open thread – January 19-20, 2024

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.

{ 1,093 comments… read them below }

  1. Excel Frustrated*

    How to refuse client request when they’re used to asking and now expect us to do admin tasks for them?

    Jane, a big client of ours, keeps asking us to pull data from our database for her, which I’ve always provided to help her out as they are a large firm. However, her request of past years’ data (for comparison with this year, I presume) is not really necessary as she can just look in her mailbox for the past email that I’ve sent her. She asks this for all (6) of our products, when again she can just look in her mailbox for the last time she asked this. Now she is asking us to pull Excel spreadsheets because she finds it hard to filter. The report she is asking for requires us to generate it and manually clean up data clients shouldn’t see. It takes about 10 minutes, not long, but it’s the fact that she wants us to present data just because she doesn’t find it easy to filter. It’s actually possible to filter, I may respond with a tutorial with screenshots how to filter in Excel for her.

    Jane is not alone, some big firms keep asking us for these small, admin tasks they should do but think we’ll just provide them if they ask because we have this data at our fingertips. We do, but it’s still extra work to cater to their whims (like how Jane wants it presented a different way to make it easy to filter). They’re used to asking and now are asking for more.

    How to manage clients’ requests? I’ve raised the issue with my managers and we’ll talk about it on Monday, but they seem to think we should accommodate and consider how our data is presented so clients find it useful.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      How much business do you get from these clients? If it’s significant, reoccurring business, it often makes sense to do these small tasks now and then to keep the client relationship happy. I think if you respond to their request with a tutorial, you’ll just piss them off.

      1. Excel Frustrated*

        Honestly, significant, so the sales manager wants to keep them happy but we’re the ones accommodating them and dealing with them when it comes to this. They don’t spend money on the products I’m overseeing but still engage so I help out. I have explained to her we don’t send out X spreadsheet as it contains Y info so she said just remove Y info, please send. My concern is she will keep asking for this in the future, as she has done for the other small task.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          A client who spends a significant amount of money gets privileges others may not. If it’s a relatively simple task, as this seems to be, it’s worth the additional work.

          If she’s asking for this stuff on a regular basis, or if there’s a pattern to her requests, you may be able to discuss with her (and the salesperson– talk to sales first) a regular cadence of work. For example, every month you’ll send Jane an updated spreadsheet. That way the report becomes a regular task rather than an ad hoc request and therefore easier to manage.

          1. Excel Frustrated*

            The thing is they are a big firm, but don’t always spend money with us. But if and when they do, they spend a lot because they need a lot. So they’re not a regular client but they are big and significant that they have potential to spend a lot. So sales manager wants to keep them happy, but there’s no guarantee they will spend a lot, so we are doing the spoonfeeding when it’s not like they already paid.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              This is all part of client development. They’re big, there’s potential for $$$, there’s a good relationship. Sometimes in a client relationship you have to do things that don’t directly generate revenue.

              If you worked for me and brought me these concerns, I would work with you to make this seem less egregious (can you do a monthly report? Can you delegate? Share?) but I would still ask you to do it in the name of client relations.

              1. Wonderer*

                If you think about how much companies spend in marketing or developing new business, this kind of steady communication is really valuable. It gives a chance to keep reminding them of how great your company is. Otherwise, maybe they’ll forget about you and start talking with a competitor that’s more friendly – and when the day comes that they need to buy something, that competitor will be their first call.

            2. My Useless 2 Cents*

              I get the frustration as individually these tasks aren’t hard and don’t take time but added together can become a significant burden to your workload. It can feel so petty to complain about but pretty soon half your day is spent on these little requests that don’t have anything to do with your actual workload. Or always seem to come when you have a big deadline you should be working on….

              Is there any way Sales Manager can take over these tasks/clean up the data being requested? If it’s Sales Manager’s job to keep them happy, then if there is any way the added work could be passed to them, that seems like the ideal solution to me. But I know ideal isn’t reality.

              1. Oh, yeah, me again*

                So, don’t think of them a a burden. Think of these chores as part of the service you contract to provide. The worktime required to do them should be factored into your pricing – and perhaps it is, However your higher-ups (whoever actually forms the contract) want to handle it -do it! Of course, if that is you, and you didn’t factor this in, make it clear there will be a extra charge for it.

                1. My Useless 2 Cents*

                  For a lot of employees out there the fee is not in their scope of work. Many don’t have a full accounting of what customer is charged and they don’t care because employee won’t get a raise now that customer is getting charged for busy work XYZ.

                  Employee is being asked to do busy work that has no bearing on their job or other duties, they are allowed to be frustrated and unhappy about it. And, yes, if that employee was me, I would complain and complain a lot. If boss wants to increase MY salary to do busy work XYZ… then I will shut up.

                2. nnn*

                  That’s not exactly a career-advancing attitude. That’s a first-on-layoff list attitude. If you don’t want to do it, have an adult conversation with your boss. If it stays part of your job and you don’t want to do it, change jobs. But to just complain and complain? Bad advice.

                3. GythaOgden*

                  Agree with nnn. I am where I am now because I showed initiative and thoughtfulness while doing one job and that directly got me another. (My hours were increased even though I’m still at the same payband and I can work from home because I am trusted to be responsive to the needs of my employer.)

                  I’ve also seen the reverse — people being reassigned from jobs because they do the bare minimum and are not responding to ad hoc requests and questions. They are found new duties more commensurate with their skills — because we’re not heartless — but when people are clearing out the deadwood they are going to look at things like this.

                  In practice, in good firms you will get recognised for it. In bad firms, it may well have to go on your CV/resume and get you your next job. I had an interview invite come through from another NHS-adjacent organisation the day I was offered my current role (which I took because bird-in-the-hand and I knew that the people I was going to work with were awesome and they have certainly delivered on that), so it was working for me, if very slowly.

                  My job is basically Team Dogsbody (maybe I should change my name to Baldrick, but it’s the smart Baldrick of the first Blackadder season rather than the dim one of the following ones), so refusing anything like this would be game over, but it is definitely seen by my boss and mentor as a stepping stone to something more.

                  Either way you win by taking initiative or going above and beyond for a customer, even if you have to move on to find the rewards for it.

        2. JSPA*

          is there someone else inside the company who would have both access and a more direct interest in keeping the client happy? They may have an easier time sucking it up.

          If not, or if your company and boss actively want you to be doing this, then doing it IS your job. Whether or not it’s the best use of your time, whether or not it’s faintly ridiculous, whether or not it’s a sign that Jane is incompetent, or pulling power moves, or whatever else.

          It’s like a skilled mechanic also taking the customer’s car through the car wash, if it’s company policy that every car coming in for mechanical work goes back to the customer washed, and that the mechanic who works on it is the person who takes it to the car wash.

      2. Antilles*

        Related question, how often do you get these requests?

        If it’s like once every few weeks, then yeah, it absolutely makes sense to do the small tasks. As annoying as it may seem for you to spend 10 minutes every month in Excel because they can’t bother to learn the “Filter” function, that’s worth doing just to keep them happy.

        If it’s frequently enough that 10 minutes per request adds up to a couple hours per month, then you still do it but find a way to add it to your bill.

        1. Excel Frustrated*

          Every few weeks when my products go out. So not every week, but regularly that Jane and other clients like her are used to spoonfeeding.

          1. kalli*

            IF they’re used to it, then it’s been part of the service they’ve received for long enough that they genuinely see it as something you offer as part of whatever service they receive from you.

            That means it’s not your unilateral decision to withdraw it – if it’s preventing you doing your work then you can bring that up, but you may be directed to keep doing it, or find a way to make it easier to do. It may not be a situation of ‘Jane doesn’t know how’, but ‘Jane is high up enough that if she did everything she wouldn’t have time for it all’ or ‘Jane is high up enough that she’s paid to see the information, not to format it’ and eventually making it easier for her will fall to someone. Meanwhile, you also need to protect your company’s data by only giving Jane’s company what they’re allowed to see, so you may as well have a process that makes it simple for Jane to get what she needs.

            It’s not the most ideal circumstance, but very few jobs have none of these issues, and very few companies can afford to pay someone just to keep and distribute data and not do anything that they can actually charge a client for.

          2. Thunder Kitten*

            From a practical standpoint, maybe try to learn some automation. If the files are similar enough in structure, excel has macros you can run to a set of steps automatically. for example, delete column Y, add a cells with text “ABC” at the top, search and replace (or copy) content, and build pivot table.

            You don’t need to code – you can just record the macro, but coding makes the scripts run faster.

      3. Jolie*

        I get both sides: your frustration and the client’s perception that it’s *easier* if you do it. I work on the creative side of media and do all my own reports/data – BUT I know so many people who find ‘computers hard,’ and love to farm out what they perceive as quick tasks.

        Is there a reason you can’t task sales with this? I once worked at a trade org that was happy to donate my time because they wanted good relations with dues-paying members. We made answering these requests a metric that would ‘count’ toward compensation and it became less of a hassle. Our sales team weren’t detail folks and never took on small tasks. They also promised the moon even though we only sold the earth, so there was that. Maybe you could look at that aspect as well? Anything for the sale is great except when you’re not in charge of delivering the ‘anything.’

    2. Rick Tq*

      How do you bill the clients who are requesting these reports today? This looks like something that could be handled by adding a monthly service charge to their bill to cover the admin time.

      Or, make preparing these kinds of reports part of your normal month-end processing so it is available upon request.

      1. WellRed*

        This is my thought. Build in a cost. The work might still be annoying but you won’t be giving it away.

    3. Tio*

      The beginning of the year is a great time to send out some additional fees. It’s not uncommon for businesses to say that “We’ve found these tasks to be very time intensive, so from now on we’ll be charging an admin fee of $X per request.” Some will stop asking, some will get mad but deal with it, some will be perfectly happy to pay it to save time.

      You could say that you no longer offer that service, but that’s usually not something businesses want to do, especially since these aren’t really HUGE asks overall.

      1. Excel Frustrated*

        They’re not time intensive actually. It’s just a lot of spoonfeeding when they can do it themselves and they’re used to asking so expect us to keep spoonfeeding them and I want to stop it.

        1. Tio*

          They don’t actually have to be all that time intensive, that’s kinda just what you say to clients sometimes.

          Clients wanting to be spoonfed is eternal, in my experience. You can either charge for it, tell them you won’t do it, or continue doing it for free. You’re not going to convince them to change through any sort of discussion or explanation, it’s already easy so if they wanted to figure out how to do it themselves they would. They don’t. You can’t control them but you can control what you offer them and I don’t think you have any options other than those three.

        2. JSPA*

          Why? Their being spoonfed, and thus completely dependent on your company, is job security for all of you.

          If they were happy with a bare-bones approach, minus the “concierge” style services, they’d be much more likely to shop around.

          It’s not your job to make everyone you deal with into a more competent employee / better person. It’s your job to keep paying clients delighted with your company.

          If you don’t like that part of your job, It might make sense to look for a different job, rather than doing something that is likely to be counter-productive for your company’s bottom line.

          If you are overworked, or not given time to concentrate, which is why it these small additional tasks rankle, then that is your actual problem.

        3. Anon for this*

          you seem a bit annoyed about the idea that Jane needs to be “spoonfed” which in itself is quite a disparaging term. you’re in a client services business and your client has requested information and support from you – why are you so angry with her? Jane probably could do it herself, but if she doesn’t have the time or inclination, and her company does a lot of business with yours, I don’t understand why you would want to piss her off by suggesting she is too lazy or stupid to do the task. just automate it at your end and think of it as relationship management.

          1. Roland*

            I agree with this take. If you’re being told to do this by your superiors, then it’s your job to do it, and the client isn’t doing anything wrong.

        4. Mockingjay*

          The person you need to talk is your manager, not the client. Before you do, be clear what the actual issue is. Is it BEC stage because this is a simple filter that any average person should be able to do? Do you feel that clients view you more as a personal assistant or don’t take you seriously rather than someone who manages complex tasks or data accurately for them? Are the number of requests truly impeding completion of your main tasks, or are these just interruptions that screw up your workflow? Is it all clients or just this one?

          There are good suggestions in this thread about billing the client or making it part of regular reporting. See if these are things your manager and/or the Sales Manager are willing to institute with the client.

          1. Lucia Pacciola*

            “The person you need to talk is your manager, not the client.”

            Why do they need to talk to anyone? Does their manager not know they’re spending 10 minutes here and there creating reports for clients? As far as I can tell, they’re getting paid fairly to do work their employer wants done.

            Not caring about client relations or client development is probably something they should keep to themselves, not bring up to their manager.

        5. samwise*

          I think the term “spoonfeeding” is suggesting not just annoyance, but at least a smidge of contempt.

          They *could* do it themselves, but it’s a time-cost for them — 1st in learning how to do the filtering and whatever other skills and knowledge they need to acquire, and 2nd in doing the ten-minute job. Which may be time that *they* don’t have. Whether it be their lack of knowledge that’s you’re scoffing at, or what you perceive as their laziness, doesn’t really matter. Is it important to your employer to provide this service to them? Sounds like the answer is “yes.”

          So I think you need to get over the feelings and focus on whether this is onerous or counterproductive to your ability to complete your other work. If it is, then that’s what you need to focus on. Lots of suggestions in the comments about how to handle it.

          And if it actually isn’t onerous or getting in the way of your work, you really really need to get over the feelings and just do it.

        6. another fed*

          Is there any way to save the reports so they can just be run on their end? I often asked my vendors for a 30 minute check-in/tutorial session annually to look over such reports so I could run it monthly/annually on my own but would get their insight on any changes that I had missed or maybe efficiencies I had missed. They found it helpful too as sometimes they could let me know what other clients were doing or see if there were needs for the next set of features.

      2. mcm*

        we do something like this! over time, our company actually created a department that’s essentially “if you want someone to manage your data for you,” and we’re explicit in our contracts about the delivery format and if they want it converted to a different format/delivered on a different schedule, etc. it is extra. For some clients over a certain threshhold, we do a little bit of that for free, but it’s very nice to have the option of saying, “would you like to hire my colleague to manage this for you?” when someone gets too used to us being a service when they are paying for a product.

        1. GythaOgden*

          I would TOTALLY be in line for a job there. It’s what I’m best at and interested in and it would make for a highly fulfilling job.

    4. TX_TRUCKER*

      As a client, I make these admin requests all the time. I “could” do it myself, but that’s why I pay them. If you are not charging for these requests, then you should start. Either charge them an hourly rate, with a minimum fee. Or charge a monthly rate that includes x minutes or hours of data edits. If you do the work for free, no tutorial will be effective in getting them to change.

      1. Excel Frustrated*

        My colleague already prepared the ask yesterday, but I haven’t given it to Jane precisely because I know if I give her a fish, I’ll have to keep feeding her in the future. I’m holding off until Monday after my meeting with managers. This is a new ask, so if I accommodate it, my team will always have to do this in the future.

        1. RowdyRed*

          I get it…she COULD do it, and you COULD send her a monthly report – but apparently, she WON’T go look for it in her email because it’s easier for her to ask when she needs it NOW.

          You are frustrated because you are doing HER work.

          I don’t have an answer…I just feel for you because I have been in the same boat.

          All I can say is some people that are in relatively high positions, shouldn’t be – and I ponder and wonder how they got where they did and why do I not have that manual.

          1. Excel Frustrated*

            Exactly!! She won’t be bothered because she thinks she can just ask us to do it! I think the sales manager knows this isn’t fair but wants to keep her client happy so it’s kind of up to my manager to stand up to sales for me, but she’s thinking maybe it has to do with the report not serving our clients. No, the issue is the client is used to us doing their work!

            1. RowdyRed*

              …And she will continue to!

              She’s gotten away with it before.

              She’s a user; they have no regard for anyone but themselves.
              She doesn’t respect you.
              She doesn’t respect YOUR workload.
              She doesn’t respect your position because she sees it as not as important as hers.

              She has a bad character flaw, and in her story, you will be the villain because you won’t spoon feed her.

              Again, sorry.
              I guess you could just pretend to have lost her email or say, “I’m sorry but I have my own workload to do. I can’t do yours, too.” Doesn’t matter if it’s ten minutes or how easy it is for you – but with that comes her retaliation, whatever that might be or if the task falls to someone else.

              But I think you might be also feeling dis-respected and not standing up for yourself cuts deep. Yes?

              1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                She’s a client. Who pays money and expects a service. If the company decides they will not do things like this, it’s up to them to communicate it. But a client asking a vendor to do something that’s honestly pretty basic is part of doing business. Yes, sometimes it sucks, and yes, she could do it herself, but ultimately she is the client.

                This would be very different if Jane were OP’s co-worker. With a co-worker relationship, you can say, “You know, instead of asking me, you should learn to do this yourself.” But with a client, there’s an expectation of service, that’s how it works. If sales wants to charge for it, great. But for such a small amount of easy work? This is where you do all that leaning in we talk about.

                1. Happy meal with extra happy*

                  Yeah, I’ve been on both sides of the equation, and currently, as a client, sometimes we ask for our providers to do relatively small tasks for free or at a discount. We’re also paying them millions of dollars of year. It’s just part of the relationship.

                2. RowdyRed*

                  Wow – lean into empathy much?

                  AS the OP stated, ” Jane… keeps asking us to pull data from our database for her, which I’ve always provided to help her out as they are a large firm. However, her request of past years’ data … is not really necessary as she can just look in her mailbox for the past email that I’ve sent her. …when again she can just look in her mailbox for the last time she asked this. Now she is asking us to pull Excel spreadsheets because she finds it hard to filter…. but it’s the fact that she wants us to present data just because she doesn’t find it easy to filter.”

                  Yes, you are correct; they are a client and therefore pays for certain services.

                  Have you never had to do someone else’s job when they were perfectly capable of doing it themselves? Lucky you.

                  BUT when it’s already been given to you…

                3. Excel Frustrated*

                  They are a client but they’re not paying for these regular services. They just sometimes buy our products. But because they are a big firm, they buy a lot, so lots of money for us. So these tasks aren’t what they are paying for, to be clear. We’re doing this in a “be super nice to the client so maybe they will decide to spend on us this year” and clients know they’re a big firm so we’ll cater to them with the hopes of them spending on us.

                4. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  The reply chain is over but @RowdyRed, yes, I absolutely have had to do work that was someone else’s job. I get asked to do that all the time. Sometimes it’s a co-worker and I can say, “I’ll send this to you now but in the future you should do X.” Just today I was asked by an annoying salesperson for a document that she can damn well find herself, and she is my colleague so I told her so (more diplomatically).

                  But when it is a client– and I work in a client-facing role and have done for many years– there’s more value in doing the (minimal) work and maintaining the client relationship. It’s a Value Add. I have also been in positions where I have said to a client, “That’s not something we’re able to do without payment.” This doesn’t sound like one of those situations. Also, honestly, clients lose emails all the time and it takes me 30 seconds to find and send them because I’m much more organized. And once I do that, the request is off my plate so it’s worth it to me.

                5. mcm*

                  I think a significant part of this situation is that it sounds like she pays money for a *product* and is expecting a service to come with it. Could be wrong, but that’s how I’m reading it.

              2. Oh, yeah, me again*

                Bad character flaw!? She’s paid for a service. If she is expecting more than she’s paid for, that’s a conversation, not a “character flaw!” Anyway, who says this is NOT part of what she is paying for? (the one who negotiated the contract with her – but it doesn’t should like that’s the complainer)

              3. Pretty as a Princess*

                Yikes on bikes, my friend. The client is asking for the data precisely because they respect the ability of the OP to provide the data. She’s asking for data combined in one sheet for comparative analysis most likely because she is slicing her day very finely, and it is far faster to ask for this than it is for her to search her archives and open up two separate spreadsheets.

                I have had clients come to me and ask for a report of burndown broken down by month. I’m absolutely not going to tell them “do it yourself from all the monthly status reports we’ve sent where we report the monthly spend and the tasks we did.” Or “our contract only requires I send you monthly reports of our spending.” I would Have Words with any of my team members if they did that to a client. It takes one of us all of three minutes to log in to our financial system and pull that report and I have goodwill from the client for being responsive. *It is absolutely part of my job responsibilities to provide my client the insight that they need to continue to understand the value of our services* even if our contract does not say “send additional excel reports when requested.

                OP, if your company has decided this is a courtesy it offers for significant clients, which seems to be what the sales manager says, then that really ought to be the end of it. It’s part of your job.

                It really sounds like this woman is your BEC, to be this upset about spending 10 minutes every 3 weeks doing something that you’ve indicated is not a burden. The only reason you don’t want to do it is judgment about her. A more productive use of your time would be to talk to your boss and the sales manager and ask what a reasonable set of expectations/boundaries is for “freebie” analysis for significant clients, and to understand that these requests are in fact crucial to this client maintaining the insight and understanding about the value that your company provides to her. Your work is part of client retention and maybe if you frame it that way you will stop resenting this woman.

                1. Oh, yeah, me again*

                  What is “BEC” (I googled and got “Business email compromise” and I’m sure you didn’t Mean that, so . . . ?)

                2. Mad Harry Crewe*

                  @Oh, yeah, me again – Bitch Eating Crackers. It means you’re fed up with someone, to the point where innocuous behavior (like how someone eats their crackers) pisses you off.

                3. Oh, yeah, me again*

                  Thanks Mad Harry. You’re a doll! (I’m a Southerner, and we say that. But is “doll” is it a bad thing to say now, do you think? Dolls, after all, can be of either gender or neutral/neuter, so.. . . But definitively is a good thing. Means sweet and accommodating. Like when Sheldon Cooper asks someone to “Be a lamb . . . ” If someone is unpleasant, we call them “a pill!”)

              4. GythaOgden*

                This is a job. OP and OP’s coworkers are not enabling Jane; they’re providing a service that they’re collectively being paid for.

            2. samwise*

              But see, maybe it IS your work. As I mentioned above, it really does not matter WHY she is asking you to do the work. You are imputing a lot of reasons as to why she is asking, and there’s a lot of judging attached to these reasons too.

              None of that matters.

              1. Is it important to your employer to provide these reports/data? YES
              2. Is providing these reports/data getting in the way of you (the OP) completing your own work? YES? NO? (can’t really tell from your description)
              3. Are there other ways for your employer to provide these reports/data? MAYBE

            3. @ Work & Reading AAM*

              I get you are frustrated b/c it is annoying when people create work for you. The key to sustaining high value clients is to make their business life easier within reason. Nothing you’ve said sounds like this is a huge task and if I were your manager, I’d be concerned that you are actively “holding back” the file until you talk to me.

              You are always going to have clients that need a little extra. Hell, I built a whole career around providing that next level service she is asking for. Your best bet is to send the file, follow-up with your manager and let them hash it out with the Sales team. If management decides the want to cater to her, do it (see if you can future proof it with automation or something) or find a new job.

            4. Lucia Pacciola*

              None of that is your business. Are you getting paid fairly to do work that your employer wants done? Then you don’t need to concern yourself with other people’s jobs. Just do your job, cash your paychecks, and seek happiness outside of work.

          2. Dinwar*

            “You are frustrated because you are doing HER work.”

            This is what confuses me. OF COURSE I’m doing my client’s work. That’s literally why they hired me. They were quite open about it, both my bosses internally and my client. It’s delegation–my client has about a million things going on, and it’s literally my job to take as much of certain things off their plate as possible. That’s what they hired me to do, and if I can do it well they may hire me to do more. That’s actually one of the strategies we use to grow business and develop clients: Look for ways to handle stuff so they don’t have to.

            The later comments about the client not respecting Excel Frustrated also seem weird to me. If my client is asking me to do something for them, it’s BECAUSE they respect me. As I said below, there can be legal and fiscal implications of errors, and the client literally hired me in part to take on that liability. They know I won’t screw it up.

            Lower down you accuse the client of actual abuse. You don’t use that term, but that’s what you’re saying in fact. I’m not seeing that. A ten minute task that they ask you to do occasionally counts as Value Added Services, not abuse.

            1. skadhu*

              Yeah, OP is seeing it as Jane’s job, but I’m betting “pull data from spreadsheets” is not actually in Jane’s job description. That’s why Jane’s company hires people. Now, maybe they haven’t been paying for those services and should, or maybe the cost of your that kind of extra work is actually accounted for in those occasional big contracts that are signed with them. But whether to do the work and bill or not is on your company and its strategic decisions, not a character fault of Jane’s. And I say that as someone who has had to deal with a lot of requests from clients for work that they could have done themselves.

            2. mcm*

              I get the sense from the original question that the client is actually paying for a product, and expecting a service to come with it, which is different than paying someone to do this work. In this case, doing the work does not seem to be literally why they hired OP

              1. Lucia Pacciola*

                Because the client didn’t hire the OP. The OP’s employer hired the OP, told them to do this work, and is paying them to do this work.

                OP’s problem is that they think they know better than their own management, what work they should be paid for doing. This isn’t OP being exploited by the client. It’s not even OP being exploited by their employer. It’s OP resenting being paid to do their job, if it involves requests from people the OP thinks should just do it themselves.

                Which is a comically bad take, from OP.

            3. Oh, yeah, me again*

              Wait, are you the OP? ‘Cause you are answering from OP’s perspective (or what I think SHOULD be OP’s perspective) but sounds like a complete volte face from the Original Post!? (Spot on in this post, though.)

      2. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Yeah, as a client I’d expect to get data in a format that was useful for me rather than as what sounds like a data dump. But then the reverse of that is a) the client being clear about what that format is, and b) the servicing org doing whatever they need to to accommodate that need and charging for it accordingly. Or, if they just don’t want to do it/charge for it, then be clear that the data is only available as a data dump.

    5. Higher Ed*

      Our emails disappear after a year unless we archive them. Maybe find out if this is why and recommend a process for her to archive and/or download data as it’s received.

      1. kalli*

        Exchange can also be set to only show the last 3 months/6months (up to 2 years or all) email and that’s all it searches in the first instance also, and it’s a pain to find anything outside of that. It will disappear even if you mark it somehow (task/category/folder) etc.

        Finding anything longer ago than it’s set for can be a real pain, especially with the last round of Microsoft updates that does ‘suggested’ searches for you if it doesn’t find anything in the cached emails, so you can’t just click ‘search on server’ any more. If you know someone else actually has the data and has previously had the ability to compile it in 10 minutes, that’s the easiest and safest way to get at it without compromising it, especially if you’re on the go and not at a computer with the kind of space and processing power and exchange plan that lets you cache everything (my computer is a year old and dies at 6 months, the previous one was 18 months, and people still expect me to gather emails from 2 years ago so I know this too well).

    6. learn2fish*

      I had to request data from a department for my job and I often had to nag them for it, sometimes still didn’t get it. They changed who was handling that data and she wrote me “I’m about to make your life so much easier” and gave me direct access to the data and written step-by-step instructions for the software so I could pull it myself. Technically I shouldn’t have to, but she’s right, it’s so much quicker and easier to just pull it myself. Maybe if you framed it that way to your client. “Let me show you how to filter, it’s amazing and will save you so much time, not just with this, but with spreadsheets in general.” and “Here’s how to set up conditions on your email so this will always go to a subfolder so all the data is in place and easy to find. Plus you can do with all sorts of emails. It’s such a time-saver for me, you’ll love it!”

      1. Excel Frustrated*

        No way we are giving clients access to our database. So so far, I’m just putting up with Jane’s nagging.

        1. cosmicgorilla*

          How quickly are you responding to these requests? You want to make it “expensive” for them to get the data from you, if you aren’t allowed to flat out refuse. I don’t just mean the admin fees that people have recommended already.

          “We’ll be able to get to that next Friday.”
          “But I need the data today!”
          “I’d be happy to set up a call to show you how to filter the data yourself. But I won’t be able to provide an updated report until next Friday.”

          1. Excel Frustrated*

            I think it partly is I do respond quickly to clients. I reply to questions pretty quickly, as in usually same day. But with these tasks, I’ve been putting it off for a day or two. Jane is used to following about it actually. She has asked me for the first task on Wednesday, then the second task Thursday, and it is now Friday and as my manager wants to discuss this with the other managers on Monday, I will do respond to Jane on Monday even though both tasks are already finished.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Your conversation on Monday is a great opportunity to present the other managers with a solution, like perhaps a monthly report as I suggested above. If you want Jane to stop asking you for multiple tasks, and she keeps asking for the same types of tasks, then think of a way to make your work processes more efficient and brainstorm ways to present it to Jane (“Fewer emails! One report! No need to ask us for it, we’ll send it to you proactively.” That kind of thing.)

              Her requests are not going away. Is she annoying? Sure. Clients can be really annoying. But she is not your adversary and she’s not doing this simply to make your life harder.

          2. Lucia Pacciola*

            “How quickly are you responding to these requests? You want to make it “expensive” for them to get the data from you”

            Why on earth would OP want to do that? It’s absolutely not OP’s place to decide whether the client should be punished for making requests. It’s absolutely not OP’s place to decide whether the client’s requests are reasonable. If their employer is telling them to fulfill these requests, and is paying them fairly to do so, there is no problem here.

            No problem other than the OP having a bizarrely childish view of the situation. And that problem won’t be solved by the OP taking it out on the client.

        2. saskia*

          learn2fish is giving you advice on how to frame it to clients, not saying you should give them access to your database.

          1. Excel Frustrated*

            Which is what I meant in my original post about giving her a tutorial with screenshots to show her how she can filter so she “can do it with other Excel spreadsheets in the future!”

            1. Tio*

              Maybe you can offer it, but she probably won’t be interested. As others have said, that’s kind of just how it works. Some clients get spoonfed and I kind of agree that you’re taking this particular request kind of personally. I have done these kinds of things before, yes they’re annoying and even if we go with “she should absolutely be able to do these things” – that’s not going to be her expectation. I can almost guarantee you she does not want to be retrained to do these things herself even if she can. Most clients like this don’t, and there are a lot of them. This is something you will most likely encounter a lot in your career, so I am gently and kindly suggesting you find a way to make peace with it on your end as otherwise you’re going to burn yourself out. If you can’t, you might want to look for a different type of position.

        3. learn2fish*

          I didn’t mean give her access, I meant frame the remedial how to documenation as “here are some exciting tips that will save you time”

      2. kalli*

        They can’t do this though; the actual data source contains other clients’ information – they have to be given a cleaned spreadsheet first anyway, which someone has to do, and they may as well do it so that it’s one ask and not two.

    7. Dinwar*

      “It’s actually possible to filter, I may respond with a tutorial with screenshots how to filter in Excel for her.”

      Yeah, don’t do that. I make requests of subs for data in specific formats all the time (chemistry labs and land surveyors, for example), and if they responded with a tutorial I’d be very unhappy. I’m also on the other side–my clients routinely ask me to re-send data, or to put it in formats they prefer. If I responded with a tutorial I’d be immediately put on a PIP if not fired. My bosses would all view such an action as a sign of gross disrespect for the client. If the client requests a tutorial (which has happened), provide the data as well as the tutorial.

      There can be a lot of reasons for this request. When I do it, it’s usually liability mitigation. If I make a typo transferring your data to whatever program I’m using, it can cause significant problems down the line (read: lawsuits or millions of dollars lost). I hired you because you’re the experts with a track record for good-quality data; I trust you to handle the data better than I trust me. Besides, I hired you to take on that liability in the first place; this is part of the job. (On my part, I try to build a relationship where I work with my contractors, rather than having an authoritarian take on things–you’re the experts, after all, and you don’t have to bid on a contract from me!) When my clients do it to me, mostly they’re trying to have me build a figure or chart so they can present it to some agency. It’s part of the job; they hired us because we’re the experts in this field, and that means we’re better able to put together a clear figure that shows all the relevant data.

      As for email, you don’t know their company’s policy on email retention. Some companies require you to keep all emails, others require you to delete them after a certain time. Best to just send the data.

      If it’s routine, up your price a bit to account for the hours. I’ve had subs do that to me, and yeah, it was absolutely reasonable. I know a few estimators who routinely add a “You annoy me” increase and hide it in various line-items in the bid. Doesn’t fool anyone for an instant, but it covers you should you ever get audited. If you increase your price by 8% and they increase the work by 5%, you’re still making 3% more margin than you would have normally made.

      1. Miamited*

        If someone I pay for products told me to look in my emails for the data I needed, I would switch suppliers in a heartbeat. I’m not saying it’s fair, but I think you have a lot of options short of reminding her to look in her email, or giving her a tutorial. I think either of those things would likely make the client much less inclined to spend money with your company.

        Conversely, I also get a client that sometimes makes a big spin, but isn’t reliable for that. Big spend is not someone you personally want to cuddle. I’ve been on both sides of that equation and it’s crummy. But I think as long as your sales manager is telling you that you need to keep them happy to get that proportion of business you currently get, I would follow their lead.

        1. Dinwar*

          “But I think as long as your sales manager is telling you that you need to keep them happy to get that proportion of business you currently get, I would follow their lead.”

          Yeah, that’s the other thing that strikes me about the letter. The manager is the one who gets to make the call as to whether this extra effort is worth it or not. I’d say the sales manager is a bad person to put in that position–of course they’re going to say yes, their job is to make sales!–but if the manager says “Do this for the client” you do that for the client.

          I’ll grant that this is not always the case. In consulting one of our jobs is to tell the client “We will not do that, and if you do that you’ll go to jail until the sun goes nova.” But if you’re in a position to say that it’s usually pretty obvious.

    8. WorkerDrone*

      I realize this may be a stupid question, but…

      Other than the unfairness, why not do this? It’s annoying, sure, but lots of stuff clients ask for is annoying.

      From what I can tell from your comments, it’s a relatively quick (~10 minute) request from a large client that has spent significant money in the past and is likely to do so again in the future that comes every few weeks.

      If you don’t want this to keep happening, I think you need a clear business reason why not. If it took up time that ought to be spent on other tasks, if it was such a frequent request it was disruptive – that kind of thing. But from your post and comments it isn’t clear that there is a good* reason besides it’s just annoying to be doing her work for her.

      *Which – it is!! That actually is a very good reason to be annoyed. Just, not likely one that will fly for business purposes when you’re talking about a client.

