. One that escalates an already competitive situation.

    8. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Honestly, if you ask how I navigated this kind of situation, the answer is “badly”. You sound like you have done an awesome job at unpicking the multiple layers here and I feel like your employee is lucky to have a manager who thinks so carefully (and cares so thoughtfully) about psychological safety and power.

      I think Rex Libris’s advice is perfect, I just wanted to say this stuff is hard and you are already way ahead of the game in your capacity to analyse and reflect. Good luck.

      1. anon-emoji*

        Thank you for your response. Managing folks sometimes feels pretty thankless, so it’s super nice of you to share your experience and spread a little kindess.

  14. Younger Professional*

    I wanted to share some good news (and ask for some advice)!

    I’ve accepted a new job that starts in Feb. It’s and incredible position for me and comes with a salary that my current job cannot match.

    This is the first time I’ve resigned from a job. I’m planning to give notice early in the new year and it’s making me nervous. It’s definitely going to leave my company in the lurch, and while I like my coworkers and it will be frustrating for them, I’m not conflicted.

    I’m trying to prep myself for the commentary that’s going to occur and come up with some generic replies. When someone resigned earlier in the year, there were a lot of borderline rude comments about her choices. There’s a bit of a “crabs in the bucket” mentality here.

    I’m also trying to figure out how much I’m telling them about the new position. I’m kinda landing at saying something along the lines of moving to city X for an opportunity too good to pass up.

    Any suggestions for bland responses and how I might approach these conversations?

    1. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      I think your answer of too good an opportunity to pass up is great. I also added that I hadn’t been looking but the opportunity presented itself when I left a job after 12 years.
      Congratulations and best of luck!

    2. Sherm*

      If they poke fun at your choices, you can say something like “Hmm, possibly so” in a disinterested tone that indicates that they are not getting a rise out of you. If they say something snarky like “Must be nice, leaving us in the lurch” you can choose to deliberately not get the snark, and say something thoughtful like “It will be nice to start something new, but of course I hope the transition will be smooth sailing for you.”

      As to what to say, I dunno, keeping it coy might invite a lot of speculation. Any reason not to just say where you’re going? If they are so toxic that you think they would sabotage your chances at the new place, well, I wouldn’t worry at all what to say to them. Frosty silence would be much deserved.

    3. lost academic*

      Keep everything entirely focused on the transition plan and timeline. Don’t discuss what happens with you after you leave if you know there’s going to be static, just make it clear starting with giving notice and everyone else that needs to be part of the transition that you’re moving on to another opportunity and it’s important to use the remaining time to focus on handoff and documentation and training and anything else responsibility-related that needs to happen. You can redirect the questions about where you’re going/why you’re leaving/other things with something like “Let’s just focus on what we need to do/talk about here which is …” and keep controlling the narrative. (Don’t accept the premise of the question.) Say it with a smile and focus on actions that need to happen and don’t let anyone derail you with guilt, intentionally or otherwise.

    4. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Congratulations on the great new job!
      Your wording sounds good.
      If anyone – probably just jealous – makes catty remarks, just laugh and say “really” with raised eyebow. They will very soon be in your rear view mirror / dust, so not worth wasting your brainspace on.

    5. Cruciatus*

      I think you’ll just have to be prepared for a little snark on their end–but hope for the best prepare for the worst. And this is a them problem, not a you problem–it’s not on you to control how they react, but with that said, a few “I’m sorry about the timing and I really enjoyed it here, but this opportunity was too good to pass up” is all you need to offer. It will eventually die down. They will eventually rehire. I cried when I left my job 5 months ago! Granted, not with the “lurch” situation you have, but they have continued on. Resigning is normal. If they bitch, some of it is probably just stress. Maybe envy. But it’s not your fault and they can act like they want to act, and if they act poorly then that’ll make the welcomeness of the new job even better.

    6. Rick Tq*

      Give your current company the normal 2 weeks of notice but start wrapping up and documenting your current workload now, as much as you can. I would only give them more if you knew you would work out your notice period. If somebody at your (soon to be old) company makes a negative comment just ignore them, they won’t be your problem in a few more days. They can’t keep you into the Crab Bucket without your consent.

      As far as ‘leaving your company in the lurch’. You are not, their managers have by not developing resources to complete your job if you were injured in an accident and couldn’t work.

    7. KeepQuiet*

      I strongly recommend not telling anyone at your current job exactly where your new job is. I think this is sensible in any case, but essential in an environment where people are crabby about someone leaving and could potentially retaliate in harmful ways, perhaps even to the extent of scotching your new job.

  15. MewTew*

    I applied for a federal job that I was pretty sure I was qualified for, after trying to match my resume and experiences to the job qualifications. I turned out to be ineligible, so I emailed HR why I was not eligible and they responded lightning fast with a paragraph by paragraph explanation of why I wasn’t qualified! While helpful, I now feel a bit ashamed that I asked, and wonder if I’m on some kind of watchlist with HR for the audacity. Anyone in the feds have any insight?

    1. Era*

      I’m not involved in the federal government, but just gonna guess that either someone types fast and still had your resume on their mind, or they have pre-written boilerplate for this kind of question.

    2. one of them*

      You are 100% not on anyone’s watchlist! A) this is a super normal thing that fed HR gets asked all the time, which is why they are probably able to answer it so easily, B) fed HR is chronically understaffed and busy, no one has time to keep a watchlist :)

    3. A Taxing Person*

      No, you’re not anyone’s list and I certainly wouldn’t feel ashamed about asking about why you weren’t qualified. I’m glad that you even received a response. Any response. And fairly quickly at that. You were lucky that way. In your case, it appears that not only did you get a timely response, but you got one that contained the actual information about why you were not qualified. This is unusual, but good for you.

    4. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Honestly super surprised you got an answer, that’s more out of the norm, especially since a lot of the initial stuff is computerized now. I would say as long as you were respectful, you’re not on anyone’s watch list. If you haven’t already, you might want to just follow-up with a thank you email to reinforce that this was a respectful inquiry.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      Agree with the others, you’re definitely not blacklisted over requesting some feedback on an unsuccessful application. If anything, it’s a benefit to you to have that feedback if you’re interested in applying to other similar jobs, because now you know how they read and interpreted your application. Fed hiring is very formulaic, so having it laid out for you can help you make a stronger case next time.

  16. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Small work joys?

    One of my unofficial goals for this year was to improve my interpersonal skills. I’m generally pretty professional, but sometimes my filter is uh lacking, and I am not always very good at keeping a lid on it when I think people are being dumb, and my eyebrows have a mind of their own.

    But this week, I have taken a big dramatic cross-team interpersonal issue that pretty much everyone else involved was like “what’s the thing I can do that would escalate this the most? I’ll do THAT!” and I, pretty much single-handedly, de-escalated everybody involved, resolved the problem, helped identify and clear up the communication issues for each party, and as of this morning, everyone involved is feeling good and happy to draw a line under it and move on to a better future. And my boss thinks that I am AMAZING.

    1. Jenna Webster*

      That is truly amazing!!!! Sounds like you knocked that goal out of the park – find some way to reward yourself – that is an astonishing thing to be able to accomplish!!

    2. chocolate muffins*

      Yay! I’m so glad you had that experience. My small work joy is finishing a big project right before the holidays and having some sense of closure before my break.

    3. Pam Adams*

      I heard from several of my graduating seniors this week- it was great to confirm that-yes, they really made it!

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      That is awesome!! Any tips for how you handled it? My filter is slightly clogged, as we speak.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        … Honestly, I think mostly I sort of “translated” them to each other as an originally uninvolved third party. Heh. From outside the conversation, it was very easy to me to see where each person had misunderstood the other, so my primary goal was to clear up those misunderstandings so that they both knew what happened, and also to subtly reiterate our organizational value of assuming best intention rather than assuming the other person is out to bust your chops right off the bat.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Thank you! This is such a constructive approach to get out of my head and into the collective’s essential goal. Thanks!

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I can’t figure out how to elaborate further without being more recognizable than I’m comfortable with, but I’m glad that helped!

            Sometimes I admit I turn my inner snark toward “what can I say here that sounds nice but I really know what I mean and it is not nice at all,” and in situations like mine this week, sometimes that tendency actually helps me to unpack ways things that were intended to be benign could be read as barbed, if that makes sense. Reversing my own bad habit to use it for good? I used language like “In a perfect world, they might have said (these words) instead of (those words). If you assume good intent, can you reasonably get from (original words) to (intended meaning) and see how that might have been meant, and does looking at it that way help any?”

            1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

              Scribbling furiously in notebook- thank you! And congratulations, that’s a huge achievement.

  17. No aurora*

    At my work, there’s a manager position for my team that just opened and since I’m the most senior there, I’m a bit interested (plus a bit bored in my currentrole sometimes).
    It’s obviously a step up in responsibility and the general manager has expressed that he wants someone who knows the location (tourism work) and to keep the team on the same page.
    I’m quite unsure though, as for the past 3 years I’ve been here (It’s both seasonal work and remote so that’s why a 3 year tenure makes me the oldest staff team member) we’ve had 4 different managers so it’s obviously not an easy position to keep people in.
    Would I be out of line to apply anyway, even if I’m unsure I’d actually want it?

    1. MsM*

      Is it possible for you to have an informal conversation with the general manager or someone else involved in the hiring process first to get more insight into why there’s been so much turnover, and ask any other questions that might make you decide against it?

      1. No aurora*

        That’s possible but right now, it’s a holiday break and I’d rather not bother the general manager with it. The other people potentially involved in the hiring are part of the head branch and very much removed (and uninterested) with anything to do with our branch.

        1. MsM*

          Fair. If you can’t wait until after the holiday to set that up, I’d go ahead and put your hat in, and ask the questions as part of the interview process. If you don’t like the answers, you can always express profuse appreciation for their time and responses, and let them know that after giving it serious consideration, you think staying where you are is a better fit.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      If you’re interested, apply! An interview is a conversation to see if you and the job are a good fit for one another. You are not required to be ready to commit to anything beyond that.

    3. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      You’re definitely not out of line to apply! That’s the best way to get more information so that you can decide if you would want the job.

    4. linger*

      Apply — but also ask around about the possible pitfalls of the position. For the hiring manager, those questions could wait until interviewing if the timeframe doesn’t otherwise work, but in the interim, can you ask any of the recent incumbents about their experiences in the role?

  18. Whomst*

    Putting in for a promotion right before leaving on maternity leave. Kinda nervous about the optics of it, but my company has a very regimented promotion cycle, and they only consider people for promotions once a year at the beginning of the year. If they claim that I haven;t met the minimum experience requirements for the promotion because of the time I’m taking of for maternity leave, I will SCREAM.

    1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      ugh. I’m due late March and have spent far too much energy trying to make sure that my upcoming leave is not impacting possible opportunities.
      fingers crossed that it simply will not be an issue for you

      1. Whomst*

        Depends on how much they’re willing to count student/internship time towards the “five years experience”.

        As it stands, they’ve been giving me mid-career responsibilities for the past year while I’m still technically entry level, so that “required experience” is the only actual reason they could give for not promoting me.

  19. Hotdog not dog*

    How does one go about requesting an accommodation at work?
    Our building recently took on some water damage, which is partially repaired. Unfortunately it probably won’t be finished for about another month, and aside from the construction mess, there is a strong odor of mildew.
    We were temporarily relocated to another (much nicer!) section of the building, but the manager at that location has insisted that we move back while the construction is still underway. She feels that it is “not a good look to give prime offices to people below a certain level,” and since nobody wants to pick a fight with her, we’ve been moved back. (She is not the manager for my team, although she seems to feel she’s the boss of everyone. She’s a whole series of AAM letters all on her own.)
    I don’t really care where I sit, but I can’t breathe. I’m allergic to mildew, and no amount of medication has helped. We are only allowed to WFH one day per week, no exceptions.
    I feel like it should be an entirely reasonable accommodation for me to either work from the “prime office” or from home until the mildew situation is resolved, but I’ve gotten a lot of pushback. Would I start by getting a doctor’s note, or go to HR first?

    1. Rainy*

      Have you talked to your manager about this? I’d start with your manager if you haven’t already. They will likely have insight into how the process works, but if they’re unhelpful, then HR. At that point, HR should tell you what you need for a formal accommodation, but I wouldn’t pay a copay for a doctor’s note preemptively especially since you won’t know what the note needs to say until you talk to HR.

    2. Oof and ouch*

      Go to HR first as they’ll be able to tell you what kind of info they need. If you get pushback make sure you’re framing it as a medical issue and say you can provide documentation to that effect

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Talk to your manager first, then HR if your manager isn’t helpful. You definitely need to be able to breathe! And mildew is really bad for everyone not just those of us with allergies (hi, fellow mold allergy friend!) so it’s actually a really bad idea for any of you to be working there. Can you see if all of you can stay in your allergen-free location until the construction is over? Ask the rest of your team if they’d be willing to talk to your manager/HR about doing so; if you push back as a group maybe they will realize that moving you is a bad idea. Or maybe you’ll find out that that other manager is pretending to have authority she doesn’t and making you move back to a construction zone (wtf, btw? her reasoning is totally ridiculous) is not something anyone else would approve of.

      In any case, you definitely have standing to request to stay where you are until the mildew problem is resolved.

      1. Rainy*

        Yes–prolonged exposure to mold can cause respiratory symptoms, brain fog and memory problems, and even pneumonia. It’s a serious problem for everyone, people with mold allergy just feel it first.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s bad not only from a personal “let’s not slowly destroy our employees’ breathing” point of view, but I would bet OSHA has something to say about it as well. Mildew and black mold are very dangerous to be exposed to long term–you don’t have to have pre existing allergies for them to affect you (but clearly having those allergies makes it worse!)

        Buildings can get condemned for this kind of thing. I would go to HR quickly and point out that exposing employees to a health hazard is a much worse look than people temporarily using a “too nice for them” office.

    4. Rara Avis*

      Maybe look at what OSHA has to say? I don’t think exposure to mildew is safe for anyone, and if your employer starts contemplating potential workers’ comp claims, maybe they’ll change their minds.

    5. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Your manager is a ridiculous snob.
      Noone should be working in such unhealthy offices, especially when there are clean offices available.

      Do you have a Health & Safety office at work to go to? Or a union rep?
      If not, I’d go to HR and ask what documentation – if any – they require, for your medical accommodation to either work in the mildew-free offices or wfh. If they’ve any sense they should be shocked that any employee is breathing in mildew all day – and hence order your whole team to move, as a Health & Safety issue.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        oh, I see the manager is not yours. Even more reason for someone to overrule this idiot

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Right??? And unless there’s an emergency or something wherein someone else needs the space Hotdog’s team is in, any sane manager wouldn’t move them to an active construction zone. How on earth could any construction get done if there were employees working there? Even something as minor as painting or rug replacement would require the furniture to be moved in such a way that it’d be hard or impossible to have employees in that location.

          I agree with Mr Spock here, that that manager is an idiot. “Prime office is too good for these lowly employees” is a totally ridiculous reason for y’all to be working in a pneumonia-inducing environment.

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      Thanks! My own manager doesn’t want to butt heads with Bananapants Manager (who yes, expects us to work in an active construction zone for the sole reason of not “deserving” nice office space, and yes, she’s problematic in many ways.)
      Nobody else is using the nice space, and nobody is anticipated to need it. She just doesn’t want our team to have it.
      We don’t have a union, but I have submitted an HR ticket (it’s the only way we peons can talk to them…huge company, multiple countries) so hopefully they will be able to help. According to our employee handbook, local managers are empowered to authorize reasonable accommodations on their own. The issue appears to be that she feels that the reasonable accommodation should be for us to just stop complaining. (Which I would be happy to do if I could breathe!)
      I wasn’t sure whether I would need to be able to document an allergy ahead of asking for a medical accommodation. (I have never needed to prove that I have allergies before!)
      I also hadn’t considered that this could also be a potential OSHA violation- which could be helpful in also getting my colleagues a healthier work area.

      1. linger*

        Bananapants Location Manager seems to be operating by the correct, yet awful, logic of “if they can’t breathe, they can’t complain”. Your own manager (Musty Location Manager?) needs to grow a spine. Do they not have authority to permit full WFH if your role allows it? (Which doesn’t involve speaking with Bananapants Location Manager, but probably does involve negotiation with upper management.)

    7. Rex Libris*

      Well, for one, the other manager is obviously a petty, elitist, territorial soul. As for the actual question though, I’d start with your manager, who would (in a sane world) then start the conversation with HR on your behalf and just say something like “I have an employee with severe allergies (or whatever) who is having difficulty dealing with the mildew. I’d like to let them work from home, or another office. What accommodations can we make until things are cleaned up, and what documentation would they need?”

  20. HailRobonia*

    Not a question, just a report of good news: I was offered (and accepted) a new job today. It’s still in the same department I’ve been in and essentially a lateral move, but with way more autonomy and room for growth than my previous role.

    Even though I was an internal candidate I want to thank Alison for all the excellent advice I’ve gathered from this site – such as making sure that when applying for this new role I demonstrated that I wasn’t just interested in it because it was there but was truly interested in the job and that I had ideas on how to grow it.

    My new role official starts on Jan 2, a great way to start a new year!

  21. Too big too fast*

    Adjusting to a very different holiday vibe at my new workplace this year. My old job shut down between Christmas and New Year’s, and it was super festive. The last day before break was really more of a party and we’d usually get out an hour or two early.

    This place doesn’t shut down (although we do have 4 holiday days between today and the 1st and a ton of people are off) and it’s kind of just business as usual today, so I’m more or less just sitting bored in my office trying to come up with something to do that doesn’t require people/multiple days.

    Overall this place is much better, but I’m kind of missing my old work group today.

  22. chocolate muffins*

    I would love to hear from people with stigmatized identities about how you all balance managing others’ impressions at work vs. just … existing and being yourself. I am a female professor in STEM and am thinking about this because it’s course evaluation season. In the very first course I taught, many years ago now, I received feedback at the end of the semester that basically said I wasn’t “nice” enough. I knew that course evaluations were going to be important for my career trajectory so I started doing things like smiling more in class and using a lot of softening language in my e-mails with students, and as a result I have gotten much higher course evaluations since then. But, sometimes everything I do still doesn’t feel like enough. For instance, I recently received feedback again that basically boils down to me not being “nice” enough, and I wonder whether part of this feedback is that students see me smiling a lot and using friendly language in e-mails so they expect for me to also do things like let them turn in their work whenever they want and redo assignments if they aren’t happy with the grade and so on.

