open thread – December 29-30, 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.

{ 434 comments… read them below }

  1. Lois*

    TLDR: A director I don’t report to or work with volunteered for me to do a lunch-and-learn. Do I proactively address my concerns with my boss or wait and not say anything in case he forgot?

    At the beginning of this month, my boss (Malcolm) and I met with a director (Reese) of another team to briefly chat about a possible upcoming collaboration. Malcolm and I work on the digital/tech/numbers side of things and Reese heads up the creative/art team so we don’t usually work together. During this chat Reese says, “I was talking to Dewey [my teammate who reports into Malcolm], and mentioned to him it would be a good idea for you [me] and him to do a lunch-and-learn to present to the whole division about what you both do.” At the moment I replied okay, but Malcolm said, “we would need to do this in January”. He didn’t seem thrilled. I think the next day I spoke about it more with Malcolm and he was said to connect with Dewey on it.

    But now the more I think about it, how presumptuous was it for Reese to first speak with Dewey about it, then bring it up with Malcolm and I, without talking to Malcolm or his own boss first? A director suggesting to a different team they should do X, Y or Z. To assume they have the time or want to do so. I’m very off put by this to be honest. Putting together a lunch-and-learn takes time because you have to put together what you will talk about. I’ve done it twice before. Once with another team at a former company, where it was beneficial, and another at another company in front of the division with multiple teams, that ended up being a waste of time.

    I do not want to do this lunch-and-learn. It’s not going to help the other teams in the division do their jobs, and I already meet regularly with the folks I work with. It would add more to my plate and I’m already busy. Even if we did it, Malcolm probably wouldn’t attend since he’s also swamped and he didn’t seem to feel strongly about it. Another point is that Reese is supposed to be going on paternity leave at the end of January, meaning we’d have to put everything together and present in the next couple weeks, and who knows who would actually show.

    So these are my options. Do I (A) Tell Malcolm I don’t want to do this because I don’t have time and I don’t think it would be beneficial or help other teams do their jobs, but if they feel strongly about it, I could meet with them in a one-off and walk them through some of our platforms. OR (B) Don’t say anything and hope no one brings it up. I haven’t heard from Dewey at all about it and I don’t foresee him reaching out to me to plan it. But then if I don’t say anything, I risk the chance of Reese trying to connect to Malcolm on it (which I also don’t foresee). 

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If you don’t have time, you don’t have time. It would have been fine in the moment to tell Reese you’d think about it and connect with Dewey, and it’s fine now to say you’ve thought about it and you’re super swamped and it’s best to put it on the back burner for now. I don’t see anything egregious in what Reese did– bringing it up during that meeting was bringing the idea to your attention and soliciting your interest/feedback. This is how things get done in many offices; a couple of people have a conversation about something they’d like to do, they bring it up to another person they want to be involved, it goes from there. It doesn’t sound like you were ordered to do this. “It would be a good idea for you to do a lunch and learn” isn’t a command.

      If you don’t want to do it, then tell your boss. Maybe Dewey can do it alone. But I will say that I think it’s beneficial and interesting to learn what other teams do and how they do it so we can know how best to interact with different teams, how they fit into the structure, etc.

      1. Tio*

        Yeah, if one of the other directors at my company had talked to me and a colleague about doing a presentation to the other divisions, that wouldn’t be too weird, although I would definitely say I would have to run it by my boss. I’ve actually had another director suggest this, talked with my boss about it, and he decided we should hop into one of their meetings and all of us executive managers give a small update/presentation on our bits so the other divisions we crossed paths with regularly knew how things flowed with us and affected us. If he had scheduled it firmly on the calendar without letting me talk to my boss, that is what would be an issue to me. But like AvonLady says, you can always just tell him you’re too busy right now.

    2. moni179jo*

      I would ask if it could be pushed back due to your workload and the impending paternity leave of the other potential presenter. I also would not want to do this, but figure we do a lot of things at work that may not be our favorite tasks or that we think are not valuable; this is something that makes you look like a team-player and highlights your expertise in the area. If you ignore it I’m afraid you will be told to do it on an even shorter timeline and have less time to prepare and be more resentful.

    3. Qwerty*

      Let’s take the outrage out of this – it’ll clear things up. It is really normal for people to be having a discussion that turns into “we need a lunch and learn!”. Especially from someone like a director. Odds are Reese had questions for Dewey, one of them realized there’s a knowledge gap that multiple people have, and a solution of an LnL was proposed – no nefarious intent.

      First step – your boss told you to talk to Dewey, so talk to him. If I read the post correctly, it sounds like you didn’t reach out (apologies if I’m wrong). Not doing so because you are hoping this will go away is insubordination.

      Once you and Dewey get a chance to talk about the scope and prep needed (maybe there are old materials that can be reused, maybe Dewey wants to lead and you just have to be support, etc) and you still conclude too much on a short timeframe, then go back to your boss and say that you don’t have time with your current workload to pull this together. Ask him what the specific knowledge gaps are that they are hoping to address and offer to brainstorm other faster ways of addressing them – maybe putting together some documentation or doing an informal Q&A session (aka, no presentation or prep work).

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        “It is really normal for people to be having a discussion that turns into “we need a lunch and learn!”. Especially from someone like a director.”

        I cannot agree with this more. Over the course of my career, it seemed like every time I demonstrated a new skill or moved into a different position, someone higher up than me but NOT my boss would say “Oooh, you should do a lunch an learn on that!”

        My position was that if it was important enough for my co-workers to learn about something, then I would be happy to schedule formal training sessions during the workday. No one wants to give up their 30-60 minutes of peace to listen to me drone on about how to use a pivot table or why analytics help the business make better decisions. And I sure didn’t want to give up mine to do the droning.

        Interestingly, the topic always turned out to not be that important to cover if it wouldn’t be done during people’s free time. Personally I think management sometimes got a thrill at the thought of employees being productive every single second of the day, but I might be a little jaded on that.

        1. EmF*

          We do lunch-and-learns at my place of work and we like the less formal vibe… but then everyone also gets a half-hour of “non-lunch free time or eat lunch if you didn’t before or whatever, you have half an hour*”.

          Our lunch-and-learns are more “here’s a meeting you are encouraged to have food at.”

          *30mins being the standard lunch length here.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I think you’re overreacting to the wording instead of the content. It doesn’t seem presumptuous to me at all for people to want to know more about your expertise, nor was it inappropriate for Reese to voice his idea while speaking with Dewey. Sure, it would have been softer if it were framed more as a question, but by bringing it up to you and Malcom together, Reese was raising the topic, and that was Malcom’s opportunity to raise any obstacles or objections.

      There’s more than one way to handle it, but don’t just say nothing and hope it goes away. Either accept, decline, or suggest the 1-1s.

    5. Cacofonix*

      Being blunt, it sounds like you’re more put out with yourself for agreeing in the moment and finding ways to offset that by being offended that someone presumed to request something that’s simply a reasonable idea.

      So yes, remove the outrage and follow others ideas. Me, I’d simply send a note or mention as an aside to your boss (“oh, btw”) that in case the lunch and learn comes up again, your workload prevents putting something together so quickly. Don’t say more than that or offer anything new. But say so in case your boss already thinks you’ll be agreeable… considering you already agreed.

      Think of stock phrases so you’ll react better next time. “Oh that’s interesting, something to consider, thanks for your suggestion”

    6. Lurker*

      Reflecting what others have said, since your boss already told you to speak to Dewey about it, I would start there. Treat it like an information gathering session to learn what will be expected and then decide what to do from there. I understand the urge to pretend it never happened but if it comes up later things might get awkward, so it would be best to have at least one conversation with your boss and/or Dewey about it.

    7. Alwaysb@work*

      Yeah, this is really normal and not remotely outrageous. Talk to Dewey and if it doesn’t work for you to do it now, you can go back and say “ah sorry, maybe later in the year.” Having just been to a series of lunch and learns I can tell you that absolutely none of them will help me do my job, but they all gave me a greater appreciation of what the presenters do and the value they bring to the organization. So rather than being affronted by Reese’s suggestion, maybe take it as a compliment.

    8. Hrodvitnir*

      I agree re: removing the outrage. I disagree that not talking to Dewey first is “insubordination”.

      If you feel you don’t have time, I’d go back to your boss and tell him that. Ask what he would like. Based on that conversation speak with Dewey – either to say “look, sorry, we can’t do that” since he’s already been told it’s happening, or to do it if Malcolm does want it.

      I think having a direct conversation with your boss is pretty much always the way to go if you’re feeling unclear about things like this.

  2. Texan In Exile*

    University folks! What do you think about the U of Wisconsin chancellors firing Joe Gow, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, for publishing home porn videos online?

    He says it’s a free speech issue. They say he has brought “reputational harm” to the university.

    1. Wordnerd*

      In the interest of accuracy, it was the Board of Regents and the President of the System who fired him. Chancellors don’t have that power over each other. I’m sorry if that comes off as pedantic!
      To your actual question – it’s definitely telling that they make such a big deal about free speech when students protest speakers they disagree with, but that this isn’t protected just because they don’t like what he’s doing. It feels to me like calling consensually made pornography with one’s spouse “abhorrent” is way overstating things. (I don’t know of a case of a chancellor being fired for having an affair, but it *feels* to me like that would just be “personal issues” but that doing this sex-positive thing and not having shame about it is a bridge too far for some people.)
      I was reading up on how chancellors are “limited appointees” meaning they have way fewer rights/processes about being fired. It’s going to be trickier to see if his tenure is revoked, which has way more paperwork involved.

      1. Clisby*

        The firing might be just because they don’t like what he’s doing, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in the past that pornography is not protected speech.

        1. Parakeet*

          Sure, but actual Constitutional free speech rights were also irrelevant to various “students are protesting speakers they disagree with” controversies. So if the same people who fired him, or called for his firing, were citing “free speech” as a reason that students shouldn’t protest a speaker being invited, I think there is some hypocrisy involved.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        “In the interest of accuracy, it was the Board of Regents and the President of the System who fired him. Chancellors don’t have that power over each other. I’m sorry if that comes off as pedantic!”

        Not pedantic – an important distinction! Thank you for the correction!

        1. Mztery1*

          I’m not sure how this is work or school related unless someone actually goes to that school here. It seems more like a general news item.

            1. Clisby*

              Yes, how many questions have we seen in this forum asking “Can they fire me for something I did on my own time?”

        1. Cam girl 27*

          Sex is certainly a spectator sport for many people, myself included. Porn is a huge business! And while being sex positive may not require public videos/porn, it does include it.

          Perhaps you should educate yourself further on the issues, as it sounds like you don’t actually know much about this.

        2. Maggie*

          It actually is for some people. Not me personally but I support it for consenting adults. He wasn’t posting this stuff to the university instagram. It was on a website where it’s very clear what you’ll be seeing and it’s opt in. Not really my cup of tea but he did nothing wrong.

          1. Big sigh*

            Relevance is the the University appears to believe posting your sexual escapades publicly is not acceptable.

    2. RVA Cat*

      From CNN:
      “But Gow told The New York Times he and his wife, Carmen Wilson, had made pornographic videos “for years” and had recently decided to release them more widely on porn websites. The couple said they never mentioned the university or their jobs.”

      I’m not a university person, but the “had recently decided” makes a world of difference for me. Why on earth would a 63-year-old at the pinnacle of his career do that now? If he’d just waited until he retired, I doubt anyone would care. I think what it shows about his judgement is more important than the porn itself.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Probably because it’s easier to monetize now, and they may have found a niche that’s more lucrative.

    3. Cheesehead*

      Hi! I am a Wisconsinite. It wasn’t a very well-kept secret, to be honest. He wasn’t hiding his face in any of the videos and word had gotten out a while ago. The rumor is he has come under some heat in the past for inviting adult film stars to speak on campus (this part is true), and turns out that he was also filming with them while they were in town (this part I am not 100% on). So the UW was paying speaking/traveling fees to adult film stars, and essentially subsidizing his work in the adult film industry.

      1. Cheesehead*

        Oh also, highly recommend folks listen to the @dadchats TikTok on this issue, which goes into the free speech claim and how he has two positions with the university, one as chancellor and one as a tenured faculty. I thought it covered the legal side of things quite well.

      2. Lilo*

        That does really change things because it brings the issue into his work duties as well.

        It also depends on what was in his employment contract. It is complicated but the fact that he was employed by a government entity.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Oof, yeah, that complicates things. That seems like the same as if I were working on a book on company time. They’re not paying me to do my side gig.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          This info does seem to make it a salacious version of “using the company Xerox to make my ‘zine.” Like, you do you, with YOUR supplies and money.

    4. Alex*

      Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences of that speech–it just means you can’t be thrown in jail for it. Posting home porn videos was a poor choice–when in a position of that level, I think it is reasonable to expect professional behavior publicly, and posting stuff online is public.

      1. sagewhiz*

        It also means the government can’t restrict speech. Entities such as corporations etc. can restrict speech or other public actions that they deem reflect badly on the organization. And many have contract clauses to that effect. I wonder if the uni did?

      2. Procedure Publisher*

        That is true, but also since the employer is a public school, that also has a whole another can of worms.

        If anyone wants to dig deeper in understanding how your free speech works when the government employees you, I would suggest the On the Job episode of the Make No Law podcast. That episode talks about a deputy district attorney raising a concern about a search warrant and how the case involving him illustrates how the government can terminate an employee for their speech as a citizen. I think that case would be good to look at to evaluate decision made by the university.

      3. trust me I'm a PhD*

        Sure, but higher education circles have a substantially high expectation for freedom of speech/academic freedom that also typically protect people from consequences of their speech. And IMO should protect people from some consequences; it’s really important to not establish a pattern of, say, a university expelling students for protesting for an unpopular cause or firing adjunct faculty who advocate for an unpopular view.

        That said, upper administration serves at the pleasure of the president, and the question of whether the chancellor loses the tenure line (which he should have received at hire at UW) is more interesting than whether he loses his chancellorship. Additionally, since it sounds like he was using university funding to support his adult film interests, there could be a case that this isn’t an academic freedom issue so much as a misuse of job responsibilities one.

        1. trust me I'm a PhD*

          Here’s an example from a private university, to illustrate why this is important in higher educational circles (not only public higher education, either) –– maybe a decade ago, a well-known Christian college fired one of its professors, who put on a hijab and expressed solidarity with Muslims in a public media interview. This advocacy was arguably within the scope of her responsibilities as a religious studies professor and grounded in her expertise; so when a university restricts academic freedom, it’s undermining the very thing it pays professors for and makes it difficult for it to carry out its educational goals. The university can not like speech, but a robust/healthy conceptualization of academic freedom has to mean some freedom from consequences or the whole enterprise goes to pot.

          (There are of course limitations here, some things that there are/should be consequences for, which is why the UW chancellor firing is interesting –– we’re exploring where that line is.)

        2. Clisby*

          The examples of protesting for an unpopular cause or advocating for an unpopular view are very different from distributing pornography. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in the past that pornography is not protected speech.

          1. Anonymath*

            Obscenity is not protected speech, but pornography itself is protected under the First Amendment unless it meets the three-part Miller test for obscenity. There is a difference here.

            1. Pippa K*

              This is an important point, and combined with the issue that he’s employed by then state government, it makes this much more complex a question than if his employer were a private company.

            2. Clisby*

              Yes, that is true – I was speaking too broadly. However, in 2004 a unanimous Supreme Court ruled against a San Diego police officer who was fired after selling a video on Ebay that showed him taking off his uniform and masturbating – he alleged the firing violated his 1st Amendment rights. The Supremes disagreed.

              Link in comments.

          2. trust me I'm a PhD*

            I’m not talking primarily about the UW Chancellor, I’m primarily responding to Alex’s point, showing how the claim about freedom of speech/consequences for speech may work in distinctive ways in academic circles, compared w/ other professional sectors, and addressing the chancellor underneath that.

            As others have pointed out, there are distinctive features of the UW Chancellor’s situation that mean freedom of speech isn’t the only, or necessarily the most important, thing at play.

          3. TPS reporter*

            yeah I don’t understand how his sex acts are speech at all. speech would be him writing or speaking about being open with your body, being in open relationships, etc. The university certainly should have an opinion on the actions of it’s leaders and take different stances on actions versus speech. what if there were a lot of videos out there of him being really drunk and obnoxious. also not illegal acts but potentially embarrassing to the university. it seems very reasonable for a university to want their leaders to act with dignity even in their personal lives.

            1. BubbleTea*

              Interestingly, in the EU the right is freedom of expression. I’m not sure whether that specifically includes pornography, but it certainly isn’t limited to speech.

              1. Magenta Sky*

                That is how the 1st Amendment is interpreted by US courts, as well, including the Supreme Court. And has been for a long, long time.

                1. TPS reporter*

                  from nyt: In 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided a case about a police officer who had been fired for selling a pornographic video of himself. In the case, City of San Diego v. Roe, the court ruled that the officer’s First Amendment right had not been violated. The court said that while public employees have a right to speak on matters of public concern, a pornographic video did not fall into that category.

    5. WellRed*

      Between this and his previous invitation to a porn star to speak on campus, I think he was being deliberately provocative to see what would happen. While a couple university chancellor might be a different planet than a school teacher, how often have we seen uproar over what (usually female) teachers do, like, oh FB pix in a bathing suit.

        1. RVA Cat*

          This. I’m no prude but this case has my back up from a sexual harrassment perspective. Sorry but the dude looks skeevy and I worry about what his assistant had to deal with.

    6. Jessica*

      Others in higher ed have clarified that he has two jobs, tenured member of faculty and chancellor. I would be outraged at any idea of trying to fire him from his tenured faculty position for something that, if I understand the news facts correctly, wasn’t illegal and didn’t directly harm anyone and was done on his own time in private life. However, there’s a different (additional) standard for the chancellor job; at that level of leadership you’re a public figure, and what you do, even in private life, makes news and reflects on the university.

    7. Anon for This*

      Government employees often have requirements as part of their employment that outside sources of income must be disclosed and outside employment must be approved in advance to ensure it does not reflect poorly on the government. Can’t say what requirements are in Wisconsin, but this is pretty standard. To me this looks like a conditions of employment issue, not a free speech one.

    8. Pam Adams*

      I’ve known of university presidents doing much worse things than having consensual sex with their spouse. Let’s fire them first.

    9. deesse877*

      The long-term strategic concern is, if his tenure is revoked, would other faculty take that as a Florida situation and leave? It seems possible, and somewhat likely to me. Universities often have moral-turpitude language in their faculty handbooks, and thirty years ago this would have counted…but porn is so normalized now, and no students or peers seem to have been involved. It smacks of a provincial know-nothing striking a pose, meaning the actions to end his position and threaten his tenure do not actually reflect the university’s ethos.

    10. Maggie*

      FREE MY MANS. He did nothing wrong. I was prepared to read about some horrifying thing he roped 18 year olds into to pay for tuition or something. Nope just him and his lovely wife writing books and expressing their sexuality visually. He should be re-instated.

    11. Aggretsuko*

      This story cracks me up SO hard. They’re so “yeah, we chose to make porn, it’s totally okay, this isn’t going to be a day job problem at all! Free speech!”

      1. Katie A*

        Idk, I think it would be better if that was how things were for everyone.

        Obviously if that was their line of thought, they would be foolish, since the world isn’t there yet, but since I’m failing to see any actual ethical issues here with the “making porn” part of this story, it doesn’t seem like a funny situation to me. Just sort of a frustrating reflection of other problems in society.

        (I see ethical issues with the potential “bringing speakers to the school with school funds primarily for personal gain” part of things, but that seems like a side concern to a lot of people, which is telling)

  3. Paris*

    I am moving to a new city in another state in a few months. Everything has been approved but right now my boss and HR are the only ones who know. There is another coworker, Farrah, who is based out of the city I’m moving to (remotely as well), but I find her deeply obnoxious and don’t want to interact with her unless it’s necessary. I don’t want her to know where exactly I’m living either. She’s the type where if I message her saying, “I’m moving to X!”, she’ll go, “woooo! so much fun!” with no questions or follow up, but then in front of everyone (either at a meeting or during our next offsite), she’ll loudly proclaim, “why didn’t you tell me sooner??”. My tolerance for her constant attention seeking (which is awful in front of male coworkers and even worse in front of our male boss) is low. I’ve chatted with her in the past about some personal-ish stuff, and she loudly asked me about it during our last offsite in front of a bunch of coworkers. No thanks LOL.

    What would you do? Should I just not say anything and then just smile when she brings it up in front of everyone? If it were reversed she would not reach out to me.

    1. Rory*

      Why do you need to say anything about the move at all? I know it seems polite and conversational to share this kind of information, but if it won’t affect them, then you don’t need to tell them. If it were me I would avoid mentioning it to anyone who didn’t have to know, and if some random coworker found out and brought it up to me, I would just confirmed that I moved and change the subject as soon as possible, most likely to something work related.

    2. nopetopus*

      I wouldn’t say anything at all. Deciding to do something in order to manage another person’s unreasonable reaction is a slippery slope that doesn’t serve you.

        1. Melissa*

          I need to cross stitch it in big red letters and give it to my boss. She’s having a hell of a time with hers….

    3. Jiminy Cricket*

      What would you do if she were a coworker you rarely interacted with whom you didn’t find obnoxious? For a lot of people, I bet the answer is, “Nothing. I wouldn’t hide it, but I wouldn’t bother to mention it proactively.” So, that’s what I’d do.

    4. Rufus Bumblesplat*

      Do you know her location well enough to know whether you’re likely to run into her grocery shopping?