      1. Excel Frustrated*

        The thing is we’ve always been accommodating these requests, which is why they ask for more and more. This has come up before actually but there really isn’t an answer besides we want to keep the clients happy. Now clients ask for more small tasks. My team has raised this issue but there isn’t really an answer, and now I want to bring it up again because this issue never goes away. These things do take up time and we do have our priorities and it is disruptive but Sales is interested in keeping their clients happy so it’s kind of just expected that we would add these on top of what we do unless my manager stands up for us.

        1. WellRed*

          If you haven’t already done so, document the amount of time this takes your team and bring that to your manager.

          1. Excel Frustrated*

            We have when it came to a big request, and our manager actually is all for saying no and not doing it. These are small requests and are increasing.

        2. Happy meal with extra happy*

          “there really isn’t an answer besides we want to keep the clients happy”

          That’s really the only answer that’s needed. Unless you work at an incompetent company, they’ve likely thought out the cost of your time in doing these tasks versus the profits that happy clients bring in, and the profits are larger.

          1. Excel Frustrated*

            These actually aren’t paying clients. They just have the potential to buy. However, because of their size, they can spend a lot. Sometimes they buy, sometimes they don’t. So we are doing all this even though they may not buy.

            1. Pretty as a Princess*

              They *are* clients.

              What your sales manager is trying to do is ensure they are *repeat clients*.

              But you referred to her making these requests as “nagging” so it sounds like there is really something else going on. You seem to have a very deep disrespect and dislike for this person and it would be best to channel your inner Elsa and focus on how these requests *enable* repeat business.

            2. nnn*

              Are you burned out? Is this your first client service job? First job? Something is going on because your attitude here is really strange.

              This is the way this kind of job works. Your company wants you to do this to keep a client happy so you do it. It’s just part of your job. For some reason you’re taking it personally, like she’s calling you at home on the weekend and asking you to do it in your off hours.

          2. Stead*

            Unless you work at an incompetent company, they’ve likely thought out the cost of your time in doing these tasks versus the profits that happy clients bring in, and the profits are larger.

            That should be true, but if the requests are getting more frequent, leaders may be operating with out-of-date ideas about how much time the requests are taking. An occasional update might help.

        3. Generic Name*

          I mean, that……….just sounds like consulting. I was a consultant for 15 years, and holding the client’s hand and sending them the Whatever Report for the 12th time is just part of the job. I am about to send a consultant an email asking them to link a document location on my own company’s sharepoint because I just can’t find the damn thing. They’ve sent me the link before (my last step before I email the consultant is to search my inbox for the link…), but I get so many emails for this particular project, I’m not confident I can find it even with the search function. Is it annoying? I’m sure it is, and I’ll be apologetic, but at the end of the day, it just helps the relationship to spend a few mins on a task that you are also getting paid for.

        4. WorkerDrone*

          Right, but my question is – what, specifically, IS the issue? You don’t have to spell it out for me, of course, just pointing out that this isn’t specific. You say it’s disruptive, but if you want to make a case to your boss that you shouldn’t be doing this work, you’re gonna need to be specific. Does it prevent you from doing your other work? Does it mean that the priorities end up being rushed and less polished than they need to be?

          So you’ll want to be able to say something like, “Jane has asked for this information and giving it to her means that I can’t finish the teapots project.” or, “Jane asked for this information and it means that the teapots won’t be painted as smoothly as usual.”

          Unless you can point to a specific reason that these requests shouldn’t be fulfilled, then this is one of those frustrating and annoying parts of work that you just have to deal with.

          Keeping clients happy is usually the whole point of a business. Unhappy clients means no profit means no business. Happy clients means money means a good business.

          I would very strongly caution you not to push back to the client herself, but instead to go to your manager and make a case for why this needs to be stopped. And if you either can’t make that specific case or the manage hears it but says it’s going to continue anyways, then you are in a position where you kinda have to do it, regardless of annoyance.

        5. Ellis Bell*

          This doesn’t sound like a client issue, but a workload issue. Your colleagues in other departments aren’t being collegial when you say this is extra work, and while the tasks are small they are collectively mounting up on top of what you usually do. I think your frustration with not being listened to internally is making you wonder if the client will listen instead.. but you simply can’t talk to a client like they are a new, annoying and untrained colleague. Imagine you went into a store and asked where something was and the reply was “you really need to familiarise yourself with how to figure that out yourself”. Or they were making judgements about whether you were actually going to buy anything before you’d helped them. I know it’s not your team’s customer, but it is your company’s customer. It’s not that these tasks are expected because you’ve been too accommodating, it’s just expected that your company will be accommodating to potential clients (why wouldn’t you?!). This is really more about getting recognition for how much you’re doing for another department, or revisiting how it’s done.

        6. Awkwardness*

          The thing is we’ve always been accommodating these requests, which is why they ask for more and more.

          How is the communication set up?
          In my experience sales always tends to accommodate customer’s request even if it places a huge burden on internal processes. So I would not agree that those requests always need to be catered to without discussion.

          It is not clear to me if you work in customer service or in an internal facing role and this might make a big difference how disruptive you perceive those requests. So it is important to make clear how time consuming this is, either for this special customer or all customers. Then your manager has to decide if this is worth the effort. Maybe there can be an agreement which customer gets the data how often? But if your manager thinks there should be a limit to those requests, they need to be properly communicated back through sales.

      2. Laser99*

        It’s not a stupid question at all. In my personal experience, doing a favor leads to trouble. They will keep expecting more out of you.

        1. Oh, yeah, me again*

          It’s not “a favor” when you’ve done it before and didn’t TELL them it was “a favor.” they think it is part of the service (Or perhaps, part of your sales promotion of future service.) But is it is a favor, you need to put it in those terms.

    9. just here for the scripts*

      Is it possible that Jane is an “inbox must be emptied” type of person and she’s deleted them?

      How about periodically sending them a link to where you archive the past reports (and that you keep an archive of what you’ve sent rather than have to pull them anew)?

    10. Jessica Clubber Lang*

      I don’t have an exact answer, but if multiple clients are doing this, might it suggest something needs to be tweaked in your delivery of the data?

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I use external people for regular data, and I constantly want fresh reformatted data because, maybe I deleted something in a clear out, and now a big boss needs something I thought we were done with, or I changed it too much over the course of months and now I want the “raw” version again. This company has a really simple app for downloading whatever I want directly from them. I can’t speak to whether that applies to OP though.

    11. Not Totally Subclinical*

      If Jane can look in her inbox for the last time you sent this report, can you look in your outbox for the last time you sent the report and resend it? You’re still doing work, but you’re not spending the data-cleaning time.

      1. Excel Frustrated*

        I am honestly considering this and framing it as a “you can get this info from X email and that info from Y email” even though it can sound condescending even though, like the filtering tutorial, I just want to point out she already has that information.

        1. Dinwar*

          What you’re suggesting is going to come across as passive-aggressive unless you have a REALLY strong relationship with the client and they have the right personality and are in the right mood to deal with that sort of thing right now. Again, if I responded to a relatively minor client request with something that could read as passive-aggressive I’d be put on a PIP or fired.

          If it’s really an issue you can do a few things.

          First, if you’re working on a contract basis you can add this to the contract exemptions/negotiations. “In the past we’ve received a number of requests for X, Y, and Z. To accommodate those moving forward we will need to add $X in office support.” This is professional, at an appropriate time, and puts everyone’s cards on the table. I’ve both had people do this to me, and done this to clients. Alternatively you can request a preferred file format, with $X added in office support is required after the data is provided in that format. I actually prefer that, because it sets clear expectations up front, and since the client is involved in the format choice they’re less likely to complain.

          Alternatively, pick up the phone and call the client (if your business allows it). “Jake, we’ve been doing a lot of reformatting for you; is there a way you’d prefer we send the data? That way you don’t have to waste your time requesting the data again.” That last bit is important–make it look like you’re looking out for THEIR interests. If you make it about your team the response will be that handling deliverables is your problem; if you sell it as trying to take a task off the client’s plate, they’ll be more willing to work with you. You can do the same thing with a shared Dropbox or server, which will keep them from re-requesting data since they can just go pull it. If you do, however, understand that there will be a training period where they’ll still ask, and you’ll have to respond with a link to the server (DO NOT send the file if you do this).

        2. Awkwardness*

          You cannot do this with a client.

          Take the attachment and create a new mail. The rest world be just rude.

          1. ZugTheMegasaurus*

            I handled an account for a major customer who seemed to have really terrible internal organization; I would repeatedly get the exact same requests for certain reports and data from different departments that weren’t talking to each other (and more frequently than they should have needed to ask).

            So I made a OneNote page and dropped all those docs into a table with canned email language; it took me 30 seconds to respond to those requests after that and the customer was super happy. Getting upset about it just seems like more effort, haha.

        3. fhqwhgads*

          You can’t care more about this than your employer does. If they don’t care that they’re not charging for this, it doesn’t make sense for you to. Just send the thing. It’s been established that it is part of your job. You wanting it to not be does not seem to have changed that. The client’s aren’t unaware you sent it before, formatted differently. They’re saying they want it from your company. So unless the company says “no we don’t offer that” or “we offer that for $X”, just do it. This is not a problem for you to solve.

        4. k*

          You’re correct that it’s condescending. If you do this you risk totally blowing up the client relationshop and pissing off your sales team. You’re getting good advice here — to accept that this may be annoying work but ultimately it’s business development and part of your job — but what you seem to want is permission to take actions that may ruin this client relationship. Don’t give in to the temptation.

          If it rises to the level of actively impeding other work in a measurable way, then bring it up with your manager. If it isn’t compromising other work tasks, well, we all have to do work tasks we find annoying sometimes.

    12. Ginger Baker*

      I…really think this “consider how our data is presented so clients find it useful” is KEY. If you are getting fairly frequent requests that illuminate that how your data is presented is NOT currently useful to clients…that’s something I think is worth putting time into fixing. Who manages the database and can set up new reports to generate with the information and functionality the client(s) needs? THAT is who I would turn to. Someone should be working on fixing this issue in the bigger picture…as a client, if you are constantly sending me reports that I then need to clean up and format to make them helpful to me, that is…not great.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        Relatedly (and also I am in complete agreement with Generic Name’s comments on this), I would highly highly recommend you reframe your perspective on this. This is not “spoonfeeding” and “work they didn’t pay for”, it’s….”providing excellent customer service/what the customer needs” and “business development”. At the end of the day, in consulting…this is the job. If you are not able to reframe it for yourself, this…might not be a great fit for you, because it is going to constantly stress you out, the client requests WILL NOT STOP, and if you reply in a way that is “here is the tutorial to do yourself” or just not helpfully, the client will either move on, and/or you will piss off your manager/other higher-ups if the client complains or they ever hear that the client got pushback from you on what sound like fairly simple requests.

        In consulting, clients are not teenagers who need to learn how to do things. They…pay your firm for a set of work and an additional set of “out of scope” work that is sometimes billed for and sometimes just part of maintaining the client relationship. It is so so sooooo standard.

    13. Generic Name*

      Are you getting paid to do the work requested? Or is it not within a particular scope? I was a consultant for many years, so I definitely sympathize with that end of things, but I now work for a giant company that is the client. If there is something that will take a consultant 10 mins of work to sift through their data for us when it might take me 30 mins 1 hour to search and search and then have to filter, yeah, I’m gonna ask the consultant to provide that to me. As a client, it’s pretty annoying to hear a consultant complain that they’ve already sent something to us or we “should have the data”. Yes, I know that, but it’s way more efficient for my time to pay the consultant to provide it. If there’s an issue with contracting or pay, then state that. If you are not willing to do those small tasks, regardless, then go ahead and decline, but the client may also decide that they would rather work with a consultant who provides stuff to us without a hassle. I am dealing with this exact scenario now, and we will never work with a consultant who is resistant to just send us files we ask for.

    14. Excel Frustrated*

      Thank you for all the input! I appreciate the different views.

      Some more details for those interested:
      Jane and other big firms like her aren’t paying for these services. These services aren’t part of the package. These services are more “be nice to the client so they will spend with us.” They are our clients, but they don’t always spend with us every year. But when they do, they spend a lot because of their size. So Sales is definitely interested in massaging them to spend with us, and these big firms know they have leverage.

      Charging for these small tasks as part of the package isn’t really viable. We are a media company/publisher run on advertising. Clients pay to advertise with us because we are a well-known brand. However, because of editorial neutrality, we publish what is important, not what clients pay us to publish, so we publish things for free. So we don’t charge for these small services for small businesses so we can’t charge these small services for big firms. Big firms do sometimes spend a lot to advertise with us, hence why Sales wants to keep them happy, but there are basic things that we publish for free, and big firms take advantage of it for their marketing.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This kind of thing is all part of the ad sales process. I used to work for a very big media company, supporting ad sales, and putting together internal data reports was part of my job. Occasionally I would be asked to put together documents that could go directly to clients. Did the clients have access to this info themselves? Often they did, but they asked my salesperson for the information and the request came to me because I had access and the salesperson didn’t. “Be nice to the client so they will spend money with us” is how the sales process works, even if the client doesn’t spend every year. The point is that they have spent and sales wants them to continue to spend.

      2. skadhu*

        Then the issue is even more specifically related to your company’s internal processes, not to Jane or her company or other advertisers. If your department has the resources to do the extra work, it’s probably reasonable to ask you to provide support to Sales, because it benefits your company’s bottom line. If your department does not have the resources, and it interferes with your ability to do your core work in a way that has costs, then that’s your argument—and in that case your company needs to do a cost/benefit analysis that takes that into consideration, and figure out what if anything to do about it to solve that problem. Clients/potential clients don’t come into that problem solving at all. They can ask, but it’s your own company that has to figure out how to make things balance in the company’s overall favour so there’s no net loss from doing the free work. But if they decide that the benefits outweight the disadvantages then you probably won’t be able to move them.

      3. Lucia Pacciola*

        “So Sales is definitely interested in massaging them to spend with us”

        And you seem definitely interested in screwing over your Sales department and souring relations with a repeat customer. Why on earth?

    15. Tradd*

      I’m a customs broker. Both the broker and importer are required by US Customs to keep all customs clearance documents for five years. I’ve had multiple customers who can’t be bothered to keep the documents we send them and are constantly asking us for anything they needed. Manager finally put foot down and told the customers they had to keep their own documents on file (that we send) and they need to look in their own records for what they need. It was excessive at times, like daily.

    16. Hillary*

      If it’s an ongoing issue, I’d look into building customer-facing dashboards so they can self-serve this data without compromising confidentiality.

      I’ve made this exact ask many times. Yes, I may have monthly dumps in my email, but collating them is time consuming and frustrating. Providers change their columns without warning and now I have to manually adjust things, turns out they missed June or it was caught in a spam filter, and so on.

      1. Lucia Pacciola*

        “If it’s an ongoing issue,”

        It’s not an ongoing issue though. It’s not even an issue, except in OP’s head.

    17. Sharon*

      Going meta here:
      1. Clarify with your managers whether responding to these client service requests is part of your role. If it isn’t, ask you manager how you’d like you to handle it when you get one of these requests. If it is your job, you just need to do it. If you don’t have time, or you need to know how to prioritize this over your other work, again, this is a manager question.
      2. Figure out whether you could provide information in a more client-friendly format, either to everyone or a custom regular report for this client. This might cut down on special requests.

    18. Lifelong student*

      If you sent her the report last year, you should have a copy of the report somewhere. Just resend the same report in a new email! Spend the time once to do the special report and use it as a template for later reports. Keep potential customers and clients happy through automation.

    19. RavCS*

      Would it help make this request easier for you if you found last year’s email and sent it to her again? Can you / do you have separate mailboxes by company? Does your company bill for these extra tasks? (And if they don’t, should they factor these requests into their original fees?)

    20. thelettermegan*

      is there a way to delegate these small admin tasks to other people? Sometimes these tasks are really helpful for people who have just joined the team or are early in their careers. If someone needs to learn how to fish, start them off with the 10 minute tasks.

      1. Oh, yeah, me again*

        I think OP is the “other person.” sounds like he/she is bottom of the totem pole (or at least bottom person who has access to this data). It sucks to be on the bottom, and to have to do repetitive tasks for people who seem cavalier about your time, but you really, really shouldn’t push back on the client about this. Talk to your manager (If I’ve misread this, and you are the head person, then talk to the (prospective?) client, but tactfully. Remember, you may offend, but even worse, you may embarass the person – who will then avoid you. . . and your company.

      2. Oh, yeah, me again*

        And how do you know client, doesn’t just LOVE for for this and go around praising you and your company to the skies? “Oh, they are always so nice, so accommodating!” For heaven sakes, be sweet, be friendly, cultivate the relationship. Someday, she’ll be in position to do something for you.

    21. Alpaca Bag*

      I have tasks like this that used to take about 45 minutes twice a week, and I was able to automate them. Now I click a button in Excel and it queries a database, generates and formats a spreadsheet, writes a summary paragraph based on the data (like “this month 17 alpacas and 12 llamas were shorn”) in a new email message, copies the formatted sheet below the paragraph, and shows me the message so I can add a personal sentence and click the Send button. Total time? About 30 seconds.

      Do you anybody you work with know any Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)? If so, you can use VBA either to connect to the data source and pull fresh data based on the client’s current request, or you can do your usual export and use VBA to generate a fresh file based on the current request. If you start learning it now, then in a few weeks or months you’ll be ahead of where you are now. Microsoft has a good help system for learning it on your own if needed.

    22. IloveExcel*

      For the repeat requests, simply re-forward your sent email. Sure, it’s “just as easy” for her to find the same email in her inbox vs in your sent, but its a low lift to be supportive to the client (and for some people, their inboxes are no joke to search for the right report from last year).
      For requests that take just 10 minutes… just do it and move on. Or consider researching how repeat requests can be more automated if even the 10 minutes is disruptive/overall a time suck in aggregate. Even if you’re not technical some Excel template setup ahead of time would save you some clicks.
      It’s a little fuzzy to me about what the filtering issue is exactly. Can you send it pre-filtered (inclusive of other non-sensitive info, but filtered to the client’s preferences)? Can you provide a pivot table that meets the request? If done delicately, a demo/tutorial of Excel filtering functionality alongside the report that you mentioned considering could be the solution, if the client is receptive.

    23. WestsideStory*

      Just think of it as going “that extra Mile” for this valued client. That is why while they don’t use your firm regularly, your company is top of mind for their more complex or time sensitive projects.
      Do not even think of charging any extra fee for the handholding part. You can, however bake it into your regular fees for their work and they probably won’t notice. This is known as the aggravation surcharge.
      For other clients, consider if you can charge for this service or offer it to others as a value-add.
      Finally, to limit the actual aggravation of the extra work, see if your team can come up with a way to automate the reporting so you can whip it up when requested.

    24. WizardWoman*

      I used to work at a bank and we would get a lot of time intensive requests like “track down this penny, I don’t know when it went missing but here’s 3 years of my check registers so you can figure it out.”(real example) It helped a LOT to have a fee already decided upon by management so that we could say “unfortunately, we would have to charge our $60 an hour fee for research so in this case it probably wouldn’t make sense to pay us to do this” and they would very quickly change their minds.

      Same with reprinting statements, someone would call wanting 5 years of official statements for 6 accounts and when they heard that reprints are $7 each they would agree to look and see what they could find and give us a call back with the list of the ones they couldn’t find (almost always reduced to a few and we’d generally give them a discount if they still needed a large amount).

      I really don’t think there’s anything as effective as “having to charge” for getting people to think about whether they really need you to do something for them, but I will say we didn’t charge for small tasks (under 15 minutes). We didn’t get a huge amount of repeat asks like you’re getting though, so if they do add up to more than 15 minutes a month I could definitely see an argument for having a fee.

    25. platypus*

      1) convince PTB to charge for the service – don’t give it away for free.
      2) automate the task via PowerQuery or sommat.
      Win-win!

    26. Hmmm*

      Is it possible to set up a DropBox or some other secure folder? From the sounds of the comments this is a large client and this is a need of Jane’s. That way Jane has access to all historical files and you don’t have to resend

    27. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Regarding the past years data – could you change the format of the sheet you send her so that you add the new data to an existing sheet that already has the history on it? Then she won’t need to keep asking you to re-send the old data.

      Agree with others who have said that if this requirement won’t go away (ie the company deems that it does sit with you) can you develop a more standardised report that gets sent out monthly or whatever so that you send it on (say) the 15th of the month and she doesn’t have to keep requesting it at random times as it will “automatically” be done as part of your workflow. Can you automate it more than it currently is, which is probably a positive thing to bring up to your company- automation is valuable.

  2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How is everyone’s job dealing with the winter weather? I was out video calling people like it was 2020 amid texts each day to not come in

    1. Jadzia Snax*

      My bosses have been determined to ignore the weather and have us come in at all costs. Really annoying, especially in subzero weather!!

      1. CanadaGoose*

        Business as usual here in Canada! But then, I work in a great organization that is a mix of in person and remote workers, with flexibility for occasional remote work for those of us who usually work from the office, and the expectation that we may do so occasionally for winter weather reasons. I took advantage of staying home to work from my home office on Tuesday. But I’m glad I went in Monday. It was super cold, -30C in the morning, and also “blue Monday”, so the executives provided a little treat at our desks.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          What’s blue Monday? The reason we’re snowed in by 6 inches of snow here is that the city can’t afford the outlay for events that happen once or twice a year

            1. debbietrash*

              It turns out this was a marketing campaign/scheme by a UK travel agency. I think to sell winter vacations.

        2. Ripley*

          Also in Canada, and business as usual. I work in healthcare so no option to work remotely. There were a lot of cars plugged in the in parkade though.

      2. Phony Genius*

        I’ve always wondered how bosses like this seem to always be able to get through impossible conditions and show up on time to force others to do so. What are they doing, sleeping in their offices the night before?

        1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

          really? Where I’ve worked the bosses expect everyone to come in, but then do not show up themselves

      3. Nesta*

        It feels truly like a backlash to work/school from home existing! We have had flooding and freezing, and snow, and the most we get told is “use your own judgement” about coming in. Even though we have more tools than ever for remote success, no one wants to use them.

    2. ScruffyInternHerder*

      About the same here…HR has even made it clear that even though “WFH is not in our current policy” that we are to make our own judgements on winter conditions, and may either work remotely for the day if able to (and your manager is okay with it) or take PTO.

      Its not even that the roads are too awful here, its more the volume of traffic and the high number of drivers who convince me every winter that my area is populated with new transplants to the state who’ve never seen a snowflake in their lives. I’m also of the opinion that I’m not donating essentially my commute time (my commute is frequently doubled in time during even moderate inclement weather – so we’re at an hour to an hour-fifteen when its normally 40 minutes on the high end), so if I’m getting all the road notifications about current conditions at 6:30 a.m.? I’m not even bothering til later and that’s if I need to show my face in person. My management knows the work gets done regardless my location.

    3. CTT*

      We lucked out on limited snow/ice but have had extremely cold temperatures for our area. Most everyone has been coming into the office; I don’t want to speak for my colleagues, but I am definitely here to give my poor HVAC system a break and let someone else cover the heating.

    4. ThatGirl*

      We had a “snow day” last Tuesday and again Friday (which is usually a WFH day anyway) but I ended up staying home all of last week because on Monday the ceiling above my desk sprang a leak and got my desk and my neighbor’s all wet – and it took maintenance several days to get in and fix it. And then this past Tuesday was extremely cold. On all of those days my husband (who works in student services at a university) also worked from home.

    5. Jury Duty-less*

      The snow canceled my jury duty summons today!! But remote work means I’m back at my desk. Wah Wah!

    6. A Girl Named Fred*

      All I can say is, I have never been so happy to have ended up at a community college than I was this past weekend. I have major anxiety driving in snow so getting cancellations instead of needing to push through or burn a vacation day is SO NICE. (Working from home would be even nicer, but one step at a time, eh?)

    7. Irish Teacher.*

      No time off here. OK, our temperatures aren’t as extreme as in the US and the city I work in hasn’t had any snow, but for most days in the last two weeks, we’ve gone below freezing point and for Ireland, that’s a long cold spell. Normally, we get a couple of days each winter that cold, not almost two weeks.

      Two of the other schools in our area had delayed starts a couple of days (started at 10am or 11am instead of 9) due to how dangerous the roads were, but we didn’t get any such leeway.

    8. RabbitRabbit*

      I work for a hospital, so the hospital sent out statements to managers to excuse tardiness, as well as notifying staff of our options for overnight housing if they were unable to get home (hospital-provided hotel rooms, as well as cots available in conference room areas for overflow requests). They provided a central resource for traffic conditions, encouraged use of public transit to avoid driving, encouraged managers to allow additional personnel to work from home if they were able and not already doing that. In previous blizzards, the hospital set up some van pickup rides for essential personnel who were unable to make it in themselves.

    9. Ranon*

      Dying of jealousy over the snow over here in Minnesota. We’re ready coach, put us in!

      Job is chill, generally, we are hybrid with three days a week in office but no one is counting or expecting folks to brave crappy traffic or even come in if it’s just too darn cold to want to.

    10. debbietrash*

      I’m also in Canada, working a hybrid onsite/remote job, and it’s pretty “business as usual”. The one exception/courtesy, is if there are reports for a big storm in the afternoon or evening that would affect your commute, our management team will give us a heads up and okay us to leave/log off early so we’re not stuck in the storm. This feels like a pretty common practice with office jobs in my area.

    11. Lemon Chiffon*

      We had one “snow day” on Friday due to blizzard conditions, but my work has ignored subzero temps. Then again, I work for a public library, so our work is in person and “essential” even if the workers aren’t so essential.

      They also have phased out remote work for all non-management employees (except one marketing guy).

    12. Tinamedte*

      It was -20°C (~-4°F) the other day when I biked to the office. No traffic jams in the bike lanes and it’s nice to just swish past all the cars. Love the snow but not the cold so much!

      (I am in Northern Europe )

    13. WantonSeedStitch*

      We recently got the final word from On High that we only need to come into the office on a quarterly basis, and the next time won’t be until April. I’ve been video calling people ever since 2020 and don’t expect to stop any time soon!

    14. Fed4Life*

      I’m a Fed in the DC – MD – Northern VA area. We have had more snow this week that we had in almost two years. We were closed Monday for the MLK jr Holiday when it snowed all day into early Tuesday. Tuesday all buildings were closed and telework eligible employees worked from home. Wednesday buildings were open and staff had the option for unscheduled leave or telework which was nice as some schools stayed closed. Thursday open as normal. Today it has been snowing since 4 AM ET and totals are higher than predicted, however today we only had a two hour delay for arriving in your office or the option for unscheduled leave or telework. So all in all this week the guidance has been very reasonable until today when people who had to go in will have a horrible commute home.

    15. Donkey Hotey*

      I live in the Pacific Northwest and work in a team of myself plus three people. The other three rode their bicycles to work this week. If they can make it in, I can make it in.

    16. Tradd*

      I’m in a cold climate in the US. We’re used to this kind of thing. Office was closed one day recently when we got a foot of snow and the authorities were asking for travel to be really restricted, but that’s it.

    17. JelloStapler*

      I work at a University so we got the automated call that everyone was operating remotely early enough that I could just get some extra sleep. My kids both had off so I would have had to ask about being remote anyway.

      Some other Universities only had a delay, so I’ll take it!

    18. Alisaurus*

      We got a lot of snow and subzero temps this whole past week (abnormal for the state where I live). My bosses have been great. We’re usually a hybrid schedule with 2 days in office, but we got to WFH the entire week so we didn’t have to risk being on the roads. Their reasoning was keeping us safe as well as not having to worry about double or tripled commute times.

      Very grateful for a good company that actually cares about their people. :)

    19. Throwaway Account*

      It is freezing down here in Florida, in the low 60s some days!!

      Seriously tho, kudos to everyone in actual freezing temps!!

    20. Oh, yeah, me again*

      NO snow in NC (at least here in the middle). They say we won’t get ANY this year, and I am blue about that! We usually have 1 to 2 nice storms where it “sticks” and we have a big holiday. It’s special, we love it even if we complain (and the resident Yankees love the chance to tell us what big babies we are and how we don’t know how to drive. So everybody wins!)

      If it’s not going to snow, I wish it would just go on and be spring!

      This clear, mild winter weather makes me long for Mobile/New Orleans and rest of the gulf coast. I associate it with Mardi Gras.

      1. Maotseduck*

        Same! My boss (local and I’m also in NC Piedmont) was lamenting the lack of snow and our admin (from PA) told him to shut his mouth because it shuts everything down. We’re like, that’s the point! It comes, the world shuts down, it melts, back to life as usual. Magical winter. And much better than ice.

    21. Quinalla*

      I WFH, so business as usual for me. Everyone has the option to WFH at my office, some still went in (the weather wasn’t as bad at the main office location which is 2 hours South of me), but a lot of folks just did WFH today even if they normally would go in.

      Hope everyone is staying safe!!

    22. Nicki Name*

      Business as usual because I’m on permanent WFH, I just can’t go for a walk before or afterward because of all the snow and ice. At least my power has stayed on the whole time!

    23. LCH*

      I’m at a university which has been very careful of the weather and did two late starts and one work from home this week.

    24. Kyrielle*

      My workplace left it up to us to work remotely or come in, but they did send out a warning about the lot being icy as a heads-up before we decided. My kids’ school canceled the entire week, one day at a time.

    25. Nightengale*

      We ended up switching all of yesterday’s patients to telehealth, some proactively the day before and one the day of. Because of this, staff were able to come in later when roads were safer.

      I had one family who had sworn up and down the day before that they would come to the office in person, even though they lived the furthest and likely snowiest away of everyone on the schedule. Apparently the highway they would have needed to take was shut down. . . I was then able to take an earlier bus home myself and do the last visit from home before the slippery slush on the sidewalks turned to slipperier ice.

  3. The Original K.*

    Any tips for figuring out how your skills translate to other jobs/fields? I intend to change jobs this year but can’t quite get out of my own head about my skills. I have a few brainstorming sessions set up with former colleagues and bosses and I’m hoping that will help.

    1. Stuart Foote*

      I hired a career coach to help with this and it made a HUGE difference. I knew I had skills but was terrible at articulating them, and she helped me break down my competencies in a really helpful way.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        How did you find your career coach? I’ve considered hiring one but have heard a lot of awful stories which makes me hesitant.

        1. Stuart Foote*

          As I recall, it was just an online search. I probably should have vetted her more, but she was good so it worked out.

        2. The Original K.*

          Yeah, I’ve wondered this too. It feels like there’s a big possibility for … grifting, here – like with life coaching, which doesn’t really require credentials.

        3. Jess R.*

          I’ve been wondering something similar! I think I’d really benefit from like, 1 or 2 good solid sit-down sessions with someone who really knows what’s up in the working world and can talk me through how to translate my skills, but I have no idea where to start.

        4. Jolie*

          I’ve seen these requests recently. I just joined a group for folks transitioning from SAHM into a particular field and there are recommendations for coaches that others have used successfully. Maybe look for those on FB or LinkedIn?

    2. Just Here for the Cake*

      If you went to college/university, check out if they have a career center. A lot of universities will offer free career counseling sessions to alumni. You’re mileage may variety, but I found my career center really helpful with translating my skills when I was switching jobs and I was many years out of college at that point.

    3. just here for the scripts*

      Johnson O’Connor is great for this! It is a non-profit that tests your aptitudes and has 100 years of data as to what type of careers leverage which aptitudes.

    4. Quantum Possum*

      The brainstorming sessions are a great idea! :)

      Whenever I need to drill down to fundamentals, I use the “5-year-old child” method – keep asking “why?” and “so what?” at every step.

      So my advice would be to take what you do at your current and past jobs (and any volunteer work) and start drilling down. If you have a current job description, that’s a great place to start.

      For example, someone who works retail might start with duties/skills like customer service, property accountability, and responsible handling of money. Once those basics are identified, they can start questioning what’s involved in each aspect. For “customer service,” they might list communication skills, problem-solving, adaptability, attention to detail, helpfulness, knowledge of policy and procedures, dealing with difficult people, etc.

      For the most part, soft skills are much more important than other skills. I especially recommend highlighting areas that show one’s skills with communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork.

      Once you’ve finished your analysis, you can write your resume to demonstrate how you’ve proven your skills. For instance – “identified a failure point in a process, improved the process, and reduced process time by 60%, with a 15% decrease in errors.” It doesn’t matter what the process was, even if it was industry-specific, even if no one else in the world would understand the components involved. The ability to identify problems and then take the initiative to solve them is extremely transferrable to any field.

    5. Random Academic Cog*

      A good starting point might be to look at job postings for jobs you find interesting or would like to have, and then work backwards.

      If the job posting lists coordinating meetings and you did that as part of a previous job, add that to the skills “master list” for that position. Even if it wasn’t a major part of the previous job, it’s a job duty that you performed and would want to highlight if you are applying to a position where that’s enough of a duty that it’s listed.

      If you’re really focusing on jobs that sound like a good fit for you, you should be able to map most of the listed duties to things you’ve done in other positions. Then you use those mapped skills as the customized resume for the desired jobs.

    6. Haven’t picked a name*

      Transferable skills! I get pretty excited, but I find it is helpful to think about “how” you do your work.

      Very early in my career I worked at a CPA firm in the tax practice. I knew I didn’t want a career in tax, so I made a move after a few years. Knowing tax law was 0% of a help in new roles but what was helpful was noting that I knew how to read, interpret and research complex requirements to provide solutions etc. that skill transfers while tax knowledge doesn’t really.

      I hope that example helps – I have don’t many sessions with mentees about transferable skills and get excited about it!

    7. Banan*

      When I wanted to switch out of the nonprofit field, I asked the commentors on this thread! I gave a rundown on my then-current job, skills, and career interests, and then asked the commentors what the for-profit equivalents or possibilities would be. I think the key issue is that most of the people I asked (before the good readers of these threads) were also in the nonprofit field. Most of their answers had to do with nonprofit work. IRL, ask people who work in sectors you wouldn’t ordinarily think about. You’d be surprised!

      For example:
      My last job was as a database/membership manager for a youth leadership nonprofit. I had been transferred from grant writing for the same nonprofit during the pandemic. I had strong writing skills, wasn’t afraid of technical details or fine print, was familiar with databases, had an eye for detail and was comfortable working with teams or alone, and leading meetings. I also write in my spare time, and was comfortable (I even enjoyed) getting feedback on grant drafts, revising multiple times, researching, and sticking with long, large projects to completion.