    It has not felt like an enormous burden to do the extra feminizing things that I’ve been doing to raise my course evaluation scores, but it’s really getting to me that I’m doing those things and *still* sometimes get that same feedback that I’m not nice enough. Like how much do you want from me!? I also hate how the very same things that I need to do to get course evaluations that are high enough to not be a problem when I go up for tenure might also be the very same things that are making students see me as too strict when I have any expectations of them at all. Like, if I smile I’m “mean” when I don’t round up a C to an A, and if I don’t smile I’m “mean” just because.

    I am using course evaluations as an example but this isn’t the only place where this comes up, and I’m not looking for advice on evaluations specifically. More like, if you have dealt with anything similar – because you are a woman or racially minoritized or queer or what have you – what ways have you found to navigate people’s expectations enough to advance in your career without losing your soul? How do you balance the things you need to do to have professional success with the things you need to do to actually enjoy the work and be a sane, non-resentful person?

    1. Maybe it's not You*

      I’m just wondering…it is you? Or is it students? Have you talked to a trusted peer about what their evals are like? I have a son who is a professor and these things are so, so, common.

      1. Chicago Anon*

        It’s not her. There is so, so much research about gendered expectations in academia and their effects on course evaluations.

        Would it be possible to present some of this research to your students, early in the semester, under the guise of professionalization? Like, in the workplace you should be aware of these issues/ effects w/r/t women, people of color, people with disabilities, and we also see these effects in the classroom, so think about it, and now back to our equations or experiments.

        I’m sorry you are still dealing with this in almost-2024. It’s a long-standing and pervasive problem.

        1. Maybe it's not You*

          To clarify, she thinks it’s her…or because she’s a female. Either may be the case but I’m thinking it might also be the students. Particularly students in 100-level classes not in their major. (Anecdotal experience of son, who teaches a 100-level class in a class that many students take, often even if it is not their major. He has an iron-clad syllabus so no one can argue themselves into a higher grade because things weren’t clear. So he’s….mean.)

          1. Jay (no, the other one)*

            She’s a scientist. There is data. There is a lot of data. Women profs are consistently rated lower than men. When gender is hidden the “men” score higher than the “women.” Sexism is a thing, it’s not her fault, and you are not helping. Stop.

            1. Maybe it isn't You*

              I’m so sorry. I answered a question that wasn’t asked. I see how I marginalized her experience. You are right. I do firmly agree that sexism is real and it is NOT HER FAULT.

        2. chocolate muffins*

          Hmmm, that’s an interesting suggestion. I have heard of colleagues at other institutions trying this and they’ve reported that their students rate them more harshly afterwards because the students think that the professor is acting whiny or trying to get pity points or something. Do you have any thoughts either about how to present the research without eliciting that reaction or how to navigate that reaction when it occurs?

          1. Jaded prof*

            I used to do this (female STEM prof, but not a super male dominated field). I would start with a discussion about what evaluations were for and ask the students what they thought happened to them after they sent them in. I’d go over all the folks who would eventually see them (this was my pre-tenure days, so they went all the way up the chain every year) and talk about things that I had found useful in the past from them (I also made a point of pointing out throughout the semester anytime I was doing something that had come up in an evaluation). Then I would show them the data: google “gendered language in teacher reviews” and you’ll get a site by Ben Schmidt where you can plug in typically used terms (like “mean”) and you can see the gender gap. Granted he uses rate my professor, but I think the general pattern holds. Then I would talk about how there are places where it is literally illegal to use course evaluations in reviews because of the bias and talk about how if they want to have the power to engage in this process, it’s up to them to make it better. As far as I know, no one ever took it out on me. They were often really shocked to see the data.

            Also, I think our own mental framing is really important. These are student satisfactions surveys. Sorry, not sorry, if you’re not satisfied.

      2. Anonymous cat*

        I was thinking something similar! If it’s a new group of students every year, then it’s constant shifting expectations. And not necessarily anything you’re doing.

        But that sounds so frustrating! Especially if the real complaint is not your manners but that they don’t like their grades.

    2. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      female stem professor here
      a lot of us have been bringing this up and pushing for the college to see the biases in course reviews

      In general though, to stay sane, I don’t look at course reviews too closely, and I try to focus on the handful of students who are still in college to really learn

      I’ve also had some success in cutting down students complaints over my head by being very very clear. for example, Sorry to hear X. I can accept your assignment up until date but I can only do this once. I’d be happy to meet to discuss time management.
      sympathetic + clear boundaries
      I’m still seen as “mean” because I’m pretty sure the only way some students would see me as nice is by giving them an A without expecting any work.

      It’s really hard some days. I also have set more work/life boundaries. I don’t look at email outside business hours (I tell students this) and disconnecting has helped

      1. chocolate muffins*

        This is so helpful, thank you. Do you feel comfortable saying if you have tenure and, if so, whether your response or strategies changed before vs. after? Part of me is just looking forward to that time because what students say about me won’t matter so much as far as I can tell, but part of me is so used to living this way that I find it hard to imagine anything else or think through what an internal adjustment to a different set of standards would look like.

        1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

          I’m at a cc so we don’t have tenure but I am going up for promotion to Assistant and most of our process is demonstrating progress in teaching and service. but student evaluations aren’t part of the portfolio. I’d be way more stressed if they were.

          my husband (black man) is tenured at a small liberal arts college. different of course because he deals with less of students thinking he’s mean because it’s less overall for me and honestly he’s better at not caring

          their tenure process does include student evaluations but they are a tiny part and the college has listened to the research showing the bias thus reducing the importance even further

          if you can, I’d see how much weight they really carry for your tenure. hopefully it’s a small amount and you can stress less.
          besides that I’m trying to follow my husband’s lead: do my best, be fair, maintain high standards, and focus on the students who are trying. I’m seven years in and most of my strategies are based on colleagues (we have some strong senior women) and trial and error
          it’s a work in progress and my anxiety doesn’t help but one foot in front of the other.

          1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

            I’m white by the way

            and to clarify my husband deals with other biases. he just doesn’t deal with idea that he should be “nice” like his female colleagues do

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I have an online friend in teaching on another site, and the descriptions she gives of some of her students, AND their parents, can be unbelievable. The students tend have unrealistic expectations about college workload, no time management skills, or both. The parents are basically seeing the class as a chattel they paid for and are “owed” a high grade for the money they’ve spent. But both sides tend to spend ten times as much time and energy arguing about “fairness” and “being mean” then it would have taken to simply study for an exam/write a paper in the first place.

    3. Anonymous Squid*

      Our department recently changed the questions on our course evaluations for exactly this reason. We re-worded questions to be less subjective and more targeted. For example, students now rate statements from 1-5: “My instructor was well-prepared for class” and “My instructor provided feedback intended to improve my course performance” and “I have a deeper understanding of the subject matter as a result of this course.” You still get students with a chip on their shoulder who just want an easy A, but this at least pushes them to be specific instead of just complaining about how “mean” you are.

      I don’t know if you can push for these kinds of changes in your department, but as others have said there are many studies now supporting this approach as a way to reduce bias.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        This is a good approach to recommend! The OP’s post reminded me of school when everyone would ask eachother literally “is the teacher nice or mean. ” That’s what kids care about, and I guess college students too. Need to steer them to think about different criteria.

    4. Jessica*

      You keep trying to be “nicer,” yet you’re still not a man! that’s the problem. Femininity is a rigged game, and nothing you’ll do will ever be enough to live up to everyone’s ideals of the Angel in the Classroom.

      I like the idea of presenting the research on this to your students. Also, what’s the attitude and awareness level of your department leadership? If your institution isn’t acknowledging at all levels that they’re evaluating you on something that’s notoriously and demonstrably biased against you, you might also present that research upward.

      1. Girasol*

        With this in mind, do you have any allies among your male colleagues who would be willing to compare notes? If you learn that you’re considerably blunter and stricter than they are, then that’s useful. And if you find that their approach is similar and they aren’t getting feedback about niceness, then that’s helpful to know as well. If turns out to be a gender issue, can you get away with not feminizing your approach? You’d be doing a service to the future coworkers of these kids to break them of the idea that every woman they work with has to hide competence behind niceness.

    5. Jaded prof*

      I’m a multiracial, female STEM prof (although not in a field that’s heavily male dominated). If you’re pre-tenure, I highly recommend getting a few teaching observations from trusted colleagues. Whenever I’m doing a tenure review, I take those much more seriously than any other sort of info. I know you said it’s not about the evals per se, but one other thing I used to do was give myself one morning to wallow–I’d open them up, read through them, make any notes about actionable things I could or should do and then literally NEVER look at them again. When I had to include them in my reports/tenure portfolio I would literally just append them in there without actually looking at them.

      I think also, in general, one thing that saved my sanity over the years was to just focus on the parts I had control over–I can publish my work, I can make sure my teaching is up to par. If a student or colleague doesn’t like me? That’s fine. I think in many ways this has helped me move up through the ranks because being overly feminine and nice (1) is just totally not my personality and would have come off as really inauthentic and (2) works against you when it comes to being viewed as a leader (which should not be true. We should be able to be however we are, but sigh).

      Anyway, solidarity. Academia is rough and not worth losing yourself.

  23. Sled Dog Mama*

    I’m trying to be more for lack of a better term “diversity sensitive” to religion and ethnicity in the workplace and in general. My daughter has two non-Christian classmates this year for the first time and her questions made me realize that while I do value the diversity in my workplace I don’t do enough to show that I value it.
    What’s the best way to go about saying something like ” I hope you enjoy the long weekend.” when I would otherwise wish someone a Merry Christmas. I can’t think of anything that seems quite right but it seems like if I’m wishing someone who does celebrate Christmas a Merry Christmas then I should be wishing the person at the next desk who doesn’t a happy long weekend or something. Am I just over thinking this?

    1. I'm just Ken*

      Around Thanksgiving I start saying “I hope you have a relaxing and rejuvenating rest of the year!” to everyone. Regardless of where their holidays land on it, most people do at least acknowledge the Gregorian calendar enough to appreciate a nod to the turning of the New Official Year

    2. MsM*

      “Happy holidays” works for most people as a general catch-all. Or if you really want to be sensitive to the fact they may not be celebrating anything specific, “Enjoy the break!”

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        Hi sorry, happy holidays doesn’t work as a general catch-all!

        I usually say something like, enjoy your time off, or a version of what “I’m just Ken” said above.

        1. Llama Wrangler*

          Oh, also – I think if you’re talking directly to someone and you know they’re not celebrating, you could say something like “Enjoy the time off, however you spend it!”

    3. Pam Adams*

      I am careful to say “winter break,” and reference the dates- we are closed between December 25th and January 1st.

    4. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      I say “Have a good one!” if I don’t know what the person celebrates (or doesn’t) and it seems to cover all bases.

    5. metadata minion*

      “Have a great long weekend” I think works fine! If you want something longer, I like “I’m just Ken”‘s example.

    6. metadata minion*

      Another though — I realize these aren’t directly equivalent because of how all-consuming The Christmas Season is, but I and several of my coworkers are Jewish. I’ll wish them a happy holiday on Jewish holidays, and just say my normal goodby, etc. to non-Jewish coworkers. I hope that everyone in the office has a lovely Wednesday, but if it’s not a holy day to them there’s no reason to wish them anything different than on any other random Wednesday. They wouldn’t expect me to wish them a chag sameach, because…they’re not Jewish and that would be mildly weird.

      I would be delighted if people treated me the same way around Christmas.

    7. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      I don’t really celebrate Christmas (however, I am culturally Christian).

      If I know someone celebrates Christmas, it’s fine to use Merry Christmas! If you don’t know, I’d just go with things like ‘have a great weekend!’ If you know the person near you is of a different religion, it might be nice to know their high holy days are so you can wish them a good holiday when it arises.

      However, I normally go with the dad joke of ‘see you next year!’ It works in bigger groups because people have varying vacation times so some people I may not actually see until Jan 2, even if some people I will be seeing on Dec 26.

    8. Old and Don’t Care*

      I just say “Have a nice holiday” if a day off from work is involved. It’s the same as I would say before Memorial Day, Labor Day and July 4th.

    9. Nightengale*

      “I hope you enjoy the long weekend” sounds great to me as someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas and still doesn’t have a great script to answer comments/questions assuming everyone does. Of course it isn’t a long weekend every year but “day off” would work too.

    1. Yes And*

      It’s the New York Post. They were doing clickbait journalism before clicks were invented. Don’t assume anything they report happened quite the way they say it did. (And also note that they article contains not even the feeblest attempt at corroboration; they just reported a Twitter thread like it was news.)

  24. High Praise*

    Low stakes question:

    I just had the wrap-up meeting with a contractor whose work for us is ending this month. She is fantastic at her job and hugely respected in our organization. She told me, unprompted, that I was the best boss she’s ever had.

    That obviously felt amazing to hear! But is there any way to pass that feedback along to my own boss without it being super cringey/nakedly self-promotional?

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      I would frame it like you wonder how you can be the best boss for every employee! For example, my best boss knew to leave me alone most of the time and she knew others may have needed some additional guidance/coaching. She guided/coached me only as much as I needed and never more or less. How did she know?!? I would want to know how to be more like her.

    2. Biblio-tech-a*

      Just pass it on as a part of the overall report and don’t cringe! This is good feedback for your org, and I’d want to know it as your supervisor

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I semi-regularly tell folks who report to me (when context is appropriate, obviously, not just out of the blue) that while I am always happy to get their feedback directly, I get performance reviews the same way they do, so if they have any feedback they wish to provide about my performance, they are also more than welcome to reach out to my supervisor and share that feedback and she will be happy to address any issues or concerns with as much anonymity as she is able. Every review period so far, in addition to anything else, she has related without naming names that several people have contacted her with positive feedback about me and my performance.

    4. Oof and ouch*

      You can probably sneak it in if you’re updating your boss on the close out, especially if you think you’ll use the contractor again.

      “Just wanted to let you know that the close out went really well, and I’m hoping that we can work with Aria again in the future, I really enjoyed working with her on project X which I think we can both agree went really well, and she mentioned how much she enjoyed working with me as well, so I think we’re a good team for future projects”

    5. Rex Libris*

      Pass it along conversationally as part of good feedback about the contractor, instead of you. “Things went great. They were really easy to work with and did a great job. They actually said I was the best boss they ever had, and I really enjoyed working with them too.”

  25. I'm just Ken*

    I know Alison has talked about this before, so if nothing else tapping the hivemind for titles to search the blog for, but other thoughts welcome as well.

    People canceling leave? Is there any way to appropriately say no, you booked it so you need to take it?

    I supervise a small team, and there are some tasks I need to do intermittently in the physical space that are just easier to do when I’m onsite alone. Imagine something along the lines of cleaning out overhead cabinets that require going into people’s cubicles with a ladder to do it. I have one staff member in particular who almost never plans leave, and when they do, often shorten it or cancel it because they’d rather be at work. I’m not worried about, nor do I have a case for, the burnout argument. But it really does mess up my work plans if I was counting on them being gone and they decide to work anyway. This person is at max carryover and regularly loses their use or lose, so it’s not a case of them trying to save their leave either.

    1. ThatGirl*

      “I want you to take time off. Even though I’m not concerned about burnout with you, I think everyone should take breaks from work. The workload is not a concern, and it will actually help ME out if you take it as planned.”

      I would also be interested to know why they don’t take time off – beyond being a workaholic maybe.

      1. I'm just Ken*

        They thrive with a much higher level of predictability and routine than the average worker, and being away from work and their regular routine is not relaxing for them the way it is for many others. I’ve even had to reiterate that we are not allowed to come into the building if the site is closed for a snow day, even *if* you are theoretically able to walk through the storm to get here

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Is there a reason why you can’t just tell your employees that you’re doing a task that requires them to not be in their cube for a few days? Can you just move them to a different location for that time if they don’t want to take leave? Or have them work from home or something? If it’s really that you want them to actually take their PTO then of course my solution isn’t the right one but if the issue is really just that you want to have unimpeded access to their cube, maybe you can do that?

          1. RagingADHD*

            Right. Just tell them that you’re going to be in their cube on X day with a ladder because they booked time off, and you’re going to do it regardless, so they will have to be elsewhere.

            There’s no reason to come up with excuses or try to persuade them. Just tell them they can’t be in their cube that day, period.

        2. Oof and ouch*

          In this case it may help you to frame it as part of a plan on your end.

          Like when they put in the time emphasize how you will be working that time into the plan and how you will be accomplishing tasks you need them to be off site for during that time. Then as the time creeps up remind them occasionally. Make sure you’re also doing this for any other direct reports.

          If they ask to move or cancel it last minute remind them that you now have things planned that you are unable to move unless it’s an extraordinary circumstance.

          1. I'm just Ken*

            This is a good thought, and I probably haven’t thought to do it yet because the nature of my role means I plan most of my work in a few weeks chunks at a time, but given how predictable this employee’s leave is it shouldn’t be hard to adapt. Thank you!

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      This may be a case where you need to book their time off for them. I’ve worked plenty of places where, if you did not schedule a vacation, and you were maxed out, your manager or HR booked time off for you and told you to come back on Date. Or, since they value predictability and routine, help them select time that they will take off and it will be the same each year. For example, you will take vacation the week of the 4th of July and the week between Christmas and New Year’s, every year. (I’ve picked these weeks because they are roughly 6 months apart – obviously adjust for your location and appropriate regional holidays!)

      Can you turn off access to the office, their workspace, etc. while they are out on leave? There is typically a method for turning off access when someone is on medical leave, perhaps you can utilize that for their holiday leave?

      Finally, it’s the nuclear option, but showing up to work after being instructed not to IS gross insubordination, which is grounds for immediate termination pretty much everywhere, or at the very least a write up or a PIP.

    3. Always Tired*

      You say this employee (who I shall dub Frank, for ease of discussion) thrives on predictability so much so that vacation isn’t relaxing. I would suggest having a conversation with Frank about why it is useful for you, and make the suggestion that he perhaps schedules a day once a month, or every other month, as an additional routine thing. Something like “Frank, I appreciate all your hard work, and I understand you prefer being at work, but you taking a day off every now and again really helps me accomplish tasks XYZ. It would be really helpful to me if you stuck with your vacation plans, or perhaps plan to take a day off every month, and perhaps go see a movie or a museum, as a new part of your routine.” I think making it a predicable, routine thing in advance with an agenda would help him be comfortable taking the time.

