open thread – February 2-3, 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.

{ 1,044 comments… read them below }

  1. darlingpants*

    I’ve been waiting for my manager to give me a development plan for a long time, and have been given the advice that I should stop waiting and present him with a plan for him to sign off on (or make changes to). We’ve agreed in the past that the only thing that I haven’t demonstrated yet is growth in management. I have one direct report and am not going to get another one any time soon. I did have a lot of issues managing my previous direct report, who quit last summer, but am having a much easier time with her backfill. I am also managing a line function in a matrixed type team where I’m supervising and scheduling work for people who don’t report to me.

    What kinds of metrics or soft skills would you put in a plan or definition of “managerial success”? If you have any advice for defining it in a matrixed environment that would be extra helpful, but I’m interested in ideas for any kind of team as well.

    1. Scott*

      I’m not a fan of waiting on a manager to provide a development plan (or a performance plan) over creating my own so I suggest you do that as well.

      On the management development, I’d suggest you take a look at the things that didn’t go so well with the employee who recently left and try to line those things up with management books or classes that you could put in your development plan. This is also a good way to show your boss that you’re taking it seriously and reflecting on your past performance as a manager in trying to improve.

      1. Dollars to Donuts*

        In my office, when we say someone hasn’t demonstrated mgmt skills what we often mean is that they haven’t yet been in a position to deliver clear and effective feedback that addresses a performance issue. Is that the case for you? The next time that one of your direct or indirect reports makes an error, I would script (literally!) the feedback you want to give (I like the Management Center’s CSAW framework for this), practice it with your manager, and then deliver it and follow up.

      2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        What kind of relationships do you have with peer-level supervisors? I find that is another area where soft skills may be needed. What can you do to work well across teams on projects, or on committees, that kind of thing? It can be a way to demonstrate you are ready for more responsibility that might see you work within the organization itself more broadly.

    2. Sassy SAAS*

      Can you pull any metrics regarding performance between the old employee you managed, and the new? Comparing there could show growth in leadership.

      Does you company have an internal trainings or HR resources? The same portal my company uses for mandatory IT trainings also has a few web courses on management. They’re mostly video click-through content with a couple of quizzes, but that could show “initiative”.

    3. BikeWalkBarb*

      Have you worked with your one direct report to create a development plan for them? If so, awesome. If not, that’s a managerial action you’re waiting on and undertaking it would be good practice, as well as a specific managerial metric: Regular updates to development plan for direct report, work with them on performance, provide consistent feedback so you’re not only giving the critical feedbacks, you’re also recognizing strengths on a regular basis.

      I’m also a fan of the Management Center and have been fortunate enough to go through trainings with them. Resource center is a gold mine

      My agency focuses on strengths and building on those so a development plan doesn’t have to mean “look for weak spots and shore those up.” It can involve leveraging what you/they are good at, recognizing accomplishments, providing opportunities for professional growth in some way. (Lead a cross-functional team on some specific deliverable? Present on work somewhere, even just in-house? Depends on your level and theirs.) Whatever you’re good at as a manager, include that!

      Matrix part is tough. For that element, what quality expectations and measures for their work do you set on the beginning? Scheduling efficiently and effectively? Are you setting up feedback cycles with them too to be sure it’s working for everyone? How would anyone know that part of your job is being handled effectively?

      Evidence of advancing the mission and goals of the organization if your workplace has a strong orientation toward those would fit. My agency has certain required performance measures, including advancing our DEI goals, commitments, and culture.

      1. sarah the third*

        Alison has mentioned that she wrote a lot of those resources! I believe she worked with them for a long time.

    4. Jenna Webster*

      Maybe work on other aspects of managing. Put together an overall hiring plan with interview questions, a rating matrix, an onboarding document, and a training document for the position you do supervise? Write a list of possible annual development goals for that position, and set up a plan for tracking progress throughout the year with a monthly report template. These might help demonstrate your growth in planning for overall personnel management.

    5. Garlic Microwaver*

      Ugh, frustrating. I tried to “take the initiative” and my hand was slapped because I wasn’t “following protocol.” So, I have no choice but to wait for my PDP. But if you are talking metrics,

      1. Qualitative and quantitative company stakeholder feedback
      2. Commitment to taking a course, like one of those free Toastmaster ones
      3. Demonstrated receptiveness to 360 feedback and action plan following results?

      It’s all BS in the end.

    6. But not the Hippopotamus*

      Things I found were important when managing in a matrix setup were clarity around staff availability and preventing conflicts between groups. so I would look at metrics around that. Maybe something around anticipating potential schedule conflicts and proactively reaching out to deconflict. that might look like: 12 monthly calendar checks completed by the 5th of the month identifying 6 overlapping client meetings… etc.

      another important thing is to make sure matrices people have enough work but not too much. checking in on that could be a metric itself.

  2. my cat is prettier than me*

    My husband has ADHD, and with the medication shortage he is suffering at work. Is anyone else experiencing this? I suggested he talk to his boss about accommodations, but he’s worried he’ll be fired (he won’t be, he’s very valued by his company, but I can’t convince him of that).

      1. Gemstones*

        Are you and your kids OK? You mentioned up thread being in a situation where children were left traumatized…just a little worried.

    1. ferrina*

      I’m ADHD, usually unmedicated. I am very, very careful about who I tell at work. The stigma is very real. Some people read “ADHD” as unreliable and unproductive (regardless of evidence). Some people think they are okay with ADHD, but then blame anything that could read on ADHD as ADHD (“You didn’t respond to the email- it’s because of your ADHD!” when they were fine with the occasional missed email when they thought I was neurotypical).

      Don’t try to convince your husband to out himself. He has the best read on that situation and what he’s comfortable with. If he needs additional strategies for managing ADHD, the YouTube channel How To ADHD is great. There’s a ton of great ADHD social media folks who share their experience. I’ve learned a lot of techniques just by finding people whose experience mirrors mine (ADHD can be really individual).
      Good luck to him!

      1. Justin*

        I got very lucky to find a job where they know I have it and value me. It’s so hard to mask after 30something years.

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Sympathy. My husband just went a week without meds. His doctor is an incompetent who keeps sending a prescription for ONE PILL. And then hubs has to go back to the doctor to get them to fix it. And then the pharmacy can’t fill it because they don’t have enough. And then the pharmacy closed with no notice, so we had to switch to another one that is now backlogged because of all the new customers. And he’s out of meds the whole time. This system is so f’ing shitty.

      My husband decided to just take sick days because he felt like he couldn’t function. If your husband can think of accommodations that would help, he can ask for them without mentioning he has ADHD. For example: I’d like to wear headphones because I’ve noticed it helps me concentrate. Or, I realized I’m more focused in the mornings, would it be possible to schedule all our meetings before noon? Name the thing he wants and why it would help.

      1. birb*

        I called every pharmacy in my area and finally had to drive an hour and a half out into a super rural area HEB, but they had it!

      2. Hermione Stranger*

        I can’t help it, I HAD to jump in because of your username. I was humming that song just this morning!

        I second asking for accommodations – depending on management, but in my experience they rarely get into the “why” of someone needing things.

    3. ursula*

      Yes. I’m rationing mine to make it last longer and having an awful time.

      I’m not worried about being fired, but I *am* worried that disclosing it would mean that people start to notice my errors/deficiencies/slowness more, because now they have a connective thread to tie it to. So I am choosing to stay quiet about it (except to 1-2 close coworkers) unless absolutely necessary for some reason.

    4. Pam Adams*

      Captain Awkward has a post on tightening up your game at work with MH issues. She’s referencing depression, but the concept is good.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        The Captain Awkward post is #450 and the title is “How to tighten up your game at work when you’re depressed.” (adding these details to make searching for the post easier)

    5. Fran*

      He should have some concrete ideas of what accommodations he needs. Not just saying he needs accommodations but what do they actually mean for him- i.e. he needs to be working in a quiet environment not in an open floor plan (if possible). If he has a realistic plan, his boss will definitely be supportive of him.

      I’m in Canada with a union at a university- so we have a very definitive way of arranging these things- including needing documentation. I’m not sure he will need to go through an official process?

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        He actually works from home, which I think might honestly make things harder for him. I think the accommodations would be something like flexible hours, but I’m not 100% sure.

        1. ampersand*

          Are there hours of the day he’s able to work better/more effectively? Maybe he could ask to adjust his schedule so that he works primarily those hours, or break up his day so that he’s working in shorter blocks of time that are more spread out?

          Luckily, I haven’t had trouble getting my ADHD medication, but there was a period of time last summer where I had to stop taking it for a few weeks. I also exclusively WFH and it was brutal. I drank a lot of coffee and took breaks when I needed to. After lunch time was the worst (I drank *more* coffee and tried not to fall asleep…and it sucked). I understand not wanting to disclose his diagnosis—I would be very hesitant to do so. I haven’t disclosed mine…if I had to ask for accommodations I would, but it would take *a lot* to get to that point. I feel for his predicament!

        2. Pretty as a Princess*

          As an ADHDer, I have found that I have to work a LOT harder on my work from home days.

          Does he have a local office he can actually go in to? Or is there an opportunity to get office space at a local co-work space, or even your public library? (Ours has small offices with doors that you can reserve first come first serve for either a tiny fee or free.)

          Getting out of my house and going somewhere and being *at a physical workplace* really is helpful to me. I am one of those people who did NOT thrive WFH during the pandemic.

          I sent a long note down below, but if he can get to as specific as possible about things in the environment that will help him, that would be great. (As a manager for example I have some degree of flexibility with “flexible hours” but the nature of our job does require basically those hours happen in a core set between 6 and 6 Eastern, and that they are *regular* and clearly communicated to team members with clear expectations. So I could not approve “work whenever” or “work from 3-10 PM” but could approve “switch my normal day from ~8-4 to ~10-6” or “always block 90 minutes midday.”) There are things you may just be able to do yourselves about the environment (go to a library?) and things you may be able to work wtih the boss without needing to say why.

          1. I Have RBF*

            I have ADHD, and I WFH. I take naps for lunch. For some reason it helps, probably because it lets my brain process stuff in the background. Other than that, though, I have a definite routine that I follow, including a specific time to log on, complete with an alarm.

        3. RagingADHD*

          I got dx after I started freelancing and WFH, because that’s when the wheels came off. I clearly always had it, but WFH exacerbated my symptoms and took away so much built-in structure.

          Even with meds and ADHD-friendly approaches, it is sooooo much easier being in the office environment.

          It’s possible that the accommodations your husband needs include more structure, more check ins, more clearly defined processes and due dates, etc.

          More flexibility might help, but it also might be counterproductive. It’s very individual.

          He could always ask for some changes in the work process “to improve communication and workflows” or something, without disclosing a dx. He could just suggest stuff to his manager and ask to try doing it that way.

        4. Thegreatprevaricator*

          I work a hybrid with various locations/ mobile work and one day in the office. A lot of my work is at home. My employer is supportive and subscribes to social model disability. I haven’t got a diagnosis but have been referred (wait is 9 months and that’s right to choose within nhs). Now I have the scaffolding of a larger organisation I’ve been able to figure out what helps me:

          – visual scheduling and time blocking. I use Sunsama and like it, other calendar management options are available. I do a daily schedule at the beginning of the day, along with weekly planning. I find it very helpful to box out time for work on my calendar.
          – pomodoro timer
          – a walk in the middle of the day and usually some form of exercise at some point
          – dedicated work space
          – white noise (I specifically like rain noise and ocean noise!) and the joy of being at home is it means I can put it on speakers rather than headphones. Sometimes headphones are a sensory no for me.
          – many fidget toys in easy reach
          – I have core hours but sometimes I don’t start until 10 am and end up going until late. I use schedule send and also have something in my email signature that you may receive emails from me outside of normal hours but I don’t expect a read or response at those times.
          – as mentioned, the larger organisation gives me deadlines, processes, structure and that frees me up to work out how I do my bit of it.
          – I use informal drop in virtual sessions to stay in contact with colleagues. I try not to have a whole day of desk work, but break up with other tasks

        5. Parakeet*

          I’m an ADHDer who loves working from home and does better that way – but one thing that has been really helpful for me (and that, for me, WFH facilitates) is breaking up the day based on what times of day are the most productive for me and what that means. I tend to be pretty out of it for the first 10-15 minutes after I wake up (I pretty much roll out of the bed into my desk chair; my “commute” is only a few feet), but if I can at least pretend to get myself started right away, the next hour or two after that first 10-15 minutes will more often than not be the most productive part of my day. After that my focus tends to crash a little bit for a while so I take a little break (and because I’m WFH I don’t have to pretend like I’m not taking a break). Then I have another hour or two of productivity…I don’t always get to structure my days perfectly for me, but the flexibility (plus having learned what works for me schedule-wise) really helps.

    6. Synaptically Unique*

      Dealing with it myself and it’s really tough. Depending on other health factors, has he tried more caffeine? I just got a new box of Awake caramel bites (50 mg) delivered this morning and I’ve also been using Dr. Steve’s Caffeine Melts (150 mg in the AM instead of my morning latte some days and 60 mg for a midday boost). I’ve been able to get my meds – usually on a slightly delayed schedule – so far, so my biggest issue is that I can’t do the occasional doubling that I need (on very low dose due to tolerance issues, only take it on workdays, and doctor is supportive of my routine). The caffeine helps fill in the gaps.

    7. ecnaseener*

      While it’s unlikely he’ll be flat-out fired for disclosing a disability, he’s unfortunately not wrong to be concerned about consequences. If he can ask for a specific change without making it a formal accommodations request, I would try that first so he doesn’t have to disclose.

    8. nopetopus*

      Yes, I’m going unmedicated for a week at least between RXes. I’ve also been worried about getting fired, the ADHD stigma is very real.

      I’ve been skipping my doses on weekends in the hopes of stretching it out longer, but then my personal life and cleanliness suffers. It’s a mess. All the commiseration to your husband.

      1. fidget spinner*

        I’ve been skipping weekend doses as well and then I just can’t get anything done around the house. It’s so frustrating. I shouldn’t have to decide between functioning at work and functioning at home, but here we are.

        I also get minor withdrawal symptoms–mostly fatigue, but sometimes depression–if I go more than a day without my meds. It’s just so unfortunate.

    9. Pretty as a Princess*

      As an ADHDer with a kid with ADHD, I feel the burden here, I really do. What I hear you saying is that he typically performs his job at a certain level and is highly respected for it. But that with the shortage there are aspects of the job that he either perceives or objectively observes are not up to his typical performance. I’m going to give you some thoughts based on the idea of having a good, attuned manager who wants to help people be successful (because if I try other use cases I will go down an ADHD rabbit hole myself).

      I agree with you that “getting ahead” of the issue is what I would want as a manager. And I am the kind of manager who would say “hey, Joe, I noticed that xyz this week isn’t really like you. Is there anything going on you’d like to talk about?” instead of “Hey Joe, you pretty much sucked this week, figure your crap out.”

      If he has a manager like me, I’d encourage him to consider talking with his HR/disability office if he has one that is functional, just to help with some workplace language. As a manager I’d welcome someone saying “hey, there is a medical thing right now that I am working with and while I don’t think it will be long term, it’s affecting me in X way. I want to make sure I’m able to keep delivering at the quality you expect, and I am hoping there are some ways that we can work together like x, y, or z. ” If he can describe characteristics of a solution that would help him (maybe it’s having someone he can vet a to-do list with? maybe it’s help with getting someone to take notes in meetings?) that will go a long way to helping the boss understand how they can set up supports in the environment to help him be successful. I do also think that a lot of people are more “familiar” with the idea of ADHD in kids in school, and so it’s not unreasonable that a manager with no experience with this might not understand what it means to ask for accommodations, so I think being as specific as possible about what kind of situation would be best to be in would help. As opposed to “I need Kyla to come to all the meetings I’m in and take notes,” saying that it would help you focus if someone can send minutes from meetings to you would help your manager figure out a good way to do that while respecting your privacy. Having a doc’s note about these characteristics – where he has talked through them with his practitioner- will help even if he doesn’t wind up going the formal HR/disability accommodation path.

      Involving an HR or disability office is really up to you. If someone came to me and we had a conversation like this, I might recommend that they call our disability office and get a note from their doc so that we had a paper trail so that if they need these accommodations in the future from another manager or another project, there is a record of the approach and success. Some people don’t want to do that for their own reasons, and I get that. I would personally work with someone on what I could do within the scope of our practices to help them out on an interim basis without violating their privacy, but for longer term or more substantial assist I would need the backing of the disability process just so that I always have the paper trail that I am applying standards, practices, and processes equitably and fairly across my organization.

      Good luck to your husband. This shortage sucks and the processes by which we have to manage simply getting our meds basically requires us to do superhuman things to overcome our ADHD!

      1. Yep.*

        “ This shortage sucks and the processes by which we have to manage simply getting our meds basically requires us to do superhuman things to overcome our ADHD!”

        AMEN!!! Every 30 days not even a 90 supply EVERY MONTH the same freaking circus.

        1. Pretty as a Princess*

          Don’t forget calling every pharmacy in town every month to see if they have your dose!

          Though now I cut to the chase: “Hi, I have ADHD. You know why I’m calling.” Them: “Yup, what’s the med and dosage?”

          No kidding what helps me with this is having OTHER ADHD adults to commiserate with. We remind each other – and know each others dosages and where our family’s dosages overlap.

          PS – vyvanse with dayquil? That’s some serious focusing I am doing right now.

          1. Stuff*

            No pharmacy in my city will disclose that information, ADHD drugs have too much street value, and they’re afraid of putting a target on their back. And since I can’t drive and we have unreliable public transit, I can’t just go to whatever pharmacy has the drugs even if pharmacies were willing to disclose that information.

            1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

              Around here (Boston) when I make those calls I get answers like “yes, but I can’t promise we’ll still have it tomorrow” or “we don’t, but the CVS at X location does.” And then I have to call my doctor’s office and ask them to retract the existing prescription and have a new one sent to the pharmacy that has it in stock right now.

              That’s mostly been with either Capsule (delivery-only, if they serve your area it’s worth checking) or CVS. Different branches of CVS are enough the same thing that the pharmacy clerk at one branch can check availability at another, but enough different things that I can’t take the prescription to a different CVS.

            2. Nightengale*

              Will your prescriber’s office call for you? Most of our local pharmacies will tell parents but if they don’t, they will usually tell our office staff (I’m a pediatrician specializing in kids with developmental and behavioral conditions) And sadly I suspect at this point most doctors offices are used to patient/family calls about this.- I probably average 2 prescriptions a day I have to re-send to a different pharmacy (which I just did the math and is about 1% of my patients on stimulants)

    10. Evil Queen of Dysfunction*

      Plus I switched insurance at my new job and both my daughter and I are having a heck of a time getting them to approve it, even though we have been on it for years.

      And yes, I am struggling at work. And its impacting my depression as well.

      1. fidget spinner*

        My insurance just changed, too… I went without my meds for way too long last month before finally finding a pharmacy that had them in stock.

        Then I get a letter in the mail that my insurance filled them this one time, but I may need to take further steps to get it approved. I called the insurance company and hopefully they just need a prior authorization.

        But even that is easier said than done. The insurance company called my doctor’s office, but they won’t send prior authorization unless you get the pharmacy to call and fax in the request. So then I call the pharmacy… but it turns out that was just a one-time emergency script since my usual pharmacy was out of my medication. I actually like that pharmacy better, so after leaving multiple messages with my doctor’s office (they don’t answer the phone), I finally got my scripts sent over.

        Now I just have to remember to call the pharmacy again and have them fax it over. But it’s just ridiculous. It shouldn’t be this hard. It’s like a full-time job right now just to treat my ADHD.

      1. RagingADHD*

        If they fire him *for having it,* it is.

        If they fire him for performance issues and he never disclosed that he has a disability, it is not a violation.

        If he requests accommodations and documents the need (which doesn’t necessarily require disclosing the precise dx, but it is pretty easy to figure out), but the performance issues are not sufficiently improved with reasonable accommodations, they can still fire him.

        That’s the really super – sucky thing about this situation. Non medication interventions and accommodations help, but depending on the person, they may not help enough.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yeah. I’ve been through the third point on your list once explicitly and the first situation is what got me eased out of my first job after uni. I was also on dicey ground in my reception job while my husband was dying. They knew and were very supportive, but they needed someone to hold the fort at reception and offered me a leave of absence to take care of my husband properly. Given that it would be unpaid, I turned it down, but in exchange I really had to be mentally present when I was physically present and I ended up getting signed off by my doctor for paid leave to have that time with my husband before he died for the sake of my own health AND continued employment.

          Ultimately, employers are interested in performance. They may be able to have your back for a bit because they understand that the medication shortage is something outside of your control, but performance is as performance does; the line with which I was once sacked was ‘I’m sorry about your issues but I need someone here who can do the job’. We’d tried together for longer than she might have put up with otherwise, but I’d aged out of the free support services in my area for the under-25s and the actual therapy I needed was the expensive, ongoing kind which cost £60 a week (although that has surprisingly not changed with inflation — it’s still what I’m paying now twenty years on) rather than the mental health services provided by the NHS.

          People can work with you to a large extent but protesting being fired for performance because you’re disabled but have never told anyone or you did but your attempts to deal with it have not been successful is going to be challenging. It’s a shame, but in my case being physically present but not mentally so, and breaking a piece of expensive dictation equipment in the throes of a tantrum because my mind just didn’t seem to work properly at the time I needed it to and I couldn’t break through the concrete that seemed to be lodged in my brain…yeah, that was understandably the last straw.

          It motivated me to get help, but I just couldn’t go on in that role. Disability isn’t a ‘get out of jail free’ card; it’s a way of getting help to manage your condition and how it interacts with your job, but companies have no obligation to keep you on if you can’t actually perform that job, /whatever/ the reason.

    11. cubone*

      ugh, it really sucks. My pharmacist didn’t even call to tell me they couldn’t fill my ADHD meds, I just showed up and they were like “oh, we don’t have that” and basically shrugged.

      I agree with other commenters to not push him to disclose. In an ideal world, yes, we all do, but it’s a bell that can’t be unrung and you truly never know how people will react (or who they’ll tell, which has been a huge issue for many ADHD folks I know, as a lot of people seem to have misunderstood “mental health awareness” to mean “there is no reasonable expectation of privacy with MH conditions”).

      Could he instead consider saying he’s currently dealing with some symptoms due to a medical issue, that should be resolved soon, but in the meantime he could benefit from [specific accommodations]? Keep it broad, vague, and temporary.

      1. GythaOgden*

        I think you have to give up a bit of privacy for the sake of accommodations that make holding his job a lot easier, though. Otherwise you get stuck in a vicious spiral — you’re not going to tell them, so they have no other explanation for his behaviour at work, so they fire him and his mental health situation gets worse. I’d personally rather trade privacy for understanding, because unfortunately this is a situation where you can’t have it both ways.

        (Been there, done that, unlike with ADHD there isn’t much that can be directly medicated for with autism. My anti-depressants are worth their weight in gold and I actually take them for their anti-anxiety effects. But having had huge challenges at work before then — my neurodivergence is very difficult to mask at all so I have always been open about it and definitely saw a huge shift in practice between 2005 when I pursued a diagnosis and 2011-12 when I got help at university to overcome anxiety around presenting my research subject. The support out there is way, way more empowering than it was; it’s not perfect — some of the messaging is still a bit infantilising — but it’s significantly better than it was, particularly as the people who were actually diagnosed in childhood grow up.

        (Then you have the basic fact that few people if any go through life without significant obstacles in their way and there’s a high likelihood that others will actually be more accepting if they knew than if they don’t. 1 in 5 people in the UK have some sort of disability, so it’s not a stretch to assume the same of the US, and so this kind of stand-off only really hurts OP’s husband if he can’t perform at work rather than if he meets his office half way and asks for an accommodation.

        (I realize I’m lucky; however, I did have to stick my neck out a few times, volunteer for studies etc to make any kind of progress at all. That’s how a lot of disability awareness has progressed in the past.)

    12. Galumpher*

      I think I’ve seen a script from Alison in the past that could help with notifying the boss without disclosing that your husband has ADHD. Maybe he could say something like: “I am undergoing some medication changes at the moment that are leaving me feeling more fuzzy-headed than usual. I’m working with my doctor to adjust my regimen, but I just wanted to give you some context about what’s going on in case you notice any issues with my work related to this.”

      1. Owlette*

        Or even vaguer – “I’m having some medical issues at the moment. It’s nothing to worry about, and only short term. To help me keep performing at my peak can I request *insert accommodation here*”

        1. Sophie K*

          I think identifying it as a medication issue specifically is probably better in this context. A “medical issue” involving brain fog and similar could be a lot of things, many of them a lot more debilitating than ADHD. Better to make it clear that this is temporary and not anything to worry about long term. I guess you could get there without mentioning medication, but I wouldn’t just leave it completely open ended.

          1. Venus*

            There are also other medication shortages (ozempic for diabetes) so it’s not as obvious what it might be.

      2. Three Owls in a Trench Coat*

        That’s the route I’ve taken before. Most of the supervisors I’ve worked with are okay with my leaving it that vague. The one time I had a busybody, I deflected with a breezy, “oh, you know, life, aging, allergies, the usual. Should level out soon.” 90% of people in my region have allergies year-round, so it’s an easy deflection.

      3. learnedthehardway*

        I would agree. I have ADHD and some other things going on. While it has been somewhat helpful that a client knows this, it has also meant that they are more micro-managing than they were before. I regret telling them. And they’re even really supportive and well-intentioned!!

    13. Office Plant Queen*

      He doesn’t have to mention the condition when asking for accomodations. I know there’s a ton of stigma – it’s why I haven’t brought up my own diagnosis at work! He can say “I have a condition that makes it difficult to maintain focus or to do certain higher-level organizational tasks like prioritizing (or whatever symptoms have the biggest impact on his work). In the past I’ve been able to successfully manage my condition with medication, but I’m no longer able to consistently be on the medication anymore. I’d like to talk about some accomodations to help mitigate these issues.”

      And then come prepared with suggestions! Maybe he would benefit from an office or the ability to work from home when off meds to reduce visual and auditory distractions. Maybe the company can help find and/or pay for particular software that will help him with timing/reminders/etc. Maybe he has official permission to block off a day on his calendar and decline all meetings so he has a guaranteed meeting-free day each week. Maybe he has permission to completely ignore his email except for 2 hours in a day. Maybe he gets a standing desk. Maybe he works a shifted schedule so he can sleep 2am-10am. Maybe he gets more regular check ins with his boss/sends a daily summary email of what he did the day to help with accountability. Maybe his boss sets clear and specific deadlines that are less flexible than they would be for other employees. Maybe his work is assigned with the explicit context of how important and urgent it is so it’s easier for him to prioritize. There are a ton of options that might help, and none of them necessarily require disclosing the ADHD itself

    14. SpaceySteph*

      Do you think he’d be able to say “I have a minor medical issue that is usually controlled with medication but there are medication shortages right now.” Depending what the accommodations he’s asking for are, they may even be able to guess its ADHD.

      I did not realize there was a significant meds shortage, but I have heard about tons of other supply chain issues both medical and otherwise; other people who likewise don’t use ADHD meds might not immediately jump to that conclusion because there’s tons of supply chain issues going on right now.

    15. Always Tired*

      Hahaaaa. Yes. I even tried swapping to a different med that was more frequently available in my area but that one gives me The Bad Thoughts so I had to go back on the harder to get med. The struggles and unwashed laundry are real.

    16. ThatOtherClare*

      PSA for those who aren’t aware: there’s no shortage of the instant acting medication dexamphetamine sulfate and there never will be, because it’s a really cheap and easy to make generic. Like all ADHD medications it requires titration under the supervision of a medical professional and it doesn’t help everyone. However, it can still provide all-day coverage via multiple doses at set times if it does work. Not usually feasible for children, but I’ve seen it work successfully for adults. This is not medical advice, but I’ve seen a lot of people (including doctors) under the impression that “the shortage has hit every medication, so there’s just no point in attempting to re-titrate with something else just as scarce”, and that’s not factually correct.

      Titration of fast acting stimulants is a complex process involving changes in both dosing and timing, so if your doctor seems uncertain about it, go and talk to a specialist (if you can). Don’t take medical advice from random internet strangers like me, but use it to know what questions you can ask if you wish.

      Good luck to all of you impacted by this, it’s breaking my heart to see it </3

  3. BottleBlonde*

    Has anyone seen the Corporate Natalie drama online? (I saw it on TikTok.) On her podcast, she read a letter from a manager who was annoyed that her salaried, exempt employee declined an 8 AM meeting because they’d be attending a workout class. 8 AM is earlier than the employee usually starts.

    I can see both sides – I think Natalie was overdramatic in how she responded (it is a podcast for entertainment to be fair), but I don’t think the ask is ridiculously unreasonable either. In any case, I’m surprised at the amount of vitriol that Natalie and the manager have gotten for acknowledging that salaried employees might be asked to come in early or stay late occasionally!

    1. londonedit*

      Oof. I think for me, it would depend what the meeting was for, and the other circumstances around it. If it was a casual 1:1 with my manager then I might push back on an 8am start – but even then, if that was the only time my manager could do, and we needed to speak, then yep I’d cancel my gym class and start early for the meeting. If it’s a meeting with several other people then yep, I’m also going to attend the meeting rather than going to the gym. Is it annoying? Absolutely, but sometimes these things happen. Of course it’s different if your manager is routinely asking for 8am meetings with no good reason, but generally as an occasional thing it’s just one of those things you have to put up with as part of your working life.

      1. JS*

        I agree- especially depending on the frequency of additional or out of hours requests. My experience is that salary is always asked to work more but mgt balks when we ask to shift to less for something.

      2. amoeba*

        Hah, I do find that interesting – maybe I am in the wrong country, because this sounds more like what the reactions here would be for a much earlier (7ish?) meeting. 8 is considered “normal” and pretty much everybody but me and one other colleague are usually in by then, so I do know I have to suck it up and come in early those days… on the other hand, anything past 5 is extremely rare, so pros and cons, I guess!

        1. londonedit*

          Well, I work 8:30-5 (UK), but our normal hours are 9-5:30 and we have core hours of 10-3 which is when meetings are supposed to take place. So an 8am meeting would be seen as ‘early’, it’d be outside core hours, and it would be before most people’s normal working hours begin. Sometimes it works the other way for me – if there’s a 4pm meeting that goes on beyond 5, I just have to suck it up and stay a bit later at work.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes same here. We have core hours of 10-3 and people need to be there then. People can flex their start and end times to a degree depending on work needs. It would be considered unusual to have a meeting at 8am on a regular basis in my company unless there was a particular reason (e.g. when I had a supplier in a time zone where that was the only suitable time we overlapped) because only a minority of people got in that early. Likewise I think with a meeting after about 5.30pm. When I worked with suppliers in the US a lot I had to take later meetings but it was a part of that job and I didn’t so much mind.

        2. LCH*

          it depends on your place of work. where i am, 8am would be very early. our earliest standing meeting is 9:30, but we usually try not to have them before 10am. staff-wide meetings generally happen at 11am.

          an 8am meeting would only be set in unusual circumstances.

        3. SpaceySteph*

          (USian) There are significant regional and even intra-office culture differences in what is considered an “early” meeting. I’ve had jobs where 7:30am meetings are the norm, and jobs where 9am meetings are considered “on the early side.”

          I wonder if it has lessened in the age of streaming, but years ago there was data showing people’s morning schedules shifted with prime time TV. Prime time TV in the US if something was on at 8pm that would be 8pm Eastern time and 8pm Pacific time. Central time zone would have it start at 7pm and Mountain time would have it start at 9pm. People in those time zones tended to shift their morning start time (in their own specific time zone) accordingly, with central starting earlier than eastern/pacific and mountain starting later still.

        4. BubbleTea*

          Starting earlier than 9 isn’t standard here because schools rarely start earlier than 8.30. I know in parts of the US it can be much earlier than that. Given that it’s not even sunrise til after 9am parts of the year, we just get going later.

      3. Bottleblonde*

        I agree with all your points! Apparently it’s a quarterly 8am meeting with international stakeholders, and according to the manager the employee had ample notice of the expectation. I think the recurring nature makes the ask more annoying for the employee, but at least it’s for an actual reason and not “just because.” In any case, I probably wouldn’t die on the hill of logging on 30 minutes early every three months, but I also know that I don’t personally have the best boundaries.

        1. Ashley*

          I always get more annoyed when I can’t flex for making up for coming in early, and I wonder if that is part of the employees issue.
          And I do think this is a case of saying I have a conflict / appointment and not giving details comes across better then I have an exercise class.

          1. Rainy*

            Yeah, in my office the official line is that you don’t get to flex the day of, so if you have to present at 8pm, you can come in late the next day but you’re still expected to work an 11 to 12 hour day the day of that late presentation, which is complete and utter bullcrap.