      Someone suggested proposal coordinator–and I’ve been happily coordinating proposals for the last year and a half.

    8. Rekha3.14*

      Maybe a bit old fashioned and more self directed than a coach, but What Color Is Your Parachute has chapters with assignments and the like to get you to think about what you want in a new job and what skills you have. I think a good coach will help so that too,by asking questions etc. and exploring things with you. I haven’t used one, and share some of the same hesitation others mentioned.

      There are also some career surveys noted in the book, like the O*not career assessment.

  4. Jadzia Snax*

    Last week I posted dithering about which supervisory references to ask and this week I HAVE A JOB OFFER!!!! I’m still pinching myself waiting for the other shoe to drop because it has been a long, long three years in back-to-back terrible jobs.

    Trying to schedule time with my boss to have the resignation conversation, which is the only thing about all this I’m dreading. She’s the only reason I took this job in the first place and is far and away the best manager I’ve ever had. I’m more or less prepared in what I’m going to say, but if anyone has any extra tips or tricks I’d love to hear them!

    1. FricketyFrack*

      If she’s a good manager, I’m guessing she’s aware that your current job is terrible and will understand why you’re leaving. When I’ve left jobs with particularly good managers, I’ve taken a minute to thank them specifically for things I really appreciate, but otherwise, it’s basically been the same as leaving any other job.

      1. Jadzia Snax*

        You’re correct! We had the convo and it went fine – she explicitly said she’s always felt bad that my actual job wound up being so different than what I’d initially been hired for. So it all went ok!

    2. Jess R.*

      Biggest tip: Just breathe. As long as you don’t go in, like, swearing up a storm, it’s hard to do it *wrong*.

      And second: Just like Alison says about salary negotiation, say what you have to say and then stop. Don’t keep talking just to fill the silence. Tell her you’re resigning and then let her respond. You don’t have to say everything in your first breath.

    3. just here for the scripts*

      You are waiting until you have a start date to have the resignation convo, right? Just a gentle reminder l…

    4. SansaStark*

      I resigned to my favorite boss ever and honestly, it was tough and I hated every second of it. I would not wish that conversation on my worst enemy. But I got through it and we remained in-touch because she is amazing and wanted amazing things for me. If your boss is great, she might be sad for herself but will be happy for you!

      1. Jadzia Snax*

        It was a tough convo but wound up being way easier than I feared – she seemed genuinely happy for me! And I think it didn’t hurt that I’m giving three weeks’ notice instead of two so I can have more time to wrap things up.

        1. SansaStark*

          That’s wonderful! I’m so glad it wasn’t terrible and I did the same thing with the 3 weeks and agree that it really helped sell the message that I wished I could stay but this was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up.

    5. *daha**

      The agenda for your resignation meeting doesn’t have to be a surprise. Whether it is scheduling on their calendar, or sending an email, or leaving a voicemail, you can give “resignation meeting” as the reason. That way the actual message is out in the open and you can open up with thanks and whatever.

  5. Pretzel*

    I would love some advice on mentally dealing with taking a small pay cut for a new (better) position.

    I currently make $90K in my workplace, where its toxic beyond all repair.

    The good news: I accepted a new position (haven’t started yet) I know will be eons better. A couple friends/former colleagues are there now, and they sing its praises. There’s an immense amount of room for real career growth, people are much happier there, work processes are better organized, better assignments, etc. I’ve wanted to work there for a long time now, and I’m excited to start.

    The only thing that stings a bit is having to take a small pay cut for it: about $5K. Everything else benefits-wise is the same, which are good. They also do annual merit increases, and I know promotions and career development opportunities are strong there.

    So, why does it bother me to take a small pay cut, even when I know in my gut this is the better move in the long run? It was always impressed upon me that you should never take less than what you earn now, but is that really true? I’m in a dual income household, and my partner makes a similar salary, so I don’t think there will be any major hardships experienced. We’re not big spenders, and I don’t anticipate any major expenses coming our way this year.

    Any tips for getting a new perspective on this? Or how to remind myself what’s more important? And if I’m being the biggest baby, tell me! Again, I know in my gut this is the right move for me, but I don’t want my pesky brain souring things.

    1. londonedit*

      I think if you can afford it, and it means you’ll be happier in your job and in a much better environment, it’s worth it just for the benefits to your mental health.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        op would probably save over $5k in medical costs not having to be in a bad work environment

        1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

          THIS.

          I took a more drastic pay cut when I switched careers a decade ago, and it was absolutely worth it in terms of my mental *and* physical health. My blood pressure, which had been high every time it was checked, dropped back to normal once I was in the new job. I also stopped getting sick all the time (stress can really do a number on your immune system’s ability to fight off minor stuff). My sleep improved, my day-to-day happiness was better (no more crying every Saturday evening because I only had one day left before I went back to work), etc. If you know you’re going to a better place, it’s absolutely worth a small paycut (especially since it sounds like it won’t be a paycut for long if they do regular merit raises).

          1. RedinSC*

            Me too! I just switched jobs last year and all my health indicators are better. My blood sugar, blood pressure and sleep are all much better. I took an 11% paycut for this position, but it still paid plenty to meet my needs, and save for retirement. The benefits are basically the same.

            It’s been such a relief.

    2. A non-mouse*

      Maybe think of that $5k as being hazard pay for the toxic environment – the fact you won’t get it at the new job is because it’s not a toxic mess. It sounds like the new place is a lot better with merit increases + potential for career growth, which means the 5k gap probably won’t last very long.

      1. FromCanada*

        OMG I so needed to read that. I’m in a similar but different position to Pretzel. I am struggling with going back to my old job not because I don’t want to but because does that mean I’m a failure? (I’m on a temporary reassignment that pays bout 5K more a year – it has an end date and I’m not sure I could stay if I wanted too, but there’s lots of pressure to say that I will). Hazard pay is just the framing I need. For me it’s not really about the money but also it’s always the money :) Thank you A non-mouse. Like others have mentioned, I’ve had negative health effects from this job and it can’t end soon enough – I need to get out.

        1. But what to call me?*

          Are you a failure for not making the new job work, or are you a success for recognizing what’s not working for you and taking the chance to get out?

          If success means living a life that doesn’t make you miserable (I’d say it does) then the successful route is knowing when to stop banging your head against a wall in a job that you can tell isn’t right for you.

          A reframing for you both: just how much would someone have to pay you to sign up to damage your mental/physical health? Personally, I’ve decided that it’s a lot more than $5K per year (and I quit the job in question accordingly).

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        This! Instead of seeing the 5K as something your old job is “taking,” see it as the extra cash they had to expend to keep you around. They’re losing someone valuable even after paying that money, and you’re gaining a new life worth ten times that.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Exactly. You can even make this a straight $$ comparison.

        If you make 90k/year in Current Job, but spend 8k/year in therapy to deal with it, then an 85k/year New Job is actually a raise.

        (and feel free to substitute boxing lessons, bar tabs, broken furniture, or whatever else you have to spend money on to deal with Current Job).

    3. Jadzia Snax*

      I was dealing with this a bit when applying to jobs that would be a small pay cut and as my friends told me – you can’t put a price on your mental health! I definitely understand why it stings a bit, but it’ll definitely be better in the long run <3

    4. Rage*

      I think because we, as a society, tend to equate “$alary” to success. Your mind may be stuck on that.

      But I would look at it like this: for a 5% fee, you can take all of the toxicity and stress to the dump and leave it there.

    5. StarHunter*

      $85K is still a decent salary and the opportunities you describe at the new job will more than make up for the $5K. Including getting out of a toxic environment. I bet the mental health benefit alone is worth well more than that. And I also bet within a year you will exceed your old salary. Tell your brain to shush!

      1. Miette*

        Yes – this! You will earn that back and more a lot more quickly than you think, and won’t it all be worth the stress reduction in your life? Think of it as a reset not a step back.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      Is it still approximate market value because your old job was over the average? It’s entirely possible that your old job struggled to hire and retain people because of reputation and being generally hapless. If they didn’t know what they were doing, throwing more money at people may have been their only move. If that’s the case, you don’t need the “dealing with idiots” hazard pay any more. But “is this market value for my experience level” and “will I be happy with the overall package” is your baseline, not “what I earned before”. I think it shows poor knowledge of the industry when companies only base their salary offers on your previous number, and sometimes it also makes sense to not do that yourself.

    7. Busy Middle Manager*

      Do the math for what it is after taxes. The internet is saturated with advice to keep job hopping and getting raises but in practicality, in many fields, this doesn’t work (managers care about job hopping) and the salary jumps aren’t always there, or slow down mid-career. I’ve taken pay cuts at my last two jobs and then got big raises. Now mid-career most jobs in my field pay about the same. I don’t legitimately see a reason to demand more money TBH if I move companies. So don’t feel bad. Sometimes I feel bad because I go to reddit and everyone is 25 and got a $70K raise to $200K last year.

    8. nopetopus*

      When I’m working in toxic environments or otherwise high stress burnout situations, I find that I spend way more money on things like convenience foods, more in therapy and doctor’s appts, etc. Thinking of it that way, you might come out ahead.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I make way less than in my old industry (work fewer hours too), and I have so much more money left over end of month, and healthier savings.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Excellent point about “I’m exhausted and stressed and so I’m going to fix things with money.”

    9. Pescado*

      I pay a bit more at Target for household goods because our Walmart is always messy and frequently dangerous (shootings, stabbings, etc.). My husband calls that extra cost “the Walmart tax” because it’s the price I’m willing to pay to avoid Walmart.

      If moving from toxic job to non-toxic job costs you 5k, then 5k is your Walmart tax. Pay it gladly.

      1. Dulcinea47*

        it’s a myth that Target costs more than walmart for basic items tho. If you average the cost of a cart full of basic household stuff, they come out nearly identical. Walmarts kill your soul and you’re not even saving money.

          1. Jenny*

            I’m not doubting you.

            But just for everyone else, Walmart does tend to really be sneaky when dealing with prices. Major manufacturers have special ‘Walmart’ packaging. So for example, a pack of Huggies diapers at Size 2 might cost $40 for 40 diapers. An identical looking package at Walmart might cost $36 for 32 diapers. (I’m changing the numbers to make it easier to understand, but the point is the same.) So you see the $36 vs. $40 with the same size of box and think Walmart is cheaper.

            1. Aitch Arr*

              John Oliver did a piece recently about Dollar Stores and he discussed this very tactic: certain stores, including Dollar Stores, have smaller packages of items, so the unit price is actually higher.

              1. Jenny*

                Interesting! I hadn’t watched that yet. A blogger that I follow happened to post about it years ago and it’s always stuck with me. (And made me feel better about not shopping at Walmart.)

        1. ThatGirl*

          Walmart undercuts its competition very purposely, and often cuts corners in quality to do it. It can indeed be cheaper, but you may end up getting what you pay for.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Well, yes, but also because they control a huge amount of supply chain and demand lower prices from their suppliers and vendors and so on and so forth – it’s not just about the employees.

              1. Oh, yeah, me again*

                Before them it was Sears that did that – and maybe worse. That’s the reality of retail – at least, of volume retail.

      2. Banana Pyjamas*

        Ohh I like “Walmart tax”. Ours gets lit on fire pretty frequently, among other issues. Also team target, even if the meat is ridiculously expensive.

    10. A Simple Narwhal*

      Maybe some math will help? If you get paid twice a month that breaks down to roughly $208, which after taxes is about $140 every paycheck. Assuming 260 working days a year, that comes out to about $13 a day. Is it worth it to stay miserable every day for $13?

      Don’t forget all the time and mental energy you’re probably expending just trying to survive your job today – when factoring in the time you’ll get back in your day not venting, worrying, or decompressing, you’re pretty much guaranteed to come out ahead of where you are now.

      Congrats on the new job!

      1. Cordelia*

        yes, and using these calculations – imagine yourself in a job you loved, would you go back to old toxic job if offered a pay rise of $13 a day? I bet you wouldn’t.

      2. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Was coming here to say this. $5000 sounds like a lot, but when you break down the after-tax amount like this it makes such a difference in knowing what the real cut is and, conversely, what the real worth is.

    11. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      I took about an 8% paycut when I first changed jobs from academia into a new industry. What helped my partner and I was to see what difference that made per-check, post-taxes, etc. Which we also weighed against benefits like 1) cutting my commute in half; 2) having more salary growth opportunities, and 3) overall mental health. Like you, we were a dual income household, so in the end, seeing that it would cost us ~100 per check (so like, the amount of seeing a therapist) for me to hate my life less made the cut easier to anticipate.

      And in about 2 years I was back to earning what I had back in academia; a year later I was able to leverage the new role into something much higher-paying and I’m making more than I ever would have in my prior career. The long-term impact of having a better working environment and more opportunities is so, so valuable.

    12. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Dropping just 5k from 90k for a happy workplace sounds a very good deal. It’s no big deal dropping 5.5% rather than say 25%.

      That 5k was paying you to be miserable for about 2000 hours per year. That’s only $2-50/hour as a toxicity bonus.
      Also, if the new job is so much better organised, maybe you’ll be working fewer hours overall. You wouldn’t be spending Sunday afternoon and evening dreading the coming week, which I’d count as work-related worrying hours.

      You say the new job has great prospects for career growth, so you might find in a couple of years that you’ve overtaken where you’d be on old job.

      1. But what to call me?*

        Absolutely essential to consider work-related worrying hours in the calculations.

        I’ve had two jobs where every hour I was a awake was a work-related worrying hour, even though the jobs themselves didn’t take up nearly that many hours. So my salary was actually paying me for 112+ hours per week of work-related misery. Assuming I slept 8 hours per night, which, of course, I didn’t, because why would brain allow sleep when it could use that time for more pointless worrying about work?

    13. Rex Libris*

      My guess is that it’s bothering you because on some level, you’ve internalized the toxic idea that your paycheck is a measure of your achievement, so it feels like going backward. Is $416.00 a month cheaper than the therapy bills and/or stress from staying at a toxic job?

    14. Sherm*

      A lot of what we are told about salary and success is BS. People who are happy and fulfilled are the most successful of us all, if you ask me. And besides, your household will literally be making about 97% of the previous haul. Laugh at your overthinking brain and take the job!

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      Metaphor: It’s like you’ve been climbing a complicated rock face, and you realize that the path you’re following has run out. If you climb back down a few feet and then angle off to your left, there are a variety of really good options that soon open up. But you do have to go backward to get there. And your lizard brain is trying to say “But climbing is hard, I don’t want to, maybe if we just cling to this position a way up will magically open?” Logic brain needs to override this and get you onto the better path.

      Related anecdote from here: A poster’s dad had insisted that she couldn’t quit her toxic job, because that would mean the toxic people won. She had to stay there until they all admitted they were wrong and she was right, and they changed. (Instead, she quit. But he was convinced that meant she had lost.) A number of people painfully recognized someone in that anecdote.

    16. Hlao-roo*

      I think it will help to make a short list of some of the toxic things at your current workplace. Your list can be on an index card, a piece of scrap paper, the notes app on your phone–whatever works best for you. If it’s on an actual piece of paper, keep it somewhere it’s easily on-hand most of the time (such as in your wallet or purse). Whenever your thoughts drift to “I used to make more money…” you can look at your list and remind yourself that $5k is a great price to no longer have to deal with everything on your list.

      You can also do the reverse: make a list of the positives of your new job (career growth, people are much happier, work processes are better organized, better assignments). Look at that list whenever you regret the money. Was $5k a good price to “buy” better career growth, better projects, happier coworkers, etc.? Hopefully seeing the list will convince your brain that you traded money for a healthy work situation, and that it was a good trade!

    17. The Other Evil HR Lady*

      I did really quick math: $5K divided into 52 weeks is $96/week (minus tax, so maybe $76/week). Would you rather pay $76/week in therapy to deal with your current toxic job? Or have a better life all around for $76 per week. I’m thinking you’d be okay with paying $76/week so that you DON’T have to see a therapist! :-D

      Don’t know if that helps, but that’s usually what I tell myself. You’re obviously making the right decision.

    18. HR Exec Popping In*

      I would think of the $5k as payment you received just to deal with a toxic work environment. Now that you don’t have that, you don’t “earn” that money. The good news is, you will likely perform better and be happier which could result in larger performance increases. So you might make that money up sooner than you imagine. Congrats on the new job.

    19. Policy Wonk*

      I’m sure the small pay cut seems like a step backward. But remember that sometimes to get to where you want to go you need to take a step or two back in order to head in a new, better direction. Congrats on the new job!

    20. Nomic*

      Try this: Your “compensation package” is NOT just your salary.

      It’s your Salary PLUS Peace of mind PLUS vacation PLUS opportunity for advancement PLUS lack of toxicity.

      Now compare the PACKAGES… the new one bigger — of course you want it.

    21. AndersonDarling*

      I’m predicting that you won’t notice the change.
      1. You will be happier. When you are happier, you spend less and you can focus better on your spending.
      2. You will have more energy to do projects and hobbies that have been set aside. So you’ll be occupied instead of spending.
      3. When you are at a good job, you will get raises! That small pay difference may disappear in the next review cycle.
      4. You will have regular raises and possible promotions. So even if you have to take a small cut now, your potential earning is so much more! In 5 years, you will be making remarkably more at good job vs bad job.
      5. When you are happy, you can invest more time in cooking rather than getting take-out. That is a huge $$ saver.
      But you happiness is worth so much more than the pay cut. Really and Truly. You’ll be amazed how wonderful things can get when you leave a toxic job. I’m very happy for you!

    22. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      How about thinking of it as you’re paying for upgraded conditions, like paying for an upgrade on a plane?

      I’d pay $5k in a heartbeat to not have a toxic job.

      You work in order to make money to have the kind of lifestyle you want. Right now in your current job, you’re not able to afford that. This new job does allow that.

    23. ecnaseener*

      Several people above have pointed out the potential savings in therapy bills or coping mechanisms. I’ll just add that even if you aren’t currently spending money on any of that, stress is BAD for your health. If not in the short term, count on it saving you expensive health problems down the line.

    24. Tybalt's Cat*

      You could try pretending it’s the other way around. Would a $5K raise be worth going from a non-toxic, stable environment with the same benefits to a horribly toxic environment? I think, for most people, it wouldn’t. As long as you can afford a $5K cut, then it should be fine. As others have pointed out, you may even end up spending less in the long run.

    25. bea*

      sometimes it can help to think of it as hourly too. how much time outside of work are you spending thinking about/stressing about/otherwise spending your limited energy and time on this earth thinking about toxic job? if you’re free of all that stress and drain, you’re honestly probably making more per hour at new job

    26. Cellbell*

      I made a similar change once and fretted over the pay cut, especially because I was just barely past living paycheck to paycheck. I ended up getting promoted after only nine months because being in a better environment actually brought out my best work, and was making 10% more than my old job at that point. Hang in there, the mental health benefits are worth it!

    27. Irish Girl*

      Think about it this way, your only down $100 a week pre tax, is that worth leaving the toxic place for? I could say yes for a lot or reasons.

    28. Wondering*

      Would you pay $13.69/ day for one year to leave a really toxic work environment and be someplace healthy with opportunities?

    29. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Lots of suggestions about imagining the $5k as hazard pay – but what about flipping that and thinking about choosing to pay $5k for a happier work year? Or, less than $20 a day to have better work in a better environment? Or $2 an hour to not feel rage 8+ hrs per day (yes I am projecting here)? YMMV but the positive framing is often shown to be more effective.

      My other suggestion, which I would personally employ first, is project out your earnings taking into accouunt merit increases, and when you could reasonably expect a promotion, and in another column add up your salary from your old job, without those. It’s probably not long before New Job wins quantitatively either!

    30. Anonymous Koala*

      I would look at the long game here: will taking a $5k paycut now position you to earn more at your new job in a few years than you would have in your toxic job? With the merit raises and growth opportunities, it sounds like will. Will you learn skills in new job that will make you more marketable for future high paying positions? Again, it sounds like you will. If you look at how this job change will affect your earnings in the mid-to-long term, the math will probably be in favor of new job over toxic job.

      I made a similar move a few years ago, and I also hesitated a lot. But I did it because the added flexibility, skills building, and growth potential at my new post was worth more money to me in the long run than staying at a dead end job for a higher per hour rate.

    31. Aitch Arr*

      If your mental health is better, you may end up taking fewer sick/vacation days.
      That’s a benefit to you for many reasons: less likely of running out of PTO, therefore not having to go unpaid; payout of unused, accrued days upon departure (assuming that is your company’s policy / state law).

    32. Mockingjay*

      I took a $15k paycut to get out of ExToxicJob. I’ve been here 7 1/2 years now, and have well surpassed what I made previously. Not going to lie, I didn’t like the salary number AT ALL – and they came up quite a bit to match.

      On the other hand, the mental relief I felt was priceless. Sure, I still have difficult days – I’m assigned to a ever-growing project and the government customer manages like a toddler (easily distracted by shiny new system or process – oooh). But my company, my supervisor, and my teammates have my back 110% and have gone to bat for me many times.

    33. Insert Pun Here*

      I don’t know your circumstances so this might not apply to you, but — if you don’t come from wealth/haven’t been making 90k/yr for very long, your brain may be stuck thinking 5k is a lot of money. And, yeah, it’s a lot of money, but for most people in most cases who make 90k a year, it’s not a huge hit. But back when you were making 35k, it was a ton of money (1/7 of your salary.)

      I constantly have to remind myself of this. I’m not saying go out and blow 5k on candy but as others have noted, you’ve solved a major problem in your life for 5k (less, after taxes.) That’s a thing to be celebrated!

      1. OP / Pretzel*

        First, I wish I could respond to everyone because all of you have given me such great advice and perspective. I really, really appreciate it.

        This one sticks, though, because that was me. I was underpaid for the longest time in my career, and I felt like it took me quite a bit to “catch up” with other people. There’s something about having to go “backward” that’s nagging at me, even though, rationally, I know that’s not really what’s happening here—at least not for the long-term. I have to say, though, seeing the math breaking down that it would only be a difference of ~$15/day (or something equivalent) is making me feel a lot better. When it’s broken down like that, I really can’t imagine noticing it in my paycheck all that much.

    34. Unkempt Flatware*

      Done it a few times in search of happiness. Barely makes a dent in things. Minor sacrifices was all it took. Same pay bracket you’re in. For me, it’s been one step backwards (pay wise) and four steps forward.

    35. A CAD Monkey*

      Adding mine to this.
      I quit my last job with nothing lined up while making ~60k total comp (salary+bonus). 9ish months later took the job i’m currently in at 50k. 5 years later, (based on my W2) my total comp is just shy of 80k. had i stayed at the other job, i’d MAYBE be at 67k. I was burned out and fed up the owners of old job. My mental health was in the toilet and it was taking a toll on my physical health (lost 40lbs in those 9 months due to not stress eating). you read that right, being unemployed was less stressful than that job.

      My advice:
      Take the new job, don’t worry about the 5k, and celebrate the fact you no longer have to deal with that level of toxicity daily.

    36. thelettermegan*

      see if you can get some hard-and-fast information on when your new pay will match the old pay. It might a lot easier if you can think of it in terms of ‘I’m going to be so much happier, and in X months I’ll be making X more monies because I made this change.’

    37. JelloStapler*

      If it is that little of a pay cut and the new place regularly gives merit or COLA raises, You’ll make it up in no time. I say get out of the toxic place.

    38. Llama Llama*

      Think of it this way. You are ‘spending’ $96 a week for peace of my and far less stress!

    39. Greener pastures*

      Toxic jobs are often uncertain ones. If you get arbitrarily fired or let go or forced to quit, what is the opportunity cost to taking 3-12 months to find a new job while maybe on severance or unemployment?

    40. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      BTDT:
      1) Recalculate your hourly wage including hours you spent outside of work thinking about work, stressing about work, ranting about work.

      2) Place a personal expense rate on the most toxic job traits – how much money would make those areas palatable. Once you subtract those, how much were you making for the rest of your job.

      FWIW I took a 50% paycut and never looked back. If you can pay your bills, save for the future and have enough to enjoy life, everything else is optional.

    41. Jaydee*

      It bothers you because we’ve been taught to believe that our salary is a measure of our worth as an employee and as a person. If you take a $5,000 pay cut, does that mean you’re now 5.5% less valuable than you were a few weeks ago at old job?

      Of course not! But that’s the mindset behind the idea of never taking a pay cut. And it’s a really harmful mindset to have. It keeps people stuck in jobs and fields they no longer like or that are harmful to them. And it perpetuates a lot of societal biases around socioeconomic class, race, gender, and disability.

      If the salary is enough to meet your financial needs, and if the benefits and company culture are to your liking, take the job. Especially if there is room for merit raises, promotions, etc. you may end up making back that $5,000 and then some pretty quickly, and you might find yourself in even a better financial position than if you stayed at ToxicJob. (Even an annual 3% COLA increase would have you back over $90,000 in two years).

    42. Ellie Chumsfanleigh*

      Instead of thinking of it as a pay cut, try thinking of it as investing $5K in your career growth.

      I have a certification that cost me close to $5K and after I got the cert, my salary was increased by $10K. So it was a worthwhile investment for me.

    43. anotherfan*

      My experience is slightly different from your case because i was laid off and my only option was a $9,000 pay cut if I wanted to work and boy, but that stung — but I saved on commuting costs, which saved on gasoline costs and car repairs; I was in a much better place with better people, so I regained my love for my job; because I was no longer working in two states, my taxes decreased; it did take a few years, but I eventually made up the difference and my company was wonderful during the pandemic, giving raises and bonuses even to jobs that don’t ordinarily get bonuses. For me, the plusses outweighed the loss, especially since I was able to get back up to my original pay eventually.

    44. Numbat*

      I always ask people in this situation, “would you gladly pay $X to be rid of the stress you have now?” The answer is usually yes, definitely. If so, congratulate yourself on the sound investment of buying yourself a better life for a mere $X.

  6. Slow Gin Lizz*

    Is there any way to politely request that a (new) C-level exec at my org not respond “Thank you” to every single email that anyone sends them? Especially as a reply-all when they are only thanking one person who is not me?

    Background: I have recently been diagnosed with ADHD and it is actually extremely distracting to get these kinds of emails. Is there a way to request as an accommodation that this person only email me when they have action items for me to do? I know (I do!) that they are only being polite but these emails have the opposite effect on me. What I don’t know is if it would be rude of me to request to opt out of the normal human convention of receiving thank yous.

    Or is this a me-problem and I need to just deal? Another C-level person did this all the time but instead of asking for an accommodation I just dealt with it, but also since I knew this person was about to retire I was able to reassure myself that since they were leaving soon I could, in fact, deal. Since this other person is new and presumably not going anywhere, I am less likely to be able to convince myself to just deal.

    1. JC*

      Can’t you just set up an email filter or disable email notifications? Making every little thing everyone’s problem rather than finding a simple solution isn’t helpful.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah I turned off the desktop email notifications on my computer a few years ago because I found they were distracting me too much (I have my email program icon pinned in my task bar and that will pop up a little signal if there are new messages but it’s subtle enough that if I’m busy with something it doesn’t immediately pull my focus).

        In general when managing your email it really doesn’t work to require other people to remember what your particular preferences are (and it particularly doesn’t work if the other person is extremely senior on the hierarchy).

      2. Rex Libris*

        Turning off email notifications (phone and desk) was the single best quality of work-life thing I ever did. I simply set a couple times a day I’ll check my email, and figure if something is on fire, someone will text me.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          This. Setting “X time is for checking emails” is a huge time saver. If you know important stuff comes in at nine am, or two pm, or whenever, make it around then.

          Don’t try to do any other tasks when you’re dealing with email. Scan, delete the dross, and organize when/how you respond to the actual work issues.

    2. Tio*

      Depending how you ask, it would probably come off a little rude, at least to me. Given that it’s someone very high up in the chain as well, probably not going to do yourself any favors here. I have ADHD myself, and I just don’t see “You particularly must stop emailing me thank you” is going to be seen as a reasonable accommodation. But, if you can get into polite conversation with them at some point, and say something like “Oh you don’t have to email me thank you, you know; I appreciate the thought but sometimes it distracts me since I tend to stop and look at emails from higher ups immediately! Feel free to not send those out and I will still feel appreciated.” or something similar in a friendly, breezy way, you might get what you want. But I don’t know how much actual access you have to this person

      1. Jane*

        I would never say anything like this to a higher up. This is something that you *might* request of your dedicated administrative assistant but asking a C-suite executive to bear you in mind when they’re not even emailing you directly/solely is wild.

        1. Tio*

          tbh I would never do this myself to someone that high up if I was not close to that level. I might say this to a boss I have a good relationship with – maybe – but this is the closest I would get to saying anything. Although it did seem like the exec is emailing them directly

          But honestly, yeah, I probably wouldn’t do it at all. I think this is a you issue.

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        We’re a very small org but we also work remotely and I don’t have that many meetings with her; if we were in the same place I could maybe see myself having that conversation but you’re right, I don’t think it will work in this particular case. I suspect that she does it entirely by reflex too; I doubt she even realizes that she does it for every single email. Oh well, I need to figure out a way to get this to stop annoying me. I’ll let y’all know if I do. :-)

        1. GythaOgden*

          If you’re using Outlook get into the habit of exchanging thanks using the reactions tool. I use it to acknowledge that I’ve seen something that doesn’t necessarily require a response, and it’s a game-changer. Others have used it as a way of ‘laughing’ at a funny aside I’ve sent them.

          You can’t control the higher-ups, but using reactions yourself might get a mirror response from the recipients.

    3. Jane*

      I absolutely would not do that. I would suggest creating a rule in your inbox that automatically mutes their emails so they don’t pop up or having them automatically sent to a specific folder, which you can also do with other emails. Your IT department can walk you through the process if you can’t find it within Outlook or the program you use. This falls into the category of being your issue to work through and find solutions to rather than directing how someone acknowledges emails. I realize your frustration (as someone else with ADHD) but you would come across as really entitled with this request.

    4. CTT*

      I don’t think you can make that request, but in lieu of dealing with it, could you set up a rule so all emails coming from this person go to a special folder and check it at the end of the day?

    5. Busy Middle Manager*

      I just turned off outlook alerts long ago, no reason to have emails popping up as they come in

    6. Ellis Bell*

      I hate this, and I’m also ADHD, but I think that’s a non starter. My email lets me downgrade emails which aren’t specifically addressed to me -is that an option? If you use Outlook, Outlook rules let you sidebar certain emails based on things like sender, words in the email, or the recipient(s).

    7. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I was afraid the answer was no, thank you all for being honest with me. I did attempt to set up a filter but I don’t think I actually can because I can’t just filter out every email from this person, nor can I filter out every email that says “Thank you” because of course lots of emails do. I will just have to readjust my brain to stop getting annoyed at them. Any advice on how to do that? :-)

      1. Jane*

        Are you using Outlook? There are other options like creating a separate folder for this person’s emails to automatically be put into or muting the notifications you get from their emails.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Hadn’t thought of that, I’ll try it, thank you! This new person also tends to email all staff with irrelevant-to-me stuff, so this actually would be a blessing! (I definitely do not need, for instance, an email on a Tuesday about “Here’s the email blast we’ll be sending out on Thursday” since I’m *on* the email list. I can just get the email on Thursday along with all of our other subscribers.)

          Actually, I love the idea of muting notifications from different email addresses! I’m going to play around with that now.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Explore setting up a filter so any email where the “To” and “CC” fields has “AllStaffMailingList” (or whatever the name is) skips your inbox and goes into one folder.

            Then you can check the folder once a day/week/whatever.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              If only. They also use the all staff email list to send us last-minute zoom invitations whenever they are “laying someone off” (firing them). So I really do need to get those.

              I just muted all email notification sounds and popups and I’ll see how that goes for awhile then re-evaluate.

      2. Mill Miker*

        The trick, instead of filtering out any email that says “Thank you”, is to disable email notifications generally, and then set up filters to re-enable notifications for more urgent messages, and then regularly check if any other messages came in regularly.

        Personally, I have all the notifications disabled, but check my email between tasks. I have any email from our ticketing and task management software go to it’s own folder, so I can quickly see if there’s anything there. Messages from another noisy but less-important system go to their own folder as well, so I can ignore them.

      3. Rainy*

        Is there a notification you get that is making you anxious? Like, does your email make a sound every time something arrives and that is grating on you or something? If it’s something like a sound or a popup, you could turn that off for this sender, maybe?

        I have all those alerts turned off because they make me anxious. I don’t miss emails, I just don’t get interrupted by the alerts.

      4. A Minion*

        Slow Gin Lizz, I’d like to suggest a sort of punch card system. For every 10 thank you-s this person send, you get a treat. Like a special drink or snack from the breakroom, or whatever.

        You could make it more like a game if you creat a bingo card with specific parameters for the thank you: type of project, dept they replied to, number of people on the email, etc

    8. WorkerDrone*

      I’m sorry, but I think this is a you-problem. I second the suggestions to create an email filter, or disable email notifications or something similar to manage this on your end.

      In general, my experience has been that requests to modify behaviors flow down, not up. My boss can ask me to stop responding “thank you” because it clogs her inbox, but I can’t ask my boss to stop responding “thank you” because it clogs my inbox.

      I believe this is at least partially reasonable due to the cost of time – my time is quite literally worth less to the company, so spending my time modifying my behavior in a way that makes the C-Suite’s life easier (and therefore more productive) is “worth it”. Whereas, the C-Suite’s time is worth so much more than mine to the company in literal dollars, it doesn’t make any sense for them to spend that time modifying their behavior to make life easier for me.

      And while yes, in theory, this would save time that the person isn’t replying “thank you”, but they might have a good reason for doing so. I usually only sign off “thank you” when a task is complete, and Outlook search makes me want to cry, so this gives me an easy, consistent phrase to search in my sent email when I can’t remember if a loop was closed/task completed. It doesn’t save me the time for replying, but it does save me a lot of time when searching Outlook muttering to myself, “Did I ever get that TPS report from Billy Bob?”