    4. PlansChange*

      I loathe people trying to tell me when or how to take my leave. If there’s a legit reason why the entire office needs to be closed then close it. But don’t tell me to take my time off when you think I should want to take it.
      I’ve switched my time off tons of times. Sometimes there’s an unexpected webinar or conference announced after I requested the time. Sometimes other things came up and I wasn’t able to finish something with a hard deadline. Sometimes I’d been planning to have a visitor and their plans fell through but we hoped to reschedule later. There are tons of legit reasons to change plans.

      If you’re telling me I have to be off on days A and B you better not be expecting me to use my time off for it no matter how much I have available.

  26. balanceofthemis*

    I posted a couple weeks ago asking for advice on what kinds of jobs outside of the non-profit world someone with a background in non-profit and museum edication and programming should target.

    I had a few suggestions to look at L&D and training jobs, and I have been. But I’d love to hear some more thoughts on what else I might be able to translate my skills to.

  27. Aggretsuko*

    My update: I’m on mental health leave a second time, doing an outpatient program because this job has literally made me too crazy and stupid to work. I love the program, but at this point I’m too brain dead to job hunt and I shouldn’t be hired by anyone anyway. I’m not all that functional and I don’t know how I’ll go back to work in January. People are telling me to file for disability, but I don’t know if I count for that and also if you’re on disability you’re not allowed to have savings/money much at all (per a friend of mine on it, she literally can’t have more than $2000 ever on her own and had to prove she spent away her savings) and that scares the *beep* out of me.

    Also I’m still waiting around on diagnosis and I was told that I’m “such a complex case” that “a whole TEAM” has to work on me and “we’re not leaning towards anything, all the data points go in different directions” and it’ll take until January, and even then they might want MORE evaluation. I’ve been told not to count on getting a diagnosis and they might just say I’m depressed and that’s it. What I’m having them look into is “a high controversy diagnosis” and they are making it clear they do not want to diagnose me in the first place. I am so angry on this one, I can’t even tell you. I was planning on applying with the state as a disabled person because that may be the only way anyone can hire me with those exceptions made, but I don’t know if that’s possible without a diagnosis beyond “just depression and anxiety.”

    1. pink wine*

      Only SSI has asset limits. SSDI, which you’d likely be eligible for since you’re been employed and presumably paid into social security, has no asset limit.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Ooooh, thank you. The knowledge I have is from a friend who’s so disabled she can’t even do part time any more and never had much of a career in the first place due to the disability.

      2. ThatGirl*

        You’ve got it backwards. SSDI is disability insurance and definitely has asset limits. SSI is what workers pay into and get paid out in retirement.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Well, now I’m a little confused – but I know that what people usually call “going on disability” has asset/income limits because my brother is on it.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I was disagreeing with myself, not you; I replied to myself before you did.

              Point remains that whatever you call the program, there is at least one with income and asset limits. As I noted, my brother gets both SSI and SSDI.

        2. Morning Dew*

          No, pink wine has it correct. If you are approved for SSDI, it is what you would basically get if you retired at full retirement age. And when your full retirement age arrives, SSDI changes to the regular social security payment.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Well, either way, Aggretsuko is not wrong to be wary of income/asset limits, because that’s a very real thing.

      3. Okay*

        SSI is Supplemental Security Income. It IS NOT Social Security retirement. and has limits on income and assets. SSI does not come out of the Social security taxes on income. It is a separate program with separate funding coming from income taxes.

        From the Social security website.
        SSI provides monthly payments to people with disabilities and older adults who have little or no income or resources.
        Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs provide assistance to people who meet our requirements for disability.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Be prepared for denial of Social Security benefits the first time … and possibly more, especially if your treatment team isn’t on board. But apply anyway if it’s going to be a long term disabling condition. It starts the clock, and sets you up for back dating to the original application date.

      In the short term, max out your short-term disability benefits from work before quitting, and check to see if there are short-term benefits from your state (e.g., NYS has them) that you might qualify for.

      Then find some other job that will pay enough bills to keep you afloat and will allow you the headspace to actually heal. This job is breaking you but that doesn’t mean every job will. Focus your energies on getting your feet under you and then work on returning to something else later.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I am also hoping for the best for you. For now, just try to focus on each day and not think too much about January, which I know is much easier said than done.

    4. Generic Name*

      Aw, hugs. I’m glad you are liking the program you’re in, that’s great! Do you have a relative or a friend who could help you navigate what kind of assistance you might qualify for? I think your instincts are good in that you are currently in no position to job hunt right now. I hope things look up for you!

    5. kalli*

      It doesn’t matter what your diagnosis is or if you have one as long as you’re getting treatment that is helping. Doctors say a lot of things to be noncommittal before they decide on something because part of diagnosing is trying stuff to see if it works, and they don’t want you to get all het up on a particular diagnosis if they’re still seeing what your body responds to and getting you to a point where they can actually diagnose you instead of managing the symptoms to get you to a base level where your symptoms aren’t interfering with accurate diagnosis.

      I’m not seeing how this is work related any more and there is a rule against giving updates for updates’ sake so the thing you really need to be doing right now is diversifying your support network and finding places that you can journal, write, vent, get responses, whatever it is you get from here so you’re not wholly reliant on here and the work thread for non-work mental health support. It is healthier to have that in your actual life than bundling it all up to dump on strangers every week in an environment where people are signing up for work related discussion and not mental health trauma dumping.

      1. Can we be kind, please?*

        That’s a bit harsh — this person is legit struggling, calling their posts “trauma dumping” is needlessly cruel. You are correct they could use more resources but let’s not add to the judgmental crap they’re already dealing with.

    6. Slartibartfast*

      Ask your care providers if there’s a patient advocate or care coordinator or community outreach nurse who you could talk to, there’s often someone somewhere in the system to help you navigate the medical and government bureaucracy.

  28. Inner Snarky Teenager*

    I need a gut check. I got some feedback from my grandboss and I’m not sure how to take it.

    I was told that I need to act more like manager and manage. And to do that I need to not be as involved with the day to day things. This on the surface is fair advice but I’m a department of one in a heavy service environment similar to an IT Help desk. Users don’t need you all the time but when they do the expectation is you will drop everything until their issue is resolved. There is no other support than me and as I’ve been told several times they don’t see a need to hire anyone.

    I’m trying to decide if this is as rage inducing tone deaf as I’m taking it or if there is something here I’m not seeing. I’m the first to admit that I struggle with balancing the needs of both sides because they both are time intensive and one side has an element of unpredictability.

    I’m open to all interpretations, angles, suggestions for management methods/resources, etc.

    Answers to the most common responses I see this getting:
    Yes I know I need a new job but the market is pretty thin where I am. I’m pretty much stuck here for now.
    My inner snarky teenager doesn’t need further encouragement to maliciously comply and eat popcorn while things burn. It is a glorious dream but not a useful one.

    1. MsM*

      Have you asked exactly what managing looks like from their perspective when there’s no one for you to delegate this stuff to?

      1. Awkwardness*

        That was my first thought too. What are you supposed to be managing if there is nobody to be managed?

        Maybe they want to see more long-term strategies or proposals from you? More reaching out to other departments and doing networking? But this is just a guess. They really need to clarify what their understanding of management in this context is about.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Exactly. If there’s no one for OP to manage, what exactly are they supposed to be doing?

    2. Oof and ouch*

      I usually turn that kind of feedback back to the manager who gave it to me and ask for advice/support in acting on it.

      “Hey grandboss, I’ve been thinking about our conversation the other day and reflecting on your feedback that I need to spend more time managing instead of getting bogged down in the day to day. Given the resources and expectations in my department, I’m really struggling with the best way to do this. I’ve been prioritizing client needs and getting the work done, but is there something else you’d like to see from me?”

      I got similar feedback once and my boss was (rightfully) concerned that I wasn’t spending enough time developing junior team members and I was taking too many things on myself. Obviously if you’re the only person doing the work in your case that may not be the same, but then I have to question what/who you’re managing.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I know very well how you feel. As a department of just yourself, you aren’t managing people in the conventional sense, but it’s possible to manage things other than people: projects, technology, processes, resources (not of the human variety!), etc. I think what the grandboss means is that you are spending too much time (perceived) on operational and tactical stuff, not enough time on more strategic or bigger picture stuff. So the expectation is that you’ll be moving things forward on a higher level, etc. I realise you are almost certainly capable of this but just do not have the time to execute on it due to constant incoming priorities that are “trivia” on the hierarchy of operational details to big picture strategy, but important and/or urgent for the person requesting it.

      You are right to be concerned, but it isn’t necessarily “rage inducingly tone deaf”, depending on how much knowledge the grandboss has of what the day-to-day looks like. Isn’t it interesting that your grandboss has taken this up with you, rather than your immediate boss? Where is your immediate boss in all of this?

      I would take a typical week (or whatever you deem a suitable period to be) and record your time in detail – yes, I know time recording is a pain. In 15 minute or 30 minute blocks note what you were working on, number of incoming requests, time taken to resolve them, etc etc. Collate the “number of requests” information historically as well if you can (like if you have a ticketing system with decent info in it).

      Is it a realistic expectation from the users or have they just been ‘trained’ by your helpfulness so far to expect an instant response? Probably from their perspective they are just thinking “Inner Snarky Teenager is my help desk contact for that” and don’t really have visibility of the whole picture.

      How much time are you spending on this stuff? 20%? 50%? Close to 100%?

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Hit send before getting to the actual point of what to do with the collected information. Of course the next step is to take that up with your grandboss (and again, where is your boss in that? Should you involve them?) – “look, this is a typical week. Out of 40 hours I was able to spend 12 hours working on higher level stuff. The other 32 hours were spent as follows: issue resolution for department x 15 hours, issues for department y 10 hours, trivial thing z 7 hours. The pattern is similar every week. What adjustments can we make to the expected response for x, y and z so that I can focus on my actual management role, and where should the overflow for x, y and z be assigned to?”

    4. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      I’m wondering if the grandboss thinks that you are solving people’s problems for them, and they want you to give the people the ability to solve their own problems. If you are repeatedly resolving the same issues for people, is there a way you can provide training and/or work instructions that will enable them to resolve the issues themselves?

    5. Generic Name*

      Okay, but what? If you have no direct reports to manage, how are you supposed to “act like a manager” and only deal with the high level stuff. Is your boss expecting you to just not do those things? Or maybe delegate stuff to someone in another department? I would go back and ask for some clarification. Asking for a specific example is really helpful. More than once I’ve been given feedback that I thought was off base, and my instincts were confirmed when I asked for some specific instances of the behavior/characteristic they were giving me feedback on. It was very interesting to watch them fumble and squirm because they could not come up with an example.

    6. Brevity*

      Two ideas, from experience:
      1) I was once told by a bonehead ED that I should delegate as much of my duties as I could. When I then asked, “To whom?” and she had no answer, I decided to ignore her. Your grandboss might be a similar bonehead.
      2) It could be that grandboss is trying to tell you to do more to get help hired — but without actually coming out and telling you that for one of those BS “if she really were management material, she’d know this so I shouldn’t have to tell her” reasons.

      Anyway, it might be worth coming up with a good, solid, written proposal on why/how to hire another person, to take on the day-to-day service while you manage other stuff (like long-term strategic planning). I mean, it’s the kind of thing that might help, couldn’t hurt.

  29. Retail Dropout*

    I’m a college student who works in retail when I’m on break from school. Next summer, I have an internship with a local company, so naturally, I won’t be coming back to my retail job then. Does anybody have any thoughts on when I should tell my boss that I’m not coming back to work next season?

    1. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      Two weeks before your last day.

      If you can afford it, it’s really nice to be able to take a little time between jobs to decompress.

    2. RagingADHD*

      In this situation I’d go ahead and let them know as soon as your internship is confirmed. If it’s a nice place to work they’ll probably be happy for you.

    3. Rick Tq*

      Tell him when you leave your current retail job on your last day, or just tell him via email when he contacts you next spring to start setting up schedules.

      Just say “Good Bye, and thanks for the summer work” and that you aren’t available going forward.

    4. PhilG*

      Be up front with your manager once everything is finalized. And offer to be open to coming back in the future if conditions allow. Even after you graduate you may have a delay in getting a full time position and having a fallback position could help tide you over.

  30. Help, it's been so long*

    It’s been 10+ years since I’ve had an interview, and now I have an initial interview scheduled over Zoom. What do you wear to that? Is a nice sweater ok? Or do I need to be more formal than that.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Unless it is a super, super conservative industry like, IDK, a very straightlaced law firm, then a nice sweater is fine.

    2. Always Tired*

      Nice sweater should be fine. My suggestion is to set up exactly how you plan to for the interview, and take a picture with your computer. See what the background looks like and the sweater. We all know cloths look different in the webcam, and it’s nice to be able to double check. (bonus, you can obsessively send pictures to friends and say “what about this one? does it look weird with this background?” and spiral wildly in the days/hours leading to the interview. Not that I have any experience with that.)

  31. Anonymouspants*

    posting anon.

    My job pays well but I’m too busy and tired to enjoy the money. I have to pay people to do things that I would desperately prefer to do myself, particularly watching my daughter all day.

    I got my annual bonus last Friday. After taxes it was $19k. Emotionally I just felt fucking nothing. More zeros in my bank account, while my irreplaceable life slowly ticks away. My money is well managed, including lots of college savings for my daughter.

    So I gave what I hope was a big bonus to the care providers are daycare. $1000 split among the three people who have shared care of her this year. I know they’ve each had their share of financial trouble this year. One of their cars just got totaled in an accident. Another has a husband dying in hospice and she can’t afford to take time off. So I really fucking hope that my money can bring some joy to them in a way it can’t give joy to me.

    tl;dr give money to people who need it

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I love that you decided to do this. I’m sorry you aren’t in a space to feel joy for yourself, but sometimes offering joy to others will allow some to leak back to you.

      Please take some time off and be with your daughter. Let the new year be a time when you prioritize the mental health that will keep you earning in the future.

  32. "Consulting Mindset?*

    I was hired a year or so ago by a large corporation to perform a specific type of work as an individual contributor producing well-defined deliverables. I am very experienced but not high in the hierarchy, which suits me. Yes, freelancing would pay more, but would be too stressful.

    After a while in the job, I started hearing a lot about having a “consulting mindset.”
    Umm. . . what’s that?

    (Yes, I’ve tried googling it and it’s just stuff that seems normal? Problem solving and collaborating are needed in most jobs, no?)

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      It’s corporate speak for problem solving and collaborating. It sounds like the company culture has bought into it. Just name your normal stuff with the jargon and they’ll think you’ve made a huge paradigm shift. It’ll be awesome.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Anything that can be described with “I [suddenly] started hearing a lot about…” can typically be attributed to someone in leadership having got hold of some fad or new initiative. I don’t think this is an exception…

      Consulting mindset just means basically what you’ve said – systemic thinking, seeking input, work with stakeholders, etc – it is an approach that focuses on the problem solving process rather than ‘just’ doing the thing.

      It is probably just something to go along with until the next fad.

      1. JR 17*

        In addition to the above, I would add that it means taking ownership of the problem and having a client services mentality. Like, whoever you’re solving the problem for – even if it’s an internal person – is the client, and you’re job is to become the expert that they can trust, identify solutions, and present them with clear options and a recommendation, with all the i’s dotted and t’s neatly crossed. You’ve identified the possible holes and plugged them before your client can ask. Obv the specifics will role from time to role, but that general idea.

  33. The bean moves on*

    Tips on taking compliments gracefully? I’m looking for some less awkward ways of saying “thank you”. Heh, maybe I should just say “thank you” and nothing else. But when I accept the compliment it always comes out awkward.

    1. chocolate muffins*

      Saying “thank you” doesn’t sound awkward to me! But if it does to you, maybe elaborating a bit would help? Like if you get a compliment on your earrings you could say “thank you, I got them during a trip to Peru.” Or you get a complimnt on your sweater and you say “thank you, I love how soft it is.”

    2. Tomato Frog*

      You’re right, you should just say thank you! That is the best. I would suspect that your feeling awkward does not correlate to the person you’re speaking to feeling awkward.

      That said, if you want to say a few more syllables or qualify the compliment a bit without being obnoxiously self-effacing, I like “That’s really kind of you,” “I appreciate it,” or “Thanks, I try.”

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “Thank you so much”
      “Thank you, I really enjoyed working on xxx project”
      “I’m glad you like my work”
      “I’m glad that went so well”

    4. WellRed*

      Just say thank you but you can also add to that if that feels less awkward.
      Hi Bean, I love your ring!
      Thank you, it was my grandmother’s.

    5. RagingADHD*

      “Thank you, that’s very kind.”
      “Thank you, I appreciate you saying so.”
      “Thank you, that’s nice to hear.”
      “Thank you, I’m glad it turned out so well.”

      If it’s something like an outfit you’re wearing, “Thank you, I like [some aspect]!” For example, if someone says, “That dress is a great color,” you might say, “Thanks! It has pockets!”

  34. Anon Today*

    I am in the middle of a divorce and today is my final day in the home I custom built with my soon-to-be-ex. It is the best decision, but these things are never easy. He is being not so nice today as I try to finish packing and get out of here. BUT- I have the greatest boss and company. My boss is out of the country visiting family and he has checked on my multiple times this week, it is a hugely busy time work wise, and he knows what is happening personally. He keeps checking on me to make sure everything is ok, and that I am handling work ok. He keeps telling me things can be pushed or do them next week when I am settled in my new home. When I first told him about the split- over slack, he immediately phoned me to make sure I was safe and asking if he needed to send me movers, and even offered me the corporate apartment if I needed it. I work remotely, and over the last few months when he has noticed that my stress has been rising, he has said “don’t you need to take a trip to visit so-and-so and have an in person meeting”, no I didn’t really, but he sensed I needed a break from what was going on at home, so on company dime he was basically giving me a mini-vacation. (He is owner/CEO, so he can do this without anyone else needing to approve)

    I am so grateful I work where I do, I think back to my previous company and know I would never have gotten this kind of support.

    Just remember, everyone, there are good bosses (people) and companies out there.

    Wish me luck as I try to get through this day and get on with my life.

    1. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      “Congratudolences,” since this is such a momentous, mixed life event!

      I’m so sorry you have to go through a divorce and congratulations on having a good plan and a good place to go from here. I hope your life improves as you find your new normal.

    2. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Wishing you the best. It’s so hard to be in the middle of a divorce. It does get better.

    3. Rainy*

      Your boss is a champ and I’m glad he’s supporting you through this.

      I’m also sorry that your STB-ex is being a jerk and I hope that either he shapes up or you are out of his orbit as soon as possible so you can continue being awesome.

    4. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Best of luck!
      You will come through this and be stronger than ever now that you are rid of 200 miserable lb dragging you down.