      It sounds like she’s likely to loudly bring things up in public regardless, even if you do speak to her beforehand. As such you may as well go with whatever you’d prefer to do.

    5. Goddess47*

      If you find yourself feeling pinned down, a casual, “Oh, we’re renting a small apartment for a bit while we look for somewhere permanent to live.” And then not update her at any point.

      Good luck with your move!

    6. cleo*

      Ugh. Your co-worker sounds irritating. I vote for not bringing it up and having something prepared to say when she says something in public. I’d go for a breezy apology / brush off + subject change.

      Co-worker: Why didn’t you TELL ME?
      You: “Oh sorry, I meant to but minor moving emergencies kept coming up / I was completely slammed figuring out the logistics / my neurotic cat hates to move and took up all of my spare time / insert your vague, breezy reason here. I’m sure you understand. But I wanted to ask, can you recommend a good X in new city?”

      Alternate subject change, if you don’t want to talk about the new city with her, “did so and so ever get back to you about the TPS report issue?”

    7. PivotTime*

      Is it necessary for her to even know that you’ve changed cities? It sounds like this person uses any personal info to create drama. Her not having any information to begin with might help. HR & your boss are the only people who really need to know where you’re moving to. However I get that social interaction, especially in a small office, is social lubricant. If she needs to find out, have your boss mention it on your behalf, then plaster on a polite smile while she reacts, and then move the meeting along. If she wants to chat more, you can say something like “ I’m very excited” and then make sure the meeting goes back to business. If she continues to react it is up to your supervisor or whoever is leading the meeting to bring her to heel. Do not answer non business questions from her. Keep her at a polite arm’s length, and stop giving her anything to reveal going forward. Good luck!

    8. allathian*

      I wouldn’t share any personal info with Farrah at all. Your boss and HR, the only people who need to know about the move, already do.

  4. Samantha P*

    I’ve been at my company for over 6 months, a few months in, my supervisor left (or pushed out). He was a nightmare: he was in over his head and threw people under the bus. He also liked to have daily standups, but never listened to anything that was said by his employees. He would ask everyone who attended, “what did you do last night? What are you doing tonight? Any big plans coming up?” EVERY SINGLE DAY. After he left I’ve been reporting to my grand-boss, and thankfully there have been no stand-ups and I can actually do my job. Both my grand-boss and I are fully remote while my former supervisor worked out of our main office in “Springfield”. That particular office was originally a small start-up that was acquired by our company, so I think many aspects of that start-up culture (stand-ups, lack of boundaries) are still in place.

    They hired his replacement who is also based out of Springfield, and starts next week. I’m not excited because my grand-boss is an excellent boss and I’m haunted by my old boss. I don’t want to go back to how it was! I’m worried that since he’ll be out of the Springfield office, he’ll want to do those awful stand-ups.

    Is there anything I can do if the replacement puts those stand-ups back on the calendar? How to pushback nicely? Would that be something I loop my grand-boss in if I don’t want to go?

    1. Qwerty*

      Standups are not startup culture, they are a type of meeting that was normalized by the whole Scrum/Agile trend. They got nicknamed stand-ups because the method of capping the meeting at 15min was to have everyone literally standing.

      Pushing back against this is unlikely to reflect well on you. Different teams need different cadences – some teams I’ve been on did great with just a weekly meeting, others daily. But you are so primed to hate the standups that I don’t think any of that advice will help you. Right now, go in with an open mind about your new boss. If he does something you don’t like, address just his action without the baggage of Bad Old Boss.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, I had weekly stand-up meetings (I work remotely, almost everyone else was onsite) at the decidedly-not-a-startup I retired from. We used to laugh at “stand-up” because these meetings usually went for at least 45 minutes, and apparently the onsite people were not standing up. I think some other teams had standups in the Scrum/Agile vein, but once a piece of jargon starts, it’s unstoppable.

        Also, I’m not clear on whether the problem was the standup meetings or the annoying boss.

      2. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        Agreed, I’ve never worked for a startup, but most of my jobs pre-pandemic involved either a daily or weekly standup. They were mostly used to update us on things going on at the company (audits, customer visits, open enrollment, etc.), recognize individuals who had gone above and beyond recently, and a short Q/A if anyone had questions about anything that affected the whole team.

    2. Rory*

      Do the stand ups actually have a work-related purpose of sharing information? Or is it just to personally catch up with what people are doing in their off time? I think it depends on your relationships and rapport with the manager. Can you talk with your coworkers and see if there are other people who hate the stand ups? Pushing back as a group is always more effective and is less risky. You could suggest a few alternatives for how people could share the work-related info in those meetings – a daily email with the critical things to know for that day, for instance. ALso, does your employer use any chat software like Slack or MS Teams? You could suggest starting a channel for chit chat and fun conversations where people could share what they did over the weekend and such, and it could be a fun place to share photos and memes for people who are into that. And the best part about something like that is, you don’t have to join or participate in the channel.

      If it didn’t seem like there was any way to stop the stand ups, then I would just try to endure and be as boring as possible, and just say noncommittal phrases (“not much” “Nothing interesting”) when directly asked about my weekends/nights off.

      1. Samantha P*

        Do the stand ups actually have a work-related purpose of sharing information? – Nope. I think it’s mostly social and then people go around sharing that they plan to do that day. We have slack.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          When you say “we have slack” – does everyone really want to be interrupted every ten minutes with random thoughts from coworkers? I code thought it’s not the largest part of my job. Would much rather have a meeting then be able to disappear than always have to be on waiting for a chat message, since it prevents me from getting into that deep level thinking I need to get into

          1. BubbleTea*

            I have turned off all notifications on Slack. I only see that someone has posted when I go there on purpose. It’s a lot less intrusive than a meeting.

    3. Observer*

      You need to take a deep breath and stop with the assumptions. You had a bad manager, but he’s gone. Why are you already planning on your next manager being bad? Especially since you actually have absolutely nothing to base your worry on.

      I mean, the simple fact that he’s in the same office as the old, bad, boss does not mean that he’s likely to be the same kind of boundary stomping goldfish* boss. On the other hand, going in with this attitude is almost certainly going to wind up creating a dynamic that is going to be pretty bad for you.

      Unless you have concerns about the hiring process, make the assumption that you GrandBoss and HR are reasonably competent and probably did an ok job of hiring a new manager.

      *the kind of person whose memory for anything you tell them lasts about 15 minutes

    4. Still*

      I feel like the stand-ups are a red herring here. When you like your team and your boss, a 15-minute meeting with them every day really shouldn’t be a huge hardship. It sounds like there were much bigger problems with your boss (throwing people under the bus, not listening) and you’re focusing on the stand-ups as something tangible to be upset about.

      How about you just wait until you meet your new boss and see how it goes? They might be perfectly decent, despite coming from the same office. I don’t think there’s a reason to stress about it in advance. It sounds like you’re already having an argument with the version of your new boss that you’ve made up inside of your head, instead of just waiting to meet them. No judgement, I do it to. Don’t recommend it though.

      1. Observer*

        It sounds like you’re already having an argument with the version of your new boss that you’ve made up inside of your head, instead of just waiting to meet them.

        That’s a really good way of putting it.

        I agree, it’s very easy to fall into that trap, but it really is not helpful.

    5. Busy Middle Manager*

      Standups are good, you’re job just did them wrong. If they are useless, they will end early. Think of it this way: you’re 26, fresh to coding, you see all of these older people running around busy typing away and have no clue what they are doing, but you keep getting stuck on various things. You also had a client email you directly about an emergency and are not sure it’s an actual emergency, you don’t know how to fix it anyway.

      these type of meetings are your time to shine

    6. cleo*

      Good luck with the new boss! I agree with others that it sounds like you had more of a boss problem than a stand-up meeting. But if your new boss puts it back on the calendar, you could ask what their goal for them is. If it doesn’t seem like your new boss has a clear purpose and structure planned, you can push back on that.

      I’m on a digital communications team that’s a mix of hybrid and full-time remote staff and I like our daily stand-ups. But they’re very structured and that helps a lot. They only last 15 minutes max (often less), we briefly go over the production calendar and everyone has a chance to bring up any blockers or questions. And if there’s a bigger problem with a project, sometimes a couple people will stay over to talk it out.

  5. Oh Kelly Clarkson*

    I’m the only one in my larger department who manages “teapot” projects, but I report to a Sr. Director (“Ryan”) who oversees teapots and other barware and mug projects. All different, but leading to the same goal. For me, my work doesn’t impact the barware and mugs (and vice versa), I primarily work with Ryan and other departments. Anyway, there is currently a weekly meeting where us at the individual contributor levels under Ryan meet to go over our weekly priorities, blockers, etc. One caveat is that Ryan is not involved in this meeting and it wasn’t his idea. In my opinion this meeting doesn’t need to happen, but it might be better for the people that work more closely together (however those people already meet or discuss it separately). There is no “director” or “lead” running this meeting.

    “Simon” is technically on my level, but is more so at the start of his career where he doesn’t have as much experience of dealing with office norms. Quite a few times I’ve run into where he’ll put me in the hot seat and ask in front of everyone, “can you talk about what you’re doing with teapots? Just think we should talk about that stuff.” I know he means well, but I feel like I’m being quizzed in front of everyone and I don’t like being put on the spot (1) Simon and my work don’t overlap at all (2) If Simon is interested in the teapot strategy, he’s free talk about it with Ryan, but again, our work doesn’t overlap at all. I’m not there to teach Simon how teapots work (3) He never asks anyone else this, only me (4) Teapots aren’t the main priority of the department, it’s a small piece and there are other areas (owned by other people) that are a larger priority (5) It’s exhausting having to explain the teapot stuff, and it’s a separate beast compared to what everyone else is working on, so even if I explained it, it’s outside of their wheelhouse (6) The whole thing (and based on other interactions) it feel like a “dance, monkey!”, like I’m supposed to explain this on his whim (7) That meeting is not the right meeting to be asked this at

    When he tries to do this again, is there a more polite way to tell him to reach out to Ryan with specific questions and he’ll be able to provide better insights on how it will relate to Simon’s job?

    1. Still*

      “My work doesn’t really overlap with others here so I don’t want to take up everyone’s valuable time. Feel free to reach out to Ryan if there’s anything that specifically affects your work.”

      Is there any way you could get out of these meetings? It sounds like you don’t need to there and like Ryan doesn’t care either way.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      It’s hard to answer questions without specifics; you say it’s not the appropriate meeting, are you 100% sure of that. Also, what is the appropriate meeting? You’re basically saying they can make another meeting, but the whole point of this meeting is to have that unscripted team building and information sharing type conversation.

      Without knowing specifics, it seems a tad defensive TBH. Here me out. You may be brilliant but IME the majority of people who refuse to answer questions like this do it because they know their ideas or plans aren’t done, aren’t good, etc. and it always comes out after the fact. So even if you are stellar, it’s now an image this. Someone who recently left my organization used to brush off questions with “this isn’t the appropriate time” but it took her longer to explain it than just answer the question. Yes, we could have called her separately, but why, when we’re all there, together, talking. Just have the one minute conversation then.

      You mention feeling grilled, but you shouldn’t feel that way about your own work. You should have a plan/strategy and if someone asks about it, you just say it. It shouldn’t be a personal secret. If you have to delve into oversharing, maybe that’s the awkward moment you all need to have where someone eventually chimes in “can you take it offline”

      there may also be overlap you’re not aware of. Maybe I am biased because I work with data and data structure, but people always think something is their private project and doesn’t impact people, and it most definitely does. Or there is duplication of efforts going on. Or one department just put in a ticket do accommodate X but X is going away (as per project that department two is doing but didn’t think anyone else needed to know about)

      at the very least, knowing the big picture of everything teapots can help people in a general sense, to formulate new ideas, spot problems, or just verbalize hunches they had.

      signed, someone who worked too long at a place with information silos but everyone thought they were super transparent, and it caused loads of waste

      1. Unfettered scientist*

        Agreed. Without specifics I kind of default to “why can’t you briefly explain?” If he calls on you at every meeting to explain your job, that’s too much, but explaining it a few times and providing updates makes sense to me (otherwise why are you at this meeting?). I totally understand it being hard or annoying to explain your work to a different audience but cultivating ways to briefly explain what you do to a wider audience is an important skill in itself. I’m also coming from a data analysis background and I’m the only one who does what I do. I find myself explaining what I do a lot and I just view it as part of the job to find the common ground and make sure others understand my role

        1. Tio*

          I think doing it once or twice might be fine, since these meetings don’t seem to have agendas anyway, but if he’s asking about it repeatedly then like the third time it might help to break out “I’ve gone over this a couple times before in these meetings and don’t really have anything new to add; is there something specific you’re looking to find out?” And if he says no you should be good to move on

          1. Unfettered scientist*

            Yeah for sure op should not have to keep repeating themselves. From my read on the article phrasing, it sounds more like Simon wants updates on teapot strategy and her work, which I think is more reasonable. I get that op is the only one being asked in this way but I would imagine that’s because their work is different than what others do and this meeting might be the major touchpoint to share with this team, whereas other members who work on similar things might know more about what each other do naturally. OP if this sounds off or if there are other relevant details I’m missing, please let me know

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              I’d like to hear whether OP is getting the vibe that Simon is gunning for her job, or intentionally trying to undermine her for some reason. Who knows, maybe what’s really going on in Simon’s head is that he is trying to provide space for OP to speak in the meeting, thinking he’s being helpful, but OP is just sick of him (Captain Awkward’s “BEC stage”). It is really hard to tell without the subtle vocal inflections and body language clues that come from being there, in the situation, so I hope OP will chime in further.

              1. Oh Kelly Clarkson*

                I don’t think he’s gunning for my job, but I’m not sure what’s going on in his head. I don’t think he’s trying to undermine me.

                1. Tio*

                  I would either prepare a couple quick sentences on updates, if you have any; the 1000-foot kind. We’re looking at a new vendor, but it’ll take a while; we’re considering a new color scheme, whatever. Don’t go into detail on anything. If there aren’t any real updates – and that’s not weird if you have to do this weekly, I’d be surprised if you had new updates every week – you can just give a breezy “Nothing much has changed since my last update!” and move on.

      2. Melissa*

        I see this happening to my boss. Our dept’s work doesn’t affect the other departments, but theirs can impact ours. The director running the meetings is slowly shutting boss out of this meeting; director has no interest or knowledge of our work, so she’s basically acting as if we don’t exist, and we are missing important information….(until one of the others in the meeting passes it on…)

    3. Susan Calvin*

      Have you ever sat down 1:1 with Simon? I know it probably feels pointless to you, but based on my best attempt at mind reading here, I would guess he a) wants to understand teapots and how they fit into the department better (I can relate somewhat, I hate having what I perceive as significant blind spots in my company’s strategy/portfolio), and/or b) might be worried about your team suffering from a lack of visibility due to being the “odd one out” and tries to help you out by providing regular openings to remedy that.

      If the first is true, it might be solved by a one-off, 10 minute Teapots for Dummies talk. If the second is true, maybe workshop better ways to address the issue, or explain to him why it’s really not an issue at all.

      If he’s really just a rude weirdo, well, you’ll also know for sure after talking to him directly.

  6. Princess Jasmine*

    I wanted to get y’all take on when your personality is brought up in a performance review. 10 years ago (when I was in my mid-20s), our company had 360 peer reviews where one of mine was literally “Princess Jasmine has a great personality, I wish she showed it more”. I wish I had shut that down back then, because that manager was such a nasty bully. There was a lot wrong with that team and company, and the company ended up folding about a year later from poor business decisions. I had found another job (where I got actual feedback related to my job duties). But I’m reflecting on it and am curious what you would do if someone said that to you?

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Hoooo boy! I think I would demand it get taken out of the review before I’d sign off. If someone knows you have a great personality, you show it just fine. I’d probably press my reviewer about why they thought it was appropriate to leave it in there.

      1. Observer*

        I think I would demand it get taken out of the review before I’d sign off.

        Which is unlikely to help you any. Signing does not indicate agreement. Refusing to sign generally creates problems, on a good day.

        I’d probably press my reviewer about why they thought it was appropriate to leave it in there.

        That’s a really good question. Not just why it was “left” in there, but why it was put in to start with. Not every stupid thing someone says needs to be in your review!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          God, yes, why was it in there in the first place? This is supposed to be a performance review, not a slam book.

    2. Elle*

      These days I have more professional experience and have experience writing performance evals. I would ask for specific examples of what they mean and what measurable improvements I can make in the coming months.

    3. Rory*

      I would ask them to clarify exactly what they mean by that and to share any examples of what they see now vs. what they would want to see in the future. Also, I might ask if they could explain any negative impacts they have observed from me “not showing my personality.” If it seemed like they were asking for unnecessary or excessive social interaction at work, I would gently push back and just say when I’m at work I like to focus on the task at hand.

    4. RagingADHD*

      The most effective way to deal with passive-aggressive digs in any context is to take them extremely seriously and literally, and ask sincere follow up questions. The last thing someone wants when they’re making that kind of remark, is to be put on the spot to explain it, or have to deal with sincerity.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Hahaha, I used to do this to BullyBoss at OldExjob. He thought he was so clever (and always in front of other people), but this technique took the wind right out of his sails. >:)

    5. Generic Name*

      What a bizarre comment to put on a review. When I received vague and strange feedback in reviews at my last dysfunctional company, I always asked for clarification of what that meant and for specific examples so I would know how to change my behavior moving forward. Oddly, my manager never could come up with any specific examples to illustrate what they meant. I also asked close colleagues and my mentor their take on the feedback, and everyone thought it was strange and off-base.

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      Depends on the job, very much so!

      Were you a case manager in a hospital? Or working in the boiler room? Were you doing sales calls, or collections? Two different answers.

      Two things can be true, your boss can be a bully, and there might have been a kernel of truth in things said. Of course, without knowing the role, we can’t answer.

      so despite what other say, yes personality matters. But I agree with you in that it was worded horribly. Be specific. Focus on the technical aspects of the job. If the job isn’t very technical, then be specific about the “personality” stuff. The way you worded it, sounds like someone pretending to be a manager, making up stuff they think a manager would say

    7. Quitters anonymous*

      My understanding of 360 reviews is that they are provided by multiple people at all levels of interaction, and anonymous. Not a formal performance review.
      That being said, I would take this as information not regarding my performance, likely given by somebody unqualified in formal performance reviews and what is appropriate to rate somebody on. It would turn me off for sure if somebody thought I should personality more for what benefit?

      1. Magenta Sky*

        The only people who believe anonymous peer reviews are anything but toxic are the ones who were popular in high school.

    8. ONFM*

      Echoing what others have said here – I would respectfully ask for specific examples of this, and how you are supposed to improve in this area.

      Similarly, I used to have a boss who, every year, would add “ONFM needs to work on her relationships with coworkers.” I would ask for specific examples of how this was a “needs improvement” issue and how it would be measured going forward, and he would remove it in response. I have great relationships with my coworkers, inside and outside my department – but my boss meant that I didn’t like him enough, personally. He wanted me to hang out with him. I did not want to hang out with him. The end. :)

      1. Limotruck87*

        I used to get feedback on reviews that I needed to work on being “more approachable” to coworkers and I wish I’d had the experience to push back in this way (“Do you have examples of me being unapproachable? Do you have specific ways in which my improvement will be measured?”). Because I already frequently checked in with my coworkers to ensure I was providing what they needed, and the times anyone did come to me with an interpersonal concern the person often told me that I was easy to talk to and received difficult feedback calmly and maturely, and they appreciated my taking their concern seriously.

        Of course there are kernels of truth in everything, but my suspicion is that while I am friendly, I tend to be reserved/focused and often would just quietly get my work done rather than goofing off/chatting for 30-40 minutes at the beginning of a shift (while animals were waiting for care). A few others on my team did not have much experience communicating their needs and feelings in a mature way, weren’t already best friends with me, and didn’t know what a serious discussion going productively and respectfully would even look like. So, instead of self-reflecting, they’d pre-emptively decide their unwillingness to have scary conversations was my fault for being ‘unapproachable’ and our supervisor took this at face value.

    9. New Door*

      “Princess Jasmine has a great personality, I wish she showed it more.”

      I could be missing context and taking that comment too literally, but what exactly is the dig in this? That it’s not about tasks and work quality? An indirect insult somewhere?

    10. fhqwhgads*

      What the hell does that even mean? Like…their perception of your personality is the part they can see… so the feedback is some sort of backhanded compliment calling you two-faced? That person is weird.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Unless the OP is routinely wearing an invisibility cloak around the office and using a voice disguiser that makes them sound like a robot, this “feedback” is utterly nonsensical/passive-aggressive.

  7. Critical Rolls*

    I have an out of town conference coming up in a few months that I’d really like to attend, but there’s a 50-50 chance Life Will Happen and prevent my going. Has anyone used travel insurance under that type of circumstance before? I don’t suppose my registration fees could be covered?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Are you paying your own way or is your company sending you? I’m guessing it’s the former, but if it’s the latter, I wouldn’t worry about it– things happen. If it’s the latter, then I’d recommend calling a couple of different companies or checking their websites.

      1. Mztery1*

        You can check with the individual companies, but I would make sure to purchase insurance that lets you cancel for any reason if it’s not an obviously covered reason.

    2. Generic Name*

      If your company is sending you, you could see if a coworker could take over your registration and attend. Be sure to purchase refundable or transferable tickets if you will be flying.