            Last year there was a late event they were having trouble getting staffing for because it was on a “volunteer basis” but the shifts were either 7-10 or 8-11 pm, and quelle surprise no one wants to be at work until midnight.

      4. I Have RBF*

        I work 9 to 5:30. I am a night owl. If I have enough notice, I can get up for an early meeting. If people start asking for it regularly, I get cranky – I work later and handle the later day issues, they don’t get to have it both ways.

        I have been if the position of being the only one to handle alerts after 8 pm, but also had people grumping at me because I didn’t start at 8 am sharp. I was not gentle when pointing out that little discrepancy.

        1. fidget spinner*

          I’m a night owl, too. I wake up at 8:00 to be at the office by 9:00. I’d be grumpy about an 8:00 am start, but I’d suck it up. Especially since it sounds like it’s work from home… I could easily stumble from bed to my computer in like 10 minutes.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I haven’t watched the video, but I’ve seen the fall out from it. Did the LW say the reason for the 8am meeting? Because even if I was exempt, I’d be annoyed about an 8am meeting if it wasn’t because I had to meet with someone in a very specific time zone or because there was something happening at 9am that couldn’t be moved that we needed to prep for and couldn’t do the day before.

      I do think the “attending a workout class” is doing a lot of heavy lifting for those supporting the manager/Natalie, tbh.

    3. amoeba*

      Haven’t seen it but yeah, that’s not something that would go down well in my org. Granted, while I start later, the culture in this country is very much “early bird” and I’m a bit of an exception with my 8.30ish start. We have flex time and no core hours, but it is indeed expected that we attend meetings from 8 on, although it’s usually no big deal to decline for personal appointments. I’d never openly state a workout class though – it would be “oh, sorry, I actually can’t come in before 9 that day due to a personal appointment, could we reschedule?”
      There are definitely also important meetings where that wouldn’t be an option except for emergencies.

    4. lost academic*

      Timing and messaging. How much notice was given for the meeting, how unavoidable was the conflict, what are both the standard and directly communicated expectations, and how much grace was (and is) used in the communication from start to finish?

      When everyone directly acknowledges the big picture and the various influences on these events from start to finish, most of the conflict really can be avoided. That includes the post mortem conversation after the fact.

      1. cubone*

        The amount of notice is the big thing to me. If someone says I have an “after hours” meeting in two weeks, I’d adjust, but if it was less than 48 hours notice, I’d probably say “sorry, I have a conflict” too.

      2. morethantired*

        Yes, these are really important factors. I also think that going forward, the employee should block these gym times on their calendar if they want to keep that time for themselves. That way, the manager would say “I see you have a block on your calendar at 8am on Tuesday next week but there’s an important meeting that is scheduled for then — is there any way you can make it?”
        I try to block my calendar for times I want to keep for myself and then I feel like it empowers me to say “sorry, I blocked that time for a reason and it can’t be moved.” without further explanation.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yeah, I read about this, the conspiracy theories people were coming up with were pretty wild. The context omitted in the original post was: 1. The 8am meetings were quarterly and scheduled specifically to catch up with international partners and 2. The employee apparently knew these meetings existed before they were hired.

      I don’t think anyone should have early morning (or evening) meetings sprung on them with any regularity, but if it’s one meeting every 3 months and known about well in advance, I think it’s reasonable to expect people to attend. Though I respect the employee for their dedication to work/life balance!

      1. ThatGirl*

        The context is important, indeed! And if the reason for missing was, say, a doctor’s appointment that couldn’t easily be moved that would be different than a weekly exercise class. But by and large, if the meeting is scheduled well in advance, and it’s important, you should make an effort to be there.

      2. londonedit*

        Yeah, that makes a difference. I go to the gym most mornings, but I have to be in the office once a week and so of course I don’t go to the gym on those days, because I need to get ready and commute in etc. Sometimes I have to go to work events in the evening, and I don’t get paid any extra for those (we don’t have exempt etc but I’m salaried and I don’t get paid for overtime). That’s just how it is – sometimes I need to sacrifice doing what I want in the evening for work, and sometimes I need to sacrifice going to the gym for work. If this is a regular quarterly meeting then the employee needs to be there, and it’s not a lot to ask.

      3. lunchtime caller*

        Yeah, any job where you need to deal with international partners will involve wonky meeting times once in a while on everyone’s side. I’m sure the people dialing in at 8pm their time don’t love it either! I think it’s frankly a little dumb and shortsighted for someone to make a fuss about something like this. You show up to the 8am meeting full of energy, and then no one notices when you’re logged off and napping at 4pm because you’ve been visible in the ways and places that your job cares about. But if you balk at the occasional thing like this, all of a sudden you need to make sure you’re absolutely perfect in every other area (and no one ever is) because you’re under the microscope of “huh, maybe they’re unreliable actually”

      4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Would the employee expect the employer to find it reasonable for them to come in an hour late once a quarter due to a medical appointment or similar? Well then!

    6. Boss Scaggs*

      How far in advance was the meeting invitation sent? If it was last minute that’s different than if the employee had several days or more to work out possible options

    7. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      To me it makes sense. Of course people will do the thing, but they resent it. So when someone says ” I do the thing that you resent ( ask you to come in early) people unleash that resentment. The internet often reveals people’s true feelings and it can be surprising

    8. Winstonian*

      So I just listened to the employees response back and oh hell no. If the position is truly exempt/salary, then that comes with some trade-off’s and this is one of them. Whatever sort of sympathy I may have had for the employee was gone with his tiktok back.

      1. Observer*

        I’m surprised at the amount of vitriol that Natalie and the manager have gotten for acknowledging that salaried employees might be asked to come in early or stay late occasionally!

        They had it coming. Because they went much further that “acknowledging” that fact. And it wasn’t an “ask”, it was a demand.

        I’m not saying that the employee handled the situation well. And, I’m not even saying that *ask* was unreasonable. But the way it was played on the podcast (as opposed to what actually apparently happened) was very much the modern corporate equivalent of “pearl clutching” at the whole situation.

      2. Observer*

        Whatever sort of sympathy I may have had for the employee was gone with his tiktok back.

        I don’t have a lot of sympathy for either the employer / Natalie or the employee. Being on salary does come with some trade offs, as you say, and this seems to have been one that she should have planned for.

        1. GythaOgden*

          This was a meeting with people in other time zones and planned out accordingly. I’m not sure it really is as unreasonable as you think it is.

      3. cubone*

        I could be wrong but there were several “employee responds” TikToks that were NOT the actual employee (just people doing skits in response as if they were). It hasn’t been clear to me if the ACTUAL employee has responded in any way.

    9. Observer*

      I’m surprised at the amount of vitriol that Natalie and the manager have gotten for acknowledging that salaried employees might be asked to come in early or stay late occasionally!

      They had it coming. Because they went much further that “acknowledging” that fact. It wasn’t an “ask”, it was a demand. And the reaction has strong elements of “entitled kids these days” and “what kind of terrible priorities!”

      1. My name is*

        And if you listened you know they also discussed how seniority can affect these things and that one of the things they love is that the kids these days are pushing to change how we think about work. To say they had it coming is much.

    10. see you anon*

      Keeping in mind what a lot of folks are bringing up (eg. how much notice was given for the meeting, what was the purpose of having this meeting, etc.), I’m kind of with the employee for pushing back.
      I have set, recurring personal appointments (such as exercise classes) that are non-refundable outside of my regular working hours. I’d be pretty annoyed if I was suddenly told I had to attend a meeting that overlapped with a standing appointment that I had, for which I would not be refunded or able to have a makeup class (which is not uncommon). How that’s communicated is crucial, IMO, and I can imagine a Gen X or Boomer manager not responding well to a Millennial or younger employee saying “No, I’m not attending this meeting”.

      1. C.*

        Yeah, I think I fall more on this spectrum. Realistically, would I attend the meeting? Yes. But would I be annoyed? Also yes. Maybe it’s coming from the pandemic or being older, but I have no patience for work encroaching on my personal life anymore. I really don’t. And I think there’s a way to be respectful about that and communicate your boundaries while also finding the compromise where necessary. I get that things come up at work and if this really were just a once-in-a-while thing, then OK, but so many comments here reek of handwringing and continuing to center work as the default of your day/life.

        Is it because it’s a workout class that people feel this way—e.g., something that’s deemed more “frivolous”? What if it were something else? A parent who couldn’t get out of childcare duties? An important doctor’s appointment you shouldn’t miss? A caretaking responsibility for a family member?

      2. Gyne*

        The thing is, it sounds like this was a quarterly standing meeting that is always at the same time and the particular time is important because they are finding a “best fit” for people across the world. I usually go to yoga on Friday mornings because it is my day off, but one Friday a month I am assigned to work, so I don’t go to yoga that day. I think it’d be unreasonable to just… not show up? to my regularly scheduled shift that I agreed to/am assigned because I like to go to yoga. Same with my standing Friday therapy appointment – that one day a month I am working, I move my therapy to another time. Because my work funds my leisure activities, and with no work, there is no yoga and no therapy.

        I’m a young Gen X, if that matters.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I haven’t listened to it, but while I would be pissed about an 8am meeting, if the circumstances were extenuating, then I would suck it up and do it one time.

      I have a commitment one night per week that I never want to miss. I do get penalized by missing a certain number of nights. I tell people I don’t travel that day or that night, nor do I work late, and generally it’s fine. But if someone came to me and said we really need you to do this and the client can only do it at this time, and the meeting is with a big group of people, I would do it. I would grumble to myself, but life is full of trade-offs.

      Also, side note: don’t say it’s an exercise class. It’s a commitment. It’s an appointment. Sometimes transparency is not good for you strategically.

    12. nycnpo*

      For me it’s about notice and timing. I’ll make myself available but don’t ask the night before.

    13. kiki*

      I’ve been on both sides and it is hard because there is so much nuance and my feelings depend on the ask and the reason the person wants to decline.

      I’ve been the person asking somebody to attend an 8am meeting. I am not a morning person, would not normally ask this of anyone, but it was a biweekly check-in with an international team. 8am for one of the attendees was the latest time of day that meant somebody else wouldn’t be meeting in the middle of the night. I felt really frustrated when that person pushed back– to my understanding, they didn’t have a specific conflict at that time, they just don’t like mornings.

      I’ve also been the person asked to attend 8am meetings without any acknowledgment that the time was outside of my working hours. And my issue wasn’t so much that I was being asked to attend a single 8 am meeting– I’ll suck it up and postpone my exercise for that day. My issue was that it became a pattern.

    14. Jane Bingley*

      I found it a good reminder of why less info is best in a work context. “I’m sorry, I can’t make in for 8am on Wednesday, do you want to reschedule or proceed without me?” sets a clear boundary without giving my boss info they can use to judge me. There was definitely a sense that a workout class wasn’t a “good enough” reason, even though there are plenty of reasons a person might strongly benefit from a consistent workout schedule.

    15. ChronicallyOnline*

      I saw that! I saw a follow-up video too, from the LW, who basically called out Natalie and his employer!

      He said that he had asked multiple times before starting employment to verify his starting time and working hours as 9-5, and was never told about any occasional early meetings. He had also stressed to them that he had a workout class he paid for before work, so he wouldn’t be able to work before 9.

      In that case, I side with him! I think he made some good points- who will pay for his short-notice cancellation (for a class he already paid for), will he be getting OT, is this going to start being a regular occurance, and WHY was he notified on short notice?

      1. BottleBlonde*

        It turns out that that video response was actually a skit (it wasn’t actually the letter writer). The manager did clarify that employee was made aware that quarterly 8am meetings were a requirement during the hiring process, and had lots of notice to adjust their schedule.

        But in general, I agree with you that a last-minute request that will cost an employee money (like a cancellation fee) is bad practice and should only be considered in the case of an emergency!

    16. Momma Bear*

      I recently had to come in early for an important meeting. It was the only time some key people could attend. If it had overlapped with childcare, I would have let the organizer know to see if I could get a call in number or something. But a workout? That can be skipped or rescheduled. Sometimes you need to flex.

    17. Kyrielle*

      For me it depends a lot on context – including how much advanced notice they gave of the meeting, and how necessary it was to be at 8 am. If you give me less than 24 hours advance notice of a meeting at a time I don’t normally work, and it conflicts with something else, and it either a) didn’t have to be at that time or b) didn’t have to be that day, I’d be a lot more likely to push back than if some of that changed.

      For example, if I’m critical to the meeting, and so is someone in a timezone where our 8 am (in the letter’s view; I actually work from 8 on, so for me it would be 7) is their 5 pm or even later, and either I get several days’ notice or it’s an emergency where something went wrong and we need to fix it? I’m absolutely skipping my workout/whatever I had planned and will be in the meeting.

      If the meeting is entirely people who could have met a day or two later, or at 10 am instead, and it’s not an emergency, but you still didn’t give me advance notice or put it off a little? I’m a little more likely to push back, and/or be salty.

  4. Rogue Paginator*

    I have a conundrum. I work in financial services, in risk. Essentially, I write counterparty risk profiles, and then there are levels of people who approve those profiles. I, 39F, have been in my role (at three institutions) for about 10 years. Rita (44F), my 2nd level approver, has been at my current institution for 18+ years. We don’t share a manager, due to risk segregation regulations. Rita has seemingly taken a dislike to me, which would be fine except it’s leaking into how she approaches her assessment of my work. If you set my work next to my peers, mine is just as substantive and reasoned, but she rips mine to shreds while praising my peers. Most recently, she sent one of my risk profiles to my grandboss, to make some sort of larger point that I’m sloppy, rather than bring it to me. The larger issue is that Rita is likely to have a certain amount of weight in my career path, unless I fully change trajectory (or institutions), which I don’t want to do. I just want the behavior to stop. I believed I had a case for disparate treatment, so I took it to HR, but they said because Rita isn’t treating a specific class of people differently, it’s not a conduct problem but it is more of a professionalism problem. HR took it to Rita’s manager, Tim, who is a very nice and reasonable person, and I’ve had a number of interactions with him. He also knows my work isn’t sloppy. I spoke to Tim regarding the issue, (he wasn’t terribly surprised) and he said he can handle it with Rita by either 1) sort of broadly mentioning to her that she needs to be professional and cognizant of her interactions with everyone, or 2) name me specifically and say that we need to deal with the issues. I would be ok with #2, except for the concern that it would be politically unwise. Rita has been at the firm a long time, and will likely have a say in my next career step, despite not having a common manager. My only real benefit to #2 is that if she retaliates then perhaps HR would actually do something. I am concerned that #1 is too broad and she wouldn’t get the point. Tim is recommending #2, but my boss is recommending #1. What does the commentariat think?

    1. risers and cables*

      What do you have to lose? Do you think she won’t block your next career step if you do nothing?

    2. Two Dog Night*

      I’d say #2. It sounds like Tim and your manager agree that Rita is being ridiculous, and I’d hope they’d step in if Rita tried to affect your career path. It would be a problem if Rita retaliated and Tim didn’t protect you, but I agree that #1 probably isn’t going to accomplish anything.

      Ugh, sorry you’re in this position. Rita sucks.

    3. ferrina*

      Would you be comfortable sitting down with Rita yourself?

      Sometimes I’ve found that some strategic ego soothing will work wonders.
      “Hi Rita! I wanted to pick your brain about how to make my work stronger. You’re an expert in this, and I’d love your take on next steps for me.”
      Let her talk at you for an hour. Even though it’s all things that you already know, be grateful for her time and expertise. Don’t say “I know” or “I didn’t know”; say things like “Do you have any suggestions for Y?” (where Y is something where you genuinely want to improve or just somewhere where you are fine but not great).

      This will work with a certain subset of people- once they feel like they have sufficiently mentored you, they are happy with you. Plus you can occasionally reach out to them when you want a second opinion.

      If you know for a fact that that won’t work, then option 2.5- Tim needs to bring this up with your name involved, but not on your behalf. Tim needs to point this out as a process issue. Rita isn’t giving you a fair evaluation, and it’s slowing down the process.

      1. Dawnshadow*

        yes. I did this with a curmudgeon of a supervisor and we actually became work friends. would not have expected that going in. but she was a good person to have in my corner and actually was funny in a very cynical way when I got to know her

      2. Sarah*

        I really like this as a first step, have a go at stroking her ego and seeing if it helps before escalating. Pretty sure I read that asking a small favour of someone who doesn’t particularly like you has a significant effect on changing their opinion.

    4. Helewise*

      Number two. It sounds like there will be career fallout for you if this goes unaddressed, which to me balances out the possible fallout of addressing it very directly with Rita – although it’s possible that it could speed up that fallout, I suppose. Number one sounds ineffective.

    5. Some People’s Children*

      The thing that concerns me is leaving it to the two of you to sort it out. My experience is directly naming the problem…you are clearly judging C’s work differently and it has to stop (just a summary of the message)…is more effective than general statements. If she is intentionally judging you differently she’s not likely to change without specific direction to stop and she’ll blame you for the direction from her boss anyway.

    6. Dry Erase Aficionado*

      If Tim is reasonable can you outline your concerns about approach #2 and ask what he can do to ensure this reasonable request to deal with the issue doesn’t create a situation where Rita is creating roadblocks in your career path?

    7. The New Wanderer*

      I vote for strategy #2 as well. You are on record with HR about Rita’s disparate treatment of your work, and Tim has seemingly observed this as well. Unfortunately you *are* the pattern and the example she needs to be talked to about, generically “being professional” isn’t the issue if she’s reasonable with everyone else. If she cannot treat your work objectively after that, it should go to someone else for evaluation (Tim?). And either way, it should be on record that any future (presumably negative) feedback from Rita on your performance is suspect at best.

    8. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      It sounds like she’s already actively sabotaging your career, so, maybe 2.

      Tim could ask her why she’s treating you differently and go from there.

    9. Kes*

      #2. #1 sounds too vague and doesn’t really address the specific issue, you’re just hoping she’ll realize and change. I would mention to Tim in advance that you are a little concerned about the possibility she’ll retaliate so that if it does occur you can bring it up to him (I wouldn’t count on HR since they haven’t been very helpful so far). There is a risk this will make her dislike you even more, but it sounds like she already does and would likely give a negative opinion on your next career step, so it’s better to address it now.

    10. Yes And*

      I would say number two, both for reasons others have said (more likely to get the desired outcome if her problem is specifically with you), and because it’s an apt euphemistic description of Rita’s behavior.

    11. Certaintroublemaker*

      I agree with #2, with Tim saying that he’s seeing a pattern of her review of your work being very out of step with what other reviewers are seeing. It needs to be “his observations” leading to the talk, not anything you’ve done.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        I think that TIM should deal with Rita himself, and leave the OP out of it. TIM should say, “I notice a discrepancy in your assessments between OP’s work and other team members. You are a lot harder on her and your assessments are not fair or accurate. Please explain to me why this is happening.”

        This is a performance issue on Rita’s part, as much as it is an interpersonal issue. Rita doesn’t have to like you, but she DOES need to do her job fairly and accurately.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          Rather than saying “not fair or accurate” out the gate, I’d say “can you help me understand what you’re seeing as I see her differently than your assessment” – more likely to keep Rita open and allow her to genuinely come around, whereas telling her she’s wrong before hearing her point of view just puts them at odds from the beginning and that’s really hard to recover from.

          1. coffee*

            Also it’s terrible that this is happening to you, OP! I just meant sometimes workplaces can be more motivated when they realise it’s impacting them, not just you.

    12. Rage*

      I vote #2 as well. Here is why: she already escalated a report to your grandboss. She is now on record that she has issues with your work (founded or not). It’s only natural that now this is being looked at more closely, and the higher ups are puzzled because they do not find any fault with your work.

      If you just do #1, then she can continue as she is – because she’s not being “unprofessional” she is (in her mind) providing critical feedback, which is part of her job. She may not even think that it’s being aimed at her.

      #2 puts her on notice: other people (people above her) are seeing what she is doing, and they do not agree with her assessment of the situation, nor her response to you. Though I would specifically ask for protection from retaliation – because then it absolutely lands in HR’s territory.

      1. M2RB*

        I like this. If she’s already escalated it to grandboss, then her boss has the perfect excuse to say, “after your report to Grandboss about Rogue’s work, I took a closer look to make sure I understood the situation. I compared her work to her peers, and they are all in line. Can you help me understand why your reviews of her work are so different than your reviews of the others’ work? It seems like I am missing something here.”

        Personally I would have a hard time keeping the subtext of “what I am missing is your clear and obvious bias against Rogue” out of my voice but this sets it up so he makes it clear that the different treatment has been noticed, and gives her the opportunity to adjust her behavior – or to dig herself a hole.

    13. LCH*

      i’d love to see if anything changes if Rita were to review everyone’s work after it had been anonymized.

      1. Rogue Paginator*

        Well, funny enough, I modeled a report after one of my peers’ reports that was given public praise by Rita. It was slightly less detailed than what I would have done of my own accord, but Rita loved it when it was from my peer. She ripped it apart, coming from me.

    14. Reluctant Mezzo*

      It sounds like management agrees Rita is awful, but is hanging you out to dry to resolve the situation yourself. Whee. /s

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        As I read this, Tim (Rita’s manager) had committed to raising the problem with Rita but is checking in with Rogue about whether or not to use Rogue’s name. I don’t think Rogue is being hung out to dry. (I vote #2, by the way – it’s almost impossible to get someone to change a specific behaviour without naming the behaviour explicitly.)

    15. Momma Bear*

      Why not both? Tim reminds Rita to be professional AND directly addresses this issue she has with you. I think #1 alone is too soft. Why isn’t your boss concerned that she’s not treating your work fairly?

    16. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I also recommend a modified #2, wherein Tim names you as the pattern but does not make you the one responsible for solving it with Rita. Something along the lines of “after you escalated that report we did a review of Rogue’s work and noticed that you’ve been much harsher on it than on work done by other employees. This needs to stop”.

    17. Llellayena*

      Possible option #3: Can there be a change in workflow where all profiles (from all people who write them) go to Tim who removes the author’s names from the files before giving them to Rita for assessment? It seems like your work gets bad reviews when she knows you wrote them so if you remove that factor maybe things even out? You’d also have direct evidence that it’s bias against you if your work gets scored similar to others when the names are removed.

    18. Bitte Meddler*

      Tim can implement solution #2 without even saying that he has talked to you. He can frame it through the lens of, “You took [OP’s] work to Grandboss with the express purpose of making her look bad. That’s very unprofessional and not something you should be doing. Honestly, I’ve noticed that you tend to bristle when it comes to OP and I’d like for you to examine why and then find a way to treat her the same way you treat her peers.”

    19. Alternative Person*

      I think Tim needs to emphasize that she’s out of line with how she’s reviewing your work. I don’t think this is something you need to be directly involved with resolving as it seems like she dislikes you while you’re just trying to get on with things.

      Tim should be talking to her and seeing if there’s anything substantial there (quite possibly not, from what you’ve said about her praising others but not you for the work) and telling her to knock it off.

      And make sure you document.

  5. Rollercoaster week!*

    This week was an emotional roller coaster. I screwed up in a very unexpected way. Imagine a Broadway actor suddenly getting crippling stage fright on their 10th show when everything had been fine up to that point. It was not really a measurable or fixable mistake, or even something I should have anticipated, but it was public and very embarrassing. I need to go read the Mortification Week posts to feel marginally better about myself…

    Then I got some unexpected and unusually positive feedback on a couple other elements of my job. To continue torturing my analogy, say I pulled it together for Broadway show #11, and multiple audience members came up afterwards to say my singing was life changing. That part felt nice, but the highs and lows were much higher and lower than the average week. I was also substantially busier, which likely contributed.

    I’m always a bit insecure about my abilities and try to rely on real indicators of success or failure to gauge whether it’s imposter syndrome, an acceptable level of mediocrity, or poor performance that demands improvement. After this week, I have no idea.

    How do you tell if you’re good at your job? How do you not get derailed by a bad day?

    1. ThatGirl*

      second part first: everyone has bad days. EVERYone. I remind myself that one flub, one mistake, one off day is almost never the end of the word. I am somewhat analytical, so if I can do so somewhat objectively, I think about it high level – is there anything I could have done to avoid that mistake? Is there any way I could have handled it better? the answer might be “no” to both in which case I did what I could; if it’s yes, then I know for next time.

      As to tell how I’m good at my job – well, do people compliment me? Do I get good reviews? do I feel confident when I talk about my work? depending on the job, are there measurable ways I can tell I’m successful?

      In both cases it’s an average — if on average I have many more good days than bad, if I keep improving and learning and growing, if I can point to measures of my success — then the bad days are a fluke and the good ones are evidence.

    2. lost academic*

      Consistent feedback and a support network. Don’t just look for the response when it’s amazing or falls short – get consistent feedback about more than just your outcomes.

      Learn to trust people who say you’re good at your work and have discussions with both professional mentors and personal (e.g. therapists) support on how to smooth out the lows (and sometimes the highs).

    3. Gyne*

      Everyone has bad days! Part of being a human is making mistakes occasionally. You take stock of what happened, get outside advice as to whether or not it was an anomaly for you, look for any possible correctable root causes & keep them in mind for future events. Success isn’t never having a setback, success is overcoming setbacks and moving forward.

    4. JelloStapler*

      Reminding yourself that you are human and you will have bad days and mistakes. As I tell my college students (I am in Higher Ed): don’t focus on the mistake or bad day but on what you learned from it, even if the lesson is to give yourself grace. In this case, you’re good because 11/12 “shows” went swimmingly and people are acknowledging your work has a positive impact.

      Some days all that gets me through a tough day with not being able to resolve issues is asking a student if they feel better after we talked – and getting a “yes”.

    5. DrSalty*

      Honestly I think what separates people who are great from those who are merely good is the ability to pull it together after a mistake and come out stronger for it. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s part of life and part of work. Not everyone can come back and wow the audience at their next performance. It sounds like you already know how not to let mistakes derail you!

    6. Sassy SAAS*

      I feel you! In the same week that HR told me I wasn’t at the level they require for a senior title and raise, I have team members saying they couldn’t do their job without me and clients saying they love working with me… I’ve been flipping back and forth between “bad day”/”I’m great at what I do”…

      First, like others have said, EVERYONE has bad days. Early on in my working career, I messed up BIG TIME (think: I hired a bunch of people for a shift, but never gave them their schedules, so no one knew they were working and no one showed up to work!!). I was SOBBING in my kitchen on a Sunday morning, trying to reconcile with my mistake. I had a lovely coworker-turned-best-friend who reminded me that other people have messed up and continue to work. You gotta own it, and try to make sure you don’t make the same mistake again. I did exactly that, and all my coworkers, even the ones impacted, respected that I owned up and took responsibility.

      One thing that has helped with my imposter syndrome is looking at other workers (at your company or just broadly across adults as a whole) and think about how many mediocre (sometimes completely inept) people are in positions of power. If those people can be managers and leaders and CEOs, then surely we can’t be that bad at our jobs! I had an ex-coworker who was a total conman: talked himself into the job, then couldn’t perform at the necessary level, and proceeded to blame everyone else before quitting with almost no notice. He lasted maybe 6months. So any time I feel like I’m an imposter, I think, “What would (ex-coworker do?”. He would believe he is capable of anything, that he can’t fail, and even if he does, he’ll just start a new side hustle. I try to channel his unbridled sense of self-confidence. It doesn’t always work, but I try to remind myself that much less talented people do much bigger things!

      It’s so hard to feel like you’re “good enough” (I struggle with that in a huge way). Just know you’re not alone, and that late-stage capitalism has tricked us all into thinking alllll our worth comes from being good at our jobs! I have a feeling you’re a lot better at your job that you give yourself credit for :)

      1. Rollercoaster week!*

        Ha, I once told a former therapist I wished I had that kind of unmerited confidence for a week or so. I’d get so much done! She seemed to find that alarming, but I still enjoy the fantasy. Oh for a day when I don’t feel compelled to constantly tear myself apart in service of “improvement.”

      2. Windaria*

        Don’t beat yourself too hard about being told you aren’t at the level for a senior title and raise yet. I’ve had that conversation with numerous employees, and it almost all cases, it wasn’t a question of their potential or ability in their current role, as much as they were just missing a specific area of experience or knowledge that was usually fairly easily remedied with a training or development plan. Most of those employees are usually ready for that promotion within 6 mos-1 year.

    7. Jay (no, the other one)*

      The bad stuff looms much much larger in our minds than the good stuff. Very early in my career I received some mildly negative written feedback. I kept that note on my desk and saw it every time I sat down. A few weeks later I got a lovely letter from someone with very warm and positive feedback. I read it, smiled, and stuck it in the recycling. And then I caught myself. I filed the negative feedback letter in the drawer and stuck the positive one on my bulletin board.

      When I screw up, I give myself a little bit of time to sit in the shame and then try to pull back and look at it the way I would if it happened to someone I supervise. Is it part of a pattern? Was it preventable? If so, what needs to be in place to prevent it again? And then I try to do something I really enjoy and that I feel competent at – that might be a work thing or I might go home and bake cookies.

      I have a friend I used to work with and we occasionally call each other to report a mistake. He listens to me and then tells me what the statute of limitation is on kicking myself. Most often it’s already expired. So talk to your friends. Tell them you need to hear what you’re doing well. On one very bad day I posted on Facebook that I needed kind words and the resulting thread was beyond uplifting.

      1. Rollercoaster week!*

        That’s a good thought. I do keep any written positive feedback I get. I should go read it again. Thanks :)

    8. Rollercoaster week!*

      Dwelling on my ridiculousness brought back a memory of a similar occurrence that was much less mortifying.

      I was 16, working in my first “real” job at a local burger joint. It was not a peak time, and the restaurant was pretty quiet. A customer ordered a cheeseburger, and I attempted to tell him the condiments & soda fountain were around the corner from the register. It was a spiel I gave dozens of times every single day.

      Only this time, instead of saying “drinks, ketchup, and mustard are just over there,” I managed to get out, “mu-chup and ke-stard…” No, that wasn’t it. I tried again. “Mu-chup and ke-stard…” Nope. I knew I was swapping syllables. I knew what I wanted. My tongue wouldn’t work and my brain stopped supplying anything at all except for “mu-chup and ke-stard.” I repeated it a couple more time. The customer stared me like I had two heads and eventually wandered off in the direction I was pointing. I told my boss I needed to go on break ASAP.

      That’s what I did again this week, except I was part of an international panel about my own subject expertise. And my brain got hung up on the research version of mu-chup and ke-stard, and I had no option to wave the customer away and go on break. *shudder*

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Oh my God I am so sorry, but also if I saw that happen ( I’m an academic so I think I know the sort of event you mean) I would feel such a wave of “omg Professor Expert is a human!!!!!!” empathy that I would probably end up better disposed towards you, for what that’s worth.

    9. Jane Bingley*

      A reset I sometimes find helpful is imagining my best friend made exactly the same mistake. Not just in the abstract – really try to imagine them going through the prep you did, knowing what you know, and then recall every painful detail you can of the mistake, with your friend telling you this story.

      The instinct I have for a dear friend is the right one – I’d reassure them, comfort them, tell them that everyone around them still knows they’re talented, try to find the humour in it, encourage them to try again as soon as possible, and cheer them on as they try again.

      And then I try to be a decent friend to myself, because despite what my anxiety brain says, I deserve friendship too!

    10. Manic Pixie HR Girl*


      This reminds me of a situation a number of years ago where I qualified a person for interview for a role that was decidedly NOT qualified (many of you know I work in government, where transfer and/or promotion rules are famously inflexible), and of course that was the person the hiring manager selected as their candidate of choice. What’s worse is, we didn’t discover the error until after we had processed the appointment and the person had started!

      I remember going into my boss’ office, hyperventilating. This was NOT a mistake *I* made. I knew the transfer rules like the back of my hand! Except because I was SO SURE I knew them I didn’t confirm on the transfer list that Title X could, in fact, transfer to Title Y.

      As it happened, the person was internal, so we were able to keep her in her current item while we fixed the issue (which consisted of me doing a rush transfer determination request from Title X to Title Y which, as it so happened, had only not been approved because no one to date had asked for it, so it was a quick process as no one had any reservations about that action). Bureaucracy at its finest.

      Anyway, this is all to say, YOU ARE HUMAN. Mistakes happen. When they do, you learn from it and you move on. If you can correct the error, all the better, but even if you can’t, taking responsibility goes a long way toward your integrity, and so long as it isn’t a regular occurrence (which, it seems to me it is not!) then you’ll remember it long after everyone else has forgotten about it.

    11. Momma Bear*

      Sometimes what matters is how you handle the mistake more than the mistake. Like the story of the guy who messed up and cost a company thousands but wasn’t fired. His boss said something along the lines of he just spent a lot of money for the guy to learn a lesson. Easier to keep the guy who learned the lesson than hire someone new who might make the same mistake. Which is not to say go around making mistakes but…

      If your boss is at all reasonable, do a post mortem on the problem, fix or report what you can, move on. Your boss or another senior may be more supportive than you realize.