    9. Higher Ed*

      I’ve set up an Outlook filter for these types of things. You may have to play around with the settings, but it reduces my stress to have these go to a folder where I don’t have to see them, but still there if needed later, until I delete.

    10. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Yikes, any such request would likely be received poorly:
      the exec would have to invest effort to change what is likely an ingrained habit.
      Better strategy:

      Switch off EM notifications, because other new people may arrive and also do reply-all. Then just check you EMs every 2 or 4 hours or whatever is suitable for your job.

      Find out how to create EM rules so that all EMs with thank you in the subject line, or even all from him, go to a separate folder.

    11. Maggie*

      You probably just need to deal with it. It will come off pretty strangely to ask a C level exec to stop saying thank you. Can you disable the email pop up or cover it with a sticky note while you’re working, or put them in a separate folder that you only check at certain intervals?

    12. Anon for This*

      Not a you problem, but you do have to just deal. I tilted at this particular windmill for years. Bottom line is that it is performative. The higher up doesn’t just want to thank you, but wants everyone to see that they thanked you. Sorry.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Haha, yes, you nailed down the real reason that I haaaaaaate these emails. Performative, empty praise. Drives me absolutely bonkers. :-) Again I’ll say, I shall try to find a way to adjust my attitude and/or email alerts to help me deal better. Thanks!

      2. ecnaseener*

        I mean, maybe? Or maybe they just want to say thank you because it’s polite, or because they don’t want anyone wondering if they saw the email. If you have no other reason to think of this person as a blow-hard, this is a weird assumption to make.

          1. Sandals*

            Huh. In your original comment, you wrote ” I know (I do!) that they are only being polite…” I mean, isn’t that a good thing?

          2. Velociraptor Attack*

            I think this perception plus the fact that you dealt with it from someone else shows that you kind of just have a problem with this person and if it wasn’t this, it would be something else.

        1. Sandals*

          Totally agree; good call, ecnaseener. Besides, the “thank you” replies also can serve as proof that boss did receive from you whatever they requested.

        2. RagingADHD*

          It’s a pretty common convention to use “thank you” as a read receipt, so everyone knows you received it and aren’t wondering whether they need to follow up.

      3. Jessica Clubber Lang*

        I think it is a “you” problem in this case. It’s not Slow Ginn’s place to tell someone else how to use their email. Esp an exec – please don’t do this if you care about your reputation at this job.

    13. Ginger Baker*

      In addition to the Outlook suggestions above, you can also a) create a rule to tag to a “CC Only” (or whatever) category all emails where you are not in the To line (or, all where you are not in To + From:CEO) and/or b) use conditional formatting in the View setting to create the same effect but make all those emails, say, light grey font or something.

    14. Observer*

      Is there any way to politely request that a (new) C-level exec at my org not respond “Thank you” to every single email that anyone sends them?

      No. Or rather, even if there is, there is no way to do it without looking like a jerk or sharing waaay to much information, and even then you risk looking like a jerk.

      . Is there a way to request as an accommodation that this person only email me when they have action items for me to do?

      No, again. Because when it’s a matter of “reply all”, stopping to email a single person actually starts becoming a big task.

      Or is this a me-problem and I need to just deal?

      For the most part, yes. You’ve gotten some good advice on filters, your notifications, etc. Become really good at making outlook do what you want it to.

      You *might* be able to ask this person to stop sending *you* thanks yous when it’s just the two of you on an email chain. But unless you are getting a LOT of these email from him just to you, I don’t think I would spend the social and political capital.

    15. thelettermegan*

      I think it’s one of those habits that can be very difficult to quit.

      But if your work is more ‘I put my head down and make stuff,’ and rarely ‘react to email requests immediately’, you can turn off email notifications. Just get into the habit of checking it twice a day. If you let the emails build up, it can be a nice mental break to go through the box. You’ll also want to make sure there is a way for you to receive immediate communication, like through chat or text.

      If you have to do an inbox zero, try thinking of his emails differently – they’re not just thanking someone, they’re acknowledging to everyone that the email has been read and information digested. Sometimes C-suiters can seem unaware of daily operations, so having a record of what they know can be helpful. There might come a day when you’ll want to know if they know something, and that thank you email might come in handy.

    16. NotKellyKapowski*

      I completely understand how this can turn into a BEC-type gut reaction to get those emails. I dealt with someone who was my BEC at a previous job, and I found that changing my attitude toward him made it much better. “Ha! That’s Zack being Zack, Zacking around like he always does,” and chuckle to myself. I treated him how Principal Belden treated Zack Morris, the “charming rascal” trope.

    17. RagingADHD*

      Unless you are also CSuite, this would be considered extremely rude and presumptuous in any company I have ever worked in.

  7. Panda*

    I have a relatively new employee who was already showing serious concerns about her performance and professional judgment. Then she had a car accident where fortunately no one was hurt; but she totalled her new luxury car without any insurance (she was texting while driving). After this she either didn’t show up to work, or would come in late then leave early without any communication. When she was here she would walk around dazed and upset.

    She kept insisting she was fine to work and it took some persuading to get her to take time off. She was supposed to be back now but she isn’t, nor is she responding to any of my calls or texts. Her family member is a friend of a friend; and I heard she is having a complete mental breakdown. Her parents are with her to try and persuade her to quit her job and move in with them and get professional help; but she is insisting she’s a high performer and she doesn’t want to quit.

    She was a mess before the car accident and I was already on alert to terminate her employment if necessary. But since her car accident it’s clear she’s in no state to work. Given her mental health situation and the fact that she’s not engaging with me (or anyone else) at all, how do I go about ending her employment in a compassionate and professional way?

    1. Msd*

      This may sound cold blooded but stop reaching out. Maybe my workplace was odd but if someone was not at work for 3 days without any notification it was considered job abandonment and they were terminated.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I don’t think your workplace was odd, I do think it’s pretty standard for places to have job abandonment clauses. My last two places did. Panda, if you haven’t already, you should see if your workplace has such a rule, and also maybe check with HR to ask them how to go about it. If you are the owner of the company, then I guess this advice won’t apply, but think about adding an abandonment clause to your company’s policies.

        1. 1LFTW*

          Same. I’m trying to think of any past workplaces that *didn’t* have this rule, and I’m coming up empty. My current one definitely does.

      2. GythaOgden*

        This would be the case for us too, even here in the UK. Gross misconduct would require an investigation but it would be relatively cut and dried, particularly if the employee were to recognise the situation was irreparable and resign when faced with the process. It happened just before Christmas — the relationships in question had been broken in so many ways and the bridges had basically been nuked between him and his supervisor that he opted to go of his own accord despite being judged to fall short of actual gross misconduct.

        If she’s being counselled by others not to return, you can assist in that process by a firm but fair termination, maybe some sort of severance and so on. Be the way she gets an enforced rest but don’t be a jerk about it and …problem solved.

      3. pcake*

        There’s no reason for someone not to contact their job if they’re out and not unconscious – my husband texted his boss from the hospital, and it only took seconds. Even if someone is so stressed they can’t stand to talk to work on the phone, they can still send an email.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        I agree with speaking with a lawyer or at least someone high up in HR about what to do. Could sending her home after the crash be a mitigating factor in it not being a case of “job abandonment”? or the fact that it was a health issue that sent employee home open up discrimination issues even if she hasn’t filed for FMLA? I don’t know but personally I’d want the backup and support of someone more knowledgeable before proceeding as it sounds like a potential landmine of WTF! waiting to happen.

    2. Winstonian*

      If it was me I’d send her a certified letter requesting contact with you by a certain date or you will consider it job abandonment and start separation proceedings.

    3. Betty*

      Is there any chance that she’d be eligible for any kind of medical leave/disability through work, or an EAP, or any support of that kind? I think that being able to say “if you need to take a leave of absence here are some resources, but if you don’t pursue a formal leave by X date we’ll consider it a resignation” maybe is slightly kinder?

      1. Shirley You’re Joking*

        If she’s covered under the employers disability insurance, she can file a claim and be covered even if she’s no longer employed. The date of disability just needs to be before her last day of work.

    4. Green Goose*

      Do you have anything in your employee handbook about how many days you can be MIA before termination? If no, I’d recommend doing everything in writing (email) for your own paper trail.
      I don’t know any of the legal ramifications of letting someone go, so take my email advice below with a grain of salt. But this is what I would do:

      Hi Wakeena,

      It’s Panda from Panda’s Consulting. I’m reaching out because [x date] was your agreed upon return date from leave and you did not return nor communicate that you would not return. I attempted to contact you by text at [555-555-5555] at [x time] and [y time] and did not receive a response. I hope that you are okay.
      Please note that if I don’t receive a reply to this email by [date and time] it will be considered a resignation on your end.
      If it is your intention to return to work we will need to have a conversation over the phone before you return to work to align expectations. I will wait to hear from you.

      Panda

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Very good.
        Since she was always a poor performer you don’t want to try to hang onto her and suggest EAP etc.
        Best to make the break asap and start advertising for someone who can actually do the work

      2. Quantum Possum*

        I think this is an excellent script. :)

        My one change would be the last paragraph. I would leave off the “I will wait to hear from you” because that might be taken as “I won’t actually do anything until I hear back from you.” (You never know with Some People.)

        And I think the “before you return to work” could similarly be misconstrued as saying there’s a chance for continued employment. If this is indeed an instance where the employee is going to be terminated regardless (due to past performance issues), I would just say something like “If it is your intention to return to work, we will require a conversation to align expectations.”

    5. Rara Avis*

      It’s worth considering that there’s a good chance of a head injury with a serious car accident. She might be in a situation where she isn’t capable of doing what needs to be done to pursue FMLA, disability, etc. And bear in mind that you only have hearsay (3rd hand?) about what’s going on with her. I don’t know if you have HR, but they are probably the right place to start to see what your legal obligations are in this case. It sounds like you’re really frustrated with her work and her life choices (and her lack of communication), but it might be worth giving it a little more time.

    6. Observer*

      Her family member is a friend of a friend; and I heard she is having a complete mental breakdown.

      So, you are basing yourself on hearsay that may or may not even be accurate. Not a good move.

      Forget all of the juicy stuff about her car – none of that is relevant and bringing it up calls into question your judgement here.

      What you should do is talk to HR, if you have such, and a lawyer (find a decent one if you’re company doesn’t already have one) about *documented* performance problems and the fact that you have not been able to reach her despite the fact that the scheduled time for return has passed and she has been a no-show.

    7. CanadaGoose*

      Compassionate: Don’t reference her apparent “complete mental breakdown” in correspondence or gossip.
      Professional: It sounds like she’s abandoned her job. There may be good reasons for that, but how would you handle it if you didn’t have the gossip, and just could not reach an employee for days or weeks? Do that. You might leave room for coming back, as you would for an extended illness or family emergency, but your company structure may not allow for that, and that’s ok.

      If you’re in the US, be sure to provide as much health insurance coverage as you’re able, as well as info on options after the end of employment with you.

    8. Pretty as a Princess*

      Are you HR?

      Because if not, HR is the way to go. They will advise on what to do and likely have a protocol.

      I have been in a similar situation many years ago and the individual did not return any kind of contact. Because of factors they had disclosed to us regarding a contentious child custody situation and potentially violent ex, our HR team wound up calling the cops to do a welfare check. No one home. We wound up sending a certified letter saying response by X date was required or we would consider the situation to be job abandonment. When that date passed, we had to send another one demanding the return of company property. I believe they ultimately filed a police report for theft of some company equipment.

      All that said – there were certified letters etc etc and the individual’s manager was NOT in the control seat. I’ve had another one that was a real doozy I can’t disclose, but after multiple weeks of ghosting manager, client, and a government agency, it still was not up to the manager to take action. Our HR team had a very specific protocol and we were not in the driver’s seat.

      While it’s clear you are trying to do the compassionate thing, you are not this person’s physician so keep the hearsay about her mental health out of it. Stick to the facts with HR about
      – Thumbelina was having serious performance issues
      – then, car accident, wandering around dazed and not able to work
      – advised to go home/seek care
      – did not return on agreed upon return date
      – now is nonresponsive to all attempts at contact for X days

      You can say “I’m obviously concerned for Thumbelina’s health and well-being. What are our obligations in this situation? Are we able to terminate employment for non-contact? Please help me understand how I should proceed.”

      Good luck. These things always suck.

  8. Green Goose*

    How do you get over new job jitters? I’ve been at the same organization for almost a decade and I’ll be starting at a new company next week. I’ve started worrying about the one aspect of the new job that isn’t my strongest suit and convincing myself it’ll be a really big part of the job and be a big problem. I’m a worrier unfortunately. But any tips or if you have your own success stories of new jobs, please share!

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      The good news is that for the first week at your new job you will be too busy learning procedures, meeting people, and filling out forms to even think much about anything beyond what you’re doing. Hopefully that’ll keep your worrying brain from distracting you too much. That first week will fly by before you know it. After that, you should be honest with yourself and your new supervisor about what you’re seeing and doing in the first couple of months at the job. If you find that the part of your job that isn’t your strong suit does seem to be a larger part of the job than you hoped, talk to your supervisor about your job duties and see if they can take some of those tasks off your plate, and/or you can get more training in that area to improve your skills.

      1. Miette*

        Yes, this! I find first weeks to be remarkably stress-free once I’m in the midst of them. Sure, the anticipation going in still gets to me, but once I’m in it, I realize the bosses/co-workers will have zero expectations of me, which is exactly what I have for a new hire when I’m the hiring manager. You’re good–you’ve got this.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Far more stressful I find is the last few weeks at the old job because I really don’t like training people (although I’m pretty good at explaining things, I haven’t a lot of patience) and I also keep remembering all the tiny little things that I deal with that pop up very infrequently. None of them are even worth worrying about most of the time but for instance one donation we get every few months has a login system with multi-factor authentication so I have to remember, if I ever leave this job, to tell someone to change it to their phone instead of mine. (BRB, making note of that so I don’t forget!)

          1. GythaOgden*

            I had to work out around a month between promotion and actually starting and I just collapsed — I even spent a couple of days ill and off work. I’d been looking for so long and was about to take some leave to do some personal study anyway but the relief of getting something without having to push that nuclear button was so dramatic!

            I had some holiday already booked so I enjoyed that and was able to have a clean break with the old before diving into the new. I’m actually finding, three months in, that the ramping up of being actually contacted for more substantial work is having more of a physical impact on me than simply starting did, but I’m taking that as a ‘pain barrier’ thing that is temporary while my body adjusts to a higher level of activity (balanced by a much lesser need to commute, like my commute is downstairs rather than taking two hours to go 15 miles by public transport) and not worrying about it so much.

    2. Rex Libris*

      I had the same thing when starting my current job. There was one skill I simply did not have, and was worried about being able to develop. It was something that looked really core to the job when my predecessor was here.

      It turned out it was only core because he made it so, since it happened to be his strong suit. In reality, it only naturally comes up maybe once a year. There’s just no way to know until you’re in the job, and see how the job works with you in it, so there’s not much point in worrying about it.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I like to imagine I have a friend there who thinks fondly of me. It makes the environment seem friendly and emotionally safer to be unsure about things or less than expert or need help in certain areas.

      1. And thanks for the coffee*

        What a great idea. I could use this for other new situations since I’m retired. I’ve never had an imaginary friend before.

    4. Law Bird*

      I’m in the thick of this and struggling a little bit.

      I’ve been working really hard to be good at my new job, but I am finding that the people I am working with have different tolerances for making mistakes and not being immediately perfect. I am cultivating my relationships with those folks so that I can ask them questions, including about how I can please the people with expectations I can’t meet yet.

      I think it’s casting me as someone who wants to do well as quickly as possible, and that I want to meet those expectations as quickly as possible.

    5. Hillary*

      You might find The First 90 Days by Watkins useful.

      My general advice – be curious, ask why a lot, and don’t be prescriptive. Absolutely don’t tell them they’re doing something wrong (unless it’s legal or safety) until you’ve been there a while. There may be reasons you can’t see.

      The other big thing – the more advanced you are in your career, the longer it takes to get up to speed. Don’t be surprised if it takes months before you feel useful.

      1. Green Goose*

        Thanks for the rec! I downloaded it on audible and have started listening already. There is even an app that comes with it that I might download too.

    6. Lemonwhirl*

      The perspective you use is important – it sounds like you are using a perspective that requires you to be an all-knowing superstar from your start date. That’s not practical, sustainable, or realistic. The company hired you presumably knowing that one aspect is not your strongest point. So they might have a plan to work with you on improving this aspect or on removing parts of that aspect from the job.

      Lean into the growth mindset – what do you need to be better at this aspect? Then, after you have your orientation and discuss the goals and expectations with your manager, if you don’t see training or support for improving your skills, ask about it.

      When I start to get stressed about the unknown, I remind myself that I am only part of the equation and that other parts of the equation have responsibilities and challenges. I don’t need to make a system problem or someone else’s problem into a me problem. I don’t have to carry the responsibility for everything myself.

  9. Pyanfar*

    Petty Workplace Rules!!

    So, I have a colleague whose office just declared that trash cans are not allowed at individual workstations. You have to walk to one of two rooms on each floor where trash cans are located to deposit trash. Even if you buy the can yourself, and empty it daily, not allowed.

    What oddball rules have you encountered?

    1. Panda*

      After managing humans I don’t think that is an oddball rule. Managers are people too and people don’t tend to pull random new rules out of their butts. I’m willing to bet they introduced this rule after someone left smelly rubbish or let it pile for weeks, or some kind of other inconsiderate behaviour that was annoying to manage. I also know a company that’s huge on sustainability and they have the same rule as an effort to get people to be mindful of the waste they produce and keep it at minimum.

      That aside, I had a job where the employers reprimanded you if you hung your coat on your chair, was literally one minute late to an internal meeting, had any kind of beverage at your desk without using a coaster, and so on. Everyone had to have the exact same script for voice mail greetings and if yours deviated from the script even by one word someone would march over and tell you off and make you change the voice mail greeting immediately. There were lots of other insanely petty rules and the turnover was something like 80%.

      1. Pyanfar*

        Just to clarify…it is both trash and recycling cans…AND the reason given is that they laid off the janitorial staff during the pandemic and if they allow cans, they have to rehire them. SMH

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              IANAL so I don’t know the exact laws or anything, but workplaces do have to be clean. If the office isn’t being cleaned at all, it’s only a matter of time before the place becomes a complete mess. My own home bathroom, used regularly by only one person, gets pretty gross if it’s not cleaned regularly (I do clean it regularly but sometimes let it go a little longer than I should). I can only imagine how terrible this place’s bathrooms must be if they haven’t been cleaned since the janitorial staff was laid off.

        1. ampersand*

          Similar situation at a large public university I worked at. They cut janitorial staff and first our offices stopped being vacuumed, then they stopped emptying our trash cans. I feel ya on this!

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Where were you supposed to put your coat?

        Those are some petty rules.

        We have the same trash rule, and it’s to cut down on waste (fewer trash bags) and make it easier for custodial staff to gather everything. (We do have individual recycling bins, though.) Since I walk by a trashcan to go anywhere away from my desk, it’s NBD.

    2. Pescado*

      I once worked at a company that outlawed popcorn. I assumed it was because someone had set the microwave on fire, but it turned out that the boss’ wife couldn’t tolerate the smell of it when she was pregnant, so she made a blanket rule and it was never rescinded. Her kids were in high school when I worked there.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Years ago, a job banned hot foods at a potluck, because one of the managers couldn’t stand the smell when she was pregnant. She sat nowhere near where my unit did and held their potluck. The cafeteria (which you could smell quite clearly from most parts of the office) was allowed to operate as usual.

        I think they started allowing it again after she had her kid.

    3. Green Goose*

      During my busy season I have an automated response letting people know that it will take up to two weeks for me to respond. It’s necessary because I’m truly swamped for two months out of the year and other people in my industry do this as well.
      When our new CEO started she told my boss to tell me I was forbidden from having this auto-reply but then offered no tools/support for being able to respond faster.

      1. Christmas Carol*

        I’d probably be maliciously compliant, and compose an auto-reply that I might not be able to respond until the busy season ended.

    4. FricketyFrack*

      I worked in a place that implemented that exact trash can rule. I can tell you right now that it didn’t last long. They ended up giving everyone a tiny one that clipped to our recycle bins and we still had to take it to dump it in one of the big cans, which was still remarkably stupid, but better than nothing. Guess your colleague’s office will learn when people either have to leave trash piled on their desks or get up every time they blow their nose to take the tissue to one of the allowed trash cans.

      1. LCH*

        Omg, yes, I use a tissue every 10 min. Thanks, allergies and dry air! That will be either so many gross piles or so much “wasted” time.

    5. Tradd*

      I used to work at a freight forwarder (I’m a customs broker) with an onsite warehouse. There were 50-60 temps that did eCommerce order fulfillment and the like. Idiot branch manager made a rule that you couldn’t bring in ANY FOOD for either your immediate area or the entire office without bringing enough for the warehouse temps and you had to put it in the lunchroom they had taken over. There were maybe 15 people in the office. Anything put in the lunchroom was immediately taken by the warehouse temps. They had all sorts of birthday celebrations and other stuff among themselves that the office staff were never included in. So I have no idea why the branch manager made that rule. It effectively ended birthday celebrations in the office until the branch manager left. That was 6-7 months, if I remember correctly.

    6. Dinwar*

      I routinely deal with hazardous waste disposal; how much time do you have? :D

      For my part, I have fun investigating the “Why?” for such rules. Our culture is reactive in rule-setting–we’ll only institute a rule if something goes really wrong. For example, on my jobsite we need to get permission to have a coffee pot, it has to fall within certain fairly strict specifications, and needs inspected annually. The reason? The client’s employees would leave the pot on all weekend and burn down buildings. One happened since I was hired, and that’s when this rule was instituted. So the issue in my mind stops being “Stupid rules about coffee pots” and becomes “Scientists may be incredibly smart, but they have vast areas of highly-specialized stupidity to compensate!” (For what it’s worth, I’m a scientist as well…)

      Other times it’s just oversight and bad wording. Like, we had a rule against walking with stuff in your hands once. It was supposed to be against walking up stairs with stuff in both hands, but the way it was written, according to the safety plan you could not walk while carrying stuff. And people tried to enforce this! Goes back to that “vast areas of highly-specialized stupidity” thing.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I was once the person who caused the “check coffee maker is off” rule to be instituted! Readers – If you have a temporary office and cannot live without coffee, I recommend this rule, as the last person to leave might not drink coffee or ever even pay attention to the coffee maker as anything other than something that takes up counter space.

        The building did not burn down, but the fire department was involved and there was a lot of acrid smoke that hadn’t fully dissipated by Monday.

        1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

          Some coffeemakers automatically shut off within a certain amount of time, like an hout. They have these at a hotel I use frequently. They would be ideal for an office.

      2. Donkey Hotey*

        Oooh! “Reactive rule setting” is a great phrase!

        Around here, I call it the “Dave rules.” To eit: the rules where you can almost see at the end the name of the person who did something and got away with it “because there’s not a rule against it.” So the response is to write a “You’re not allowed to do THIS anymore, Dave.”

        1. Dinwar*

          You may want to check out (on a non-work computer) the SCP Foundation’s list of things Dr. Bright is no longer allowed to do. If you’re not familiar with the site it can take some digging to understand the jokes, but once you do they’re pretty funny to anyone who’s had to tell someone “No, you’re not allowed to do this stupid and wildly dangerous thing”! I’ve used lines from that, from the crazy monks in the Castlevania series, and the commandments of Robotology more often at work than I care to admit….

          (As an aside, my work mug has the SCP Foundation logo on it. I’m rather disappointed in the lack of recognition. The SCP Foundation basically is a parody of environmental regulation that takes itself seriously and applies to monsters not contamination; you’d think more people in my industry would be familiar with it!)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            (You may enjoy Seanan McGuire’s “Indexing” series, available on Kindle Unlimited, if you have access. It’s about a “government” style agency that monitors fairy tale incursions into the real world.)

          2. AG*

            Now renamed to Things Dr Shaw is Not Allowed to Do
            (All mentions of Bright were recently changed to Elias Shaw)

    7. ForestHag*

      I had a boss once that said it “hurt her feelings” that our team “rushed out the door right at 5pm”, because it seemed like we would rather be at home than at work. So a new rule was implemented – we had to linger a few minutes after 5 and not look like we were “rushing”, and we could only use the wall clock and not our computer clocks. Oh yes, morale was awesome there.

      1. Rainy*

        I legitimately don’t understand how people who operate like that can keep a job. People who manage by how something makes them feel or how they imagine someone else is feeling about them are invariably terrible managers.

    8. The Other Evil HR Lady*

      At a construction company I used to work at, the CEO didn’t like for the staff in the office to wear sneakers, e.g., Nike, New Balance, Adidas, etc. He was okay if we wore, say, Keds. He was okay if we wore sandals!!! This was a very casual office, because: construction, but no sneakers. There was no explanation as to why, such as they didn’t have steel toes, or they were slippery. Other types of shoes that WERE allowed are far more dangerous!

      Then he was fired for having his hand in the cookie jar and we could all wear sneakers again. I wore one pair to death during my pregnancy. It was glorious.

      1. ForestHag*

        I wore flip flops, stretchy skirts, and t-shirts during my second pregnancy – I worked in IT so I didn’t have to worry about safety things like you do in construction – but I certainly did not look professional. But I was in my third trimester during the hottest part of Texas summer, and professionalism be damned. I was so hot and sticky and uncomfortable all the time, and I was going to wear whatever made me less so, and everyone else just had to deal with it. Thankfully, no one hassled me about it.

        1. The Other Evil HR Lady*

          Oh, yeah! He allowed flip flops. So, it wasn’t even because sneakers are too casual. I had a nice Sbicca pair of flip flops that served me well, and the CEO didn’t bat an eye. It was just. Sneakers. So bizarre.

          1. A CAD Monkey*

            I had a pair of steel toe sneakers when i worked on construction sites. i got told off by a superintendent once. i grabbed a magnet, dropped it on my shoe, then shook it. he shut up after that. Your CEO sounds like he was just bananacrackers.

        1. The Other Evil HR Lady*

          You see the problem then… He didn’t like running or walking or basketball (and so on) shoes like the brands mentioned, but Keds (which are less for exercising and more for comfort) were okay. It made no sense. Like at all.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            So, no specialized gym shoes.

            This sounds like the great flip-flop debate at my old job. Are all thong-style sandals flip-flops? Some thought so, some didn’t.

            My government job now is just happy that we show up wearing shoes.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Sort of. Keds were tennis shoes.
              Source: I am older than I want to admit in an interview.

    9. Bob Howard*

      In this case, why not just dump the rubbish that is not obviously yours on the floor? Obviously not where anyone can see you, and not by your desk!

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Ok fine, but then there will be a pile of dirty kleenixes on the desk, particularly during allergy season. Yes, I’ll throw them out and yes I’ll wipe the desk down, but until that point, deal.

    11. Ama*

      In my employer’s current office, all the cubicles have a little coat closet that’s about 5 feet tall. We are not allowed to put anything on top of those cabinets, not for any reason other than our CEO has some weird obssessions around things looking “neat” and absolutely can’t stand looking over the top of the cubicles and seeing things poking up over the top. Which sucks because for people who don’t have a cubicle right next to the windows, they can’t have plants because the only places those plants could get daylight is on top of the cubicles.

      When I worked in the office I malicious complianced this a bit by stacking publications (that the CEO kept giving me and which I had nowhere else to store) on top of my coat cabinet but making sure the stacks stayed extremely neatly stacked and below the actual top wall of the cubicle (about four inches higher), and she never made me move them.

      I’m so glad I’m full time remote now.

    12. Sangamo Girl*

      I worked for the National Park Service in the 1990s. Because of a lot of macho attitudes people got hurt. A lot. However, once OSHA got involved we suddenly had lots of rules about a lot of things.

      You must use a harness and tie off when working on a roof. Good idea. Enforce the lockout/tagout program and stop using equipment with missing safety guards and frayed cords. You’ve got it! Stop horsing around and falling off cliffs. Perfect!!

      Alas, some people don’t know when to stop. So we also had rules for . . . walking up and down stairs. You must be able to produce an MSDS for every item in a building–everything. So not just solvents, machine oil, and acetone but the dishwashing liquid. And my personal favorite–a standard operating procedure for using the copy machine. Maybe people were getting repetitive stress injuries from pressing the button too many times? or crushing their heads in the document cover? Dunno, but accident rates went down and we could go back to making copies without reading the process in the binder first.

    13. My Useless 2 Cents*

      As someone with chronic seasonal allergies, there would be some days I would literally be doing nothing but walking to and from my desk to throw away tissues! The fact that they stated no exceptions even if you bring in a can yourself is beyond bizarre to me and incredibly petty.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I would bring in a plastic grocery bag and hang it off a desk drawer for my tissues and throw it away at the end of the day. “Hey, it’s not a trash can, doesn’t break the rules!”

    14. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      There was a quarter jar if you said “no problem” on a customer call. Because “no” is a negative word and “problem” is a negative word, and the CEO wanted us to be positive! No, really. That was one of several such rules.

      This was the job I almost posted about in yesterday’s “jobs you quit on your first day.” I didn’t quit in the first day, or even the first week, but I started looking for new jobs on Day 3. I only stayed because they had almost no work for the team I was on and were paying us regardless, and my boss (who was also looking for a different job, like most of us) said he couldn’t get his superiors to give him work to give us, and he wasn’t going to give us busy work. So why quit without something else lined up?

      I collected my pay, used my free time to interview, and gave notice after 2 months. My boss gave notice on my last day, and almost everyone else on my team left shortly thereafter.

      FTR, I did not ignore a bunch of red flags during an interview process: this was a case where I had a job, then I woke up one day and was informed part of the company had been sold to another company, and so I now worked for a completely different company than I had the day before.

        1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

          Never! Two coworkers I told this to independently came up with, “What, he wants us to say, ‘Yes, solution’?”

          I suspect that was the right answer!

          After starting a new job shortly thereafter, I told my wife if I ever complained about work, just to say the words “Yes, solution” to me, and it would stand in for all the (many!) things that were wrong with my previous job, and I would remember to count my blessings at this one.

    15. Nesprin*

      I work in a science lab, where some rules are there for extremely good reason and some are… not.
      I have 11 distinct types of trash collection in my lab.
      My phosphate buffered saline (i.e. salt water) needed to be collected as hazardous waste.
      I am allowed to work with several classes of hazards… but not allowed to use a cordless power drill or change light bulbs.
      I once had to get an instapot inspected for pressure safety.

    16. Girasol*

      We had a manager who said that no one may park a coffee cup on the desktop because that looks unprofessional.

    17. Hallway*

      At my community college they took all the trash cans and recycling bins out of individual classrooms and just put recepticals in the hallways. Seems to work well.

  10. Busy Middle Manager*

    Anyone unmotivated by the cost of living crisis as it overlaps with salaries and work? I am doing a very adult job but also have had to develop habits I had when I just finished college more than 20 years ago and was broke. I couldn’t concentrate yesterday because I kept getting distracted by looking for places to move that are cheaper and there is nothing. I’m finding it hard to mentally be motivated and in the zone and come from a place of productivity and growth, when the life I’m living every day is based on lack and cutting corners and not doing things do to cost.

    I don’t go to the office most of the time because any coffee place or food is super expensive. Not getting into numbers since people say “just go somewhere cheaper,” not realizing that a lot of those places closed or have also jacked up prices. But some prices are just ridiculous these days. I’m trying to figure out if it’s a cost issue or a salary issue. I’ve been getting impatient waiting to see what’s going to happen.

    1. helio*

      Yup, and I’m thinking it’s both. My company froze raises last year despite my department being vastly in the green, and cost of living is just going up. They also changed our insurance so more of the cost is on the employee than the company. Personally, I’m looking for a new position as there are a few places with comparable positions open with salaries ranging from 10-30k more than I’m making. I hope that you take a look around and can find something that’s paying more too!

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        I feel the pain! I got a few responses about budgeting. I’m not sure what to do because I don’t see it as a budget issue. Rents here are up 30%-50% since pre-covid and then you meet some people who act like it’s a personal spending problem, which is always weird to me, since we should all be impacted by price increases.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          Rent increases don’t much affect people who already own their homes. That generally means upper management isn’t hurting, so they don’t empathize.
          Besides, their bonuses aren’t frozen.

      2. Hot Dish*

        Ugh, we got hit with a SUBSTANTIAL increase in insurance costs being on the employee, too, and it’s been brutal.

    2. Bacu1a*

      I found an article a while back (that now I obviously cannot find) that suggested you go through all your expenses in a month. It made you go through all your expenses and label them as either a utility bill, another bill/contractual commitment (ex. rent, cell phone plan), and label everything else as choice. If you have almost everything labeled as a bill, you have a salary problem. If it’s mostly other choice items, you have a spending problem. Obviously this is a rather blunt way to do it, but it might be a good starting point for you.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Right but most of my expenses that are up the most are ones I can’t control – food (and I already shop “discount” here), parking spot, utility bill. If I identify utility bill is up, I can’t really cut it.

        1. Bacu1a*

          Right, which is an indication you have a salary problem. You may want to start looking for a position that pays more.

    3. Anon for this*

      It’s probably a cost of living issue *and* a salary issue. I’m also struggling with motivation knowing I didn’t get a raise last year and probably won’t this year either. I live somewhere where cheaper places are literally 5+ hours away, so I can’t move either. So my distraction isn’t searching for a new place to live but trying to figure out where I can go and what I can do to make more money, and still coming up short there. So many jobs similar to mine are now paying less than what I currently make. It’s incredibly frustrating.

    4. Linda*

      I think your last sentence is the key to your distraction and frustration: you’re waiting to see what’s going to happen. You already know what’s happened: you’re not making enough money for your lifestyle. It sounds like you’re already reducing costs and it’s not helping enough, so you need to look at the other side of the coin and increase your income. I’m not a fan of side gigs or so-called passive income, so in your shoes I’d be looking for a higher-paying job or a way to leverage a raise or promotion. Maybe for a new job you’d have to re-skill, which could take awhile, but at least then you’d be taking action.