    3. WellRed*

      Your work should be paying for all of this and absorbing it as cost of doing business. FWIW, my company pays for everything travel related but did recently send out a memo stating specifier travel insurance is not covered by the company. So they expect that they will cover when life happens.

    4. Critical Rolls*

      I should have added, I’m going on my own dime due to the timing of leave I expect to take around Life Stuff.

  8. back to academia?*

    I have been working in government/non-profits since finishing my PhD, but a tenure track job opened up in my field, I applied, and now I am a finalist. As part of this, I have to give a public job talk in a few weeks. I’m wondering how to handle this with my current (fairly toxic) job. I normally wouldn’t tell anyone I’m applying to other jobs, but the job talk is public so there is some chance someone would find out. (We don’t work directly with this university, but we sometimes organize tours for high school students there, and there’s a possibility someone in the org is on the department’s mailing list.)

    I also think I have to list my affiliation as “independent scholar” rather than my current workplace to avoid conflict of interest concerns. But does anyone have experience in this area? I’ve never done a public interview process when trying to leave a job before. If I had a better relationship with my boss, I might tell them, but they are a source of much of the current toxicity.

    1. Lost academic*

      There’s nothing wrong with stating where you work and it’s not a conflict of interest. I think independent scholar reads very strangely and wouldn’t be right in this case. More relevant will be listing where you got your PhD because they’ll care about that.

      Maybe the talk will be noticed by someone on a list serve but maybe not – and in my experience it’s not like it’ll say on it that it’s part of a search. Someone might ask about it and you can always just say you were invited to give the talk and leave it at that – that’s true.

      And finalist is great but don’t tell anyone at work yet, not until you accept an offer.

      1. Astor*

        I think whether or not it will say that it’s part of a search is very institution dependent. I’m in Canada, but at my institution for the searches I’ve witnessed the job talks are always labelled as being part of a search. However, even within the same institution, I’ve seen varying practices about who is notified about them and who is really expected to attend them. So it’s possible that they’re internally labelled as part of a search and externally they’re just advertised as a presentation.

        Overall, my experience is to never make assumptions of how these things are handled, even about the most basic things that seem like common sense – there will often be a reasonable choice to deviate that you didn’t predict, and sometimes there are less reasonable choices that you need to plan for.

        I think in this case, ask the person who is coordinating the search what their normal practices are, if they’ve handled a similar situation before, and if there’s anything they can do.

        Some things I’ve seen is still sending out a notification of the job talk to faculty, staff, and students but adding a specific warning to those internal notifications reminding everyone that while the name of the person being interviewed is widely known within the department it should not be shared. I think in the latter case the person’s name wasn’t included in the notifications, so that in order to find out who was interviewing you either had to go through the normal process to request their CV (if you were on the list of people who had access to it) or show up at the job talk itself. And I’ve definitely also been involved in searches where none of the candidates names were ever mentioned on the mailing lists (other than for the search committee) and you had to log on to a secure site to see who each candidate was. It’s been long enough that I can’t be sure I remember the specifics correctly, and I definitely don’t know how well any of those worked – I suspect that with so many people involved there is still a risk it might get back to your boss – nor if that’s a common thing that would happen elsewhere. But I thought it might be useful to get a sense of how varied these practices can be.

        1. back to academia?*

          Thank you both for your replies! This department just did another job search as well, and the job talks for that one were labeled as job talks, so I assume that practice will continue.

          I think I’ll just wait and see if anyone from my work finds out about it, and handle it somehow if it does come up. I know a number of people working here have campaigned for and then left for local public office, so there is some precedent for a public job search from this organization. I don’t think I’m close enough to either to ask how they handled mentioning their affiliation and work at the time, but I can’t imagine they had to hide it.

      2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I’m an academic in Australia – I’ve worked in the UK but not the US. I think “independent scholar” is correct in this situation (and doesn’t read oddly to me). All the universities I’ve worked at have had rules around claiming affiliation, and having earned your PhD from an institution is not sufficient for a current affiliation. The US may be different, of course!

    2. Jessica*

      For affiliation, I’d say the university where you earned your PhD?
      My guess is that the public job talk won’t be advertised as part of a hiring process, especially externally. It’ll just be a flyer/e-mail saying that Dr. X is coming to give a talk.

  9. Tentatively Hopeful*

    I’m accidentally in charge of a department since my boss left, my supervisor doesn’t like how boss’ colleague is handling things (read: thinks overstepping is happening) and boss’ colleague is really unclear with giving directions (tells people they don’t oversee to do things, but wants something else). How do I manage “up” re: “boss’ colleague? My supervisor and boss’ colleague are meeting next week to hash it out.

    Also, I interviewed for a government job last Wednesday which I thought was a superb fit and which would help me escape the ‘accidentally being in charge thing.’ Crickets. Sigh.

    So maybe now I’m accidentally in charge of a branch while also being an ambivert/introvert which I can do but is also terrifying in terms of what I’m sacrificing in the way of mental health. And did I mention I have a young toddler? How on earth can this possibly work?!

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Just to let you know: government hiring can be incredibly slow. Especially this time of year when everyone has to burn up their vacation time before the end of the year. (I am literally the only person physically in the office right now, and about 75% of my coworkers are on vacation.)

      I wouldn’t expect to hear anything until next week at the earliest.

      1. FricketyFrack*

        Seriously, I’m also government and it’s SO quiet in the office. My whole team has to be here in person, but every other department is almost totally dark. HR has probably not even touched applications, let alone gotten them out to the hiring manager. TBH, even outside of the holidays, a week would be very, very fast to hear back, especially if it’s the kind of position likely to attract a lot of applicants. My first government job had 300 applicants – it took about 50 years to get to the offer stage.

    2. Zephy*

      “Last Wednesday” was only 6 business days ago at the absolute most (depending on the government office’s holiday hours), that’s no time at all for government hiring timelines.

    3. The Dude Abides*

      Re: gov’t job, getting a response within a week at this time of year is lightning-fast. 2-3 weeks is the norm, going a month or longer is not unheard of.

    4. Government Worker*

      I work for the government, and I interviewed for a job with a different department 11 weeks ago and still haven’t heard anything through official channels (although unofficially I know it was offered to someone/accepted Wednesday)…. lol. The wheels move very slowly.

    5. ICodeForFood*

      I’m in private industry, and out of 14 on my team, only 6 of us have been in ANY days during the week between Christmas and New Year’s… Don’t give up on the job you interviewed for, because it’s way too soon for that!

    6. OtterB*

      Re your problem with boss’s colleague. Is your supervisor reasonable? Because I think your best bet is to have a clear conversation with them about expectations and what authority you have.

  10. Volunteering is Making Me Miserable*

    I have been on a “working” Board of Directors for two years. It is a nonprofit organization to get women involved in government, I am a lobbyist so it is a good fit and I have built great connections through my involvement with the organization. The problem is the time commitment. I was approached last year to be the President, I politely declined and instead agreed to be Vice President. Well, they selected the President and she happened to be pregnant so I have now been acting President while she is on maternity leave and adjusting to being back at work (so about 4 months now). In addition to being acting President, I am on the Executive Committee, the chair of the Communications Committee (which is me and one other person), and then as acting President am expected to attend as many other Committee meetings as I can. I am completely exhausted. My volunteer activity has turned into 10 hours minimum per week and a constant source of stress for me. In my personal life too the last few months have been hard, my uncle died from early onset Parkinson’s disease, a family friend died, and my grandma was diagnosed with a disease (funny enough, I am a lobbyist for a disease-specific nonprofit organization and she was diagnosed with that disease) so I have been trying to help as much as I can by attending appointments and supporting my grandpa. I have been considering resigning, but I feel like it would damage my relationships as a lobbyist, and I don’t want to leave everybody hanging, especially as the President just had a baby a few months ago. I don’t know what to do at this point because I am just struggling to keep every ball in the air and am getting tired of juggling.

    1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Have you told anyone else on the Board that you are overwhelmed with the amount of work and need some assistance? There may be others on the Board that can help temporarily take over the work (ex can other communications chair take full lead on everything for a few months?). Or can they pull from the membership and get someone to take over one of your lower-level tasks? There likely is someone who is interested in doing some of the work or being part of the Board that is waiting for an opening to appear or for someone to ask them (speaking as a former President of a volunteer org, I was asked specifically to think about joining the Board by a former President). But let others take on leadership opportunities where you can, it doesn’t need to be super formal, it can be just on certain tasks like ‘go to the engineering committee meeting and take notes and back brief me on the important items; especially younger members/new to workforce members who are looking for these types of involvement to include on resumes.

    2. Qwerty*

      Talk to the rest of the board about how to redistribute responsibilities. I’d start with stepping down from the committees – it doesn’t make sense for the President to be filling those roles.

      Part of being in charge is delegation – what aspects of being Acting President can be handed to someone else? Or items from your original VP job? It doesn’t have to all be on one person – if there are say 10 jobs the President does, it could make sense to have 3-5 people each take on one task and Acting President to handle the remaining 5-7.

      Also remember that being “Acting” or “Interim” anything anything usually means doing 70-80% of the job rather than the full thing. So don’t go to all of the committee meetings – either go to the meetings where it is most useful to give your input and/or have an occasional meeting with the committee chairs (maybe all of them all at once – or is that what the executive committee is?) Ask the chair “anything I need to know from this week’s meeting” rather than going to it yourself.

      I am just struggling to keep every ball in the air and am getting tired of juggling
      There’s a quote I love about this, I think it was by Nora Roberts, but don’t have the exact words. Something about how the trick is to know which balls are plastic and which ones are glass and know that you can’t catch all of them.

    3. Not an Energizer Bunny*

      Wow, that’s a lot. I would want to resign too. If you are worried about damaging relationships, could you ease out more slowly? There is a lit going on in your life, maybe you could take a “leave of absence” for two months, citing the need to support family through the grief of a death. Everyone should understand death in the family as a reason, and it’s true. Or maybe step back from some responsibilities now and ithers gradually. But I would recommend the leave of absence.

      1. Not An Energizer Bunny*

        Ps I meant to say that part of the purpose is the leave of absence is to help you now but the other part is to get them used to taking care of things without you. That might help your rep when you step away completely after the leave of absence. I would make it long enough that it’s likely they will step up and not just tread water expecting you to take the reins again when it is over. Good luck, and let us know how it all goes.

    4. Trawna*

      Reading your post – it is impossible for you to be a bad/lazy/unconscientious person. So, if your question is can I quit or take a leave of absence or cut way back, the answer is yes.

      There are sample volunteer resignation letters online. Handling this professionally before you burnout will not hurt your career. You can do your toe back in when/if you are ready.

      Take care of yourself.

    5. WellRed*

      For a minute there, I thought you were the OP of a letter from earlier this week. Please go back and read that so you’ll be encouraged that you can step away!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        First thing I thought of! Classic example, IMO, of expecting a few people to just carry an entire organization forever.

    6. Thistle Pie*

      It sounds like this organization means a lot to you and also that your life is really hectic right now. I think that it’s totally reasonable to ask another board member to be co-VP with you right now since you’re essentially without a president for a period of time. Split the duties of that with them. The VP should not be going to as many committee meetings as they can, that’s why there are committees. And ask someone else to chair communications – then you can still go to those meetings when you can, but you don’t have to be at every single one and you don’t need to run them. Hopefully that takes some pressure off.

    7. HBJ*

      I think you need to go to the board and say as politely as you can, “Look, I was approached to be president, and I specifically said no because I did not want all of the president’s responsibilities. Now, I have been given all of the president’s responsibilities in spite of that. I’ll give a week or two to transition, and then I will no longer be acting president.” (You could add “except these 1 or 2 things” if you really want.)

      1. Msd*

        But isn’t that the main role of the vice president? To step in when the president is not able to fulfill the office – resigns, on leave etc? The LW should reduce other activities but when they accepted the VP role they were also accepting the risk of being acting president.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          But she was pressured to accept the VP slot, too. Also, VPs are allowed to resign, even if acting as President. OP isn’t trapped in this job forever just because she accepted the role.

          It just seems like she ought to take a very large step back from all of this. She’s clearly the kind of very dependable person that many orgs seem to think will do all the work unless extremely rigid boundaries are set.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Honestly, this is why I’m leery of volunteering; not because it’s not for worthy causes but because it morphs into what should be a full time salaried position far too often, and far too often one person or a handful is stuck, or tricked, into taking on a ton of work with no reward but guilt for “letting down the cause” when they can’t take it anymore.

  11. SchmoetSchmaureate*

    I’m struggling with how/whether I can push back against a colleague being involved in a process that doesn’t seem like it should include them and would love advice.
    I work for an arts organization that holds a monthly poetry reading of local work that requires one person to curate the reading (choose the specific passages for the month’s theme, etc.) and one person to perform the reading, a duty that switches between Teeter and Tooter. I was recently asked to organize one of these readings. I am technically on the same level on the org chart as Teeter and Tooter, but I started much more recently than both.

    It is expected, naturally, that the person who’ll be performing the material has a lot of input on the material, so while it’s technically the organizer’s job to do the pre-reading legwork, it’s done in conversation with the reader. For the month I am organizing, Teeter will be doing the reading, so I’ve been communicating with them about options…except that every time we meet to talk about it, Tooter is there, and Tooter ends up leading the meeting. Tooter has very strong opinions that make curating this reading much more difficult and Teeter is acting as if those opinions hold as much weight as theirs, but Tooter isn’t involved in the reading. Their position seems to be that because they read other months, they’re also really invested in the months they don’t read.

    I’ve asked our collective manager for advice and they haven’t responded, but is there a kind way to be like, “hey, Tooter, if there’s organizational knowledge that you have and we don’t that’s essential for organizing this I’d love to have it, but otherwise can you please go away and let Teeter and I figure this out?”

    I’m also not sure if it’s appropriate to reach out to Teeter and ask if we can meet one on one; I’m worried that because they’ve worked together for so long it will turn into a big kerfuffle.


    I am…baffled by this. I don’t understand why

    1. SchmoetSchmaureate*

      ETA: I don’t know where that last sentence came from, I guess maybe I was replying to someone else previously and didn’t notice the text remaining in the box?

      1. Straight Laced Sue*

        I’ve thought about this, and I’m sorry, I’m at a loss. Of course, the assertive thing to do would be to talk to them and name the issue, but I’m getting the impression from you that maybe Tooter would kick up in a way that would make trouble for you?
        My other thought is, if it’s a short term project in terms of your involvement, can you just let them at it? It’s weird and stupid, but if Teeter doesn’t mind, your boss doesn’t mind, and the audience don’t mind, maybe this is one of things you just shake your head and marvel at.

    2. Lurker*

      Like Straight Laced Sue already said, I would maybe have a conversation with Teeter to make sure they are okay with Tooter’s suggestions and if they are, to just go along with it even though it’ll be annoying. At that point they’ve made their choice and if there’s fewer readings/less varied ones that’s not your fault because you tried.

    3. Jiminy Cricket*

      “Tooter, I’ve been given this role this month, and I’m taking my responsibilities very seriously. I welcome your input, but ultimately this is my job right now.”

  12. JellyBean*

    Skills on LinkedIn profiles:
    There are often several synonyms for the same general skill, and different job postings use different ones. For example, some might use “llama brushing” and some might use “llama combing.” Should you list all of them, or does that get too cluttered? Do you have to assign every skill to a job, or can you have just a sort of bucket at the bottom that includes everything?

    1. Procedure Publisher*

      I haven’t seen any advice on this. For myself, I have worked out of a specific content management system. On LinkedIn, I list Content Management System (CMS) and the specific CMS that I used. However, I know that specific CMS will be replaced in a few years because the vendor will be dropping support. I have Microsoft Office and Microsoft Word both listed, but Microsoft Word is part of office.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’d focus on including both terms in the narrative parts of your job description and About sections of your profile, and feel free to also tag them in skills separately. Just keep an eye on the overall redundancies in the resume so that if it starts getting annoying, you can just trim some out.

  13. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Its nearly the new year. Do people do work resolutions? Every year I’m like I’m going to become a planner person, who is organized and detail oriented. I fail every year!

    1. Invisible fish*

      Teacher here- every time a new term or semester starts, I have the same resolution: step back/do less/leave work at work. This is year 18… still have not succeeded!!

    2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Haha, oh man, I’m sitting here at my work computer now trying to get myself ready for my goal of being on top of my work and being better organized right now! Clearly going well since I’m on AAL. But yeah, I try every year, it works for a little bit… and then I’m back to old me! to be fair, old me’s (current me?) not bad, but I stress myself out a lot so it would be better if I could get more organized.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        My organization has improved a lot, but it’s certainly not to the standards of a normal person.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      I had planned to make 2024 the year I got it together enough to be proactive instead of always putting out dumpster fires, but then yesterday learned that one of my colleagues is leaving and I am “temporarily” being given her work. I was already “temporarily” covering 3 other departed colleagues, and she had one. Which means I will now have the equivalent of 6 work loads. Dumpster fires it is.

        1. Zephy*

          No, but really, your company is getting 6 jobs for the price of one. That’s a screaming deal, for them, and it sounds like you have a hell of a lot of leverage to ask for some changes around here.

          1. Hotdog not dog*

            It’s definitely been a while since I’ve been anywhere close to caught up. I do the best I can for approximately 8 hours per day, and the rest stays as “pending.” Allegedly there are plans to restructure early next year, which is why there’s been a hiring freeze for almost a year.

            1. linger*

              There doesn’t yet seem to be much urgency for change! So, and I cannot stress this enough, don’t fear possible work impact on others. You will need to make the excess in your workload blatantly visible to others, otherwise restructuring will continue to be delayed, and worse, your current workload will become the baseline for your role in the restructured system. Balls need not just to be dropped, but to land with an echo.

    4. FricketyFrack*

      I’ve learned that I’ll never be a planner person and gave up on that resolution. I do use copious post-its and then toss the note when the task has been dealt with, but my job just has too many things that depend on other people or that may not be time-sensitive, so planners aren’t super helpful.

      My only real work resolution this year is to get back to the level at which I’m used to contributing. I’ve been transitioning to my new position for the last couple of months, but I still don’t know even close to everything I need to know, and I’ve been feeling incredibly insecure about how much work I’ve been able to do, so I’d like to get to a place where I feel confident about what I’m bringing to the table. I think that’s probably plenty, so I’m not going to worry about setting any other goals.

    5. Straight Laced Sue*

      In my general spiritual life, I’ve chosen the word “spaciousness” as my word / inspiration for this year. At work, I’m hoping I’ll allow more space (silence) in between my utterances, to listen, be mindful and basically calm the heck (please replace the h with an f there) down! Also, I’m hoping I’ll give myself loads more metaphorical space by putting up more… boundaries.

    6. Jackalope*

      I haven’t done this for awhile, but I did at one point in time have a few years when I had some general goals about working towards a specific position that I wanted. Long story short I now have that position (yay!), and am content here for a bit (and the obvious progression from here isn’t something I’m interested in right now) so am just doing my job, but that was helpful when I did it. For anyone who is interested, it was more along the lines of keeping my eye out for various trainings/short-term positions/etc. and making sure my other work was quality so I’d look like good promotion material.

    7. Green Goose*

      I’m finally starting a new job after almost a decade at my current job and my work resolution is to have better boundaries at my new job. I really hope I achieve it. I want to leave work at work.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I have one — once my personal goal is accomplished (finish something!), I’d like to get a particular certification for my job. I was hired despite not having it, although the job description had it as a wish-list item. Only one person in my department does — I’d like to have it too. I think it will make my job easier too, since I’m new to this industry and there is a lot of specialized jargon. If people are in a project meeting talking about inserting whizbang dumbnuts into a flanged thingamajig after someone has started building the bowmuckle widget, it will make me feel less like a little kid at the grown-ups’ table if I have some idea what they’re talking about.

      Not only will it increase my value to my current company, but it’ll make it easier to find something else if they suddenly become full of bees (not likely, but you never know).

    9. Aquila*

      I’m choosing a theme this year, so that I can adapt my choices but still explore and hopefully improve my life. I’ve failed at specific resolutions, and the discouragement would always pile up until change became too hard. For example, if I wanted to write more, I could choose a resolution to journal every day, but then I will inevitably fail because life happens. But if my theme was writing, then a day or week not writing isn’t a failure. I can experiment and find ways that work for me in the circumstances I have at that time.

      My theme this year is growth, because I feel like I sacrificed too much for a now previous job and got into a rut where I was just the job. Now, I have a new job, with energy and time to do something aside from work or recover from work. I want to be good at newjob but also pursue opportunities outside work.

    10. PivotTime*

      My work resolution for 2024 is to put my interests first. I work in a small dept in academia where one colleague is constantly out sick, the other is lazy/incompetent and my supervisor or his supervisor refuses to hire anyone or change anything about the workflow despite repeated complaints/concerns on my part.
      My hard work to keep things going works great for everyone- except me.
      I’m applying for an unpaid leave to finish a masters program. If I don’t get it, I’m seriously considering quitting. If I stay ( because healthcare is important), I’m going to do a form of quiet quitting. Either way, I vow that I won’t be there in the same situation next year

  14. Back to the grind*

    I’ve recently made the decision to start looking for full-time remote work, as the amount of freelancing I’ve had this year has been quite low and I’ve successfully reduced the need for me at my part-time job.

    I’ve never worked as a fully remote employee before. If I get any interviews, what are some good questions to ask about remote work that I might not think about?

    I need the flexibility of remote for taking a family member to doctor’s appointments, picking up my kid from after-school activities, and other middle-of-the-day responsibilities. How and when do I bring that up?

    Not that I expect to get any interviews. I hate job hunting so much!