      You are not all or nothing. You’re human. Try to regroup and remember you had a bad day but are really good at a lot, too.

    12. Cedrus Libani*

      One thing that’s been helpful for my emotional stability at work: let go of any objective notion of “good at my job”. It’s literally impossible. On the scale of what it would take to be objectively good at my job, the difference between me and the most talented practitioners in history is rounding error…and that’s not because I’m awesome, the difference between me and my least intelligent cat is also rounding error. We’re all objectively terrible. So, I can’t be good, but I can absolutely do better; I can learn, practice, and improve. That’s what I have to focus on.

    13. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Self-compassion! Self warmth. Look of some of Sarah Peyton’s free webinars on exactly how to do that.

      It uses relational neuroscience to create an atmosphere where you feel welcomed and understood and accepted. So it’s ok that you messed up. You’re still simply loved.

    14. Diatryma*

      I’m going to run with your metaphor here and relate a bit from Julie Andrews’ memoir.

      There were times in her career where shows stopped partway through the night because the lead’s voice gave out. It’s not unimaginable. She talks about it. Tickets are refunded, the actor feels embarrassed, there’s another show tomorrow, and it’s Dame Julie Andrews here.

      Even in your metaphor for the weirdest, most random problem, it happens and people deal and we get Eliza Dolittle back the next day. You’ll sing (metaphorically or literally) tomorrow.

      1. Rollercoaster week!*

        Julie Andrews wrote a memoir! If nothing else, I’m glad to learn that! *off to the library*

  6. juliebulie*

    I’ve been in this job for 11+ years. For the first 10 years, it was great. Thanks to some reorgs, I am now in a different part of the organization, though in the same role. However, this “same role” is very different in this part of the organization.

    Imagine that you have a job making teapots, and about 75% of your time is spent actually making them. The other 25% is annoying administrative stuff that you have to do for each teapot. The admin stuff is kind of hard for you to do, not technically hard but just kind of miserable to slog through and you hate it.

    Now imagine that you get moved to a different business unit, where you spend 25% of your time making teapots, and 75% of your time is administrative shit. Which means you now feel miserable 75% of the time.

    Further, there is a good chance that I will be laid off in the next year.

    The last piece of the puzzle is that I am being paid so much that I dare not hope to find another job with similar salary.

    So, do I…

    – Hang tight and collect those paychecks while I still have the job. Talk to my boss; maybe it will get better. Hold my nose and live for the weekends. (Wow, when I see it written down, what I’ve been doing does not sound appealing.)

    – Start looking now, because it doesn’t hurt to look, and I will have a head start if I do lose my job. But… I don’t even know where to start. I used to use Monster and Dice. Are those still good?

    1. BottleBlonde*

      My sympathies! From experience, I think it’s much better to look for a job while you already have one. Especially if you’re miserable 75% of the time and are open to leaving for something better. If you don’t find anything quickly, then no sweat, and if you do, you get to leave miserable job sooner!

      I last looked about 3 years ago, but I had the most luck from LinkedIn, industry specific job boards, and my personal network.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      It never hurts to look even if you like your job 75% of the time and hate it 25% of the time.

      That said, I think you should talk to your boss about it, because assuming there’s no possibility of anything changing is probably not a good place to start from. Maybe there isn’t! But maybe your boss will surprise you. Maybe no one knew how much more teapot making you were doing in the previous team vs what you’re doing now; they probably saw it as a very similar role, but it’s not similar to the one actually doing it. I feel like upper management often doesn’t really know the day-to-day of people’s jobs, which is a separate issue, and it’s easy for them to misunderstand something like this unless someone talks to them about it.

    3. JelloStapler*

      Always keep your eye out as right now you may be able to be a little picky versus when you are looking for anything because you are unemployed. Also, remember that mental health and opportunities to do what you enjoy may be worth a bit of a pay cut if still within your means.

    4. Observer*

      – Start looking now, because it doesn’t hurt to look, and I will have a head start if I do lose my job

      Start looking now. In the meantime, you can also deploy elements of #1.

    5. A manager, but not your manager*

      Where you look (which it sounds like you should just to see what’s out there) probably depends on your industry. For my role, Indeed and Monster seem to just be spam, but LinkedIn and Glassdoor work.

      There might be other, more niche job boards based on field, demographics, and interests, so if the main ones don’t work, googling or poking around LinkedIn posts might turn things up. To give an example: I’m a woman in tech who currently works from home and has worked for startups. There are job boards for engineers (Otta or Stack Overviews job board), women in tech (Elpha), working remote (can’t remember any good ones off the top of my head, probably Flex Jobs but I haven’t checked in awhile), and startups (Well found).

      I don’t check any of them as often as LinkedIn, but they’ve turned up a couple leads.

    6. EMP*

      Start looking now!! Do the low stakes stuff – build your network, get a sense of who’s hiring, and brush up your resume.

      Specifically, if you’ve been in this job for 10 years, then I’m sure you have colleagues who you liked and/or respected who have moved on. Find them on linkedIn, connect if you aren’t connected yet, and check out the places they’re working now. Are they hiring? Does it look like a neat place? Look at current job postings and see what keywords and skills you might want to highlight on an up to date resume.

      I guarantee you’ll be glad you started if and when you move on, whether because the admin work gets to be too much or because of layoffs. Starting this stuff when you aren’t in crisis mode is so much easier.

      As for websites, my more recent job searches have been 80% looking at my network, 19% linkedIn and Indeed, and 1% following up with random unsolicited recruiter.

    7. Tio*

      I have never heard of Dice, so I don’t know if that is industry specific. I’ve used Indeed for all my job changes in the last 10 years, it’s similar to what I’ve heard about Monster but I never used Monster. I know most of my circle uses Indeed, so it might be worth a look.

      1. juliebulie*

        Dice was strictly for software, I think. Last time I looked, it was overrun with recruiters, like you would see a half dozen listings for the exact same position. So if it’s dead, it deserves to be dead.

        Monster had a lot of crap on it too. At one time, it was my go-to, but it sounds as though it’s jumped the shark. (Which was a really cool thing when Fonzie did it!)

        1. Procedure Publisher*

          My experience with Dice is that it has a lot of contract gigs. It still has a decent amount of positions being posted. It is a place I looked at Dice because I want to pursue technical writer roles.

    8. Once too Often*

      If you have a good relationship with your former boss, what about a consult with her about internal options? That might lead to connections for external options, too, but she’ll have both insight into your strengths & a different perspective on where else you might fit internally. She also won’t be surprised that the 25 & 75% swaps is not a great set up for you nor best for the company.

      If you take this time to set yourself up better (whatever that means to you) financially, if you do leave for a lower salary you’ll be more prepared for that change. And find out what retirement type options you have. Is it worth hanging on another year for retirement plan stuff? One place I worked would let you start collecting your pension at age 50 (& you no longer worked there); some folks took that & invested it while they continued in new jobs.

      1. Kes*

        The boss may or may not be the best place to start but I do agree that if you’ve enjoyed working at the company overall and have done well there and they pay well, it’s probably worth at least looking at whether it would be possible to move internally to another team where the balance of work might work better for you.

    9. Kes*

      It’s probably worth at least looking around so that you have a sense of the market and what’s out there – maybe there is something great, and regardless, if you’re likely to be laid off better to get a head start now so you know what options look like and aren’t starting from scratch if and when you are laid off.
      That said, if your current pay is that good it may or may not make sense to leave now, depending on what is out there, how much of a pay cut it would be, and your priorities. There’s nothing wrong with saying your priority is pay and you want to stick it out and collect that paycheck as long as you can (there’s also nothing wrong with prioritizing work you’re interested with over pay and leaving for that). If you do decide to stay for the pay, I would reframe your position to yourself as a conscious choice you’re making, to remain in the mediocre job that is worth it to you because of the pay, to remind yourself that this is a choice you are making and you aren’t stuck, you have agency, this is just what you are choosing for now in order to maximize your salary (and if you don’t think you could tell yourself it’s worth it for the salary and believe that, then that might be a sign in the other direction)

    10. juliebulie*

      Thanks, everybody! I think I was just hoping someone would give me permission to do nothing until something forces the issue… but you(s) are right. I should talk to my boss about some of this, as well as my ex-boss who might know of other opportunities within the company and possibly outside it (because if anyone deserves a chance to move on to something better, it’s him, so I hope he’s been looking).

      It also won’t kill me to glance at Indeed et al. I don’t have to do anything. I’ll just look. If I see something I like, that will probably be motivation enough to update my resume and all the rest.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        That’s where I’m at right now – I need to start looking at jobs, because if I see something interesting it’ll help motivate me for the rest of the slog. I hate job hunting.

    11. lindyhopper*

      I would say both! I was in a similar situation until last September and it really took MONTHS of searching to find the right fit. I was definitely talking to my bosses about how to make it better (did not result in real change), holding my nose and living for the weekends, AND looking and applying constantly because I was both miserable and knew that more layoffs could be coming at any time. It sucked, but it did finally end and I was able to make a lateral move to a better job at a company that’s a much better fit for a tiny (less than $1k/year) raise.

    12. SofiaDeo*

      Sorry to hear this. Can you think of it somehow that you are now in the “teenager years” of your job? So there are changing pains. Start looking for another one to see if life really does look better in a different circus, or if you’d rather deal with the monkeys you know.

    13. learnedthehardway*

      Why not both? Start your job search and keep working while you’re doing it. See if there are other opportunities within your current employer, while you’re at it.

    14. I Have RBF*

      A: Keep the job you have, but tighten your belt a lot, so that if there are layoffs you have a reserve.
      B: Start looking now. Especially if you haven’t looked in a while, it can be quite a soul crushing shock to be in the job market today.
      C: Monster and Dice are somewhat crappy, but so are Indeed and LinkedIn. Job searching these days is a numbers game, so you may want to list with multiple sites. However, I suggest you get a separate email for your work search, because posting to those sites gets you a lot of spam.

  7. Sorry, Benny*

    Any advice on how to tell my manager to leave me alone?

    I know it sounds bad, but my previous manager was let go very abruptly and I have been doing that job plus my job for a few months. My new manager hasn’t really acclimated yet and I am still doing more than my share; but she routinely pulls me away from my tasks so I can watch her work/offer feedback/provide basic tech support. I had to take a few days off for an immediate family member’s funeral and nothing was really handled while I was away. If she was a coworker, I’d politely tell her I need to work—but the balance of power between us makes me feel that could be somewhat volatile if I don’t finesse it. Any advice?

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      I think you should set up a meeting to name the problem, but also, let go of your control a bit. “Hey, new manager, all these things are on my plate. I’m behind on X, Y and Z. When you need my feedback, I get even further behind. What would you like me to prioritize?” It’s the new manager’s call to prioritize Z over X if they want to. But also, if they don’t know about Y, then they don’t have enough info to prioritize correctly.

      Make it you and your new manager vs the work problem, rather than you vs manager getting in your way.

    2. mcm*

      I think the best thing would be to be very explicit when she asks you to come do something — ie, “taking time away at this point would mean X project doesn’t get done today, when we’re already behind from last week. Does it make sense to do this now?”
      It’s still probably up to her as your manager what the team’s priorities should be, and I think it’s very possible that she’s determined it will be better in the long run to move slower now and have an effective and useful manager in the long run, so I think the best you can do is make it explicit for her what the trade-off is.

    3. Fran*

      She asks for feedback, maybe you can say you would like to go over tasks that you do so she can get an idea of what everyone is doing. Then break down all the tasks for her- what they are, how long they take, percentage done. Also break down what is your normal task and what is not your normal job but the pervious manager so she can know that she is supposed to be doing that task- not you…

      Maybe then she can see she is pulling you away, it’s part of your feedback, pass back work to her, part of onboarding?

    4. Scott*

      Could be as simple as a conversation with her of “Hey, just so you’re aware, when I’m helping you or supporting you doing your tasks, mine are not getting done.” Then maybe give a couple specific things that are falling behind. As Alison often points out, tone is important. You are simply giving your manager information about what is hampering your ability to get your work done and not to sound like your complaining about her.

    5. OtterB*

      Can you tell her you need to focus so you can finish tasks X, Y, and Z (which presumably she wants you to do) and see if you can schedule the time with her?

      1. Rage*

        I agree. Trying to block out specific time to review things with her will allow you to better manage your remaining time.

    6. Anoj*

      How new is your manager? I think you need to set some boundaries now before this gets to the be the norm. Are all the meetings you’ve had with her ad hoc, or have any actually been scheduled so you aren’t pulled away.

    7. Dollars to Donuts*

      Is there any way of seeing this as an investment in your future? You’re helping now so that they will soon feel confident taking back some of the work that you’re covering. Ideally training wouldn’t come from you since you’re already over worked, but realistically I think that’s common. The plus: you can train them based on your own views and priorities.

    8. Ellis Bell*

      What’s your sense of her motivation here? From an admittedly poor view of the vibe on the ground, this sounds to me like someone who gets their senses of satisfaction through a lot of interaction and connection, and possibly thinks you do too? If this sounds about right, I would do the “eyes glued to my work for at least a few minutes after someone tries to interrupt me” manoeuver, rather than dropping everything and springing up. So, if she asks you to watch her work, or offer some feedback on it, you act like someone who is in the middle of counting up some numbers and you sort of pause to make a note, and go: “Um, I should be done with this soon, I’m just finishing this part before I forget”, then give minimal attention and interaction when you do go over, rush through it like you’re on a timer, (brisk but pleasant) and race back to your own work. If they want basic tech support: “Oh, I should have shown you already how to open a ticket” and then afterwards “Is the ticket system down, or do you need a reminder?” Be really open more often about being swamped if your take is that she doesn’t have a handle on your workload: “I’m really struggling to get x done, is it possible to come over when I’m done?” A lot of this is dependent on the kind of manager you have, so YMMV and you also don’t want to give any kind of frosty or annoyed vibe off: it should be more of a ‘purposefully busy yet still wanting to be helpful’ vibe but one that gives off very little reward for interruptions that seek attention. I would also be frequently warm and collaborative in other ways; ways that suit your workflow. If this doesn’t settle down when she realizes how busy you are I’d make a special meeting to talk about workload and say you’re struggling to do x, y and z and need some ‘closed door’ time to keep on target. Suggest that you save your brainstorming and catch ups for meetings of whatever frequency you prefer.

    9. Momma Bear*

      Is there a peer manager who could help her on more general things like how to use x system? If so, I’d redirect her to them, unless it’s something specific to the duties you were handling in the interim. I’d also fill her in on what you’re doing, maybe schedule a specific one-on-one as a “now you’ve been here a bit….” to get a mutual understanding.

  8. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m spiraling from work lately. I am not sure if I should quit. I was stressed from a traumatic situation and had a hard time getting off at all ( because it was day of? like mental health issues often rear up without warning) I’m not sure about quitting. I would have to take a pay cut and would have to figure out how to leave my entire field? If you’ve left a field, what steps did you take?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Do you have a trusted counselor or confidant you could talk this through with? Not that people here can’t help, but it seems like a really personal kind of thing.

      Also – I can’t tell you whether you should quit this job or not, but why would that mean leaving your entire field?

      1. ThatGirl*

        Further thought – I left journalism altogether for marketing. It wasn’t necessarily a strategic choice; I got fired and when I thought about what to do next, I didn’t really want to keep doing what I’d been doing. So I looked at my skillset and applied for jobs with related skills, and fell ass-backward into marketing :)

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Sadly I must go back into therapy. The reason I’m leaving my job ( too traumatic, etc) are aspects of the whole field. I’m actually sitting pretty, high salary, could move to another part of company, etc.

    2. Seahorse*

      I’ve switched fields. It was rough going in parts, but the alternative was… not appealing. After having a complete breakdown that ended in me bawling in a parking lot, I knew I could not stay.

      I read through hundreds of job postings with no regard for my own qualifications or interests to get a more comprehensive sense of what was out there. There was one field I kept coming back to even though it was an area I’d rejected in the past. Meanwhile, the field where I had experience and thought I wanted to work just seemed soul crushing.

      So I quit, went back to school, and lived off multiple part-time jobs & student loans for a few years. Enough of the part-times had some relevance to my new goal to be useful. Then I job searched in a panic for a bit, and eventually landed a good full-time job in my new field. Those part-times weren’t sustainable in the long term, but they gave me a foot in the door to say I had experience in the new field.

      If I could redo my whole life, I’d have picked a different trajectory coming out of high school, but alas, I have no time machine. Without that option, I’m pretty happy with the switch. My life savings might be down, but I’m far happier and healthier now. Worth it to me.

    3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      So first, I hear you’re stressed. That sounds tough. I think you’re saying you were in a traumatic situation at work that meant you suddenly had to leave without warning. While it’s true that happens, try to have some sympathy for your coworkers also – you suddenly needing to leave is a hardship on them too. It’s not fair for anybody, but on its own that doesn’t sound like a reason to quit.

      If you think you might need to leave suddenly again, now that it’s over, you could try to explain that to your boss. If they have the expectation that this could happen say 4 times a year, they’ll be mentally ready for it the next time.

      Based on some of your other posts, I’m coming to the conclusion that you overreact to stressful situations. It’s pretty extreme to jump to leaving your entire field. It’s also a strange assumption that quitting this job would mean leaving your entire field – unless they are the only company in that field, there must be other jobs? Maybe this field is wrong for you, but that’s not clear from what you’re saying.

      I don’t remember if you’re in therapy, but I think you could really use someone to talk to.

      1. JelloStapler*

        I concur with this knowing post history. That is not mean to be judgmental – just that I agree that there is a pattern here that may need to be addressed so it does not repeat in the future since it understandably causes a lot of stress for you.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Well, you assumed wrong. My coworkers are fine and don’t even know what happened. I had a situation in which small children will be traumatized for the rest of their days. Small kids that I have a bond with. I’m only missing a training today. A training that I missed only because me breaking down would have bothered my coworkers. If you don’t like what I post, scroll on by.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          This is an aggressive response to a someone who tried to make sense of a post from you that was pretty cryptic. You’ve done the same thing several times over the past weeks or months.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I agree with the comment above — please be polite to people who are offering advice to you. If you don’t like someone’s comment, please just pass it by rather than being aggressive in reply. Thank you.

        2. HR Friend*

          This is not your social media account, and you were asking for advice. “Scroll on by” doesn’t apply here, especially when you ask different versions of the same question repeatedly.

        3. Gemstones*

          It was a somewhat cryptic comment; I must confess, I’m not entirely sure I understand. Can you be a bit more specific about what happened? Was it a situation at work, or at home? Why would you have to leave your job, let alone your whole field, just because you had to miss a training?

        4. not nice, don't care*

          The tough thing about traumatic events is that experiencing one is no vaccine against experiencing many more. Prioritize what you need to recover/cope as best you can, and let work work itself out, as best you can.

        5. RagingADHD*

          If something terrible happened to children at your work, shouldn’t you notify someone? Why don’t your coworkers know? Are you a mandatory reporter?

          Or did you mean you had to leave suddenly due to a family emergency?

          This is very confusing.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        To be fair, some fields are very unforgiving across the board, and ask a lot of the people who work on them. As someone who changed fields myself, I can easily think of several professions where trauma and burnout are responsible for big turnovers.

    4. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      My first advice when spiraling about anything:

      Do Not Make Any Significant Decisions About That Thing!
      Spiraling is brain in biochemically altered state, not unlike being on drugs (or like *not* being on drugs that you usually rely on). Spiraling brain makes terrible decisions. Just table all those questions/ decisions /what-if’s for the moment; you can return to them when not spiraling, and you’ll be better able to focus, take in information, evaluate alternatives, and make long-range plans without undue influence from current emotions.

      I’m guessing if you have the therapy-informed language “spiraling,” you also have some established coping, self-help or therapy strategies and resources for getting yourself out of a spiral and and stable. Use those strategies and resources first. Or if you don’t feel adequately capable/supported right now — seek out those supports and use them before addressing the question of your job.
      Then when you’re no longer spiraling, and you are able to think about the distressing situation without immediately starting to spiral again, *then* address what about work is causing you so much distress, and what are your options for dealing with it.

      Wishing you all the best.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes, I’m reaching out to my supports and will have a check in with my bosses boss on Monday. I’m also seeking a new therapist as well. I’m not sure if EAP would be right for me as I’d probably need to take work time off.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I’m working to gain more support at work and out of work as well. This came out of the blue and shocked everyone.

    5. Kes*

      If possible I’d suggest taking some (planned in advance) time off in order to recover and get some distance and perspective before making any major decisions; don’t take drastic actions while you’re still reeling from whatever happened.
      If you need to take time off for mental health things that come up, I’d suggest treating it as sick time (which is what it is, and you don’t have to state specifics, just that you’re not well and won’t be able to work that day) – most people get that that can come up last minute vs if they think you’re just last minute requesting vacation that probably won’t go over as well since that looks like a choice and lack of planning on your part.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That’s true. The difficulty in taking vacation has made it difficult for me to take mental health days. I might need to get intermittent FMLA for appointments.

  9. Dee Dee*

    It’s annual goal setting season where I work! And what a mess. I have a different leader this year than last and it’s all over the place.

    There’s no big picture and so my goals are a hodgepodge of random to-dos. I have one that was literally because I happened to mention to my manager in passing “I think we should think about x” and they said “Great! Put that in your goals.”

    I’m trying to help my directs sort theirs out, too, but it’s very difficult when there’s no sense of where it is all supposed to go at the end of the day.


    1. Not an expert*

      Have you confirmed that there’s no big picture or is that just your assumption? If you haven’t asked, I’d ask. The new management’s big picture may not be that *big* though. Maybe it’s just finding their bearings and auditing current processes, but that can inform what your team can focus on this year.

      1. Dee Dee*

        It’s more that there are many, many different big pictures without any particular focus. And that’s just within our unit; other units have their own (sometimes complementary, sometimes redundant, sometimes competing) big pictures.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      I wonder if it might help to talk to your manager and explain this problem. “I’m trying to make sure my individual goals are aligned with the strategy and goals of our overall organization. That way I know that 1) the work I’m doing is helping to accomplish those overall goals, and 2) I won’t have to stop working on things I set for myself as goals and deprioritize them because they aren’t helpful to our strategy. Can you help me understand the biggest things our unit is trying to accomplish this year, and then can we talk about the best ways my work can support those efforts?”

    3. olusatrum*

      This is how goals setting season always feels for me too, except I’m the confused report at the bottom of the chain :p

      I hope you are able to at least get some attention on your reports’ personal career growth goals, even if the big picture is a mess. Year after year all I get is a confusing mix of departmental goals I have no clue where I fit into, and my boss always seems surprised and dismissive that I have my own goals. Tough to figure out what I’m supposed to be *doing*

    4. SansaStark*

      I feel like we work at the same place bc I’m in the same situation and it’s insane the amount of time that I have spent on these “goals.” It’s certainly been more time than I have actually spent DOING anything that towards accomplishing said goals. Sigh. Good luck.

    5. I Have RBF*

      My sympathies.

      My manager just did my annual review, it went fine. But HR doesn’t want anyone getting more than an “average” rating without the manager having to write a book singing their praises. (I consider that shitty on the part of HR, but neither I or my manager can do anything about it.) Plus they are breaking in a new performance management “system” (Workday, which has its own suckitude.) This is not wonderful for either myself or my manager.

      The goals passed down from on high for the company and departments are vague and poorly transmitted, so now both my manager and I need to figure out how to make them quantifiable with milestones, etc, to fit into Workday’s format. Annoying. But I’ve seen this happen multiple times in my career, so SS, DD there.

      Sometimes you may need to add or change goals in the middle of the year. Some systems handle this well, others don’t. You know which your system is.

    6. Thunder Kitten*

      I’d say you work at my org, except we don’t have goals.
      Good luck. It is depressing and demoralizing.

    1. Alexiiiiiiiiii5*

      I’m not very out at work. My boss technically knows, but has forgotten and I have let her forget rather than correct her. I have a few coworkers who know and are respectful. it’s a call center and I’m not out to the callers.

      -they them pronouns

    2. Call me Mx.*

      I’m a teacher and it’s a work in progress for me. Being out at school is a big goal for me, and my therapist has been great at helping me set mini goals to get there. I’d love any advice from other teachers (especially Spanish teachers navigating such a gendered language and Machista culture)!

    3. Anon Transman*

      Last job (that I left 5 months ago): Pretty open with the office staff, but not with outside clients. It was a state job that asked applicants to list any previously used names. So I listed my dead name. Then when I got hired, I had lost my social security card and had to use my birth certificate as one of my forms of ID. So by my first day, the cat was partially out of the bag anyway. (I found out years later that my boss had actually told everyone in the office prior to my arrival.) Over the course of the 6.5 years I was there, I ended up telling most of the staff myself anyway.

      New Job: No one. I’m in a similar field, but a more conservative environment. A friend of mine from my last job knows one of my current coworkers and told me she doesn’t think current coworker would care, but it isn’t a risk I want to take.

    4. Littorally*

      I’m not out in the sense that I haven’t made announcements to anyone, but I’m also making no efforts to hide anything and went from being completely pre-transition to passing pretty well while working at my current org. I also don’t dissemble if people directly ask me. I just haven’t had to have any After-School Specials with anyone. My boss in my last role asked directly after he hired me, since at that point I was mid-transition and very blatantly “doing something gender-y” and he wanted to make sure he was supporting me how I needed.

    5. olusatrum*

      Moderately. My boss knows, but it’s never come up again after doing my onboarding paperwork before I had my identity docs all the way sorted. A few coworkers I’m friendly with know that I’m a member of a couple LGBT social groups and attend pride events in June. I don’t really consider anything a secret, but I also don’t bother to bring much of my personal life up proactively

      I’m a trans man, but I don’t put much effort into having a masc presentation. My voice in particular is pretty femme, and I get ma’am-ed and she/her-ed on the phone a lot. Only a couple coworkers made that mistake, and they corrected themselves on their own.

      I work at a large, impersonal enterprise in an old traditional industry. I have met zero out/visibly queer people, and vanishingly few people I feel I have anything in common with socially. So I keep things pretty distant.

    6. Century Kestrel*

      I’m not out at work at all. For what it’s worth, I think my immediate colleagues would be very accepting, but I’ve overheard enough hallway conversations along the lines of “lol what’s that newfangled non-binary thing which is definitely not a valid identity” to not want to risk it getting out of our tiny department. I have no interest in getting accosted by colleagues I barely know to talk about my gender.

      I’m not out very much in my personal life either for the same reason – the only ones who know are my queer friends, because I keep hearing family and straight friends talk shit about non-binary identities. While I do speak up every time and try to do a bit of education, I’ve never said that *I* identify as such because I’d rather not have that judgement and vitriol directed at me.

      All in all I feel like the environment I’m in isn’t friendly enough to non-binary identities for me to feel comfortable embracing it in every aspect (or even most aspects) of my life. I have mad respect for the enbies who do it though and maybe someday that’ll be me!

      1. Century Kestrel*

        I’m so sorry, I misread the inital question! I can’t delete this, so let it be a testament to the occasional lack of reading comprehension of people on the internet.

    7. epizeugma*

      I’m nonbinary myself but of my trans friends who have binary identities (or are content to let others assume they have binary identities), the split is about 50/50 between people who are 100% out, lead gender related trainings or ERGs, etc, vs people who told nobody but HR or managers on a strictly need-to-know basis. I don’t know a ton of people who are in the middle, maybe because “being out but only to a few coworkers” isn’t really a thing if your workplace is at all gossipy.

  10. C*

    I work as a junior attorney and recently asked supervisory paralegal “Jill” for an old file that she had put together for a case, since I’ve taken it over. I commented in passing that the plaintiffs had some small issues that we were looking into. Unbeknownst to me, Jill immediately ran to our General Counsel (four people above either of us) and told him that I wasn’t updating him properly on the case, which resulted in a trickle-down effect of *my* supervisor needing case updates from all of us ASAP. The plan that I had discussed and agreed on with my supervisor was that we would update the GC when our next filing was submitted in this case as an “FYI,” but now it just looks like I was scrambling. After talking to other attorneys about it I’ve found that Jill does this all the time, always, to anyone who asks her for anything. She immediately runs to the GC or Deputy GC with any “news” or even anything that could be construed as news. For example, one attorney’s printer stopped working and he asked her to print a large file since he was in a hurry, so she spun that up to the Deputy as, “This attorney wants me to print things for him at the last second and can’t manage deadlines.” How am I supposed to work with this kind of person? Does anyone have any “Cover Your Ass” tips for me?

    1. Boss Scaggs*

      That sounds terrible. But I wonder if it’s all on Jill or are the bosses part of this too – they seem to take her word as gospel and then overreact on top of that.

      It matters I think because you either. have a Jill problem which maybe you can work around, or an overall office problem which is harder.

    2. JelloStapler*

      Does the GC/Deputy GC know this about Jill? If so, and they agree it’s ridiculous- they may already take things she says with a grain of salt. If not, can the attorneys discuss this with them?

      In the meantime, document- even if it’s a “following up from our conversation in the hall…”.

      1. C*

        I’m not sure if they’re 100% aware that she’s doing it as some sort of brown-nosing tactic, and part of the issue is that it feels so small and hard to articulate in the moment. Like I could run to my GC and say “Jill mentioned this to you to throw me under the bus and I had already planned to update you about it at the appropriate time,” but I have no written receipts and Jill’s version would probably be, “I mentioned this in passing and I wasn’t doing it to get anyone in trouble,” which then just leaves me looking like Petty Mayonnaise who’s venting on a paralegal.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          If your GC comes to you based on something Jill has said to them, then I think you can say everything you’ve said right there except for the part where you attribute Jill’s motivations to her. Just lay out the facts. “Jill mentioned this to you, and I had already planned to update you about it at the appropriate time. I did not want to bring it to you prematurely and waste your time before I had done some inquiries. I’ve since done the inquiries, and the update for you is X, Y, and Z. In light of this, at this point I think our next course of action should be A, B, and C.”

        2. The New Wanderer*

          Could you reframe it as “I’m not sure why Jill thought this was an issue – my supervisor and I had previously agreed to a process where we would inform you at the appropriate time. Jill must not have understood this and gave you incorrect information without checking with me, or my supervisor, about our process/plan. This happened previously when Jill [ did whatever Jill does routinely ]”

    3. misspiggy*

      Assess whether anyone is able to get Jill to do things for them without repercussions. What characteristics do those people have? How do they interact with Jill? Start doing the same.

      If there’s no one like that – if Jill is like that with everyone – you could take the issue to her manager with a group. If that doesn’t look like an option, you’re left with keeping out of Jill’s way.

      1. C*

        Unfortunately Jill is like this with everyone unless they’re at least a couple of steps above her in the food chain. Jill’s boss “James” actually gave an attorney “Stephanie” a heads up that Jill had tried to throw Stephanie under the bus to James. And it wasn’t like an “I’ll address this” kind of heads up, it was just “Ugh, Jill is being annoying again.”

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          If everybody knows Jill does this kind of thing all the time, then it sounds as though her conduct is a drag but it’s unlikely to hurt you, professionally.

          I’d be warm and friendly to her; I’d try to avoid giving work to her when at all possible; and then I’d drop a quick note to file any time I ask her to do anything on a matter. Even if the note is stupid, like “asked Jill to retrieve file from archives for review and analysis” or “asked Jill to assist with printing on urgent filing when local printer went kaput”. Super-neutral comments in the file will contrast with her dramatic retellings of events.

        2. Observer*

          Jill’s boss “James” actually gave an attorney “Stephanie” a heads up that Jill had tried to throw Stephanie under the bus to James. And it wasn’t like an “I’ll address this” kind of heads up, it was just “Ugh, Jill is being annoying again.”

          You have an office problem. Her boss KNOWS this about her, and either won’t or can’t do anything about it.

          So the question is CAN he do something about it? If yes, they you, as a group, can go over his head. If he can NOT do anything (because someone is protecting her, or *likes* what she is doing) then you are going to have to figure out how to protect yourself. And maybe start looking for a different job.

        3. JelloStapler*

          Here’s the issue- people like James need to address it higher up so the rest of the employees don’t have to deal with a missing stair. Your supervisor should also address it up the chain. “Jill has a track record of creating issues where there are none and it has resulted in employees being reprimanded based on partial or assumed information. Please address this with Jill and be aware of it when she expresses a concern by checking with the involved parties first.”

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’d see if you can’t put Jill on an information diet, to every possible extent. For example, with the old file, you might have said, “Would you please retrieve the Able file?” rather than, “Would you please retrieve the Able file, because the plaintiffs have brought up some issues.” If she persists in asking why you want something done, see if you can’t get away with saying just, “Because I’ll be needing it” or deflect with a non-responsive “Thanks, I’d really appreciate it if you could get it by the end of the day.”