    5. mcm*

      yes, I couldn’t agree more. It’s really hard to be motivated at work when it feels like workplaces are no longer holding up their end of the historical bargain, ie, that if we got “good” jobs, we would at least be comfortable/able to afford the average cost of living in the area where we live. When companies are not paying that, it’s tremendously de-motivating.

    6. WellRed*

      Oh heck yeah! I need about $15k more a year to afford a one bedroom in the city I grew up in. I’m the only single person in my division so maybe they think I should just get married?

      1. WellRed*

        And the sad part king is, I hit a decent salary bump a year ago (after it came to light how low paid I am).

    7. BellsStells*

      Could not agree more. I am downsizing from a one bedroom to a studio 15 min farther away from work for several reasons. For over a decade our company did not give COLA, nor merit increases nor regular paths to promotion. We got 2% this year. I have also not had a raise in five years tho I exceed every goal. I chose to move which I know you said is not possible for you so I would recommend job searching and as you have said too you looked at all your bills and shop discount I am not sure what else can be reduced. Streaming services? New phone plan for less maybe? This year my health insurance is up 400 a year, the 2% gives me enough to cover that increase but nothing else. Oh and our CEO amd VPs make over 300k a year.

    8. Loreli*

      You wrote “ I don’t go to the office most of the time because any coffee place or food is super expensive”.

      I’m sympathetic to your financial problems, but I don’t understand why going to the office means you are required to patronize coffee shops and restaurants. Why don’t you bring your lunch? Eating out will burn through money very fast.

    9. Alex*

      Yeah it is totally ridiculous in some places–there is a total salary/cost of living mismatch, especially for some industries. Where I live it is next to impossible to live someplace halfway decent within 2 hours of your job if you are a single person in many professions. You have to have roommates, have a significant other, be independently wealthy, or get a second job.

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      Can you look for another job with more pay? Sometimes that’s the only way to get a significant raise, unfortunately.
      I’m so sorry you’re in this situation. Inflation is terrible!

  11. LI certs*

    LinkedIn gurus, I have a nitpicky question.

    I am aware that you have to connect your personal account to your company’s Learning Hub in order to transfer your record of learnings/certifications/etc. However, is it possible to do that and then disconnect again, so you retain the credits without your profile showing the company? Or will it always show the company connection that you used to obtain the certifications?

    1. Good Luck*

      Maybe you type them out manually in the Certification section?

      My experience is that LinkedIn changes how you can change/edit your profile information without always announcing it….you kind of just have to play with it.

  12. peggy's mom*

    It happened to me: I got rejected for a job I really wanted via Zoom! It was the worst three minute video call of my life – I think the consultant I had been working with (who rejected me) also started crying…! Hiring managers…please…do not do this!!!!!

    1. Green Goose*

      oh no! That’s awful. When I was in college I got rejected via voicemail for a job I really wanted but the college student who left me the message said this:
      “Hi Green Goose, this is [other college student] with [job]. We decided to select you [pause] as the alternate if Jordan doesn’t want the job”
      I was CRUSHED. I’m really not sure why she worded it that way, making it sound like I was hired and then not. She was one of those daze-y people so I don’t think it was intentionally malicious but I’ll remember that voicemail for the rest of my life lol.

      1. Miette*

        This is singularly the worst way to have phrased it–what an a-hole. I’m so sorry you experienced that!

      2. MaryLoo*

        Ridiculous. They should have waited until the other candidate either accepted or declined. If they accepted, send you a “regrets” email. Phone calls & Zooms for offers.

    2. Jenna Webster*

      Emails need to become the default job rejection method, so people don’t have to try to respond appropriately when they are devastated. It would be good to provide a contact number if people want feedback and you’re willing to give it, but making someone take a meeting or even a phone call to hear they’ve not gotten a job is kind of awful.

      1. Cawti*

        I completely agree. I was rejected recently via phone call. The hiring manager said she was doing me a courtesy after getting far in the process and all I could think was I would have preferred an email with the same nice words that I was having trouble paying attention to here because I was focused on keeping my voice level and my response professional.

      2. Mimmy*

        Hard agree!!
        This happened to me many years ago when I applied for an internal position with my then-current employer. The recruiter emailed me to set a time to meet (in person) to discuss the position. Imagine my utter disappointment when she told me they’d hired someone else (someone in the department was promoted).

      3. Leia Oregano*

        Yes, I hate phone rejections! I got one in 2019 that still really, really stings because of the context I got it in — I was at my mom’s after her longterm partner died very, very suddenly of a heart attack, and so not getting this job I desperately wanted was a huge kick in the gut at the exact moment I could have used a win. The call was just so awkward and so painful, and I’d been crying for about four days straight at that point and just wanted to get my mom through each day one at a time.

        The real great part of this? My mom’s partner was the brother of one of the hiring committee members, so he was also dealing with his brother’s death, and I’d disclosed the relationship connection once I found out who the committee members were. So if they’d thought about it at all, they would have realized that I was probably a little busy and would maybe appreciate an email!

        1. June*

          Oh that reminds me of a few months ago, when I got a rejection (it WAS an email though) a few days after a close friend received a devastating diagnosis. It was just miserable.

    3. Elsewise*

      Oh my god that’s the worst!! I’ve gotten a rejection phone call ONCE in my life and it was terrible because I was already crying when I picked up so the hiring manager clearly thought I was way more upset about it than I actually was. (I’d already known the job wouldn’t be a good fit, but I picked up because I thought if it was an offer it would cheer me up from what was ACTUALLY upsetting me, which was my dad not wanting to come to my college graduation. It did not.) I’ve had Zoom meetings for not getting internal jobs before (and one in-person, which was awkward but the manager bought me coffee and we’re still friendly), and once a certified letter that arrived six months after I applied. (In 2014.) A Zoom rejection? The worst!

  13. Doomed Project Lead*

    I was brought in last summer to manage a Doomed Project, which has had ridiculous amounts of money sunk into it that it will never make back. It was designed and agreed in 2021, had theee project leads before me, causes everyone to wince if they think about it too hard, and will be wrapped up at the end of 2024, and probably not repeated.

    We still have clients to serve until December 2024, and I am developing new networks and a couple of new skills that are useful and interesting. HOWEVER— it’s hard working on a project which is Doomed, and feeling like nobody is interested in any legacy or future, just in teaching out what’s left.

    How do I motivate myself and more importantly my team, when we all know the Project, whilst well-intentioned and a good idea on paper, is terribly designed,, not fit for purpose, and basically Doomed?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I was in a similar deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic project once. Fortunately, I had no fear of my job going forward – my employer loaned me & several coworkers out to a joint venture project and was going to bring us all back to the mothership after it was over.

      Two takeaways:
      1) There are some really good soft skills you can learn here. If you just go through the motions, you won’t learn them. Things like keeping emotionally balanced, not letting the work situation impact your personal life or your general outlook, dealing with stressed people without absorbing their stress on their own.
      2) There are very few things in the professional world that ever truly end with a nice bow on top, and all the dust swept out of the closets, etc. It’s actually very satisfying to check the very last thing off the list, clean the whiteboard, and then lock the door behind you. (Ignore the cinematic urge to throw a lit stick of dynamite over your shoulder!)

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Yes, I’d agree with that.

        I once had the opportunity to be part of shutting down a major service (our team had also built it!), not because of Doom but because it was a) kind of an experiment in the market place and b) the company later went in a different direction.

        It was all sorts of interesting managing that, including migrating customers out without loss of service, shutting down services etc.

        It’s processess and services and accounting and closing of everything, which is a rare opportunity to see, and to manage well. I also found it a useful experience to have under my belt later.

        Also: remember that YOU did not design and build this Project of Doom in the first place, so you should definetly try to drop any baggage tied to that :)

    2. Dana Lynne*

      One way of thinking about it is to let go of your normal desire to do good work and contribute something meaningful to society, and just think about how you are putting in your time and earning your money. There isn’t any real fulfillment to be had here — but the higher-ups are going to see it through and you have no control over that. It’s kind of like presiding over a funeral.

      My ex (construction) used to repeat to himself “It all pays the same” when fussy clients would have his crew redo stuff in their remodels that didn’t need to be fixed, objectively, but they had changed their minds about the design or wanted something moved a half inch to the left for no real reason.

      Not ideal, but it sounds like this is unusual for you and I’m sorry! It’s great to have a job where usually things go well and the work you do makes sense!

      1. Awkwardness*

        One way of thinking about it is to let go of your normal desire to do good work and contribute something meaningful to society, and just think about how you are putting in your time and earning your money.

        It is not one way or the other.
        You can understand that this is what you are paid for and what your bosses consider as worth spending time and money on. You get paid for this, this is your job. And you can do good work nonetheless.

    3. Quantum Possum*

      Well, the good news is that your team is now 100% qualified to work for the U.S. Department of Defense. Pumping tons of money and manpower into massive, terribly-designed, doomed projects is just Business As Usual ’round these parts.

      To be fair, sometimes the Doomed Project winds up being not doomed. Sometimes this is because there were resolvable issues and the Project actually works! :) But sometimes this is because The Powers That Be release it to the world even if all common sense says it should be canned.

      I highly recommend Albert Camus’ essay “The Myth of Sisyphus” for inspiration in finding meaning in inherently “meaningless” tasks.

      The important thing to focus on is the skills you’re honing and learning on the project, and the fact that you are working together to do something. You still have clients who need and appreciate your work. And take pride in the institutional knowledge that is there! Appoint someone to keep a notebook called “Things Not to Do” and capture lessons learned for future reference. You can find many ways to turn this into a meaningful learning experience.

      It sounds like your project isn’t so much “useless” (or “actively harmful”) as just…”legacy” and boring, if I’m reading it correctly? You’re providing a legitimately helpful service even if it’s not the newest, shiniest thing. I used to specialize in sustainment and maintenance on legacy systems, so admittedly I find it more fascinating than most, lol. It’s not for everyone, though – and it may be that these sorts of projects are not a good fit for you (and maybe some others on your team).

      Maybe you could see this as a learning opportunity for what type of projects you prefer? You might be more fulfilled doing mostly early-lifecycle work, rather than sustainment phase. Just a thought! :)

      1. ampersand*

        Ha! I also thought of the Department of Defense—at my husband’s last job he was working on a DoD-funded project that was actually pretty cool, had a practical application and had been in process for years, and that DoD unceremoniously decided to defund with little warning. Literally about 10 years of his work went down the drain almost overnight. He was quite upset and ended up finding another job that’s not government funded. But yeah, DoD, they do that.

        1. Quantum Possum*

          My sympathies to your husband!

          The DoD motto should be “if it’s practical and it works, we won’t fund it.”

      2. Doomed Project Lead*

        Not actively harmful, just that when you do the math, we’ve made a moderate difference to three dozen llamas’ lives and cost per llama we could have sent each of them on a 12-month first-class cruise and still come out ahead. >_<

        1. Quantum Possum*

          I totally understand your POV, and I sympathize.

          It comes down to whose money it is and how they feel about it. If it’s a contract, then it’s on the llama company to say whether or not they think the project was a waste of resources. Maybe they don’t. Or maybe they do, but it was the best option at the time.

          Regardless, they’ve paid for a product, and as long as no one is being defrauded, the buyers/users are satisfied with the product (and support), and everyone understands the terms, then that’s fair business and not worth your stress.

          (To be fair, my perspective is a teensy bit warped. In the Military-Industrial Funplex, people get promotions for exactly the sort of management that destroyed Enron. We’re a mess of financial misuse, failed projects, multi-billion-dollar losses, no credible audit trails, etc. All of which is very, very public knowledge by law, and yet…no one cares, I guess?)

    4. ampersand*

      Is it possible to think about/treat it like it’s a school assignment or group project? It’s a means to an end (salary in this case instead of a grade). In grad school I had group projects developing service models for providing direct services to different client populations, or evaluating existing programs and proposing changes—and it drove me up the wall that our project findings/conclusions weren’t going to be used. It was hard for me to be sufficiently invested given it wasn’t “real.” I had to just force myself to get through it by focusing on the end goal. In your case, keeping the end date in mind and looking forward to that might help. I would hate to be in this position at a job—it sounds really hard and I hope it goes by quickly!

      1. Doomed Project Lead*

        I’m fairly ok with that trade-off for myself, but I manage a team of people who are all relatively new grads and i find that a bit trickier. They’re getting some good skills and doing their jobs well, but I feel bad that they’re not going to walk away from a great, successful project! And it’s hard to figure out how to be, “hey, you’re doing fine, it’s definitely not your fault we’re at 30% or lower on every KPI we were given 18 months ago! Don’t think this is normal!”

        1. Awkwardness*

          but I feel bad that they’re not going to walk away from a great, successful project!

          But if the project is going to be wrapped up this year it is going to be successful!
          I find it absolutely important, also for new grads, to see and understand that this is the reality of project work too. Sometimes it drags along, you have repetetive tasks, documentation sucks, you are behind the timeline, scopes change, you inherit a mess. Sometimes it is nothing more than frustrating.
          But I would be lost if my boss or project manager gave me the feeling that my work would not make sense because or is no great project. If their work is great, their work is great.

          1. Quantum Possum*

            ^ This.

            I guarantee you that they will learn a lot, and they’ll probably look back on Doomed Project fondly.

          2. Awkwardness*

            We recently got a new project manager for our own little doomed project. This is not their usual type of high-profile project that will get them visibility with their management and you can tell that they are neither really interested nor invested. This shows in lack of communication, persistence in following up or overall effectiveness.

            Which is to say: Your attitude towards the project will shine through one way or the other and it might shape your grads possibly more than the project topic itself.

            Good luck!

    5. anecdata*

      I work on a ton of Doomed Projects, and the way I mentally justify it is:

      – Some degree of Doomed Projects is a cost of admission of innovation/the occasional big successes. I’ve even tried pitching a /maximum/ success rate as an okr – if less than 80% of our projects fail, we know we’re not trying ambitious enough stuff (and taking those early, big risks is my team’s job). Ideally, the Doom Stage is as short as possible, but it’s still going to take some time to shut down and wrap things up responsibly

      – Shutting down a Doom Project and preventing it from sucking up more resources is a massive success – and I put $ values on this. Eg. We pursued BadIdea for 6 months at a cost of $1million and finally convinced Exec it was a bad idea all along. But! Left to their own devices, Exec would have spent 3 years and $100million, so my team saved the company ~$99 million. Go us!

      – On the team side, being extra careful about team’s professional goals, and making sure they get advancement opportunities, both by making sure to balance DoomedProject vs Doomed technology (don’t let someone get stuck only doing support for obsolete stuff all the time forever, at the cost of losing skills in the future of their field); and putting extra thought into getting their successes visibility with higher ups

      1. Awkwardness*

        I do not work in innovation and shutting projects down its not desirable for my field of work.
        But this was such an interesting read because it is looking on doomed projects from a completely different angle. Thanks for sharing!

  14. MsMaryMary*

    My office has a Souper Bowl potluck in February. People bring soup or chili and we have a friendly competition to vote for our favorite. I’ve participated in the tasting and voting in the past but have been too busy to bring soup myself. This year, I have time to participate. Two of my current favorite soups are a vegan African-inspired peanut and sweet potato stew and a coconut milk Thai curry soup. I am an American white lady of European heritage. Is it problematic to bring Americanized versions of soup from another culture? I could easily make a different soup, but I thought it would be fun to bring something other than chicken noodle or chili.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      No, it’s not problematic at all.

      1) You’re not claiming that it’s an old family recipe.
      2) All cultures adapt and absorb things from other cultures.

      Is every one of your coworkers who brings chili of Hispanic heritage from southern Texas? Of course not, but chili has been in mainstream American culture for long enough now that nobody thinks twice about it.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I am a white lady, and a coworker who is originally from Central America was incredibly happy when I made a tres leches cake for a potluck.

        If someone takes offense, that might tell you more about them than you. It’s not like you’re trying to horn in on the local soup business run by an immigrant family.

    2. Green Goose*

      My recommendation would be to say at least the region/country it was inspired by since Africa is such a big place.
      Example” Inspired by Gambian Summer Stew

      1. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

        Or just leave the descriptor off altogether. A popular vegetarian food blogger, Cookie + Kate, got into hot water (heh) for calling her recipe a “West African peanut soup” and it’s now renamed “vegetarian peanut soup.” The soup is amazing, especially with naan, so I recommend it regardless of name.

    3. Betty*

      Also an an American White lady of European heritage. My personal take is that it’s probably less problematic to just think of it as a tasty soup, unless you’re actually working from a recipe from a chef from that culture. Like, if your peanut stew is actually maafe from a Senagalese chef, by all means call it that. But otherwise, “peanut and sweet potato stew” is probably more accurate than saying it’s “African”?

      I think these are helpful links in thinking about culinary appropriation:
      https://www.delish.com/food/a34945169/recipes-misrepresentation-food-media/
      https://www.mic.com/articles/153733/bon-appetit-video-of-white-chef-explaining-how-to-eat-pho-is-peak-cuisine-columbusing

    4. Cabbagepants*

      Nope!

      You did good by calling it “African-inspired.” You’re not claiming authenticity or cultural cred, just noting your influence.

    5. Yes And*

      I think it’s fine for all the reasons other commenters have said. But I’d add that extra care may be needed if there are any people in your office who actually come from the cultures represented by your soups. For example, I’m an Ashkenazi Jew, and I would give some serious side-eye to a non-Jew who brought in matzoh ball soup.

      That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Just be sure to present it as a recipe that you enjoy, not that your vouching for its authenticity. And if you can credit the source of the recipe, all the better.

      1. FricketyFrack*

        I always say I make *A* matzoh ball soup, not *THE* matzoh ball soup. Because I’ve never actually had the latter, there were just lots of people posting their recipes in one of the vegan subreddits around Passover and I was like, “huh that looks delicious, I’m gonna try it.” Some people make their balls with tofu instead of eggs, and I guess there’s some debate about whether that’s ok during Passover, but since I’m not Jewish, that’s what I use.

        So basically it’s just delicious soup that happens to involve matzoh balls and no one should expect it to be correct/traditional.

    6. MsMaryMary*

      Thanks, all! Here’s the vegan stew recipe: https://www.budgetbytes.com/african-peanut-stew-vegan/

      I see the author has renamed the post to be vegan peanut stew and I’ll probably do the same.

      The Thai soup recipe is such a mishmash I think it only exists in my head:

      Sauté grated ginger, chopped garlic, and red curry paste in coconut oil. If you’re adding chicken (pref boneless chicken thighs), fresh mushrooms, onions, and/or sweet peppers brown them in the spice mixture. Add a can of coconut milk and a can of chopped tomatoes with the juice. If you want, add a splash of fish sauce. Bring to a boil and then simmer until meat or veggies are done. If you want to include shrimp instead of chicken, toss in raw shrimp and poach until pink. You can toss in spinach or another tender green now too. Add a little sugar, lime juice and/or red pepper flakes or sriracha to taste. You can leave on a very low simmer for longer to make all the flavors very happy. Serve with or without rice.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yum. Love Budget Bytes.

        I think you’re good to go with “peanut stew” and “red curry soup” without pretending these are ethnic recipes.

    7. Llellayena*

      (Looks at the sweet potatoes on the counter) Yeah…I’m gonna have to see that recipe before I can give an opinion…

    8. ampersand*

      Nope! Both sound delicious. I think anyone who enjoys those dishes would be happy to eat either, unless you work with completely unreasonable people. (I hope not!)

    9. Jessica Clubber Lang*

      Curry is so common in the US i don’t think anyone would bat an eye – I make it all the time myself (white American)

      Peanut and sweet potato also seem fairly generic items – what makes that African in this case? Sounds southern :)

      Either way I’d say nothing to worry about!

      1. Squirrelly*

        Much (arguably most) traditional southern food was developed by enslaved West Africans, so there’s a lot of culinary overlap! But I agree in this case just calling it a vegan peanut stew is the right move.

    10. Madeleine Matilda*

      I think you are fine from a cultural standpoint. I wouldn’t make the one with peanuts though just in case any co-worker has a peanut allergy.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Just label it. The other recipe has coconut which is also a known allergen to also label.

    11. thelettermegan*

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with bringing the soups, and if you can remember what the recipe was called when you originally found it, label it that way, even if you’ve changed some things. For the peanut stew, if you can’t nail down something more specific than ‘African-inspired’, just list the ingredients.

      Food and recipe sharing is so ingrained in so many cultures that people are much more likely to get a kick from seeing how the recipe evolved in the American kitchen than get offended.

      Cuisine really only gets problematic when one describes their cooking as ‘elevating’ a certain culture, or if one insists on knowing more about that food than the people who probably grew up eating it. Or claiming to have invented/discovered something that cleary belonged to someone else.

      The really important thing is that you are bringing something vegan to the potluck – potlucks are so tricky for people with dietary restrictions, so any particular dish that is meat/dairy/wheat/soy free can be immensely helpful.

      1. Mulligatawney*

        This. Any potluck dish needs a card with a list of all its ingredients. (which also solves the problem of people who don’t understand what “vegan” or “vegetarian” means. Like a coworker who insisted her chicken stew was vegetarian because it had chicken instead of beef. Does a chicken have a face? Then it isn’t vegetarian!)

  15. Anonymoose*

    I think I’m mostly just looking for some validation/reassurance here, but here’s my situation: started a new job almost 5 months ago. I was at my prior job for over 20 years and in many ways and for many reasons, I felt trapped there. It was a non-profit, so of course underpaid and overworked for the sake of the mission. When I got offered this new job last summer, I took it, even with no real pay increase to speak of, because I had to get out. My income/expenses have been a constant struggle for a long time, so I hoped that I could continue to make it work somehow and at least the work environment would be different & better. So, 5 months later, I’m happier in several ways (shorter commute, in-person work (which I prefer), better medical benefits, etc) and i like my boss but — I’m bored. I don’t really have enough to do (and in fairness, this is the slowest part of the year) but even when I started, at the tail end of the busy season, I’d find myself just sitting around way more than expected. And more importantly, the financial part of things is exhausting me. To meet my expenses, I need to be making at least 15% more than I do and honestly, with my years of work experience, I should probably be making at least 30% more than I do. So I’m at a point where I think I have no choice but to start job searching again. Is that okay? And yes, I’ve read this blog long enough to know that that is mostly a rhetorical question, but I feel terribly guilty, because, as mentioned, my boss is really very kind and I hate feeling like I’m bailing on her. (Also, I should probably mention that one of my worst traits is a pathological need to be liked.) What do I say to potential new employers if I’m asked why I’m looking to leave after barely half a year? How do I make myself feel okay with doing what I know I need to do for my own sanity?

    1. Ellis Bell*

      This is a business decision. You’re allowed to leave a job whenever you want, even good jobs and kind bosses. Even after six months! If you start viewing this as abandoning people, like kittens in the river, you’re going to get stuck for another twenty years. I hear you on not being able to control wanting to be liked – but what about this plan would make a kind boss stop liking you? She’ll probably think it’s a shame, but probably would hire you back if you were a candidate one day when the numbers add up better. As for scripts…. To employers: “I was intrigued by the company, and I like the in-person work a lot, but I’m more underutilized than expected, and realizing it’s not really on par with my experience and that I need a bigger challenge. I’m also looking for a salary more in line with my experience level.” For your boss: “I’ve loved working under you, and I would definitely come work for you again, but I very recently realized that not only did I need a salary bump more than I thought, but I need a busier, more challenging role too.”

      1. Anonymoose*

        This is super-helpful, thank you! It’s all stuff I know but, like, convincing myself to believe it is SO HARD.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Everybody has that jerk voice
          Everyone, to some degree. You just need another voice saying “eh you’re just a jerk and you never give good advice”.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Seconding the business decision point. You are trading your work for money and you’re clearly not getting paid what you are worth. Plus you’re bored.
        Think of it as a math equation. You’re going to be busier at your new job that pays you more, so you SHOULD be paid more.
        And if your boss is a good boss, she’s totally going to understand.
        You DESERVE to make enough (and more) money to live!

    2. A non-mouse*

      Sounds like you’re looking for a faster-paced environment, and the new job is going at a slower pace than you had anticipated when you started. That would be my reason for looking.

    3. My Useless 2 Cents*

      No problems leaving if that’s what you want but…
      If you like the new company and have the bandwidth/time would it be worth talking to boss about taking on more tasks in return for a 15% raise? The worst she could say is no, right?

      1. Anonymoose*

        Unfortunately, not an option as it’s a government-adjacent job and salaries are set by the state.

    4. saskia*

      If you start searching now, it might take half a year to find a job anyway. Don’t even worry about this philosophical issue until you have an offer in hand and a start date.

      1. Anonymoose*

        Very true. I tend to be a worrier and a planner so have to work to not get too far ahead of myself

  16. Parttimer*

    A lot of AAM’s advice centers around “if an employee is productive and meeting standards, don’t worry about minutiae, like start times and midday breaks, etc.” But I’m wondering what that looks like for part-timers. Sometimes I feel guilty when I’m not working every minute since I am hourly. But I preform ahead of my full time coworkers, I’m ahead of schedule on my work plan, and basically just good at my job. I work 4 days/week. No complaints from my supervisors, and when I’m not working it’s usually because I’m held up waiting on stuff from coworkers (who are all salaries and have told me they take plenty of time “off” during the day). My husband thinks I just need to not worry about it – I’m available during the times I say. But I feel like sometimes I’m just staring and goofing of on my computer waiting on replies when I could be off doing something like cleaning my house.

    1. Productivity Pigeon*

      I think you’re overthinking it.

      No one is productive every minute from 8AM-5PM.

      Your boss is the only one who can say whether or not you’re working hard enough and it sounds like they’re not complaining.

      You’re almost certainly doing enough.

      1. Rex Libris*

        I’m going to guess that very few of us have “keep abreast of developments in the Ask A Manager comment section” in their job description, for example, yet here we all are. :-)

        1. Productivity Pigeon*

          Haha!

          Well, I’m actually unemployed and job hunting at the moment so I’m counting all of this as essential research…

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          My boss just brought her little wooly dog in for me to pet while AAM was up on my screen, so I’m not too worried about personal productivity :)

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Don’t worry about it. Especially if/when you’re waiting on things from other coworkers. You’re still present and available, and that’s what you’re being paid for. If you’re working remotely, go ahead and clean something in your house while you’re waiting on others if that’s what you want to do.

      If you weren’t working when you already have everything you need to do so or decided to continue goofing off after you got what you need, that would be bad, but you’re not doing that.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Have you tried the pomodoro technique? You could go off and clean your house during the “break” or when waiting on colleagues. It improves my productivity like crazy. I love to be really busy during a very short workday, and then to knock off fully and completely after hitting my daily goals. Because of that, even though I’m salaried, I do have a pretty “hourly” job because I don’t take work home often and the meat of my job is face to face, in person during set hours, but I work with the type of salaried people who work all night and weekends and therefore pace themselves during the weekday when I’m trying to get things done at top speed. I also have a pile of “can be done anytime” stuff that I work through when thwarted by a differently paced colleague.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I did feel more pressure to “make every minute count” when I was part time, mostly because I wanted them to feel like keeping me on part time was working for them. I also struggled to use the PTO I had when I was part time because I felt like I should be scheduling everything on my off days. But not paying me benefits was really saving them a LOT of money TBH. They were actually getting a pretty good deal.

    5. Throwaway Account*

      In addition to what the others said, you cannot care more about a thing than the people running it.
      So if the supervisors are fine with it, you don’t need to think about it.

      You could ask them if there are things they want you to do when you have downtime. But that is it!

  17. I'm a stressed out teapot*

    I’m a midcareer teapot designer struggling with balancing multiple demands.

    I’m working on (2) caramel teapots for the same client.
    The teapots are already in production, but the client keeps changing their mind and the production team has to stop, review the changes, and restart. It’s very inefficient and takes a lot of my time.

    For context, a typical teapot in production would take 4-6 hours of my time a week (factory visit + questions/tasks) The caramel teapots regularly take 24+ hours a week.

    I’m also supposed to be supervising a young designer on a chocolate teapot design.

    This is the issue – Because the caramel teapots are in production, anything that comes up on them has to take priority over the chocolate teapots so those teapots are neglected and falling behind.

    What’s a good way to phrase “there is too much on my plate and something has to give” to my bosses?

    1. Two Dog Night*

      Do your bosses know how much time you’re spending on the caramel teapots? That’s where I’d start–“Because of all the changes in the caramel teapot project, I’m spending a lot more time on it than expected, and I don’t have enough time to work with xxx on the chocolate teapots.” If I were your bosses I’d be putting limits on the number of changes the caramel client can make–maybe build something into future contracts if it’s not already in there.

      1. pally*

        Yes! And, might even ask the bosses to give you the priorities given the great amount of time the caramel teapots are taking up. Let them decide what gets “left behind” given what all you have on your plate.

      2. Ama*

        Yes I do this a lot with my bosses (scope creep is really common for my particular role) — I just say “X project is taking far more of my team’s/my time than usual because we keep having to make adjustments, that’s caused Y project to be delayed and I am not even going to start Z project until we get X project more fully finalized – if you have ideas for how we can get it there faster, I’d appreciate it.”

      3. Jaydee*

        Yeah, that’s where I would start because the amount of extra time you’re spending on the caramel teapots is so high. Like this isn’t a couple extra hours a week, it’s taking up over half your week now. Your boss needs to be looped in because that magnitude of change orders might mean they need to shift some personnel around to work on these projects or might mean your boss or someone else needs to talk to this client about the extra work the change orders are causing and how much that’s going to cost going forward.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      For tasks in past: “last week, I spent X hours on tasks for the caramel teapots, so I was not able to complete XYZ tasks for the chocolate teapots.”

      For the future: “the chocolate teapots are going to fall behind schedule because caramel teapot tasks take priority and the caramel client usual has one design change per week. With the time it takes to stop production, review the changes, and restart production, I probably won’t be able to get to XYZ chocolate teapot tasks until [date].”

    3. Kes*

      Agree with what the others have said about raising this to your bosses. Either the caramel teapots need to be restricted in how much time they can take up or something needs to be rearranged, or you need to get confirmation that it’s okay for the other timelines to fall behind

      Also, this may vary by area but in my experience, just because something is in production, the client changing their mind about it is not necessarily urgent. Production issues/defects are urgent, but if the client decides they want something to be different that’s a new request/change request that can be triaged, prioritized, estimated, scheduled, and then put into place (assuming the relevant people agree it should be done after determining the estimate/priority/schedule).

  18. Watry*

    I am job hunting (mostly casually) after only a year. I would love to hear success stories from others with skills that are less obvious and/or not in-demand, as I haven’t even found anything worth applying to.

    1. Quantum Possum*

      Would you maybe clarify with some examples of such skills? I think a little more detail will help people give advice.

      I know that STEM skills have been pushed heavily for years now, too often at the exclusion of anything else (“you won’t find a job with a liberal arts degree!”). But soft skills are the most important to employers (even if they don’t realize it, lol) – communication, writing, critical thinking, problem-solving, works well with others, etc. These skills can be learned through a paying job, volunteer work, education, caregiving, etc.

      Identify your strongest soft skills and technical skills. Then look for jobs that seem like the best fit for your strongest soft skills. Once you have that list, go through and cull based on your technical skillset. Don’t write something off solely if it’s not a skill match, but if you don’t have the skill and you have no desire to learn it, that job should probably go in the “no” pile.

      Good luck! :)

  19. Amber Rose*

    I was going to job hunt and then some personal stuff happened and I have a lot of travel going on this year. I just don’t feel up to switching jobs and juggling trips. Whatever. I’m happy enough to get paid to sit around and smile politely for a while longer.

    Very low stakes question: when the C level business manager asks me why there’s data missing from the sales module, what’s a polite way of saying “because your sales people are too entitled to be bothered to do lowly data entry? We’ve spent over a decade coddling the sales people to the point that if they don’t want to do something, they don’t. That’s on YOU.”

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You can do your low-stakes question if you wrap it up nicely.

      “The only employees who have that information are the sales people. I really can’t say why it doesn’t get entered. Here are the manuals, and here’s the official procedure and the deadlines that the CFO wants, if you think it would be a good idea to give them refresher training.”

      1. Kes*

        I’d probably go a bit further than this and say “the only people who have that information are the sales team and to be honest, we have had a lot of trouble getting them to enter that data into the system on a regular basis. Frankly I could really use your support in making it clear that this actually is an important task so that we have good data to make decisions with”

        1. Tio*

          I’d start with Alton’s response and then move on to Kes’s response. Which is basically what I’ve had to do multiple times in my own job, so good luck

      1. Amber Rose*

        That’s somewhat what I said, but it still feels like I’m being blamed. Or rather, it feels like they somehow magically expect the system to produce reports with good data when we only feed it garbage data, and then when we get garbage reports I am blamed.

        1. Seawren*

          I was in your situation at Old Job. VP wanted reporting based on specific fields that the reps weren’t completing. Analyst team said if you want to report on those fields, we should make them mandatory (i.e. the reps can’t save new records without filling them in). VP said no, they didn’t want reps wasting their timing filling in data. We said reps are the only people with this info, if they don’t complete it, we can’t report on it. VP says OK, we’ll manage without it. Three months later, VP requests reporting based on specific fields … repeat quarterly for 10 years.

          I’m in a better place now.

    2. Cabbagepants*

      I’d recommend playing dumb. “oh that is the data from the sales team. what do you mean it is missing information from Big Project X Y Z. that’s so odd because the report always pulls from the most recent database.”

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I’ve had this conversation about a million times and it never really has any impact, unfortunately. I’m really explicit about the data not being entered and try to be generous/collegial by suggesting reasons (other than entitlement/laziness) why it might not be happening, but ultimately pointing out that I don’t manage them so while I can support with additional training and resources, it’s up to their manager to manage their performance. People just don’t consider data entry as part of their performance metrics if they’re not in pure admin jobs and it’s impossible to get anyone to accept that it is.

    4. Hillary*

      it’s about the process, not the people. blame the software configuration in a passive voice: those are optional fields today – to gather really good data we’d need to switch them to required.

    5. anecdata*

      “Hmm, I’m not sure – you’d probably have to ask Sales; we pull directly from what they enter in X database”

    6. Nesprin*

      I like to make it the problem of the person with problem.
      “Yeah, absolutely it’s disappointing that the data isn’t getting entered. Do you have any suggestions on how to encourage the sales force to enter the data more regularly? Is there another strategy to getting the information out of them?”