    1. Jiminy Cricket*

      I love working remotely! Here’s what I would ask:
      — What is the onboarding process like in their remote environment?
      — Do team members ever meet in person? How often, where, for what purpose, etc.
      — What is the most common method of communication among coworkers?
      –What percentage of the team is remote? How do remote and in-person team members interact?
      –How long has the work been remote? (I think teams that were founded as remote operate differently from those that went remote because of the pandemic.)
      — How do remote team members have access to more senior team members, if at all? (Maybe not in these words, but what I’m getting at is the most solid knock on remote work is that junior team members don’t have the same opportunities for interacting with and learning from senior people that they might in a different environment.)

      Good luck!

      1. Elsewise*

        These are great questions! I also really want to emphasize asking about how the team communicates and how often does the manager talk to their team members. I asked those in an interview and got the answer “oh, we’re in touch. We talk pretty regularly I guess. We all know each other.” I would frequently go up to three days with no contact from anyone. Once I didn’t hear from my boss for nearly two weeks. (I reached out of course, he just didn’t respond.)

        Anyway, I paid more attention to those questions at my next interview, and got a much better answer including frequency of one on ones, regularly scheduled team meetings, and the software they used to chat. That was a much better environment.

    2. RagingADHD*

      It really depends on the employer, but don’t automatically exclude local hybrid positions from your search. First of all, fully-remote positions aren’t necessarily more flexible. There are a lot of remote jobs that want the person logged in and present during their core hours, no exceptions. While hybrid roles that want you to come in *sometimes* may have a lot of flexibility as to how often and when.

      Second, positions listed as fully-remote tend to get absolutely inundated with applications within hours of posting, and you are less likely to get lost in the shuffle for hybrid local jobs.

      So I’d advise bringing it up at some point during the initial screening, because it is a dealbreaker for you and because people define those terms really differently. It’s important to be on the same page.

      1. Back to the grind*

        There are no jobs in my field locally (hence the freelancing), and we’re not looking to move, so if I want to stay in my industry, that’s another reason for remote.

    3. Jiminy Cricket*

      To answer your second question:

      I wouldn’t mention specific personal obligations in the interview, but I would ask, “What are the core working hours for the group? How do people typically handle any appointments or other personal things that may come up during the day? What are the expectations for how quickly people respond to messages?”

      Actually I’m not sure I’d ask that last question in so many words, but what you’re trying to find out is whether this is the sort of environment where the teams chat dot is always expected to be green and you are dinged if you don’t immediately reply to an email.

      FWIW, I manage a remote team and here are my expectations:
      –Get your work done. Meet every deadline.
      –If you’ve got appointments during the day or you need to walk your dog, fine. Block your calendar.
      –If you’re going to be incommunicado for half a day or more, mark yourself out of office
      –Respond in a timely manner to all communication from your colleagues. Depending on the message, that generally means within the same working day.
      –If you work shifted hours, fine, but you can’t expect coworkers to respond to you outside of core 9-to-5 hours, so don’t bug them.

      We have coworkers who have responsibilities like you describe and make it work well.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        also a remote manager, and those are also pretty much my expectations — meet your metrics, work your correct number of hours over the pay week, attend scheduled meetings, check your email at least twice a shift and respond in a timely manner.

    4. Redaktorin*

      Keep in mind that remote work is not necessarily as flexible as what you’re envisioning, and it will be wildly less flexible than freelancing. I work fully remote, I have done so for years at multiple companies, and getting away in the middle of the day is tough. I wouldn’t plan on regularly taking anybody to doctor appointments, and I don’t pick my kid up from school every day. My industry is maybe more *intense* than some others, but if I had mentioned how much time I planned to spend not working in interviews, I wouldn’t have been hired.

      1. Cj*

        I was actually a little shocked that the op thought they would be able to do these things regularily in a remote position. that’s the kind of attitude that makes companies not like remote work.

        it might be fine for some positions in some companies, but I am fully remote, and for the most part I am expected to be available when my coworkers need me.

        depending on the type of work they do, they could probably find a remote position that will allow this. it’s the assumption that they will be able to do this just because a position is remote that shocked me.

        1. Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds*

          I’m not at all surprised. I have worked remote for over 7 years. Recently my department was reorganized into teams of 4 or 5. On my new team, it’s common for people to leave for appointments, picking up and dropping off kids, driving to sporting events their kid is involved in.
          Since I’m expected to cover them, this inconveniences me and disrupts my daily own plan to care for my book of clients.

          The most recent development is that one of the other 4 is turning off Slack notifications so the rest of the team has no way to reach a teammate who isn’t picking up their client calls.

          1. Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds*

            to be clear, the corporate expectations are that you are at your desk, available for clients from 9 to 5 with an hour for lunch. The team has decided that they will set their own hours, coming and going as they wish.

        2. Mztery1*

          That was my thought as well. I work from home and have done so for many years and have much less time to do errands and such that I had when I was working part-time on site!

  15. Busy Middle Manager*

    Does anyone use python at work? I’m advanced in SQL and am trying to learn python and it’s going well but I don’t see the application for it, except I guess to make forms people fill out?

    1. Roland*

      As a full-fledged programming language, it can do as much or as little as you have patience to write. But I imagine the most standard use cases for people who are not programmers by trade are various forms of data analysis and task automation. It would not be my tool of choice to create forms.

      Can I ask why you’re trying to learn it? Was it suggested by a manager or mentor? If so, you can ask them what use cases they’d expect for your role. I would maybe also look into a different training course if the one you’re using doesn’t provide any examples of a program doing anything one might want to do.

    2. Qwerty*

      What research have you done? What made you pick Python?

      Searching for applications of python or real world applications will bring up a multitude of information on its different uses across a variety of industries. Searching for “X vs Y” on programming languages often yields good blog posts for how to apply the different languages. Try “Python vs SQL”, then maybe swap SQL out for some of the languages you discarded.

      I have worked with web applications, ETLs, data processors, computer vision libraries, machine learning, and more with Python. The best and worst thing about the language is it lets you do anything. It is really popular as a tool for non-software engineers for enabling their jobs – I know people in fields like biology, astronomy, archeology, and robotics who use it a lot.

      If all you need is a form to fill out, then look into Google Forms and its alternatives.

      Check out the books by Eric Matthes if you are looking for an application based way of learning. His books involve making games, deploying web apps, and other project based ideas.

    3. Up and coming data nerd*

      I’m transitioning into data science and had the same question. Response I got from my tech folks is that it’s project dependent, i.e. what do *you* want to do with the tool? What does your company do with Python?

      My compsci peeps tell me that Python’s good for quick programming mock ups as well, but if you’re like me and on the data side, the writing applications capability isn’t really something I expect to use, so personally I focus more on the data manipulation and visualization pieces (e.g. pandas). Personally, I find Python nicer for process repeatability and documentation, i.e. if I need report X in format Y every month on day Z, I can run a script to produce it instead of running SQL data pull + import + Excel macros and it’s documented in one place.

      Python can do lot of the same things as SQL; but in my (new) world it’s all Python and R and SQL is more incidental.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        We do everything using SQL. So I’m trying to learn it for the (potential) next job since I see it in every ad now. So I’m learning all of the functions but am not sure specifically what another company would use it for. Also, what programs does it interface with?

        I’ve been doing what you mention here and getting so much general responses that talk about it in general terms. I learned SQL by being put in difficult real situations; I can’t do that with python because we don’t use it.

        So can I ask you specifically, when you say do that reporting in python…how is the data getting into it. I’m doing a course and I don’t see a “set up API” module. Do you need to upload the data into python? Or does it create an automatic connect to python or whatever customer platform you use?

        Also SQL does processes/repeat reports too, are you saying that when I get there, that will be easier in python?

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I can’t see how python would be easier for reports with a SQL data source than SSRS would be, unless you have more experience in python than SQL/SQL Server Reporting Services, so I’d say I disagree with the poster who mentioned that example. I mean, I believe them that they’re doing it and find it useful, but if you’re already an advanced SQL person and familiar with SSRS, there’s no need to learn python or any other programming language to accomplish scheduled reports.

          1. Up and coming data nerd*

            Yeah, for Corporate Reasons, SSRS wasn’t offered as a solution to my reporting issues at the time. It was… not a great situation.

        2. Up and coming data nerd*

          The data was getting uploaded into Python and worked on there – it was a static data set so I didn’t need a live database connection. Python can connect to a live db, however. This is not something I had to do personally, so I’ll defer to others who’ve done it, but (theoretically) it seems pretty straightforward with the right libraries installed.

          In terms of which is easier, I think it’ll come down to preference and what’s available. In my case, for Corporate Reasons, I had access to run SQL queries but no server space or ability to set up automated jobs. The (broken) solution was pull the data then do a bunch of other stuff outside of the SQL environment to get to a final product. Rerunning the data was painful because of all the other steps. Python would have allowed me to automate better than the options I was presented with at the time (which were pull data via SQL, drop it into Excel or Access, then macro and/or VBA into the final output). Python can do it as a one stop shop, but so can other tools.

          To echo what you said about learning SQL, I needed real, practical tasks to learn Python and have it click. YMMV, but I created projects for myself to wrap my arms around it – courses without that “ok, now go solve this problem” element didn’t work for me.

          Re: what companies use Python for – whatever problem they want to solve with it. That answer from my tech pals *really* annoyed me for a long time, but it finally clicked – it’s just another tool to get tasks done. Could be data, could be automation, etc., and I’d assume the technical environment would matter too. (e.g., if the existing code is in C++, you’re probably not using Python. I’m out of my wheelhouse when we start talking tech stack so that may not be a great example.)

          Hopefully some of this helps!

    4. Alex*

      We use a lot of python in my work. It has two applications for us–one is an automated process for making changes in some documents, and another is web-based, processing user input.

      Python is pretty easy to learn and has quite a lot of flexibility so I think that is why it is currently a popular language to use for all kinds of things.

    5. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m a bioinformatician who uses Python a lot. It’s a great scripting language. It’s lightweight when you want it to be, which also makes it easy to learn. And it’s got a huge community behind it, such that it’s got libraries that will get you most of the way to doing just about any task you could ever want to do on a computer. If you’re more into rapid prototyping than writing enterprise-grade software, it’s very hard to beat Python.

      I use SQL only when I need to subset our ginormous data repository into a smallish intermediate table. Otherwise, if I’m gathering, cleaning, and/or processing data from “in the wild”, all of that happens in Python. Once it’s cleaned up into a nice data table, it goes into R for exploratory analysis and visualization. (Python can do that too, of course. But I’m comfortable with R, and I am a long-time power user of R’s ggplot2, so I never got around to doing more than some casual poking-at of the Python equivalents.)

    6. Parakeet*

      It’s widely used for scripting in cybersecurity. It’s also used a lot in data analysis and visualization, and scientific computing. Reddit was written in python. Django, the web framework, is python-based.

    7. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Python has some plug-ins that are really useful for machine learning – both large language model stuff and image processing. That’s part of the reason that it’s popular in data science too.

  16. Busy Middle Manager*

    Anyone else passively or actively job hunting and seeing no listings or not having luck? Or are you having luck? I thought I’d look and there is almost nothing. And what there is looks like alot of repeats of potentially the same job, or it seems like everyone just wants to hire someone miles ahead of all of their existing staff. Seeing lots of “know every coding language but be junior” type ads.

    BTW I’m wondering if the above explains some of the rage bait type articles I see online about “I’ve been at this job for X years and they just hired a new person making $10K more than me!” IME the majority people in white collar roles only know excel, so it would make sense it pay more if someone is bringing a bunch of other technical skills with them

    But I am wondering realistically how one can be using SQL, R, python, Tableau, and Power BI all in one job, for example, using one ad I saw. Surely you’d pick either Tableau or Power BI for reporting and pick either python or SQL for analysis.

    1. Generic Name*

      As for your middle paragraph, it’s entirely possible for someone with a certain skill set who has worked for a company for a long time be paid less than market rate for that skill set. A lot of places’ typical annual raises have not kept up with inflation or rising wages. If someone isn’t actively looking and/or isn’t in a state with wage transparency, it’s not always easy to know if you could get paid more by getting another job, so the only way you know is by hearing what new hires make through the grapevine. I didn’t have that exact experience, but when I switched jobs a few months ago, I got $35,000 more than I was paid at the company I was at for over 10 years.

      1. Piscera*

        Looking back, I wonder if that was the case with my career. In my field and in big firms, some people had kept their jobs even with limited skill sets. I could believe that some firms didn’t even interview me because my greater skill set and being worth more money, would have made their long-timers upset and feeling threatened.

    2. Anax*

      Knowing both Python and SQL can be reasonable, depending on what you’re doing – say, using Python to process files before uploading them to a database.

      This being said, yeah, IT/coder jobs are pretty sparse right now from what I’ve seen. It may be partially just that it’s Q4 – when I was job hunting in 2018/2019, I got a ton of interviews as soon as January began.

    3. Lemon Chiffon*

      Passive because I am 8 months pregnant, and actively searching sounds like a whole mess right now (active searching may happen in a few months, though, if the thought of going back to work makes me panic).

      There are a lot of fake jobs right now. Lots for less, decent salary for one job that looks like it used to be three, and a ton of “requires XYZ degree/certification” for less than I am currently making. It’s disheartening, so I have stepped back for now.

      Good luck!

    4. Up and coming data nerd*

      Antecdata isn’t data, but in my prior company, we used Tableau and PowerBI in the same space. They housed different data/dashboards for different audiences, but the same data team did development and worked with the back end databases – I saw a lot of SQL from the devs.

      YMMV, of course – but I’m guessing folks are posting their wish lists, which may not be what they actually hire.

    5. Qwerty*

      Totally realistic for a data team to have items in all those languages/tools.

      Python and SQL are not the same. One is a programming language and the other is a database query language. It is really common for Python code to use SQL queries or stored procs to access the database. Between this and the above post, it might be helpful to study the fundamentals and basics of Python before trying to use it.

      It is really normal for companies to have stuff in two competing tech stacks. It could mean that they are doing a slow switch from A to B, have a legacy system in A that isn’t worth porting over, different departments have different needs so they support both, or any number of things.

      What kind of jobs are you looking for? I’m confused why you think a company hiring someone to work with several data tools would be staffed by employees who only know Excel.

      If you are seeing a lot of duplicates, there’s a good chance they are promoted posts. Last time I looked LinkedIn loved to show me the same handful of promoted ads in every page of every search. Or there are external recruitment agencies that are reposting the main site (not necessarily with permission of the hiring company). Its a weird time of year for hiring and can be hit or miss. I know we filled all of our tech postings in early December due to a rush of qualified candidates – regardless of if the posting had been open for a week or a few months.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        “I’m confused why you think a company hiring someone to work with several data tools would be staffed by employees who only know Excel.”

        – I certainly don’t think this is correct I’m saying it’s been my experience job hopping in corporate America that a small # of people actually know the programs I mentioned. So I get all nervous applying for a job and then go to an interview and find out only one of of twenty people knows that program, I’m not making a judgment call

        I am starting to look around for other data analysis type jobs. We only use SQL (for 90% of stuff) because it basically does everything we need. Now I’m seeing python in every ad, so I was asking what SPECIFICALLY it is used for. I cannot read or watch one more fluff piece that says “it is great for analysis!” I got a book but it goes from o to 100 and so I went to an online course that covered the basic instead.

        All that said, since you use both, how do you connect SQL and python. My problem with all of the courses is that they use fake data. I am not seeing how to actually connect python to any real world program

        1. Qwerty*

          How about taking the fake data from your course and putting it into a local database? Courses are usually trying to minimize the external dependencies, so that you are focused on just the one topic and fighting with the environment. Or find one of the free datasets online – if there isn’t one related to your industry, grab a finance one since there are all sorts of trends to analyze there.

          I juggle languages a lot – step one is always Google (which often links to StackOverflow) because we tend to set it and forget it. Search for “connect python to SQL server” – Microsoft’s website with instructions on how to use pyodbc is a top result, so are a few StackOverflow questions with answers recommending different methods, and youtube versions if you prefer visual teaching. Google is going to be your friend.

          Check out if there are any Python related Meetup groups in your area or a Code and Coffee group (where devs bring their projects and help each other)

    6. Dancing Otter*

      Sometimes there are legacy systems in different languages/programs after a merger or acquisition. Ideally, everything will be made compatible eventually, but most reporting and analysis can’t wait for “eventually”. Especially if there are turf wars going on over whose systems and preferences take priority delaying conversion.
      So it makes a lot of sense to me that a company could need to pull data from multiple systems and feed it to multiple reporting tools, none of which will talk to each other directly.
      I remember a place where accounts payable data had to go into the fixed asset system via *spreadsheet*. The controller, bless his heart, thought he could sign a contract for a new accounting/purchasing/budgeting/FA suite in July and use it for the coming calendar year. (Even the sales rep was temporarily speechless.) So why put money into improving what they had?
      Legacy systems, they’re everywhere.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      No.advice but that sounds lltò me like a company that grew by acquisitions — and hasn’t integrated the groups yet.

  17. Bebe*

    I’m at my wits end with a challenging superior. How can you deal with someone who “kicks the can down the road” to avoid doing work themselves knowing nothing will change? 
    Eric, the head of data analytics, is not good at his job. All teams from across the organization are waiting on him to integrate the data sources and fix/create automated reports. Unfortunately Eric is disorganized, a poor communicator, and lacks the skills he needs at his level, but the one thing he is good at is deflecting blame away from him and creating more work for everyone else. Oh yeah, he frequently gets a bad attitude with people too. Into 2024 he’s supposed to have OKRs to get these reports (mine is allegedly in the #3 spot) done…but in the entire time I’ve been at this company (just under a year), no one is holding him accountable and aren’t questioning his lack of organization, prioritization, etc. 

    I’ve accepted that even with these OKRs in place, nothing is going to change. I’ve been trying to work with him on something for the past 9 months, and he’ll give me a direction of what he needs, then when I give him what he asked for, he’ll point me in a completely new direction. I’ll ask him if something is set up correctly: Eric: “seems like it is”. Me: “is it correctly tying X to Y? I want to be 100% sure before I proceed” Eric: “I don’t know what other confidence you need from me”. Or I file a ticket with written instructions and goals of things we’ve discussed and his response will be “what do you want my team to do?”

    It’s almost comical at this point, he’s like a workplace troll! No matter how much I ask him what he needs or communicate to him, he’s going to deflect back onto me or avoid answering questions.

    What can I do at this point? How do I respond to “what do you need my team to do?” in the ticket? I could try to passive aggressively troll him back? “Hi Eric, I need you to do the above, thanks!” “Hi Eric, I need you to complete the report. Let me know what specific questions you are confused about!”. 

    I’ve already asked for as much clarification as I can, I’ve documented everything, I’ve looped my immediate manager in on this (although I don’t know if he’s bringing it to his and Eric’s boss, who is the same person). I met with my boss and Eric last week to go over the report I need from him, and even my boss was getting frustrated with Eric’s attitude and his lack of clarity.

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      oh, my field! So I am getting popcorn ready.

      IME there is usually a low level person behind every Eric that keeps the place running and ends up doing the actual work. Does your company not have one?

      If not you need to escalate (is there someone to escalate to?).

      Yeah I do think many people rose above their level of competency during the past few years, and hopefully they’re going to be the first to go during the layoffs happening. Maybe have another meeting with your boss about it? Get a coworker on your side and have a 3-4 person meeting?

      they may push back and say it’s a “personality” conflict, so bring examples. But I do believe you; reports are the easiest part of data IMO (unless you want some complicated report where you need to create data vs. report on existing data, in which case it’s more about designing a process to run than pulling information?)?

      Either way, if he is a director, he should have a framework to create processes in your software in his head.

      FWIW I work parallel to one like this and it’s just amazing. Unfortunately someone always steps in and does the technical stuff for him so it never comes to a head. But I have the most mind numbing conversations with him. You’d think it would be easier to learn the job than to talk around it, at a certain point. The killer for me is his linkedin is smoke and mirrors and paints him as the leader of a huge team and he is expert in every program. It’s the most insane out of touch linkedin I have ever seen. I hope our mutual boss pushes back at some point. It’s frustrating working in data where things should be black/white or yes/no possible/not possible, and having to deal with so much wishy washy nonsense. I also wish people would stop rescuing him. If he lied about being able to do something, just let him fail at it. Why is everyone stepping in to save him? I don’t get it.

    2. Lurker*

      I don’t know what you’ve already said to your immediate manager, but it might be worth having a private 1-1 with them to lay out this whole situation and your problems, and ask if they have any suggestions for how to solve the problem.

      1. Bebe*

        Yep, I’ve chatted about it with my boss and he’s updated on everything. He’s also waiting on a lot from Eric as well.

  18. Anon-emoji*

    My company has diversity groups for employees, which are initiated by staff to support those experiencing similar situations. The groups can be based on race, religion, situation (parents or caretakers), etc. Recently my grandboss asked me to essentially launch a group for the “thing” we both have in common. I have literally no desire to lead such a group. I wouldn’t mind participating in it, but it’s not something that I want to be responsible.

    She did say no pressure and to think about it. Part of me is hoping it just never comes up again, but I’m not sure I can or should rely on that. Should I tell her I don’t want to do it (and how would I gently do that?!) or should I suck it up and just deal with it?

    1. RagingADHD*

      I’ve thought about it, and launching and running a group like that isn’t something I could do justice to with everything else I have going on right now. If someone else were to head it up, I’d happily participate, though!

      She asked you because she doesn’t want to run it, either.