      It sounds pretty irritating that she went to someone’s supervising lawyer and accused them of not managing deadlines, because that’s not for her to judge. (Being mindful of the assistants’ workloads is important, and they need to be given a reasonable amount of time to prepare things for court deadlines, but that’s not the same thing as a lawyer not managing their own deadlines.) She sounds like a piece of work.

    5. Tio*

      Try to avoid giving Jane any news or asks unless it’s written. I would try to avoid giving her any at all – only giving her the most bland, innocuous things you can unless required. If she specifically asks for information, tell her you want to double check and will email it to her, then do so for a paper trail. Send requests by email as much as possible as well, or try to have someone around when you talk to her. This sounds wild and inconvenient, and it is, but that’s part of how I dealt with my Jane. Although, eventually I left over him, so just be aware of that.

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

      Give Jill as little information as possible when you have to interact with her and try to put it in writing as much as possible via email/slack. “Jill I am assigned X case, and I need all the files we have.” The less info she has, the less she can spin it around, or react to. If there are other people to ask for administrative things like files and printing though, use them first.

      The printing one is a gray area for me, because I guess I’m used to network printers being the norm and I would bristle myself at being asked to do a menial task that they should be able to manage themselves, although I wouldn’t escalate that up the chain unless it was a habit that might indicate much deeper problems like sexism. To clarify my stance, Jill does sound like a pill, but you might reflect on whether she also has a point and use that as a guide for how to work with or around her. If there is an office-wide culture problem, she might be the canary in the coal mine.

      1. C*

        I heard this from the attorney so it’s his version of events, but from what he said it was literally the only thing he’d ever asked her to do, and he only asked her to do it because she was the only member of the support staff available and it was time-sensitive. Apparently it was memorable to him because he’s also not used to having to defend himself at work.

    7. A Frayed Knot*

      Jill needs to go on an information diet.

      C – “Jill, can you please get the XYZ file for me?” Done. No more information.
      Jill – “That’s an old file. Why do you need that?”
      C – “Just doing some research/refreshing myself on some details.”

      Jill can’t share what Jill doesn’t know.

      1. BigLawEx*

        This^ but don’t answer questions. When she asks why. The answer is: so will you get that to me Tuesday or Wednesday. I’m not usually an assh*ole, but in these situations. Work on results not reasons.

    8. Kes*

      It’s unfortunate that the bosses aren’t addressing this with Jill. However, not much you can do about that.
      From your side, now that you know this I would be more careful about how you approach her. Have as much ready as possible before you ask her for anything, make sure your boss is aware of the work and status beforehand so if she blows things up and they get asked they can speak to it, and as others have said give her only the information you need to in order for her to fulfil the request. (and if you have options to get information from her or from other sources, pick the other option where possible. but be careful you’re not just obviously going around her because if she finds that out she’ll blow that up too)

  11. weirdbarbie*

    Tips for an early-career employee and someone in a higher role (not their supervisor, but they work together some) who don’t get along? Early-career employee thinks the other person doesn’t like them (which doesn’t seem to be true), and it colors every interaction they have. The team is small-ish, so it does affect dynamics somewhat. Should the higher person try to talk it out with them, or just leave it alone and continue to treat them professionally?

    1. Rue*

      What are you to the early career employee? If you’re their supervisor then I would talk to them directly, and if not I would say something to their supervisor. I would sit them down and focus on the work issues that you’ve seen. Like “I’m aware that you don’t think Ken likes you, but when you make that openly known and comment it to other people, it affects team dynamics and makes people uncomfortable.” Or something like “You were so chilly to Ken in the last meeting that it was noticeable. The expectation for this position is that you’re able to maintain cordiality with other people that you have to work with, and right now you’re not at the bare minimum of neutrality that would be considered basic politeness.” I would also have some examples ready. Like if this person is shaking everyone’s hand but Ken’s at the start of meetings, or leaving Ken off emails, or being slow to respond to Ken’s inquiries.

    2. Dollars to Donuts*

      Are you the “higher person”? If so, I will repeat some very wise advice I was given once: If you take someone out for lunch and get to know them as a person it can change your working relationship forever.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      I think you’ve got to talk to the early-career employee (Earl, let’s say) and make it clear that 1) you have no reason to believe Senior doesn’t like Earl and 2) you won’t be BFF with 100% of the people you work with, and that’s okay.
      Sometimes young people seem to think the workplace is THE place to make friends and react poorly when that isn’t the case. They also tend to take things personally more often than more seasoned employees.
      “Hey Earl, I noticed you didn’t react well when Senior proposed changing the text on the handout. I think he has a valid point, and I wouldn’t take it personally! The more time you’re in this field, the more second-nature this will come to you.”

    4. anon for this one*

      Be very sure that you know what’s actually going on between them. I could easily be the junior employee you’re referring to (if so, then hi to J, P or E!).

      The higher-role person in my case is all pleasantries and smiles when anyone else is around, but a condescending bully when we’re alone, and has deliberately torpedoed at least one of my projects behind the scenes. I’m as professional as humanly possible, but it’s also entirely possible that someone has noticed that I’m not their biggest fan.

      What ‘seems to be true’ may not be. “One may smile, and smile, and be a villain,” after all.

      1. A. Nonny Mouse*

        It would be interesting to hear *why* they feel unliked. I’m afraid that I work with a number of senior folks (and I say this as a senior) who would swear on a stack of Bibles that they’ve given no reason to be unliked, when in fact they’re pretty routinely unprofessional to younger folks. I think there’s some entitlement at work here. “This is the way the world is. I was treated like cr@p when I was young. They need to suck it up.”

    5. birb*

      I’ve had a lot of early career-employees do this in bad faith to get ahead of genuine criticism, or when the person that is in charge of them even gently gives feedback. It’s super effective especially when the supervisor is a young woman.

    6. Anon for This*

      In my experience, when a junior person says a senior person doesn’t like them, the junior person has become accustomed to being praised for their work, and the senior person not only didn’t praise them, but corrected or criticized something. No amount of talk will fix this, but with time the person may learn that correction in the workplace isn’t personal. I vote for leave it alone.

    7. mreasy*

      Higher person should make a point of showing kindness to younger person (e.g. asking about their weekend, offering to pick them up a coffee, etc) to ultimately dispel the junior employee’s fear. I think it’s incumbent on senior folks to do this type of thing.

      1. BigLawEx*

        I’ve always been on the fence about this approach for a woman. I’ve seen it work well for men, though.

    8. ThatOtherClare*

      I recommend sticking to facts as much as possible. Someone (not the disliked senior) should talk to the junior and say “Hey, I’ve noticed you seem to be uncomfortable around James. Why is that?”. If it’s a single event, just take note. If it’s a list of behaviours ask for examples. Then, hear junior out and end with “Ah, I understand what’s going on a bit better now. Thanks for telling me.”.

      That gives you junior Eric’s perspective, and you can then subtly ask around some other people to find out whether they’ve ever noticed a similar dynamic with senior James. If it’s an emphatic no from all sides, you can gently address it with Eric. Anything less than that is a pattern and needs to be firmly addressed with James.

      I added gently and firmly because of the power dynamic. If James is harming Eric in some way it needs to be stamped out, whereas Eric being cold doesn’t really have the power to affect James too much. You have more time to ramp up in addressing it if Eric is the source, but if James is the cause then he’s accidentally or intentionally driven Eric to the point of some pretty extreme behaviour, and ethically this needs to be fixed asap.

  12. Irish Teacher.*

    What is the silliest or most minor thing you have heard somebody start an argument about at work?

    This week, we were planning our calendar for the next academic year. We can go back on a Tuesday at the end of August and make our requirement of 166 days or we can go back a day or two early and take a day or two off during the school year. Pretty much everybody was agreed we want to take at least one day off during the year, so the principal said he’d put up a sheet in the staffroom and we could vote on whether we wanted to go back on the Monday and take one day off or the previous sFriday and take two. He also said he would e-mail anybody who was absent on the day of the meeting to let them know about this. Fairly straightforward, right?

    Anyway, one colleague started arguing that instead of putting a sheet up, we should just vote with a show of hands. The principal pointed out that a number of people were absent (there was, in fact, at least ten people absent – 3 on maternity leaves, two on parental leaves, one on long-term sick leave, two were taking students to a match, one on a course, etc) and the other person argued that, “well you are e-mailing them. Can’t they just give you their answers in a reply to the e-mail?”

    (I think the principal wanted to avoid this for transparency, because if their votes changed the result and he just announced it, it could look like “the lurkers are supporting me by e-mail.”)

    Another teacher then turned to the teacher who was arguing and asked “what have you got against ticking boxes? Is it the boxes or the ticking of them you object to?”

    1. Silly Academia*

      Our university faculty senate was supposed to discuss an issue that was contentious because a couple specific people would not accept the majority decision made previously and wanted to continue “discussing” the proposition until they got their way.

      In a delightfully passive aggressive response, the senate chair wasted a good half-hour doing individual voice votes on whether we should end on time or stay late to discuss the Issue. We voted to end on time, which happened to align with completing the vote.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        As someone currently slogging through a Faculty Senate term, I love this manipulation of bureaucracy for good.

    2. Janne*

      My colleague threw a tantrum about a specific piece of jargon that we use daily here. She says she can’t understand the words, they make no sense and she wants our boss to invent different words for it that are easier. This department has existed for about 30 years, has used these words for about the same time, and she’s been working here for all of those 30 years. So no idea where that came from!

      Also, we had cake to celebrate the finishing of a very stressful, tedious and high stakes project, and this same colleague complained that we’ve celebrated way too many projects with cake recently, and “in her days” they never had cake to celebrate that a project was done. Of course when we said “Well you don’t HAVE to eat it” she did want a piece of cake…

    3. Rue*

      At my office “Sharon” is a mid-level manager in a group that, frankly, no one else wants to run and is pretty niche, so she gets a lot of leeway for her “strong personality.”

      Sharon once brought in a bulk box of Cheez-It snack pouches that looked as if they had been through a tornado and put them in the kitchen, on the island where people leave food gifts. Turns out they had been part of the snack she’d brought her kid’s soccer team, and half the box was left…from two years ago. No one ate them and Sharon lost it, and would make bitter remarks about how they were “perfectly fine” and “a classic.” She also freaked out when she found an unopened packet in the nearby trash, presumably from someone who saw an expiration date from before COVID, and promptly dumped them.

      She wouldn’t hear anything about throwing them away, and finally I bullied one of my mail coworkers into disposing of them in the men’s bathroom one bag at a time, Shawshanking our way out of Cheez-It prison over the course of a few weeks. Sharon did a victory lap when the box was finally empty, gloating about how it just “took some time for people to find the good stuff.”

    4. Nesprin*

      The battle for who stocks paper towels in my lab continues unabated for almost 6 years.

      Facility staffer doesn’t have access to lab because she doesn’t have the right training, but is supposed to stock a closet with paper towels (which she doesn’t do)
      Our funding sources don’t let us buy paper towels (because they should come out of overheads and aren’t project materials)
      Line manager claims that we’re supposed to buy and stock our own (which we’re not, because manager gets our overheads).
      Custodians claim they only stock the bathrooms and aren’t responsible for lab spaces (we steal from the bathrooms).

    5. anywhere but here*

      Rules lawyering an antiprofanity rule. “What if someone says hell to refer to a place? Is that banned too?” and so on about other swears that can also function as normal words in a conversation.

      (Note: I know anti profanity rules are unpopular but please trust me when I say this rule is contexually warranted.)

    6. Elle Woods*

      The color of the new volunteer t-shirts. My former employer had t-shirts they’d distribute for you could wear when you were volunteering at community events; typically it was a bright colored shirt featuring the company logo printed in white. It was not mandatory to wear the shirts but a lot of people liked wearing them. As t-shirts go, they were *really* nice shirts. Nice weight, washed up well, didn’t pill, didn’t shrink, etc. The new shirts came out every January.

      One year they decided to put it up for discussion on the company message boards. The passion with which some people were arguing for one color over another was mind-boggling. There was even someone who had every shirt they’d ever distributed (18 at that point) and argued for some obscure color (light tangerine) because he didn’t want to repeat a color. In the end, the next year’s shirt was a medium heathered gray. In subsequent years there was no discussion of what color the shirts would be and they went back to bright colors.

    7. Anon for this*

      Whether an online form is a form or a survey when created with an online survey platform (main function, but can also be used for forms or quizzes). My argument was that the platform doesn’t matter: a form is to gather individualized data from a specific person/entity and use for their records, while a survey is to gather information from a group and use for planning or other purposes. I got into a 10-minute argument with my grand boss about it. (My role is in communications, so, yes, I think it’s an important distinction, especially when rolling out this new form to all and sundry.)

      It became kind of legend about how ridiculous leadership had started to become about that project. (Not even the most ridiculous thing, but definitely the most ridiculous argument.)

      Strangely, nobody ever once has quibbled about using “exam” or “quiz” to describe a test created using the EXACT SAME PLATFORM.

      And I was right. It is a form, and we all call it that.

    8. Echo*

      At a previous job, our weekly social media planning meeting had to outright ban discussion or commentary on how the file extension .GIF is pronounced because it would dissolve into shouting matches.

        1. Nesprin*

          It stands for graphical interchange format. So Gif has a hard G and Jif is the peanut butter brand.

          1. BubbleTea*

            In the UK it was a cleaning product, which caused some kind of confusion and the name was changed to Cif, presumably to stop people putting toilet cleaner on their toast.

        2. Astor*

          It’s pronounced with a hard g or a soft g, depending on your preference. Both are acceptable because:
          1. the G stands for “Graphics Interchange Format” and graphic uses a hard g.
          2. the creators of the (name of the) format always used a soft g.

          For a long time, it was a lot more likely that someone using a gif was also the kind of nerd that knew it was pronounced with a soft g. Now, the hard g is much more common and most people pronounce it that way.

          And because I find it interesting: it’s the opposite with the word gerrymander. The Governor Gerry that it was named after uses a hard g, so gerrymander also used a hard g. But these days the soft g is much more common and the hard g is really only used by small groups of people with a connection to the original pronunciation (such as being from Gerry’s hometown).

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            That’s really interesting about gerrymander, as I have never heard it as anything other than gerry being pronounced like the name Gerry.

            1. Astor*

              Right? His last name was already pronounced in a different way than people expect, so it understandably propagated to the term named after him. And given the timing (the word is from the early 19th century) of course his hometown would be the only place where the hard g pronunciation sticks. Even if the etymology is correct, once so many people pronounce it a certain way, that’s the way it’s pronounced! And for gerrymander for “much more common” I meant that probably 99.99+% of people are pronouncing it with a soft g.

              I suspect that gif will go that way, too. I pronounce it with a soft g because I’ve been doing it that way since the 90s when it was the only correct way to pronounce it. But it’s become more and more common to use the hard g, and so that might just eventually become the only way it’s pronounced. Especially since in popular use it’s getting genericized to mean any animated image instead of referring to an image made using gif specifications.

    9. Put the Human Back in HR*

      Great question! I am the one who started the silly argument. Now I cringe anytime I think about it. I work in higher ed but am not faculty. Some years ago, the new communications manager came from a journalism background. I am known as being calm, rational, unflappable. I almost had a meltdown over his taking away the Oxford commas from all of our communications. He couldn’t understand what the heck the uproar was about.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Slightly off topic but this reminds me: I had an ongoing and very petty war with my mom over the two spaces after a period rule my whole Highschool career. She would proofread my papers and reports (I want to be clear that this was something I asked her help with and it was very welcome!). That was the one thing that we couldn’t agree on. In the end I won because I figured out how to use find + replace to remove all the double spaces from my documents and at the time she was still doing it manually.

      2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I totally understand.

        My new org double spaces after periods. We don’t use typewriters. I quietly refuse to double space. I just can’t, I’m sorry.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          If you are using a serif font, it can be optional to double space (but modern word processing programs account for this, so it’s pretty pointless nowadays).

          If you are using sans serif font, double spaces after periods are wrong, wrong, wrong!

    10. Alex*

      My boss once called a meeting over what we should call a new folder she was going to create on our file server.

      And it lasted longer than 30 seconds. I wanted to stab myself in the eye.

  13. Paris Geller*

    Very similar to one of this morning’s letters, I have a coworker “Anne” who is not using the correct pronouns for another coworker “Sarah”. Sarah uses they/them pronouns, and Anne keeps using the wrong pronouns. Anne is new (3ish months), and she’s part-time, so I don’t actually see or interact with her that often. I’ve probably had about 3 conversations where Anne uses the wrong pronouns for Sarah. When I’m having a conversation with Anne, I’ll always try and casually correct her. She doesn’t take the correction badly, necessarily, but she doesn’t take it well either. . . she just kind of breezes right past it and continues on to whatever she was saying. I’m not in any kind of supervisory role, so I don’t know if there’s anything else I can do besides what I’ve been doing.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Do you correct her as in explicitly saying “Sarah uses they/them pronouns”? Or is it more like Anne saying “Sarah did the presentation, she’s going to present with you as well” and you respond with “I’m going to do a dry run with them later this afternoon”?

      1. Paris Geller*

        I’ve done both, depending on the context. When I’ve been more explicit, Anne will say something like “Oh, right!” and then just continue on (which would be fine because I would just think she’s getting used to using those pronouns, but then she will continue to use the wrong ones shortly after)

        1. ferrina*

          Interrupt her every. single. time. Channel Paris Gellar and be meticulous (though more friendly about it).

          “I talked to Sarah and she-”
          “Oh, right. Anyway, Sarah said that her work-”
          “Their work!”
          “Um, right. Their work was um, really tough.”

        2. Nesprin*

          Have you asked why she’s struggling with remembering that Sarahs pronouns are They/Them? Extra credit for “I know you want to be respectful of your coworkers and this is out of character for you”

    2. ThatGirl*

      I posted ages ago about one of my coworkers misgendering another, and what to do/say about it. While not every suggestion was helpful (because aggression is not really the way to go here), what I finally ended up doing was taking the approach of look, I’m sure you mean well and I know that it can be hard to remember new pronouns when you knew this person under different ones for years, but our anti-harassment training specifically mentioned using the correct pronouns. And I’m sure you want to show our coworker respect and care, so I think it would mean a lot if you tried to use the right pronouns.

      Obviously, not all of this is applicable, but I do think you could use the “I know Sarah would appreciate it if you used the right pronouns for them” approach, perhaps combined with any policies your company has.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*


        I’m in a non-work group where a number of people have felt safe coming out over the last couple of years. There’s some accidental old pronoun usage. But it’s always followed by “sorry, them” and you can clearly tell that whoever misspoke is trying to learn and improve. This isn’t that, this is someone who is not trying. She needs to at least try.

    3. ferrina*

      “Hey Anne, sorry to interrupt, but I’ve noticed that you’ve been using the wrong pronouns for Sarah for a while. One trick I’ve heard help is to practice using the pronouns by just using it while you’re alone. It can help you remember better” (said friendly)

      or even the passive-aggressive (yet occassionally effective)
      “Ugh, I just had the most annoying conversation with my aunt. She’s always using the wrong pronouns for my friend! She knows the right pronouns yet ‘forgets’ to use them. Like- you’re not fooling anyone, Auntie, we know you’re being rude and trying to be sneaky about it. If you were actually having trouble, you’d put in some time to practicing so that you’d use the right pronouns! I’m soooo tempted to start calling my aunt by the wrong name so she can see how it feels, but of course I won’t, because I’m not a terrible person.”

      If you’re not sure which to do, default to Option 1. Passive-aggression will also take a toll on your reputation, but sometimes it’s worth it.

      1. Paris Geller*

        That’s actually a great first script! I’ll try it next time I see her. Based on how Anne has reacted to other things, I don’t think she’s one of those people who want to aggressively use the wrong pronouns, but I also don’t think she sees it as a big deal, so maybe the first script will work!

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          Agree. If I were Anne, I’d wonder why my coworker was telling me this long-winded story about their aunt. If you’re regularly forgetting to use the correct pronouns despite being told dozens of times, you’re probably not going to recognize yourself as the aunt in this story.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You need to treat this as a bigger deal while acting like correcting her is not a big deal. (Fine line, but do-able!) Let’s say Anne were referring to Sarah as “Susan”. You’d interrupt her and say, “Oh hey, you’re talking about Susan, not Sarah,” right? So think of it in similar terms. “Oh hey, you’re referring to Sarah as she but Sarah uses they.” Repeat as needed, and if too much repetition is needed, or Anne blows you off, I would take it to Anne’s manager.

  14. Circuses are Coordinated*

    I’m looking for advice on job-searching in Europe, particularly on writing cover letters. I’m not sure how different it might be for European business versus the excellent advice here!

    I recently moved to the Netherlands and am looking for a job. (I do have residency and work permits, so that isn’t a concern.) The advice I’ve found online for cover letters is to write more like Alison’s ‘Don’t do this’ examples. But maybe this is just online advice versus real-life? I am looking for a technical/science job. Appreciate any tips people can give and thank you!

    1. Janne*

      I’m in the Netherlands and I don’t think cover letters are too different from Alison’s advice here. I generally write one or two paragraphs about why I’m interested in the job and one or two paragraphs about my skills relevant to the job, then the “looking forward to discussing this with you” kind of thing at the end. These cover letters were more successful than my interviews if you look at the numbers: I sent 9 letters, was interviewed for 6 jobs, and was offered 1 job ;-)

      I think the one significant difference is that Dutch people generally are way, way less enthusiastic and excited about things than Americans. So you might want to tone that down a bit. I do write that I’m interested and the reasons for that, but it’s not that the job is great and fantastic. My reasons mostly have to do with a personal relationship with the topic (like earlier experience with the topic that went really well, or something in society or the news that is important to me).

      Some online advice might be outdated. I saw a lot of advice about very formal letters, but in my experience you can match the formality with the job vacancy (if the vacancy uses “je/jij” you can also write to the hiring manager using “je/jij” and not “u/uw”, and use less formal greetings, such as “beste” instead of “geachte”).

      It might help to find a Dutch person in your field who can have a look at your CV and cover letter. I’m open to doing that, but I don’t know how to connect to you without putting my e-mail adress up here for all of the Internet to see.

      I’ve been applying to jobs in data science, healthcare, food industry and academia so I think similar enough to your field. But technical/science is quite broad, of course, and I can’t really say anything about the cover letters that they expect for engineers for example.

      1. Circuses are Coordinated*

        Thank you for the advice, particularly on the enthusiasm level. That is something I’ve noted as well and need to train myself back out of years of US managers pushing peppiness in writing. The level of formality and greetings is good to know.

        The offer to look over the CV is appreciated and I can look into setting up a gmail account that can be discarded later if that would work? It does sound like our fields would intersect in terms of what employees are looking for.

        1. Janne*

          Glad to hear that my advice is useful to you.

          A throwaway gmail sounds like a plan, I’ll keep an eye on this thread for when you make one :-)

          1. Circuses are Coordinated*

            I made a comment this morning with the throwaway address but it seems to be stuck in moderation for that same reason. I’m hoping it gets through as follows. If you remove the spaces from the following string and add the usual at gmail, that is the address. ‘Wafel 12 throw’. And thank you for the offer!

    2. Dreaming Koala*

      I am based in Europe. I checked Alison’s “this is how to write a cover letter that will get you a job” (July 2023) and it applies to European companies as well. I suggest not to make it too long (less than a page).

    3. Dr. Prepper.*

      If you are an American, newly moved to the EU, look to EU standards on CV writing – they literally measure your CV by weight – not a joke. The average 2 page US CV is considered an insult. Look to EU-based “how to’s” and literally add “Spoke at 12:00 noon rotary meeting on 12 June 2024 on ‘Best ways to schedule a meeting among peers.’ ” and “Substitute Scoutmaster for Troop 106 Des Moines, IA 2012 – 2014.” to you list of achievements. This goes for even the most junior positions out there.

      And if you’ve ever published, in any capacity, be sure to add that as a section.

      1. Circuses are Coordinated*

        They weigh it?! That is very good to know. Thank you! I have my publications on there but will make a far less edited CV.

          1. Dr. Prepper.*

            I’m a naturalized Dutch citizen, worked in big-pharma in the EU and in the US, and if your CV is less than 20 – 30 pages, you are considered to just be starting your career and must have to be qualified for only the most junior positions in the EU.

            1. KeinName*

              That’s certainly not standard advice; it’s very unkind to troll someone on such a topic.
              I am in Europe and have professional knowledge of this and short is fine. Publications only if truely relevant for job; don’t send an academia style CV to an industry employer. Relevant to job description, easy to read and grasp, easy to see your fit to role, etc can be your guide; if you use enthusiasm people will just think you are American and might welcome some American cheer.

            2. Awkwardness*

              I thought the first post was really funny for subtly critising the EU institutions that are notorious for overregulating things they should not regulate, and not regulating things they should regulate.
              But as soon as the OP replied in seriousness to make a less edited CV, the joke lost its point.

              If you operated your professional life with a CV of 30 pages, all the power to you! Most of us will awe you.
              But this is not industry standard and it is unkind to OP to generate the impression it was.

            3. Irish Teacher.*

              That is not at all true across the EU. It may be true for your particular field, but it is not the norm.

              Two pages is the norm in my country and field.

            4. Cazaril*

              Pharma, being science based, may look more for lengthy lists of scientific publications, patents, and presentations. It’s hard to imagine that for other fields. (Caveat, I’m not European.)

            5. been there*

              This has got to be very industry-specific. Most jobs I’ve applied for stick to the 1-2 page resume you see advised here.

          2. Circuses are Coordinated*

            Thank you for the comments! I will check with contacts in my industry about standard length (and weight).

    4. Some Day I'll Think of Something Clever*

      An Recruitment or Staffing firm might be a good resource in this instance. They’d have first-hand knowledge on helping you navigate the ropes.

    5. Kaleidoscope*

      I’m not in Europe now but I did move away and am on a visa where I live. I put my visa status up front on my CV and mention it in my cover letter. also, if you speak Dutch (or other useful languages), I would mention that too and skill level.

      1. Circuses are Coordinated*

        Thank you for the advice! I put my visa/work status in the first paragraph but will add my Dutch level of fluency as well.

  15. Need help with IT stuff*

    I own a very small company, less than 10 employees. I purchased a small PC laptop to use for training. It’s all cloud based programs. It there a way to setup an auto logoff after 10 minutes of non-activity? I just don’t want to have to worry about checking each time to make sure they logged out. I think there must be a way used at public libraries?

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Auto logoff for the cloud programs individually or for their computer login entirely? The short answer is there’s probably something in the admin settings you can toggle for this, and the long answer is it depends on the software and you probably have to talk to the provider about it if you can’t see it in an obvious place in the settings.

    2. ecnaseener*

      On windows 10, in settings search for “sign-in options” and change the “require sign-in” setting.

  16. boomrisk*

    This morning I finally caught my PhD advisor’s ear to tell her that I wouldn’t be doing an experiment I was asked to do — I looked into it and determined the risk of explosion far outweighed the usefulness. I was worried about standing up for myself and saying I was uncomfortable doing it due to safety concerns, but she was totally understanding, and copped to not having looked into the explosion risk herself! A win in my book.

    1. ferrina*

      Yay! Well done! It sounds like you not only protected yourself, but you also protected your advisor’s reputation as well!

    2. Nesprin*

      Lol- I always tell PhD candidates that they’re about ready to defend when they can gainsay their advisors respectfully and with good rationale.

      Yay to no explosions!

    3. Non-profit drone*

      I am going to start using this as an excuse to not do awful tasks. “I’m sorry, the risk of explosion is too great [to scan three hundred press clippings] [to take inventory of the stationary supplies] [to call all the event attendees.]”

  17. periwinkle*

    The good news is that while I’m on my 3rd manager in the last 5 months (org changes), the 3rd one is terrific. She’s new and eager to develop her managerial skills. We discussed my strengths (somewhat underutilized) and she was excited that I could slot into multiple critical projects. That’s the kind of thing I’ve been doing here for a while and really enjoy – being an internal consultant to multiple projects – since I’m a generalist with depth in certain areas and the attention span of a basket of kittens.

    And… I’ll be on my 4th manager as of next week, since this new one got pulled back to her old team due to some serious poop going down.

    Sigh. Just a vent, carry on.

    1. soontoberetired*

      Reorgs do this to people. strangely, despite my company’s constant reorgs (and now productive is that), I have had the same managers for a long time while a co-worker of mine went thru 20 managers in 15 years. She also was supporting a very small function that was hard to fit in with outer groups, and all 15 manager recognized she didn’t need much management. but it was killer at review time.

  18. beezus*

    It’s my last day at my temp job of 4 months! I’ll really miss the employees, and I feel bad for the person they hired as my replacement, a whole cluster of a situation where they didn’t tell me but I’m HR and was like “who is this in my background check queue?” and waited to be told then had to confront the management team bc we were going on a 2 week closure in December and the person started our first day back! just like the gal and the drama of the leadership here is so unessecary and I won’t miss that. The executive director has said maybe two words to me since I brought up the situation Dec 20, til now Feb 2. Just petty high school mean girls stuff. I am not going to miss that! Phew glad to get that off my chest.

  19. Honeybee07*

    Happy Friday everyone!
    I’ve just recently went for my first ever internal role, it’s technically a lateral move but with a better career path and qualification options.
    I had my first interview on Tuesday and my second today, both went well though I’m still tempering my expectations.

    My question is around salary negotiations if I do end up getting good news. During the first interview, they mentioned they’d be looking at starting the role around £X, which would be a 3% raise and i said id be happy with it. I was super nervous and worried and am now wishing I’d said something a little higher just to try.
    So 1. If i do get an offer, is it still OK to try to negotiate even if you tentatively agreed to a salary during an interview? and 2. Is it worth going for a bit more (say around 5-7%) or would that be too much for a lateral move? I have 4 years of experience now so am hoping that would be worth some more!
    Also just a huge thanks to everyone & Alison for this site, it’s helped me so much these last few years :)

    1. JustMyImagination*

      One thing to consider is if the internal transfer impacts any annual merit raise. Multiple companies I worked for have included an average annual increase in your lateral move raise. But it also made you ineligible for the annual increase at the subsequent review period. Former company was not transparent about that process until annual review time when it was too late to do anything about it.

    2. Procedure Publisher*

      I was in a situation like this. During the interview process, I was told since it is a lateral move that my salary would not change. So that might help you figure out the answer for two. However, my employer might have different policies in place for lateral moves compared to your company.

    3. Pen*

      I took a lateral position last year earlier in the year at the same salary I was earning at the time. The position was (and is) up for an annual merit increase every summer, though, so even though I “started” at $X, I knew I would be making more in just a few short months. And that was more than good enough for me, because I also knew I would be retaining all my benefits.

      You should definitely give negotiating a try, though! I’ll say I’ve found it’s a lot harder to negotiate for a significant salary increase when you’re internal, though, because they know you already, have access to your performance reviews, etc., but it’s certainly not impossible. Maybe it’s just in my company, but any pay increase (assuming you’re staying within a banded salary and not applying for a job at a higher level) is really hard.

      Good luck!

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I think I remember allison addressing this before. The script was something along the lines of ” Since we first spoke i’ve done more research and the market rate for this job for someone with my experience/certification/whatever is $x higher than what we’d discussed. “… but after that I don’t remember how together to the actual “please match this”.

  20. Nina from Corporate Accounts Payable*

    Bill Lumbergh is a senior manager in my organization who is one level above me – we are in a matrix organization so he is not my direct manager, but I do have to deal with him on projects. He’s been around forever and isn’t going anywhere. He is disliked by the majority of folks in the ranks below him, but someone above must like him since he’s been able to hang on despite a few fumbles over the years under his watch. Lumbergh is also hyper-critical of the underlings and has prevented people from getting promoted (including me at one point). Fortunately the other six senior managers at his level are reasonable, as are the grand boss and great-grand boss.

    Has anyone had success saying ‘no’ to a Lumbergh for situations such as being asked to work weekends or late nights on non-critical tasks (happens all the time with this guy) or having to hop a cross-country flight at the last minute for a two hour client meeting? He applies non-threatening, manipulative pressure and everyone just gives in and follows his orders because they know if they say “no”, there will likely be consequences such as being dinged during review time. He just put one of my direct reports through the wringer last week over a non-critical piece of work. We debating escalating, but my direct report did not want to rock the boat. Looking forward to seeing some stories and advice! Lumbergh has been a thorn in my side for years.

    1. EMP*

      If the rest of the company is enabling this guy then there’s no much you can do without repercussions (like, bad reviews – is there any way to push back on those, or get a 360 review or something?)

      But in general, having plans and turning off work notifications because you’re “busy” are the easiest ways to start having boundaries outside of work hours.

    2. Nesprin*

      Slow walking may help, along with appealing to absent authority- “let me check whether that’s feasible” or “I’ll have to check on a few things and get back to you ” or “Oh, I’d need to check with my line manager before saying yes” or “Ooh, line manager wants to make sure I don’t do that in the future” (make sure you have line manager’s support before the last one)

    3. Tracy Flick*

      Have you tried ducking down in your cubicle so he can’t see you? Hypnosis? Talking to the either of the Bobs?