  20. are ya kidding me*

    I manage (college) student employees. Actually manage: interview, hire, communicate expectations & ensure results, promote, etc. I’m leaving my job soon (hallelujah), and during the offboarding process, the job description was shared with me to make suggestions and edits.

    I am categorized as an independent contributor and have been for the past 4 years! I am concerned about the pay implications (including that I got a less than stellar performance review and raise because of not attending a MANAGEMENT training workshop that went year round) first and foremost, but also really ticked off because the management piece is the part of this job I hate the most, but apparently I am not even a manager! Is there any hope of trying get backpay or anything other compensation to account for being miscategorized during my entire tenure, and if so, how? I was even told during onboarding that I counted as a manager for purposes of mandatory reporting so this is insane.

    1. Cabbagepants*

      what did they say when you told them the job description was inaccurate about how you were classified?

      1. are ya kidding me*

        I didn’t get a response *eyeroll* I plan on raising it again today.

        I’m offering to stay on part time after leaving because this program has a bus factor of one and apparently they don’t care if college students lose a source of income they are counting on to pay their bills. But honestly I am reconsidering that if they won’t resolve this. They’d survive if I were out on medical or parental leave, so their bad planning isn’t my responsibility. (But also. Money.)

    2. HR Friend*

      I think other commenters are mis-reading your question. You’re classed as an independent contributor instead of a manager. I think people are reading ‘contractor’.

      My guess is you won’t have any luck trying to get back pay.

      1 – in a lot of orgs, you can manage people without being on the manager track. Sometimes the threshold for conversion is managing a certain number of people or spending more time managing than you do performing your IC work. I don’t know what the criteria are at your job, but maybe it has something to do with missing manager training and your low performance scores.

      2 – if you were classed as an IC for the past 4 years, and were doing the work expected of an IC, why would they convert your title now and backdate your pay? Asking them to do so would – sorry – just look like you hadn’t been paying attention to wherever your IC status is designated (job title, description, performance review paperwork, etc).

      1. are ya kidding me*

        1. Not moving forward with the manager training was a decision supported by my manager due to scheduling conflicts with my actual job duties, and if that training were necessary to be considered a manager, that’s on them for letting me get multiple years into the role and never communicating that as an expectation. Other employees have been considered managers without being required to take the training.

        2. I do not have access to wherever this information is stored and wouldn’t have had any opportunity to see it, much less overlook it. My title is “assistant director,” which isn’t clearly an IC title, and everywhere I have encountered relevant information about my role, I have been considered a manager. One of the top bullet points in my job duties is management. Once again, it was communicated to me during hiring, onboarding, and during every other conversation about my role that I am a manager. Performance reviews have involved management training, which I have taken at a smaller scale than the year-long program which didn’t fit into my schedule.

        I have had no opportunity or reason to think I would be categorized as anything other than a manager, and I don’t appreciate the implication that the reason I wasn’t aware of the miscategorization is because I was inattentive.

        1. HR Friend*

          OK well my point remains, just because you manage people doesn’t necessarily mean you are on whatever management track or tier your company uses in their pay structure. You can ask for a correction, but if you were never classified as a manager and were never supposed to be classified as a manager, they’re not gonna give it to you.

    3. Kes*

      I’m not clear from this on whether the job description says the role is or isn’t a manager. If it says it isn’t I would raise this and say that you think it should be manager role as management is a key part of the duties. That said, many places don’t always categorize managing students/interns the same as managing permanent staff.

      In any case, unfortunately I think it’s very unlikely that you’ll have any success in trying to get back pay or anything like that. I would let it go and just highlight the management work that you did do on your resume and focus on moving forward from here and being glad you’re moving on

      1. are ya kidding me*

        To clarify, bullet points in job description indicate managing. Actual categorization, which I never saw until they asked me to look it over, says my type is independent contributer.
        +1 to being glad I am moving on!

    4. Alex*

      I doubt there is a lot you can actually do, even though it is infuriating. This has happened to me twice now–I was doing work that I had evidence was supposed to be classified at grade X but I was classified at grade Y. I never got much traction about it, though in one case I did eventually, after a lot of push back, get “promoted” to grade X. But no back pay or anything like that. I just eventually moved on.

      1. are ya kidding me*

        Thanks for sharing your experience – sorry to hear that you’ve been in the same boat. :/

    5. anecdata*

      I can get why this feels frustrating, but I don’t think much is actionable here –

      1- it’s particularly common to manage temporary/student workers/interns without “being a manager”

      2- unless there’s a specific issue in play, like you are getting paid less than other people /for doing the same job/, or you are miscategorized as exempt when you shouldn’t be, labor law (US) doesn’t care whether your company calls you a manager or not

      3- I am confused about the manager training thing – it sounds like you didn’t get a good review (and it impacted your raise) because you didn’t go to a training that WAS required for you, but your own manager had told you you could skip? If that’s the case, a good company/manager will want to make that right, as far as possible. If your manager is at all reasonable, I’d go back to them and say something like “I was surprised to see my PA dinged for not completing Training A because I’d thought based on our conversation in whenever, Training A didn’t apply to me. Did I miss something there?” Followed by : “Can we amend my PA to account for that?”

      1. are ya kidding me*

        The training was not required, just encouraged. It was listed as a goal at the beginning of the year, and then priorities and schedule constraints made it so that it didn’t make sense to complete. So then despite doing more & better that year in actual job metrics, I got a lower review (and raise) than the previous year because that had been included as a goal. I learned my lesson on that and never included BS HR nonsense that doesn’t fit into my schedule in my goals again. My point with including that info is that it is particularly insane to try to say someone isn’t a manager when they have been specifically penalized for not doing something only a manager would do.

        I already had that convo at the time it happened and it didn’t go anywhere. :/

    6. Snax*

      If you’re in higher ed, this seems normal to me. Student workers are usually a different category of employee (wouldn’t appear in the org chart, be included in dept meetings, be subject to a lot of the employer rules and benefits, etc.). So a lot of times you might have someone even at the coordinator level who hires, trains, and manages student employees, but is still considered an individual contributor per the formal HR job description since they don’t manage other non-student employees.

    7. Pamela Adams*

      I’m also in higher ed, a union position doing academic advising. I lead an advising team, and hire, train and manage student assistants. I’m not a manager.

  21. Tradd*

    I’m the customs broker who had issues with HR on WFH when still testing positive last week. Well, I went back to the office Monday (multiple negative tests) , ended up with a raging sinus infection, which developed into a hacking cough. Still testing negative. Late yesterday manager sent me home an hour early. Coworkers were uncomfortable with me hacking up a lung (I sit in a corner by myself). Manager told me to WFH today and she’d deal with HR. Turns out some slacker incompetents in one of our other offices had been milking being sick so they could WFH. HR is being absolutely stupid about the whole situation. I’ve been there several years, have rarely taken sick time AS I HAVEN’T BEEN SICK BEFORE THIS. I’m known as being dedicated to my work and with a good work ethic. I’m in a key position and there is only one other person in my department. HR is THE ENEMY.

    1. Hoobert Heever*

      I spent a couple of years in HR accidently due to a really weird reorg, and I confirm – a lot of HR are incompetent at best.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I worked somewhere that often dumped people in HR when they struggled in their job but were “good” employees on paper (showed up, had a good attitude, had degrees, etc.). Specifically, they often became recruiters.

      1. Tradd*

        I’ve never known HR to be anything BUT the enemy. I’ve been in the working world for several decades.

        1. Magpie*

          Just because you’ve never had a good experience doesn’t mean every last HR department is terrible. It just means in your small sample size you’ve had bad experiences. I’ll never forget one HR rep who went above and beyond for me after I was laid off from the company. She had no reason to help me because I was no longer an employee and the problem I was trying to solve was my own fault for not paying attention to deadlines, but she still advocated for me and was able to resolve the problem.

        2. Jen MaHRtini*

          And how many HR people have you worked with? There are literally millions of us.

          Just in the past few months, and off the top of my head, I’ve negotiated for better benefits at a lower cost, told execs they couldn’t decline to hire a pregnant woman and had to give non-birthing parents the same leave as the birth parent, and worked after hours to make sure a young woman with a potentially terminal diagnosis got immediate access to mental health support.

          The hate HR gets on AMA is enough to make me consider ignoring the comment boards.

          1. Sandals*

            Same here, Jen, and I don’t even work in HR. It’s unfair hateful generalizations are permitted to stand here.

        3. Tio*

          So, I have actually known some decent HRs, even in the FF world. You are unfortunately in a bad company, and it sounds like it’s coming from top down.

  22. accommodations*

    Have you ever asked for accommodations at the interview stage? How did it go? Gotta decide if I want to ask for an accommodation for an upcoming interview, would prob need to ask today.

    1. Cabbagepants*

      Do you need the accommodation for the interview itself, or would it only be needed if you took the job? in the letter case the advice is generally to wait until they make you an offer.

      1. accommodations*

        I need it for the interview (or at least would strongly prefer it –– it’s an invisible disability which can be masked but that creates more stress for me and puts me at on an uneven playing field).

        1. Jenna Webster*

          In this case, I would change my other response to say yes, definitely ask for the accommodation if it will lead to a more successful interview.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      What’s the accommodation you’re requesting? Some are more difficult to obtain than others. Many are pretty simple and easy to provide.

      1. accommodations*

        Easy, not gonna say here for privacy reasons, but tbh my concern is less “is this feasible” and more “I’m really scared about outing myself as needing this,” especially since invisible (read: MH related) often are more stigmatized

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I understand the need for privacy– the reason I asked is because if you’re, say, asking to do video rather than in-person, that’s a simple request that anyone could make for a variety of reasons. If you’re asking for a scheduled break, then again, simple request that could be made for a variety of reasons. If you have a service dog, that can, again, be required for a variety of conditions (and you should definitely tell, not ask, if you’re bringing a dog). I can only think of a couple of accommodations that are specific to certain conditions (like ASL interpreters, for example), and even then there are “outside the box” reasons for needing them.

    3. Dinwar*

      During my interview I informed my soon-to-be-boss that I had my honeymoon planed for a few weeks after my start date. I’d planned it two years prior, and getting married isn’t exactly the sort of thing you can easily adjust. It was an “accrued PTO” type place, so we agreed that I’d just go into arears for a bit. The boss was a bit put out by the request, but we reached a mutually satisfactory arrangement and our work relationship has been great since then. (She was initially worried that I’d abuse time off, but has since learned that it takes a crowbar and an act of Congress to get me to not go to work.)

      I’ve also had staff come in with various medical issues. I’d MUCH rather know up front than to find out later. If you tell me during the interview I can work around your issues; I’m already in “Change things for the new person” mode. If you spring it on me later, I’ve got to change established plans and it’s going to be more chaotic. Even if I’m not thrilled at the time, I’d rather face potential problems head-on, and I appreciate people who are up front with me.

    4. Jenna Webster*

      It seems like it would be better to wait until you have an offer, so they aren’t encouraged in any way to break the law by factoring that into their hiring decision inappropriately.

    5. Lepidoptera*

      I ask for the questions to be either sent to me the day of or printed at the interview. I have worded it in the past as needing to be able to see the whole question to answer it to the best of my ability. This has never been a problem.

      1. ThereAreNoAdvanceQuestions*

        thos would never happen anywhere I’ve been an interviewer because we don’t have set questions and it’s up to each interviewer to decide what to ask. I’ve never been given prep time for any interview so
        after a few basics it’s mostly follow ups or asking about stuff on the resume that seems odd based on what the person is saying

    6. Yorick*

      If you need it for the interview, you should go ahead and ask for it. It’ll suck to out yourself and let that hurt your chance, but in the long run you wouldn’t want to work somewhere that isn’t willing to accommodate.

    7. Linda*

      I’ve asked for accommodations for interviews and it’s always gone fine. I just tell them what I need when I accept the invitation, like this: “I’m looking forward to talking with you, next Tuesday at 3 works for me. Just a heads-up, for the teapot-painting test I’ll need a standing desk that’s at least 40 inches high and an adjustable lamp. See you soon!”

    8. FeelOutWhatYouCanFirst*

      I usually ask for the non-negotiable things (WAH, flexible schedule) up front on a second or third interview, but I’ll feel them out earlier by asking questions about typical processes, etc. If they won’t do these I cannot do the job, full stop.

      I don’t bring up things that may need to be accommodated but may not be depending on the company/their practices.

  23. Panda*

    Are there actually any good career consultants/resume writers out there? My husband needs to redo his resume so he can transition from print production to procurement/supply chain (which he did before this job). I am trying to help but I really feel I am out of my depth.

    1. Green Goose*

      I actually used Google Bard in my recent job search and it really helped. You’ll have to do tweaking but it helped me see how my current duties aligned with other jobs I was interested in.
      I would put in my resume, and then put in the job description as ask it why I was a good match and to write a resume for me.

      1. Quantum Possum*

        Just definitely make sure you do a good edit and rewrite before submitting it. Many employers screen for AI-generated resumes, cover letters, and applications. And it is quite easy to tell which ones are generated.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      Have you looked at this site? Alison has amazing resume and cover letter writing advice.

  24. Productivity Pigeon*

    I posted a panicked comment about my job search anxiety last week, how I feel like I will be judged by people on LinkedIn who will think I’m a fraud. I know, it doesn’t make sense but we feel how we feel, unfortunately

    However, I was unable to get back in time to reply to all the amazing people who commented.

    Several people said I’m conflating getting a job with just generally being a “successful” person which is so true.
    And reminded me gently that most people simply don’t care what I do and don’t do, which is equally true.

    I still feel like a fraud but I’m trying to imagine I’m not me, for lack of a better word, and trying to imagine I’m helping a friend apply for jobs.

    I’ve also enlisted the help of a good friend, I literally asked her to be my “hype person” and look over my resume etc and make it sound cooler and just better in general

    My goal really is to get A Job, almost any job, so I can get my life started again. Money is a concern though.

    I walked past the headquarters of a big energy firm the other day and looked in through the window to their coffee area and felt so incredibly jealous about coworkers having a coffee break and laughing together.

    I don’t think that’s too much to ask? ☺️

    1. Kes*

      I actually think treating it as advising a friend is a great strategy to give you some emotional distance from the situation. I hope it helps. Just getting started is often the hardest part and then you can build momentum from there. I definitely don’t think it’s too much to ask. Good luck in your search!

  25. Tired Team*

    Curious what an organization can do to support a small team missing a key manager.

    I’m part of a specialized small team (10 people) in a larger organization. The mid-level manager was out for a 3 month leave. It’s a weird field and there’s definitely no one they could hire to fill in temporarily, so the work has been split. The manager above has taken on a couple additional responsibilities, but most of the extra work has fallen on the level below. It’s a lot and everyone already had pretty full plates. Now the manager out on leave has decided not to come back. Because it’s such a unique role, it’s going to be at least another 3 months before a new hire will be able to handle most of their responsibilities without a lot of help from the team.

    What can/should the organization do for the team who can’t wait to get back to just doing their own jobs, or is this just something that happens sometimes?

    1. Productivity Pigeon*

      Is it possible to have one of the lower level employees step up to take on the temporary role and hire someone short-term for the lower level job?

      1. Tired Team*

        Possible, and in retrospect I think they would have gone this route if they’d known it would drag out this long. Several different employees know pieces of the open job, but no one person knows most. And none are interested in it long term.

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Your grandboss (“the manager above”‘s manager) should be very hands-on at this point to manage the redistribution of workload and prioritization, regular meetings with the manager above and also team meetings with the 10 people. I would say that there needs to be clear agreement and communication about what will lapse over the course of the 3 months, or what resources can shift over from the larger organization. I understand your function is specialized, but that doesn’t mean NOBODY from the larger org can fulfill any part of your team’s duties.

    3. anecdata*

      Depends a lot on what you’re doing and current team structure, but I’d split up the managers responsibility basically three ways:

      Strategic : Grandboss owns this. Overall checking in with the team about workload and concerns, making sure the plan for covering for the manager is working, and driving the strategic decisions about what is going to be cut or delayed or deprioritized (including communicating that to other departments where needed)

      Logistic : if your company has a lot of processes that rely heavily on “manager approval” as a “is this reasonable” check, it often makes sense to designate another of the grandboss’ reports (a peer of the manager on leave) to cover this kind of stuff. This person should also be the go-to for the kinds of non-actual-work related things you might normally just ask your manager – eg. Uh, a llama ate my security badge, who do I ask for a new one? In my experience, people can be more reluctant to bring this stuff to a grandboss and grandboss is often slower at dealing with it – so designate a go to manager at the mid level

      Work expertise & review : Senior ICs on the team – look at pairing up junior and senior ICs for actual work stuff (especially if the team has a technical niche, eg. A senior UX designer is going to be able to give a lot more useful UX design feedback, than the Grandboss or peer manager.

  26. Anon in IL*

    I recently saw a TV show about lie detectors (The American Experience). Apparently, their use was once widespread in sectors such as retail, food service, and banking. Employees would have to pass a polygraph to be hired, and then were often retested yearly. But in the 1980s a law greatly restricted their use in the workplace. I cannot recall any questions about polygraphs here on AAM, so I thought this might be interesting to discuss. Has anyone seen these used in the workplace? Can they have a place?

    1. Watry*

      I had to pass one to get hired. They have no scientific validity and I spent the entire time mentally rolling my eyes.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      After the perfectionism question earlier this week, I thought it might be useful to discuss strategies for handling your own perfectionism in the workplace.
      How do you avoid getting hung up on tiny little things ? How have you learned to prioritise? What do you do to step back when your mind gets stuck on your own errors?

    3. Your Social Work Friend*

      The only time I’ve seen them used is related to security clearances. My dad has to take one to re-up his, but it’s near useless. He’s so forceful (not in a yelling way, in a “I believe this so deeply my physiology is affected” way) when he answers the questions that he can trip the sensory when he’d being honest, but they figure that out in the “is your name ___” stage. My husband has to take them for the same reason, and he also finds them rather useless.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        They are generally regarded as junk science in the UK, and I’ve never heard of an employer here using them.

    4. Knighthope*

      I had to take a lie detector test in the US in the mid-70s at a national retailer to be bonded to handle money. The lie detector machine operator refused to believe that I had never shoplifted (“most teenagers have,” he claimed) and tried very hard to intimidate me into falsely confessing. Our family had a small retail business and I knew the effects of shoplifting on businesses and that it is wrong. I did “pass” the test.

    5. The Ginger Ginger*

      They shouldn’t have any place anywhere except as a novelty gag. They don’t actually measure anything meaningful – it actually just captures when your heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, etc are elevated. Which…..could also just be you’re nervous? You’re surprised by the question? You think something is funny? It’s bad science to assume those signs actually correlate to anything meaningful. Plus there are ways to fool the machine anyway. So they’re useless all around.

      1. ampersand*

        Yes! My anxiety over having to take a lie detector test would ensure I didn’t pass.

        This is only slightly less bad than using, I dunno, a quija board to make hiring decisions.

    6. Irish Teacher.*

      I’ve never seen them used in the workplace, but I definitely think they don’t have a place as everything I’ve read about them (which isn’t much, to be fair) indicates that they are not reliable and test for anxiety rather than dishonesty, the assumption being that people will be more nervous when lying, but that is not true across the board. Somebody could be nervous when asked a particular question because it is something upsetting or triggering to them and there are people who aren’t nervous at all when lying.

      Just did some googling and one article (which is arguing in favour of their reliability) says that advocates say they can get a near 90% accuracy…that means they will be wrong in about one case out of ten.

      And honestly, I think at the point where employers start testing their employees to ensure they are not lying, all trust has pretty much irretrivably broken down. Somebody who works on the question of trying to prove if I’m lying is not somebody I would want to work for.

      1. Girasol*

        I had to take one long ago to work in a sporting goods warehouse where we handled firearms and ammunition for hunting. I think they wanted to know if we were likely to do anything violent. One of my coworkers kept dry firing the guns at the women’s heads and threatening to kill the boss if he did anything about it, so I don’t suppose the lie detector test was all that helpful.

    7. t-vex*

      I had to take in the late 90s as part of the screening process for a job at a record store. The whole thing seemed very unscientific. I got the job and as far as I know none of my coworkers were robbing the store so who knows, maybe it worked out for them.

    8. saskia*

      They have no place in the work world. I’ve seen job descriptions before that specifically mention they will never have you take a polygraph test.

    9. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

      I have passed once and gotten an “inconclusive” another time. (Not technically a fail, I guess?) It did lead to me not getting the job. I appealed but was unsuccessful. At the time I was beyond devastated, but now believe that it worked out for the best, given that I now don’t think as highly of the organization that I was applying for. Both were for government jobs.

    10. Kesnit*

      I had to take one (early 2000s) for a security clearance. I was scared out of my wits! (Its doesn’t help that the setup looks like an electric chair!) I knew I had nothing to hide, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous.

      I passed, but it was something I would prefer not to do again

    11. Quantum Possum*

      Yes, for certain levels of security clearance. Typically, Top Secret – Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) level, but sometimes just plain Top Secret, too.

      They’re absolutely junk science, but there’s no getting around it if you want the clearance. But I enjoy noting my opposition to using pseudoscience during the process.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Was that a civilian job? I was military with fairly high clearance, and never took one. That was in the early 70s, and I never saw one in civilian life, either, where I had a variety of jobs.

    12. The New Wanderer*

      In the early 1990s my mom had to take a polygraph test for a job at an ATM company, but not when she was a bank teller. She passed but didn’t have anything interesting to say about it that I recall. I remember clearly though that for each job handling money, she had to be fingerprinted multiple times to get just one valid set! Apparently some people’s natural oils combined with less defined ridges mean it’s really hard to get a decent set of prints.

      1. Nonprofit lifer*

        Way back in the day my mom volunteered to take one at some sort of demonstration of how they worked. She told lots of lies to see if she could get away with it – and did .

    13. Bitte Meddler*

      I had to take a lie detector test as part of the hiring process for a part-time retail job back in the late 1980’s. Even way back then, I knew that the “science” behind them was questionable.

      The test administrator asked a series of “neutral” questions [“What’s your name?” “What’s your favorite food?” etc.] to establish a baseline.

      So I purposefully mentally panicked when asked my name [“I go by my middle name; does he mean my legal name or the name people normally call me??”] and when asked my favorite food [“OMG, do I like cheese more than I like dill pickles??”] and watched the needle on the reader bounce all over the place.

      Then I did some quiet, internal, calming exercises (deep breaths, relax muscles one by one starting with my scalp) and answered the “gotcha” questions that were meant to test my honesty and proclivity to stealing. The needle barely moved.

      So, no, polygraphs have no use other than being a fun party trick.

    14. Lisa*

      As a 17 year old in the late 70’s I had to take one for a part time retail job. From what I remember, the questions were along the lines of have you ever stolen anything from an employer? and other similar questions.

    15. But what to call me?*

      My mom’s high school job used one on all of their employees once when someone had stolen something. She was so nervous that the machine said she was lying. Fortunately, her boss knew her well enough by that point to be very sure that she hadn’t stolen anything. Those things could really ruin a person’s life if someone in authority blindly believes them.

  27. H*

    People who work 100% remote, how do you avoid isolation? I’ve been remote since I started 3 years ago, I recently moved to a new city where I don’t have any friends, and I’m struggling to meet people (the anxiety doesn’t help). I’ve looked into coworking spaces, but I can’t swing the ~$350 a month fees. I’ve tried to find some hobby groups for outside of work socializing, but they’re all somehow at least an hour by transit on the other side of the city. I’ve thought about finding an in-person job, but aside from the completely remote part my current job is pretty close to ideal.

    1. Tradd*

      Look up Meetup, if you’ve not done that before. Volunteer, join a house of worship if you’re so inclined, join a book group at the library. If you’re naturally shy, it doesn’t help. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to put in some effort. Volunteering is a great one for meeting like minded people. Tons of opportunities in most cities so you should fine something to fit your interests (helping the homeless, animals, etc.)

      1. Haunted by Laundry*

        +1 for Meetup! People get pretty creative on there with activities, and it’s a low-stakes way to meet people who like what you like. If you get along, it’s not weird to ask for an email or phone number because everyone is there to make new friends. Even if you don’t meet a new BFF you will get to explore your new city’s parks/theaters/restaurants/neighborhoods which will make it feel more like home.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Carolyn Hax has good advice about this — become a regular at someplace in your neighborhood. Doesn’t have to be a bar. Coffee shop, store of some kind that caters to your hobbies, group exercise activity, etc. Same day of the week, same time of day (but not during the absolutely peak busy times). It won’t take too long for the people who work there to interact with you at a level deeper than small talk, and that makes it much easier for you to strike up conversations with other patrons.

      1. Amy Gardner*

        LOL, good to see I’m not the only one who on Fridays has Carolyn Hax’s chat in one tab and AAM’s Friday thread in another!

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      This might be less a work question and more a social question. Work doesn’t have to be the sole source of socialization.

      When in a new city the quickest way to meet people is to become a regular at somewhere/something. Go to the gym at the same time weekly, get coffee every saturday at the same time/place, walk the same hiking trail after work, weekly trip to used bookstore, etc. Smile and make eye contact. A lot of times that quickly turns into brief chats which turns into deliberate hanging out at those places which expands to friendship outside that activity. It’ll also help you make your social skills less rusty.

      Taking classes (cooking, gym/workout, art/craft/woodworking/metal working/etc, roller skating, figure skating, yoga, mediation, rock climbing, water arobics etc) is another great regular activity that also introduces you to a lot of people. See if you have anything near you like a kickboxing specific gym those are trendy right now, or a bouldering gym, or a community arts center.

      Volunteering is yet another regular activity that also helps you feel more connected to your community. The opportunities are endless. City name + volunteer into google should get you some results. Personally I’m fond of animal shelters, and food pantries but the options really are endless. I know my current city the Parks dept constantly has volunteer days to cleanup trails.

      1. Jolie*

        I second volunteering. When I moved to LA 20+ years ago, it’s how I met a wonderful group of women (Junior League). I’m still friends with many of them (those who stayed here – it’s a bit transient) to this day.

        Also, maybe your college alumnae/i group? I also joined that when moving here and when I was in a transitional city for a few years. Also yoga, regular exercise classes, and neighborhood meetups. I also asked people in my network who they knew in the new city and met people that way.

        Facebook affinity groups are also good (new to x city, meetups in x city, dog people in x city, etc.). It’s how I’ve met people in the other city where I split my time.

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      Have you checked your local library? My (not particularly large) library has a good amount of programming—book clubs, knitting circle, adult coloring, etc. that meet regularly.

    5. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I am not even kidding when I suggest adopt a dog. First, they’re companionship PLUS something “to do” to quiet your anxious brain. Second, try out all the local dog parks at the time that best works for you, and become a regular at the one that’s most convivial for you and your new pal.

    6. Hlao-roo*

      One thing I haven’t seen mentioned yet:

      Is your work something that can be done from a coffee shop occasionally? If you could get some work done at a coffee shop (on the order of twice a week for an hour each time), that might make you feel less lonely and would be considerably cheaper than a coworking space (if you spend $5-$15 each time and go 8 times a month, that’s $40-$120/month for occasional coffee shop ambiance).

      I think the other commenters have pretty well covered outside-of-work socializing. Lots of good suggestions for different types of groups you can join. One more outside-of-work thought: if you like to do anything that’s better with a small group (like going to a show/sports game, visiting a museum, grab a drink and chat for an hour), check out Bumble BFF or similar “dating” friendship apps. Put in your bio something along the lines of “new to city, looking for a friend to [go to a ballgame/go to the local museum/etc.] with” and see if you can find one or two people who can be your baseball/museum/etc. buddies.

    7. Remote worker bee*

      There’s already a lot of really great advice here. I agree that, if possible, it can be really helpful to work from a coffee shop or library whenever you have the chance. I have a membership at my local botanical gardens and work from their coffee shop a couple times a month. It really helps to break up the day and has been a good way to meet other regulars who also work remotely. If any of your coworkers live nearby, you could also see if they’re interested in working remotely from a coffe shop together. I would also recommend forcing yourself to leave the house at least once a day, even if it’s just going to the grocery store or the gym.

    8. ReachOut*

      Pre-pandemic, I had monthly meetups and user groups.

      Since the pandemic started I just deal since I can’t be social. Maybe one day I’ll get to interact with actual live people again. Reach out to friends online. Call people.

  28. Jonathan MacKay*

    At what point do you give notice that you’re intending to move on pending the completion of further education? I’ve mentioned that I’ve been working towards a certificate program in Human Resources Management, with the goal of transitioning into the field – It was actually discussed during my initial interview that my primary reason for applying to the job was for the income to pay for it, and facilitate a full career change – so it’s not as if it’s completely unknown that I’m doing this. At this point, I’ll be completing the course work by the end of April, but as that’s getting into the busy season, I’m comfortable with planning on starting any new HR positions in January. Do I give notice as soon as I find something, or is it better to clearly communicate my intentions so that they can plan accordingly?

    The other alternative, of course, is to negotiate adding in some HR responsibilities to my workload, but seeing as we have a full HR department based in the US and nothing in Canada, I am unsure of the feasibility of such – it probably wouldn’t hurt to discuss such when the time comes.

    1. Green Goose*

      This is probably dependent on your company and your financial situation. I was planning on leaving my current job with nothing lined up before our summer busy season and I was similarly wondering how much notice to give. I was thinking “I’d give three months!” but pretty much every person I told that too (including friends who work in HR) said “don’t do that”.
      Because the company could push you out sooner, so only offer that if you are comfortable enough financially to do it. If your financial situation allows to talk about departures, why not ask for more HR duties? That’ll definitely help in your eventual job hunt. Good luck!!

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I would just wait to give notice once I had a job offer, like with any other new job. Like you said, they know you’re not planning to work there forever, so you don’t need to remind them before you’re ready to go. They’ll be fine.

    3. DottedZebra*

      You don’t give notice until you have a new job. Giving them time to plan means they could just fire you immediately. Why set yourself up for that?

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Friends of mine in HR tell me it is actually challenging to find HR positions right now. I wouldn’t say anything until you actually have a job offer in hand.

    5. Hillary*

      Are you in Canada? If so that makes it a little less likely you’ll be pushed out.

      If your manager already knows you’re doing the cert and your goal is to be in HR, it’s a good time to tell them you’re getting close. They may be able to advocate for job duties – having someone in Canada who knows the local laws would benefit the company. If everyone’s US-based now they’re probably outsourcing at least some Canadian compliance.

      1. Jonathan MacKay*

        Yes, I’m in an office of 6 in Ontario that handles Eastern Canada (Manitoba to the Maritimes) – our HR is based at the head office in Florida, so there’s been some interesting hiccups from time to time due to regulatory differences. If possible, I’d stay here, and find some part-time HR work on the weekends. As I was very upfront about planning a career change long term, there’s already been a few questions about things as the program has gone on. In any case, when it comes time to leave, I won’t be just disappearing, as there’s some charity work we’ve gotten involved with that I’d like to continue assisting with.

        1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

          Are there enough employees in Canada that you could make a case that the company could use a Canadian HR office who knows Canadian regulations? And your education makes you a good fit that position?

    6. NZReb*

      Don’t wait to start hunting. You want to job hunt at the time of year when there are entry positions available, not the time of year that suits your boss the best.

  29. Hamster*

    Hi all,

    Thanks for answering my question last week about taking insulin shots at work! Turns out I didn’t even need to speak to anyone; another person was in our office chatting with us and the topic somehow turned to how our bathrooms are tiny. They shared that there are public bathrooms on the ground floor that are clean, spacious and private. 

    I think everyone here is aware of how thin the walls are and the general lack of privacy. It’s a small office (less than 20 people I think?) and small building. It’s just the ground floor and our floor, maybe 4 businesses altogether? As I just learned about them a few days ago, I haven’t used them yet, but it’s nice to know there are options.

    Also, I’m not sure if it was clear from my post/question but I’m definitely not skipping any meds! I do whatever I need to do health & hygiene wise. I was surprised that my past struggles were brought up as taking medication was something I truly never had any issue with in the past. But, all in all, if I compare my experience so far with my first 2-3 weeks at LastJob, the vibes here are definitely different, and in a good way. So this was a situation that pretty much resolved itself

    1. Any Name At All*

      I’m glad that things worked out.

      But if your co-workers didn’t start talking about the other bathrooms, what would you have done? That’s why it’s important to speak up for yourself. While we anonymous online strangers can give you advice, we can’t speak up for you. We aren’t the ones walking in your shoes, Hamster.

      1. Oviedo*

        “But if your co-workers didn’t start talking about the other bathrooms, what would you have done?”

        Dare I say, “go down to the ground floor yourself and look to see if the bathrooms there are better”? I suppose that constitutes “gumption”…

    2. Bog Witch*

      Glad things worked out for you!

      Regarding your last paragraph: there are a lot of long-time readers of this site/the open threads and for better or for worse, you are a memorable regular poster. You specifically had an incident when you ran out of insulin and could not call your doctor for a refill due to stress from work. So, please do not tell people this was not an issue for you in the past when, by your own admission, it was.

      If commenters from last week believed this was relevant, it’s not for no reason. But like I said, I’m very glad you’re in a better job with a good environment and genuinely hope things continue to be on the up-and-up for you.

    3. JubJubtheIguana*

      Hamster, I feel for you, but you’ve been using AAM as a personal blog and asking for help on an frequent basis under your various different usernames for years now, and you’ve shared an enormous amount of personal information.

      I’m truly sorry that you struggle so much with life and with the workplace, but you can’t post this much about your medical issues and personal issues problems coping with being employed, frequently request that others take the time to counsel you, then get angry when the people whose time and energy you’re requesting remember things that you’ve posted about yourself in the past.

      You’ve very explicitly discussed forgetting/running out of medication in the past and how upsetting that was for you, perhaps those incidents were so infrequent that you don’t consider them a problem, but you can’t post saying “I forget my medication and was really upset” then pop back up talking about having issues potentially taking your meds and expect people to pretend not to remember.

      I truly do wish you well, but I think listening to the advice from posters who have seen you share over a long period of time might provide valuable perspective.