    2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Wait until she asks again, and then say ‘I thought about it, but with what is going on at work/in my life right now, while I’m interested in being a part of the group, I’m not interested in leading a group at the moment.’ If you feel like you may need more info on why you aren’t interested in being a leader you could talk to other leaders to get a feel for the additional workload (or perhaps you’ve already witnessed it) and mention something like ‘Teresa said that for her group she has to spend 15 hours additional time outside of work per month to coordinate the meetings, which is not something I’m willing to commit at this time.”

    3. Qwerty*

      Just tell her that you aren’t interested in running a group. Give it a couple days break after the original talk with your grandboss so that you’ve had time to think it over (or give the appearance of giving it thought). Don’t hide and hope the conversation doesn’t come up.

      If you want to join said group – “While I would like to participant in a group for XYZ, I’m not up for running it. Thanks for thinking of me!”

      If you are ambivalent about evening joining – “I don’t really feel a need to be part of an XYZ group right now so I’m not the person to create it. Thanks for thinking of me!”

      Take your boss at her word that there is no pressure. She thought you might like the group and probably thought you’d appreciate being asked. There’s a variety of potential reasons, but they aren’t really important. Leaders are often trying to give opportunities to people on their team (as they should be) but not every opportunity is the right fit.

  19. Casey*

    What should I tell my boss when he asks if I want his role one day? I’m on the lower level of management (“team lead”) and he asked yesterday what my long-term goals are and said that he’s not leaving soon but he wants to think ahead. Thing is, the place we work is one of those notoriously draining industries where 60 hour weeks are expected and I’ve vowed to get out of here in 2 years when my stock vests. For now I said that I want to focus on improving my technical skills in my current role, but I know it’ll come up again.

    1. Qwerty*

      I’m happy in my current role and see myself spending the next few years growing within it.

      If there are specific techinical skills you want to work on, name them. Your boss is probably trying to figure out your goals for 2024. If you have a desire to move higher in management, then he’s likely willing to start training you now but if you have a desire to develop any other skills he’ll likely be open to that too.

    2. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      They may be working on succession planning. It’s fine for you to say that you are focusing on your current role and don’t have long term goals yet.

  20. Butter*

    I have an older coworker who, after a personal issue, has severely declined mentally and is forgetting things that a year ago weren’t nearly as challenging. Or to put it another way, before it wasn’t much of a problem leaving them alone for a few minutes to run to the bathroom or whatever. But now, you can’t leave them a lone for a second.

    I work with the public and it’s making our jobs extremely difficult, especially being short staffed. Everyone is the department is getting frustrated. (not at the coworker, we get it, just at the situation.) Our boss seems sorta aware of the problem but also is uh, hands off.

    I’m wondering, what, if anything, I can do about my coworkers situation. I’m senior but not anyone’s boss. And I don’t mean to sound like an ass, but frankly, it’s not going to get better. They need to be given non-public duties but the boss refuses. Going to the grandboss (director of this whole place) or HR seems extreme. And of course, I don’t want the coworker fired. Do I just let it go?

    1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Is coworker aware they have a problem, or their family/outside of work support system? As in, are they getting the medical assistance they made need? I knew of a person that got early onset dementia and I don’t think anyone told him that they were noticing this until it was too late (as in he had to leave the workforce). Maybe they can ask their medical provider for a letter requesting an accommodation to be moved to the non-public duties? (HR people, check me on whether this is actually a thing, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be?). I think Boss should sit down and talk about what has been seen at work giving examples, but if they won’t and you think co-worker won’t get mad (some people who are declining may) you could bring it up to them.

    2. Ouch.*

      When you say you can’t leave him aline, do you mean he is a danger to himself or others? If so, that’s likely an issue outside of work too, and very alarming. Can someone speak to his family to make sure he has help? Or — last resort — can someone speak to Adult Protective Services anonymously for advice?

      1. Observer*

        Or — last resort — can someone speak to Adult Protective Services anonymously for advice?

        No. No one in the workplace has the standing to get them involved, and they can’t just dispense generic advice. And it takes a lot for them to get involved, for obvious reasons.

    3. Elsewise*

      What happens if you leave them alone? Does it impact the work, or are they in physical danger in some way? Because there’s always the option to decide that you don’t have the capacity to monitor them to the extent you need to and let the problems hit your boss until they decide to handle it. But if it’s something where that would put your coworker’s safety at risk, that’s a completely different situation.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes does it impact the work? If yes, treat it like you would any other workplace problem and try to take the age or possible health issues out of it.

        1. Rachel*

          The OP can’t leave their co-worker alone. That is unsustainable, period. And obviously tremendously impacts the OP’s ability to work.

          This is a very serious problem and needs to be treated as such immediately. This soft pedal stuff is not appropriate here.

    4. Rachel*

      Document the specific problems you see and take it as far up as it needs to go.

      It is possible to feel very badly for someone who is experiencing mental decline and also not put yourself in the position to be their caregiver at work. Not being able to leave somebody alone to use the restroom makes you a caregiver.

      It is not okay to work when you are experiencing mental decline. It is not compassionate to the person experiencing the problem or anybody they come in contact with to keep them in that role.

    5. Cordelia*

      this is a sad situation and you are being very understanding. I think you need to tell someone though, maybe you give your boss one more chance and then go to either HR or the grandboss, depending on how your place works. Be very factual and “emotionless”, explain what isn’t getting done and what is going wrong, give specific examples. The situation is unsustainable, unfortunately.

    6. Observer*

      Going to the grandboss (director of this whole place) or HR seems extreme.


      If you have stayed with the facts here and not exaggerating, then you have a situation that is unsustainable and affecting everyone. You’ve taken the obvious first step, so taking the next step is not extreme at all.

      When taking next steps I would take the tack that others are recommending. Don’t get into the specifics of the health issues, just that he’s forgetful and seems to be having cognitive issues that means that x, y and z work related issues are happening. And these issues are being exacerbated by being short staffed.

      Don’t insist on a particular out come, although you can *suggest* that moving this person to a back office position might ameliorate the problem. But the bottom line is that SOMETHING needs to change.

      1. Tio*

        Yeah… If you can’t go to the boss or HR, then your only other option really would be to start leaving them alone and letting them fail at their tasks, which would force your boss’ hand. Think about what would happen if you did leave them alone. Are you talking working with the public in just a sort of “Coworker is going to embarrass us and cause more work due to missing/bad information” way, or the kind of way where you’re providing people with important needs (like social service sort of thing) and leaving them to fail would mean people wouldn’t get their core needs met? If it’s the first, you can leave them to make some mistakes and let the boss accept it’s a problem. If it’s the second, you should absolutely go to your grandboss or HR ASAP.

      2. Siege*

        I agree with Observer. This is a horrible situation that we dealt with at my office this year, though not to this extent. My boss worked with my coworker to come up with a plan to retire (she was past retirement age) and we gritted our teeth and got through it, but it’s absolutely not sustainable – not for you, not for the coworker, not for the public. If coworker’s boss won’t deal with it, you must elevate it, and with urgency.

        In my case, a lot of things were done wrong – a supposedly vetted email list that should have had 6000 people on it had 15,000 because it included an entire long-defunct project, another mailing list was supposedly freshly generated but turned out to be from 2020 (the postage on the returns was expensive), and I ended up redoing numerous documents because they were just wrong. It sounds like you may end up with more serious problems. You must elevate this.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      I think legally, if nothing else, your company can’t let this go. If the coworker can’t be left alone that’s asking for a level of supervision you aren’t trained to give.

      It’s not extreme to bring this up with the higher ups–I’d bet they aren’t aware of the extent of co-worker’s problems or the issues that can arise from them in a public facing role. It’s part of their job–an unenviable one, to be sure–that this person have their task adjusted.

  21. Still an Admin*

    Higher Ed department admins: Due to circumstances including a small department with retiring faculty, we are hiring for a new faculty member who will also be department chair. This will be my supervisor for at least 3 years. I am coming up on 15 years in this position soon under 3 chairs. The current, departing chair is the worst, though they think the opposite. I am very nervous!

    I will get my own time to talk with the candidates when they come to campus (2nd and 3rd week of January ) What do I ask, talk to them about to figure out if we can work together? I don’t get a vote but my opinion will be heavily considered.

    I have been at this university longer than anyone else in the department, barring one and I have more institutional knowledge than any other current admin. I am a good deal and I want them to know it! I will chafe at being treated as a lowly peon. I do not need micromanaging but I do need to know what my priorities should be at any given time so I want regular brief meetings with the chair. I want to know I can talk to that person when I get stuck and need help and that they will take my concerns seriously. I don’t want to hear a chair say that’s not their problem!

    I don’t want to have our convos feel like a formal interview but it seems like “Tell me about a time when…” sort of questions might be useful.

    I know there are lots of higher Ed people here. Hoping for suggestions for questions and topics, please!

    1. I mean really*

      Oh hello! I was a higher ed admin, as well. I like to ask people interviewing for management positions what their personal management style/philosophy is – this is an easy way to identify a micromanager and open up a conversation about how you prefer to be managed. You can also ask how often they like to meet with their staff – other faculty members and admins alike.

      Ask them about a time they had to handle several questions/requests at once from students, faculty and admin. How would they prioritize the requests? (I hope that they put their students first!) You could also dig a little to learn about their previous working relationships with admins (“who was your favorite admin at your previous school and why?”) so you can sniff out any entitled jerks who won’t try to figure out the copier on your day off.

      Woe to any new faculty member who disrespects the long-term admin who carries all of the institutional knowledge…I’ve seen that play over too many times.

    2. Jessica*

      How do they hope you’ll help them to succeed in their position? How do they think they could help you succeed in yours?

  22. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

    Is coworker aware they have a problem, or their family/outside of work support system? As in, are they getting the medical assistance they made need? I knew of a person that got early onset dementia and I don’t think anyone told him that they were noticing this until it was too late (as in he had to leave the workforce). Maybe they can ask their medical provider for a letter requesting an accommodation to be moved to the non-public duties? (HR people, check me on whether this is actually a thing, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be?). I think Boss should sit down and talk about what has been seen at work giving examples, but if they won’t and you think co-worker won’t get mad (some people who are declining may) you could bring it up to them.

  23. ConstantlyComic*

    I’m newly appointed to the committee that plans my organization’s annual all-staff training day. At my first meeting, we were discussing potential topics and outside speakers, and I mentioned that I’d met a former employee of the organization at a conference and he’d done a presentation on a topic that’s pretty relevant to our organization as a whole and offered to contact him and see if he would want to give the presentation at our staff training day. The problem is I seem to have lost his business card. How do I explain this to the rest of the committee? Should I wait until the next meeting to bring it up or should I send an email? If I send an email, should it be to the whole committee or just the head? Am I overthinking this? (I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that last one)

    1. CTT*

      Have you googled him to see if he has a website or Facebook page? If there is no way to find his contact info, I would email the committee to say that you aren’t able to find his contact info and ask if someone else happens to have it or if there are other speaker ideas.

    2. Awkwardness*

      Was his presentation listed in the materials of the conference?
      When I attended one both talks as well as posters were listed with topic, name and employer.

    3. Cordelia*

      can’t you find his contact details elsewhere? What about the conference info? Contact details for speakers are usually on the programme – if not, you could email the conference organisers. I’d try this before going back to your committee

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        It’s fine to email your request to the conference organisers. Just be aware that we may forward it onto the person you wish to contact instead of giving you their contact information.

        You could also try searching for the person whose card you lost via LinkedIn and contacting then that way. Folks who are on the speaker circuit often tend to have a fairly well-developed presence on social media.

    4. ConstantlyComic*

      Thank y’all for pointing out the obvious solution I’d missed! I know where the man in question works and was able to find his contact information on their website. I think I was so fixated on finding the business card that the idea of just looking him up completely slipped my mind.

  24. Anax*

    Well… no good news on my attempt to get permanent telework as a reasonable accommodation.

    (Recap, I have dysautonomia and don’t thermoregulate properly, I have major tachycardia (160+ bpm), vertigo/fainting, and heat-related illness when I work in normal office temperatures. And yes, I’ve tried everything – fans, ice packs, changing clothing, moving cubicles, etc. This is WITH those measures in place.)

    HR basically blew me off last week – asked for a bunch of details, and said they would be researching literally any accommodation other than WFH to offer because telework is an absolute last resort.

    They said they expected to get back to me by the end of the week – and they haven’t. I asked for the status yesterday afternoon, and I was told that it’s being held up by upper management and they have no ETA on an answer.

    And they’ve confirmed that everyone with a pending request for reasonable accommodation has to come in to the office twice a week until HR gets around to processing their requests. (Mine has been pending for 2.5 months and I was one of the first to file, so not much hope that will be resolved soon.)

    So… I guess I go into the office Tuesday, barring a miracle. I’m not looking forward to how sick I’m going to be.

    I had the union rep on my call last week and will call them to check on status today. Documenting all health effects and communications. I’m going to look into retaining my own lawyer if the union doesn’t have much word for me, and make state and federal EEOC complaints once actual harm has been done that I can document. Already got approval and support from my whole chain of management up to and including the CIO. And contacted my local congresspeople as sort of a hail mary.

    Fun, right? I’m… so tired. You’d think public sector jobs in California would be at least a bit less dystopian.

    1. Straight Laced Sue*

      What a horrible situation for you, I am sorry. It sounds like you’re being very resourceful in trying to solve this. Your HR are being really inconsiderate. No advice here, but huge sympathy.

      1. Anax*

        Thanks, appreciate it. I kind of have to be resourceful; I’m bringing everything I have to bear, because it’s the only way I can stay in the workforce, and I have to have a job to have health insurance.

        I’d job hunt, but there’s absolutely no guarantee that any other job wouldn’t mandate return-to-office at any time – and I probably wouldn’t have a union or a supportive chain of command at the next place. Might as well fight it out, I guess.

        The scuttlebutt says that it’s all a big political ploy to prop up downtown Sacramento real estate prices, since this mandate apparently comes direct from the governor. So that’s… cool and not a dystopian nightmare at all.

    2. WellRed*

      Keep pushing and don’t leave it too long. The union should step up fast here (I’ll give them some holiday grace here). If you don’t connect with the union this coming week, I’d look for a consultation with an employment attorney, which it sounds like you are willing to do. at this point, I’d stop dealing with HR on your own.

      1. WellRed*

        In other words, I think you are doing everything right, but am encouraging you to ramp it up. This is ridiculous!

      2. Anax*

        I’ve been trying. I got the union involved a month and a half ago, sent the local rep my paperwork and concerns. They’ve been pushing on this but haven’t made any headway, I’m told. It doesn’t help that they’re wildly overloaded – it’s a 100,000 union with around 100 employees, and a LOT of people have concerns about this RTO situation.

        I’m going to seek an employment attorney if I don’t get things settled next week, yeah. Need to double-check that it doesn’t somehow interact with my union representation in a way I don’t want.

        Pestering HR for updates has been the only thing that’s gotten even a little motion, but not enough. You’re right, probably time to lawyer up.

    3. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      If your whole chain of management approved it, can they help you with the HR part?
      I’m sorry you are going through this.

      1. Anax*

        Unfortunately, no. They tried already. Government bureaucracy; they can’t approve it, and while they might tacitly ‘not enforce’ things unless they’re forced to, that’s the extent of their power. So _maybe_ when the office heat makes me so sick that I have to leave early, I won’t have to take a whole day of sick leave for it.

  25. Frankie Bergstein*

    I am really struggling to get over a toxic workplace — the variety of toxic was toxic positivity, constant gaslighting, defense of the status quo, passivity, passing the buck, and — worst, wasting taxpayer money on meaningless research. Any advice on how to get over it?

    1. Green Goose*

      Time and space helped me. I worked at an awful private school a decade ago, stuff happened there that made me so upset that just retelling it would make my blood boil. But over time after I left I cared less and less and now I just have a few funny dinner party stories from that place but no intense emotions when I think about some of the worst incidents.
      Sending strong healing vibes your way!

    2. dude, who moved my cheese?*

      Seconding Green Goose on time and space. Will add therapy (if available, affordable, and accessible to you) and time in different jobs with reasonable environments to reset norms. Part of this is re-training your brain’s response to various scenarios, and that can take time. For example, a few meetings with a new boss before you are able to really absorb that ‘meeting with my boss’ just means ‘productive, respectful, work-focused interaction’ instead of ‘nightmare half-hour that activates my fight or flight response’

  26. Grilledcheeser*

    Interesting reactions from my manager, wondering how folks would react. So far I have just paused, said huh, and moved along. Low level issue, i just find it intriguing.

    We are project managers of teapot painting projects. Recently, my company changed the internal software we use to track progress, and the new system is twice as much work. In a meeting where we were chastised about our slowed results, a teammate said “what did you expect when you doubled our workload?”. My manager immediately responded “*I* didn’t double it!” Well, no, you did not wake up one morning with evil glee at your evil plan to cause us stress, but you are our manager, you told us to use both old & new system in parallel, which actually tripled our workload! So, yeah, “you” did this to us. “You” are the face of the company for us.

    Then in another meeting, someone was complaining about the increased workload, saying they realized they’d skipped lunch all week while trying to get caught up. Manager immediately jumped in with “well *I* haven’t had a lunch-break all week either!”. We all kind of said “ooooookaaaayyyy…. So anyway about those new spouts & the paint drips…”

    It seems like he’s taking our complaints personally which, sorry dude, but with mgr pay comes mgr responsibilities.

    Thoughts on what/why on his responses? How would you react in the moment? Again, low level issue.

    1. dude, who moved my cheese?*

      I agree with you that a primary responsibility of a good manager is to intervene and protect their staff from unreasonable workloads, expectations, etc. Obviously your manager has no interest in owning that or even supporting or empathizing with you.

      I wouldn’t do anything differently in the moment but I would change how I responded going forward. E.g. factual statements in passive voice that are focused on setting boundaries and getting you what you need. ‘Our workload has increased and I don’t have enough time to do A, B and C. C is the highest priority so I am planning to finish C, then A.’ ‘I can’t work additional hours.’ ‘The increased time to complete my work is because of the new system, specifically XYZ. Without (more staff, fewer projects, software updates to create system efficiencies) this is the level of work I can continue to accomplish.’

    2. Qwerty*

      I would start with my own actions.

      “You doubled my workload” *is* personal, so of course someone is going to take it personally. Would a manager ideally diffuse the situation? Obviously. Are most managers regular humans who were given zero training on being a manager? Also yes.

      In addition to lack of training, most front line managers have very little authority. They get orders and pressure from above and upset team members from below. Heck, its possible that your manager lost the battle over the new vs old system or the parallel work. The odds that your manager single handedly made a decision to change to a more difficult software system is incredibly low.

      So – back to you and what you can do – Change the phrasing. Compare “YOU doubled our workload” to “Supporting both the old and new system has effectively doubled our workload and limits what can be done. Ask for support – what can be deprioritized, is there anyone who can help the team, get an updated estimate on how long both old and new system need to be used, can training be arranged so the new system is less time consuming, etc.

      Be the adult in the room. Bring others along with you. Once one or two people in a meeting start whining, everyone devolves with them, especially because no one likes change. But the opposite is also true! Someone has to break out of the rut. A really good manager can change the tenor of the conversation, but an average manager will need an ally. Show your manager that you are willing to work with them and this isn’t just a group of people complaining.

      *I would have different words for your manager, but he didn’t write in and we can only control our own actions.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I would take that to mean Manager is feeling pressured from above to make these changes and is (or feels) powerless to do anything about it. And as a result, Manager doesn’t want to hear any complaints because nothing will change.

      In the moment I would probably respond as you did. In the long term I would take it on board that Manager does not have high emotional intelligence or resilience, and lets their stress spill over on the team. I’d take a step back and be a bit more formal with them as a result.

    4. Generic Name*

      In the moment, I’ve found that looking at someone who just said something out there/problematic/whatever with a look of surprise and raised eyebrows can be pretty effective. I let the moment hang in the air and then move on as if they hadn’t said anything if they don’t backtrack or explain themselves. It sounds like your boss is feeling defensive, and yes, taking things too personally. It might help the situation if you say to your boss that you’d appreciate them going to bat for you, either to change the system or change the metrics so you aren’t punished for following a new procedure.

    5. AnonRN*

      My direct manager is the definition of “middle manager” ie: there are layers of managers above her. So if a change like this happens (new software), it really *didn’t* come from her. It came from a bean-counter somewhere higher up the chain. She does sometimes express empathy (what I think your manager is trying to do but it’s not landing well), but more helpfully she says “Okay, I need more info about that…I need you to quantify how much extra time it’s taking so I can take this back to the bean-counting department.” And yeah, quantifying it is probably the last thing we want to do when we’re already extra busy, but our org is large enough that it is genuinely probable that one department doesn’t realize the impact of their request on all other departments.

      p.s., nothing against bean-counters personally, I enjoy having beans in my bank account so thank you for counting them correctly! And I enjoy having supplies when we need them for our patients etc… But bean-counting methods do not always sync up well with stat orders!

  27. Pear Blossom*

    Most people in my office are working today…cough “working”. The big boss sent out a meeting invite yesterday for today. It’s only for a few minutes and I know it’s just a “Happy New Years, stay safe, early dismissal at X time” but two of my team members have not responded, aaahhh! They haven’t responded to my numerous contact attempts and they are supposed to be in today (we’re all remote). I’m disappointed…I am laid back, I don’t micromanage. I’m clear on what days we have off versus floaters, especially at holiday time. They should have communicated directly with me if they were taking the day off last minute, no problem!