      Kidding, sort of. I like the advice EMP and Nesprin have given here. That’s likely your best bet.

      1. Nina from Corporate Accounts Payable*

        @Tracy Flick (love the name, BTW), our division is primarily remote, even before COVID, but of course Lumbergh is always in the office, even during COVID times. Last time I was visiting the office, I did duck when I saw him to avoid him.

        There is an update – another colleague at my level was closer to the situation of my direct report being required to work late nights and over the weekend for a non-critical task last week. My direct report even missed a deliverable on another non-related project because of the coercive pressure Lumbergh applied on her to do his work. Oh, and he presented her work as his – Lumbergh is the worst. The colleague at my level who was involved in the situation also despises Lumbergh is in very good with the great grand-boss (who used to be at Lumbergh’s level). My direct report is also in good with the great grand-boss. I’m not sure what was communicated, but my colleague notified the great grand-boss of the situation that occurred and might have aired other grievances. Most likely the great grand-boss is well-aware of Lumbergh’s de-motivating, coercive management style, and it’s good for him to hear it from the boots on the ground. I doubt the great grand-boss is one of the people who has Lumbergh’s back – I get the sense they don’t like each other anyway. Plenty of people have quit over the years because of Lumbergh and the great grand-boss knows that. Our roles have a steep learning curve so it is painful to lose staff.

        In the meantime, I advised my direct report to summarize to the client on her other project what her deliverables are, along with the expected effort and deadline. If Lumbergh has another non-critical ask for her that is above and beyond the norm, she can have some evidence of her other responsibilities. He’ll probably still apply pressure so in a way not much we can do about it, but it’s worth a shot.

        My employer is far from perfect, but I like my direct manager and most of senior management. And for that, I can be grateful.

  21. namey mcnameface*

    Our company’s philosophy on the employee satisfaction survey results is for teams to take ownership of improving their own day-to-day (utterly ridiculous when many of our issues are top-down problems, ugh). I’ve been tasked with coming up with ideas to resolve our team’s abysmal scores on trust-related questions.

    The problem is that I know about half the team cited a specific teammate as an issue in this area. Said teammate has a history of attendance issues, leaving others to do their work, refusing to attend meetings, and poor quality in the work they do complete. Our boss has, thusfar, done nothing about this other than make excuses. This is unlikely to chage.

    No amount of fluffy “play games together!” is going to fix this (and we’ve already tried most of those things in past years), but I have to propose ~something.

    1. mcm*

      Is it possible to propose the actual solution? Could it be something like “All team members are held to the same standard on attendance and work quality, work is distributed equally (develop benchmarks on work distribution)” things like that? It may be that your boss will reject those solutions as well, but if you’ve been tasked with providing solutions and you know what the solution is…

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I like the way you word that: it doesn’t specifically call anyone out, but implementing it would effectively mean that the PITA coworker will have to step up their game.

  22. Panic At The Interview*

    Hi y’all. I’m having a bit of a panic, so there are a few questions layered here, and I appreciate any advice.

    I’ve been in a remote role at a small company for a little over a year. The job has taken a toll on my mental health (it’s in direct client care) and I am looking for a new job. I also want to move closer to friends and family a few states away.

    I was offered a job last year that seemed like a potential—however I did not take the offer. Primarily because it was full time in the office and I got very bad vibes about the culture, both from the interview and word of mouth. I continued job searching.

    Just a few weeks ago, the boss of that job reached out and asked if I could apply again. The position still hadn’t been filled (going on 1 year now) and they said new bosses came in. With that, they’re going to announce hybrid and the work culture is significantly improving. I hopped on a phone call with them to consider and we were frank with each other. They mentioned that they felt incredibly bad about how the work culture came off (it was terrible for all of them) and also understood why I didn’t want to take it. I got a much better feeling from them.

    But here’s the thing…

    I did reapply and I will have to re-interview and who knows, there could be someone better than me in this pool. However. If I get re-offered the job, or even if I re-interview and pull out, I’m going to guess that’s my last shot with this company? Like I can never apply there again, is the feeling I get. Because who turns an offer down twice??

    I only anticipate this because I’m unsure if hybrid will actually be in place by the time I interview. I don’t want to take it without that guarantee (unless I should reconsider that?) I also would like to negotiate for more money or a potential relocation pay (though I’m not sure companies still do that), but they already know my salary history from last year. I have made a bit more money this year. I also am unsure how I will be treated with re-applying after turning down an offer. There is one supervisor from my last interview who I anticipate will be antagonistic about it. From my recent phone call, the boss says “That’s just what he is like to new folks, we all experienced it. But he’s ok when you get to know him and he will retire eventually.” That person is not a direct boss, but someone I’d interact with occasionally if I took the position.

    I feel a bit skeptical that things are 90% better with work culture, but I think I would like this job. So I am going forward with interviewing again. But that niggling feeling is still there. I am afraid that if I interview, decide by the 2nd interview or the offer stage that it’s still feeling off, I pull out—I will truly never be able to consider applying to this workplace again. Should I play it safe and just pull out now (before any interviews) in hopes that maybe in 6 months, they’re still hiring? Maybe by then they also have a firm hybrid policy in place.

    I don’t know why this feels so dire, but with the current job market, I am feeling extra cautious about how I go about this.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      “I also am unsure how I will be treated with re-applying after turning down an offer. ”

      I think if they reached out to you about re-applying, you don’t have to worry about this, especially since Antagonistic Colleague is known as a crank already, it seems.

      In your frank call with them, did you say you wouldn’t consider the job unless it was hybrid? Or was it more just fact finding, with them updating you about the changes they’re making in the future, but not so much an explicit statement from you about what conditions you’d accept a job under?

      1. Panic At The Interview*

        In the frank call, I think I said (honestly, I think I blacked out for one part of the call ha) “One of the reasons for turning it down originally was that there was no option for hybrid. What do the hybrid options look like now?” So I don’t think that was a straight up statement from me, but also a statement from me? I was thinking that if I go to the interview, I’d be more frank about the hybrid (or at least asking again where there hybrid policies are at… since they haven’t been announced yet.)

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          I would definitely have interpreted that as “Panic At The Interview definitely wants a hybrid option” but and wouldn’t be surprised if you turned down a not-hybrid option if you got a second offer, but then again one never knows with hiring managers.

          You could always do the “does it make sense to keep talking?” thing if offered an interview. Usually we see this in the context of salary expectaitons/realities that diverge in a big way, but you could say “Last time I interviewed, I turned down the role due to there being no hybrid option. When you reached out to me to re-apply, you mentioned you were bringing hybrid in. I want to make sure it makes sense to keep talking, so can you confirm for me that the new hybrid police has been implemented?” or whatever makes sense.

          I’d only do this if the gap between application an interviews is a wide-ish one, though. If the job posting closes and they call you the next week, you can probably assume they haven’t implemented hybrid yet.

    2. ferrina*

      A few thoughts:

      1) Don’t worry about re-applying. Just do it. If you get bad feelings from the interview and you know you won’t take an offer, withdraw before the offer is extended.

      2) Things will not be 90% better. I’ve been through several organizational sea changes, and it takes more than a year to fully play out. You’ll be in the midst of a transition. Some people will be fine with that- I thrive in that environment. Some people hate it. Just know that even if the new boss is great, the shock waves a still settling.

      3) Listen for honesty. There are issues- are they actually telling you what the issues are, or just pretending that everything is okay? Get politely nosy. I’ve literally referenced Glassdoor reviews in an interview- “I read reviews saying X and Y (bad things). Can you speak to that a little?” Anyone that gets mad at you for asking this very normal and reasonable question is hiding something.

      Remember, you have all the cards here. They wanted you to apply. Be nosy. Be picky. Be confident in your decision. Walk away whenever you like.

    3. Faceless Member of the Commentariat*

      I don’t think this is all or nothing time. During the interview, when it’s time to ask your questions or as part of the overall interview, make sure they understand that the hybrid component is critical for you AND make sure that your understanding of what that means and theirs are in alignment. If it’s not something they’re ready to do quite yet, you probably won’t get an offer if you make it clear that’s the only way you’d consider the position. Make it part of your negotiating if they do make an offer. You aren’t turning down a position if you can’t come to an agreement on the terms of employment.

    4. Jenny*

      I’ll just offer advice on one piece of this—I personally wouldn’t accept a job offer based on their current hybrid policy. So for example, they tell you that the job requires 2 days per week in the office. I’d make sure that I’d still want the job (or at least be willing to stick around a while) if they suddenly required 5 days in the office.

      It just seems like so many employers are switching the policy around a lot right now.

      1. Panic At The Interview*

        @Jenny, do you mean that I should go into *any* job offer with a hybrid option knowing it might flip to a fully in office situation? Or this one in particular?

        1. RagingADHD*

          I don’t know what Jenny meant, but in general, unless you have a written contract that specifies your working conditions, then you should assume that the conditions of any job could change at any time. That was always true.

          But currently, the push to bring workers back in office is increasing and the chances of having a hybrid or remote option reduced or removed in the short term is high at every job.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I mean, if the boss specifically reached out to ask you to apply, then you are a very good candidate. But by the same token, I don’t think it makes much difference whether you turn them down now or later. If you turn them down twice (at any stage), they probably aren’t going to ask you again.

      You can always ask for what you want – a guarantee of hybrid, relocation expenses, etc. You might get it, you might not. But if you have reason to turn them down, then it isn’t a job you want.

      So there’s no conflict. You aren’t going to be re-applying a third time to a job you already decided TWICE that you didn’t want. Are you?

  23. Dollars to Donuts*

    Pros and cons of working in HR? Hi all, I’m considering a career change that leans into my soft skills: managing people, improving processes, senior-level decision making. HR seems interesting (who doesn’t love geeking out about AAM topics all day). But all of the HR Teams I’ve encountered in real life have been under resourced, under staffed, burnt out, with poor performers and lots of turnover. Those of you who have worked in HR: is that commonly the case? Are there settings/industries that tend to invest in HR more than others? Is it difficult to transition into senior level HR without having experience specifically in HR?

    1. misspiggy*

      I worked in HR a long time ago. From what I remember I’d say HR work doesn’t involve all that much of the skill areas you list. It sounds to me like you’re interested in staff development, either through direct management or through training/professional development..

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        I’ve never worked in HR at all, but it’s never been my experience as an employee that HR does much in the way of those things either. They *might* be involved in messaging these things or setting up policies that frame those decisions, but stuff like improving processes seems very outside their wheelhouse.

      2. ferrina*

        I’m HR adjacent, and this mirrors what I’ve seen.
        My job is process improvement; my colleagues in HR rarely have anything to do with that. And while they chat with senior leaders about the decisions they make, they aren’t actually involved in the decision making (it’s been a nuisance quite a few times- just let the HR person make the HR decision and let’s all move on!) HR also has no power over managers- that all comes from the senior leaders (again, which HR is not one). This has been true of every company I’ve been. HR is often one step removed from true senior leadership, and is more there to wave red flags if the senior leaders are about to do anything illegal.

      3. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say this. Be a senior level manager in your current field and you’ll do all of this stuff. I don’t think you’ll do any of it in HR. At least all the HR I’ve seen.
        There’s a ton of admin work, reporting and all that in HR from what I can tell.

    2. Dollars to Donuts*

      This is really good feedback, thanks! I’m realizing that “HR” is a huge bucket and maybe I need to get more specific about my interests. For example staff development (like what is the framework/process for evaluating performance and calibrating evaluations). Or developing job descriptions, interview questions, and other resources for hiring.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        Sounds like you are interested in HR or TA Operations.

        Trust me, we HR Business Partners / Senior Leaders know that good HR/TA Ops folks are like gold.

      2. Comp Expert*

        It sounds like you’d be interested in roles that are typically part of an HR Centre of Expertise (CoE) or Shared Services. These roles develop frameworks, policies, processes and systems to support the whole business. Usually the roles would be learning & development, compensation, talent and performance management, org development, talent acquisition and people analytics. And typically you would only find this in medium-large companies that are big enough to need this type of comprehensive HR function.

        In terms of moving into these roles from outside HR, it’s definitely possible, but I think you’re more likely to be successful with an internal move where people already know your skills and how they might translate into HR. It would be pretty hard to make that jump into a new organization.

  24. Ella Bee*

    I work in an academic support position at a university. Am I at all obligated to correct students that refer to me as Professor/Dr. when those aren’t my correct title (I don’t have a PhD)? I have my position in my email signature and my boss always refers to me with the correct title in emails with students, but it doesn’t seem to have an effect- I’d say at least half of the students that email me call me Professor!

    1. JelloStapler*

      I am in Higher Ed and we get this a lot in various offices. I don’t feel obligated to per se but I often say “Good idea to always assume it is Dr., but I am not one- you can call me Firstname or Mrs. or Ms. Lastname”.

    2. Dulcinea47*

      “Professor” gets used generally for anyone who teaches, regardless of their qualifications and faculty status, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I’d probably correct people who use Doctor, that’s a title you have to earn with a specific degree.

    3. Silly Academia*

      I’d say no. If a student defaults to a “higher” title as a matter of course, it’ll probably go better for them overall. It’s not deceptive on your part since you’re using an email signature that indicates you have a different title. They’re trying to be respectful, which I think is a good thing.
      No need to reinforce the weird hierarchies of academia either, IMO.

      1. JelloStapler*

        100%. This is why I acknowledge its good to default to this but they don’t have to call me that.

    4. former TA*

      It’s normal for undergrads to assume that any adult in an academic role should be called “Professor.” I think it’s find to issue a friendly correction when this happens. Just know that some students will likely forget and keep defaulting to “Professor.”

    5. Autofill Contact*

      I don’t go out of my way to correct it unless it’s someone I’ll be working with for a longer period of time. When I worked in healthcare, we were told that patients often assume any hospital staff that walks into the room is either a nurse or doctor and not to correct them, attend to their need if you can or see to it that the appropriate person does.

    6. OtterB*

      I think I wouldn’t bother to correct students if it’s a one-time or passing interaction, but I would if I was going to be working with them regularly. I like JelloStapler’s suggested wording.

    7. ecnaseener*

      Obligated, no. Just sign off how you want them to address you, and most of them will notice. (It sounds like you have a title other than Mr/Ms/Mx, so if you include that, they should get it — “Judge Bee” rather than “Ella Bee, JD”)

      1. Siege*

        Ha, I can tell you have a conventionally-spelled name! :) I have never once had someone who spelled my name or got my title wrong correct it based on my signature.

    8. ampersand*

      I realized years later that I was guilty of this as an undergrad! I think if you’re interacting with someone who makes this mistake more than once, it would be a kindness to bring it to their attention. And if you’d rather not address it because, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a small (albeit slightly annoying) issue, there’s no harm in not saying anything.

    9. Elsewise*

      I ran into this a lot when I worked at a college in a non-academic role. If people sent an email to me as Dr. Wise, I’d reply and sign it “Elsie”. My automated signature below that said Elsie Wise with no honorific or mention of a degree. If certain students did it repeatedly, I’d privately tell them that I wasn’t a doctor and they could call me Elsie, but most students didn’t make the same mistake more than once.

    10. AnotherLibrarian*

      I was always taught as a student to default to “professor” when I wasn’t sure of a title, because some people really care about the title and some people don’t. I still do this, though now I tend to just open emails with “Hello” and go from there. If a student is emailing a lot than you might want to correct them, but for one off emails, I wouldn’t bother.

    11. Nesprin*

      Eh-it’s good for students to understand the difference between “Professor”, “Doctor” and “Ms”.

    12. Pam Adams*

      I don’t correct if a student addresses me as Professor/Doctor in email, signature clearly states my first name, and I generally email in a conversational tone.

      In an in-person conversation, I say “Not Professor, just Pam.”

    13. DrSalty*

      No you’re not obligated. No one’s going to come after you. If you work with them a lot I probably would but if it’s a one off interaction I wouldn’t worry about it.

    14. Vermont Green*

      I taught at a private college where the rule was that students call all instructors “Professor”. Everyone, those with PhD.s and lowly adjuncts. (They were *not* supposed to use our first names.) So I’d suggest you just go with the flow unless they call you “Doctor”.

  25. Frustrated with shell games*

    All year, my company struggled with quality issues, and the staff poured our hearts into fixing things. Every meeting featured profuse thanks for the extra effort. Directors and above kept spouting flowery words about how they could see and appreciate people stepping up, and that they realized how hard it is.

    Now it’s review time, and the ratings are part of the ratio that determines our bonuses. Suddenly, managers are told to suppress ratings, and nobody is allowed a score higher than average (3 out of a possible 5 points). So managers verbally tell people that they excelled, but they are not allowed to be scored that high. Then we’re expected to sign this official paperwork that says we all performed average.

    I’m so so SO tired of this kind of BS. I would rather them give honest reviews and just say they’re suspending bonuses for the year, due to weak sales.

    1. Raia*

      No advice, just sympathy. I’m glad I don’t have to practice regular disassociation tactics to cope with these kind of corporate-y bonuses and goals discussions as an individual contributor, and instead work for a smaller company where we can all be more real.

    2. birb*

      Honestly you should all write anonymous Glassdoor reviews. I worked for a company right AFTER they were Glassdoor’s worst company to work for that year, and we got a lot of perks really fast.

    3. Dr. Prepper.*

      This is SOP for many corporate companies that demand that there must be a bell curve to ratings – i.e. no one can be exceptional unless someone else is below average, and the other truism is that your entire team cannot be exceptional, regardless of the documented achievements. Similarly, a manager (me) would be allotted a percentage bonus amount (say 3.5% of total salaries) and to give someone a 5% bonus meant others have to get a 1.5% bonus. And they ALL talk to each other about it and there’s no way to do this on the down low.

      So, EVERYONE gets a “meets expectations” and everyone gets the standard bonus. It sucks, but welcome to corporate America.

  26. Former SAPC*

    I was an employee at a university doing my absolute dream job (I know, I know, but it truly was) for a little over a year. Unfortunately, the position was grant funded and has now ended. I’m still at the university as an AmeriCorps member doing good work with some phenomenal people. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t make financial sense for my family (I’m in my mid-30s, unlike my first AmeriCorps term of service at age 21) and I’m not sure I see a path back to full-time employment with the university due to budgets and priorities and such. However, I so do not want to leave.

    I guess I’m just seeking thoughts regarding how wise it is to stay and hope something opens up vs looking elsewhere (which I REALLY don’t want to do). I’ve tried to supplement my income with freelance/contract work (a part-time job is tricky with three kids and a full-time job; I could do it, but it would place quite a burden on my partner), but unfortunately most of the organizations who would benefit from my work do not have the budget to support that type of work and tend to rely on volunteers instead.

    Side note: if anyone knows of contract/freelance/remote interpersonal violence prevention (aka sexual assault/gender-based violence/intimate partner violence) work, I’m all ears!

    1. JelloStapler*

      As an Americorps alum (albeit PT during college), I relate. Have you shared your concerns and interest in an FT job with anyone at the University? If you phrase it as “I love this work and who I work with but I have a growing concern about being able to meet financial obligations with my current set up through Americorps. With the understanding that budget is a concern, I would like to start a conversation about what options there may be to become a FT employee. What does that look like?”

      I worked with dating violence prevention when I, funny enough, did Jesuit Volunteer Corps after college (I did so many “Corps”). It was through a DV agency that had an outreach office and other people on the team were FT employees. I would start asking around to see what organizations are nearby and what may be an opportunity there.

      1. JelloStapler*

        Do you work through the Title IX office at your University? (No need to answer if it would dox you) – If not, and there is one, I would also ask them too.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      So, I’ve worked in higher ed for a long time and I work in a field that is for a lot of people their “dream job” and I really really would encourage you to look after your own financial well-being. I’ve seen way too many people prioritize their “dream job” over “job that can pay me enough to afford a decent car” and I hate seeing it.

      Only you know your actual financial situation, but really think carefully about if this is still a “dream job” if you can’t afford the things you need. I wish I could say that Uni promises of budgets and funds are guaranteed, but folks in higher ed are notoriously optimistic about budgets when they should be realistic about them.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yep. The dreamiest job in existence isn’t worth it long term if you can’t pay your bills. And remember, it’s not just day to day–you have to think about things like retirement.

    3. Pen*

      I’ve worked at a private university for six years now, and I realize that my answer might be irrelevant depending on the structure and makeup of your university; but are there other units or departments on campus that you could transfer your skills into a permanent FT, well-paying position with benefits—so that you can continue to explore this work you’re passionate about outside working hours on a volunteer and/or freelance basis?

      My background isn’t quite the same as yours, but I see a lot of myself in your response about dream jobs in low-paying industries. For me that was arts and media—nonprofit arts administration, community arts, publishing. For more than a decade, I worked my butt off for industries that—while important to me, serving populations I wanted to reach—never loved me back. And that was evident in their abysmally poor salaries, lack of benefits, and insane hours and working demands.

      All that is to say, since I started working at the university where I am now, my life is a gajillion times better, and it gives me the bandwidth (and the funds!) to volunteer and support the causes I still care about. Is it my dream job? No, not necessarily. But it lets me do and support the things that are important to me, while also paying me a good salary, giving me holidays and time off, health insurance, retirement, and so much more.

  27. Faceless Member of the Commentariat*

    I have a staff member who is a solid individual contributor and has really grown her original role. She’s been promoted, and I’m anxious to circumvent the Peter Principle. My problem is that she firmly believes the strengths that got her this far are completely polished and also the only skills she needs in her new role. She’s incorrect on both counts.

    I’ve managed to push back more successfully on some topics than others, but it’s difficult without being more blunt than I’d prefer. I don’t want to damage our working relationship by telling her she’s not good at some things she thinks she’s mastered, but I also need her to improve those areas if she’s going to be successful in the new role.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. Okee Dokee Artichokee*

      It sounds like she might need to fail by her own accord. I’m not usually a fan of advocating for letting people fail. But in some cases, people learn best by seeing the consequences of not seeking out or incorporating feedback or guidance. If her skills are truly up to par, then it wouldn’t be an issue. If it becomes a problem, then she only has herself to blame. Of course, I’m not saying you shouldn’t stop her if she’s about to step into a fire, but let her make some of the smaller mistakes so she has the ability to see how her skills might need to be improved upon.

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      Have you read Radical Candor? I know that some folks on this forum find it a mixed bag because like any other management tips it can be abused, but I have found it to be a really great way to approach feedback and framing.

      I think that you are taking care to not devalue her prior experience, which is great. A good framing conversation might start with “Your success at XYZ has gotten you into this new role, and I’m really excited about what you will be able to contribute. In my experience/observation about this new position, the most important things to continue to stretch and improve upon are PDQ. You have great foundations in these areas, and we are going to work together to continue to level them up for long term success in this role. Let’s set some goals related to them so that we can get you opportunities for further grown in these areas alongside all of the great LMNOP you are going to be doing.” I have been on the other end of this conversation and found it to be motivating in the right way. You’re not devaluing the prior experience at all. But now she’s at a new level, and there is further growth to really be successful at that level.

      Some other thoughts:
      In this case, are there quantifiable or observable targets that can be set as part of goal-setting in the new position? Are you able to insert reflection points on key new assignments?

      Is there readily available training/professional development that you can insert as an initial step? And a non-optional one. “Thumbelina, your new role is going to involve more engagement with executive llama-herders and so I have found that this Public Speaking For Agricultural Executives Workshop is a really valuable resource. Go ahead and enroll in the April session. I’m looking forward to your feedback on the course, and then when preparing your first quarterly Llama Herders Executive Update we can talk about how you are integrating some of the strategies you learned.”

      You sound like a conscientious manager who is trying to really help your employee succeeed. GL!

      1. Clisby*

        I agree with this, but shouldn’t this kind of laying out of expectations and goal-setting be routine when someone gets a promotion?

        1. Pretty as a Princess*

          Yeah, but I’m never surprised to learn that an organization doesn’t explicitly have processes for stuff like this and relies on managers to figure it out by osmosis. (Or if you have an organization where technical promotions and organizational promotions are separate, the process might pay more attention to one than the other.)

          Where I work there is absolutely guidance for new managers about stuff like this. There is *process and transaction* guidance for doing some of this stuff inside the transactional process in our HRM.

    3. KatieKat*

      An idea that may or may not apply depending on specifics of your situation: I worked with my manager and my direct reports last year to develop a framework /matrix for different seniority levels in my direct reports’ skill area, which we then use in performance, goal setting, and promotion discussions.

      Let’s say they’re llama groomers. There are core competencies that a llama groomer needs to have, that are enumerated on the matrix. A senior llama groomer needs to not just have those down, but excel at most of them with minimal direction. A llama principal needs to not just do that, but be actively mentoring and developing those skills in the junior groups. There are also skill areas beyond core competencies, for example project management. A llama groomer doesn’t need any project management skills, but a senior llama groomer might need to be able to take responsibility for some basic projects with detailed direction from above. Then a llama principal should be able to develop and execute new projects from scratch.

      What’s great about having written up a framework like this is that you can literally walk through it in these promotion or post-promotion conversations to say, you’ve totally excelled at all the grooming tasks and are already operating independently there, which makes me confident you’re ready for this senior level. However, you’ve never had to take on project management before. How confident to you feel about starting to take some on? What training or guidance would help?

    4. Yoli*

      Did you promote her (vs. her joining your supervisory load as a result of the promotion)? I’m in this situation from a different angle, and my person and their supervisor have damaged a lot of relationships over the supervisee’s inability to take feedback (which has resulted a lack of strategic decision-making) and the supervisor’s ability/consistency with giving the direct feedback.

      My suggestion would be to explicitly name her ability to take and implement feedback as a key goal, and then outline the specific skills and things you want her to work on under that framing. In my situation, it’s also been important to specifically use the term “feedback”, because this supervisee interprets “pushback” as affirmation that going back and forth on directives is appropriate. (And since she has grow areas in decision-making she can’t see how the time spent pushing back, especially on decisions outside of her scope, would be better utilized improving the skills outlined in the feedback.

  28. Okee Dokee Artichokee*

    I am in the glorious position of having to manage a team that is getting a new manager. New manager won’t be starting for another month, but the work must go on. To be honest, the team has some issues that are kind of fascinating. Half of them either expect to be told what to do… all. the. time. While the other half do everything and more, get overwhelmed and exhausted, and then tell me after the fact in an exasperation, as though I’m to blame for not knowing they had too much on their plate. Even better? I meet with them individually, offer to pick things up if I feel they are overwhelmed or have questions about how to do something/or what their plan is for a task. Yet, in the 6 months I’ve been overseeing them, nothing has changed. They know I am not permanent and I guess are waiting to see if their new boss will do what they need. I’m pretty sure they’re not a big fan of my management style, which is pretty direct, but I do try to exude a demeanor of helpfulness and kindness.

    I’m probably going to have some kind of conversation with the new manager and I don’t want to trash the team, as I will have to continue working with them, but I do want to try and provide some context around what this new person might end up seeing as it could be a challenge for me as I get back to my regular role.

    1. Kiaya*

      Please send an update if you can. This does sound fascinating. It may be even more interesting after you meet the new manager, and see how it all goes.

      I’m curious about whether the team half who does only what they’re told, is contributing to the overwhelm of the other half that goes above and beyond. Also, what was their previous manager like.

      1. Okee Dokee Artichokee*

        It would totally make sense to think the ones who need to be told what to do would cause overwhelm for the ones who take on too much. But even more interestingly, that is not the case. The tasks and responsibilities for both sides are different. So one doing less work does not impact the one doing more.

        I worked alongside their previous manager who was great! She was very supportive and acknowledged their differences. But, I think she may have been a bit of a light touch in terms of telling people the full truth. I know she regularly told those who weren’t proactive that they just lacked confidence. And that may be true, but as some of these people have been here for years, I think we may just need to acknowledge that they don’t actually want to do the work that is needed to get them to the next level. But, we shall see.

  29. Muscovado*

    TLDR, I shut down diplomatically and professionally with as little drama as possible some co workers who were testing their boundaries as far as bullying me. I stood up for myself in a professional, non-confrontational way that did not involve the direct intervention of my boss but did put them on notice that any future attempts they will get in trouble with their own supervisors. It was a small victory. But why do I feel depressed and anxious two days later? That I feel I have to keep on guard for future shenanigans and my job is no longer friendly territory? Any advice on how I can manage my emotions and get perspective?

    1. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Good for you! You should be proud and confident that if it were to happen again, you know exactly how to handle it.
      I’m sorry that you feel depressed and anxious. Think about what you would say to a friend who told you this happened to them. That often helps me gain perspective.

      1. Muscovado*

        Thank you! I will try that. I guess what makes me feel sad is that what I originally thought was a friendly and professional workplace and co-workers turned out not to be. I am relatively new at my job and still feel like the “new guy.” The behavior of my co-workers, even though I fended them off successfully, makes me feel unwelcome and emotionally isolated (they are friends in a workplace clique). Also, the culture of my office is very social, and my experience has made me less inclined to reach out and be social with my co-workers.

        1. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

          I’m in a relatively new job also and I describe my coworkers as helpful but not friendly. They tend to socialize with one another and not include new people (me!) Personally, I don’t mind it but it’s definitely noticeable and if I were younger/less experienced, it would probably bother me too.
          Are there other coworkers who you can reach out to? If you find a friendly coworker, you could slowly start to socialize at work and see how it goes.

          1. Muscovado*

            Thanks that is a good idea! There are a few other new employees that got hired after me. Maybe I will reach out to them and see if we click and to make me feel less isolated

        2. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

          I also often get down feelings after social confrontations –even ones that are successfully resolved and don’t end up having bad effects . even even ones that end up having positive effects on the social landscape! like more friendliness or better boundaries overall.

          I’ve been conceptualizing it as a bit of rejection-sensitive dysphoria and a dash of adrenaline hangover — that is, just the way my brain and body process social stress, not necessarily indicative of anything about the situation, or at least not *unbiased* information about the situation. It usually passes with time if I don’t dwell on the feelings or looking for evidence in the situation to justify them (which often, thanks to confirmation bias, results in finding what I looked for whether or not it existed before I looked).

          1. Muscovado*

            Thanks! I think it is adrenaline hangover! I will try to de-stress this weekend and be kind to myself and see how next week goes

    2. Generic Name*

      If you’re not used to asserting yourself/enforcing boundaries, it can feel very scary/anxiety-ridden. Chances are you had to really pump yourself up and get your adrenalin going to respond appropriately (which by the way, that’s awesome!!), so now you’re feeling a crash from the hormones and energy it took. I find journaling to be very helpful and I also suggest doing something nourishing for yourself this weekend. Maybe that’s a hot bath or a yoga video, or catching up in person with close friends.

      1. Hot Dish*

        +1. Also, give it some time to see if things settle and how you feel about it then. Generic Name’s response completely fits me when I stand up for myself, so if that’s you as well, kudos to you for having the courage and wherewithall to do it. Definitely do fun/relaxing/calming/nourishing stuff this weekend and take care of yourself. You might still be in amygdala mode and need some of the above activities for your body to feel like you’re safe again.

      2. Muscovado*

        Thank you! I think you hit the nail on the head! I was amped up emotionally and with adrenaline all week leading up to the confrontation. It took a lot out of me to strategize and then to execute the strategy. I was spent and pretty much exhausted afterwards. I will try to be kind to myself this weekend and do some nourishing activities, physically and emotionally

      3. Awkwardness*

        If you’re not used to asserting yourself/enforcing boundaries, it can feel very scary/anxiety-ridden.
        This. If your are not used to enforcing boundaries, this is all very new and scary and frightening.
        But the more you practise, the easier it will get.
        Just try to make sure you do not treat your colleagues differently.
        Remain warm and positive. Do so not need to hide because your die something as normal as standing up for yourself!

    3. RagingADHD*

      Why? Because it feels bad knowing that someone was trying to push you around, and they aren’t friendly and nice. If they are bullies, then you probably should keep an eye out for future shenanigans. That’s only prudent.

      I think the perspective you need is that this is a perfectly normal and reasonable way to feel, it just kind of sucks. And you will feel better after a little time passes and you can rebuild some stronger relationships with the people who are trustworthy.

      1. Muscovado*

        Thank you! I appreciate it and I think you are right. Let us see how things go as time passes.

    4. Owlette*

      Well done! If you’re anything like me, any interpersonal conflict no matter how minor or apparently successful the outcome will have me stressed and re-living it for a while. For me it’s from my family who did not do fighting, more suppressing so I am still as an adult learning how to navigate it. I just have to accept that it’s always going to make me anxious and that it’ll only get better over time as I keep standing up for myself. If that’s similar for you then my counsellor always advocated acknowledging and sitting with the feelings, knowing that they’re normal and will pass eventually. Sorry if this is totally off base for you. Hope your workplace improves!