      1. Hamster*

        I never had an issue taking medicine when I needed to at work. That specific issue you’re referring to was not getting my refills on time. It had nothing to do with my job itself but an example of a broader question I had at the time. Anyways, that was a lesson learnt and I’m not rehashing something from 18 months ago lol.

        There’s absolutely no anger, or pretense/pretending on my part, not now not ever, so this is just a little bizarre to me.

  30. AlabamaAnonymous*

    Any suggestions for resources on how to manage a direct report who is a manager?

    I have had management roles before where I supervised employees, but I’ve started a new position (thanks to all of the great AAM advice) and am now managing an employee who is managing employees. It’s my first time being a grand-boss, and I am having a hard time figuring out how to coach this employee to be a better manager. The employee isn’t doing a horrible job, but she swings between completely hands-off and micromanaging–I need to help him find a balance. My inclination is to step in a fix things, but that’s not helpful. I’m planning to have her complete some professional development around management, but I’m a bit stuck on how to approach it.

    Any techniques or resources you can suggest that might be helpful? Any books (in addition to AAM) that I could recommend for her?

    1. Green Goose*

      Does your company allow for skip levels? That could be helpful to provide feedback to your DR based on information from the horse’s mouth.
      Also, look for trends in what she is micromanage-y around and what she is hand’s off on. Maybe if she is more intense around work that relates to a specific department/goal you can drill down on why. Maybe it’s stuff that could reflect badly on her so she’s more anxious about it?

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Seconding the skip-levels. My manager is just… not good at it. I ended up talking directly to his managers. But I have a great relationship with them. There are others who want to air their concerns but don’t feel comfortable doing so.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      It might not hurt to be straightforward with them — let them know that you’re seeing a mismatch/swing from one extreme to the other, and ask them why they think that is. Maybe that will give you something more concrete to work with.

      Also, ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them be a better manager.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      I was in a similar position last year (and did not do well in the moment!) – books I’d recommend: Radical Candor, Making of a Manager, Thanks for the Feedback, Dare to Lead – they’re all a bit different in approach and one may be better suited for your individual person depending on circumstances. I’ve done whole-team reads for a few chapters of books as multi-level team PD.
      Upon my own reflection, I think I could have been more supportive and available but less prescriptive: “I think you should consider setting a regular meeting agenda for your weekly meetings and sharing it 24h in advance – that may fix your issues around clear communication” – then letting her take it (or leave it) and discussing how things are improving (or not).
      Unfortunately my workplace did not have manager training and we didn’t really have a budget to send this person to, so we had to do a bit more DIY approach.

    4. IECMHC*

      I’m a big fan of reflection which entails thinking about your actions, your approaches, your leadership stance, and recognizing how these mental patterns shape your actions and interactions with others. Here’s some info from Harvard: https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/the-importance-of-reflective-leadership-in-business

      If you want to boil it down, “treat others as you’d have them treat others”. By reflecting with this manager, modeling a consistent approach, and using an engaged (but non-micromanagement) stance, you can help this manager see a different way of managing. Basically, be the leader you’d like that manager to be. Give space to discuss their work and how it impacts their team, ask open questions that help them think about their stance, what best supports their team, and how their strengths can build trusting and professional relationships.

    5. saskia*

      Do some skip-levels, compile the feedback you’re hearing into something constructive, and give it to the manager. Help them develop processes and standards that will ensure they get the info they need without having the swing between two extremes. Make sure they are regularly meeting with their reports, and give them hands-on help with how to make those meetings productive. Figure out where they need development, and suggest/ask them to do whatever it is they need to do, whether that’s taking a course, working on specific issues, etc. Point out the issues when you see them, and give them the advice they need to hear.

    6. Red Flags Everywhere*

      Step lightly, but don’t let them manage poorly. I had to deal with this situation a couple of years ago and it was tricky. Longtime staff member was promoted to a management position as part of a reorg. They had management experience before joining my team, so it seemed like the right move.

      I know they think I’m “too nice” in general, but I wasn’t expecting them to take an authoritarian stance in… protest, maybe? It turned out the new employee was a bad hire (upon deep reflection I’m confident that would have been the case regardless of manager), but it all could have been handled better and I ended up taking a very active role in the situation. What was even worse was that big boss (who was well aware of the situation and my efforts to keep things from blowing up), me, and bad manager were all at a work event and the situation came up in discussion. With a stunning show of their complete lack of self-reflection, bad manager was bragging to big boss about how much management experience they had and they knew exactly how to handle the situation. It would have been cringe even if it were true, but under the circumstances…

      At the conclusion of the messy situation, I restructured bad manager’s job to look like a promotion and go back to IC status. I won’t ever be responsible for putting another employee under them again.

      The moral of my story is that you can’t trust people to be self-aware. If you start with that approach, just make sure you keep very close tabs and don’t let it go on for long before reigning them in. Good employees leave because of bad managers all the time. You owe it to your staff under your reporting chain to have their backs.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      Honestly, I tend to give my manager-reports feedback in a very similar way to how I’ve given individual contributors feedback. “I’ve noticed you have a pattern of getting really involved in the details of your team’s work on X. Generally speaking, I trust your team to be able to handle X on their own. I understand it can be a challenge getting out of the trenches when you move into a management role, but this is one of those tasks that you’re going to need to delegate. I need you to be able to focus on more big-picture things like Y. Going forward, I want you to be explicit with your team that you’re turning X over to them, and that they can ask you if they have questions, but that you’re going to be relying on them to take care of the day-to-day work on it.”

      The stuff where the person is entirely hands-off is probably because they don’t understand what their responsibilities should be with those things, or have the skillset to accomplish them. I would dig into those as areas for development. Make sure you are clear about your expectations in those areas, and if they aren’t sure how to handle them, figure out some training/coaching.

    8. Tabby Baltimore*

      For the micromanager part of the problem, type in “I manage a horrible micromanager” into the AAM search box, and you should see a letter posted on March 12, 2019. Some of the comments contain really great suggestions. Below were my take-aways from the comments. Not all of these insights might apply to your manager, of course:

      1. When talking to the Micromanaging Manager about her behavior, *don’t* reveal to the MM anything that his/her team said, to you, about her. Getting this information might prompt the MM to go on a witch hunt to find out who said it, or retaliate against everyone because s/he can’t figure that out. It will also serve to betray the team’s trust in you because they thought they were talking to you in confidence, and create a new level of toxicity between the micromanaging manager and her direct reports, thereby demoralizing its members even further.

      2. If a procedure the MM has created to reduce errors ISN’T doing that, then it’s creating inefficiencies. Mistakes are minor slip-ups that humans make. Errors are repeated, systematic, or fundamental, and need to be corrected.

      3. If the MM is requiring all approvals go through them, remind them that this approach creates bottlenecks, so always have an alternate approver around.

      4. Micromanaging behaviors can result from:
      – a manager’s frustrated belief that s/he has “responsibility without authority”
      – a desire to quell the anxiety from feeling insecure in a new role for which one is unprepared or undertrained
      – a need to have everything done in their specific style as a way to get their direct reports to perform at what the manager considers an “excellent level” (i.e., the level the manager remembers performing at when the manager held that same job)
      – worry that team deadlines will not be met, prompting an unnecessary level of questioning and involvement in the team’s workflow

      On trying to reduce an MM’s defensive reaction to feedback:
      – Don’t think you, as the MM’s manager, can craft your wording in such a way that you will be able to calibrate the MM’s reaction to it. You will not. Do not try to manage the employee’s emotions for him/her, just manage his/her work product.
      – The MM will be unable to learn and improve if s/he is unwilling to believe s/he could be wrong.
      – For a temperamental MM, present modifications as a “change” rather than a “correction” by saying that the process change you are asking for is one followed by, or similar to, a managerial peer the MM respects.

      The bigger picture:
      – By not making the effort to change an MM’s behavior, you are in effect guaranteeing that the people s/he manages will change their jobs. Measure success by stopping the damage from spreading.
      – Allowing the MM to create and enforce humiliating penalties for employees who make occasional mistakes will keep these employees from taking risks, leading to no process improvement, no innovation, and no creating problem-solving.

  31. Busy Middle Manager*

    Anyone else battling efforts to automate? I am pro-automation but I keep getting asked for requirements and meetings to automate things that impact a tiny number of accounts and don’t take a long time to do at all. For example, it may take 10 hours to automate something that takes 45 minutes a month and I look at manually anyway to iron out issues. All the other side is hearing is I am resistant to automation. It’s becoming a frustrating dynamic. They think I’m stubborn, I feel not listened to because I thought I had credibility with the other team but they seem to not believe me that some things are truly not worth automating. Then I give other automation ideas and they sit.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Hmm, I was going to suggest giving ideas for things it will makes sense to automate but then I got to your last sentence and I see you are already doing that.

      Do you think the “other side” will respond well to data in a table? I think you could show something like this:

      Process #1
      Time before automation: 45 min
      Time after automation: 15 min
      Frequency: Once per month
      Time to automate: 10 hours
      Break-even period: 20 months (1.67 years)

      If you can show a few different processes that are candidates for automation, you might be able to steer them with the data. “Here are three different processes that can be automated: #1 will have a break-even period of 1.67 years, #2 will have a break-even period of 3 years, #3 will have a break-even period of 0.5 years. Which one do you want me to prioritize?”

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        This is a great idea. I also get prompted to automate things that IMO really don’t need to be automated but it’s more that TPTB want the tasks to be easier for someone else to do if I’m out for any length of time (as I am trying to be placed as an adoptive parent, this is a real possibility). So maybe that’s why they want you to automate these things.

        Or would it be a situation of once the thing is automated it won’t save you any work anyway because you still have to do the manual portion of it or is it more that once it’s automated you will check a few times to be sure the automation is working correctly and then you can forget about it and won’t have to do the task ever again?

        Another question: do you need their go-ahead to automate the things you think would benefit from automation that they are ignoring? Can you automate them and see if anyone notices or cares that they are now automated, or will you get in trouble if you do that?

    2. fhqwhgads*

      On the one hand, automating the item you describe would start saving time 14 months later. On the other, if this process might not even exist in a year, there is no point to automating it.
      In general it’s probably better to automate something that’ll make a bigger dent before bothering with this one. It’s also worth pondering whether the folks pushing to automate this either A) don’t know about the need to manually review anyway or B) they do, and they see the gain here as “yeah you still have to do that, but just that, not the other 45 minutes”. Or is the 45 inclusive of that review?

      If you propose other things that would be more beneficial to automate instead of this thing and they don’t want to move on that, either: they’re looking for low hanging fruit and decided this is it OR your suggested alternative is too complicated a thing to start off with automating OR you’re both talking past each other in some way.

      I was about to suggest a way out of them assuming you’re resistant to automation would be to suggest better targets for automation, but if they’ve heard you do that and are still pushing this other thing and don’t want to move forward with the stuff you think is worth automating, then a very direct conversation is in order where it all gets laid out. “Automating X would not be a significant time saver (or error reducer). Automating Y would. We’ve discussed this before but you seem determined to move forward automating X, and not Y. Is there something else I haven’t considered?” Then see what happens. If something that direct hasn’t stopped the loop, then there’s probably nothing you can do.

      That said, if this is a thing that will go on for probably years, you haven’t necessarily convinced me it’s not worth automating. (Full disclosure: it’s my job to automate stuff) Those little “just once a month, but forever” tasks are great to automate because they’re infrequent enough for people to forget/be rusty on, but frequent enough that it’s a delight to get out of the way. You know your context better than I do, and if your standpoint is “yeah we could automate this but I’d really rather we automate THAT first because it’d have a bigger effect”, make that argument. If it’s just “these numbers aren’t worth it” – the numbers you’ve provided – to me at least – seem like they really kinda might be worth it. Not necessarily more worth it than something else, but not so small as to be not worth it at all.

    3. SansaStark*

      We’re going through a little bit of this at my organization, too. I think some of our pro-automation items aren’t necessarily to save time, but if Wakeen is the only person who does that process once a month, it might get lost in the shuffle if he leaves and doesn’t remember to write it down somewhere. We had a couple of small fires bc our Wakeen just did XYZ every 6 months or whatever, left, and then no one knew about those tiny things until they snowballed into a much bigger problem. This isn’t to say that everything needs to be automated, but I wonder if there’s other benefits besides just time-saving.

    4. Mulligatawney*

      And don’t forget you need a pilot project first. That is, automate a smaller amount first while you keep the manual version working. Troubleshoot the automated version and get the bugs out. I’ve worked at places who didn’t run a pilot first, and it took lots of effort to clean up the mess it made.

    5. Sharon*

      Can you get involved in the recommendation process so you can help prioritize automation projects to help ensure that the time and $ invested/time and $ saved ratio is worth it? Even if you just meet with the decision maker once it may help them consider the impact on the people actually doing the work, and you may come away with a better understanding of why the changes are being made, whether an initiative is phase one of a larger plan, etc.

      1. Retired and Remembers*

        I was on a billing customer service team with my company. We spent a lot of time explaining how our billing worked. If clients came to us for a “special request”, we generally tried to accommodate them. First, because we were a big company and didn’t want to admit that we had business systems that didn’t run the requests automatically. Second, because if we had enough similar requests, we could possibly work with IT to automate that process for the clients.
        Usually the requests were for their billing histories. If they were really angry, they’d ask for their entire billing history. We always had to put these together manually, but once we built a template to work with (so that anyone responding to a similar request would provide it in the same format), they were fairly straightforward to put together.
        Often requests came around tax time, when clients wanted to know how much they’d spent with us the previous year. Why they didn’t have their own A/P system to filter out this information themselves, I never knew, but it wasn’t that hard to put the information together and ship it off to the client. So we accommodated them.
        When it looked like a request that was going to take us some time, we tried to tell the client upfront that we wouldn’t have something for them for several days. Most requests could be answered the same, or next, day. The ruder the client was, the longer it could take.

  32. Stuck*

    Does anyone have good scripts for negotiating an offer in a European context where 1) it is typically not done and 2) you (in this case, really, I) have stupidly low-balled yourself in previously stating salary expectations?

    I have just received an offer for a job that requires a move to a European country with the highest COL on the continent. I had stated my salary expectations in the letter (because I was asked, I hate that question!) and quickly realised I aimed too low. Now the offer has come back without relocation costs (from another Euro country, but still substantial) or health insurance, but the salary is within the range I’d asked. How can I ask for more without saying “I aimed too low” or making European interlocutors balk?

    Also relevant, this is the non-profit sector, so there isn’t a culture of negotiation there either. Any thoughts welcome – I’m feeling stuck!

    Thanks all.

    1. Productivity Pigeon*

      Swede here. Is it a country that requires private health insurance?

      Anyway, you could say something along the lines of “I have been doing more research on living in Country A and I was not taking X, Y and Z into account. I think $XXk per year would be a more reasonable amount taking all that into consideration.”

      It sounds a little stupid when I read it back to myself, but basically, use the fact that you’re a local and blame your initial offer on that.

      Good luck!

      1. Stuck*

        Hi! It does require *incredibly expensive* health insurance, which I had not even thought about when I stated my range. Nor did it ever occur to me that it wouldn’t be covered… and yes, you are exactly right, the dilemma is how to ask for more in a way that doesn’t just convey “I didn’t do my due diligence.”

        Thanks for the script thought, I will try!

        1. Productivity Pigeon*

          Switzerland? (you don’t need to answer)

          I totally get that you don’t want to come off as not having done your research but a move to a different continent really is a big thing.

          Is it common in the country for employers to pay for/contribute to private health insurance ?

          In that case, and since the insurance is very expensive, and not included in their offer, you have an excellent opportunity to renegotiate.

          Even if you hadn’t low-balled, it’s such a significant thing that *anyone* would think it was a big deal.

          1. A thought*

            Bingo — thank you for the suggestion, I’ll try! I think the logic behind the offer is “it’s higher than other Euro salaries,” so I have to find a way to politely say “it’s not high enough for the Swiss context!”

            1. Productivity Pigeon*

              Yeah, Switzerland is craaaazy.

              When I was a kid, we often drove from Sweden to Spain or France during the summer, and we always stayed in hotels on the right side of the Swiss border, because hotel prices there were just insane!

              Honestly, it’s not a weird thing to say. Most Swiss people are aware that stuff is expensive there.

              Good luck!
              Come back and update us in a few weeks, if you want!

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding but the salary range I originally sent you was assuming that health insurance and relocation would be paid additionally.
      Since I now realise this is not the case, I recalculated and I would need an additional Eur xxxxx per year/month.
      I do apologise for my oversight”

    3. Hillary*

      The main question, are you willing to walk away? It’s important to know that before you start talking. If you don’t have a BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) it’s a much more difficult negotiation.

      Did you know it wouldn’t include health insurance or relocation? The simplest way is to say you’d misunderstood x about the total comp package and ask about options.

      1. Observer*

        The simplest way is to say you’d misunderstood x about the total comp package and ask about options.

        This is it.

    4. TooLate*

      once you’ve lowballed yourself, that’s it – you either take the job at the lower salary or you don’t.

  33. CSRoadWarrior*

    So yesterday my coworker went off on me for something that was beyond my control. And for the first time, I got into an argument with someone at work in my entire career so far. But I luckily shut it down quickly and no voices were raised or anything unprofessional said.

    Still, I had to talk to my boss. He said whatever was happening was beyond my control and that I did everything right, and that there was only so much I could have done. My coworker had no idea any of this was happening and said I needed to push our boss further. But he is our boss; I could suggest, but in the end, whatever he says goes. She apparently didn’t see it this way and pointed her finger at me before she got all of her facts straight first.

    In the end, my boss had to talk to my coworker and said to speak to him about what is going on. I will not go into details, but there were a lot of changes and roadblocks in the past few months that my boss was not able to give me the green light to go ahead and do certain parts of my jobs as often as it was done in the past. Again, none of this is within our control. It’s just that external factors outside of business caused this to happen.

    Did anyone else go through something similar? How did you handle it?

    1. Goddess47*

      This is the scenario that “that’s above my pay grade” was invented for! ::grin::

      But, a more professional answer is, “I do not have permission to do that. You will need to ask Ludmilla if you have any questions.” Repeat as necessary.

      Good luck!

    2. Observer*

      In addition, if your coworker tells you that you should push your boss harder, tell her that you don’t consider it appropriate. She can do as she sees fit, even if it includes pushing your boss.

      If you have any reason to believe that she will go to your boss, just give him a heads up so he doesn’t get blind sided.

    3. AnonToday*

      So here’s my understanding…

      No voices were raised and nothing unprofessional was said. So it sounds like a difficult conversation but maybe not even something i would personally classify as an argument. (But maybe I hang out with too many politics/law nerds… and we love arguing.)

      The coworker was frustrated because of a misunderstanding, which your manager cleared up with the coworker.

      And your manager told you to just keep him in the loop if it comes up again.

      I think you did just fine. I have had passionate discussions and uncomfortable conversations. It feels like the higher up you go, the more it happens. I think I handle these similarly to you.

      I try to stay professional and calm in the moment. I excuse myself if needed. I reflect on some of the root causes (like miscommunication, misunderstandings), keep my boss in the loop, ask for guidance from my boss, consider if there’s anything I could do better in future (like maybe keep people updated on why you’re not completing work you usually would complete). And then just move forward. Because we can’t change the past, just try to do better the next time!

  34. Rubies*

    Any tips on securing a new job while recovering from mental health problems caused/exacerbated by your previous/current job?

    My spouse has recently been diagnosed with depression, with their toxic workplace being a strongly contributing factor. After a period of rest and treatment, they’re now looking to return to work in a phased way while also urgently searching for another job that will be less…horrible. They feel that work would be good for them, and something they can handle, but just not in their current job so we need to get them out of there (and I agree, both as their spouse and a long-time manager). Returning to work may be too much though, so we’re open to maxing out sick leave and/or quitting without a role to go to if it becomes clear that’s best for their health. The preference, though, would be to find a new role before quitting.

    Does anyone have any experience to share? We’re based in Europe, so especially keen to see how the tension between good sick leave but long notice periods (months, not weeks) has played out. It feels like my spouse is a bit trapped.

    1. Melissa*

      I’m sorry you’re both going through that. I’d suggest rethinking your preference to find a new job before quitting the toxic one – going back and getting wrecked by that workplace will make job searching more difficult. It might also help for him to make a list of everything that is toxic and the impact it had on him (e.g. my boss yells at me for minor mistakes so I feel like a failure who can never get hired anywhere) so that he’s aware of things that might be getting in the way of his job search and how they’re actually a comment on the toxic workplace, not him.

    2. Peanut Butter Queen*

      Years ago, I had a part time employed role and also a part-time practice as short term contractor. My employment became toxic (and, I realise in hindsight, traumatizing), so I resigned, thinking it was a good time to explore aspects of my other work that I’d never had time for. Unfortunately, the untreated emotional damage made it impossible for me to have the initiative and focus needed to be a full-time contractor, and I had a difficult year. I’d like to go back and do that differently somehow: First of all, I had given a very long notice period out of generosity – but now I wish I’d left sooner. Also, I wish I’d realised that trauma had occurred (even though that’s a dramatic word and I thought I was doing ok) and wish I’d had access to some research on trauma (like Bessel Van Der Kolk or Gabor Mate books) and started some new practices to help my poor, burn out self. I needed big help and I didn’t know.

      The advantage of having a contract business, though, is that at least I had work I could put on my resume for that time. And that practice was a safety net allowing me to resign in the first place.

      After about a year I took a new job and unfortunately it was as toxic as the previous one. At that stage I was quite trusting about new jobs with well known, highly celebrated organisations. I was not yet reading AAM and I didn’t know to scrutinise for red flags. I wish I had scrutinised, and not taken that job. The job wreaked further havoc on my emotional – and career – health.

      I’m doing better now, but want to pass on my hard-earned lessons. It sounds like your husband has a great support in you – I had no one to help me get perspective – and that’s wonderful.

  35. The Prettiest Curse*

    After the perfectionism question earlier this week, I thought it might be useful to discuss strategies for handling your own perfectionism in the workplace.

    How do you avoid getting hung up on tiny little things ? How have you learned to prioritise? What do you do to step back when your mind gets stuck on your own errors?

    1. Owlette*

      I use the ‘speaking to a friend’ approach. Would I be dragging a friend over the coals for this mistake? No? Then why am I doing it to myself? I have a best friend who calls me “lovely” as a term of affection and for a while I would literally use that when I talked to myself in my head, it made me much kinder to myself

  36. All the Anon*

    All-hands meeting yesterday. After a round of layoffs a few months ago, it’s not surprising that we were warned that raises and bonuses will be “meager” this year.

    Disappointing, but understandable.

    Then the big boss said something about “being grateful to have a job.”

    That’s when the resentment kicked in.

    I’m relieved to have a job with good pay and benefits, yes. But this isn’t some undeserved grace I should be doffing my cap for; it’s a transaction to which I bring value.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Grateful, bollocks.
      With your manager’s entitled attitude and with the risk there are more layoffs coming (despite what he might say) I’d be job hunting hard.

    2. Hot Dish*

      I’ve gotten the “you should be grateful to have a job” line and my opinion is that anyone who says is not worth my time, expertise, or energy. Start looking. Anyone who thinks that of their employees is a jerk.

  37. Holly Gibney*

    Does anyone have any experience, positive or negative, with dating a former employee? I started admin work at a university last year and have really hit it off with one of my student workers. He’s graduating in the spring (for context, I’m a woman and a few years older than him) and I’d really like to date him once he’s an alumnus and no longer my employee. I’m fully aware that people’s work personae are different from their personal ones, and I would definitely try to gauge that first before jumping into anything. We’re certainly friendly enough that it wouldn’t be weird to keep in touch after he graduates–it’s very common in my office for staff to befriend/socialize with former students. But obviously this would be a step further, if we do end up liking each other outside of work. I should add that I’m well aware that he could just be acting friendly with me because I’m his supervisor, but I don’t think that’s the only reason. Also, there’s another staff member who supervises the student workers as well, so if we did date and he needed a reference down the line, that person could easily give it. As far as I can tell, the only downside to anything happening between us after he graduates is the rumor mill. I’d like to think I’ve thought this through but I’d love to hear from people who actually have experience with this situation. Thanks!

    1. DottedZebra*

      My advice, actually, is to stop thinking about it! It’s inappropriate for you to be plotting how to date someone who works for you. Focus on being his manager, and pull back from your friendship-y connection.

      When he actually no longer works for you, then you can see how you feel.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      STOP!
      It’s unprofessional to be even thinking about, let alone planning, future dating of your employee.
      Also, are you sure noone has noticed you are getting too close, maybe treating him differently to other students?

      Yes, the rumour mill will likely go into overdrive if you date him even within a couple of years of his graduation.
      Don’t ruin your professional rep over a passing fancy.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Also, are you sure noone has noticed you are getting too close, maybe treating him differently to other students?

        Holly Gibney, I think it would be worth your time to read the “I have a crush on my employee” post from February 5, 2019. It has a good list of questions to ask yourself to get a read on whether you are too close to this employee. I’ll link to it in a reply to this comment.

      2. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

        Yes, the fantasizing (and I don’t think that’s too strong of a word) here is most concerning. “if we do end up liking each other”… “if we did date”… yikes!

    3. WorkerDrone*

      I am a college admin worker, and I have to be honest – I would think differently (worse) of a fellow admin who dated a former student worker. It wouldn’t change how I treated them or worked with them as a colleague, but we tend to be very protective of our students and especially our student workers since the power differential is so significant. Someone who used the supervisor-student employee relationship to transition into a later romantic relationship isn’t someone I’d want supervising students. Yes, they’re generally adults and above the age of minority, but I’m uncomfortable with them being viewed as potential dates even once their time with our office ended.

      The rumor mill can be a very powerful force in a workplace, especially academia. I would not dismiss it casually.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I do think there’s a difference if this is an undergrad and you are 24, vs. a grad student of whatever age a few years younger than you, but still — I agree with folks who say quit it.

      2. Antilles*

        Also, from the other side, as someone who was once a college undergrad myself, “a few years older” felt like a damn chasm at the time because it was just such a different stage of life. Yeah, the difference between being 22 and 26 is only four years, but when you’re comparing the difference between a college student versus someone several years into their career? That gap feels like way more than what a mere 48 months would indicate.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          Yes, I just mentioned below that as a sort of student worker (it was a co-op placement) at the age of 20, I was shocked when I learnt one of the employees who was sort of supervising me was only 25. It may have been only 5 years, but I was a student, only two and a half years out of school, there to learn, whereas he was a qualified adult with a number of years of experience in the field under his belt and actually got engaged to be married while I was working there. The age gap may not be much in terms of years, but it’s a very different life stage.

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      Honestly, I don’t know how old your student is but I know when I was a college student I utterly heroworshipped two of my lecturers. My family must have been sick of me coming home, quoting every word they said. Now, this was mostly in 1st year and maybe 2nd year, when I was about 18, but still.

      One of them was a young, good-looking woman and I actually was wondering at one point if I were gay, because I liked and admired her so much. Then I realised I felt the same about the other, who was an older man (as an 18 year old in the late ’90s, I don’t think bisexuality was even on my radar).

      I am aromantic asexual so not sure whether people who do experience sexual and romantic attraction might find it easier to know the difference, but I would caution that young people do sometimes heroworship older adults, especially those accomplished in areas they are hoping to be successful in and especially if they haven’t much romantic experience, they may be unsure about whether or not these feelings are (again, my case probably is a particular one since it was partly the assumption society sometimes makes that not wanting to date the opposite sex means you are gay).

      I think also “a few years” can make a big difference at that age. I did work experience my 3rd year of my degree when I was 20 and once one of the full time employees left his driver’s licence lying on the table and I caught sight of it and was shocked to see he was only 25, only about as much older than me as I was older than my younger sister. To me, he was most definitely a fully experienced mature adult, almost a parental-typed figure.

      I think the power differential here isn’t just that you were his boss but also that he is a student and you a member of the college staff. He likely puts you in a category with his lecturers and you may have more influence over him than you realise.

      Now, I am working on the premise that he is around 22. If he is older, some of this may not apply to the same extent but I still think it’s a bad idea.

    5. Observer*

      I’d like to think I’ve thought this through

      Well, I’d say that you have not thought it through. I’m seeing a lot of justification but not really looking at the situation in a fact based way.

      The only thing that you even somewhat address is the power differential but only tangentially, and then wave it away.

      It might be useful to flip the genders and ask yourself how you react to a guy saying “I have youngish employee who are really like and want to date. I’ve been developing a relationship with me. She’s really into me, no for real! And I can’t wait for her to move on so I can hit on her.”

      That’s pretty much what you are saying, and it’s not OK regardless of the genders involved.

      1. Max*

        This strikes me as a little unfair. You say she’s not looking at the facts but your portrayal of her as analogous to a creepy dude plotting to hit on his young innocent female employee is assuming a lot. They could both be well into adulthood and he could be super into her and waiting to graduate so that *he* can hit on *her.*

        Or not. Maybe it’s exactly as you’re describing. But I do think that this comment and others are ignoring a lot of what she said (that it’s common where she works to socialize with student employees during and after their employment, that they have a rapport, etc) and making her into a caricature of a predatory boss.

        1. Quantum Possum*

          your portrayal of her as analogous to a creepy dude plotting to hit on his young innocent female employee is assuming a lot

          But that’s not how Observer portrayed her. You’re inserting judgment where there wasn’t. It seemed like it was meant more this way: “…as analogous to a creepy dude plotting to hit on thinking about asking out his younger innocent female employee.”

          1. Max*

            Fair point. But it seemed to me that Observer wanted to portray the hypothetical male boss as creepy. And I read the sentence “she’s really into me, no for real!” as implying that the hypothetical male boss is imagining his hypothetical female employee’s feelings for him. We have no reason to believe that the LW is inventing the rapport she says she has with her employee.

            1. Max*

              And “I can’t wait for her to move on so I can hit on her” (Observer’s interpretation of the LW’s position, with the genders reversed) is quite different from “thinking about asking out his younger female employee” (your rephrasing of Observer’s interpretation). I get that there’s a built in power differential but it seems like people are jumping to some unwarranted conclusions given the actual content of the LW’s post.

    6. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      unfortunately the rumor mill could be problematic with people wondering about what happened before he graduated.
      we just redid our sexusal misconduct prevention training and being perceived to have violated this (im not saying you have!) is not good…
      at the very least I’d put it aside and give it a few months (year?) before pursuing especially as that gives him time to mature out of being an undergraduate

    7. Quantum Possum*

      I don’t think it’s at all weird to date a former employee.

      I also don’t think that a manager should continue to manage an employee once a crush (or sexual interest, emotional connection, etc.) has reached a certain point.

      I get the impression that your interest in your employee has reached that point, seeing as how you’re already seriously thinking about dating him once he graduates. I advise you to do the following:

      1. Pull way back and reset the relationship, both in your head (no more thinking “if/when we can date”) and in real life (especially if there might be whiffs of favoritism).
      2. If you can’t do that, step out of his chain of command. (Honestly, you may want to do this even if you do Option 1.)

      Many years ago, I had a boss transfer to another department because he had a crush on me. I didn’t know the actual reason for years. Everything was handled discreetly and professionally, and in my perpetual state of oblivion, I never picked up on anything. While I wouldn’t have been opposed to dating him after he was no longer my boss (alas, life happened, lol), I’m extremely grateful that he handled the situation the way he did.

  38. Productivity Pigeon*

    *How to make prettier excel spreadsheets?*

    I’m very much an excel beginner and I’m not a good graphic designer.
    I want to make “prettier” excel sheets graphically so they look more professional rather than something a 9th grader put together.

    At my old job, I had plenty of material from other people I could use to reference but I don’t work there anymore.

    I’ve been looking at template websites that offer a bunch of different sheets but they’re SO expensive.

    Where should I look? What’s your best advice?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Hilariously, I think the sheets that aren’t just black and white look more beginner to me. Excel’s all about function. I see a lot of starting off people focus on wanting to add form, color borders, different fonts etc. Pros usually only add bold/color/formating to illustrate something in the data, like conditional formatting.

    2. T. Wanderer*

      This is going to depend a lot on the purpose of the sheets — why do you want them to look pretty? As a general rule, looking nice isn’t the purpose of Excel. If you have access to Tableau, that’s more graphics-focused.

      Pretty is sometimes the enemy of functional. An excel sheet looks professional when it’s easy to read/use. Some visual things that can help, though: banded rows, conditional formatting (that’s USEFUL, the more color the harder it is to read!), bolding headers, “freezing” the top title row if that’s the setup you have.

      1. Productivity Pigeon*

        You’re right, and I’m not entirely sure myself what I mean.

        I think I’m after “clean and professional” most of all.
        “Restful” to read maybe? Not messy?

        1. T. Wanderer*

          This is going to depend on what sort of data/data formats you put in excel, and it’s kinda using the wrong tool for the job to do data vis in it, but here’s what might help:

          -If you want to distill data/calculations into a top-level view, new sheets are your friend — that way you can have The Sheet(s) Where Conclusions Live and The Data.
          -Clear labels. If you need a line explaining what you’re showing, that’s fine — better to have an explanation than be confused.
          -If I have multiple tables/charts/whatever, I try to keep each sheet to only what can be seen without scrolling. You don’t want to lose your data! More sheets can be helpful here.

        2. Angstrom*

          To be easy on the eyes:
          -Use very light colors to identify data fields/data types. You want to maintain good contrast with the text to keep it readable. The fully-saturated colors don’t play well with black text.
          -For borders and gridlines try shades of grey instead of black. It helps the text stand out.
          – Do the same for graphs: light grey gridlines allow the data to dominate instead of the grid.
          – Graphs: Be consistent with colors and axes when there’s more than one graph. Don’t think you have to accept the default colors — choose ones that are easy on the eyes.
          – Italics, bolding, font sizes can be used to emphsize specific items — up one font size for totals, for example — but overdoing it ends up looking very busy.
          – Flow: Does the information flow naturally left-to-right and top-to-bottom?

          1. Angstrom*

            If the sheet is big enough to require scrolling, the “Freeze panes” option to keep column and row headers visible is a huge help to users.