    That’s all. I know I’m going to have a serious conversation with both of them. I hope everyone else is having a less stressful work day.

    1. kalli*

      Is it normal for ‘happy new year, you may leave early’ to need a response, though? Yes, repeated failure to respond when they’re meant to be there can be an issue, but is the foundation there or does everyone know it’s fluff and they can just dial into the meeting for a couple of minutes or log in to the meeting channel etc. without you having to effectively let them in?

  28. Green Goose*

    I’ll be giving my notice after I return from a holiday which in some ways will be a relief but I’m also dreading it. My team has been understaffed for a long time so when I leave, my one remaining direct report is going to have a lot of work piled on her.
    I’ve really appreciated working with her for five years and we’ve dealt with our organization not treating us great, piling on work and not offering support. I’m struggling with what to say to her when I leave.
    I think she’ll be happy for me on a personal level but we both know that her working conditions will severely devolve after I leave. I’d like to keep it positive but saying “you’ll be fine!” Is a bit disingenuous.
    I also feel bad for her but know I’m making the right decision for myself.

    1. Jessica*

      You are, and she’s also free to go if things are bad! I think what I’d want in this case is for the departing manager NOT to blow smoke at me about how fine everything is going to be, because we both know better. But you don’t need to apologize either. At least, I might say I was sorry to be leaving at a difficult time or about the resulting pile-on of work, but the kind of sorry that’s an expression of regret/sympathy, not the kind that’s an actual apology because I think something is my fault. I hope that makes sense. It’s not your fault!
      Mainly I don’t think you have to say a lot about stuff that’s obvious to you both (leadership failure, bad working conditions, under-resourced team). Talk about specific transition stuff, and to the extent that it’s true, tell her how much you have appreciated working with her and specifically why.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      That’s such a tough conversation!
      I would say that she will always have a stellar reference from you and that if she needs any job searching advice, you’re there for her. Also make sure she knows about AAM!

      And congrats on your new job!

    3. Awkwardness*

      Does she want to leave too? Do you fear for her to be screwed over?
      Depending on how close you were, it could be everything from:
      “I really appreciated working with you. You made this insanity tolerable!” to

      “You will be hit with a lot of work. I cannot see manager looking out for you, do please be sure you have your boundaries up! I enjoyed my time with you. ” or

      “Please do not slow down your job search when this amount of workload will be transferred to you. You will get out too!”

      1. Awkwardness*

        Oh my. I re-read and she is your direct report. Of course the wording for number one should be a bit more diplomatic, but for number 2 and 3, I, as an employee, would appreciate if a manger have me heads-up that I am on a sinking ship and would nudge me in the right direction.

        1. Green Goose*

          Since I’m her manager it definitely makes it trickier. If it were a coworker I’d say the comments about being a reference and encouraging her to move on but I worry it would be unprofessional to say that to a direct report.
          We’re close colleagues but not friends so I’ve always tried to be as diplomatic as possible in the past when some serious crud was thrown our way.
          I have a suspicion that due to personal/family things she can’t move on because I don’t think she’s very happy but she continues to stay. And she’s so smart and capable and any company would be lucky to have her.

          1. Awkwardness*

            I have a lot of feelings for this problem because at some in my career a manager, who was not my direct manager, made very clear to me that it was time to move on because I had outgrown this work. I could not let go, so this bluntness was very helpful to me.

            If this does feel unprofessional to you, why not tell her something similar to what you have written here?
            “And she’s so smart and capable and any company would be lucky to have her.”
            If she does not intend to leave, it is a sincere compliment and appreciation for her work. If she is thinking about leaving and might have too low self esteem, it could be taken as encouragement. The rest is up to her.

          2. Kay*

            If anything I would say the comments that you will be a strong reference for her and encouraging her are even more appropriate as a manager. There are ways to say number 2 and 3 diplomatically, without disparaging your co-workers or actively trying to get everyone to run. Something as simple as “You have been wonderful to work with and I wish you nothing but the best, you deserve it. You are so smart and capable – no matter who you work for they would be lucky to have you. I’m happy to be a reference for you and if I can help you with anything, feel free to contact me.”

            This leaves plenty of plausible deniability should it be overheard or repeated (your next manager will be lucky to have you, I am wishing you personal success and offering to answer work questions after I leave) but if delivered in the right tone and context can convey – get out and I’ll help you do it if I can. Saying something like “I hope you don’t feel like you need to also do my job after I leave” reminds her about holding her boundaries.

          3. Jessica*

            Offering to be a reference seems even more relevant since you’re her manager! And it might convey a hint on its own.

          4. carcinization*

            Maybe this is a “different norms in different professions” thing, but I would consider it more appropriate to offer to be a reference for a direct report than for a co-worker, not less.

          5. Slartibartfast*

            Tell her she’s smart and capable and any company would be lucky to have her. Offer to be a reference if she ever decides to move on, I don’t think that’s weird or overstepping. Keep in touch casually via LinkedIn.

  29. Mynona*

    Re: in-house editing and the lack thereof, with a side of AITA

    I am a llama scholar employed by a zoo, and much of my job involves writing llama copy for different audiences and platforms. I have two problems and would appreciate your suggestions.

    First, my zoo does not employ an editor, so none of the content I and my fellow species scholars write is professionally edited. Second, colleagues in other departments review my copy, in theory, for content relevant to their roles. In practice, many of them also provide style and copy edits. If any of them were editors, I would be thrilled! But they aren’t, and they’re not even very good writers. Many of these edits weaken the text or introduce errors.

    In response, I have requested content edits. I’m not sure that my reviewers understand the difference. For specific edits, I will ask for an explanation. Often they respond, “it sounds better.” I struggle to know how to reply to such a subjective comment. When I edit someone else’s text, I always cite an actual issue, like awk or wc or wordy at a minimum.

    Since there is no editor, I generally exercise my role as author to overwrite the most egregious edits–ultimately, I have a responsibility to my reader–but it is making me unpopular with these reviewers. This is the AITA part. I genuinely don’t want to be the author who can’t take edits, and I know am not a copyeditor. But all the evidence tells me that I’m not the problem here. I also don’t have the institutional authority to fix the problem.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Jiminy Cricket*

      This sounds frustrating and also like it adds a lot of unneeded time.

      When you circulate it could you change your note to:
      “Hi, folks! Please let me know if you see any facts that need correcting or clarifying in the attached! I checked all my spelling, punctuation and grammar in Word, so no need to make text edits.” And make it an uneditable PDF so that it’s much more work to suggest text edits.

      If people push back, you could say, “Thanks! We’ve all got a lot on our plates, and none of us are professional editors, so I want to use everyone’s time wisely.”

      Alternatively, you could hire a professional copyeditor for $40-$60/hour (about 2,000 words/hour).

      1. Jiminy Cricket*

        Also, I am a professional editor, and I get text edits from my non-editor colleagues. Then I have to have conversations with them explaining why I won’t accept their erroneous edits. It’s fun!

      2. Mynona*

        Great ideas–thanks! I’ve been considering hiring a copyeditor, so I appreciate the recommendation.

      3. Mudlarker*

        Don’t say that about Word. Word is not renowned for being perfect at this. And don’t send PDFs, that’s kind of obnoxious…

        So, I do a lot of work with content and I wouldn’t know what you meant by ‘just content edits’. That doesn’t have one set meaning understood by all people. (I also cannot fathom what ‘awk’ or ‘mc’ mean either, sorry!)

        Some things to try instead:

        – Check facts with people instead of the whole article text.
        – Go through it in a call or meeting rather than giving them the draft to feed back on. It’s a hassle, but it will save you time.

        Also, try to stop feeling so attacked by this! You’re not a perfect writer, right? Maybe take a second to consider their suggestions. Honestly, this might sound like annoying advice but it really helps if you relax and stop taking it personally.

        1. Mudlarker*

          PS I will say I usually make people feel listened to, even if I reject their suggestions.

          Like I said: relax, it will help you.

          1. del*

            I am trying to respond as nicely as possible here, but just reading your suggestion to “relax” is putting my shoulders up around my ears, and I’m not the one being told to do so. I can’t imagine that it’s remotely helpful to the OP.

            PS “wc” (not mc) is word choice, and “awk” is awkward.

        2. Mynona*

          You make a really valid point about how “content edits” is almost certainly confusing people. Others have said that as well, and it’s a very useful takeaway for me.

          I don’t feel attacked by the edits at all, and I’m sorry I gave that impression. Mostly I feel bad about rejecting revisions that my colleagues spent so much time on, even if they weren’t qualified to make them, and it seems like a huge waste of everyone’s time.

          And I did laugh at the relax advice, because I’ve been called a “tryhard” by people who can’t understand my abiding passion for llamas. Llamas are the most important thing, and I can’t relax about them. : )

      4. nnn*

        I wouldn’t say you checked in Word because it’ll sound naive. Just say “I’m not looking for stylistic edits at this stage, only fact-checking.” If people send style edits anyway, you don’t need to tell them you’re not taking those, just say thanks and then ignore those since they’re not what you asked for.

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      If you’re the A, then so am I. I will only accept that kind of editing on my written work from people who are actually editors. I like Jiminy Cricket’s suggestion of asking specifically for fact-checking and circulating documents that are more difficult to edit.

      Does your “unpopularity” have the potential to cause trouble for you at work? I’d like to suggest that you’re not responsible for other people’s emotions and in practice I know it’s not politic to tick people off at work.

      1. Mynona*

        Yes and no. The editing is part of a larger picture where I am a strong performer with high expectations for quality informed by earlier work at leading zoos in my field. So my colleagues generally seem to respect my results but resent the perceived implication that their edits, etc., aren’t good enough. But I wouldn’t say my job is at risk, and I’m definitely not willing to compromise the end product to save their feelings. I just hate that it’s one or the other.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          I hear that. And I agree that if it is one or the other, the quality of the work comes first. Has anyone actually said anything? If not, you can proceed as if the resentment doesn’t exist and deal with it if and when someone speaks up.

    3. WellRed*

      I’m a reporter and editor. When someone wants to review their comments that I’m quoting, I send them over the comments (Stripped from the rest of the article) with a request for corrections or typos or clarifications to their comments only, please don’t rewrite. Nit exactly what you’ve got here but take from it what you will. Also, feel free to says “thanks” and then ignore their suggestions beyond what actually needs fixing!

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        “Thanks” is a great strategy. Odds are they won’t remember the nits that they picked when the final product comes out.

    4. TechWriterTricks*

      what you want is a review, not an edit. Ask them to review the content for factual errors or content that doesn’t make sense. You will still get some copyediting/proofreading, especially as you’ve already set up an environment where it happens, but it should come with different expectations. Also, be upfront that you have the final say (get signoff on this from your boss ahead of time if needed).

      Most of the time I’ve worked without an editor unless I’ve been the editor, but it’s standard to set an expectation of final say. It’s usually the writer because they’re closer to the material and know when changes alter the meaning, etc. I’ve worked in a few places where it was the editor and one where every review comment had to be resolved by getting the agreement of every reviewer (they often disagreed) and it was a pretty miserable environment. It often took 4-6 weeks of full time effort to clear anything for publication which wasn’t sustainable (and was really unpleasant, difficult work).

      So try rephrasing as review since that’s what you want and try to impose having decision power over adjudicating the feedback.

      Hope this helps

    5. Katy*

      I am an English teacher, and when I have students peer review essays I give them a list of questions to answer about the essay, or a checklist to go through, or some combination of the two. The idea is to get them away from thinking “I am an editor; I need to look for anything I can edit,” and into the mindset of “I am a reader checking for these specific things.” Could you create a checklist or question sheet for your reviewers? That would also give them a place to provide feedback that isn’t the document itself, so they’d be less likely to make text edits.

    6. Punkkin*

      See if you have the budget for a proofreading service. I’ve used Proofread Now a ton and found them fast and accurate. You can send your draft out to coworkers asking for “fact checking before it goes out to the proofreaders.”

    7. Redaktorin*

      Hire a good academic editor if at all possible (the Proofread Now people I’ve met have been a mix of great at blogs/fiction and bad at everything, so I’m skeptical that any would be up to the challenge of specialized text from an expert).

      If colleagues ask why, tell them that you couldn’t always tell what to do when two or more of them gave conflicting directions and you’ve realized that the level of effort they put in when they’re close-reading and copyediting your whole text is an unfair burden for you to put on them. If they still try to give copyedits, make your hired editor the heavy. “Sorry! My editor said I can’t do that because .” (You may have to pay more to have your editor supply reasons for rejecting your colleagues’ edits, but it will be worth it.)

      I would also stop writing “awk” or “wc” on their papers. These sound like people who resent your smarts and will not take even justified corrections well. Also, you are setting up the expectation that everybody gets to copyedit each other’s work with these markups.

      1. Redaktorin*

        Frankly, I would also be more cautious with these people. They’re making remarks, apparently to your face, about you being a “try-hard,” and they’re getting mad when you won’t let them insert errors into your work. They do, in fact, sound resentful enough that they might eventually try to mess with your career.

  30. Watry*

    Seeking thoughts from fellow gov types:
    I’m just thinking ahead. There is a very good chance that sometime in 2024 I will be made a manager and involved in hiring two other people for my department. I used to work for our sister agency, and two people made “Take me with you!” comments and later confirmed to me privately that they were serious. I would be happy to work with either or both of these people again; they’re lovely and very qualified. Would it be considered unethical of me to contact them when/if the positions are posted? The final decision would not be mine, if that matters.

      1. Watry*

        Normally I’d agree with you, but government ethical rules can be weird and not in line with any actual ethical system. In industry it’d be fine to say go ahead and put in, ask me any questions, but I’d be afraid here it’d be considered giving a resource to only some applicants, or unfair bias (not in the protected class sense) on my part.

        1. Zephy*

          I think the line, for me, is the offer to answer questions – that would be giving certain applicants an advantage. But just sending them the link to the publicly-available job listing would not be.

          1. another gov type*

            Sharing info about the job before it goes lives isn’t even unethical. Most agencies do this and call it “outreach.” Sometimes they can find noncompetitive candidates (certain veterans and current or former federal employees working at the same level) who are allowed to be hired without going through the public posting process.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          In my government agency, it would be fine to let potentially qualified candidates to know when a job has been posted. (We’re asked to share job postings with our contacts all the time.) However, you can’t hide the posting from others, nor can you give them an unfair advantage during the hiring process.

      1. Zephy*

        my kingdom for an edit button.

        Edit to add: As long as you wait until the jobs are indeed publicly posted to contact your former colleagues, there is no issue.

    1. Mudlarker*

      Government here, though in the UK. I would think it’s fine to share the postings with them once they’re live.

    2. Synaptically Unique*

      Since you said they confirmed to you privately, are they still in contact with you? I’ve told people who would be competitive applicants that there are positions under discussion, with the clear caveat that 1) I can’t give them a firm timeline or even know for sure if we’ll get the go-ahead, and 2) it will be a competitive process with multiple people involved in the final decision. I don’t see this as any unfair advantage. It’s more seeding the applicant pool with qualified candidates, especially if it’s a niche role or field.

    3. Former Retail Manager*

      Not sure what level of government you are in, but I am Federal. With fed positions, it’s not at all unusual to inform people that positions are open and encourage them to apply. All of the positions are on anyway. I also don’t see any issue with you answering questions for them about the position itself so they can decide if they even have any interest in applying. The reality is that all levels of govt (at least in my major metropolitan area) are struggling to find qualified, competent employees right now, so if you know folks that are, please let them know the positions are open and encourage them to apply.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Same here (fed agency) – we’re specifically asked to reach out to qualified candidates that we might know. While the jobs are publicly posted, positions in my field are relatively rare and don’t always pop up when candidates might be job searching, so if we don’t publicize by word of mouth/email/LinkedIn, we risk missing out on people who’d love to work with us.

    4. Jenna Webster*

      We’re not allowed to let people know about an open position if we’re on the hiring committee. We can have other people reach out to let people know the position is open, as long as they don’t imply we’re recommending them for it, just letting them know about it.

  31. Hypoglycemic rage*

    hi yall! i have a pretty low-stakes question but wanted to ask anyway, because i need all the help i can get.

    i am job-hunting, currently, and am applying for a bunch of different positions. mostly ones where i can work in-person and use the skills gained in libraries (adult services, a lot of customer service). i am not applying for jobs where they ask for degrees or experience i don’t have, and i do cover letters when i can (sometimes they don’t have a space for them). if anyone has any roles/job titles to search for, please let me know! i live in chicago and would prefer hybrid or in-person roles, not remote.

    anyway, lately i’ve been getting a fair amount of interviews, and usually move to the second round, which is great! but i haven’t gotten any offers.

    and a couple times have been given a rejection but then offered a role that was different than the one i applied for (i’d go through the interview process again, not offered a role on the spot). i had to turn both of them down for Reasons, but it’s happened a couple times. both of those roles are different than the ones i applied for (ie: applied and interviewed for a university registrar role but offered something more behind the scenes). it’s an honor to have been offered these positions, but they’re so different from the initial roles, i’m wondering if i should be looking into applying to those types of positions.

    i just can’t help but wonder what i am doing wrong. (this last part, i don’t mean to sound defensive, i just want to give insight.) i practice my answers to my plants – i don’t really have anyone in person i can practice with, but they’re good listeners. i try and do the PRO method with situation questions. i do not bad-mouth my last company (as much as i would like to, i just say that the role was different from the one i was hired for and it was a lot more black and white and not a good fit), answer everything to the best of my ability, try to seem nice and friendly with the people i am speaking with (i do send thank you emails), and i don’t think i’ve made any huge errors in interviews lately. i guess i should be grateful i am even getting interviews?

    anyway, if anyone has any tips, please let me know! and happy holidays. :)

    1. Zephy*

      So, you’re applying for customer-facing roles, getting interviews but no bites, and occasionally being suggested to interview for roles with fewer or no customer-facing aspects, which you are less interested in. Do I have that right? (As a person who wants to minimize my time interacting with the unwashed masses, I can’t relate, but I want to make sure I’m reading you correctly.)

      Gratitude is probably the wrong framing for much of anything job-related, with small exceptions made for thanking people for their time, and even then I wouldn’t describe that as “gratitude.” Maybe “respect” or “appreciation,” which are different. They are not interviewing you out of the kindness of their hearts, or for the fun of it. An interview is a business transaction, not a personal favor.

      I wouldn’t read too much into being offered different positions than what you applied for, necessarily. I don’t think these interviewers can see some sort of Deep Truth about you that you’re somehow blind to, or anything like that. If you’re interested in those kinds of roles, apply for them. If you aren’t, though, there are plenty of reasons those employers might have suggested you try for those roles and most of them have nothing to do with you. Worst-case, the job posting you responded to initially is bait to get applicants for the other role that they’re actually hiring for, because that role looks like hot garbage on paper so no one’s applying for it (whether that’s the case or not). Maybe the interviewers liked you but didn’t get final say on hiring decisions, or maybe they thought the hiring manager for the other role would get on well with you for some reason.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage*

        you got that right! :D i like helping people and figuring out solutions to problems. i also live in a small studio apartment and do not have the literal space to have a remote setup.

        yes, “appreciation” is much more fitting, you’re right! sorry, i was kind of typing this in a hurry. but i also try to remind myself that i am interviewing them too – which has lead me to take myself out of the running for a couple positions for various reasonings.

        anyway, i am glad there is no Deep Truth the interviewers are seeing about me or anything like that. the roles i was offered, one was behind the scenes and the other was not, so there isn’t really any common thing behind them, so i am now going to take this as “they liked my personality or something and thought i’d be a good fit” or whatever, something like that!

        1. Cj*

          I actually read your comment about being grateful for getting interviews as being grateful to God, or the universe, or whatever. not grateful to the organization.

    2. WellRed*

      Practicing with plants? Nah. If you really can’t practice with a person, try a mirror or try videoing yourself and playing it back. For the jobs that you were offered, is there a commonality to why they might be offering you something more behind the scenes? And gonna nitpick one thing you said in case you are literally saying this in interviews: don’t comment that a job was too “black and white.” That comes across strangely to me and like you have trouble following rules. It’s fine to say “not a good fit” especially if you can point to why, is “I’d really prefer to be more customer facing.”

      1. Hypoglycemic rage*

        ooo okay, i WAS saying that the role i left was “black and white” and the original role was more in-line with my previous experience. but i also said something like “and i am interested in this role because i am interested in working with people again” (since at my last role everyone on my team was in a different city so even though i was going to into the office, it was essentially remote). however…. i will NOT say that going forward, thank you so much. :)

  32. Beanie*

    Part of my job includes making sure all my organization’s Baby Llama Nurseries get their regularly scheduled deliveries of baby llama formula. So I get a lot of angry e-mails about how a delivery is running late (we have a specific service window to expect deliveries in), or one (or more) deliveries have been missed, or only half an order was received, etc. I reach out to the relationship manager at our baby llama formula supplier about any issues, and they reach out to local branches to try to straighten things out or get estimated times of arrival.

    It’s incredibly frustrating. Sometimes I’ll have to spend a few days following up for an ETA on a late delivery without ever getting an ETA. Or I’ll get confirmation that a make up delivery is going out the next day, spend the next day following up, only to find out at the end of the day that the order was never put on the delivery truck to begin with. Or I’ll keep following up on other issues and just get no response.

    It makes me feel useless (and I assume the people at the llama nurseries think I’m useless) because I have absolutely no control over any of this, and I’m constantly telling the llama nurseries that I’m still following up and waiting to hear back.