      1. Muscovado*

        Thanks very much! Standing up for oneself is hard and dealing with the aftermath is an experience in itself. Hopefully, things do get better over time. I appreciate your feedback

  30. Sparkle llama*

    My workplace just got the news that our HR manager is leaving, which is a big issue since the director supervising HR and other support departments has been vacant for several months with no effort to hire for it and we now have 30+ vacancies to fill including several mission critical positions. We only have 2 people left in HR and only one of them does recruitment. So we are hoping that unlike all other vacancies, which are treated with no urgency that the gaps in HR are filled soon.

    Wondering, how normal is it to leave positions that you know you need filled vacant for months before hiring? We seem to do very little hiring in the last 4 months of any year, leaving us in a terrible position every year. It feels like our HR and top executive do not recognize how much burden it is when we have such long vacancies and then more people leave because they are sick of covering extra work for months with no effort made to hire.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      Unfortunately, we’ve had to deal with this in my workplace as well. I feel like it can be partly due to money as mentioned already, and it can also happen when there are plans for a potential reorganization or redefinition of roles.

      1. Sparkle llama*

        I think part of it is a desire to consider reorganizing but then we end up leaving things effectively the same because the directors don’t actually have time to find a better way.

        I work for government and our elected officials don’t seem to care much about how much under budget we are (we are always comfortably under budget and would be even if we were 100% staffed all year) so I don’t think that is the driving factor.

    2. SallyAnn*

      You can’t base your decision to leave on whether your coworkers will have more work if you leave. Your workplace has not filled needed positions, and because they continue to not fill them as even more people leave, the worse it gets for the remaining people. Sadly, remaining people saying “I’ll stay because I don’t want my coworkers to have more work if I leave” will NOT fix this problem. The issue is systemic and will continue until the PowersThat Be wake up and realize they have to do something.

      I understand not wanting to cause coworkers more work by quitting. But until the execs feel the pain, they won’t do what’s necessary. So by workers staying in such a workplace they are actually prolonging the problems.

      This is similar to people who have taken on the duties of others in addition to their own and work long hours and weekends so the job(s) get done. In those cases, the higher-ups are fine with it (or don’t care) because the work is getting done. The higher-ups will make changes only when things become problems for them.

    3. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Short answer: not normal, or at least not healthy. I would definitely make sure you are not taking on extra – if the company is declining to fill mission-critical positions, then it is not your responsibility to bridge the cap. Get your job done, but don’t go above and beyond, don’t try and keep five people’s worth of plates in the air indefinitely, etc.

      We see so many letters where the LW has been solving the organization’s self-inflicted problems for ages and is completely fried and suffering. It’s never the right answer to try and patch an organizational failure with individual effort. You gotta make the problem visible at the level where it’s being caused, and sometimes that means letting things fail.

      Or, getting out yourself.

      1. Sparkle llama*

        For sure! My department is fully staffed but some departments we work with have some important and long term vacancies and my supervisor has been clear that their work will just not get done and we are not supposed to pick up the pieces. And I certainly advocate to my colleagues in other departments that they stop covering the slack. Since it won’t be a problem for the people at the top if we keep making it work.

  31. curious*

    Ideas for alternative careers for someone in nonprofit development? I’ve been a grant writer in the education space for a few years and previously worked in museum research. I’m happy with my current work, but curious what else is out there. I’ve only ever worked for nonprofits, so I don’t have a good sense of what else I could do with my current skills. I also spent almost a decade in a PhD program, so I’m not super interested in getting another degree unless it’s very quick (and affordable).

    1. Autofill Contact*

      You could easily hop over to a university in a research admin role. (I did this over a decade ago). IME you will be highly valued because you have grant writing skills but you’ll get satisfaction and variety out of project execution AFTER it’s been funded. Although maybe after being in a PhD program you are burnt out on academia? Valid if so!

      1. curious*

        Thanks, I am vaguely interested in academic admin roles, but hesitant about a role that would require regular interaction with faculty members, since I encountered some deeply unpleasant ones in my grad program.

        1. Mazey's Mom*

          What about research admin for foundations that give out grants? I work in research administration as well in a large university and I agree, your skills would be invaluable in this space. And faculty (generally) treat you better than they would a student, because (a) they need your expertise and (b) they hate doing administrative work. Sure, there are those who like to circumvent the process and if you give them an inch, they’ll take the whole yardstick. For the most part though I find it easier to work with non-clinical researchers. If their salary is dependent upon grant funding, they’re going to want to work with you, not against you. If you work for an entity that provides the grant funding, then they’re going to be super nice and polite because they need you more than you need them.

          1. Autofill Contact*

            I was explaining this ^ to someone else that I was trying to recruit over to research admin. I work on projects or centers, so typically only one (maybe two) faculty member for an extended period of time. They are very grateful for the work that I do for them and treat me like an equal. That said, you couldn’t catch me working in a general pre-award position for sponsored programs in a million years because they are constantly getting stuff dumped on them by faculty who think they’re the most important.

    2. mcm*

      A former colleague of mine who worked in development moved over to sales in for-profit land! I think she’s now working in sales for a business software company. I think she leveraged the parts of dev that are essentially sales — trying to get people to donate, etc.
      It sounds like you work in a more research and writing based capacity, but those are invaluable skills for tons of jobs! My LinkedIn/Indeed keyword would be “researcher” or “research” and see what pops up to get an idea of what might be out there with crossover skills.

      1. curious*

        Thanks. Sales makes sense for someone with individual giving experience — not so much for grants, though.

        I’m in an area with many major hospitals, universities and biotech companies, so the “research” search term returns results that are 95% medical or scientific research. Unfortunately, I don’t have a science background!

    3. curious*

      Relevant info: my PhD is in a humanities field, so I’m not qualified for anything in science or anything requiring quantitative skills.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Check out the government. Organizations like USAID or NIH give grants and could probably use people with your experience. There is a lot out there. You have probably read plenty of grousing on here about the federal hiring process – a lot of it is correct – takes forever, you never hear back, etc. But the work is very rewarding and worth the hassles to get in.

    5. Snax*

      It seems like your skills would translate easily to a RFP writer or proposal manager in the private sector.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      When you say “museum research,” what kind of research? Prospect research? If not, that might be an area of interest. If that was what you were talking about, feel free to disregard this!

    7. Mojo jojo*

      This is all secondhand information (stuff I’ve heard, not stuff I have personal experience with) but people say there are similarities between grantwriting and technical writing, and also that sometimes people equate technical writing = science, when in reality lots of industries need technical writers and you don’t necessarily even need a background in the industry in question.

      1. Software Writer*

        Grant writing is a specific skill that is part of the overall technical writing field, which is quite broad. Look for jobs that request proposal writing or grant writing.

    8. BikeWalkBarb*

      You might look at public agencies. Some have grantwriting positions to go after federal funds (or state and federal, if it’s a local or regional agency), and in some positions the grantwriting experience would be a plus but not necessarily the primary focus of the position. Our state has an agency for archaeology and historic preservation; would that be a fit with your museum background and PhD if there’s a similar agency in your state?

      Administering grants or working for a foundation?

  32. Autofill Contact*

    Academics/Higher Ed Unite!

    I am senior staff in an R1 biosciences lab with undergrads, masters, PhD, post doc, and early career staff scientists. I’ve been charged with PD for the lab, so looking for ideas.

    We walk a line between basic/applied science, so scicomm and data viz are high on the list. Our PI arranged for us to do StrengthsFinders about a year ago. Any other PD you’ve seen for this type of group that’s been really spectacular?

    1. Manders*

      I’m also at an R1 biosciences lab, but I don’t know what PD is (in our context it’s pharmacodynamics, but clearly not here). Can you elaborate?

    2. Nesprin*

      PD is professional development?

      Edward Tufte (the visual display of quantitative information guy) gives phenomenal lectures on giving good presentations of quantitative data – I went to one a few years ago and it changed entirely how I do presentations.

    3. Alice*

      Are there people who will want to stay in academia?
      Are there reporting guidelines relevant to your lab’s work? ARRIVE, maybe, if there are animals? Or if your work relates to human health, the trainings from the Equator Network are excellent.
      I think there’s a Datawrapper conference coming up. Or lean in to accessible data visualization?
      And there’s always interesting stuff going on in the world of open science. The people who run do a monthly email listing.

      1. Autofill Contact*

        Thanks for the links! I need to query the students to see how many of them want to pursue academia over industry. Our program is one that translates very well to industry positions so it’s good to ask.

    4. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Do your researchers work with animals? Maybe OLAW workshops. I remember some interesting ones. I used to do training to new researchers on the literature review required for their animal care and use protocols – your library probably has a science librarian who could help with that.

  33. AnnaRie*

    How would you answer this weird interview question…

    Yesterday I had a phone screen interview for a job. I can’t get a read on how it went but I’m definitely hung up on one question:

    “What would you accomplish in your first week on the job?”

    This was a mid/senior level role in corporate finance. I settled on “Get the foundations in place for solid relationships” but really? The first week? My goal is set up my email and try to learn a few people’s names.

    1. Hypoglycemic rage*

      uhhh this is kinda a weird question to ask a candidate! (so, solidarity!)

      i know nothing about finance nor would i ever be interviewing for senior-level roles, but i’d probably have said something like what you said. maybe throw something in about meeting with your boss to talk about things? but i thought the first week at most jobs are expected to be more a “getting to know the lay of the land” and get everything set up. not go in, guns blazing, right away.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m in engineering, not finance, but when I’ve had that question I’ve said “get a handle on the database structure and start to review the most important parts of the code base. Which in your shoes would be something like “review the dossiers on the N biggest/more important clients.”

    3. Glazed Donut*

      Oh, I would love to hear other curveball interview questions!

      For this one, I’d probably say something similar: Get to know the team, familiarize myself with their norms and systems, and begin to build relationships while understanding the goals of this work.

      1. Hot Dish*

        Ditto. This is actually on Alison’s list of interview questions to prep for so I’ve thought about it and would say something similar to tasks related to learning/understanding the lay of the land and then get to work.

    4. Autofill Contact*

      I agree, weird question. I think your answer was appropriate. I think maybe something also about getting acquainted with systems and processes that may differ from previous roles? Like, step one, assess the landscape.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That was a good answer. The “real” answer? “Figure out where the bathroom is and how the coffee machine works.”

      Generally, I think it’s to check out your thought processes. My answer would be, “Get a handle on the organization, who does what and how things work together, review any materials left by my predecessor, start to develop ways to organize according to how things work there, set up introduction meetings with key players.” Or something like that. I’m not super aggressive– I like to get the lay of the land first. Someone else might say, “Identify gaps where I can make changes,” or “Meet with everyone in the C-Suite” or… lots of options.

    6. ecnaseener*

      It feels like a question that a really fast-paced company would want to ask (or possibly a question that an inexperienced screener at a normal-paced company saw in a listicle and copied down uncritically). But yeah, the real answer in most environments is “get the lay of the land in general, and probably do some tasks that will need doing, which I can’t predict at the screening stage” lol.

    7. M2RB*

      Long-time accountant here currently in an assistant controller role. I would think something like this would go over well: “meet all of the accounting/finance team, review last couple of years of audited financial statements, review monthly reporting packages (or whatever they are called in your field) for the last six months, look at forecasting materials for next three months, make sure all my equipment and access is set up correctly, and find out what your expectations are for my first 60 days/6 months/year.”

    8. Yes And*

      As a senior nonprofit finance person, I would have said something about familiarizing myself with the budget, chart of accounts, and the procedures already in place with the rest of the team.

    9. Boss Scaggs*

      I think that question is ok, but later in the process after you’ve had a chance to meet with people, learn more about the company, etc.. Not during an initial phone screen

    10. WantonSeedStitch*

      Hey, being able to send and receive email and learning people’s names is absolutely “getting the foundations in place for solid relationships!” I think it was an odd question and a good answer.

    11. Maggie*

      I hate this question! I once got it for a sales job and I was like how do I answer this without saying “umm well I’m assuming you guys would train me” because I felt like that would be insulting or something. So I said I’d work on building a clientele. She looked super off put and was like “uh, well a lot of people would want training first but I guess you just do things your own way”. WTF?? Why are you asking me what I’ll do my first week when it’s obviously training? That felt so obvious that I didn’t say it. Maybe I read the whole thing wrong but like why even ask?

      1. zaracat*

        almost sounds like she was deliberately creating something to criticise you for.

        I had similar happen once – I assist surgeons, and I have to keep a log for billing purposes. New to me surgeon, for the first patient he gives me one of his pre-printed info labels for my logbook. I assume that’s going to be how it works for all his patients. Second patient, no sticker forthcoming so I ask and he replies “what, are you too lazy to write?”. That set his tone for the rest of the morning. Decided right then I was not going to work with him again. Racist remarks in the tea room after the operating list confirmed that decision.

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      I am a senior finance person and I don’t much care for that question. I think you answered it well though!
      I think I would have said something similar and maybe also that I would meet with my team and start my review of all detailed financials.

  34. Anonononononi*

    I’m on a project which is being led jointly by two departments – with the other department being slightly more responsible than mine. Each department team has a manager and then the rest of us are all pretty much at the same (senior) level. We work very collaboratively and everyone is nice and hardworking, but I am finding it is not always clear who is ‘lead’ on a particular piece. So my manager will come to ask me a bunch of questions about something that I was working on from our department’s perspective, but her questions will be about things that fall more under the other department’s expertise…and I end up feeling kind of defensive, or worry at least that I’ll sound defensive if I say ‘well, X on the other team was working on that part, so I don’t know’. it’s not always clear to me if she thought I would review my colleagues’ work, or if I was supposed to be the person wrapping it up together, or even if me saying ‘not sure, ask X’ is totally fine with her and it’s just me assuming it’s a critique or failing…
    The one time I tried to talk about this to my manager she didn’t really see the issue, and if I get into a specific example, I again worry that it looks defensive/critical of my colleagues, and/or I am the one who needs to be more proactive (since I’m ‘senior’)/flexible/chill about all this! I’ve also thought about trying to frame it as just sharing with her about how I work best (with clearer roles and timelines…)

    1. Nesprin*

      Practice saying: “Yeah, that’s a good question, let me ask X.” Or “X is the expert there- I’ll send an email to her and you”.

      Think of it as highlighting X’s expertise and field of knowledge to your manager, and proactively preventing telling your manager something that X would disagree with.

  35. Finn*

    A few months ago, I got a new boss (company was bought). I just saw that the company is opened on a very regional holiday (as in, really just that town). I’m quite sure the boss doesn’t know said holiday, nor the fact that opening that day is a very bad idea.
    We’d most likely not get much work either way, schools close that day and while I’m not working directly in a school it’s a related industry. Most students would be busy partying, there’s a lot of alcohol consumption that day and the main location is just in front of my workplace. The streets will be closed that day, too, not all of them but many, so would be hard to reach work by car.
    Personally, I’d strongly prefer to not go there (when I was in school, a classmate died there, and… kind of too many chaotic emotions around it to be honest, even though it was years ago).
    1) Is it reasonable to send my boss an e-mail to say he should close that day?
    2) If so, how do I word that?? I can’t really say “I know better than you that it’s best to close the business that day, even if you planned to open it as normal”…
    3) Anything else I should keep in mind?

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      Good luck. This might end up being one of those “learning experiences” that the boss will only learn through experience. My previous job, the boss insisted everyone work New Year’s Day. “But the phones are quiet, we’ll get so much more work done!” If we wanted to, we could use a vacation day (they didn’t consider it a paid holiday.) That lasted two years. I was never there but the stories of call outs, no shows, and people coming in hungover (or still drunk) were enough.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I worked for a foreign owned retail company shortly after it expanded into the Irish market. Though it did close Christmas day, St. Stephen’s day (the day after Christmas) and New Year’s day, it decided to make up some of the time by opening until 9pm instead of the usual 7pm on some of the other days that week. In a country where, at that time, a lot of shops closed for the entire week (a fair share stil do)! Yeah, we ended up with something like a total of 2 or 3 customers in those two hours. My manager was saying she was going to phone head office and point out that they lost a fair bit of money by paying staff, using electricity, etc all for a total of 3 sales, max.

    2. Random Academic Cog*

      I know this is a bit random, but there is a local celebration on – date – that involves closure of all the local schools and the streets surrounding our building. Between the crowds of people drinking outside and the number of people with school-aged children who would have difficulty coming into work, we typically close for the day. I’m happy to share more information if that would be helpful to your decision-making.

    3. UKDancer*

      I don’t think you can tell him that he should close. I think unless the boss is known to be very unreasonable it’s probably ok to say “there’s a local holiday that day which is not widely known outside the town. It will result in a lot of congestion and festivity affecting traffic and making it hard for staff to get in. Is it worth considering whether we’d do better not opening that day?”

      That way the boss is made aware, and can make an informed decision.

      1. Finn*

        No clue how reasonable he is, he’s made some seemingly very unreasonable decisions and some pretty good decisions as well. It should be possible for all of us to get in, just most likely pointless. (Not that he’d care much about it being hard… unreasonable decisions include not having admin staff on-site for a few months and then being surprised when no admin work gets done. That was a chaotic time…)

    4. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      LOL is this Pulaski Day? I was shocked the first year my California friend moved to Chicago and told me about this “holiday”!

      1. Anon for this*

        While Pulaski Day does shut down schools and has some other celebrations in Chicago, I’ve never heard of it affecting business in that manner (unless they deal mainly with local government). Unless things have really changed, and nobody in my family told me.

        Casimir Pulaski was an important figure in the American Revolution who deserves to be better known.

      2. Finn*

        It’s not :-)
        Not going to tell what it is for anonymity reasons (if you google the name my town is literally the first result). If you’re curious, I can send a more general description though.
        (I’m not from the US, I doubt it matters for the question so didn’t include that.)

    5. ecnaseener*

      You can’t tell him you *should* close, but you can certainly tell him “in past years we’ve always closed on this day because of XYZ.”
      And if he keeps the office open, you can always take the day off yourself.

      1. Finn*

        I can take it off unpaid (job has no PTO), yes, and I most likely will do that if work doesn’t close. I’d rather have it closed though, opening it would cause me some annoying logistical headaches even if I’m not there. Unfortunately, “same as we did the last years” is not possible anymore, we used to have a replacement day the same day the schools did but that’s tomorrow… I’ll still make sure to include this in my e-mail though.

    6. allx*

      Yes it is reasonable, especially for a new boss who is from a different region/country/state. Say “You may not be aware, but [Mardi Gras] celebration on [Fat Tuesday] in [City] makes work in [business district] impossible. We have always closed on that day. Can you confirm the office will be shut since [Employees] will not be able to get to work due to traffic, crowds, closed streets, parades, and general mayhem?”

      1. Finn*

        Thanks! Boss is from a nearby city actually, the holiday is just too regional… He lives 1h by car away. It’s not a typical mardi gras parade, though it got connected to carnival at some point (mainly it defining the date, not so much the activities with few exceptions).

      1. Finn*

        It’s not :-)
        Not going to tell what it is for anonymity reasons (if you google the name my 15000 people town is literally the first result). If you’re curious, I can send a more general description though.
        (I’m not from the US, I doubt it matters for the question so didn’t include that.)

      2. linger*

        If it’s Feb 2nd in Punxutawney, PA,
        you’re probably stuck until your boss eventually figures it out for himself.

        1. Finn*

          It’s not :-)
          But good to see I’m not the only one with that problem. I hope you had a good 2nd February yesterday!

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      Is the boss unfamiliar with the regional holiday, or are they a local? If they’re a local, they might have already taken this into account and made their decision. If not, it might be worth pointing out, “You might not be familiar with this, but [date] is a local holiday. Schools are closed that day, and the main location for celebrations is right in front of our office. As a result, it’s historically been impossible to get much work done on that day, which resulted in our previous leadership closing the offices on that day. Is that something you’d be willing to consider?”

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Oh, and it might help if you get a number of your colleagues together to approach your boss about this together!

    8. Lady_Lessa*

      Could you phrase the email as a “Do you know ___________?”
      Perhaps mention about the serious events that are near the workplace as well.

      1. Finn*

        I’d have to think about that one… I simplified the situation a little, in a way that’d make this script a little more difficult, but I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks!

  36. Hypoglycemic rage*

    Hi everyone! Thanks for all the advice on other options for former librarians – I’m starting a new position as an office admin in a couple weeks! The environment seems really collaborative and supportive, the exact opposite of my last company. It’s in a totally new field, but I truly could not be more excited. Office, like, vibes are really important to me, and this one seems like a great one.

    Would it be weird for me to send HR (my contact) an email expressing my appreciation for the salary they’ve given? I didn’t give a range, just a minimum amount, and they’re giving me about $5k over that, because of my experience, and I can’t tell you how much that means.

    It’s just. I’ve given the same amount in my last company, and I got it, but grudgingly. They also denied my coworker a raise because even though she did great work, she “took too many days off.” (Used her allotted PTO because she was sick.)

    So! I obviously wouldn’t say all of this about my old company, but this new one could have given me my minimum and I would have still happily accepted. But it means a lot that I got more than I was asking for. At the very least I can travel more, treat myself more, stuff like that (especially because I put myself on a very strict budget during unemployment). All of which I could and did do at my old job, but now I have more breathing room.

    1. EMP*

      Don’t do it! Or at least, don’t mention the salary! At most I would say something like “I’m looking forward to starting at [company]. It stood out to me that even during the hiring process everyone was wonderful to deal with.”

      Keep it to the attitude, not the money, IMO

      1. Hypoglycemic rage*

        oo okay! that’s totally fair! i think my last company kind of warped my thinking haha.

        thank you!

      2. WantonSeedStitch*

        This! They didn’t offer you that salary out of the goodness of their hearts, or to be nice. They offered it because they felt you were worth it, and figured that someone else might get you instead if they offered less.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      If you are co-located, I would drop by with cookies to say thank you in person -maybe include a note of appreciation for their great work and helpfulness. I would not mention the salary.

      1. Mulligatawney*

        Yes to a short email as EMP described above. No to bringing cookies- that’s too over the top for this situation.

    3. Zephy*

      +1 don’t thank them for paying you. Your salary is not a gift or a favor, it’s a business transaction. You can absolutely thank them for their timeand reiterate your excitement to start the job, though, that’s fine.

  37. My Little Friend Says Hello*

    Ok, I admit: I don’t get out much.
    I’ve been at my current job for about two years. That entire time, I’ve had difficulties with a particular Llama Engineer. Slow to respond, responses outside of normal working hours, disjointed. But a lot of that can be chalked up to engineers being, (love them dearly), engineers.

    Yesterday, I met this particular engineer face to face for the first time. The dude has nine regular finger nails and one of those extra long pinky nails that, in my mind, harkens back to Al Pacino, Scarface, and the (ahem) unlicenced pharmaceuticals associated therewith.

    My question: Is this still a thing? I’d figured it had long since passed into urban legend and “single earring = gay” fashion signifiers. Generally speaking, I don’t care what people do in their off time except if it impacts work time, but this would go a long way toward explaining their quirky behavior. HR seems to turn a blind eye to drug use (while we have to pass a drug test to get hired, but not ongoing after that. They shot down a health info table on Naloxone “because we are a drug free workplace.”)

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I mean…what does it matter why he’s that way? Unless he needs medical accommodations, I’d say to stay focused on his performance rather than the reasons behind it – whether he is staying up all night with a sick kid or playing video games or smoking the devil’s lettuce.

      1. mreasy*

        If I worked with anyone who seems to use white drugs given the fentanyl crisis, I would be worried about them. Highly recommend doing Narcan training on your own regardless… but maybe an extra reason.

    2. Betty Spaghetti*

      It is still a thing, coming from my experience as a part-time beverage provider at a local liquor store. My best advice is to ignore it and his behavior unless it becomes extreme, dangerous, or negatively affects your work.

    3. nopetopus*

      Still a thing. I’d just file it away mentally, but yeah. You’re probably right about his snow habits.

    4. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      Is he Chinese? Having one long fingernail is A Thing among men in China, they use it like a multitool and it has absolutely no drug connotations. You even see them on very polished, “Westernized” men. I don’t know about other cultures, though.

    5. Elastigirl*

      In some cultures, a long pinky nail on a man signifies wealth; essentially it shows that the man doesn’t do manual labor. I wouldn’t jump automatically to assume use of illegal substances.

    6. BookMom*

      I kid you not, I knew a retired pastor with one long fingernail who told me (voluntarily, I didn’t ask!!) that he used it to clean out his ears. Ewwwwww….

    7. Armchair Analyst*

      Thank you for asking this. I too recently wondered this in a purely speculative fashion, not related to workplace interactions at all

    8. feline overlord's chief vassal*

      I have a friend who grows out his pinkie fingernails because, he says, it makes it easier for him to touch-type. He’s a software developer, so efficient typing is definitely A Thing. Slightly further reach with the pinkie fingers so that he has to move his hands less to type all those characters important in commanding computers– {}, [], |, ~`, TAB, etc.

      Observing myself type, I don’t get how the longer pinkie nails would help. But I don’t have his hands or his keyboard.

      And he’s not the type to be up to anything nefarious– family man, moderate drinker. The only unseemly thing I’ve heard from a coworker is that there’s too many magic numbers in his code. (Maybe it would be for the best if those pesky digits were not so within reach of his magical fingernails!)

  38. JJJJShabado*

    At the start of the year, one of my best friends became my supervisor. (We’ve known each for almost 20 years, 10+ years ago I got him into the company after I had been working for 5 years). There is no resentment that he is my supervisor. He has been on the management track and I am a contributor.

    When it was announced that he was going to become supervisor (my current supervisor is shifting to another department pre-retirement. My friend was supervising part of the department, but now he is supervising all), I said that I felt no issue with this and that we had always been professional when it comes to work. A month in, I don’t feel any different than that.

    There isn’t much potential for preferential treatment. I am at the point where I mostly manage myself, projects get assigned based on availability more than anything. We have to be professional, that’s a given. It’s known that we are long time friends. Post having families, we do less stuff together than we used to, but there’s no reason to scale back the friendship, right? If there becomes a conflict of interest, I should seek an alternate reporting structure. This does not seem to have been considered because I sent a message before anyone ever asked me if I had issue reporting to my friend.

    1. Glazed Donut*

      You may feel there is no preferential treatment – I would be wary to ensure (as best you can) that others cannot conclude there is. Hanging out outside of work, extra meetings/chats/lunches, and any little bit of a pass here or there could negatively impact your relationships with coworkers and others. Not saying this is happening! But I’ve seen it happen – the inside “we know there’s nothing biased happening” but lacking that visibility and awareness to the outside.

    2. WellRed*

      You need a new reporting structure yesterday. This WILL impact you but even if it technically didnt, think about the perception others will have.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      If another reporting structure is possible, I think you should either seek that out or scale back the friendship. And since friendships–solid, long-lasting friendships that predate your working together–are so precious, I’d recommend seeking another reporting structure instead. Make it clear it’s not because of any rancor or bad blood between the two of you, but because you feel like the close friendship you have isn’t right for a relationship between a manager and their report.

    4. Owlette*

      If possible, I’d seek an alternative reporting structure. Will it probably be fine? Sure, but what if it’s not? What if there’s lay off and he has to choose between you and another colleague? What about if you get the largest raise? Or the smallest? What if he grants you leave because he knows your personal life is going to custard but doesn’t for a colleague who doesn’t want to reveal that info at work? Basically plan for the worst and then you can keep your personal and private lives nice and separate with no concerns.

    5. JJJJShabado*

      I thank y’all for your insight. Most of what you cite here is not applicable to the reporting structure, but they are fair thoughts in the abstract.

      The one thing which is being hinted at that is my strongest worry is the review progress. That is where this may become an issue.

      Thanks. :-)

  39. NaoNao*

    Help please:

    When I started my role, I was the only one of my role in a much larger team, servicing all the training development needs for that larger team. My boss hooked me up with a “mentor” who was on a company-wide training team so I could get my questions about best practices and SOP’s answered.
    Well…this mentor is either clueless, incompetent, or something else (albeit a pleasant person who means well). Every question I asked was answered incorrectly or with a dramatic misinterpretation of the question (or a ton of back and forth to understand what to me was a very straightforward question). As one example, I asked if there was a template for communications about new training products. She told me to “ask your Project Manager”. The whole reason I had her in my life: I was the only training person on my team! I’m the PM! I’m the everything! Augh!

    Anyway, there’s been some reorgs and I’m now on a larger team with peers, but when I reach out for help/clarification I’ve gotten this “mentor” name as a suggestion a couple times. I typically brush past it and figure it out but every time this happens I get closer to wanting to say “she doesn’t know anything!! stop recommending her!”

    Is there a polite / corpo-speak way to say this or am I just stuck nodding and smiling and ignoring the suggestion?

    1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      Can you pre-empt it? “I’m already speaking to Flossy, and wondered who else might be good to link in with?”

      Maybe you mean some subject matter experts for the things you’re training, rather than someone who is a trainer?

    2. Anon for This*

      My cynical self thinks she is suggested as a mentor because she doesn’t really do any work, so has the time for this and it keeps her out of the way of those who recommend her. They probably already know she is awful.

      Agree with Yay! I’m a llama again! that you should preempt and indicate you are looking for resources in addition to Flossy.

  40. AvonLady Barksdale*

    My company is hiring (yay), which is a great thing. I have personally connected a bunch of people with our hiring team (also yay). I am not personally hiring for any position– I am not a hiring manager and I have zero say in the process for any of the positions advertised. My name is not connected anywhere to these positions and my email address certainly isn’t. I occasionally share job postings on LinkedIn.

    But I’m getting random emails from people whom I have never met, with short intros and copies of their resumes. (My email address is not hard to figure out, so I imagine these folks are finding my name and position on LinkedIn and emailing me directly.) It’s not that many– three over the course of a few months– but I’m at a loss over what is best to do. My challenge is also that I’m super busy and just highly annoyed in general right now, so I need calmer perspectives.

    Last night I got another one of these emails. Never met this guy. His intro email was poorly written and very short. Basically it was, “Per the X position, here is my resume. I have already applied online. I look forward to hearing from you soon.” Again, never met this guy and I have no idea who he is. It wasn’t a networking email, as in, “I got your info from our mutual colleague Y, do you have 10 minutes to talk, etc,” nor was it a request to connect on LinkedIn. I’m SUPER receptive to those (more than I should be sometimes). This was basically an application email. My first reaction is to ignore it, especially since he already applied through the appropriate channel. My second reaction is to respond and tell him that I am not the hiring manager and the online application (which he has already completed) is the best way to apply. But the second option has me wondering if he’s just going to send a bunch of follow-up emails and I’m going to have to shut him down, and I do not have patience for any of that right now.

    Job searching is hard. I want to make things easier for people but I also want them to respect my time. I have spoken to so many people and I am always happy to do informational interviews, but most of the time people ask. This cold resume emailing without seeking information sets my teeth on edge. For what it’s worth, I ignored the previous emails I received. This one is just coming at a hard time, I guess. Curious to hear how others might handle it.

    1. Ashley*

      I would setup a folder for these and maybe skim them when I wasn’t busy, but if you aren’t hiring you really don’t even need to do that. If you see someone awesome you could maybe flag it. Honestly I would use it to flag terrible people who are badgering or offensive with anything but generally just skip it all together since there is a process outlined.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I would send the quick “I’m not involved in hiring, the best way is to apply online” response, save a draft you can copy paste in two seconds. And then block anyone who keeps emailing.

    3. Anon for This*

      Ignore the first. The applicant may be spamming every address he can find at your company. If you get a second, send a quick reply along the lines of “I am not the right person for this and can’t help you, sorry.” No further politeness. Then don’t respond to any further follow-ups.

  41. FrozenSolid*

    I’m not sure anyone will have actionable advice so this might be just a rant but I am always FREEZING at work. I know I have a lower tolerance for being cold than a lot of people but I just can’t get comfortable. I wear long underwear (pants and bottom), thick sweaters and socks, but I’m still distractingly uncomfortable. I genuinely think I would need a parka or at least a warm hat, scarf and mittens to be comfortable. I’m not allowed to have a space heater. Everyone else seems to be comfortable but I can hardly feel my fingers, ears or nose. I’m just so sick of it! My partner keeps our apartment on the cooler side but the difference is that at home I ALWAYS have a toque, oodie and thick warm pants on (which is fine, I’m comfy like that but can’t wear that at work).

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I found that putting an electric blanket on the back of my chair (so it sits between me and the chair) really helped keep me warm on colder days. A binder clip is perfect for keeping it secure on the standard office chair.

      You could get a second one for your lap if you really wanted to keep the heat on all sides!

      I’m sorry you’re freezing, I’m almost always cold too (but not quite that cold!) so I can sympathize.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        I just realized I said electric blanket but I meant heating pad. But an electric blanket could work for your lap!