      Also a hat tip to a genuinely nice boss for offering you a mini-vaca when you need the break.

  35. Super Secret Santa*

    Finally, an update on my quest for reasonable accommodations at my new job. After more than two months, I FINALLY have a meeting with HR today. (I am petrified.)

    My union rep will also be attending, and is briefed on the medical reasons I need to work fully remote. I’ve been talking quite a bit with the union on this situation, and they’re trying to get concessions hammered out.

    Unfortunately, HR *really* doesn’t want to let anyone stay remote-only – even though there’s no practical reason we need to come into the office, and IT here have been fully remote for nearly four years. The governor wants to prop up local commercial property values, apparently, so everyone public-sector has to return to office.

    HR has also refused to allow people with pending RA requests or appeals to stay fully remote until their requests have been processed – and bear in mind, mine has been sitting for over two months, and I submitted two days after RTO was announced. That backlog has to be BIG. Union is pushing back on that one, but we’ll see how it goes.

    My meeting is in two hours, so I’ll just be… vibrating in anxiety until then. I really, really don’t look forward to the level of physical illness I’ll be experiencing if I’m forced to come in.

  36. Blinkered*

    How do you go about keeping in touch with a work mentor once you no longer work with them? I have an amazing colleague who has been a major help with my application to a graduate program, including writing me a letter of recommendation. He has also casually mentioned setting me up with internship opportunities in the future, so I know he’s interested in my career. I’ll still be working with him for several more months, but I’ve historically been abysmal at keeping in touch with people once we aren’t connected by circumstance anymore, and I don’t want to end up dropping this contact because of social awkwardness.

    1. That Snake Wrangler*

      I schedule check-ins with my mentors (usually once every few months, I’ll send them a text or an email about my life and job stuff, and also asking them a question. Often the question is something along the lines of, how are you doing? How is Brunhilda your dog doing? What happened with that work project/life project, etc.)

      And by scheduling, I mean I put a note in my personal calendar for “check-in time” because I have a TERRIBLE time sense and otherwise years can go by and feel like months. I do this for almost everyone important in my life, not because I don’t value them, but because my brain is weird and needs constant reminders to make things happen.

  37. But what to call me?*

    Does anyone actually like being in academia, and if so, what do you like about it?

    I’m in a graduate program in a field without a ton of competition for tenure-track positions, because a masters is required to practice and most people stop there. The non-academic job market in this field is pretty good and certainly doesn’t mind a PhD, so I’m highly unlikely to get stuck in adjunct/non-tenure-track purgatory, but the vast majority of things I read about academia seem to be written by people who are either currently miserable or left because they were miserable. My own professors don’t seem to be miserable, though they are definitely busy, but it’s not exactly in their interests to discourage graduate students from completing their PhD.

    So, is anyone who is in academia actually glad to be there, or does everyone wish they’d done something else?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I like being in academia. I’m an academic librarian, so a little different, but I’m considered faculty at my institution and go through the same rigaramorole with tenure, scholarship, service, and assisting students. I like watching undergraduate students learn and grow and discover all kinds of new things while asking interesting questions. I like how much I get to learn, both through formal presentations and just in talking with my colleagues. I’m good at teaching and I’m able to do neat things without too much effort. I LOVE the amount of time off we get, and the pay is good enough to allow the quality of life I enjoy.

      There are certainly problems within academia, but I’m aware of those tradeoffs and have decided that they make the most sense for me with my skillset and career goals. I think some of the “everyone hates academia” is a backlash response to the decades where academics were supposed to unconditionally love an institution that doesn’t love them back. I really enjoy being in a space where I can like my job, but not love it. It’s less stressful because I’m able to do what I can with the skills I have, but I work my forty-hour weeks and shrug at stuff above my paygrade.

    2. Anax*

      My brother is in academia and tells me he enjoys it a lot. He got his PhD in organic chemistry early this year, and has been working as a post-doc for about six months. Apparently, it’s not easy, but academia is where most of the research on his particular pet subject is taking place, and he really enjoys teaching and mentoring students. Post-doctoral work has been nice because he’s spending more of his time on research and mentoring grad students, rather than TAing introductory-level classes, but he’s planning to stay in academia after his post-doc job wraps up in a year or two.

      (Also influencing things, it sounds like working in industry would pay better, but in his field, the work/life balance isn’t better, and he’d be working on projects he finds a lot less personally interesting.)

    3. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      Things I loved were:
      – The academic calendar gave me a lot of time to do my own thing
      – Students
      – Colleagues who talk about ideas
      – Freedom to be outspoken about social and political issues
      – Shared governance
      – No dress code
      – Choosing my own research topics
      – The respect my STEM colleagues had for the Arts and Humanities
      – The way the department support teams always made sure we got what we needed and some of what we wanted

      Things I hated were:
      – Pettiness of colleagues (I saw reply-all emails that would make you weep for humanity.)
      – Students who didn’t want to be there and thought that should be my problem
      – They ways the administration kept us from having what we needed
      – The contempt the administration had for the Arts and Humanities

      Things I like about not being in academia anymore:
      – The money is better
      – 100% remote work
      – Other people make a lot of the decisions

      Things I really miss:
      – Access to academic journals
      – Social prestige
      – People who get my jokes
      – The specific community my school served

      Hope this, taken with other replies, helps!

    4. chocolate muffins*

      I love academia, despite my comment above. Here are some thing I enjoy:
      – Research! I get to learn things! I am so curious about them and then I get to find out what the answer is! Also I find the parts of the process enjoyable – I like looking at data, writing manuscripts, etc.
      – Again despite my comment above, I very much enjoy teaching most of the time.
      – Co-signing what someone else in this thread said about being free to speak my mind.
      – Mentoring and working with students. I get to know so many different people and they think differently than I do and then I get to spend time working with them and it’s a lot of fun a lot of the time.
      – Schedule flexibility, especially useful now that I have a child.
      – I like traveling for work and enjoy spending time with people at conferences and when giving talks at their institutions.
      – Extreme job security after tenure.
      – I’m good at what I do and so doing it is more enjoyable for me than it otherwise would be.

      There are probably many other things too but that is what comes to mind off the top of my head.

    5. YNWA*

      I love it. I’m a lit professor at a STEM institution. Yeah, the pay is not what I’d be making in the private sector, then again, I’m a lit professor so there really isn’t a private sector for me. The academic calendar allows a lot of flexibility, the benefits are good, the retirement match is solid, I get to flex my creative skills and my intellect, I am in control of my own syllabi and classrooms, I feel fulfilled.

      Downsides: inane meetings, task forces, committees that go absolutely nowhere, the pendulum swings in things like inclusion, the fact that students are far mores supported than faculty when it comes to mental illness/illness in general.

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      I finished my PhD and then high-tailed it back to industry where I belong, but I do have friends in my age bracket who are still on the academic path. (I’m late 30s; the STEM folk I went to school with are still postdocs, the others are either faculty or have sensibly given up.) They’re mostly happy with their decisions.

      The nice thing about academia is that you get to have a vision. You think this problem is worth solving? Go preach the gospel of Your Favorite Problem to your colleagues. If you can rally the support and resources you need, you can actually change the world. If you’re the type who would want to be a researcher in the first place, that’s a powerful motivator. The ability to do self-directed work that you wholeheartedly believe in can make the rest of academia’s quirks recede into the background.

      The less nice thing is that being a visionary is hard. Yes, I was passionate about my (former) academic micro-field. I had all sorts of opinions. Maybe even a vision. But the unfortunate fact is this: I need structure. The wide-open vistas of academia simply break my brain. I can solve tactics-level problems like nobody’s business, but when presented with a blank slate and basically told “impress us and we’ll give you money”…404 brain not found.

      Also, I’m good at stripping away needless complexity. I have an uncanny gift for realizing that Fancy New Problem XYZ is really Solved Problem A in a cheap wig. In terms of getting stuff done, that’s great! But academia doesn’t care, and is actually fairly hostile towards that sort of thing. Academics develop their careers by solving the newest, fanciest problems they can find. If only you had stuck to your thesis proposal and added complication W to XYZ like you were supposed to, everyone would be cheering your “transformative” research, but now the work “lacks novelty” and shouldn’t be rewarded. (Also your advisor and the rest of the XYZ community now hate your guts…look, I never said I *could* get a job in academia, just said I’m a much better fit for industry.)

      I think most of the differences between industry and academia are overblown, at least from my perspective as a STEM “making complicated things with science” type. Yes, I’m using my training. My day-to-day work is pretty similar. I solve problems for a living, and I mentor junior professionals. Industry has a lot more “process” (red tape, meetings, etc.) but also a lot more resources, such that there are professionals handling the assorted side quests that I’d have to do myself in academia. It really does balance out. The only thing I don’t get to do is decide the big-picture strategy, which is more than fine by me. Also, I’m paid much more than my postdoc friends are, and I’ll never have to move again unless I want to.

    7. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      overall I like it mainly because I like the schedule flexibility and being a ten month employee. I do like teaching (cc prof so no research)
      my husband likes his teaching and research. he could make way more money in industry but it would come with more stress

  38. That Snake Wrangler*

    I have a question about ethics, privilege, and hiring. I was just hired for a higher-level position at the institution I currently work at, but the hiring process feels a little off to me and I’m not sure what my options are. So, for context I work for the government, and this job posting was open to the public (a rarity in my line of work and particular branch of government). I don’t think discrimination was necessarily involved, but no one was interviewed for the position (myself included), and at least three people I work with applied, and at least two of them made the “best qualified” list. My co-workers are upset that they were denied interviews (and I agree with them). I’m also uncomfortable because the position was open to the public and, as far as I can tell, NO ONE else was interviewed. There were probably some amazing candidates in the pool! I want to work in a place that is the most equitable, and I feel like just choosing to hire me without going through a rigorous hiring process isn’t fair or ethical?

    I’m not sure what to do. I’m not sure how to bring this up with my supervisor, especially since he is very sensitive. What I would like is for my workplace to have a rigorous hiring process and, if I am STILL the best qualified candidate, to accept the position. And if I’m not the most qualified, that’s fine! I’ll be disappointed, sure, but I feel so slimy right now. What can I do? If I can’t re-do hiring, is there something I can do when we hire future positions to make sure that it is a robust hiring process that actively works to bring in diverse candidates? (I am a white cisgender woman who has generational connections in this field, as one of my parents and one of my grandparents were also in my line of work).

    1. Spearmint*

      Hard to say based on what you’ve written here. Having worked in niche government agencies before, though, the minimum qualifications are often quite rigid and by policy anyone who doesn’t meet them is excluded. I don’t know what part of government you’re in, but these niche roles often don’t get a lot of high quality applicants because they’re weird and poorly advertised, at least when I talked to former bosses about it. Is it possible that you were the only person who met those minimum qualifications?

      Also, how sure are you that no one else was interviewed? Maybe they were and your coworkers were not aware of that.

      1. That Snake Wrangler*

        Those are all really good points. I know that at least one of my coworkers made the “most qualified” cert, and she wasn’t interviewed. Another woman I know applied and she also made the “most qualified” cert and wasn’t interviewed either, so I was extrapolating. Do you think it is worth asking my supervisor what the interviewing process was like?

      2. S O Dear*

        OTOH, maybe these these other people dodged a bulled. As a job applicant, I’ve been dragged through more pointless interviews than I care to think about, where the interview was a formality because the employer had already decided on who they were going to hire for any number of different reasons.

        Sometimes there are legal requirements where employers are required to interview the most qualified applicants (maybe the top 2 or the top 5) and they will do so in order to meet those requirements. Sometimes there will be an internal policy where they might interview a couple of outside candidates, just to see what other candidates are out there. When things like that happen it kind of sucks, because they are just raising the hopes and wasting the time of the people they interview, but who they don’t plan to hire.

    2. Capt. Liam Shaw*

      Just because you make the best qualified list in federal hiring doesn’t mean you’re entitled to an interview. Not taking interviews from the general public isn’t unheard of either. Getting a job like this isn’t surprising in federal government either when the manager knows the level of work that you can do. I have seen people told to apply for openings by their manager (in federal government)
      and get them. Personally I think you need to let this go. You didn’t do anything wrong here.

    3. Piscera*

      Maybe for HR reasons, they opened up the applicant pool because they needed X number of applicants to be able to proceed with a hire.

      IOW, The Hiring Games.

  39. Green Goose*

    Hi all. Can people share stories about moving to a job that they weren’t 100% about but it all worked out okay? My current job is a sinking ship so I’m taking a job where I have some apprehension about the person I’ll be working for (they seem a bit demanding) but it’s for better pay and I’ll be learning a lot.
    I think I’m feeling normal transition jitters but I’d love to hear success stories!

    1. CuriousKat*

      Took a contract position worried that the stability would be a constant worry.
      2 and a half years later I’m surrounded by my favourite group of coworkers yet, making more money than I ever have, and truly valued on the team. So glad I didn’t let my worries get in the way!

    2. Elsewise*

      I’ve done it three times!

      The first time, I was desperate so I chose a job I thought I would really like but an organization I wasn’t 100% ideologically aligned with. (A religion I don’t belong to, I’m queer and was also nervous about being out at work.) I wound up staying for four years and really loved it. While there were definitely areas I wished we could have pushed more on DEI stuff, we did a lot more than I had expected and I felt really good about the work I did there. The people were my favorite part, and I’m still in touch with many of my old coworkers.

      The second time, I had some major red flags that I chose to ignore in the interview process. My interviewer (who would be my supervisor) seemed disengaged, self-absorbed, and disconnected from both professional norms and the rest of the organization (he was the ED, so that was extra bad). As a supervisor, he was… disengaged, self-absorbed, and disconnected from professional norms and from my work. Go figure.

      I was so desperate to get out of that situation that I took a job with doubts number three. This was basically the opposite of number one. Ideologically aligned, but the work was a part of my field I didn’t want to do. Turns out, I’m great at it! I love my team, I’m proud of my organization and the work that I do, and my bosses love me. I’ve been here a year and I’m up for a promotion soon. I’ve learned so much and I’m so glad that I decided to stretch myself. I was also nervous because I interviewed with my grandboss, who seemed kind of intense, and I was worried I’d never meet her standards, but figured, hey, my direct supervisor seems great, so hopefully she can shield me from scary boss. Well, nice boss left, scary boss became my direct, and… she’s awesome. Really intense, yes, and a little scattered, but she knows a LOT about our field and is really invested in my growth. Because her expectations are high, praise from her means a lot, and she’s generous with her time and expertise and understanding about the fact that humans mess up sometimes. Basically everything you could want in a mentor, and I’m so glad I didn’t let fear keep me from a job I really love.

    3. Percy Weasley*

      Due to a weird confluence of events, I started a position in in August based almost solely on the written duty statement and the fact that the work group is working from home. Thankfully, the job is turning out to align pretty closely to the duty statement, and the people are great. I hope you have a similar success story to share with the next person who needs one!

    4. Llama Wrangler*

      I got laid off and took a job at the end of my severance period that had some things I liked (directly in my field with a higher title, a better commute, and a mission I believed in) and some serious yellow flags (salaries were under market, terrible glass door reviews, some kind of weird HR policies, the person who was going to be my manager was out on family leave throughout the hiring process so I never met them).

      I got good vibes from the hiring manager, and she addressed some of the concerns about glass door reviews reasonably and non-defensively. And it turned out to be a job I was happy in and stayed in for about 4 years. The hiring manager ended up becoming my permanent manager, they did a bunch of salary adjustments the next year to bring people closer to market, and the new CEO (who had been in place for about a year when I started) made some major impacts on culture, staffing, and operations that improved a lot of things for the better, including many of the HR policies.

      It definitely wasn’t a perfect place, but it was dysfunction that felt well within the range of normal, and was definitely way better than I was worried about.

    5. Generic Name*

      I was at my last company for 12 years, and I was nervous to switch companies, even though it really, really needed to happen. I’ve been here for about 3 months now, and so far I’m loving it! The work and culture are both a great fit.

    6. Nonnny mouse here*

      I was very introverted in school and never worked retail or fast food, so no public-facing work before I went to college. I graduated and went into engineering, then in to IT as an admin and then delivery engineer. Again, not public-facing work. I was starting to be tired of night and weekend work so when my company owner announced he needed to find a Solutions Architect I put up my hand and said “I’d like to give that a try”. Now my work is 50% working with our customers and 50% back office configuring their systems.

      I’ve gotten to speak to 400 people and every day I have to present to customers then interview them to gather the information I need to design the systems that meet their needs.

      If you had told me when I was in high school I would be doing what I do now would have said you were crazy.

    7. OtterB*

      It was some time ago, but with some hesitation I took an internal transfer from a manager everyone liked to a manager who had something of a reputation as a hardass. It turned out to be a great move. When I got a little distance, I could see that the manager everyone liked was a little too “nice” and inclined to agree with whoever talked to him last. The hardass was perfectly reasonable and willing to be disagreed with; he just wanted you to give him reasons why you disagreed. I worked happily for him for several years.

  40. beep beep*

    I’m about to pull my hair out with my company’s work processes. I’ve talked to at least a dozen people in the past month asking for help to do an incredibly simple thing (download a new software version) and all any of them can do is pass me along once they’ve determined that they can’t fix my problem, and I’m not sure who to push on to go “are you sure about that” at this point. The software is shareware, so there’s no contract involved, but it’s incredibly important to my team’s working processes (I know, I know, we’re looking at a replacement right now, but in the meantime we really do need this software). My manager is aware, and she’s told me she’s trying to get a contact with the vendor, but in the meantime I’m on the second round of staredown with one support team and I’m just so frustrated. I will not send angry emails, I keep telling myself. I will be professional and I will figure this out and I will not disappear into the woods where no one can tell me “sorry, maybe go talk to (X team I’ve spoken to three people on last week)?”

    Please send strength and grace, and for an actual question please share your funniest or most excruciating in-company tech support stories.

    1. Thunder Kitten*

      I built a report in our orgs business reporting software. From start – report content finalized, 3 weeks. Report content finalized to getting the report “published” and all the users access – no action despite my follow ups and directors follow ups for 9 months.

      finally got annoyed enough that I mentioned this to our VP. Apparently she complained to the next level up. He commented to his counterpart on the tech side. Everything was done within 24 hours.

  41. Yaaaaaawwwwnnnnn*

    I’m not sure if any remembers the jr HR person yawning in interviews (due to being tired and lacking experience in professional norms not due to being a jerk).

    There’s a lot of history with his supervisor that made me reluctant to speak with him directly, so after Jenny (his supervisor) returned to the office I spoke with her. Made it very clear that I thought he just needing a little coaching on how to behave in interviews, stated that I’d done similar while starting out and that I enjoy working with him.