    Is there a professional way to acknowledge to the llama nurseries that the bad service is ridiculous and I’m just as frustrated as them? Or what do you guys say to customers when apologizing for something you have no control over?

    1. RagingADHD*

      People who are frustrated want to feel heard, but more importantly they want to know that their problems actually matter and action is being taken. Can you escalate the complaints to someone who has negotiating / decisionmaking input into the contracts with the vendors? At some point these late / incomplete deliveries are going to impact your baby llamas, and the decisionmaker should factor that into their decision about which vendors to use and how much to pay.

      Think about what threshold for escalation makes sense – maybe 2 issues with the same delivery, or 2-3 failed deliveries in a row, or lack of response. Then when you hit that threshold, you can include that in your acknowledgement back to the nursery.

      “Thank you for following up about your late delivery. I have contacted the vendor multiple times and am escalating this issue to the Contracts Department. Hopefully it will be resolved soon.”

      You could even poll the nurseries to get a record of impacts from the delivery issues, compile that, and send it to the decisionmaker.

      1. Tio*

        What Raging said. You’re essentially establishing KPIs for the vendors.

        Mark down each delivery that was late, missing, or otherwise mishandled. Gather the data up and show it to your manager. “In the last 6 months, Leaping Llamas Delivery Co handled 15 deliveries. 3 were late, 2 were missing, and 1 was damaged. That means they had a 40% service failure.” etc. One thing a great former boss taught me was that hard numbers like this always speak louder than things like “Leaping Llamas have a lot of late deliveries, it’s a problem.”

        You can also tell the nurseries this in less detailed ways. “Our apologies. We’ve had some issues with Leaping Llama’s services lately that have been brought to management’s attention, and their performance is being monitored. Please let us know of any similar issues, and we’ll do our best to get the issues resolved while this overall issue is being addressed.”

    2. Sally Rhubarb*

      Can you loop in your manager (if necessary) and have a conversation with the vendor about the issues?

      I’ve had to do this with one of our vendors. They kept missing deadlines and losing orders which put us behind and made for some pissed off customers. So my manager & I had a conference call with their management team and it was eye opening….how terribly incompetent they were.

      But it got them to get themselves together and now we only have issues 10% of the time instead of 85%

    3. KathyG*

      This is normal when you work in Logistics/Supply Chain Management, and one of the main reasons I got out of that line of work. YOU can personally have done everything perfectly, but if ONE other person or system makes a misstep, you’re the one that looks bad.

      I have no advice to offer, just empathy for your situation.

  33. Susan Calvin*

    I’m not sure how much sense this makes to ask here, since I’m not US based and government work is pretty much by definition country-specific, but does anyone have experience moving from private to public sector mid career? Specifically in the area of IT/digitalization?

    If so, what made it attractive to you? Are you still there, or did you go private again? Any regrets, or things you wish you knew before?

    1. Synaptically Unique*

      I went from private to public and never went back. Pros: more job protection, stable employment with regular (though usually small) pay raises, and pretty good benefits (insurance, leave) compared to what I had in the private sector. We get a decent amount of professional education benefits (licensing, certification, continuing education) and access to employee discounts that aren’t usually available through private companies. Cons: because of the job protections, way higher percentage of useless employees than I dealt with in the private sector. Lots of long-term employees (good and bad) and it’s so much work to get rid of slackers (I’ve done it) that I understand why so many managers give up. Pay is lower than many of us could get in the private sector. Not as bad as it used to be, but it’s still an issue. And bureaucracy trumps business needs. At one point we were told we needed to request new staff 3 years in advance. But we still had to justify the request. So either we already need another person and have all the data – then struggle for THREE years knowing we’re understaffed, or we make something up in case we need someone in 3 years. But once you get a position (or special budget request like new computers) approved, you are under pressure to use up the budget even if you don’t need it right then because otherwise you’re likely to lose it. It’s incredibly inefficient vs businesses where they need to keep the business healthy. My experience was that once you identified a need, you wrote it up, justified it, and they gave you the budget for it in a reasonable amount of time (i.e., NOT three years later).

      I love my job, I feel like what I do makes a real difference in the world, and I’m not going anywhere. But I understand why people go back and forth.

  34. Whatisgoingon?*

    Is anyone else getting a “forbidden” message on Indeed? Since they have been using Cloudflare I can only view one page of jobs before getting the “forbidden” message.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      This might seem like a dumb question, but are you logged in? I found the site limited what I could see if I wasn’t logged into my Indeed account.

      If you are, I’m not sure what could be causing that. Maybe report to their support team?

      1. Whatisgoingon?*

        Thank you for your response! I tried both being logged in and logged out. Went and tried everything listed on Indeed and nothing worked. Now onto contacting the support team.

  35. Chirpy*

    I don’t really have a question, just wanted to sigh because 4 of my really good coworkers put in their notice and will be gone within a week. Including my last “work friend”, so basically I have no one left to talk to and will be surrounded by passive-aggressive and/or jerk people all day long.

    I have got to get out of here.

  36. Exit Interview?*

    Any tips for an exit interview? Thrilled to be leaving for a new job (same job, better company, better pay and benefits). Leaving a small company with an owner/founder who is out of her mind. The exist interview will be with our HR (external consultant) but I would never tell her anything I didn’t want the owner to know. I intend to be very bland with my responses and say that the money/benefits at the new job were too good – anything else to add or steer clear of anything else? Thanks!

    1. econobiker*

      Say nothing specific about your new position other than you are leaving for increase in pay and better benefits. Do not even say the name of your next employer. Maybe mention going to a corporation versus sole proprietorship as a change in business environment.

      The crazy owner is going to spin it her way no matter what so do not give her any further wood for that fire…

  37. First Time Traveler*

    I’m going on my first business trip in a couple months, and its international. This isn’t my first international trip (though it is my first trip to this specific country). Any tips for the work side of this (or just travel tips in general)?

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      If you’re in the US and a US citizen, consider getting Global Entry. It gets you TSA precheck and expedited customs return – saves SO MUCH TIME.

      For business travel: try to get as clear as you can about the expectations. Is your free time actually free or are you expected to socialize with clients/coworkers? Also make sure you have specific contact info for people in the country you’re traveling to.

    2. New Door*

      – Double and triple check any visa requirements you might have to follow, both on your own and with whoever at your company is involved with business travel payments and coordination. Depending on your nationality and/or the country you’re going to, you might need a specific visa for business travel (work) that you might not need if you’re only traveling as a tourist.

      – Go for direct flights whenever possible. Go for morning departures whenever possible. Both reduce the chances you’ll deal with delays. Which you might already know from personal travel, but since companies usually don’t penny pinch as much as an individual who has to foot their own bill, doesn’t hurt to mention.

      – Assuming that there will be a big time zone difference or 8+ hours of travel: If possible, try to arrive at least 1-2 days before your work actually begins. It gives you time to adjust and recover after all the stress and work of traveling.

      – Get a covid and flu booster, and consider a good N95 mask to wear on the airplane at least (if not all through the airport or more). Getting sick while you’re traveling absolutely sucks.

      – I find it way more convenient to stick to carry on luggage, even if I wouldn’t have to worry about baggage fees. Easier to lug around everywhere. If you’re worried you won’t be able to bring enough clothes: sink laundry helps to refresh things, and a spray bottle of plain isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol does an amazing job of deodorizing clothes between washes.

      – If you use washcloths, bring one, or at least look up if they’re commonly provided at hotels in your destination country. They aren’t standard everywhere.

      – How will you keep cell phone/internet access? A virtual/e-SIM card? A rented pocket wifi device? A physical SIM card you switch into your (unlocked) phone? (That last one means doing some sort of pay-as-you-go setup with a local c mobile provider.) I don’t recommend trying to rely on public wifi.

    3. Resentful Oreos*

      This advice may seem really weird and definitely destination dependent, register your name, number and local address/contacts with your embassy/consulate. If things go wrong it skips some verification processes and speeds up contact between home, State Dept, company. I had issues years ago with nearby incidents that shut down certain communications.

      Also, if your skipping significant time zones bring a therapy light, it’s been very helpful for me.

  38. Nutella Trifle*

    Do ATS systems these days automatically disqualify you from a an opening if you list a desired salary above the intended pay for the position?

    In recent months, pretty much every job I’ve applied for online only accepts numeric characters for the question “what is your desired pay?” or “what is the minimum salary you’d accept?” I used to be able to write out a more detailed answer like “ $58,000 – $70,000” or “$65,000, but am willing to negotiate based upon available benefits.” Now most ATS systems due not allow me to list ranges, or clarify/elaborate in any way.

    Recruiters used to say “I see that you are requesting $XX,000,” we were thinking more in the range of $YY,000 – $ZZ,000, but let’s talk more about what you and I are looking for.” I’m concerned that I might not even be able to get to that point if the ATS automatically throws out candidates who list a higher salary.

    1. Zephy*

      It’s possible, but the ATS could also be set up to auto-reject candidates based on any number of things. You can’t know from the outside. It’s just one more reason to not ask the question tbh.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Put your dealbreaker number (absolute lowest you’d take under any circumstances) and then after interviewing you can always revise your ask upwards based on what you learned about the position.

  39. Blarg*

    I just started treatment for breast cancer. Doing weekly chemo for 12 weeks, then will have surgery. My work is closed this week, which was ideal, and I have had my first two treatments. My plan had been take Thurs (treatment day) and Fri off each week, and work Mon – Wed under the naive assumption Friday would be the worst day. But it seems like that may not be true. I am already, thankfully, fully remote. But much of my job is meetings — with partners, with gov agencies, etc. Everyone has been very supportive and I am not worried about my job itself.

    So how do people deal with “I dont know which days I will be able to work week to week?” I dont want to just not work for the next few months — that would be bad for my mental health and not great for finances. But I also want to meaningfully contribute and not constantly miss meetings or need to reschedule (especially when I dont know when good days will be).

    Advice? Tips? I am not super sick yet, and I am thankful, but I know it is coming.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’d suggest that you make sure that you have a “deputy” who can attend meetings if you’re not there (and possibly even if you are), and who will take good notes – particularly about any action items or questions that only you can handle. If you’re not there, at least they can move forward knowing that you’ll get back to them in a day or so. So, for example, if the meeting was normally going to be a very interactive planning kind of meeting, when the group gets to a place where your input would have been essential, they can construct the question/proposal that they would like you to consider, and then move on to other parts of the meeting that can be addressed. The question/proposal/preferred options of the rest of the group goes out as part of the minutes, and you respond to everyone with your piece of the puzzle. A sort of delayed reaction approach to having a meeting.
      This would preserve your energy for just the bits that you need to weigh in on, instead of having to be “on” for the whole meeting.

    2. Jm*

      It’s been 15 years already, but I had chemo on Wednesday, spent Thursday at home under the blanket in the recliner, and went to work on Friday ( every other week if I recall correctly). Your Monday thru Wednesday plan sounds reasonable and your employer and business contacts can just roll with it in the event you need to adjust. Good luck!

    3. Rara Avis*

      I was thinking about asking a similar question, because I received a breast cancer diagnosis yesterday. I’m in education, so we have a built-in coverage mechanism, except that I teach a niche subject and they’re not likely to find someone who can do more than babysit. But I really want to walk away for a little while and just focus in my treatment. (My diagnosis is DCIS which appears to call for surgery first and possibly radiation afterwards.) I don’t do well with uncertainty, but it sounds like that’s what you need to embrace — go with the flow, see how you feel. Internet hugs that your plan works, and that your treatment goes well.

    4. AnonRN*

      You could try asking your care team about the effects of the meds they are giving you. My mother had breast cancer (a number of years ago) and for example she found that chemo day was quite tiring (partly because she would get a big dose of benadryl which made her very tired!) and the next day wasn’t great and then a couple of days were good but the 4th day when the compazine (anti-nausea drug) wore off she would have a bad day again. I think her treatments were every other week so she could look at a 2-week cycle and sort of predict the good days. Your regimen is probably different than hers but if it’s the same drugs each time your team might be able to help you predict a bit of a pattern.

      On a more-specific work front, you also might find you do better with shorter days? Or if you can schedule meetings in the morning you can at least get through those and then if you need a 3 hour break in the afternoon at least you don’t have to move a meeting but you can do some follow-up later in the day in a more flexible way?

      1. Blarg*

        Yea, trying to concentrate things early in the day is prob wise, though one of my team members is on the west coast and the 3 hour time diff already makes me feel like I neglect her sometimes. :)

  40. Sic Transit Vir*

    I have an interview coming up, and I’m trying to think of good questions to ask to get a sense of the workplace culture. I know a lot of people in my current (small) field, so in the past I’ve always been able to find out if a place is toxic just by quietly asking around… but I’m now moving into a new field where I don’t have that same “whisper network”, so to speak.

    Do you have any go-to questions that you find particularly effective, and what are some red flags in the answers that you look out for?

    1. Elle*

      I don’t know if there are questions that will get you an honest answer. If it’s a job in an office ask where you’d be sitting. My toxic jobs didn’t have a place for me to sit on my first day. Also, looking back my most toxic jobs had red flags during the interview process-taking months to make a decision, changing interview times at the very last minute, being very late and making me wait for the interview to begin.

    2. New Door*

      This topic comes up from time to time on the website so I’ll share a few links that I’ve bookmarked—they’ll be a reply to this post and will show up once they pass through moderation.

      Might be worth doing a few keyword searches in the site too!

  41. Mimmy*

    Need a bit of a gut check.

    Last week, my supervisor and I were riding home together when her supervisor called her. The conversation seemed to involve some behind-the-scenes issues, but I couldn’t tell for sure what or who the conversation was about. I did not feel like it was something I should’ve been hearing (I only heard her side) but I got the sense that it’s something that we will eventually hear about. I lightheartedly hinted to my supervisor that I was uncomfortable hearing that conversation.

    Am I right that it was inappropriate for my supervisor to have this conversation in front of me? She did not initiate the call, but I wish she would’ve mentioned that a staff member was present. She did tell me after hanging up that she needed to talk to her supervisor and my guess is that her supervisor was going to be off the next day (as was she) for the holiday weekend.

    I don’t normally listen to music or videos or anything while commuting, but if this happens again, I may have to start!

    1. RagingADHD*

      If you couldn’t tell what it was about or who it was about, then I think your supervisor exercised good judgement in what she said out loud. The fact that someone somewhere in the department was having some kind of behind the scenes issue is hardly a secret, as that is most likely true every day of the week.

      Would you really have been more comfortable if her supervisor called her, and she said, “Oh, no, I can’t talk now, there’s a staff member here who might overhear something! I’ll call you when I get home.” That sounds a whole lot more awkward, to me.

    2. New Door*

      If your supervisor otherwise shows sound judgment, I don’t think there was anything egregious about it.

      And personally? I’d have appreciated the chance to hear about some of the behind the scenes stuff, just to have some visibility into what’s going on around me, especially if it’s something that will end up affecting me.

    3. Yoli*

      Do you all regularly ride together? If so, her needing to take calls during the commute might just be something you have to deal with. Since you couldn’t really tell what was going on, I’d let it go (and stop hinting in any case, since that can come off as passive-aggressive or messy).

    4. Qwerty*

      You don’t know what or who the conversation was about, so it doesn’t sound like you heard anything inappropriate. Sometimes in the course of doing our jobs, we learn extra things that we were not intended to. Treat it the same way as if you and your boss were looking at a document on her laptop when a Slack notification popped up with private info – politely pretend that you did not see/hear anything.

  42. pennyforum*

    I signed up last year to be a mentor for current students at my undergrad college. And then I missed the intial intro session due to a scheduling conflict. So I ended up with anxiety over the whole thing, and never arranged to meet my mentee who I’ve just ghosted.

    I got the sign up email again recently and its reminded me. Is it too late to get back in touch with my mentee? Or should I just delete the emails and treat it as a learning experience?

    1. Bon Voyage*

      Get in touch with your mentee! Undergrad is long, and one semester is not the end-all be-all. Let them know you are still interested in meeting with them or whatever the intro steps are.

      (If you’re unable to mentor, it would be a kindness to let the mentee and whomever is organizing it know so that they are able to proceed accordingly. As uni staff, I would have much rather received that email from a volunteer than have a mentor-mentee pair remain in limbo.)

      1. pennyforum*

        Yes, but it hasn’t been a semseter, its been a year.
        And while I went to this college for my undergrad my mentee was a postgrad who may have graduated by now.

        1. pennyforum*

          Also I my (bad I know) method of dealing with anything that causes me anxiety is to avoid it entirely so I wasn’t in a headspace to send an email saying I couldn’t do it.

          I know what I *should* have done and I’m beating myself up enough over it. It’s more what do I do now

            1. pennyforum*

              I mean I wasn’t planning to sign up again, as this has shown me I’m not good at it.

              I guess I was hoping for free therapy from the internet.
              Whenever I say to myself, just forget it I come up with all the reasons thats a bad idea and rude.
              Whenever I say just email the mentee, I come up with all the reasons its rude and a bad idea.

              Basically I was hoping for a clear answer to a social etiquette question, which when I think it through again, wasn’t likely to happen.

              1. WellRed*

                Ah. I guess I don’t see this as social etiquette so much as “business” etiquette if you will. If you had made contact with the mentee and then dropped the ball, I might have answered differently but you had no contact at all and it’s been a year. The mentee has ideally moved on and I don’t see any benefit for the mentee byyou contacting them. Kind of like posts here where people hear back a year later from a job application saying “ we decided not to hire you.”

                1. pennyforum*

                  Thank you, yes I was thinking of it as business etiquette which is why I asked here.
                  Thanks for chipping in on this, and helping me.

              2. Jessica*

                I think I’d feel more inclined to contact the organizer than the mentee. And I wouldn’t tell them the “truth” (i.e. the harsh denunciatory thoughts I’d be having about myself); I’d tell them something vague (maybe “family crisis”) that sounded like my excuse was better than it was, and that they don’t know you well enough to debunk, in order to apologize and make a graceful exit from the situation. The point is to (a) come out of it looking as un-bad as you can; (b) help them out by closing the loop, so they aren’t wondering if mentoring ever happened, how it went, if you’re alive, if they can assign you again in the future, etc.
                And you might find out what happened to your would-have-been mentee: already graduated so now irrelevant? reported you MIA and got a new mentor, all fine? still around and could use your help? But don’t open the door to the last possibility unless you can really do it. In fact, I might draft that email first, so if the organizer responds and says they’d still love to have you mentor that person if you’re available now, all you’ll have to do is hit Send and you won’t have the chance to build it up into a big failure drama in your mind.
                Whatever happens, next step is to walk away and forgive yourself! and I guess that should have been (c) above, that part of the point is to mentally set yourself free to move on to that step. :-)

                1. pennyforum*

                  Thanks, I wasn’t thinking of it as “looking as un-bad as I can” Its more feeling good about myself, if you know the Vorkosigan book series its the honor vs reputation thing.

                  But asking on the forum has helped me clarify my thinking and thank you for your part in that.

        2. Bon Voyage*

          Oh, that’s all helpful info.

          If you are excited to mentor this person and would be relevant to their field or career path, feel free to contact them using the information previously provided. Let them know that while you were unable to connect last year, you remain a resource for XYZ (networking values, a zoom, chat, whatever the mentoring program entailed and not more than that).

          If this was more of a generic match, or if you’re not excited to take mentoring responsibilities now, or if you reach out and don’t hear back, then it’s fine to decide that ship has sailed! Good volunteer programs account for attrition, and good student support programs try to build up a robust network. Hopefully this student received formal or informal mentoring from other folks last year, and if not, that’s realllllly not on you.

          1. pennyforum*

            Thanks. As I said below, I’d built it up in my head a bit to much and replying to the community here gave me a reason to take a step back, articulate my worries and form a plan.
            Thank you for being a part of that.

    2. OtterB*

      I might send an email to the mentee saying something like “I have realized I completely dropped the ball on this and I’m so sorry. Wishing you the best.” If you *want* to say you would be happy to have a conversation if it would still be helpful to them, you can, but you can also just let it go.

      For me, it would bother me less to have some closure this way, even if imperfect, than to leave it perpetually open as something I didn’t do. And this isn’t going to do the mentee any harm, even if it doesn’t do them any good.

      1. pennyforum*

        Yeah,yes. That sounds like the best way to phrase it.

        As I said, this has been hanging over me for a literal year, with the mentally associated anxiety so I’d built it up a bit more than needs be in my head.

        I’m much more comfortable with guidelines of what to do rather than sink or swim and even a start to a plan is a rediculous amount easier than being stuck at where do I even start.

  43. blue swayed shoes*

    More a post into the void than asking for advice…I’m feeling nervous about an upcoming raise. I just found that I’ll get one that would be effective from 2024. That’s good news…but no idea how much yet. I know that the person being paid at the next “tier” of title that I’m at now makes some $25k more…but the organization’s history leads me think that I cannot expect anything close to that…

    I know a lot of people here recommend negotiating, but I feel like it would be a lost cause. There is no transparency for how raises are decided, and my observations point to: If you’re hired from outside, you get more than if youre promoted from within. I’ve tried to figure out what a market rate is for my role but it seems to be a unique one, so I haven’t found anything conclusive.

    1. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Commiserations… I think the paying more when hiring from outside things is sadly common and reflects the real cost of the labour.

      Hopefully you have the opportunity for a meeting around the raise, or to talk to HR, and can ask how remuneration and raises are determined. It’s a fair question and only someone unreasonable would object to it.

  44. nopetopus*

    If I wanted to research a company in depth for things like org charts, investors, etc, how would one do that?