        On a side note, do you know what the actual temperature is in your office? Is it the same at your desk (so truly a you problem) or do you sit under a fan or in a dead zone, etc? I ask because there’s part of my office (that I fortunately do not sit on) that has the same heat setting as the rest of the office but also the AC is stuck blasting for some reason, so that side is genuinely colder than the rest of the office. If your area is truly colder than the rest you might have some options with either facilities or moving.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I am always cold (though I work from home) and seriously considered investing in a pair of USB fingerless gloves. Maybe try that? They’re all over Amazon. You can also get away with a big scarf.

    3. Alex*

      I used to have this problem at my old office. I just kept adding on layers. Did I sometimes look ridiculous? Maybe.

      In the dead of winter, I could be found wearing pants with long underwear (top and bottom), another long sleeved shirt, and a sweater. Then I kept a sweater jacket at work that was easy to slip on over my regular sweater. I constantly sipped on hot tea, and sometimes used those microwave heating pads to hold in my lap as I worked.

    4. WorkerDrone*

      Oh, another always-freezing person here. If you can throw money at the problem, you can fix it… but for me it does kind of require a work uniform of black flats, black socks, and black pants. Let me explain.

      One, I have a small heated blanket for work. That stays on my lap, under the desk so it isn’t visible. It is black, and my pants are always black. This makes it more subtle and less obvious I am snuggled in a blanket even when someone comes around the desk and can see the blanket.

      Two, I have an electronic warming foot pad under my desk. This works great if you can slip your shoes off – I would otherwise wear closed shoes in the winter to accommodate my thick socks, no flats, but those aren’t very discreet to slip on and off. Now what I do is wear thick, black wool socks every day and I have a special pair of black flats that are a size too big. These are my special work flats, which I can subtly and easier slip on and off under my desk so my feet can stay on the warming foot pad.

      Three, I have a mug warmer at my desk, and always always always have a hot drink. Sometimes this is just hot water with a little lemon and honey, or tea, or whatever.

      Four, as someone else suggested, I have a heating pad that often goes at my lower back when I need an extra warm boost.

      And finally, five – I try to wear a cute scarf with my winter outfits. That keeps the back of my neck warm, and I often kind of tuck my chin into it to create a little warm pocket that I dip my nose into.

    5. Panicked*

      If you can’t have *anything* plugged in, could you bring one of those microwavable rice-filled socks or pillows and keep it in your lap? You could microwave it throughout the day to keep it toasty.

    6. TX_Trucker*

      Have you considered a battery powered heated vest? Or a less pricey alternative, USB rechargeable “hand” warmers? The small hand warmers are easy to slip into pockets and socks.

    7. The Prettiest Curse*

      If you’re not already wearing thermals, get some ASAP. I’ve found that the best combo for keeping warm in winter is thermal socks, fleece-lined tights and thermal leggings on the lower half of my body and a thermal vest and long sleeved thermal top underneath a sweater or regular top on the top half of my body. Thermals vary in thickness and warmth, so you may need to experiment a bit to find which combination works best under work clothes.

    8. Zephy*

      Maybe you work with literal polar bears and that’s why no one else in the office is bundled up in five layers of clothing, but are you sure there’s nothing going on medically with you – low iron, low blood sugar, etc? Are you in a position to get any of that checked out? I think you can get a quick screen for that kind of thing at a blood donation center before you donate, I imagine it’s free or very low-cost but YMMV. Your local health department may also be able to help.

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          They’ll tell you if you’re anemic because you can’t donate so it would at least be a check for that.

    9. Once too Often*

      Silk long John’s (tops & pants); silk, wool, or silk wool blend sweaters & hats & shawls. I always hit end of season sales looking for warm things at lower prices. I’ve found cashmere (great warmth/weight ratios) hats for $10.

      Leg warmers are common again; you can slip those under slacks if the legs are wide enough. Fingerless gloves can help.

      If you can plug in things like electric heating pads or blankets, great. If not, look into those self-warming pads they make for pets. They reflect your own heat back to you – but those work best closer to skin so not as helpful next to layers of outer gear.

      Also if your home is kept cool but your office is colder, it may be worth having the temps in your office tracked eg early, midday, end of day. Sometimes there are glitches which can be addressed. I’ve been in offices where temps were way out of line with standards and with nearby offices.

      And, if your home is cool & your office cold, you may want to negotiate for a more comfortable home temperature. Being cold all the time is exhausting.

    10. Qwerty*

      I warm up a lot when I use a yoga ball as a chair. The constant subtle movements really increase blood flow so that my fingers don’t freeze.

      I also have a down vest that I wear a lot at work – it is thin but very keeps my core warm enough that I often end up rolling up my sleeves.

      Get bloodwork done at your next annual checkup – I tend to be constantly frozen when I’m anemic

  42. Stuck at the start line*

    Good lord, job hunting is rough right now. But I have the maybe potential of an offer for a job that is across the country. The job knows where I’m located and that I intend to move. When I look for reasonable start dates, most of it I think applies to either remote roles or roles that are in the place you live, so they say “4 to 6 weeks.” But goodness, with moving, wrapping things up, etc., I’m thinking I might ask for a start date to be closer to 2-3 months from the offer. Is that unreasonable? Thankfully, I currently have a job, so I can afford losing this offer, but I’d like to know if people will look at me sideways for that start date and if I should adjust.

    1. Alex*

      I think it really depends on the company. In the past I was offered a job for which I’d have to move (internationally!) and they balked at a month. They wanted me to commit to 3 weeks.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah 2-3 months is probably not going to work for most places. It would be different if they were hiring you straight out of college and have a built-in calendar for handling cohorts.

      I’d suggest switching the calendar around a bit. Are they paying for relocation? If yes, can you get 2-4 weeks of long-stay hotel in there? Start work early, stay in the Residence Inn, and hunt for your permanent house/apartment. Then fly back to your old home, and with a full weekend plus a couple days off you ought to be able to get packed up. If you have the right supplies, it goes faster than you might think. Furniture packing will all be done by the moving company, you only need to handle clothes, dishes, artwork & knickknacks.

    3. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      It can be negotiated for! I was able to push my start date back at least three or four months because I wanted to stay long enough to be 100% vested in my 401k, and they were sympathetic to that.

    4. Bearbrick*

      It really depends on the job and what the company’s needs are. We do seasonal time-sensitive work and have a small staff- our workflow just wouldn’t be able to accommodate 2-3 months. This is a case where you can certainly ask upon offer, but should be prepared for them to say no. I would look sideways (lol) at anyone requesting more than 3-4 weeks unless they shared some truly extenuating circumstances, e.g. a family emergency or similar.

    5. K8T*

      Honestly I think most companies would pass on you as a hire. Of course we don’t know your living situation and how much you have to move/coordinate/etc but 6 weeks to move cross country isn’t unreasonable.

  43. the tumpet*

    I’m trying to write a resume to help me move on from my first office job. Should I still be putting my retail experience down? It’s not that long ago, but apart from people skills and high-level “attention to detail” sort of things, the jobs are not relevant to the kinds of jobs I’d be looking for.

    1. curious*

      I like dividing my resume into two portions: “relevant experience” (your current job) and below that “other experience” (your retail work). That way, you can give a fuller picture of your employment history, but keep the emphasis on your most recent experience.

      1. Cordelia*

        I like the idea of dividing it up, but not sure “relevant” and “other” experience is quite right, because to me that implies that the “other” experience is not relevant, in which case why is it there? Could you put something like “administrative experience” and then “other experience”? Because you need to be explaining, if your resume is light on specific office experience, why your previous retail experience is relevant – and it definitely is, people skills and attention to detail are going to be important, don’t dismiss them and don’t encourage employers to do so by implying they are irrelevant

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I like what curious suggested, breaking your resume into “relevant experience” and “other experience.” I also think it’s helpful to have a master resume (a resume with all of your previous jobs on it). That way you can customize resumes for each job application by deleting what you don’t need, instead of trying to add or change things. For example, if you don’t have space for all of your bullet points under your retail experience, you would keep the “worked well with teammates/helped customers with XYZ” bullet points on the resume for the job that has “works well with various personalities” in the job description and you can keep your “attention to detail” bullet points on the resume for the job that has “must have good attention to detail” in the job description.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        In case it’s easier to see an example, your resume might look something like this:

        [contact info]

        Relevant Experience
        [Office job title, company, dates]

        Other Experience
        [Retail job title, company, dates]

        1. the tumpet*

          This is super helpful! I’d heard of the “Master resume” concept before but hadn’t connected tailoring my list of accomplishments as well as the jobs themselves. Thanks!

    3. Random Academic Cog*

      I would specifically be looking for those soft skills if I were hiring. If you’ve got a light resume, especially, I would leave it there.

      1. the tumpet*

        Good to hear. I’m working on getting a couple certifications right now to help bolster too but I like to think I’m a good people person at work :)

    4. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

      I just hired a few months ago, and the person I hired had the industry-specific experience I needed, but ALSO had retail experience on her resume and that was absolutely a contributing factor to hiring her because the soft skills she learned in retail are crucial to the work we do. I would keep it on, because it shows hiring managers you have a skill set that can’t be taught, it has to be learned.

      1. Random Academic Cog*

        Yes, same. I actually suggested getting a side gig to acquire those soft skills to an unsuccessful applicant who asked me for feedback to improve her job search (internal applicant I already knew).

  44. Tradd*

    Update from last week’s thread about a job posting that specified NO WFH and the ree candidates still asked about it, including one who cried when told no WFH. These were all from LinkedIn posting.

    Had a screening call with a candidate through a recruiter we’re working with (have worked with to them for years). Recruiter told me she had told candidate several times job was in the office and to not ask for WFH. First thing I asked candidate was if they were aware that job was in the office. He said yes, but said he hoped it could turn into WFH. I told him that was not possible. He said he wasn’t interested then and we ended the cal.

    We’ve taken down the LinkedIn and Indeed postings and will just work with recruiter or personal recommendations. The owners and HR both work from home often. They both hate allowing the peasants (desk level employees) , which is what I call us, to WFH, even during illness or quarantine for covid. So that’s not going to change. My industry (international transportation) is still mostly on site jobs.

    1. Yikes*

      I was with you until I read the owners and HR all WFH often. For some roles, I get why you couldn’t WFH, but I’m sure there are roles where you could. That’s a bummer, I’m sorry.

      1. Tradd*

        Everything could be done from home. It is what it is. I’ve been in the working world for more than 30 years. I’m OK with being in the office. It just would be nicer to have the WFH option without fighting for illness and bad weather.

        1. birb*

          Covid was a mass-disabling event. I’m personally having to decide between continuing to work at a job that is making me more disabled and has sent me to the ER twice by ignoring my medical accommodations, or just… giving up and dying I guess?

          I have an in-demand skillset across multiple industries and excellent reviews, experience, and references, but I need the flexibility of working from home to be alive and not continue to become more disabled. If I leave my current job without finding a more accessible job, I lose my insurance, and become more and more disabled.

          As this happens to more and more people due to reinfection, its going to be harder and harder to find people who are qualified to do jobs that don’t see WFH or at least hybrid as an existential issue.

    2. Kiaya*

      @Tradd: If you’re able to share, I’m curious if the only reason the job isn’t WFH is your employer’s refusal to allow it.

      If yes, then that is what it is. At the same time, if the job’s nature lends itself to WFH, maybe it’s unsurprising that some people hoped to negotiate.

      Also, did the would-be negotiators currently work in your industry? You mentioned that it’s still mostly on site jobs.

    3. Sleepiest Girl Out Here*

      No advice, but I can commiserate. I’ve had to do hiring recently and every person I talked to wanted to turn it into a remote position despite the first line of the job description in bold saying we’re fully in office. I really empathize with them. I wish we had the option to wfh too!

  45. Tears*

    Got a chat message from my boss about how their boss and grand boss are very stressed and how we need to support them. I burst into tears. I’ve been asking for support, saying I’m drowning, and showing metrics of how much I’m doing and yet there is no support for me. I’m just supposed to take more off their plates. Any advice?

    1. ecnaseener*

      Job-hunt :( your manager’s showing you what their priority is, and it’s not something you can change. In the meantime you can certainly try saying “as you know, I’m also at my absolute limit and very stressed about it so I can’t take on anything else” but…

    2. Wordnerd*

      I’m hesitant to give advice when you say you’ve been asking for support, but I know some of Alison’s scripts around questions like this are, “If I’m asked to take on more responsibility for Project Z, then I will not be able to work on Project Y until X date. Is that change in prioritization acceptable, or should I continue to focus on Project Y?”
      And then if the answer is, “Prioritize both!” then yes, commenter Ecnaseener is probably correct that this is an environment that doesn’t support people.

    3. Tears*

      Thanks all. That’s kind of what I expected and I just needed a reality check. For what it’s worth, I said no to a surprise task today. I think my boss’s head almost exploded because they had never considered that I wouldn’t do it.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        And keep pushing up, asking your boss how to prioritize all of your tasks and which should drop off your list. Make it their problem, not yours.
        And for sure look for another job!

  46. One*

    When you are making no progress trying to run an issue up your own chain of command, how can you gauge whether it makes sense to bring it to top?

    I work a public facing role at a local government that has been trying to burnish its image with more focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. I am proud of the work we have done! But at my particular worksite I feel like we are going backwards when it comes to meeting the needs of people with mobility or other kinds of physical impairments.

    A recent furniture reset resulted in us getting rid of our only wheelchair accessible service desk. And now there is talk of a security enhancement that would make it more difficult for people with certain needs to access our front door and could make an evacuation emergency more difficult for everyone.

    I have tried to push back on each of these, but it falls to deaf ears. Since I work in local government, there is an advisory committee appointed by the elected officials that fund my organization. Clearly this advisory board was not created to adjudicate the grievances of low level workers like me. But it is meant to make sure that we are serving the needs of the taxpayers that fund us. How do I gauge whether going outside my chain of command is a good move?

    1. Betty Spaghetti*

      At the municipality I work for, going directly to the board would be an inadvisable move. It’d be perceived as inappropriate and management would be miffed about the attempt to go around them. Is there a disability rights advocate in your HR who can maybe go to bat for you?

    2. OtterB*

      Does the local government have a disability services group or committee? You could talk to them about the issues with serving the public, and it’s less going over the head of your chain of command (to the Bigwig Advisory Committee) and more sidestepping to some subject matter experts.

    3. Llellayena*

      Do you happen to have a connection with the local building code department? It sounds like the changes you’re making to the office affect accessibility and fire safety, those fall squarely on the building department. You might be able to mention your concerns to them and they can make a point to inspect the changes. You might not be able to get them involved until after the changes are made though. Furniture and door hardware don’t normally need a building permit/drawing review prior to making the change.

    4. BikeWalkBarb*

      Your local government is required to meet plenty of requirements under the ADA and it sounds as if they’re setting themselves up to field future accessibility complaints they’ll be required to address at far greater cost. Have you submitted these concerns in writing with specifics and asked if they have had the changes reviewed for compliance with the ADA and fire code?

      The accessible desk isn’t a requirement as long as someone has an alternative way to access the service. The access and evacuation concerns are more serious.

      It also sounds to me as if you don’t have anyone currently working there who has a disability, and having an inaccessible workplace guarantees you won’t be recruiting them in future. Are the DEI goals explicit about inclusion of people with disabilities? Is that something you can raise with potential for a more receptive audience?


      “Who Has Responsibilities under the ADA?
      Title II of the ADA applies to all State and local governments and all departments, agencies, special purpose districts, and other instrumentalities of State or local government (“public entities”). It applies to all programs, services, or activities of public entities, from adoption services to zoning regulation. Title II entities that contract with other entities to provide public services (such as non-profit organizations that operate drug treatment programs or convenience stores that sell state lottery tickets) also have an obligation to ensure that their contractors do not discriminate against people with disabilities.”

  47. Hotdog not dog*

    And another one bites the dust! My team is now down to 3 from 8. I’m hoping that at least one of my recent interviews proves to be fruitful. I just had a terrible year end review (with accompanying 1.8% increase) because it turns out that I cannot effectively do more than 2 full time jobs’ worth of work.
    Our company has been very open that they are planning layoffs, so attrition is welcome. The challenge is that my team is required (I’m in Compliance and Governance) so none of our work can be shuffled to another department and it simply MUST be done. Nobody at the executive level seems to understand that while headcount is being reduced, they may need to be more selective about which heads.
    My current manager is aware that I’m burning out and am a “flight risk”. She wants me to tough it out, but is unable to offer any kind of real support other than pep talks. (It’s out of her hands, the problems are coming from much higher up.)
    I’m not comfortable lying to her, but I also don’t want to tell her I’ve been actively looking. She’s been pressing me to speak with her “before I do anything drastic, like apply for other jobs”. What is a diplomatic way to get her to drop it? I like and respect her, and I’m sure she realizes that we have to be looking. I’ve pretty much run out of subject changes.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Is there anything you can raise with your manger that she can realistically address? If so, raise those items with her (if you haven’t already). Other than that, I think when she says “come talk to me before you look for other jobs,” can you respond with a “yes, will do” (even though you of course will not)? If you respond the same way each time, the interaction should become less fraught (because it will be more rote, like “how are you?/good, you?/good” is) and your manager may bring it up less often because she’s not getting anything different from you.

      If/when you get a new job, you can use the “it dropped into my lap, opportunity is too good to pass up” language that is often suggested on this site.

    2. WorkerDrone*

      What is your relationship with her like?

      If it was even halfway friendly, since you’re leaving anyways, I’d be pretty honest. “[Manager], you know that the situation is unsustainable and I am burning out. What would change if I spoke to you before applying for other jobs that isn’t changing now? Are you saying that X, Y, or Z could change if you knew I was applying somewhere else?”

      And, I am sure she will say no, these things can’t be changed.

      So my response would be somewhat along the lines of, “Look, since X, Y, and Z can’t change, and I can’t stay in this position forever unless they do, then one way you can help me tough it out for now is to stop pushing for me to share with you whether or not I’m job searching. That’s an added layer of pressure and stress for me to manage and that makes it harder for me to want to stay.”

      If you don’t feel like you can say something like that, could you try a less blunt version? “[Manager], I will definitely tell you if there is something you need to know, but in the meantime thinking about applying for other jobs is just stressing me out more. Can we table this?”

    3. pally*

      Given your manager cannot change anything and the problems are from higher up, what exactly is she able to do for you should you tell her you are in fact applying for other jobs?

      Will a change occur if you tell her you applied for a job somewhere? If so, doesn’t that imply she does have means to change things?

      I think I’d have the “What happens if I tell you that I have applied for other jobs?” discussion.

      Or, maybe suggest that every employee everywhere applies for other positions at some point in time. It’s a normal thing to do.

    4. Distractinator*

      Speak with her before applying to other jobs? Speak about *what*?! Next time she says that, I’d ask “Why would that help? Does that mean there’s something you could change to make it better around here?”
      Maybe your manager could use your threatened departure as ammunition against the higher ups, and that would be a positive. What are potential negatives if you told her? Seriously, it’s not like they can afford to pre-emptively lay you off. Nor is there space for them to add more tasks/priorities. You don’t actually want to keep this job in the big picture since they’re not hiring replacements for people who leave.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      thank you, I think I’ve been too buried in the weeds to think logically! That makes a lot of sense to turn it back to her, and I like the wording of “What would change if we discussed it?”
      I don’t believe I would be putting any kind of target on myself that isn’t already there. It’s unlikely that cuts would come from our team, but this company tends to do Last In First Out, which is me anyway.

  48. a passerby*

    I know that there are a number of people in the library world who read this blog, so I’ll give this a shot: how do I know if it’s worth it to try moving into a different field?

    I work in academic libraries. In every job, I’ve been some variation on “library assistant (advanced/3/whatever the highest classification is for the role)” in tech services (primarily cataloging). In THEORY, I love my work. Past positions have taught me all sorts of new skills, the materials I’m working with now are interesting, and I’m largely left alone to do my own thing. In PRACTICE, I’m sick of being underpaid and undervalued, and I’m super burnt out. Budgets and positions keep getting cut, Covid has underscored just how little higher education cares about its workers, library administration is on a different planet than staff, my mentor figures keep leaving for non-academic jobs… etc etc etc. A lot of the issues I have are, unfortunately, systemic in both the academic and library worlds, so they’re not going to change anytime soon.

    The thing is, I don’t know what else I’d do. I’ve heard plenty of stories about library folks getting into fields like instructional design, but they basically put in the effort of a part-time job on top their library jobs in order to get the education and experience needed. I barely have enough energy to make dinner when I get home, nevermind something like teach myself a programming language.

    This year is the tenth anniversary of my graduation with a MLIS. I can’t take another decade of this. I don’t want to stick around just because of sunk cost fallacy and vocational awe, but an added wrinkle is that I’m neurodivergent and am afraid that my slew of brain weasels will severely limit my options elsewhere.

    Does anyone have any advice? I know this is a super broad sketch of a situation, but I feel like things are untenable as is.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I really think you sound burned out. Can you take some time off and try to get your head around your options? Big hugs from another part of library-land.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      It sounds like it’s worth exploring new fields. Think about the transferable soft skills that you’re good at. Working with cataloguers, I think most of them are detail-oriented, organized, able to balance several projects, problem-solvers, and see the connection between input/technology and output/user experience.

      Off the top of my head, some potential fields to explore might be Quality Assurance, Compliance, Data Management, Project Coordinator, Inventory Coordinator, and Administrative Assistant.

      I like Idealist as a job board to skim through just for some ideas on position titles and skills.

    3. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Someone upthread mentioned moving from library to admin – comment is by Hypoglycemic rage.

    4. peter b*

      A colleague of mine moved directly from academic librarianship to content management for government proposals, as there was an enormous need for folks with MLIS backgrounds to build out this team. But as someone who ended up on that same team and had once dreamt of getting an MLIS, I sympathize with wishing the actual job of being a librarian was better and definitely recognize the transferrable skills… while wishing it could’ve been a viable career path for me. It’s almost always worth looking around, even if you stay where you are, so O guess I’m commenting in case it’s helpful to add proposal management-related roles to your exploration!

  49. Cat in Boots*

    My boss has the spine of a hagfish and the personality of an invasive brome. I like my job and most of my co-workers, but I have a really hard time with my boss. I also have a tragically expressive face, so when he goes off on another tangent about how wonderful he is, how his boss (my grandboss (who is a woman)) is SO demanding and negative, how his job is so difficult (it is, but not in the ways he’s mentioning), my face inevitably looks like a combination of Aubrey Plaza in Parks and Rec and an African rain frog.

    How do I control this? How do I keep my every frustrated emotion from popping up on my face? I try to smile and think kind thoughts but my coworker told me that I still look like the guy in the Shining.

    1. Betty Spaghetti*

      I don’t know, and as a person who’s last annual review contained the comment “Face isn’t enthusiastic enough”, I am following along in hopes of an answer.

      1. Cat in Boots*

        I honestly kind of miss the mandatory masking days because it made my RBF and also just general WTF expressions soooooo much easier to hide.

    2. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      It sounds like your Rain Frog Face is coming out when Boss is basically yammering, right? Can you block him out and aggressively think of something lovely to make yourself smile or at least look neutral?

      1. Cat in Boots*

        Oooh, I like this idea. I’ve tried practicing my smile and my neutral face in the mirror, and it keeps slipping so I suspect gently disassociating might work better.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          And if you NEED to pay attention, imagine sharing what this nincompoop is saying with the commentariat here, and the witheringly scornful things we’d have to say about it!

    3. Mynona*

      Get in front of a mirror and practice faces until you find one that looks and feels natural. Then practice making it. In the moment, focus on making your face, not thinking nice thoughts about the idiot.

    4. WorkerDrone*

      I always have an enormous mug of tea – think like a soup mug – and I carry it everywhere. Any emotion of frustration or annoyance I don’t want to cross my face means I take a slow, long sip of tea. This both hides my face, and re-directs my annoyance, because yum warm tea.

      1. WhoAmIWhyAmIHere*

        This sounds brilliant. And if you want to express annoyance, you can audibly sluuuuurp for as long as you want.

    5. EMP*

      “the spine of a hagfish and the personality of an invasive brome” gave me a good laugh. I have no good advice for your face problems but you sure have a way with words :)

      1. And thanks for the coffee*

        Like EMP I was struck by the descriptions in your comments. I was intrigued by your way with words. I didn’t know about hagfish or brome. But, instead of being annoyed about this I wanted to know more about what it meant. I’m no writer or writing expert, but I love to read. Finding satisfaction in reading this entry here was particularly surprising. Look forward to your future writing.

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      I have an expressive face too – as one awed co-worker once put it, “if looks could kill we’d be in a Saw movie” – and I’ve had to practice controlling it. The passive, neutral Gray Rock Face is much easier than trying to fake delight. Get thee to a mirror, and focus on what the muscles feel like in the moment, so you can concentrate on reproducing the same sensation when you need it. Also, yeah, disassociation is a useful skill. Imagine you’re watching on a screen. Go to the place you go when you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair – thinking about it doesn’t help, you just retreat to the meditation zone between your ears and wait for it to be over.

    7. Shirley Keeldar*

      It sometimes helps me to put the tiniest possible smile at the corners of my mouth. When I look in the mirror it actually creates a neutral expression. And I’m thinking about maintaining the smile (not letting it fade away, not letting it grow into an actual smile) instead of the dreadfulness of what I’m hearing.

  50. Petty Hill*

    After a lot of fussing with my manager, I finally was able to receive more tasks that weren’t menial ones the higher ups didn’t want to do. We discussed a change in title but she told me it would only happen in the new year. I took on the responsibilities of my new title as we were in a “transition period,” but I have two problems:

    1. My title is “still in the works” and may not even appear until June. That would mean I’ve been at my workplace for nearly five years without a title change, even though my responsibilities have changed drastically.

    2. My co-worker, who is a favorite of the higher ups, keeps poaching my tasks and inserting herself. My manager seems to take no issue with this. In fact, she is encouraging it because she is the favorite.

    I’m super frustrated, looking for another job, but in this market, I know it may take some time to find one. What should I do until then?

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Resist the urge to fight with the office pet, keep your cool and if she takes them 1. don’t offer guidance and 2. follow up with an email to both her and boss that she has requested to take the task on. Then also look for a new job quietly and if things don’t change leave.

  51. Justin*

    Just commenting to say that it’s a very affirming feeling to know that my job – my direct boss, HIS boss, and HER boss, the CEO – trust me, and understand that I’m good at this BECAUSE of my way of doing things (neurodivergence broadly, but just that I do things very fast and a lot of things at once, etc), not in spite of it.

    Every few months I’m asked to lead more and more important projects and I keep stepping up. I really think I’ve found my place (and I still get to adjunct and write books on the side because I need the creative and pedagogical outlet).

    To make it a question – when moving from a bad management/environment situation to a good one, how long did it take you to fully believe you were supported?

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      I haven’t moved from a bad management/environment situation, but I do identify with my bosses thinking me good at my job because of my possible neurodivergence.

      I’m probably pretty much the opposite to you – very pedantic, somewhat obsessive, etc and I joke that they “keep me around for obsessing purposes.” The colleagues I worked closely with know they can get me to research a thing in minute detail.

  52. Medium Sized Manager*

    Does anybody have advice on managing somebody who struggles with getting feedback or good keywords to search the site? I tried “negative” and variations of that, but it’s most people who struggle with receiving feedback. I have a direct report who routinely speaks negatively about themselves (I’m such a dummy, I wasted everybody’s time, etc) despite nobody on our team ever speaking to them that way. I am trying to build up their confidence and really work with them on improving their skills, but it makes it harder to give feedback when the response is extremely emotional/negative/not reflective of the words I am actually saying.

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Try “My employee constantly apologizes and calls herself stupid”. It’s number 1/5 on July 24, 2018. Also has an update!

    2. Cat in Boots*

      I’ve had some luck pointing out the pattern: “Hey, I’ve noticed when I give you feedback you respond with some really negative words about yourself. That is not what I’m saying. I value your work and your contributions, which is why I’m giving you this feedback.” When giving feedback and they respond negatively, “That is not what I said, nor what I was implying. Can you tell me when you heard, so I can figure out where our wires are getting crossed?” And then repeat that each time they say a negative thing.

      That said, this sounds like my brain when my anxiousness levels are in overdrive. If your workplace has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program), it might be worth referring your employee to that.

      1. Medium Sized Manager*

        I appreciate the feedback and language! I agree with pointing out what I said vs. what they may have heard. They come from a field notorious for burnout and negativity towards employees, so the anxiety is absolutely in overdrive. A lot of our work has been to recalibrate expectations as well.

    3. Awkwardness*

      Maybe try “feedback” + “employee”.
      If it is managers writing it, the letter probably will contain the word employee.

      Otherwise no advice, as I am no manager. Good luck!

    4. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      Good suggestions above, but also:
      In trying to build up their confidence, it sounds like you might be ascribing your employee’s negative self-talk to lacking self-confidence. That might be the case, or a large part of it, but that also may be outside of your ability to influence as a manager: you can’t change someone’s attitude or worldview *for* them, they’ve got to choose to do that themself.

      What is squarely within your scope to influence is the observable behavior. You can point out the pattern like Cat in Boots’ comment describes. And you can tell your employee to refrain from making those negative comments, just as you would expect them to refrain from making negative comments about a coworker, or refrain from kicking the photocopier when it malfunctions. And then gently, firmly, consistently hold them to that expectation until the behavior changes: each time they start to badmouth themself, interrupt them, remind them of the expectation, and try again.

      “Whoah, Cyril, I’ma stop you right there. That is exactly what we talked about. I didn’t say those things, personal judgements like that don’t belong in respectful professional communications, and I won’t have you speaking like that about one of my employees. Got it? (If they seem upset at this point it would be a kindness to offer: Do you need a minute to take that in and compose yourself? or similar, and look away or let them step out for a few seconds or at most minutes, before resuming the conversation). Let’s start over without judgmental comments this time; you’re welcome to ask questions, though. As I was saying about those TPS Reports: when you XYZ the PDQ, you need to remember to ABC, because DEF. Now, to make sure we’re on the same page, can you summarize back to me the change in procedure from how you’ve been doing it?”

      Assuming you already recognize their success and progress/improvement in various aspects of their job and professional behavior, continue doing that — and add “not badmouthing themself when receiving feedback” as a thing to recognize improvement in. Don’t make a big congratulatory deal about it, but do notice when you’re able to give them feedback without them saying something self-deprecating, and give them a brief “I noticed how professionally you received feedback this time” “thank you” or “I appreciate your effort” or the like. It probably goes without saying not to lose your temper with them or say negative things about them like they do about themself– that’ll just “prove” they were “right”. But it might be more counterintuitive: do not argue against the negative things they say, don’t reassure them, or counter with positives when they bring up the negative — that is training them they can avoid uncomfortable or neutral feedback and obtain reassurance by badmouthing themselves.

      If this is something they’re able to change just based on coaching from a professional mentor, you should see a change after a few to several repetitions of the interrupt-correct-do-over, though they might have a hard time at first and the behavior may even briefly increase before reducing.
      If the behavior persists despite coaching, tell them it’s an obstacle to their professional success, and suggest resources such as EAP they can use to work on whatever whatever is stopping them from changing their behavior.

      1. Medium Sized Manager*

        Thank you so much for the detailed reply!! I copy/pasted it to re-read at not 430 PM on a long Friday, but your comments about how to handle the statements in the moment help a lot. Silence feels like I am saying “You are so right to call yourself dumb” so it’s a good re-framing process for me as well.

        I know they have good intentions but their work is not very strong right now, so it’s a careful balance. I am working to celebrate the important wins and tie any feedback to “This is how we achieve your goal of being a star in x department,” which seems to be helping. At minimum, they know I am rooting for their success.

  53. cubone*

    I recently applied for an internal position and didn’t get an interview. The feedback I got from the hiring manager was that I’m lacking the experience required for the role (let’s say this role is at a Level 3). They specifically said I would “maybe be ready for [Level 2 role, the one below Level 3] in a few years” but should apply if any “[Level 1] roles” come up.

    I’m trying not to take it personally, but… I’m already at the equivalent of the Level 2 role, in the same organization (higher ed). I’m also frustrated because I know on paper I am missing 1 year of experience required (eg. they say 5 years and I have 4) for the Level 3 role, but I seem to have always been put into positions where I am doing work well above my level, so my actual hands-on experience is much, much more significant. In my current role I’m responsible for training new Level 1’s AND Level 2’s, and my boss/colleagues who Levels 3 to 5 are consistently deferring to me for decisions, training, planning etc.

    I feel like an egotistical jerk, but I feel like my years of experience doesn’t seem to translate to my “years of experience”. I spoke to a former supervisor (also internal) who’s been a great mentor to get some honesty, because maybe I just need to accept that I need to “pay my dues” for longer than I expected. My former supervisor said she was just as confused as she would’ve thought I was OVER-qualified for the Level 3 role and should be looking at more senior positions.