            1. Observer*

              That’s one of the most useful tricks I know of, in terms of looks and usability. It’s a small thing, but can make an *enormous* difference.

        3. Banana Pyjamas*

          Restful to read/not messy

          Tables, this automates banded rows.

          Banded rows no fill and White 15% darker, font Black 15% lighter. This is high contrast enough to be easy to read, but muted enough to reduce eye strain. It’s also light enough that if you have to print for any reason, the colored rows don’t print too dark to read, even if you’re stuck using an old black and white printer that tends to use too much toner.

          Headers in the mid tone with bold, white font.

          If your team is working with large enough screens, or you’re printing, increase the row height to at least 22, font size to 14. Font height alignment to the center. Personally I prefer double height for data cells, and triple or quadruple height with text wrap for headers. Top align headers.

          Know your audience. It’s okay to hide columns as needed for meetings and presentations. Some people need printed documents, and just won’t follow along on a screen.

          If you have to print, sometimes it’s best to manually adjust size until auto scale is legible. Don’t be afraid to set custom, narrower margins. Tabloid paper will often serve you better.

          Rounding in Excel

          Remember that formatting only makes the number appear rounded. If you actually want Excel to round you need to use the ROUND or MROUND function, depending on your needs.

          If you use formatting instead of functions Excel uses the underlying number for calculation. So if you have a column formatted to two decimal places, .245 displays as .25 but excel treats it as .245.

    3. Elsewise*

      Short hack: Figure out the colors in your company logo and then use the color picker and to select those colors as the background for certain cells. Merge cells when you want to put more written information, like a title. Tada!

      1. Productivity Pigeon*

        Haha you remind me of a friend of mine who matches her clothes to the color of the company logo if she has an interview somewhere!

      2. peter b*

        Absolutely seconding this – I mostly just use the company color for the bg of headers row and it gives an easy indication of what the headers are/being “official”-ish (vs. a draft doc) without getting overwhelming.

        1. Productivity Pigeon*

          Unfortunately, I’m unemployed at the moment, haha, but I totally get it. At my last workplace, we had pretty strict guidelines when it came to colors and logos and all that stuff.

        2. Productivity Pigeon*

          I’m unemployed at the moment but it’s really good advice!

          My old workplace had a lot of graphical guidelines and that helped me a lot n

    4. Haunted by Laundry*

      Turning off gridlines (in the View tab there is a checkbox) often makes files look cleaner immediately. Also, one of my favorite tricks for column headers is to set the cell to Accounting format (click the little comma button on the Home tab) and then Underline format. It makes a long underline that’s like a millimeter shy of the edge of the cell, regardless of text length. If you have a header in merged cells that covers multiple sub-heads below, the underline will span across all the columns and makes it easy to see groups at a glance.

    5. Kes*

      As others have said, excel documents are made to be functional and so I would focus on what will enhance the function – eg bolding/highlighting cells that need to stand out as more important, or spacing/outline/background to indicate what cells are/aren’t related or in a group, or conditional formatting to show where values fall on a range or compared to expectations – use graphical aspects to achieve functionality rather than for its own sake

    6. Observer*

      I’ve been looking at template websites that offer a bunch of different sheets but they’re SO expensive.

      MS actually offers some good templates. But it’s really a matter of finding the right template for the purpose.

      In addition to the advice you’ve already gotten, look at the data areas. Sorting, filtering, group / ungroup and automated subtotals can be really helpful, and look very good when appropriately used.

  39. Nora*

    Right after yesterdays post – I was interviewing people today and water went down the wrong pipe and I started coughing violently. I literally had to cut off the interviewee mid answer and turn off my camera and sound and go cough a bunch. It was . . . not good

    1. Llellayena*

      Not fun! But they were likely just concerned for you rather than bothered by the interruption. I usually come back from the coughing fit and say something like “I need to remember that I am not a fish, I can’t breathe water.” Gives an explanation that you’re ok (or will be), it’s not serious and gets the nervous laughter out of the way to get you back on track.

    2. Elsewise*

      I may have told this story here before, but I once had a hiccup fit while I was interviewing someone. And my hiccup attacks are really loud, intense, and painful. I jokingly told the interviewee that if he could get through the entire interview without laughing at me, it would work in his favor. (He did, and I hired him.)

    3. Hot Dish*

      I unfortunately went through a period where I had a bad non-contagious cough. Speaking could sometimes make it worse, and I did trainings or ran meetings for my staff. I’ve definitely had to turn off everything and walk away to take care of myself. Not fun, but you have a way more relatable excuse for them.

  40. Janeric*

    I haven’t had a direct supervisor for over a year BUT I will be getting a new direct supervisor in the next month. Any tips for going from entirely-self directed and overworked to having direction and hopefully not being overworked?

    For example: I back-burnered a lot of stuff when I thought that it would be 2-3 months between supervisors and have never had the bandwidth to address it. When do I bring this up?

    Another example: I’m burned out and would like to take some longish vacations to recharge — is there a good way to approach that?

    1. Dulcinea47*

      What’s stopping you from taking vacations? My main tip for not being overworked is to stop working so much and take care of yourself first. Don’t rely on your workplace to take care of you.

      At some point (probably not instantly) you and your supervisor will need to sit down and talk about how to prioritize the work that comes in so you’re not overwhelmed, and deciding what to do with the back-burnered stuff would be part of that.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’d make a list and let them know. Make them a partner in fixing this issue. Here’s what I have not done, I’m still overworked so here’s what I can do going forward and here’s what I need your help with.

      And can you elaborate on your vacation question? Are you looking for ways to detach from work when you’re already overworked? Or for ways to structure your vacation to make it as restorative as possible?

  41. vegan velociraptor*

    I want to change careers, and I could really do with help figuring out what I might enjoy/be suited to and what I’m able to do without investing too much money into retraining.

    My background so far is in academia: I work as an academic advisor in a UK university. So, I meet students 1-1, give them support with their studies, help them navigate the system, sometimes I provide workshops on academic skills. It’s paid pretty well and is very flexible in terms of hybrid working, but it’s not fulfilling – I honestly don’t have enough to do, my manager is very hands-off and doesn’t find extra things for me to do, and I’ve got other issues with the role.

    I have a PhD in philosophy/history of philosophy, and a bunch of higher ed teaching experience. I also did some training in counselling/therapy a couple of years ago – I’m not a qualified counsellor, but I do have a certificate in counselling skills.

    I really want to move into something that I find more intellectually stimulating, is more project-based (rather than endless 1-1 appointments with people), and has room for progression (my current role really lacks this!). I’m willing to stay in higher education if I found the right interesting position, but I’m very up for changing industry entirely. I’m not planning on trying to make it as a lecturer/academic researcher, but I would love a role that used my research skills.

    I’m interested in policy work, but I have no experience in that, and my research experience is very different from the qualitative/quantitative research experience that I often see required. I’m also interested in EDI work – I do have experience working on a gender equality project at the university.

    I’m just struggling finding an industry and career path that I feel suited for – everything feels out of my reach, and my PhD doesn’t actually feel especially useful for much! Any tips on what might work, and how to go about moving careers/industry would be super helpful. I’m about to go on maternity leave (9 months-1 year), and then my husband and I are probably going to move cities, so I’m not planning on applying for new jobs immediately, but I really want to start getting a plan in place.

    1. vegan velociraptor*

      Just to add, since I forgot – I finished up my PhD three years ago. I spent some of the time since then freelancing in academic copyediting/proofreading, and I’ve been in my current role coming up on two years. Apart from my PhD teaching experience, I’ve got experience offering private tuition and also in facilitating discussion groups about philosophy in various contexts (schools, adult education environments).

      1. A thought*

        Hi there,
        I feel you – making the transition to a fulfilling job can be so hard!
        It’s true that it’s hard to move into policy without that type of background, so jobs at policy orgs may be difficult, but look at – say – Royal Society (London-based, though) or any research culture job at universities — that field is really taking off right now.

        Another thought – UKRI. It doesn’t pay well, I won’t lie, but you can move up, the work is pretty interesting, and the culture is good. You *may* have to start at a lower level than you’d like but could move up within a year.

        Hope that helps.

    2. trust me I'm a PhD*

      I’ve seen philosophy PhDs go into roles coordinating and directing university programs (e.g. ethics centers, guest speakers, etc) as well as into ministry or law.

      Have you looked into niche/boutique non-academic research centers? Especially with social issues, such as gender equity, researchers are often needed; and smaller organizations may be more flexible as to the kind of research you’re skilled in. I also would urge you not to sell yourself short as far as policy –– philosophical research can be relevant in those roles.

      If you haven’t, I’d encourage you to join The Professor Is Out FB group, where you can connect with other academics on their way towards a variety of non-faculty roles inside, but mostly outside, academia.

    3. mcm*

      I wonder if your current institution has something like an office of professional development or HR people who focus on that?
      I know you said you are likely moving, so this may not work for you in terms of timing, but I think sometimes it’s easier to move into a different type of role in an institution that already knows and likes you. Could you consult on more EDI work at your current institution? Move laterally into a role that has more to do with that?
      These are not maybe very specific recommendations but it might be worth looking around where you currently are to see if a lateral move is possible, or if not, what you might be able to add in terms of volunteer committees or things like that that will add things to your resume to make the job change easier in the future.

      1. Grandma Mazur*

        Also UKRI – there aren’t a lot of roles being posted at the moment compared with a few years ago but your skills will definitely be valued there!

        1. Grandma Mazur*

          I see a poster above already mentioned that – the pay is comparable to university admin roles, I’d say

  42. Diamond*

    I have an interesting situation looming! Bus drivers in my area are about to move to strike action for at least 48 hours. I can’t afford a car so I take a bus to work. Managers in general, would you accept, “I don’t want to cross the picket line,” as an acceptable reason to WFH?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Ive lived in a city with a bus strike before, my boss did not accept absence for that reason. Boss did help facilitate people finding alternate routes to get to work though.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I probably wouldn’t risk it and would instead say, “I expect the bus strike to disrupt my commute and am planning to work from home next week.”

    3. Roland*

      Even if they bring in some scabs, it’s unlikely things will be running at full capacity on schedule, so you could also use that a reason/excuse. Until those days arrive it’s perfectly reasonable to assume hours long delays are possible so assume that will definitely happen when you talk to your boss if it’s easier than mentioning labor practices.

    4. Jenna Webster*

      I wouldn’t cross the picket line, but I would expect to have to find another way to work, whether that is taxis or Ubers or kindhearted friends or renting a car for a short period of time.

    5. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      It would only be “crossing a picket line” if the bus company were running busses with temporary drivers. More likely there just won’t be bus service period, so I think just raise it with your manager as, “my normal commute won’t be possible, here are some options – WFH, take Ubers and put in for reimbursement for costs above my normal commute, or other idea you have?”

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This. The training for bus drivers takes time! I’m not even sure they could have enough scans who know the buses and the routes and are willing to do it.

      2. Diamond*

        An Uber to and from my office would cost roughly $100 each way, there’s no way my corporate AP department will reimburse that without some serious side-eyeing on their part.

    6. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      This question reminded me that last summer, my family and I travel to Quebec City for the first time, partly so me and my teenage son could practice our French in the wild. Guess what, we learned a new word! “Greve” means strike, and no busses were running our whole visit! (We rented a car for one day to visit the outskirts)

    7. anecdata*

      This is going to vary a lot on your job and company culture but for me (American, tech, old fashioned large corporate):
      – I would not frame it as not wanting to cross the picket line : that makes it sound like a choice and opens the opinions-about-unions can of worms. Suggestion about just “the strike will disrupt my commute” is good
      – This would be similar to something like your car breaking down. For us, that means it would be ok to work from home for a day or two but not a whole week. And expensing Ubers would be a non starter

  43. Temp Hospital Employee Wants Out*

    Is it ever appropriate to press managers and leadership for information about things like plans to expand departments and increase hiring when you’re someone that usually wouldn’t be part of those conversations and plans?

    I ask because I’m part of my employer’s (a hospital system) temp division, have done multiple assignments in a particular unit I really like, and have good rapport with the unit manager who wants to hire me permanently and has promised me first dibs on certain openings. I’m currently temping in that unit again and the unit manager has made some comments to me that make it sound like there are plans to expand this unit and hire more staff. I want to know if these are concrete plans with a timeline, or fantasies that might happen far in the future. I want to leave the temp division soon but would stick around there’s a permanent position on this unit for me in the near future, but I would not put my job hunting plans on hold for vague hopeful plans that maybe will happen one day.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Assume it’s a vague fantasy and take it as a compliment on your work. Don’t put anything on hold waiting for it to materialize.

    2. Cordelia*

      Ask them! What harm would it do? The unit manager has already expressed interest in hiring you, so let them know you are definitely interested in posts that come up, and ask them about likelihood and timescales. Don’t put anything else on hold though…

    3. Kes*

      You may as well ask. They may or may not be able to tell you and I wouldn’t press them for information, but if you have a good rapport with them, asking them, “hey, it sounds like you’re maybe planning to expand this unit, is that true?” probably won’t hurt as long as you don’t push if they decline to answer. And if they do tell you there’s plans to expand then you can express interest in being considered for any relevant positions, as long as again you’re not too pushy about it.

      1. Jolie*

        But also keep/start looking! There are huge staff shortages here, but some budget shortages as well from the years when people were at home and not seeking out routine care.

        Last Friday, my endocrinologist could literally not take blood samples because there was insufficient, and I had to go to a central facility to get a draw.

        With appointments all booked out until the end of time, they’ll have to hire – but I do wonder where that tipping point is. 6 months? A year? I wouldn’t rec keeping your career advancement (to perm) on hold while this is sorted.

  44. Anon Midwest*

    Is anyone in marketing job searching? How has it been going for you?

    I’ve been looking since September for roles similar to mine, in brand advertising/marketing research/brand strategy/paid advertising. I’ve applied to 20, of which 15 were a GREAT fit and a few were a stretch, and I haven’t gotten a single interview unfortunately.

    I am remote, so I’m wondering if marketing is over saturated with great talent right now, and I’m just being out-competed by folks with even better qualifications?

    I have had peers look at my resume and they said it was excellent, and I tailor a cover letter to each specific job/company. I have 8+ years of experience and am applying to individual contributer roles at my level.

    I am currently employed so the job search isn’t as rigorous as it could be, but I am disheartened by the lack of response.

    Are any of you experiencing the same thing, or having better success?

    1. another midwest marketer*

      From someone in marketing who *just* accepted a job offer in the midwest: personally, I haven’t found it very helpful to think of “marketing” as a singular entity. For instance, in-house marketing positions are going to look very different depending on industry (and whether it’s B2B, B2C, NPO, higher ed, product vs. service, etc.), and those typically want specific industry experience of some kind. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an agency setup, I can see 8 years of experience being a bit challenging for IC roles; it’s not at all fair, but IME most agencies do expect you to seek an account manager type of role around that point, even on the marketing track.

      I got my current (in-house) job by emphasizing my expertise in the specific industry. In fact, during the interview process they asked me what I did to keep abreast of current marketing trends, and I straight-up told them I didn’t think a broad approach was very useful; instead, I went through some examples of publications and organizations I follow that often discuss marketing innovations specific to their industry, because it does operate in some unique ways.

      I got my previous (agency) job ~5 years ago by researching the agency’s biggest clients and talking about my experience marketing in those areas, plus a fair bit about my client handling experience since I had ~7 years of experience at that point and (correctly) guessed I’d probably be given some account management responsibilities even though it was technically an IC role.

      So if you haven’t already narrowed your search by industry, I’d encourage you to do so. Even if you’re looking for an agency role, you’ll probably have better odds if you target agencies that specialize in something you can talk about in-depth.

      Best of luck to you in your search!

      P.S. This might be totally unnecessary for you, but I found it really helpful to treat the job hunt like a product marketing gig. I wrote my cover letters like I was writing long-form marketing copy, so of course I did some basic landscape analysis and went through a feature/benefit/value exercise to identify the most compelling USPs for each potential “customer” i.e. employer. Reframing it that way in my head helped me manage it like I would a contract or client account, both practically and emotionally.

    2. Lobster*

      It’s the market. I have 19 years experience in the content management side of marketing. I do the same as far as tailoring application materials, and I even put together a light content audit for each company.

      It’s so easy to apply, and marketing jobs sound easy. I heard somewhere that marketing was the sector most impacted by layoffs in 2022-2023 – idk how accurate that is. Companies are being overwhelmed with applications, though.

      It’s not you.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Marketing (and its related fields incl advertising, brand, design, communications) is often highly impacted by layoffs. In the dot com bust, it was estimated that 30% of all marketing and marketing-adjacent jobs were lost in the San Francisco / Silicon Valley area

    3. Remote worker bee*

      I don’t work in marketing but my department is hiring a marketing manager and we got over 500 applicants applying for this position. A lot of these applicants are very qualified and have resumes that are so similar they’re really hard to distinguish. It seems like the market is just oversaturated right now. Unfortunately we’ll probably make our decision based on politics and whoever was referred by the “right” person.

    4. Procedure Publisher*

      I’ve been job searching since October because I was laid off. I have not got much traction with what I’m applying for. In my area, jobs in my field crop up every so often. It does not help that my whole team and several other related procedure teams were laid off with me in addition to layoffs impact another procedure team in a different department.

      There’s a lot of competition for the type of jobs that I am looking for. I’ve only made it to a final round interview once. However, in the last week, I have done two phone screens. Never had I done multiple phone screens in a week, so it gives me hope. One of those phone screens resulted in a rejection, the other is one where I am likely not to hear back until two weeks.

  45. Lumos*

    I have an interview today for a company that doesn’t have many online reviews in the division I’m in. What sort of questions should I ask to get an idea of the work environment? I already plan to ask about work life balance, what a typical day in the role is, and why the role is open/what opportunities for advancement there are.

    1. ForestHag*

      I have been asking what are some of the challenges that department and/or the role faces, and also what are some of the best parts of that department/role. It’s been really illuminating, especially for positions where I’ve had multiple interviews with different people, and I got to see how each of them viewed the purpose of that role/department and their priorities for it. I worded the question like – What are some of the positives of this role, and on the flip side, what are some of the challenges?

    2. pally*

      Some ideas:

      What happened to the person who held the role previously? Did they get promoted? Did they leave? Why did they leave? How long did they have the role?

      What happens when there’s a surge in the workload for the department? How will that impact the expectations placed on the workers (i.e., mandatory overtime, or we all pitch in, or we ask for other departments to take on some of the work)?

      Tell me about a time when the company received some very bad business news-such as the loss of a big customer or having to do a big layoff. How did the company handle this? What lessons did the company learn as a result?

      How will this role change in the next 3-5 years?

      Can you ask to talk with your potential co-workers?

    3. Ack-countant*

      I usually only use this one if I feel I’ve built camaraderie with the interviewer, but sometimes I like to ask “I know this is an unusual one, but– when’s the last time you took a week off for vacation?”.
      I find it useful to look at not just the answer they give, but how they answer: if they struggle to remember, or laugh and say “never!”, I know it won’t be a fit for me. But if they’re able to give a time within the past 6mos-1yr, and they’re able to state it matter of fact, that shows me people are able to actually take time away. I’ve even had one time where the hiring manager (who would also supervise the role) really candidly answered that they haven’t been able to take that kind of time off due to staffing issues, but that they were hiring people into the department to resolve the workload because they knew it was a problem.
      So: it’s not just what they say, but how they answer it. Good luck!

  46. DJ*

    A few months ago I was promoted to run a new department, building it from the ground up. It’s been hard but rewarding.

    About a month ago, the rest of my previous colleagues got moved to our new building. It’s been in the works for years. Therefore, there wasn’t enough space to move me and my new department as well. We’ve been left in the old building.

    I am desperately lonely. Since everyone else in the building are people I supervise, I have no one I can interact with. I don’t have enough work-related excuses to go interact with my old coworkers/friends at the new building.

    Has anyone else been in a similar position? How do you combat the loneliness without becoming friends with the people you manage?

    1. Tradd*

      Frankly, this sounds lovely to me. Allows you to get your work done. I’m sorry, but I’m friendly to coworkers, but they are not friends.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I really don’t know what people who clearly feel that wanting to have occasional social interaction with colleagues is some kind of terrible moral failing are hoping to achieve with comments like this one. What you posted was both unhelpful and unkind to someone who is clearly experiencing mental distress. Please try to do better in the future.

    2. mcm*

      I think having people to talk to at work, even if they are more work-friends than friend-friends, is so crucial, at least to me! I totally sympathize.
      Maybe see if you can arrange to have lunch in the other building with your previous coworkers! Or stop by for a coffee at their coffee station every now and then? I don’t think you have to stop socializing or have a work-related excuse to socialize.

    3. Derivative Poster*

      Could you schedule regular coffee or lunch dates to catch up with your previous colleagues? You and person A have lunch on Mondays, you and person B meet for coffee/drinks after work on Tuesdays, etc.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        This is a great idea!

        Another is to build relationships with other department heads. At my current job, everyone at my level has a casual monthly meeting. No agenda or set topics, it’s just a chance for us to chat. We’re across different teams and departments, so it’s also a good way to share big picture info across the company, since our internal comms can be a bit spotty.

    4. WorkingRachel*

      I like the ideas above, but also, are you allowing yourself to have normal collegial relations with the people you supervise? I agree you shouldn’t be friends with them, but I’ve often been friendLY with people who supervise me or who I supervise. Yes it’s a somewhat trickier line where you have to be more careful about things like oversharing, venting, or perceptions of favoritism, but it’s fine and I would say often good to have a warm relationship with them, chatting about things like hobbies or TV, having a general sense of people’s out of work lives, and kvetching a bit about weather and traffic. If it feels like you have NO interaction with people now that sounds like you might be leaning too much in the opposite direction–although of course if the people you supervise are people who prefer to keep their heads down and not talk to the boss much you have to respect that.

  47. Coworker returning from maternity leave*

    My coworker is returning on Monday from maternity leave. I am very happy to have her back because I like her as a person and also because I have been doing both of our jobs for 5 months with very little help and am burning out! I learned yesterday that she’ll be coming back part time, with the goal of working 2 hours during our business hours and then from 6-10pm. She cannot find affordable childcare so this is what she and our manager have worked out. (She’ll have a family member watching the baby during the 2 hours and then in the evening her husband will be home.)

    What are the ways that I can best welcome her back without bringing my burnt out energy to our interactions? She is 100% the type of person who will feel guilty that I have been so overwhelmed and I do not want that! I am happy that she got 5 months paid maternity leave and I know it will be a challenge for her to return. (The same day this coworker found she needed an immediate c-section, another coworker had a medical crisis and was also out for 5 months. So our team was down 2 people and the coworkers who were supposed to help me needed to cover for the person on medical leave. The past 5 months have been rough for several of us.)

    My other question is: have you had a coworker with a split schedule like this? How did you make it work? (Or not) A main feature of both our workloads is to pull requests/tickets from a shared inbox, and we work together quite closely.

    A side note: I don’t have kids and probably won’t. I do have multiple chronic illnesses that cause fatigue and brain fog (among other things) and both of those symptoms are currently flaring up. I know that my coworker could potentially be dealing with similar issues, so I am definitely sympathetic. However, I would appreciate if the responses to this don’t diminish my health issues in comparison to the challenges of caring for an infant. Both are hard!

    Thank you!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      “It’s really nice to see you. How’s the baby? Let me know when you’re settled in and we’ll catch up.”

      You have to give her time to get used to being back before you can assess how the split schedule will work. She’s probably forgotten how to do half of her tasks– she’ll need some time to adjust.

      1. Coworker returning from maternity leave*

        At management’s suggestion/request, I have a “welcome back” call scheduled with her on Monday. I have no expectation that she’s going to jump back into everything without needing some refreshers. I’ll likely be the one responsible for that since I originally trained her.

    2. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      welcome her back and talk to your boss. not to complain about her but to discuss your burn out / your work load is unsustainable
      I’m really glad they are offering her flexibility but then they need to figure out how to balance the work. that’s not her fault or her job. it’s your mangers job

      1. Coworker returning from maternity leave*

        I’m glad they’re willing to try out this flexibility for her too! I think she would have to quit otherwise and no one wants that outcome. Unfortunately a lot of the “making it work” still falls to me one way or another.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          How can you make it fall back on the business? It’s not your responsibility to care more than they do about making this work.

    3. Working for an Ostrich*

      If your co-worker is the empathetic sort who might already be feeling guilty about having saddled you with extra work while she was on maternity leave, she may pick up on how you feel regardless of how well-edited your “welcome back!” messaging is. I like AvonLady’s script for keeping things breezy and welcoming, but if she picks up on your burnt-out energy, it might be helpful to have something in your back pocket like: “Honestly, I’m really glad to have you back. But I’m also so glad you got to take your leave with [baby], you absolutely deserve it.” And then redirect back to what needs to get done, because the best thing she can do to help with your burnout is get the workload back under control!

      As for the split schedule – I work regularly with two contractors who are only available on nights and weekends, when I’m not working, so it’s not identical to your situation, but similar. I’ve found that learning how the other person manages their information is crucial. One contractor prefers a single email with a list of everything I need for them, as they get lots of messages and multiples are more likely to get lost. The other uses their inbox as a to-do list and prefers a separate email for each task or request. Learning how your co-worker keeps track of their tasks can help you make sure they get done. I’ve also found it really helpful to keep a personal list of what I’m waiting for – it’s easy to send the ball into someone else’s court and not notice that they’ve dropped it until it’s too late, and my list has helped me follow up consistently.

    4. Head sheep counter*

      Talk to your boss. Layout what is working and what is burning you out. This is you bearing the brunt of their decisions so have them help solve the problem.

      1. Coworker returning from maternity leave*

        I agree that it’s management’s problem to solve. The responses I’ve received from them on this front have been less than helpful unfortunately.

    5. EA*

      I don’t think you need to say anything to her beyond normal hellos and great that you’re back. You don’t need to mention how hard it must be for her unless she brings it up. I actually preferred when coworkers did NOT constantly mention my baby after I came from maternity leave. But maybe that’s just me.

      What you DO is more important. She’s back, so stop covering her workload. Leave the tickets that are hers in the inbox. If it turns out that she can’t cover her work with the split schedule and reduced hours, that’s something your manager should address. But the only way that’ll become apparent is if you stop covering. I have had colleagues flex time, but it’s dependent on whether the work actually allows for flexed schedules (which I’m thinking you’re not quite sure it will?), and the capacity of the person to organize themselves and get their work done with high quality.

      1. Coworker returning from maternity leave*

        Thank you, my mindset/preference is definitely in line with your first paragraph.

        There are definitely some things that I can stop covering soon after she returns. The main bulk of our work is splitting the tickets we receive based on who has availability. For 5 months I’ve been in the mindset that “I’m the only one doing these. Got to get them all done!!!” Which has not been a healthy situation. So it’ll be more of a personal mindset shift to tell myself “ok, you can leave stuff in the inbox at the end of the day because [coworker] will be working later tonight.” I also flex my time to some degree to accommodate medical appointments, so it’s not that I don’t think it will work at all. It’s that I think I will struggle over whether I’m leaving too many or too few items for her to handle since our hours won’t overlap much. But it’s all speculation at this point until we try this out!

      2. Frankie Bergstein*

        I think this is a fantastic idea! Be sure you’re handing your work back to her — address your burnout through your actions.

    6. OldHat*

      I’m kinda in a similar position, except it’s my lone permanent direct report, so a lot of the load she couldn’t get to would fall onto me as the person responsible for our program. I welcomed her back, gave her updates (largely changes in staff, upcoming dates/deadlines to be aware of, and major policy changes), and discussed how to bring her back into the fold. I’m CFBC, so it was probably a relief for her to not always talk about baby as she returned herself to being a person rather than being just a mom. I also gave her a lot of space to go their email and to complete tasks.

      A lot of higher level tasks got put on the back burner while we prepared for her leave, the actual leave, and transition period. Never mind some backlog because there was only one person available instead of two. I think it took four months after she got back to feel like I could dedicate time to these tasks and make the backlog feel manageable. We also phased her duties back in to get her comfortable and for me to get use to delegating again. I mention this as it will likely take months to get back into a groove that resembles what it was before her leave. I think she could tell that my hair was on fire for months straight no matter how much I tried to hide it. She going to feel guilty no matter what. I minimized it, but also saw that some of her feelings were hers to handle.

      Her schedule has evolved since has come back where there are times when it’s been less than ideal. Each situation with different ways to keep my sanity. I’d get more clarity on how permanent your coworkers schedule will be as well as be prepared to set boundaries.

      A common situation is where there’s a flood of requests that come in after she has logged off for the day or involve onsite tasks on her telework days. Some are an emergency or have quick timeline (we are a quasi-governmental body, so think open records requests that took their time to get to us) while some can wait a day or so (I at least acknowledge that day though). I might start something and then pass it off or split it based upon what can be done remotely and what involves being onsite. It probably will always be uneven, but two people working on it is better than one. She tends to get certain requests by default, while the rest get split based upon workloads and expertise. When she was adjusting back, I gave her more of these than normal and took other parts of our load. This was planned as we felt it would be a good way for her to get back but not too overwhelmed.

      We have more overlap than you do, but it sometimes causes a flurry of questions when I get in or right before she logs off. I have to set boundaries to make sure I get things done when it’s in the middle of the day. Or had a chance to drink some coffee. Some of this is her personality. I’ve built trust that I’ll answer and support her, and the answer will often be more well-thought out. It might come when she is off. I’ve given myself permission to ignore Teams and email for blocks of time if I’m working on certain tasks. I think of it as she is setting boundaries because of her family situation. It’s on me to set boundaries where I need to, because no one else will.

      The other situation revolves around meeting scheduling. If it needs to be in person, it narrows our choices even further. I’ve setup a reoccurring block of time on Wednesdays to give myself some breathing room. The good news is that her schedule has minimized Friday afternoon meetings.

  48. Ack-countant*

    Happy Friday! Wanted to get a reality check on if I’m overthinking something– I’m in the “offer pending background check” stage with a new job, and this is my first time negotiating. I’m used to requesting a copy of the formulary so I can make sure my meds are covered, but the new pieces would be:
    -Requesting one Wednesday afternoon off per month for a standing medical appointment
    -Giving a start date 3 weeks after the background check clears so I have a week to recalibrate (I’d honestly do better with 4 weeks out so I have 2 weeks to reset, as current job has taken a lot out of me, but I worry that’s too much of an “ask”)
    I know logically that these are pretty normal, and have read the posts here on negotiating accomodations as part of the job offer, but every time I try to write out what to say I find myself over-justifying and I scrap it partway through.
    They’re excited about me, and I’m excited about them, but I still worry that I’m “asking too much” and this will scare them off. So I would appreciate some ideas for scripts, or other folks sharing their experiences. Thank you for your help!

    1. Name Required*

      I don’t think these are big asks! They’re actually pretty tame. Just go ahead and ask for the four weeks so that if it’s too much you can retreat to three. They won’t pull an offer for a week, they’ll just use their words and say no. Good luck!

      1. Lily Rowan*

        That’s exactly right. My job only has start dates every two weeks, so they might not be able to do the four weeks, depending on how the timing shakes out, but it’s never a big deal.

      2. M2RB*

        and if they ARE that kind of company, it’s better to know before you start there that they might be that petty!

        But I would expect them to use their words, too, and that it would be okay.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Giving a start date 3 weeks after the background check clears

      For this piece specifically, I would simply ask “does [date] work as a start date?” and see how the company responds. I think asking for a start date 3 weeks out is fairly normal.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      All sounds reasonable, certainly nothing that should make them even consider yanking the offer, so long as you express them as wishes not deal-breakers and negotiate if need be.

    4. ToAskOrNotToAsk*

      requesting the Wednesday off in advance is weird and would be a red flag for me unless you were told about some mandatory meeting/activity on Wednesday afternoons. that’s what sick time is for.

      It can take a long time for background checks to clear. In the past when I’ve gotten offers contingent on background checks I was expected to use the time when the check is being performed as my time off and be ready to start immediately (within a few days) after it passed. That said, this might be denied but wouldn’t cause someone to look askance at the requestor in my experience, so if it’s important to you I’d go ahead.

  49. Don't veto the burrito*

    Anyone have any advice for managing an employee with Aspergers who’s resistant to change?
    I manage the work of an analyst who’s really pushy about doing things “his way”. I will provide information on how to approach the analysis and how I need it completed. Only to find he’s done it “his way” – end result is I end up doubling the time I’ve spent because the file is full of errors. He has no interest in the nuances of why we set things up the way we do when I give him context and background information.

    When I give him feedback and corrections (he overexplains to the point where I feel like he’s arguing with me). Or he tries to correct me! The kicker is that he thinks he’s an expert and tries to compete with me, when in reality he’s struggling to grasp basic concepts. There seems to be a lack of awareness which means feedback provided to him by our boss isn’t landing.

    I’m trying to be compassionate – is he changing everything because he’s anxious/insecure and it brings him comfort? My boss wants me to give him a chance but his know it all attitude is frustrating and makes him look more like a new grad (even though he’s 30). Is there something I should be doing differently for someone who’s neurodivergent? I’ve done everything I can think of to accommodate him (i.e. frequent meetings, writing down all instructions for him) but the lack of progress is making me miserable.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think its time to do a PIP or similar.

      Make sure you are not softening your language like “That’s great george but I would prefer you do it this way instead because..”. Be very clear and blunt more like “George I need you to do it this other way. This is non optional”. Don’t give background/clarify. That just muddies the message.

      1. Don't Veto the Burrito*

        Great points!

        Sadly our boss isn’t prepared to put him on a PIP yet. I was told my role was strictly to mentor him and oversee his onboarding and training (which doesn’t help the situation).

    2. Lepidoptera*

      Part of the syndrome is change resistance, but on the other hand rule following is often your friend in these scenarios.
      The rules have changed. He needs to follow them.
      He cannot do it his way and if he needs a step-by-step break down of how to do it the way it’s being down now that might help but you’re not a therapist you’re his manager and regardless of how much he likes his way it’s not working and it’s not what you want.

    3. Anon for This*

      My son is an Aspie, and is a lot like this. It’s a lot of work. I recommend you develop a checklist for each p