    Rather than coaching him or giving him feedback, Jenny’s solution is to forbid him from interviews! I was not expecting that and pushed back, stating that he’s welcome as long as he acts as “the face of the company.” Nope.

    I’m extremely disappointed and feel bad for the Jr. Commenters were right, I should’ve spoken with him directly and just dealt with the subsequent meeting with my boss and Jenny’s boss once she found out. (This is based on the history I referenced above.)

  42. CuriousKat*

    For those of you further along in your careers, how would you answer this piece of advice for someone who is mid-level and at a cross roads between pursuing a technical specialty or a manager track career:
    Should you do what you like or what you’re good at?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I don’t see why someone wouldn’t enjoy what they’re good at or vice versa. I understand that sometimes people are skilled at things they don’t necessarily enjoy, but I think the path of “I’m good at it, and I enjoy or at least don’t hate doing this” is the one to follow.

      1. CuriousKat*

        That is totally fair, I suppose I didn’t provide full context.
        To be more specific, I have a technical skill set that I could develop to become a senior subject matter expert (SME) in my field or pursue more of a managerial track where I would manage SMEs and have the bigger departmental picture.
        On one hand, I really enjoy the aspects of my job where I’m a SME and being hands on with the work. Though the opportunities are kind of limited once you reach a senior SME level (not just at my company but in the field in gerenal).
        On the other hand, I tend to be good at coordinating people and taking the lead where I think I would be better as a manager than a SME. Managerial track often has no ceiling until you reach the C-suite which would be fair to assume is the more lucrative path financially.

        Maybe the bigger question is, passion or money? I’ve had so many mixed conversations where people have advocated for both!

        1. Gatomon*

          Having witnessed my team’s SME go into management: I’d never do it.

          He hardly touches the technology anymore. Instead he spends most of his days booked, or double-booked, or triple-booked (!), in meetings with the rest of management. He doesn’t even have a lot of time to delegate or supervise, we kinda do our own thing. Management in general is so inaccessible due to all those meetings that we’d need to add another layer of management just to have someone to run issues and decisions by if we decided to operate that way.

          Personally, I don’t put a ton of weight on money once you’re living comfortably and able to save for retirement and other goals. At least not until you get up into “living off my trust fund” levels of money and don’t have to work.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      They are both valid options (hence the question I guess!) – doing something you like but aren’t good at has the risk of failing spectacularly, though (and isn’t fair to others in the company) so I suppose it depends on how bad you are at the thing you like doing. For me there isn’t a clear answer out of these two choices; my answer would be “the one that gives me the most options in the future”.

    3. Green Goose*

      For manager track just make sure you actually enjoy delegating and managing people. The times when I’ve had larger teams I was doing less of what I enjoyed and more managing people. I like having 1-2 direct reports but past that it became the main focus of my job and I didn’t love that. The logistics of it all.

    4. Rick Tq*

      If you like both being an SME and managing SMEs go for the management track for better pay and better promotion options.

    5. OtterB*

      If you take the managerial path, you will need to be able to find your satisfaction in helping your team members grow and succeed. There will still be some satisfaction in the technical aspects, and some in helping projects succeed, but IMO the key will be in your team. I had a boss once who described it as a cross between being the coach and being the bat boy.

  43. JustaTech*

    This is an experience my boss is having, but I wonder how the commentariat would choose to approach it.
    My boss (Bob) is getting cornered by his boss (Alan) semi-frequently so that Alan can complain about his home life.
    Surprisingly I haven’t heard any of this complaining, given that Alan frequently wanders down to our floor to talk work or just chat (or both) and while Bob has an office it is not soundproof *at all*, so clearly Alan either doesn’t want to air his dirty laundry to everyone, or he has some idea that you’re not supposed to do that at work.

    Does anyone have any script suggestions for how to tell your boss that you don’t want to hear about how much they hate their spouse? (It would be different if Alan’s complaints indicated an abusive relationship, but it sounds like this is just two people who don’t like each other anymore.) (Also, props to Bob for keeping this very quiet and not sharing the content of these complaints. He only told me because it was really getting him down, and he wanted me to be aware that Alan might be more volatile than usual.)

    1. Rick Tq*

      “Alan, I know you are distressed but this is something you should discuss with a counselor or your Pastor. I can listen but I can’t help you address this problem.” as a starting place.

      1. JustaTech*

        That’s a good starting point. I might re-phrase it to “with a friend or a therapist”, just because I don’t think that Alan is the pastor type (or priest or rabbi), but yes, that’s an excellent way to be kind but serious.

  44. Spearmint*

    I turned 30 this year, and I’m feeling a bit dissatisfied with how far my career has advanced so far. Even though I’ve been working professional jobs five years now (six if you include internships) I’m still stuck in junior roles. My pay has consistently gone up through raises and getting new jobs, and I make good but not great money for someone with my general skillset, but ultimately I’ve never moved beyond a junior role in terms of responsibilities (both technical and non-technical).

    Meanwhile, I have many friends who are +- 3 years of my age who are starting to get senior IC roles, spearhead initiatives, and even manage in some cases. I also know a few who are definitely making six figures. (Granted, I also have some friends in the same age range who are entry-level or never really got professional careers off the ground.)

    My bosses have all sung my praises and been supportive, so I don’t think it’s a performance or interpersonal issue. But I’m also more of a work to live kind of person and don’t necessarily give it 100% everyday or devote much personal time to developing skills. I found an affordable and reputable online masters program in my field that I’m thinking of doing to hopefully help me finally advance more.

    Is this typical? I’m a little frustrated feeling like I’m still treated like I’m a year or two out of college when I’m actually 30 at this point and have been working office jobs for longer than I was in college.

    1. Oof and ouch*

      I’m 32, work to live, and a 6 figure earning manager. I wish I’d talked to someone about what that would entail before I’d taken the jobs that kind of fell into my lap. The responsibilities that come along with it all don’t always make it worth it to me as a work to live.

      Have a conversation with your manager about your career trajectory. They may see you as a solid team player who is comfortable where they are, and if they don’t know you want to advance, they probably won’t bring it up. If you want to move up in the world talk with them about what that would look like from their end and what you would need to do to get there. Depending on your field that masters degree may just be a piece of paper to your employer.

      You’re in a good position now to do some serious assessment and planning for your future. Ask yourself what you’re really after. Is it more money? More interesting work? More prestige? And then ask what you’re willing to trade for that.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      My actual career started at 30 and now mid-40s I’m ahead of many of my peers in terms of some stats like net worth, so don’t be discouraged!

      I think we would need to know more to be able to help get at the specific thing that could be holding you back. Or industry, at least. One thing sticking out to me is that you hint at job hopping for raises. While that somehow became the go-to advice online, it’s going to hold you back in many industries. I’ve worked in smaller software and software adjacent type roles and no one who is successful at any of these companies is new or got where they were by job hopping. They got there by becoming an absolute expert in their products and building relationships with customers and getting history by putting out a few fires, which may involve living-to-work for a short period. So when I see constant advice to job hop, I do cringe. It may be good a few times early career or if you’re underpaid or at a place like google which is famous for employee churn, but if your mid-level and stagnating at the fourth or fifth job, IMO you need to drill down into what specifically is holding you back

      I wouldn’t do too much comparison. Your friends can be geniuses you can emulate, or they could have gotten lucky. Who knows. Maybe some of them are going to get laid off next year or don’t do great work. Maybe they are great but gave up a few years of their personal lives to focus on work (which I did in my early 30s to hit the equivalent of 100K today, at 34). That’s what you don’t see, which is why comparison can be the thief of joy.

    3. Patience*

      Depends on your workplace, but seems pretty normal to me, especially if you don’t go out of your way to do extra. I’d say in most technical fields the majority of people transition from jr to sr sometime between 7-10 years in unless they have some specific extra skill or experience that helps them move along faster or they’re a serious workaholic who’s also really, really good at what they do.

  45. V*

    I’d like to pose a question I know is very workplace-dependent, but I’d like your thoughts anyway!

    I work a standard 8-5 office job. Since coming back into the office full time (my position requires I be here in person as I handle lots of secured documents and sign a lot of checks), our dress code has relaxed significantly–for example, our manager (over the entire office) wears basketball shorts most days. I usually wear jeans and t-shirts, or occasionally a fun patterned button down if the day calls for it (I started a Hawaiian shirt trend that I’m very proud of!)

    All that being said, sometimes I will go home to shower, etc. on my lunch break and come back wearing something different than I was that morning. The reasons vary: I’ve gone to work out and don’t want to come back to work smelling like sweat, or I’m putting in some overtime and rolled out of bed to get to the office at 6am and need a pick-me-up. (I will say, I don’t come to work with bedhead or smelling gross!)

    I can’t decide if this is distracting or not. No one has ever said anything to me, but my mind keeps going back to the employee who would change her appearance drastically in the middle of the work day. I’m not dying my hair or anything (or walking into my boss’s office with my shirt open, dear lord), but would someone coming back in entirely different clothes cause distraction for you? Or is my anxiety in overdrive and is this a lot of context for something no one cares about?

    Thanks for humoring me! I love this comment section and the fact is, when this thought crossed my mind today, you folks were the first people I thought to ask.

    1. Rainy*

      I think you’re fine–if someone asks say “Oh I worked out over lunch and I feel weird putting the same clothes on after I shower” or whatever.

      1. CuriousKat*

        I agree with you on this. Likely the topic of you working out at lunch has come up and I wouldn’t think twice about a coworker who had a change of clothes for that reason.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Me too. As long as you aren’t showing up in a Wonder Woman costume with no explanation I doubt anybody would note it beyond the basic “huh, V’s got a new blouse” or whatever.

    2. Rick Tq*

      If you aren’t changing your style of clothing when you change over I doubt anyone really notices. The horror stories are for complete makeovers or drastic hair cut or color changes in customer-facing positions.

    3. connie*

      You’re overthinking. People pay far less attention to us than we think they do. There’s nothing for you to decide because no one has indicated it’s distracting.

    4. BigLawEx*

      This would only be an issue if it were my week day of work. I usually ground my knowledge of different people by what they are wearing. That’s the only instance I could think of that would be disconcerting.

  46. TheGrassIsGreener*

    US based – I would really appreciate feedback from people who buy their own health insurance from I have an exciting new job opportunity that will pay a lot more, but will require me to buy my own health insurance. I’ve been using my company‘s insurance plan, which is excellent, but cannot take it with me if I leave the company, of course. I’ve heard so many horror stories about people who ended up owing hundreds of thousands of dollars or were denied needed cancer treatment that having to leave my insurance plan is a major concern. Really interested in other peoples’ experience with open-market insurance. Thanks.

    1. Aisling*

      I bought my own health insurance from after I was laid off and COBRA was too expensive, and kept it for a few months because my new job didn’t give benefits until 60 days after hire (argh). My experience was ok. I didn’t have issues with most of my maintenance medication refills except one name-brand medication for which there is no generic. The insurance would only cover 70% of it, leaving me to cover 30% of it, but the medication is $1,000 a month. $300 was too much for me. I thought maybe I needed a higher-level plan to get some of that covered, but discovered that none of the plans in my area covered name-brand medication. It was all a percentage-only cover.

      I’m lucky in that I’m relatively healthy and don’t need to see specialists and didn’t need to have any surgeries or anything during that time. Honestly, even the gold-level plans were quite a bit worse than what I had at my job. They all covered basic stuff and preventative appointments with no problem, but didn’t seem to want to shell out anything if you needed more care.

      You might try going to the individual healthcare plans in your area and see if they sell insurance outside of That can also be an option and the plans might be better.

      1. ExchangeOnly*

        according to the plans here they’re not allowed to do that anymore. All individual insurance gets sold through the exchange.

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We’ve been buying insurance on the exchange since I retired two years ago (we’re still too young for Medicare). We picked the company and dealt directly with them rather than going to the government website. Buying Blue Cross (for example) on the exchange means the premiums might be different. The plan is still the same.

      I’m in healthcare so I knew which company I wanted and we made sure that all our providers were covered before we made a decision. The company rep helped us choose the specific plan. It was still RIDICULOUSLY challenging to figure out which would have the lowest out-of-pocket expense. Also I had to give 90 days notice to finish at the end of December which meant I had to make the decision before November 1 so we didn’t know what our premiums would be (they’re not announced until open enrollment starts). Since we had to have some idea for budgeting, I looked up the previous year’s premiums and increased the number by 50%. Turns out it was way less than I expected because we were eligible for a subsidy (thanks, Biden).

      tl;dr: I would figure out what company you want first. It’s possible you could buy a plan with the same company you’re with now.

    3. Generic Name*

      My husband was covered under Colorado’s healthcare exchange for a couple of years. The coverage was fine, and the premiums were reasonably affordable. He was on the exchange because it was actually cheaper for him to get coverage there than through my employer. Now that I’ve changed jobs, and my employer plan is affordable, he’s back on my health insurance. I agree that the coverage of medications is not great. My husband has asthma, and his maintenance inhaler was like $100 a month under the state plan. We now pay like $20 a month.

      1. Jealous*

        I’m jealous. I’d kill for $100/month. My employer insurance charges $350/month for brand name inhalers.

        My monthly pharmacy bill went up from ~$220/month on my exchange plan to ~1200/month on my employer insurance. My out of pocket maximum went way up too, but I hit it about 4 months in thanks to those pharmacy costs.

    4. Cedrus Libani*

      I was unemployed a few years ago and went on open-market insurance. I admittedly looked for a “name brand” provider (went with Kaiser) to minimize the potential for funny business in case something very bad happened. Didn’t have a problem using it for routine care, but I also understood what I was buying: cheaper premiums equals higher cost at point of service. I went to the doctor once. It was fine.

      The only problems I had: one, DO NOT give your phone number. If you have a despised ex, give them that number instead. My phone was slammed for months. Two, I had a surprisingly hard time cancelling the darn thing. Ended up double-covered for nearly two months. Finally, after the third call to customer service to complain about why they were still billing me, I got transferred to someone who took pity on me and explained the precise magical incantation (had to fax in a hand-signed confirmation IIRC).

      1. JustStopPaying*

        um, just stop paying and the coverage goes away. it’s gone the first of the month after you don’t pay the premium before the 23rd

    5. Dancing Otter*

      First, read the coverage details very, very carefully. Review the exclusions; check in network versus out of network versus preferred provider rates; HMO or PPO or standard coverage; deductibles and co-pays and out of pocket maximums, and coverage limits (dollar amounts or number of visits); if you have doctors you trust, do they accept XYZ insurance? And some companies are more reputable than others, so do read the reviews. (Looking at you, Lincoln!) Some policies are good about travel, while others offer no coverage if you are sick or injured away from home. (Blue Cross of Illinois wanted my college daughter to come home to get treated for whooping cough.)

      It can definitely be worth talking to an enrollment specialist (sorry, not sure the proper title); they do not charge the client anything.

      Second, be careful about estimated income for the subsidy calculation, if you’re qualified at all. If you under-estimate and receive more subsidy than it turns out you ultimately deserve, you have to pay back the difference at tax time. I got bitten by that one year. Good that I made more income than I expected, but ouch!

    6. LookAtTotalCost*

      you absolutely can take your company’s insurance with you, at least for the first 1.5 years. If you really like the insurance you may be better off doing that.

      When looking at the insurance, you’re better off paying attention to the total out of pocket costs than to the premiums, deductibles, and out of pocket maximums independently unless you have an outside constraint (for instance, can’t afford to have the plan be top heavy).

      If you’re working on a 1099 instead of a W-2 you may be able to deduct some or all of the premiums so you may be much better off with higher premium, lower out of pocket plans. Last time I used the exchange I got a plan in the highest tier (higher premium) but $0 deductible and $3k out of pocket maximum. It was a lot cheaper for me than a lower tier plan with lower premiums but higher out of pocket maximums because I was able to deduct some of the premiums.

      In fact, my exchange plan was a lot better than the employer plan that followed. Your mileage may vary.

  47. cat sweater*

    I have two questions about appropriate dress in the workplace. For context, I currently work in an admin support role in a hospital department where my coworkers are mostly doctors and social workers. I’m a temp, but I’ve been brought into this department multiple times for things like holiday coverage and one manager has promised me first dibs when something permanent opens up (which I want!), so I’m really concerned with making a good impression.

    1. What do you do when you get mixed messages on clothing formality? I was told to wear business casual by the site manager and temp agency when I first started, but the employees of the department wear anything from scrubs to suits to jeans and hoodies. I’ve been trying to stick to business casual but I worry about being out of place when the other employees in my role are often dressed extremely casually.

    2. How “quirky” is too quirky? I have an offbeat sense of style–I’ve been compared to Ms. Frizzle by friends–and struggle where to draw the line at work. I recently started covering this department again and the location is cold and I’ve been stressing about putting together an appropriate wardrobe. I have lots of nice sweaters with animals on them (look at ModCloth for examples) and I worry about them being too much. Or if some popular animals, like cats, are “OK” but weirder animals like bats or dinosaurs aren’t. How do you navigate this?

    1. Cordelia*

      are you public-facing? That would be what made the difference, I think. If you are behind the scenes, and only interact with the (casually-dressed) staff, I think your wardrobe sounds great. The temp agency and the site manager don’t necessarily know the culture of the team, but I wonder what your actual manager wears? Could you check with them about what they expect?

      1. cat sweater*

        I’m semi-public facing. I interact a lot with patients and other departments but mostly over the phone or shoulders-up video. I’ve actually sometimes worn these kinds of quirky sweaters while covering more typical front-desk roles and ended up getting a lot of positive comments from patients, for what it’s worth.

        The site manager is the actual personnel manager of this department, and she’s the one that told me to dress business casual at the very beginning. She works from home a lot but does dress business casual when she is in. All of the permanent admin support employees generally dress much more casually–sneakers, jeans, hoodies, leggings–which is where my confusion comes from. The managers, social workers, and doctors are more likely to be dressed more business-y (or in scrubs) but it’s a range.

        1. Cordelia*

          ah ok, sorry – I think site manager means something different in my hospital setting then. You probably need to go with what they say then, but is there a compromise, could you wear some of your least quirky/ more muted animal sweaters with a boring plain skirt or pants? I don’t think the type of animal makes a difference. Maybe you can gradually segue into more and more interesting outfits!