    1. Texan In Exile*

      For public companies, you can see who the top 5 highly-paid employees are in the 10K (8k?) filings on the Edgar database (SEC database in the US).

    2. econobiker*

      Business filings (like texan in exile wrote) and incorporation details on public databases (like state incorporation details) then follow the crumbs via cross referencing names on linkedin. Sometimes a plain Google search of articles etc can reveal details such as the corporate c suite folks who were at a new build facility groundbreaking ceremony or at a charity event sponsored by the company or even a press release by the company as leadership structure changed. Uncommon names are gold in following online sources to determine who is who in the inside leadership.

  45. amber*

    how do you get out of “typecasting” in your job search? when you’re trying to shift away from a specific skillset or industry?

    I’m a defense contractor working in the C# programming language almost exclusively. I want to get away from the defense industry and find something with a little more language diversity. I love studying languages and that’s what drew me to computer science to begin with!

    literally every job posting presented to me is from a defense contractor hiring for .NET programming. I know dozens of programming languages, but I have 5 years of industry experience with just C#. How do I break out of the pigeonhole every job board slots me into?

    1. New Door*

      “Every job posting presented to me…”

      That stood out—I wonder if you might want to try a different search strategy or different job boards? Maybe seeking out a company or org with a general focus on the area you want to do, then seeing what roles they have?

      General advice I’ve heard is to take on side projects, or even start personal projects, that use the skills (languages) you want to highlight. Different professional groups you can join (IRL or online for that matter)?

      1. amber*

        yeah, I know I need to search more proactively for jobs that I’d actually want. all I’ve done is put out feelers (cause I don’t plan to leave just yet) and get instantly overwhelmed by waves of job postings exactly like my current job. going company-first like you suggested could be a good strategy.

        and…yeah. side projects. man. I have a couple loose plans for exactly that purpose but I just hate doing them! i work at work, I don’t wanna come home and spend my precious free time writing widgets to show off! I want to play video gamessss.

        but yes, it is a good idea to flesh out a “portfolio” demonstrating different coding abilities. if I were really ambitious, I could go the route of writing my own website to host it. I had friends who did that but I wonder if the effort outweighs the impact of a personal website over a GitHub repository.

        1. New Door*

          Yeah I feel you on that. I admit that was mostly just advice I’ve picked up, and only some of that stuff I’ve actually done in my own field. But I 100% know that exhaustion of wading through job postings, and of taking on “side projects” because you feel like you have to not because you want to.

    2. Qwerty*

      Put different programming languages into the search bar. Be an active job searcher rather than a passive one. Or if you want to rely on the AI of the job boards, then put your other programming languages in your skills section while de-emphasizing C# so that it sees a more balanced skill set. AI is lazy and will run with anything you give it to the extreme.

  46. gimmeaname*

    Gut check request.
    In 2022 my team and a team with the same manager, (say llama brushes and llama combs), had a large turnover, leading to a bunch of new faces.
    Every year our company offers a mentor/mentee program. I didn’t know it but last year all the new folks signed up for it.

    I’m a pretty valuable member of the team but because I’m pretty experienced now my boss is finding growth areas for me and I’m finding I’m pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I’ve never been great at time management which makes having more responsibilities harder.

    My boss is aware of this, and he’s suggested that I should think about signing up for the mentoring program next year

    How do I politely say that, a) I’m neurodiverse so traditional time management end with me in a tizzy at failing knowing why I’m failing and hating it and b) I’m doing enough already that I can’t get everything done which isn’t helping my anxiety c) the thought of another thing taking up my time and coming back to a pile of work makes me want to scream.

    1. kalli*

      He’s just suggested you might consider it, you’re not actually obliged or required to do so. You don’t need to say a) and that would be oversharing/overthinking. You don’t need to reference your anxiety or feelings, because those are irrelevant. If it comes up again, as a stronger suggestion or a requirement, you can just say your workload is too much for you to consider it at this time. If you’re not getting everything done you should be raising that with your manager anyway.

      1. gimmeausername*

        Oh, he knows about the workload.
        One of the new responsiblities is representing our department in a company wide consultation on our continuous improvement strategy, my boss being one of the management reps on the panal.
        EVERY SINGLE team have said they are a person short so while they are covering day to day tasks they don’t have the capacity to step back and consider how those tasks are done.

        And I have said about workload in our 121s

        1. kalli*

          Yes, so when you say “my workload is too much for me to consider it at this time” as I suggested it shouldn’t be any surprise to him, should it?

          You absolutely do not say anything about it being due to your anxiety or neurodiversity or it wanting to make you scream. Just that you do not have the time because of the work you have to do. Since he already knows you’re busy and hasn’t taken any steps to make the time for this task, you cannot do this task. That’s it.

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

    Sort of work question but also personal and I’m not 100% sure what, if anything, I should do about a recent sexist comment directed at me… I’m the only woman in the “office” Fantasy Football league. It’s comprised of about half current and half former coworkers. I’m now in the final championship — worst case scenario is second place for me.

    The newest member, both as a coworker and member of the FF league, Aaron, is my direct opponent in the championship. He’s been a good coworker so far so I’m giving him benefit of the doubt to think he was going for a bit of light-hearted trash talk — we aren’t really a trash-talk league BTW so he might have just made an awkward mistake… anyway he posted to the FF app chat, “I’m being a gentleman and holding the door open for Curtain to win the championship.” Barf. I havn’t responded… would you? Do you think it’s worth a response? This is definitely not something to esalate at work…so I mean a response to him. Is it bad to just ignore it and let it go?

    Details that may or may not be relevant…he is not young or new to the workforce; he’s never made any other remarks like it at work; we have a good coworker relationship so far; we are about even in the org, have different jobs but must collaborate often.

    1. Ellis Chumsfanleigh*

      If it were me — and, TBH, I’m a bit of a smartass — I would respond with something like, “Ah, yes, the Dorothy Parker method of letting people through a door: Pearls before swine.”

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

        Hmmm, I like that angle … is there a good smart-ass way to get the point across that if he wouldn’t say it to or about a man, he really shouldn’t say it to a woman? Like, “yes Aaron, we all know you let Hank win in week 7 because you thought he’d be too delicate to handle the loss…kudos to you for being Frank’s knight in shining armor in week 11 too.”

        This is such a silly thing to expend energy on I realize, but it really soured my holiday to imply that I might win because he let me, rather than because I had a combo of smart strategy, understanding of statistical probability, and … TBF in sports …some blind luck.

          1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

            Or how bout: “Yup, you know it. [Aaron’s #1 football team coach] totally just said the same to [Curtain’s #1 football team coach].”

            I don’t know how FF works so I don’t know if it tracks to name coaches in this context. But I like the idea of running with the absurdity by pretending that Aaron’s comment is how football coaches/players talk to each other.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          Sounds to me like there’s a bit of insecurity or sour grapes on his part. He thinks you are going to beat him or fears you might and dislikes the fact that you have a smarter strategy and better understanding of statistical probability than him, so he’s trying to turn it around: “oh, she only beat me, ’cause I let her.” In the way a preschool child might.

          I’d find it galling too, but perhaps the best way to react is to just think, “aw, he’s really resentful of me for being better than him, isn’t he? Poor little baby doesn’t like losing.”

          And honestly, I suspect anybody else who saw what he said can see right through it too. Suggesting you will “let” one of the best players win is a pretty clear indication of trying to save face and I doubt anybody is fooled.

    2. ShinyPenny*

      Personally, I would let it go.
      I feel like this falls under the concept of how the victim of a crime should not feel obliged to “educate” the criminal if the consequences/burden/energy suck makes it just another penalty the wrong party would be paying.
      Because addressing sexism forthrightly so often backfires, as we all know.
      Instead I would have scripts prepared in case he escalates, especially if he *publicly* escalates.
      If you get backed into a corner where you look weird or look defeated if you don’t reply, I would try something like:

      Hey I’m doing you the favor of pretending you didn’t say that.
      Jim, did you really just say that?
      Yeah, you can have *that* conversation all by yourself.
      Nope, not touching that one, Jim. You’re on your own there!

      Say cheerfully, in a light tone.
      And then, change the subject. Do NOT engage. If needed, just repeat your one line script, and persist with changing the subject. Because if you accept talking about the topic further, there’s really no winning for you. It’ll be nothing but a giant “I didn’t mean it that way, you are just too sensitive” whine.
      What a tiresome hassle!

    3. fhqwhgads*

      That definitely reads like gamesmanship/joke that didn’t land well to me. I probably wouldn’t respond and would shrug it off absent anything else that would make it seem like a pattern.

    4. Ochre*

      Okay I know nothing about FF but I would probably play a little dumb and “miss” the gendered element of this comment completely. If I responded it would be in line with “my team is gonna run right through that door and spike the ball in your endzone!” (except cooler and/or funnier, sigh).

      Intentionally missing the point can be a way to 1)avoid an awkward conversation 2)let someone back away from an awkward remark 3)force them to double down if they really wanted to make that particular point because now they have to explain it 4)let jerks get away with jerky behavior by not calling them on it. To me, this sounds like an instance where #1 or #2 is the best response, then let it drop if nothing like it comes up again.

    5. Generic Name*

      I’d just ignore it. It’s a smarmy thing to say. Unless you love the type of one upping trash talk a lot of people engage in, I’d not respond at all. Yes, it’s sexist, but it isn’t harassing, and you don’t say that it made you feel uncomfortable. You’re not obligated to teach your colleague how not to be sexist, and you are also not obligated to laugh at things that aren’t funny or smooth over awkward comments.

    6. Slartibartfast*

      Treat it as meaningless trash talk. Whether or not he holds the door is irrelevant, it’s your superior football strategy that’ll walk you through the door.

    7. Awkwardness*

      I would let that go.
      While there is enough clearcut sexism out there, one can argue if opening the door is sexist or polite. I open the door for men too and consider it as simple politeness for my fellow humans.

      1. Awkwardness*

        And I really like Ochre’s suggestion.
        Try to use ANY sentence to point out the superiority of your team. A little bit of playful sass might go a long way.

  48. Where's my bonus?*

    Gut check:

    My company announced at the annual holiday party that everyone except those covered under other commission/bonus structures would be getting a bonus because we all worked so hard and the company did so well this year. Hooray!

    Except … I’m under the sales bonus structure despite not actually being on a team that can influence sales directly. Call me sales support, even though that isn’t really what I do. This is the first time in my decade+ at the company that my team has been under the sales bonus structure — we got moved into the sales bonus structure this year when some reshuffling occurred.

    For reasons that have nothing to do with my doing of my job and actually seem to be due to a miscalculation of some things on the part of some higher ups (which I know because they’ve mentioned that they thought X would happen but it didn’t work out that way), the division as a whole didn’t meet the mythical year-end target. So I get no bonus. At all.

    Our salespeople that have territories get bonuses for meeting/exceeding their goals for that territory, so they’re not left out. But those of us in sales support get absolutely nothing when our actions did not cause us not to meet the target and there is nothing we personally could have done to help meet the target.

    This is crap, right? I’m not just being salty because of no bonus?

    1. Jessica*

      So your bonus depends on someone else’s job performance. And they got a bonus (for a different part of their job) even though their performance wasn’t good enough to get you yours. Wow, it is not just you. This sucks. Can you band together with your “sales support” coworkers to point it out to management? It kind of sounds like this was an unintentional side effect of other decisions.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I would be upset as well. If you’re just being salty, then I guess I’m there with you.

    3. Anon for this*

      I would be pissed as well. That arrangement sounds fundamentally unfair as you have no direct control over the performance that leads to bonus eligibility. If the whole company has done well and everyone else who also has no such direct input to revenue is being rewarded for that, but not you, I would be very unimpressed.

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

      This is crap and you are justified in being more than salty. Is there any chance they know sales support staff wouldn’t be covered and are planning on a bonus for you anyway? Would you feel safe pointing it out to HR or payroll to see if they would include you in the bonus? If this were end-of-year coffee mugs for everyone but you, I wouldn’t throw any salt around, but a cash bonus is very different.

      1. Where's my bonus?*

        When I asked my boss about a bonus, they said they’d have to get back to me. They never did, so today I asked a coworker if they’d heard anything. My coworker told me they also asked our boss about bonuses and our boss told them our team will not get one because the division’s overall yearly targets were not met.

        Obviously I need to talk to my boss directly and confirm that next week, but my coworker seemed pretty unhappy about it too, so I don’t think they’re lying.

  49. Feeling Stuck*

    Long time lurker, first time poster! Long post incoming, but I’d appreciate any perspective on my situation

    Has anyone here who’s in the STEM fields with a heavy lab presence successfully transitioned in and out of long breaks in their career due to elder/family care? I’m mid 30s in a entry level role in a industry that I love for a couple of years, after a rough stint in grad school and a switch from another industry. Just as I feel like my career is starting to get off the ground, my early 70s parents who live across the country have had increasingly serious health care needs, most recently treatment for a malignant tumor.

    For the moment, my siblings who live closer have been able to provide the bulk of support, but that future where I move back for the next 10-20 years feels uncomfortably close.

    The few people I talked to in similar situations are either retiring early to handle care needs, staying in their role and have their family move to them or otherwise outsourcing caregiving, or transitioning completely away from the lab into administration heavy roles that are much more flexible in terms of time and WFH, but work very much against my strengths and interests for my own career.

    Is there a middle ground I’m failing to see? If I have to ramp off of a bench career, am I doomed to stay off?

    1. Cancer survivor*

      Early 70 here. I can’t address your STEM concerns but I’d surely not expect my young adult to ditch their career to move home to care for me. Be supportive from a distance and do what you can. Maybe look into what’s available local to them, but I think the new health problems are getting inside your head

    2. Grilledcheeser*

      Not lab tech, am in IT, but I had that exact break in my career for about 5 years. Interviewing afterward, I would label/discuss the break as “caring for parents” and *everyone* instantly understood, no further questions, zero issues while interviewing. So so so many of us have been there or can see it looming for us.

      One amusing (in a dark humor way) anecdote: the only interviewer to remark on it asked “so why are you now interviewing again? (Pause) oh ****! I’m so sorry!” I laughed it off & calmed them down cuz yeah, they just realized the dark reason why i was able to take a full time job now.

      Once i got hired, my new teammates all had “getting rid of Silent Generation parents’ massive piles of stuff they kept because of Depression Era childhood” stories to bond over.

    3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I’m another early 70s person, and I have had more than one cancer. I did not need any assistance beyond what my spouse provided. Any other family member hovering around would have felt intrusive and unnecessary. Your parents are relatively young, let them tell you if and when they need you to change your life to assist them.

    4. kalli*

      You have siblings – talk to them. A middle ground might be that you use your vacation time to provide respite for them, or give them some small financial support or split responsibilities with them another way. Not all caregiving is in-person – you might be the one who handles utilities or rings up doctors offices in your lunch break to organise appointments or sort out issues, you might be able to pool money to afford in-home care or similar. You may also provide a valuable service to your siblings by not being there – they can vent to you and have ‘our parents are like this’ as subtext so you can provide emotional support without them having to explain any quirks, but because you’re not there and not as involved you may be able to help with perspective, and they can talk to you differently as if you were there with them.

      Your parents may also not want to feel like they’re killing all their kids’ dreams and futures by existing and you keeping on track may help them feel more positive, especially if you can still talk to them and share some things about that part of your life with them. You can be involved that way – you might video chat with them every week or month so they can look forward to a regular event, you might even end up video chatting with them every night and ‘having a meal’ with them remotely to encourage them to eat, or reading to them, or having a watch party (some streaming services even facilitate invites for group viewings)! You don’t have to be in-person to assist with some things, and there are things you can do without impacting your career.

      I second the idea that caring responsibilities won’t necessarily hold you back, but that’s once you’re established – I’ve found competing at entry-level after taking time away for parental and medical reasons has been difficult primarily because recent graduates have more current knowledge than I am assumed to have, so if you do reduce or take time away, and you can’t visbily maintain currency by publishing or certified CPD, I would hold out as long as possible and until it’s inevitable to take the time. By then the situation may well have changed as well – providing in-home care as a child is difficult emotionally, and at advanced stages requires some training from a nurse to do things safely and properly, which is why nursing homes and aged-care retirement transition facilities exist. Your parents may end up needing more emotional investment than y’all can provide, or they may need medical care that is beyond your scope and can’t stay in their home. You don’t know, and it would be very difficult to suspend everything and pack up your life only to find that you can’t provide them the care they need, and you can’t know that now, but if it turned out you did that for no reason you could end up resenting them for that – it has to be a decision you make with as much information as possible and not just in-case or because you think you should or it’s what’s done in your culture. Staying on your career track as long as possible before deciding will end up changing how that decision looks, and provides you more insurance towards keeping your career on track.

    5. Feeling Stuck*

      Thanks for the much needed perspective and experience – I feel a lot less stuck now with everyone’s advice in hand. It helped a lot to get out of my own head and be actually helpful, rather than spiraling down into assumptions.

  50. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Assigned vs. unassigned desks. My company has been moving towards unassigned desks, so basically first come first seated, due to logistical reasons. I understand it, we actually have more people than we do have permanent desks. But I find the prospect of not having a permanent desk really bothers me. Even if I’m not in the office (I’m often not), I like the idea of a desk that is where I sit when I am in the office. A “spot”. I don’t have a problem with others sitting there when I’m not. However, I expect that I’m not going to have a “spot” going forward, and I’m not sure how to adjust to this. Note that there aren’t lockers or similar which would be assigned, at least not currently and I don’t expect that to be a thing.

    1. Rainy*

      My office did this when we were moved to a new office suite without enough offices for everyone. They planned to make us hotdesk for 6 months to “see how it goes”. It lasted 2 months. Almost all of us were miserable and even the people who thought it was “fun” found that their work was significantly impacted. We managed to finagle enough spots for people to have offices, and a reorg not long after eliminated some positions in a way that helped with office assignments.

      I also am pretty attached to where I sit, emotionally, and I don’t know if I could have hacked the hotdesking permanently. I probably would have immediately started hunting for a new job.

    2. panda*

      My office does this. We’re only in the office 2 days per week, so my company doesn’t think it makes sense to give us assigned desks. We have a program that allows us to reserve desks in advance so we know where we’ll be sitting when we go in which helps I think. In practice, most people reserve the same desks each day so they are typically sitting in the same places. I wouldn’t be surprised if people end up sitting in the same places all the time, so you may end up with a usual desk even if it’s not technically assigned to you.

  51. reject187*

    So I broke a toe over Christmas Break. I’m wearing a walking boot and need to be using a knee scooter. What all do I need to tell my boss, and when? I’m a teacher.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Remember to ask for an elevator key if your school has 2 ĺevels. Beyond that the best I can offer is a fun story that might be fun for you too.

      My now teenager was at daycare run by someone who had foot surgery.
      She turned her wheelie cart into a horse. It’s been years so I don’t really remember it all. But it involved the basket at the front supporting a horse head mask, and “reins” that she would tie to a chair when she wasn’t in it. The kids got so into the make-believe that they pet it and fed it imaginary apples.

    2. Rara Avis*

      If you need to ask for adjustments to your schedule or supervision, sooner is better. If it’s just FYI, no hurry. (Fun story: my husband was written up by a hostile administration for being late to class when he was on crutches after knee surgery. He taught in two different spaces, back to back, on opposite ends of the campus.)

    3. Hatchet*

      Is your first day back with the students? Or do you have a prep day before hand? If you have a prep day, I’d wait until that morning to tell your boss. If you go back the same day as the students, I’d send boss an email the Friday (or 2 business days) before school starts.

      Think of what accommodations you might need and ask for it at that time: key to elevator (as mentioned below), relief from duty when you’re standing, extra time to move rooms, etc. Depending on your level or schedule, it might also include someone to help walk your classes to other rooms, or switching spots or weeks for duty coverage. Also think about emergency situations and how your movement may be affected by that (such as if you’re on the second floor, you’d need someone else to escort your class outside if there’s a fire drill while you take the elevator, or would you just go down the stairs?).

    4. Nightengale*

      The kids are probably going to want to help you, by the way. I broke my arm when I was teaching jr/high school kids with behavioral disabilities and they would start fighting each other for the honor of carrying stuff for me. Their enthusiasm needed to be channeled but it was really interesting watching them rise to the occasion and they were genuinely helpful.

  52. Citric Zinger*

    I recently left a job that was a bad fit and highly crazy from Day 1…I lasted 5 months. It was 90% crazy workplace issues and 10% need to respect my own mental health. The tipping point was a change plan that eliminated my role, but not effective for another 6 months. I am keen to start at my next job asap so I can start accruing eligibility for maternity leave, as well as find a better fit!
    I was blocked from doing my job functions by the person I reported to, to the point where I’m not sure I actually achieved anything overall in that time period. I was in a role I’ve done before/I happen to be a SME in/have achieved success in for other companies in similar and higher roles. How should I go about writing dot points for my resume as I job hunt?
    (Main job duties – rostering, program coordination/delivery, safety/procedures, communication). Anyone have perspective?

    1. Rainy*

      I think I’d write your bullet points about what you were ideally supposed to be doing, indicating the scope of your responsibilities as intended rather than what you were actually able to manage with a hostile manager.

  53. WellRed*

    I just wanna say to everyone worried about anonymity etc my Glassdoor review criticizing low pay and bad management published on GD and it’s totally anon! I was so worried I mucked it up and would be identifiable in some way. Even better, a comment flagged by one user as helpful, which is the whole point. Baby steps!

Comments are closed.