    2. Oof and ouch*

      I say stick with the business casual side since there is such a range unless you’re told otherwise. I also think you’re fine with the quirky sweaters from ModCloth regardless of animal popularity. If you’re feeling awkward about it start with the popular animals and slowly introduce the dinos. Also if you dress up the other sweaters it can come across as more put together

    3. Whomst*

      If everyone else is wearing scrubs/jeans/hoodies, you should have no issues wearing an animal sweater to work. If it really worries you, balance it out with a more “office-y” piece, e.g. I wear a quirky sweater and a pencil skirt, or I wear a cutesy patterned skirt and a conservative blouse.
      Also, the bats and dinosaurs are probably gonna get you more street cred with the well-educated crowd, as opposed to giving off cat-lady vibes. In terms of professionalism, they’re equivalent.

      1. cat sweater*

        The wearing the sweaters with an “office-y” piece is basically my strategy. My typical winter work outfits are sweater + midi/knee-length skirt + opaque tights + clogs/boots + cardigan as needed. This feels very “office-y” to me as long as everything’s a plain color…it’s the more quirky patterns and details that make me pause!

        The funny thing is people LOVE my cat sweater. No item I’ve ever worn at work has gotten more compliments across different departments/locations I’ve filled in at from coworkers, managers, and patients. I think people just love cats!

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      If it’s anything to do with pediatrics, please please wear the animal sweaters. You will make everyone’s day.

      1. Nightengale*

        Even with adults I would say go for the animal sweaters! It’s the kind of little thing that can bring a smile to someone’s day without being intrusive on someone’s feelings.

        When I was in med school and started using a cane, my classmates stared at it but never said anything. I decided if I was going to have “the elephant in the room” it might as well look like one so I attached a toy elephant.

        Patients loved it. Not just pediatric patients – I was still in general clinicals – but random people in the elevators. And staff overall. Meanwhile my Dean did not think it was professional. After awhile, when people commented on the elephant I answered that he was a “good judge of character.”

  48. Some dude on the Internet*

    Is it a red flag if a small company starts to announce ambitious plans?

    I’ve worked at two companies with less than 100 employees, and both times they announced “big” goals for the future, things started going downhill afterwards.

    One of my previous jobs was at an IoT startup. During my second year there, our VP of engineering told us the company’s performance did not “reflect the headcount” and that organizational changes were needed. Yet he assured us there would be no layoffs. Several months later, the VP announced plans to secure large funding rounds of $50 to $100 million. We were told to expect better benefits, such as three free lunches a week up from two. But that didn’t happen, and it wasn’t long before my position was eliminated.

    A more recent example: my last job was at a company that was going through growing pains. Even though our stock was at an all-time low due to very little revenue, the CEO assured us things were OK and that there would be no layoffs.

    *insert “this is fine” meme*

    During another all-hands meeting several weeks later, there was talk about getting a “billion-dollar customer” such as Amazon or Apple. Of course, that didn’t happen either, and I was soon laid off along one of the directors.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think it can be. This is usually just wishful thinking or fantasy. Getting a billion-dollar customer is a ‘hail mary pass’. Or they will hire too quickly and then have to make layoffs — you see it so many times.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Especially nowadays. I’m no expert but have read several articles about the money culture in Silicon Valley/tech in general and how there is far less “throw big gobs of money at any concept” around these days in general, and even established start ups don’t get the funding rounds they used to.

    2. Nicosloanica*

      Definitely in the nonprofit sector, I haven’t seen it go well. Tiny places make these crazy plans, particularly fundraising goals that are totally out of step with prior success, and what it really means is insane pressure on the staff and general disappointment by the board when it (obviously) doesn’t come to fruition. In at least one case I’m pretty sure they deliberately set an out-of-reach goal to get rid of a higher-up they didn’t like on the basis of them failing to meet it.

    3. Cedrus Libani*

      Yeah, that’s a Hail Mary, and it usually means impending doom.

      At my first job, there was a shake-up in upper management. The victors announced that we would be going in a new, and very ambitious, direction. The technical staff were asked to put together a timeline. We were specifically asked to be aggressive, so…okay, let’s ignore these major technical risks, if everything works the first time it’ll be 5-6 years. We dragged in the marketing team to make fancy charts.

      Company shut down about three months later. The story I heard: one of the VCs showed up unannounced and cornered our technical lead. You’re way behind schedule! No, we’re ahead of schedule – and he pulled out his copy of the schedule chart. Alas, our fearless leaders had edited the chart, such that the units were “months” instead of “years”. VC was not amused; there went THAT company. But honestly, if the VCs believed the claim of 5-6 months…fools and money are soon parted.

    4. SizeMatters*

      FWIW, I don’t think of 100 employees as a terribly small company. If a 4 or 6 or 8 person company gets ambitious it can be a real problem because there just isn’t the bandwidth to absorb problems. 100 person company should be large enough to have bandwidth to deal with and absorb a few unexpected twists and turns.

  49. You get a bonus!*

    Just out of curiosity, who here received an end of the year bonus, ever in their life? I’m 31 and never have I worked someplace that gives bonuses (unless it’s like…a box of chocolates, literally.) I’ve worked in state government and universities and now a small company. I’m wondering if I’m in the minority or majority.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I used to work at a fairly small nonprofit and we got year-end bonuses several of the years I worked there. Usually it was a few hundred dollars, and it was based on whether we had met fundraising targets that year, plus your performance evaluation ranking.

      1. You get a bonus!*

        That’s helpful to know that it was a small nonprofit! I work for a small company that just got 2 million in funding, but because insurance reimbursements have been not as great, things are tight. I feel bad for feeling resentful about it though. Our company of 20 really hoped for bonuses for all the extra work we did this year (even folks taking pay cuts!) but maybe it’s just not in the cards for some small companies.

    2. Oof and ouch*

      My previous job did and it was usually a few hundred dollars after taxes depending on your position/performance/how long you’d been at the company.

      Apparently my current job also does, but we don’t get those until the following year and it’s based on metrics

    3. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

      I worked at one place that gave Xmas bonuses, that were heavily taxed. AND they had an employee of the month system and then three names were picked at random for employee of the year (at the Xmas party) with descending cash prizes (I came in third one year and got $100). I point out that this particular employer had terrible wages and didn’t even give out COLA raises.

      I worked at another place where they also gave out very generous Xmas bonuses that they finagled so that they wouldn’t be too heavily taxed. (If that was legal, I have no idea! Rules are always different in Quebec!)

      Everywhere else? No year-end or Xmas bonus.

    4. Elsewise*

      Nope, never. I’ve been in nonprofits and higher education and never heard of such a thing. I hear about CEOs getting bonuses all the time, so maybe it’s something that only happens at really high levels? Or only in certain industries, like sales maybe? Or it could be a thing of the past that’s just part of the cultural consciousness, like getting a gold watch when you retire.

    5. Nicosloanica*

      I did at once nonprofit! It was pretty fun :D It was an extra $1000 or $1500 at the end of the year, always with the caveat that it was only going to happen on years we did well. The taxes work themselves out. The only demoralizing part was when I realized how much more in bonus the “higher ups” got – which was a LOT more, and they didn’t really work any harder than us. But no, in past roles there’s been an end-of-year raise/COLA discussion (which was sometimes “we’re not doing raises/COLA this year”) and in my current role, not even that.

    6. Ranon*

      I’ve worked at places from 6 to 1,000 employees that give out year end bonuses. All privately held, for profit, typically the bonus calculated as profit sharing.

    7. Ginger Baker*

      At the tiny (under 5 employees) place: I don’t think so. The very very small nonprofit I think also no but can’t recall for sure since it was like 20 years ago. Everywhere else: always. One large finance place, an accounting firm, three law firms, all low-four-figures to mid-four-figures. The one nonprofit in the middle did a YE bonus that was quite small ($100 maybe?) BUT had significant PTO and paid ALL health insurance costs, so it balanced out.

    8. Gatomon*

      My company gives a nice year-end bonus to employees hired before a certain date. I found out about the bonus when a long-term employee mentioned the extra-fat paycheck coming, so I went looking in the manual in excitement because I didn’t remember hearing about it as a benefit. I was hired a few weeks after the cutoff. I think it’s something like a week’s pay. :(

    9. Always Tired*

      My staffing agency and finance job did nothing of the sort.

      My tech company did sporadic bonuses, but it was generally clearly an apology/hush money after my boss let the stress get to her and popped off at me. (while I am not the “abundant shrimp” lady, I have had very similar moments)

      My construction company does year end bonuses every year. I sent them to finance on Monday, and they are hitting bank accounts today! We set aside an additional 5% of payroll throughout the year, then there is an additional % from the profit every year that rolls into the bonus pool (I am not privy to the number, and it was like pulling teeth to get our owner to agree to it, but the employees LOVED it when we announced it this year) I think this year the average bonus was 6.5% of their annual pay. What percent the employee gets is based on their year end reviews, percentage of billable hours, and any feedback throughout the year. That gives them a score, which is used to convert to a salary % such that we land on a company wide number that matches the bonus pool.

    10. Llama Wrangler*

      I’ve worked exclusively in non-profits and grant-funded higher ed programs, and have never gotten a bonus.

      I did work one job that gave a year end bonus to some people, but I hadn’t worked there for long enough to qualify. The next year they didn’t award them because of budget cuts.

    11. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Yes, but it was an expectd part of our compensation based on whether or not we met our metrics. I made sure I was satisfied with the base pay when I took the job because I didn’t want to be dependent on metrics for the money I need to live. We only hit all our metrics once in the five years I was working there and the “bonus” was about 15% of my base salary and that was very very nice. I appreciated that we knew it was coming and if we paid attention to where we were with metrics during the year we had a pretty good idea how much it would be.

    12. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Worked for many years at companies that gave bonuses. But they were tied to the fiscal year, not the calendar year. Depending on my contributions & the success of the company, they were as much as 15% of my annual salary.

    13. new old friend*

      I got bonuses at one job, working in software at a small-ish company. But it was software closely attached to a field that’s heavily commission based for compensation, so I guess that might have blebbed over. (Along with a lot of really unpleasant workplace norms. Ugh.)

    14. Generic Name*

      My first job was with a city government, and apparently staff hired before a certain date got what everyone called a Christmas Check, that was an annual bonus. But I was not eligible. I worked for a couple of consulting companies that gave out bonuses, but the ones I got were in the $300-$500 range. Perhaps others higher up or higher performing got bigger bonuses? I just got hired in September at my current company, so if there are bonuses, I am assuming I am not eligible for this year.

    15. Cedrus Libani*

      Current company is the first I’ve worked for that does it. (Previous: mid-size university, large hospital, small startup. Current: large biotech.) It’s a performance bonus, it’s done after end of year evaluations (so it’s really a Q1 next year’s bonus), and it’s big. The majority of people are roughly “meets expectations”, and if the business also “meets expectations”, it’s 18% of base salary. They use it as an alternative to negotiating salaries on a case-by-case basis. You’re hired at a set salary for your pay band, with some local cost-of-living factored in, and then if you’re awesome you get paid at bonus time.

    16. goddessoftransitory*

      Where I work we get periodic bonuses at the phone center, because we don’t earn tips. If you take X amount of calls with Y amount of errors you get a bonus every so many weeks. This isn’t a huge amount at the end of the year, but having it spread out is nice because you can access the money in March, June, whenever.

    17. Turkey or bust*

      Ouch. I’ve had a mix, but my career started out with decent year-end bonuses, from a week’s to a month’s pay.

      But after that, I worked at a smaller company where they gave us each a frozen turkey, and I was kind of offended because they also didn’t pay well, and I was hoping for money to help pay some bills, and that’s what I thought was the standard.

      But I have to say, with some other jobs under my belt and a terrible workplace or two, the frozen turkey doesn’t look so bad. It was a gesture, and probably the best they could do.

    18. TheBonusGame*

      I’ve never gotten an end of year bonus, but I’ve worked at several companies that give bonuses at another time of year. However, they’re a standard part of compensation. Say that your job should pay $100k/year (to make the math easy). These companies reduce your salary to -for example- $90k and put $10k into a bonus system. Your actual bonus is a multiplier of $10k based on a combination of how the company is doing and your performance review results. So if the company has a bad year you might get a 50% company multiplier or if it has a really bad year all bonuses as zeroed out. If it has a good year, maybe you’ll get a 110% or 125% company multiplier (but most of the time it’s at 100% or lower). Then, if the company multiplier isn’t 0 you also get a personal multiplier which will also be 100% for someone in the meets expectations zone and could be 125% or 150% for exceeds expectations (I once got 200% for a really exceptional performance review, but I’ve rarely seen/heard of folks getting more than 150%. So if your company multiplier is 100% and your personal multiplier is 100% you get $10k. If the company multiplier is 100% and your personal multiplier us 125% you get $12.5k. If the company multiplier is 50% and your personal multiplier is 125% you get $6.25k, etc.

      I’ve seen a couple of companies do this on top of the going rate for salary, but usually it’s a mandatory gambling of a portion of your compensation that can, at times, pay off quite considerably but, like all gambling, you can lose too.

      I would also add that many companies that do this start from the higher end of the going rate (let’s say the normal range for a position where they use $100k is $92k-$102k and >90% of the time in the past the company portion was funded at 100% or higher)

      All specific numbers are made up, but those are the only type of bonuses I’ve ever seen in the real world.

      1. TheBonusGame*

        To be clear, your offer in this case was 100k in compensation with 90k as salary and 10k in the bonus pool – the companies that do this are transparent about it.

  50. 3,000,000 IQ*

    So I took the LSAT and got a very, very high score (high 170s)… and that gave me pause. Being a lawyer excites me, and I won’t be in debt if I go to law school.

    But if I’m being honest, part of the appeal of law school is that the LSAT is so heavily weighted in the application process, and (while my username is sarcastic) I’m really good at exams. I’m now wondering whether there are *jobs* that hire more-or-less-entirely based on similar tests. Civilian roles in the military are like that, I’ve been told, and tech jobs used to be like that – but is there anything else like that out there?

    1. Spearmint*

      I once applied at at tech company that did a logic test as part of the initial screening. That said, my impression was that experience and skills that could be brought to the table on day 1 were still the most important for their ultimate hiring decision. It seemed like they interviewed me because I did well on the test but didn’t hire me because my skills didn’t match up.

      My impression is that hiring based heavily on tests is out of vogue these days. Companies would rather have an average employee with experience who can be onboarded quickly than a smart but inexperienced person who might need a year or two of seasoning to be fully independent.

      I have heard some employers in finance and consulting will hire fresh grads based purely on potential and intelligence, but they almost exclusively hire from very elite universities, and only truly recent grads with good grades at that.

    2. Nicosloanica*

      To be fair this question might make more sense as “are there any jobs in which the test is a really accurate measurement for what the job will be like?” and I could think of some software roles where this could be true. I don’t think that being a lawyer is a lot like taking the LSAT, so even though the schools are probably lazy enough to admit someone based almost entirely on the score, I’m not sure it’s a good way to judge whether you’d like/be good at the actual job.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In medical coding, we generally have a coding test as part of the hiring process, and while a lot of what you see in the education process is abnormally good documentation, we use realistic documentation for our tests. (Obviously we’re not gunning for like, fake-out bad gotcha type nonsense, but a couple of the scenarios will have an “unspecified” code in the correct answer because the provider didn’t say whether the left leg pain was in the upper or lower leg or whatever.) So the test is fairly accurate to the day-to-day, because we’re testing you using actual (redacted to remove PHI) patient charts that our coders have coded in the past.

      But it’s still only part of the hiring process — for my teams, we do first interview (me), then coding test, then second interview (my manager). If you come in and tell me as an outpatient coding manager that you’ll only consider accepting an inpatient coding position, I will not give you my coding test (and I’ll be a little concerned about your attention to detail, because you applied to my outpatient coding position).

    4. Lifelong student*

      I think that the fact that you scored exceptionally well on the exam indicates a lot more than you are good at tests. It also shows that you prepared, knew the material, and probably dedicated a lot of time and effort to preparing for the exam. I took the CPA exam and similarly scored very highly- like number one in my state and top 120 in the country. What that demonstrated is that I can learn and work hard to be very good at what I want to do. If you want to be a lawyer- be a lawyer!!!

      1. Asloan*

        To be fair, as far as I understand, OP didn’t ace the bar (which involves extensive studying and probably does indicate both preparedness and depth of legal knowledge, at least in the short term) – the LSAT is an aptitude test, with like, logic puzzles. I could certainly imagine someone who was great at written logic puzzles but not great at dealing with clients / billable hours / court / BigLaw politics? That said, I defer to people who are actually lawyers.

    5. Rick Tq*

      If you want to be a lawyer go for it.. As far as fields that require proctored testing, IT and project management certifications require testing, and the same with things like CPA, Professional Engineers, etc. I think you know the LSAT is to get into law school but you must pass the Bar Exam to be a lawyer. Passing the first doesn’t guarantee passing the second.

      The tests aren’t the entry screen, it is the objective demonstration you have the required skills at the required level of competency, so it isn’t a One and Done for testing to get into the field.

      My military specialty required passing the entry screening exam at >Mensa levels of ability. Over the 12 months of the program we still washed out about 2/3rds of the students either during the 6 month academic phase or the 6 month practical phase.

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m a mutant-level standardized test taker too. (It’s not really IQ, it’s reading speed.)

      There’s only one way to convert it directly into a paycheck, and that’s to work as a high level test prep tutor. You can make good money that way, though it does take hustle. Instead, I took the more conventional route of using the test scores to get into a top-tier school. People will absolutely hire you because you have the right school on your resume.

      There are fields that hire based on things that are highly correlated to test-taking. I’m a STEM person, but maybe 40% of my interviews feature some kind of case study. As I understand it, for business and marketing jobs, it’s closer to 100%. You’ll get a dossier and 20-30 minutes to prep, then you have to present your case. The faster you read, the more time you have to think about the material and how you’re going to use it.

      There are also fields that hire based on intensive knowledge-based tests, though that’s not the same thing. The purest example I can think of is the CPA / CFA certification process, where you have to pass legitimately hard exams to earn the right to do specific jobs in finance. No blustering your way through that one, you need to know stuff, though surely raw test-taking skill won’t hurt.

      For what it’s worth, it doesn’t matter if you would enjoy taking the LSAT for a living, it matters if you’d enjoy being a lawyer. (Probably best to choose one or the other, because if you get busted taking the LSAT for a living, you’re going to have quite a time with the character and fitness portion of the Bar Exam.) I enjoyed taking the MCAT, would have likely enjoyed med school in a masochistic sort of way, but I concluded that I’d get bored and frustrated once the novelty had worn off and I was seeing the same types of patients day in and day out. Likewise, I imagine most lawyers aren’t spending their days working at the frontiers of the field; there’s a lot of wills and divorces and cease-and-desists. Something to keep in mind.

  51. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

    While I can see how it is appropriate for an administrative support person to assist project managers, and similar roles, with their monthly expenses, since it is job related, am I wrong to think it’s inappropriate to ask your support person to apply to internal job postings on your behalf?

    I learned that’s been happening at my place – the reps are asking their secretaries to apply to internal jobs on their behalf (probably under the guise of “I’m too busy.”). I’m thinking, job related expenses support is one thing; your own personal resume and career advancement support is another.

    Mind you, they won’t be able to do that anymore since HR revamped the job application process which must now be done thru the HR portal which has Microsoft single sign on.

    1. Elsewise*

      I used to work at a university geared towards adult learners and one of the students had his assistant fill out the application for him. He was really mad that his previous university wouldn’t let her request his transcripts without his signature. I assume she probably did all of his homework too- maybe she should have been the one to walk away with a degree!

      Anyway, yes, that is inappropriate, but some people really don’t have boundaries of what they’ll ask an assistant or secretary to do.

      1. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Based on what I know of some of these types, I actually do expect at least one to give out their SSO to avoid the work. It’d be against policy though. And probably the same guy who keeps putting off doing the mandatory cyber security training!

  52. Nicosloanica*

    I’m trying to figure out how guilty I should feel about the way this week went down. My bosses sort of noticed late last week that they were both angling to take this entire week off, and in fact also planning to not work Friday afternoon. I was surprised my more senior, newer boss decided to do that; we had a LOT of work going on. I guess the less senior junior boss didn’t feel like she had any authority to suggest they not both be out. So they were out, and I was left to try to get a bunch of stuff done. The problem is they both micromanage a bit. They popped in and out over email all week asking for updates on stuff or “checking if I needed help” while I juggled a bunch of crap. I felt bad that they felt they couldn’t take time off. Maybe if we’d realized sooner, we could have finished everything so they wouldn’t have needed to be hands on this week. But that said, I also worked the whole week and a day I don’t usually work to finish things up, and I didn’t complain, figuring that’s just how it goes. Should I have realized the issue and back-dated everything before they both left? Probably. But surely they’re *more* responsible … right?

    1. Elsewise*

      So they both took time off and then spent their time off checking on you of their own volition? And you worked an extra day so they could take time off? And they didn’t plan ahead to have big projects wrapped up or to give you support and coverage? Not on you. I judge you zero guilty, and I bang my gavel about it.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      That’s quite the feat of mental gymnastics to come up with a way YOU should feel guilty for covering all the work and putting in overtime for their vacations.
      Stop doing mental gymnastics. You have done absolutely nothing to feel guilty for!

    3. Generic Name*

      Their lack of planning and communication is in no way your fault. Frankly, others in your position would feel pissed about this! I would examine your feeling of guilt. Are there/were there other situations in your life where you were expected to take the blame/be responsible for others’ actions and feelings? You have ZERO to feel guilty about.

  53. Despairingly unemployed*

    Hi all,

    Looking for advice – or links, as my quick search here hasn’t yielded too much atm – on how to contact/connect with people at companies I’ll be applying for (or will have applied to), especially for roles abroad.

    Would something generally this vibe work for LinkedIn?

    “Hi (name), I hope you don’t mind me reaching out. I saw you’re working (about the job/team/company). I’m pursuing (doing this work) and would love to hear about your experience in this role.
    (A little about me)
    I’d appreciate connecting if you’re amenable, but I understand if not.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      It’s good to have a question that could be answered in a sentence or two — or with a conversation. I’m a fairly generous with advice kinda gal, but I’m not necessarily willing to commit to a whole phone call or coffee date with someone that I don’t know. I’d be happy to respond to a written question though, as an ice breaker.

      Unfortunately, my experience is that if people do ask me for advice on LinkedIn (which I actually encourage) most of the time they don’t actually respond to my response, which then cancels any interest I have about assisting them in the future.

      1. Despairingly unemployed*

        Oh that’s a great point! I’ll start off with one of those then.

        That’s unfortunate, I’m the type to respond and worry whether I should have! (Overthinking who?)

        Thanks for the advice!

    2. Rick Tq*

      Don’t send those emails blind, especially on a platform like LinkedIn. Sending a blind message to “please tell me about your job” will trigger MANY flags for information security, it looks like a hacker gathering information for a social engineering attack on the company.

      Anyone with current IT security training will ignore your message and block your account.

      See if you can find people on other platforms first and establish some mutual interests before you try this approach.

      1. Despairingly unemployed*

        Huh, interesting. Is there a way not to sound like a potential hacker (as LinkedIn is my only option unfortunately)? Adding a question that can be answered pretty quickly as Aspiring Chicken Lady advised above? I think I sound pretty personable when I message, which I’ve done… maybe twice, but that wasn’t something I’d considered before. For what’s it worth, my picture does show the “open to work” banner.

        1. Rick Tq*

          If you post your question on a local message board like reddit, Substack, or Discord for people to respond freely you might get some responses for direct follow up, but any direct message like that out of the blue should be reported, blocked, and deleted per current corporate security policies. We get training every week or so on the many channels hackers use to try gather data to get into corporate systems. Your innocent data gathering is swept up with all the bad actors and rejected/ignored/blocked.

          “On the Internet, No One Knows if you are a Dog” applies to your profile. They are constantly faked, so nothing you add there carries much weight. AI-generated profile pictures are now a thing, so even a photo of you isn’t trustworthy.

  54. Abundant Shrimp*

    Just wanted to share a minor peeve I’ve been experiencing that I know isn’t going to get actually handled at my job, because I’ve got to put it somewhere.

    The maintenance lady at my workplace doesn’t recycle. I know this. We have trash bins and recycle bins, and she empties them all into the same trashcan when she’s making her rounds. I have tried talking to coworkers and supervisors about this, and they’ve all shrugged it off or said that she has to be recycling because we have a big recycle bin or that she must be putting recyclables into a different part of her big can that I can’t see. I’m sure I sound paranoid here, and it’s ultimately a low-stakes problem, but it’s driving me crazy that no one else sees a problem with this, or is even willing to acknowledge it’s happening.

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      yeah we have the same thing at my office which touts itself as being environmentally friendly, oddly enough, so I just take recycling home. I’ve given up. Add on top that the bins in common areas are all the same color so it all gets mixed there anyway, and the social dynamic these days where any sort of question is taken as very harsh criticism because we’re only supposed to be cheering in-person staff since covid. which sounds great in theory but now I’m in a position where I bring home recycling, water the plants, and spot clean/dust in the office because I notice they don’t really clean.

      So yes I feel your pain, very frustrating to live somewhere that is very into recycling and then see water bottles and soda cans mixed in with trash

    2. Chaordic One*

      This is discouraging and it would bug me too. Have you spoken directly with the maintenance person? What was her response? You say you’ve spoken to supervisors. Who is the maintenance person’s direct supervisor? Have you spoken to that person? If that person doesn’t see a problem, there probably isn’t much you can do, but it’s not good. It bugs me that your employer would even have separate recycle bind if they aren’t going to actually use them.

      1. connie*

        Why would the OP talk to the maintenance person directly? The OP said nothing about that being part of her job description?

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          Because the OP is a person and the maintenance lady is a person and the OP has a question that the maintenance lady can answer? Sorry if I am misreading – I work at a uni where faculty can be super snobby, so I fully accept that may be projecting! – but something feels off about the idea that you would literally have to be paid for the task of asking a question to a cleaner who is in the room with you.

    3. Rick Tq*

      It is quite likely the Transfer Station that takes loads from the Sanitation company who picks up trash from your building doesn’t support recycling any more. My city sanitation district in CA finally abandoned plastic and metal recycling several years ago because the program didn’t earn enough to pay for the expenses in handling.

      They still separate green/organic waste in separate cans but paper/plastic/metal/etc. all go in one general trash can.

    4. Reba*

      I’m so sorry, I find this darkly funny. So, it sounds like you have seen her do this — have you spoken to the cleaner about it? There is some disconnect obviously. After that I would try to let it go unless it’s like huge amounts of paper, because sadly recycling is kinda fake.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I have seen people use a bin that is split with 2 different bags. But it can also be that she has been instructed to do it this way by her reporting line (as opposed to your reporting line, who may not know).

      Our municipal trash pickup gives us curbside recycling bins, and has a special day when they pick up both recycling and trash vs. trash only. But on those double-pickup days, all the bins get emptied into the same truck, in the same part of the truck. IDK what it’s all about.

    6. Hiring Mgr*

      I would ignore it at this point – you’ve tried to address it, and like you said it’s a low stakes problem. Plus you really want to start making trouble for the cleaning lady?

  55. dot*

    Advive on using skip-level meetings to their full potential?

    A handful of people, myself included, have been identified as people with a lot of leadership growth potential in my organization. The director of our facility is setting up regular skip-level meetings with us and I just had my first one. Sounds like the intention is to get to know us and find out how he can support our career goals and growth, and to get our perspectives at the individual team level as far as what we like, don’t like, obstacles, etc. I don’t know the guy super well and have never really interacted with him, so I don’t have a great read on how much to trust him or how candid to be. I did speak with our main admin that works closely with him and got the impression that she puts a lot of trust in him, so that’s good?

  56. Tentatively Hopeful*

    I had a panel interview that went well. What’s the average timeline from interview to tentative offer re: federal government positions? (I know this can vary wildly from 1 week to 1 year). But what’s happened typically? TIA!

    1. Aisling*

      You’re right in that it really, really varies. In my position I was interviewed in early October and started in late December. That one moved pretty quickly, but it was for a small office.

  57. anotherfan*

    My coworker and I are both editors, so when we each write something, we trade off for the editing. I’ll see some obvious typo or missed word and just add it. Paul, on the other hand, will shoot me a Teams message asking “did you mean to type ‘and and’ in this sentence?” I mean, you’re an editor. Obviously that’s a typo! Just take it out!

    1. Always Tired*

      you’re giving me flashbacks to college, trading papers to edit and I’m sitting there with multiple colors and marking up for spelling, grammar, citations, clarity, structure, etc. while my friend would find something, show me, and wait for me to fix it before continuing. Like bro, just mark it and move on.

    2. Rick Tq*

      Use your words to talk to Paul and tell him what you expect. I’d be careful about expecting un-marked ‘obvious’ corrections, I’m sure you have seen the nightmare English sentence: “James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher.”

      Typos? Not Typos??? Is a word misspelled/miss-used or is it properly spelled jargon?

    3. Cigars and vodka*

      Definitely annoying.

      On the devil’s advocate side, though, as an editor myself, I will correct easy things for a while, but if the same person keeps sending me copy with lots of little mistakes (and it’s clear they are not proofing their own copy first), I will let them know about little mistakes they should have caught. I’m getting to be a stereotypically grumpy, impatient editor, though.

  58. NotpaidNewbie*

    So I’ve started a job with the local government, like done four shifts with them started, this is my first pay cycle with them. Because of the holiday’s all out pays had to be in before HR left on the 22nd (it’s the 23rd here) and we’d get paid on the 22nd. The money is not in my account, they said it’d go in Friday night and it’s now Saturday morning and it’s still not in there. I have no idea who to contact about it, as far as I’m aware all of HR is off (for at least a week), my managers are currently off and at best probably won’t be back until at least Wednesday (with Christmas and Boxing Day) and this seems like an issue that needs to be resolved asap (if it’s gone into a wrong account or something).

    Aside from wanting to be paid for my work, it’s above what I’m allowed to get paid for my benefits to still kick in so I’m going to lose out on them even if I don’t receive it because I have to report it. Basically I kinda need that money in the next few days or I’ve got nothing coming in. Anyone got any advice or scripts I can use?

    1. NotpaidNewbie*

      I should clarify, on paper I’ve been paid. I have a payslip saying that they’ve transfered the money into my account.

    2. Rick Tq*

      I’d contact your bank NOW to see what they see and contact as senior a manager as you can find if you are still working today.

  59. Asloan*

    Any suggestions for pushing back on tech stuff when you know you’re kind of out of step with the times? Phone privacy is my personal foible. My boss has been suggesting I download the Instagram app so I can help out more with social media – not my role, and you can do most of it on desktop. I really hate meta, hate that you have to link personal accounts to manage work pages, and DON’T want to connect it to my phone. But what language can I use where I don’t sound like a tinfoil hat lunatic to my boss?

    1. Oof and Ouch*

      I’d just go with something about not being comfortable using your personal device for work socials in general.

      I have two instas, my regular one and one for a hobby. One is public one is private. Every time meta/insta updates things it switches on an off automatic sharing. The number of times I’ve posted hobby pics accidentally to my Facebook page (where I definitely don’t want them because I don’t want people in my personal life asking me to make them stuff) is insane.

    2. Rick Tq*

      That you do not mix personal and business on your personal device, if the Company wants you to post on Instagram they should provide you with a company phone.

      I have the same concerns, I do not have ANY company-related apps or accounts on my personal phone.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You can use Instagram on your work PC during work time.

      You could innocently ask if liking and commenting on the work social media account is work that boss is asking you to do when you’re not on the clock and how they would like to write that into the job description and compensation.

      1. Asloan*

        I do it on the desktop now, but her point is that we can’t post “good insta stories” from the desktop meta business suite – she says the features are better in the phone app (this is true, I admit). To me, the slight advantage in better stories is in no way worth putting a meta app on my personal phone. However, I need verbiage that will sound reasonable to someone who doesn’t care about phone privacy and has FB messenger on her phone just for fun anyway.

        1. Rick Tq*

          No is a complete sentence, and you aren’t being paid to post to Instagram outside of work hours so the app isn’t going on your personal phone. Tell your manager the company needs to provide a cell phone if posting to Instagram is an actual job requirement.

          1. Asloan*

            How does that work? Can companies provide cell phones that are tied to the company’s phone number – not mine – and how do you log in using your own account info on a phone you don’t own – doesn’t stupid meta flag that as an issue for them? Meta already required me to install two-factor on my personal device, but I got around it (so far) using a google voice number.

            1. Rick Tq*

              You may want to or need to create a new work-only Meta account to post, and it would be tied to the company cell phone and number. My company cell has a number that I use for work and it is not the main call-in for any office location.

              They don’t care who owns the phone, just that you have it to respond to authenticate when required.

              1. Asloan*

                I think this is what a lot of people do … but if I understand correctly, it’s not within the Meta terms of service (an account has to be tied to a real person in their legal name, because they want to hoover up all that personal information) – meaning if/when they catch you, they’re totally within their rights to deactivate or lock the business account :( If I’m right, this would be a hard sell for my boss. I hope I’m wrong and that this solution works!

                1. Rick Tq*

                  Then you are back to refusing to post company-related materials under your personal account from your personal device. They need to create a corporate Meta account for whoever is actually in charge of your company’s social media to use (not just you) and provide the cell phone to post.

    4. Crossing lines*

      Don’t do it if you’re not comfortable with it. I have a friend who got fired for accidentally putting a personal post on their workplaces’ social media, so I avoid it at all costs.

      I’ve also been under similar pressure to use my personal phone for work. I worked at a place where the HR director in my introductory training told me never to use my personal phone for business or vice versa, particularly for the government job I was in since all of our phones, computers, communications could be FOIA’d, (and I was in a position where that might happen). For some reason, though, my direct manager was refusing to let me have a business phone, even though she and many people around me had them. I stuck to my guns and eventually got the phone. I kept mentioning the HR director’s advice. (That manager turned out to be terrible in many, many ways.)

      There are desktop tools outside of IG that will let you build stories. Maybe they can invest in that for all staff to use? Or maybe have one shared phone for social media -whichever is cheaper.

  60. I edit everything*

    I’m filling out a job application online, and I’m required to fill in a “desired compensation” field. But the field only accepts numbers, and there’s no way to indicate whether the number is annual salary, hourly, monthly, or per word (a relevant rate as a freelance writer/editor). It’s a contract position, probably not full-time or consistent, so an annual amount doesn’t seem right. But just typing “30” or “50” or “25.50” as an hourly rate doesn’t feel right either.

    Ugh! Why do they do this? And what should I put in?

    1. Oof and Ouch*

      It’s annoying and dumb, and honestly probably isn’t looked at. I’d put an hourly rate, and then ask them about compensation during the interview if you get that far. Any interview of value is going to be able to tell that their form is useless.

    2. JJ*

      I know this isn’t what you asked, but: Don’t write in anything less than $35/hour! I’m a freelance editor, and places are trying to nickel-and-dine the life out of us.

      In 1999 the WaPo paid someone I overlapped with $25/hour as a freelancer — and a nearby daily that also hired her as a FL-er met that. Admittedly, times were a lot better then, but anything less than $50/hour is, frankly, ridiculous. So don’t undersell yourself.

  61. No Lizards Allowed*

    I just wanted to offer a quick thank you to Alison for helping with a situation yesterday. Our firm just moved into new offices with new furniture. I quickly realized that my new mesh chair wouldn’t work–the metal bars on the sides of the seat we’re digging into my legs. I just went to my boss and materr-of- factly told her that the new chair was uncomfortable and asked for a new one. That’s it–no apologies and no shame for being a little larger than some (a smaller person might not notice the issue). I only realized afterwards that I had internalized the advice Alison has given various people regarding their companies not offering inclusive clothing sizes, etc. So thanks, Alison, and thanks to the commenters for your helpful advice!

  62. JJ*

    A question about applying for work when I’m at the tail end of treatment for cancer.

    Jobs are scarce in my field (periodicals), and a co. I very much want to work for has posted an opening. I stand a decent chance of being considered in part because my skills/CV are strong; because one person on staff and I overlapped well when she freelanced at a place where I was on staff; and because a longtime former employee of the co. and I overlapped as full-timers (he was my boss’s boss, so he knew my work daily and thought well of it / me).

    But. I have 11 more near-daily radiation treatment + oral chemo, and the 17 I’ve had have knocked me out. I won’t be back to normal until about 1-31-24, and this co. hired within a month the last time it had an opening (current vacancy was posted 12-20-23). Plus, my applying assumes that I won’t need additional medical treatment in the near future — probable but not a given.

    With regret, my inclination is *not* to apply (I can’t count on feeling well enough to do FT work in the near future) but instead to write to the person who would be my boss, who earned her MA at my alma mater while I was earning my BA, and who is friendly with one of my college friends. I would mention that we share an alma mater (not the mutual friend/acquaintance), and the meat of the short letter would be, more or less, “I’m very interested in being on your staff, but for personal reasons I won’t be able to work FT until at least 3-1-24. I’m not presuming that you would choose me for the current opening, but given that I’m a strong candidate I wouldn’t want you to invest any time in my candidacy if that date wouldn’t work for you. I’d like to put myself on your radar with regard to any freelancing opportunities in the near future and of course any staff positions down the road.”

    If this seems OK, pls tell me whether it needs to be improved, and how. If this seems like a bad idea, pls tell me why. And thank you!

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Apply. If you’re the right person in the long run, it’s worth it to them (and you) to lock you in now. They probably won’t get to the decision until pretty close to the end of January anyway, and then as you’re discussing your start date and whatnot, you can address whether you’ll be able to start full speed ahead on day one, or if you’ll need PT or WFH or flex or whatever as you ramp up with them and ramp down with the chemo.

      Plenty of people take new jobs and have a vacation planned in the near future. This is a similar situation, except with less defined dates.

      1. JJ*

        First, thank you for replying — very kind of you.

        The last time this co. had an opening (summer 2023) they filled it within a month (I’ve just double-checked the LI page of the person who was hired) — and I think they’ll want to fill this one as fast, because it’s hard to work with a skeleton crew, and because they can (lots of qualified candidates / few good openings). So I’m reluctant to apply because I think they’ll want someone in place before 1-31-24; that said, I’m thinking very carefully about what you wrote. Thanks again.

        1. Cordelia*

          But what would be the harm in applying now? Assuming you feel well enough to do so, of course. You don’t actually know that the timescales won’t work, you might well be right, but why not try? I’d suggest apply, and if you do get offered the job you can ask then about delaying the start date. If they say its not possible, then thats when you can ask them to keep you in mind for freelancing positions and future roles, when they already know something of your skills. Good luck!

          1. JJ*

            My concern is that if I were offered the job, asked for a later start, and were needed it, then they’d be pissed and they wouldn’t consider me for future openings. And, openings are scarce in my field, so I don’t want to burn a bridge.

            If you see this — first, thank you for taking time to help. Second, do you think it would good, bad, or neutral to apply BUT note in the cover letter that I’d be unable to proceed with interview etc. until 1-31-24? That way, they’d know that I’m serious about applying, and they’d also have that info (about a delay) up front.

            (I need the delay even for an interview because I need a haircut, which I’m too sick to get now, and I need to reach out to my references — also too sick to do that now.) Thank you again.

    2. OtterB*

      I agree, apply. Assuming they do an initial phone screen and you are selected for that, you can raise the start date question then. But I wouldn’t presumptively rule yourself out.

      1. JJ*

        First, thank you for chiming in to help. Fwiw, in my field the initial screen tends to be an editing test followed by an in-person interview, and although in the past that has worked well for me, there are big variables now (my energy level, alertness bc of meds, fogginess from chemo) that won’t be resolved until late Jan. at the earliest.

        You’ve given something to think about as I weigh this decision; I appreciate it.

    3. Once too Often*

      I encourage you to apply, assuming you’re pretty comfortable with your mental capacity. You do want to be on their radar. This time of year often functions differently than the rest for hiring timelines. I recommend adjusting your language to say you “won’t be available before” rather than “won’t be able to work full time before” x date if you interview.

      That said, I’d also encourage you to talk with your oncologist about reasonable expectations for the average patient to be ready to return to work post this treatment protocol. Compare how you’re doing with regard to their average patient at this point in your treatment. Assess your mental capacity as well as physical.

      Chemo is a bear, reactions vary widely, & depending on your meds/treatment it may be a lot longer before you’ll be strong enough to go back to work, you may regain capacity quickly, or something in between. I mostly slept thru my last 2 months of chemo infusions (as in, slept 20+ hours/day), a friend is working out daily a year into bi-weekly chemo. Oral chemo has been easier but required significant dose adjustments to get to toleration, & still impacts my capacity.

      However things go with this job opening I send you strength & solidarity as you go through this process.

      1. JJ*

        Thank you, OTO. I did realize belatedly that I have an appt. with my oncologist in late Dec. and that I could ask the questions you noted. And, I didn’t think about the fact that hiring typically proceeds on a different timeline at the holidays. Also, your suggestions about adjusting my language is very good.

        I appreciate your chemo examples and your kind words. It’s frustrating when there are so many unknowns (about my near-future strength / energy level; about whether more treatment will be needed in the near future), and it helps to know that others understand that. I wish you good health and good spirits. Thanks for your reply.

  63. Anon this time*

    I hope this isn’t too late to get some advice. I have some complicated financial stuff that requires a bookkeeper. I had an excellent person for many years who came to my home and charged by the hour. Now we live in different cities. She’s continued to work remotely, but we both agree that she will need to fly to me probably twice a year for some in-person stuff.

    In addition to paying for her travel, accommodations, meals and hourly rate when she’s working, what additional amount would compensate her for being away from home/the inconvenience of travel? Some kind of per diem? A higher hourly rate for her work time? Something else? It isn’t reasonable or affordable to pay her hourly rate 24/7 while she’s here.

    1. Rick Tq*

      I’d say you are doing enough paying her for full day of work regardless of how long she needs to work with your. She is being fairly compensated for her time working and has no out-of-pocket expenses for the travel and meals.

    2. JaneDough(not)*

      Apologies for asking the obvious, but
      1. Are you positive that you can’t send her pix / screenshots / PDFs / physical copies of the relevant materials, so that she could do this remotely?
      2. Have you asked her what she would need financially to make this worth her time?

    3. WellRed*

      As long as you are covering everything travel related and paying her what she asks, why do you need to pay extra? Most people don’t get extra just because they traveled for work. If it’s that inconvenient for her, she can say no.

      1. RagingADHD*

        People who take full time jobs that require travel normally factor that into their expectations for compensation. That’s why it is customary to list % travel time in the job description.

        And many workers (though not all) do get a per diem when they’re on the road.

    4. Aisling*

      If you’re in the U. S., look up GSA Per Diem Rates. Those are the rates that the government pays federal employees for travel, but my state university also uses them. I know of other smaller organizations who do as well. It would give you an idea of what to offer, or you can just adopt the rates for your bookkeeper.

  64. CG*

    I’ve been offered a new position at the corporate level of my company with a 5% raise.
    It is pointed out in the offer that I would not be eligible for a raise until July 2025.
    The raise would be nice but 1 1/2 years without another.
    I took on part of a new role in August and was promised a review and raise after 3 month and nothing happened.
    The new job would be that partial role plus a new job.
    I would like to counter the offer, but unsure how to word it.

    1. Rick Tq*

      Say you need to address overdue promised review and raise for your current position before you could consider moving to a new position with 18 months lag in future raises.

      1. CG*

        Thank you! I need a elegant phase and that sounds great.
        They blindsided me with the first meeting and all I could think of was “What’s in it for me.”

    2. Alex*

      Think of how much you need, and just ask for it. “I’d need X% in order to feel comfortable with that arrangement, especially since I haven’t yet been compensated for the increase in responsibilities in August.”

      5% for the next 18 months (at least…seems like you are just “eligible” for a raise, not that you will get one) is really stingy.

  65. Tea and (way fewer) Nerves*

    Hi all,

    Low-stakes update and a general request for advice. About two years ago I posted here about my first ever internship, in which I would be expected to work in an office. I was nervous about being seen as weird for the amount of tea I drink. Two years later and I’m still there! And I really enjoy it! I finished the internship and then worked part-time until I finished my degree. I’m now working there fulltime, and it’s been good so far!

    As for the advice, I’m kind of struggling with the reality of my job being basically my dream job for where I am right now… except for the fact that it pays kind of poorly (especially for my level of education), and so does the whole industry. In theory, I don’t mind too much, I’m a pretty frugal person by nature. Except that I can’t really find a place to live I can afford with this salary. I don’t want to leave this job… but I’m still looking. Any advice?

    1. Rick Tq*

      Either adjust your earning expectations to match your industry or move to a job that pays you the salary you desire. A “dream job in a dream industry” that keeps you poor as a church mouse isn’t a dream.

      My dream job was to work in aerospace on a NASA project and that is what I was able to do for 9 years, but the reality is unstable jobs, limited raises, and a very tight job market.

      I’ve been in IT over 30 years and doing IT sales for more than 20. My job pays our bills, allowed my wife to stay at home for our daughter, and now allows me to work 100% remote.

    2. No Such Thing as a Dream Job*

      Do you know whether your employer is paying you fairly, given the city and the industry? (Have you checked salary . com, glassdoor, etc.?) If it’s not, then look for AAM posts on being brought up to scale.

      If your salary can go no higher for whatever reason, then consider living with a flat-mate. I did that until I was 32, and as long we (the flat-mate and I) set out all rules ahead of time and agreed on them, all went well. Interestingly, I had good experiences with strangers and acquaintances and a bad one with a friend.

      By the way, for your own peace of mind, I urge you to stop thinking in terms of a “dream job”; I posted a long comment about this earlier today and I encourage you to read it. (And: A job that isn’t paying you enough to live on isn’t dream-like.)

    3. RagingADHD*

      You’re not going to like my advice, but it is based on long experience. Industries that are built on the expectation of paying less than a living wage because the workers consider it a passion project have a lot of problematic stuff baked into them. Always.

      If you stay in the industry long enough (whether it’s nonprofit, religious, artistic, social service, etc) you will find that the mindset of poor boundaries and unending self-sacrifice is pervasive, and not limited to money. There will be enabling of bad behavior. There will be corners cut and rules bend, and blind eyes turned because “we’re all in this together” or “it’s for the greater good.”

      And there is always someone who is benefitting from that sacrifice — most often not the intended recipient who needs “help,” but someone at the top of the chain who is raking in money, power, recognition, or all of the above. And who has a vested interest in keeping everyone below them convinced that this sacrificial model is unchangeable and inevitable.

      Keep your bright lines bright, and know where to draw them. And the people who do that best are the ones who are not working just for love. Maybe they also love the work, but if love is the only reason to stay when you can’t afford to live, that job isn’t loving you back.

      1. Thanks, Raging ADHD*

        This, Raging ADHD, should win the award for insightful comment of the day. I have had to keep learning and relearning this lesson in a career filled with jobs of passion, low wages and sacrifice in the name of the greater good or the team.

        I get it with some of the nonprofits I’ve worked for. But the company I’m at right now is blatantly trying to instill messages of sacrificing for the cause and the team… yet it’s a for-profit with a few people at the top living comfortably and the rest of us working through holidays and getting barely liveable wages.

        For a couple of years, I was able to”keep my lines bright and know where to draw them,” as you say, but lately, the creep of them adding to my responsibilities has crossed my lines, and I’m not sure what to do about it except to start looking for other jobs. Frank conversations of having too much on my plate don’t work. My bosses right now have a goal of condensing positions so that fewer worker bees doing more work for the same pay to ensure shareholder profits keep growing. Their goal means I’m working more nights and weekends to get my job done, and all of the flexibility that made a fun, low-paying job worth it is gone.

        Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted. But this job is not loving me back anymore (if it ever was).

        Anyway, I appreciate your insights and how well you voiced them. I just may tape your words to my mirror.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I found I was fine being relatively poor in my 20s, and most of my friends were too, but it wasn’t something I could live with in my mid-to-late 30s, as my friends and I started to buy houses, travel the world (and invite me to come with them!) and begin dreaming of children. The sad reality of our economic society is that I’ve found, particular for women who work in caring or helping fields, your career may get totally run over by childcare costs if that’s something that matters to you; the resulting economics often push you out of your career. So low entry-level pay but ultimately normal pay is okay; permanently low pay for everyone is a career only for people who are independently wealthy.

      1. Tea and (way fewer) Nerves*

        I want to thank you (and everyone above you) for your insightful comments. I think I kind of knew what everyone would say, but it was still tough to read. I suppose I feel a bit of guilt for not being able to make it work, because all my coworkers can, but I know I don’t know their situations. I will keep looking (after the holidays).

        I’m not in a ‘care’ industry, so luckily I’m not being taken advantage of like that, but my industry is chronically undervalued. Companies think that everyone (or a computer) can do it, so they don’t want to pay us for our expertise. Sigh, it is what it is.

        Anyway, thanks to all of you and happy christmas/long weekend :)

  66. CSRoadWarrior*

    Just wanted to chime in on what I had to go through, both personally and professionally. My employer has been really flexible about my living situation. I won’t go into details, but the last 4 weeks were really hectic for me personally. I did not tell my employer about my situation in detail and remained professional. My employer has been really understanding about that. We are on a hybrid schedule, with three mandatory days in the office per month. This made it a lot easier as well.

    To make a long story short, my employer allowed me to skip happy hour earlier this month, something that is usually mandatory, and I was able to work a whole day with different hours and being gone for a up to a few hours in the afternoon before I came back to finish the day.

    Which means I feel very supported. Things are finally dying down (thankfully). I wouldn’t have been able to navigate my situation as easily if there were no flexibility. And just to let you know, this is the first time in my career I needed do something like this. My employer deserves a lot of credit for showing me support and flexibility during what was not an easy time for me.

    And no, this had nothing to do with the holidays – which I am grateful for.

    On an unrelated note, Happy Holidays!

  67. Charlotte Lucas*

    I work in state government, and we have many people with non-profit backgrounds. Local government jobs are probably also likely candidates.

  68. Future Master?*

    Getting a master’s in your 40s!

    I’m thinking this year I would like to do a master’s. I’m in a position in my life where now would be the optimal time for many reasons. But I’m not 100% sure what in. I’m early 40s, worked in one quite specific field for many years, and not sure if I want to continue in this field or not. I have already decided not to get a master’s in my very specific area, but maybe in the wider area of my expertise. But also not ruling out something a little further afield, as having any sort of master’s will give me a little career boost + I am sort of doing this for me, as I am lucky enough to be able to afford the time and money I’d need to do it.

    Not looking for advice so much as stories and anecdotes from others who have done master’s degrees mid-career, either to complement or further their chosen career or to pivot! (But advice is also welcome!)

    1. JobHopper*

      Do it and follow through. Credits will age out.I have 49 grad credits. good for a recert but zero use for a master’s.

      best wishes.

    2. Do it!*

      I did it. I was 40 in the program. I wanted to get a master’s as a sabbatical of sorts, since I was burned out and looking for a career change. However, there was a program that I liked that had courses over long weekends once a month and projects and homework could more or less be done remotely throughout the rest of the month. My org at the time didn’t want me to quit, so they helped pay for the program. It was a lot to do while working full time, but I got through it and had less debt that way.

      I loved the program, which had numerous areas of study I was interested in, including leadership, but I decided about halfway through that I couldn’t see myself doing the career I thought I was going to make out of it. But I was still really happy with what I learned, the friends I made and the experiences I had.

      In some ways, I’m still trying to find that next career, though. And because I didn’t directly use the degree I’m not making higher income (but I need to be). Some of that’s just the job market I’m in, though, too, and I’m terrible about asking for what I’m worth salary-wise.

  69. JobHopper*

    This time last year I had a teaching contract that was a complete misfit for me and the school. I pivoted in Feb and left mid year. (nothing pretty or graceful there).

    By March 1, I was full-time subbing in my preferred teaching areas nearer to my home. Summer was a break.

    This school year I was very selective and only picked jobs in amazing schools. I just finished an 8 day job for a teacher on a medical leave. (elementary)

    Y’all, the principal shook my hand and thanked me this week. Invited me back anytime in any classroom. Seems this class is “high energy” but they loved my teaching style.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!


  70. Cheezmouser*

    I return to work from maternity leave in January. What are your best tips for coming back from an extended leave?

    1. kalli*

      If your work lets you ramp up to full time – definitely recommend. You might be up and about every day but it’s a different kind of energy to work and work hardening is super helpful.

      If you can get in touch with your boss and immediate colleagues before you go back, especially if you haven’t hat keeping-in-touch days, have a chat about where things are up to, how your duties have been going, if any problems came up that you might have to deal with because they didn’t know how to fix it just manage it etc. then the actual first day back is a lot less A Lot, and you can mentally prepare a bit better than just going in one day and everything being the same but not. Same with new coworkers or any work structure changes that happened while you were out, new clients, new client issues etc.

      It helps to have new clothes and a plan for a nice lunch and a simple meal when you get home too – new clothes so it feels good and special and different, nice lunch for a mental health boost in the middle of the day (or even just a fancy drink or snack if you’re doing a half day) and simple/pre-prepared meal so when you get home you don’t have to think about food. If you have a partner who can handle the after-work meal and putting your kid down and night feeding etc., any of that they can take off your hands while you adjust and rebuild your mental fortitude and thinking pattern and default habits really helps, and helps identify what duties you can share/alternate if you all work, and where you can experiment to develop a new normal for the whole family, whether it’s as simple as meal prep or batch cooking at the weekend to as complicated as charting out who has baby when. If you’re pumping/breastfeeding, prepare for your supply to change so that if it does or something goes wrong with pumping arrangements, then it’s less immediately stressful.

      It can also help to just practice your commute so you remember the pressure points and how long it takes, practice how long it takes to get out the door in the morning with extra person around demanding attentions, all the stuff you might do to prepare for a new job anyway.

    2. JobHopper*

      yay for extended leave!

      ramp up gradually. With Baby #1 I took 4 weeks mat leave and 4 weeks annual leave (military) and the first day back was a half day. I still cried.

      Everyone else has posted wonderful things. If your baby is going to daycare, *do*practice the commute AND the drop off if you can. (tweak as necessary for your situation). (also, if this is NOT your first little one, keep doing what works for you).

      Blessings and best wishes!

  71. gsa*

    Resignation letter.

    I have one to write before Tuesday.

    Does anyone have a good template? The Internet seems to have some good ideas.

    Better job, better company, better money.



    1. JobHopper*

      I have typed 1 line resignation letters. I resign my position as ______ as of ____ date.

      It will be interesting to see what else is recommended.

      1. I need to hop, too*

        I’ve tended to keep them short, then to say more when or after I turn it in, to thank them and assure them I’ll do whatever they need in the final days to leave things in good shape for the next person. (Or whatever seems appropriate AND honest in the circumstance.)

        My letter is something like:


        I have had an unexpected opportunity arise, and I will be resigning my position effective —- (date). I have appreciated the opportunity to work with you and (company/org) during my 3 years as (position).

        Thank you for everything.


    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I always informed my manager verbally with any necessary complimentary fluff and then handed over to my Director’s EA a formal, very brief letter that contains no fillers or stroking:

      “Dear director name
      I hereby notify you of my resignation from organisation name , effective on date , after which date my contact details will be:
      personal EM
      personal address ,
      personal phone no
      Yours sincerely “