    I’m not sure if I’m ranting or asking for advice, but I’m annoyed and it really hit my confidence.

    1. Glazed Donut*

      Sometimes feedback is only half-true. About 5 years ago, I applied for an internal role. I was told that I wouldn’t go forward in the process because I didn’t have experience in the A – G range (I had, let’s say, A to E). The person they ended up hiring also didn’t have A to G experience – or any actual experience in our part of the field! While I wish they’d just told me straight up why they didn’t move me forward (they want an external hire! they didn’t like how I did X previously, whatever it may be), I learned to stop applying with that team – they likely wouldn’t be the supervisor I’d need if they couldn’t tell me this anyway.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Higher ed is weird. Repeat this as needed. I do.

      Also, feedback is rough. It might be true. It might not be true. It might be that once you accidentally said something that insulted someone at a cocktail reception five years ago and now they have sworn they will never promote you as it would be an insult to their family name. Who knows? Higher ed is… weird.

      Personally, I wouldn’t dwell on it too much. If you want some advice, perhaps take a real look at your CV and see if it really does show the work you do? Because it may also be that it doesn’t highlight what it really needs to highlight.

      And get someone who doesn’t know anything about what you do to look at it- I think for internal jobs, folks often assume that other people “know” what they do all day and they don’t. So, try to give people grace on this one.

      1. JelloStapler*

        This is great advice.

        Higher Ed has all kinds of odd political things going on behind the scenes and often also tries to do anything they can to not pay for experience or role while still asking you to do the work associated with it.

      2. Pen*

        Higher ed is weird AND it is, in my experience at least, a lot more rigid than other industries. When the job listing says “five years,” it doesn’t at all surprise me when someone with four years, eleven months, and thirty days is turned down.

    3. trust me I'm a PhD*

      Context for your experience matters a lot. I’m also in higher ed (faculty side) and just yesterday passed on applying for a job where I had all the right KIND of experience but not in the right institutional contexts.

      Also, FWIW, it sounds like you’re ruminating on the results of just one application, yeah? It’s very possible that if you apply for some Level 3-4 jobs, even at the same institution (unless it’s a tiny institution, which it doesn’t read that way to me from your post?) with a different hiring committee, you may do much better. If you want information about how your application/experience is read, you have to look for the patterns, not the one-offs.

  54. Job Applicant*

    Anyone working in temp admin roles lately? What’s it like these days?

    I’ve been out of the workforce for a few years and it’s been a few decades since I did temp work, so I know things have changed, but I’m wondering what it’s like now. I’m not having much luck with temp agencies, which could be for a lot of reasons – I’m looking for part time (or work from home), I’m older, I have a bit of a gap on my resume, or just that there aren’t many temp jobs out there right now. I’m wondering if people who are (or have recently) working as temps have some insight into if it’s the last one.

  55. Hybrid vs Remote*

    I am considering giving up my remote job for a hybrid job. While I love not commuting, I also am having lots of trouble being productive at home. I cannot for the life remember pre-2019 how productive I was in an office (I do remember getting distracted by conversations) but I do know that right now, if I go to a coffee shop, I can get a lot of work done.

    I read somewhere though that hybrid is not the wonderful middle ground that people think and it’s actually more hellish that full office work, because you get used to being at home half of the time and the other half you have to drag yourself to the office. Any hybrid folks here that can speak to the pros and cons of your experience?

    1. curious*

      I’ve been hybrid since 2021 (3 days in office per week) and I love it. I like getting to see my colleagues in person, but I’m still spending 4 out of 7 days per week away from the office — not bad!

    2. Procedure Publisher*

      For me, hybrid works. However, for my recent position, hybrid meant unassigned desks and that was where hybrid really does not work. Also, hybrid can be very weird with how many days you are expected in the office and exceptions to those days.

    3. Sutemi*

      I really like hybrid, it suits me and my role. I work with a lot of people from different functions, so the on site days when I can have in person interactions really increases my collaborative efficiency. I don’t think of it as being distracted by conversations, I’m buiding working relationships and getting in the 5 minute conversations that don’t need to be a meeting or a series of emails.

      We have a strong hybrid culture, with a majority of people who must be on site part time for lab work and most others who spend some time on site. Previously when I worked somewhere with the majority remote, hybrid was not as useful.

      I have to be very deliberate about what I bring back and forth. My commute is cycling, so the commute builds in exercise time which I would need to do anyway – those with long drives come in a lot less.

      I have an assigned desk, so I’m able to keep the basics in my drawer and my ergonomic setup is personal. I would hate hotdesking.

    4. Jenny*

      I’m in the office 1 day per week and at home 4 days per week. Prior to the pandemic it was 3 days in the office and 2 at home.

      I like a lot of things about my hybrid schedule (and I’d be content if they changed it to 2 office/3 home). I find that there is some truth about networking and meeting in person with people—not to the level that some management make it sound like, but it is nice. I find that I work a little less in the office (going out for a longer lunch, getting coffee), but I’m more productive at home when I actually get home from work.

      I think there’s a huge benefit in having the same type of set-up at home and in the office. My org (gov’t) won’t cover equipment for both places, so I bought a big monitor for at home. I also would want to make sure I come into the office on the same days each week and not have gaps between them (so Tuesday and Wednesday vs. Monday and Friday), that way you don’t have to haul stuff in twice.

    5. Random Academic Cog*

      We were hybrid pre-Covid and there are a lot of variables. I prefer it, but how it’s managed makes a big difference. Pre-Covid it was one day/week and it was a set day with very little flexibility (e.g., you could pick a different day if you had to come into the office because we had an in-person meeting scheduled, but you had to take leave if you needed to be home a different day because you had a repair person coming). Even being sick wasn’t necessarily a good enough reason to do extra WFH days vs taking leave.

      Now we are officially WFH 2 days/week, but with lots of flexibility. We try to make sure at least one person is in the office, but we’ve got flexibility to tell someone to work from home if they’re just a little sick or there’s questionable weather. Also, people who don’t have lots of F2F meetings have “usual” WFH days, but others just roll with it from week to week for maximum availability. It’s working for us (we do all have our own desks – tried hotdesking a bit during some construction and it was pretty rough).

    6. Seahorse*

      I really like being hybrid. I missed the casual-but-useful interactions with coworkers and felt out of the loop when I was fully remote 2020 – 2021. I was productive, but felt disconnected. It’s also nice to make sure I get out of the house, and it makes it easy to do things like grabbing groceries on the way home.

      Being home two or three days a week means I commute less, spend more time with my pets, have easy access to my kitchen for whatever kind of lunch I want at least 2x a week, and can still easily keep up with chores like laundry and dishes.

      I’m a lot less tired doing hybrid than I was for an on-site 9 hours / 5 days schedule and more in-tune with my job than I was while fully remote.

    7. Aitch Arr*

      We are 2 in / 3 out hybrid and I like it.
      One benefit is that of the 2 days in, 1 day is prescribed (Tuesdays) and the other is up to us, depending on meetings and personal commitments.

      We are also allowed to flex our commute times, so I usually start my day at home (8 – 9 am meeting or checking emails) and then drive to work. My commute is then cut from ~45 min to ~25 since I’m commuting after rush hour.

    8. DrSalty*

      I was hybrid for 5 years. First, 4 days in office and 1 wfh, then totally remote (COVID), then 2 days in office and 3 wfh. Now I’m totally remote again. I think being in the office and being st home are good for different things. Being in the office is great for in person collaboration. Being at home is great for buckling down and getting stuff done on your own schedule. Also of course the usually cited benefits. I quite liked being hybrid, it was good for me. I liked the variety.

    9. Snax*

      I think hybrid is the best of both worlds. I’m WFH two days per week, so I still get days where I can easily do drop off and pick up for daycare, have a more relaxed morning, work out on my lunch break, and do housework tasks during quick breaks. But I still am in the office enough to build relationships, have in person meetings, and feel connected to my organization. The only con for me is needing to move things between two workplaces, but that’s not hard. I also find that I need to be flexible, as one of my WFH days tends to change week by week according to my meeting schedule.

    10. Pen*

      I’m hybrid, too. I see why people don’t love it and why it can make for a confusing experience, but I’m a fan. The only thing I don’t love about it are the in-office days when meetings and team check-ins and colleague coffees and whatnot are stacked one after the other because “everyone’s here, so why not.” I guess I just now write these off as “non-productive” days.

    11. Remote to Hybrid*

      I left my remote job for a hybrid one (3 days in office). After having been remote for the whole pandemic, I was honestly ready for a job that had more in-office time. Remote work was convenient, but it wasn’t great for my productivity or my mental health, and I never really managed to maximize the convenience benefit anyway. I also really like the people and the office culture that I’ll sometimes voluntarily go into the office more often than 3 days a week, even though I technically don’t have to.

      The downside was getting used to waking up early enough to get to the office in time for work (I’m embarrassed to admit that was a bigger adjustment than I expected). But the biggest downside in my opinion is being geographically tied to living in a particular location. I like where I live and I can afford it, but it is an expensive area and my spouse is mad that I took a hybrid job because it means we’re stuck living here (even though we kept living here by choice when we were both remote) – but if you are happy living where you live, then this may not be relevant for you.

    12. Qwerty*

      Hybrid means many many things. I think the best ones have consistency so that there is a regular schedule and that the people you work with are all in on the same days. Hybrid can be awful when you have to spend half your time on Zoom during your in-office days because other peers are remote that day.

      I live close to my jobs, so I had a really good experience with mornings at home and afternoons in office, but I realize that commuting makes that not an option for most people. I did all my big remote calls in the mornings and my focus-work or 1×1 in person meetings during the in office time.

      Other teams I’ve worked with did well with MWF in office, Tu/Thurs at home (or vice versa) where they made at-home days meeting free so people could focus.

      Beware of what hybrid actually means. For some jobs I interviewed for, it was one day in office per month or per week. Since you need to leave home to get stuff done, you might actually benefit from a flexible schedule where you can decide your office vs WFH day based on what you need to get done.

    13. HybridRocks*

      I used to work hybrid (since 1997) before I had to go full remote for health reasons (in ~2017). It’s honestly the best option IMO. You get some time with people and some time to get stuff done.

    14. Friday Person*

      Late comment, but I am hybrid and I really do feel it’s the best of both worlds for my current role. I started my job fully remote, and I don’t feel like I was able to totally find my feet until I was able to meet colleagues and do collaborative work in person, and just be a part of casual conversations. At the same time, having days where I can be by myself to get more focused work done and not worrying about commuting is also fantastic.

  56. princessbuttercup*

    Request for “how do you professional say” the following to my boss? She consistently asks for feedback and I genuinely have seen her listen and take feedback to heart from other colleagues, but my feedback feels too harsh!

    The things I would love to say are:
    -You panic when new work is assigned and don’t properly take the time to understand the goals or instructions so we end up dropping everything to do the new work immediately, when it often doesn’t need to be, or we don’t have the full understanding
    -You create very complicated and complex processes that are not necessary and take a lot of time and energy for very little reason, and are extremely resistant to any changes to them
    -You need to stop complaining about other people who report to you (!) to your other employees (!!)

    1. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Can you limit it to one specific example so it doesn’t feel so harsh? Like – last week when we were assigned the X project, we had to drop everything because you didn’t know the goals or instructions. If you had full understanding of those goals/instructions, the process could have been much smoother.

      In other words, be as specific as you can and only mention one (or two) recent example(s), rather than it sounding like a constant issue, even though it is!

      Also, it always helps if you can say something positive first.

    2. Jane Bingley*

      I’d start with 1 and 2, which I suspect are combined and coming out of the same anxiety. Rather than focusing on the negative, consider asking for what you DO want. Something like:

      “I appreciate how quickly you want to get started on new projects, but I’ve noticed sometimes it turns out the right people aren’t on it, or the reason we can’t start right away is that we have to follow certain procedures that aren’t helpful. I wonder if you’d be up for trying a month-long pilot where the team handles new assignments instead of having you give them out? We’re closer to the work and I think we’re better positioned to figure out who should do what and which procedures are helpful versus time-consuming. We could give it a shot and then meet in a month to see how people feel, including team members and clients.”

    3. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      1 and 2: Sometimes I think there would be benefit to sitting back and assessing what steps are needed to reach a goal so that we have a full understanding of what steps need to be taken so that we do not feel flustered. Perhaps assessment and planning meetings for new projects would be helpful to create clear and concise steps? (Then enter example of when a plan was rushed without thinking and more work was created than necessary and what an alternative outcome could have looked like).

      3: I have noticed that you have been under a lot of pressure at work, do you have support from above to help you problem solve ways to manage the team? I am worried that some statements (enter example) may hurt morale.

  57. Nervous*

    How should you deal with it if a client who attended a previous event left a bad review about you, and now is returning for multiple more events where you are likely to see each other?

    I could give a long explanation, but tl;dr: the review was months ago and I only found it myself recently (my boss and grandboss hadn’t been paying attention to reviews). I don’t remember our conversation at all but I can see where the reviewer is coming from. I’ve talked to my boss and he doesn’t find my performance concerning and thinks an occasional bad review is not something too concerning in our line of work, but my grandboss (who was my boss until about six months ago) is prone to overreactions and has basically publicly shamed me in front of guests and co-workers before, including during events. I’m mostly worried about the reviewer commenting on me and her finding out about it.

    1. Mad Harry Crewe*

      I’m trying to figure out how to word this, but I think a lot is going to come down to your role and how you’re supposed to be working with the customer? If this is a situation where the ongoing customer relationship is your whole job (something like customer relationship manager/account manager), I would be looking for ways to repair the relationship.

      If your role is more of a one-off/short engagement/team based thing (customer service/tech support), then I wouldn’t worry so much. They probably don’t associate that difficult conversation with you, Nervous Lastname, it’s more with your company or your team overall.

      Generally speaking, yes, negative reviews are a thing everywhere all the time. I’m in tech support, I think industry average is something like 90% positive ratings and my team is very happy to be at 95+%. That still means five out of a hundred people who leave us reviews are cranky about how we did. You want to be looking for patterns, not outliers.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I haven’t dealt with this specific situation, but have had people who complained harshly about aspects of an event (either to me or via evaluation) come back to future events. It’s always been fine.

      Things to remember:
      1. If they were that upset by whatever they were complaining about, they wouldn’t have come back at all.
      2. Some people go to a lot of events and they all (memory-wise) merge into one at a certain point. So they might not even remember the specific incident, or that it was you!
      3. They may have been complaining because a specific thing was a big issue for them. If the specific thing doesn’t recur, they may not complain again. Also, they may just have been in a crappy mood, or stressed out, or some other factor which made them over-react in a way to something that wouldn’t usually bother them.
      4. People generally have pretty short memories when it comes to event stuff. There are things specific to the annual event I organise that we have to remind attendees about, just because they forget from year to year.
      5. Some people are just never satisfied and like to complain a lot because it makes them feel important.

      One other tip: mentally start afresh with the person who complained. Do your best to make your brain see them as a neutral person and not a negative or threat. Be very, very polite and responsive to them if you can.
      Best of luck with your event!

  58. Yourjobdoesnotloveyouback*

    Please share tales of what it’s like to fire somebody from a managers perspective. I’ve been training somebody and it was clear it was not going to work out and we’ve let them go. I’ve had such anxiety since knowing this was going to happen. My boss and I are confident that we did everything we could to try to address the issues early but they weren’t going to change. New hire was shocked and blindsided.

    1. Glazed Donut*

      Mine felt like a drive by. It was virtual with the person and HR. I said my part and then signed off.
      It was a similar situation – new hire, maybe 2 months into the job, and it was clear things weren’t getting better and weren’t going to work out. I was really torn up about it beforehand. However, I realized that while this was really hard for all of us, it was in the person’s best interest – he deserved to work in a role that was actually better suited to his abilities and where he was at the time. No one wants to be constantly swimming upstream, receiving disappointing feedback (‘nope, still not right…’), and in this case, he would have been in a position where the poor performance would have impacted many other people. It was the right call but still tough.

    2. cubone*

      It feels inappropriate to say this out loud because obviously it is so much worse to lose your job than it is to fire someone, but… firing someone reeeeally impacted me. I lost a lot of sleep, I felt so, so anxious and it really shook my sense of self. It just took time, and I think it some ways it also was a big lightbulb life moment of realizing sometimes you can do everything right and it still really, reallt sucks.

    3. Red Flags Everywhere*

      I doubt people who find it easy to fire someone are the kind of people who read AAM. It’s hard and anxiety-inducing even when it’s clearly the only way forward. And the capacity for shock and feeling blind-sided when you’ve been having weekly or daily review sessions of all the things they are not grasping or doing well is a bit astonishing from the manager side of those conversations, but that’s always the reaction.

      You do what you can in the moment, review your training materials to make sure it’s them and not you, ensure you followed all the steps, see if you overlooked any red flags during the hiring process, and then you move on. Good luck with your next hire.

    4. TX_Trucker*

      I say this gently, but if the new hire was genuinely shocked, you probably weren’t doing enough to make the job expectations clear. I believe that you did everything possible to train the new employee. But in addition to training, did you clearly communicate the expectations, and the consequences of not meeting those expectations? Did you say something like: You need to improve your teapot painting skills. Or was your conversations more like: after 1 month on the job, most employees can paint 100 teapots weekly, and after 2 months on the job we expect them to paint 300 teapots weekly. You have worked here five weeks and are only painting 75 teapots. If you do not improve the number of teapots you paint by next month your employment with us will end. If you had the later conversation, and the employee was still blindsided, I don’t think there is anything else you could of done. It’s never easy to terminate anyone, even when they know it’s coming. But they should know it’s coming and that it’s not a surprise.

      1. Yourjobdoesnotloveyouback*

        Thanks everyone for the feedback. The sting has gone a little bit and I spoke with my boss about the situation too. This here’s issue was not skill related but more character. Late, scrolling on their phone during training and meetings and talking. Talking constantly, not able to redirect or get a word in. They had been talked to about these issues a couple of times by my boss, but we got to a point where it became apparent that new hire couldn’t do the job once they were being asked to try things on their own. In other words, they were talking so much they hadn’t learned anything.

        1. Polly Hedron*

          Your anxiety doesn’t mean you did anything wrong: it just shows that you are a decent person. It shouldn’t feel easy to fire someone. You and your boss did the right thing and handled it well.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Although, we have had numerous examples here of managers being extremely direct about the consequences of someone’s lack of performance, the person is on a PIP, etc etc and they’re STILL totally shocked and surprised at being fired. I had that happen to me about ten years ago and I could not have been more direct with this person, on a daily basis. And she was blown out of the water.

  59. Anonymost*

    Advice needed please.

    Our team missing stair was assigned a simple task on Monday this week. Normally each team member gets this task once a week and delivers to the team by Wed. As of now the missing stair has not done their task. Last time also they were assigned they did not ever deliver, tho a person asked about it in a follow up email. With no consequences to stair and nothing ever delivered.

    So I asked about it in email, gently, and politely.

    The advice I need is how to deal with this on Monday when I will have the task to do.

    If the missing stair did not do it, why should I or others? This person is a favourite of boss and is never held accountable for anything including replying to emails, and yes it affects our work.

    What do I say? I am refusing to do the stair’s work at all, too. Did too much in last several years for them.

    1. Nesprin*

      Ask politely once by email.
      Ask politely in a different format once (i.e. phone call).
      Then email problem child+ CC manager and state if you don’t get X by Y, your part will be delayed with Z consequences on final date.

    2. WorkerDrone*

      I think the other comment by Nesprin is completely correct. I’d email one follow-up, and once the deadline passed, I’d email again and cc their manager and say something like,

      “Hi Missing Stair. This is a second reminder that we need Simple Task as soon as possible. The teapots can’t be glazed and the baskets can’t be woven until we have it. Thanks, WorkerDrone”

      I would also not be too shy about being clear why the work isn’t done. “Missing Stair was assigned that last Monday, and hasn’t responded to any emails about it. If he needs me to take it on for him, please ask him to call or email me.”

      That way, you’re not straight up refusing to do the work but you are making it clear you are 100% not available to step in and just do it for him unprompted.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      “If the missing stair did not do it, why should I or others?”

      Well what you really don’t want to do is get in the habit of measuring your work by what others are doing (or not). I get its infuriating but if the task is a part of your work then you should do it and strive to do it well.

      Now – if you can’t do the task because they didn’t do it their week, then sure email them, cc their manage and say ” Hi missing stair – it’s my turn to do task x, but I can’t get started on it as I still need your work on it from last week. When can you get the updated task x form to me?”

  60. Cawti*

    I’m trying to change fields and stressing over cover letters. I worry that hiring managers will take a look at my resume and being baffled that I’m applying for the job they’re hiring for so I definitely want to address that in the cover letter, but I don’t know how open to be about how it looks like I’m not at all qualified. I am prepared to connect the dots between the parts of my experience that relate to the skills they’re looking for that people outside of my current field probably don’t know about and I have some good illustrative examples in mind. I’m just having trouble figuring out a professional version of “I know it looks like I’m not qualified but hear me out”.

    1. Random Academic Cog*

      You start your cover letter with, “I was excited to see this role because I’ve done x duty as part of my work at company A and y & z duties while I was working at company b. Those were the things I enjoyed most in the respective positions, so this role would be a great fit for my experience and aptitudes. “

    2. A Girl Named Fred*

      So instead of “I know it looks like I’m not qualified but hear me out,” how about something like, “My background may seem atypical for this position, but I believe I’d bring many transferable skills to the role. For example, (fill in your illustrative examples.)” Or maybe, “I’m interested in changing fields from (blank) to (blank), and think there are many transferable skills between the two, which is why I’m excited to apply for this position. When I was at (company), I (illustrative examples here.)”

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        Yes! And maybe start with “I was delighted to hear about elements x and y of your role because of my prior experience with…” “so even though my background may seem atypical, [the part about transferable skills]”

    3. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I’d suggest leading with the positive then addressing the lack of qualifications afterwards. “What I’ve most enjoyed/excelled at in my time as an axolotl wrangler is tending to their skins, which are surprisingly sensitive. It’s not the standard path to llama grooming, but my experience in [illustrative examples] makes me suitable for the job, while my axolotl knowledge gives my a broader perspective/ the capacity to ask the right questions/ etc.”

  61. Nutella Trifle*

    A couple of times in my job search, I’ve been caught off guard during initial phone screens when the recruiter asks right off the bat “the pay for this job is [exact number, not range]. Are you ok with this?” The job postings in these cases had listed a range, so I had been anticipating salary negotiation later on in the process. It feels kind of deceptive that the company lists a range, but from the start only intends to pay the minimum salary in the range provided (unless they just do this to discourage further negotiation?). Particularly it’s frustrating when the post says “based upon experience,” and the recruiter asks for me to tell them more about my experience AFTER they tell me the salary is $X specific amount.

    If I encounter this again, how can I convey to the recruiter I expect for the salary discussion to be revisited later in the interview/offer process, without them rejecting me for broaching this topic? I would hate for HR to say later on “well, you told the recruiter you were okay with $X during the initial phone call, so that’s what we’re giving you!”

    Are screening calls like this just a red flag period?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m guessing these numbers are never the top of the range, right? Sigh.

      When they give an exact number instead of a range and it’s not something you’re immediately happy with, I’d say something like “the posting listed a range rather than an exact amount, I’m not comfortable agreeing to a specific salary until I learn more about the specifics of the position, but the listed range is something I’m interested in.” And if they’re firm with the number and you know you would never accept it then that’s better to know now rather than 4 interviews in.

      Fwiw even if you did say ok to a number initially, it’s always fine to later say “initially I was ok with $X, but after learning more about what the role actually involves, $Y is more in line for the responsibilities for this position”. Alison has a lot of great advice for negotiating, definitely check out the archives!

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      I don’t know if this is a red flag or not, but I don’t think it’s meant to be deceptive. I think it’s meant to be the opposite. I can only speak for my hiring experience, but here’s why we do it. We have very little negotiation capacity. This is true for a lot of state and federal and union employers. We list a Grade, but people read that as a range all the time (it’s not) and even some websites think it’s a range (it’s not). So, we tell people at the beginning of every interview- the salary for the job is X. We don’t want people to continue the process if X is a problem.

      We’re not saying- don’t negotiate. We’re just trying to be transparent about how much the job pays. Negotiation is not always possible. Sometimes it is. Your mileage may vary, but having worked mostly for Union or government employers, this feels very normal to me.

      1. Nutella Trifle*

        I interestingly have an in-person government interview coming up (state level). They are not reimbursing for interview costs, and I’ll have to pay $130 – 250 on travel (depending on if there’s snow in the forecast and I have to stay overnight!). Right now, I have no income, so I really don’t want to throw away this money unless the opportunity is worth it. With this job, I absolutely could not afford to take the lower end of the salary range; I already verified that they do not pay relocation costs. Is there an appropriate way I can ask if they will only pay the minimum value in the range or if they are open to paying more? I can’t justify spending my own money on travel to the interview if they by default will just pay me the minimum salary in the range. I hate having to broach this subject so early, but due to being unemployed I really need to be judicious about which interviews I am willing to pay for travel.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Your only option is to just ask.
          It sounds like a big enough issue that you need to address it.

          But I think you really need to consider if you can afford it.

          Even if they will pay above the start of the pay scale, there’s no guarantee you will get the job. So you are risking the money whether you know they will pay what you need or not.

        2. AnotherLibrarian*

          I think you can just ask.

          “I see the minimum salary is X, what can you tell me about the salary structure and is there room for negotiation on salary?”

          If someone asked me this, I would honestly say, “We have very limited capacity.” I don’t know if I’d name the number, but at my public uni, for non faculty positions, we’re allowed to go up 5%.

          However, there’s always a chance you won’t get the job and as Fluffy Fish says, you are risking the money either way.

        3. TX_Trucker*

          Since it’s a government job – just ask. I have worked for a variety of governments in multiple jurisdictions and our budget and negotiation flexibility was not a secret if someone asked. Government workers aren’t intentionally hiding this information, they just forget that not everyone has experience with government salary norms. My past experience has ranged from zero flexibility (especially if unionized), to the midpoint of the salary range. I have worked in over a dozen local and state governments and none of them ever offered a starting employee something above the midpoint of the salary range. At the federal level, they do sometimes go above the midpoint, but that’s rare. All my government experience is in the transportation and finance fields – other industries may vary.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      Ok so I work for government and this is normal for us .

      We are showing you the salary scale for the position – the bottom number and the top number. We aren’t showing you a range so to speak.

      There is no negotiation – you will start at that bottom number. And you will not exceed that top number (as long as the scale stays the same).

      The red flag would be NOT telling you that until the end. Being told upfront is pretty great. If it’s not for you then by all means decline, but it’s not a red flag.

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        I should add you can (and should) of course ask about the range “You’re saying this but the posting shows this. Is there room for negotiation”. But it’s not a red flag that they are telling you what the salary is as a set number.

  62. Nesprin*

    My workplace in their infinite wisdom has decided to decouple “perfomance management” from “compensation”. The goal would be to help people set goals and work to reach them, and for that to be separate conversation than raises/promotions.

    This is obnoxious right? Words of wisdom?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      To me that says “your performance is no longer linked to raises and promotions”, but perhaps I’m just cynical.

    2. Anoni*

      Lots of workplaces do this — any with unions, for an example, and many others primarily give cost of living raises rather than performance raises.
      The performance-based raises may have been benefiting you, but they are subject to bias and subjective influence that can really hold others back.

    3. Boss Scaggs*

      I wouldn’t say it’s obnoxious without knowing what the raises and promotions WILL be based on

    4. Policy Wonk*

      This is more or less how the government works. Compensation is established for the job, not the individual. Outstanding performance can be recognized with awards, including cash, time off or, in rare cases, a “step increase” which is a bump in pay, but this is all done through a separate awards process, it is not done through the performance management process. To get a promotion in the government you have to apply for and be hired into a new job at a higher grade – this is all managed through the hiring process. While one would expect a hiring manager to take performance into account, this process is not in any way linked to the performance management process.

    5. Qwerty*

      We did this and saw good results because it removed the transactional nature of the performance review. I like it because it pushes the compensation discussion as more “market rate for current skills” rather than reward for your review.

      For example, I just gave someone a decent raise (over the range usually allowed) with only a “meets expectations” rating. Because their skills had grown and market rate has moved. Under a traditional system, it would have been hard to do that without an “exceeds expectations” which is harder to justify for normal growth and development.

      It also decreases the craziness of the review cycle because we handle compensation and performance talks at different times of the year. Multiple place I’ve worked at will also do a comp review every six months, with people being eligible if they’ve gone a year without a comp adjustment – that system only works if decoupled from the last performance review.

    6. Mighty K*

      Ours have always been like this and it’s a good thing. People can be brave in setting difficult goals because they won’t be penalised if they don’t hit them, and they can speak openly about challenges they’re having without shooting themselves in the foot.

      Salary raises are still based on how people are performing, but not linked to development reviews.

  63. Knot Another Darn Rejection*

    I had a third/fourth round interview last Tuesday and thought it went pretty well. I received a “thanks for applying; although you were very qualified and we like you we’ve gone with someone else” message on Monday. Then, dear reader, The Plot Thickened.

    Tuesday afternoon/evening, I received a voicemail from the person who’d initially reached out stating they had sent the message too early and that they were thinking about expanding more than originally planned + asked if I was still interested. I called back the next day (Wednesday, 31 Jan) to confirm I am.

    I was informed the hiring timeline is up in the air, so my question is: how long should I wait before they get back to me? (I applied to this job in mid-December and they only initiated contact in January). I will still be applying for other jobs in the meantime because I don’t want to count my eggs before they’re laid.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      I may be an outlier but I operate in a world of if they want to contact me they will. I mean what’s going to happen if a reach out, they say they haven’t decided? I don’t believe me contacting them will change their process.

      I simply go on about my business. For me this manages the anxiety and aggravation of job searching but I realize it’s not for everyone.

    2. Sherm*

      Hiring can be very unpredictable — even for people doing the hiring! — so there’s not really a way to know when they’ll get back to you, if ever. You’ve done all that you need to do by telling them that you are still interested, and it’s wise to keep on applying to other jobs.

  64. Emily Byrd Starr*

    I am employed at a university where I work one-on-one with “Bob,” a student with a disability. My job is to help him in his academic work. Bob is a very friendly young man who is easy-going and adept at communicating his needs.
    Here’s the problem: Since I started working with Bob at the beginning of this semester, I’ve felt uncomfortable around him, and I couldn’t quite figure out why. Finally it dawned on me: Bob’s appearance, physique, and other things about him remind me of “Fergus,” an ex-partner of mine from years ago.
    Fergus was easily angered, often lost his temper, pressured me to do things I didn’t want to do in bed, blamed me for things that weren’t my fault, called me offensive names, and gaslighted (gaslit?) me. Thankfully, I wasn’t with him for long, it was almost 25 years ago, and I’ve moved on and forgiven Fergus, who is not a part of my life anymore. I crossed paths with Fergus a couple of times over the years, and we were able to be civil and friendly to each other.
    Now, all these years later, being around Bob makes me uncomfortable and anxious to the point that it’s affecting me physically. I have an appointment with my therapist next week and will talk about this issue, but I was wondering if anyone who has been in a similar situation could give me advice.

    1. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      It happens, and it sucks. You’ve got a big head start on dealing with this because you 1) recognized why you were feeling uncomfortable, and 2) are going to talk it out with someone reliable.
      When something like this triggers my PTSD, I talk it through out loud with someone I already know to be even-keeled and trustworthy. Just saying, out loud, “This feels uncomfortable, but I know it isn’t rational. X is not the same as Y,” can really help that panicky, lizard part of your brain calm down.

      1. Cordelia*

        yes, and I would even talk it through with myself. “I feel like this because I am reminded of Fergus, but this is Bob. This is Bob not Fergus and I am safe and fine with Bob”. And then really interact with Bob as Bob, note to yourself all the Bob things that make Bob Bob and not Fergus.

      1. Emily of New Moon*

        It is, but that will mean that the student will have to adjust to a new education coach for the third time this year. Typically a student has the same ed coach for the entire academic year, and I’m already the second one he’s had since September.

    2. Generic Name*

      Oof, that’s a tough one. My son looks exactly how my (abusive) ex looked when we were first dating. Their voices are even identical. It’s very disconcerting at times. My son will sometimes say something or do something that is a mannerism that my ex had, and I’ll have to repeat to myself in my head, “This is Son, not Ex” while I’m looking at my son to keep from having a negative reaction. You could also focus on how Bob is different from Fergus and emphasize in your mind how they are separate people and Bob is kind (or any other positive attribute you genuinely think of) and not at all like Fergus.

  65. Kesnit*

    How would you handle this…

    I started a new job in September. When I interviewed, I told the manager that I had a vacation already scheduled in February. He told me it would not be an issue. (It isn’t.)

    We fly out Saturday (Feb 10) morning so are spending Friday night at a park-and-fly hotel. The airport is about 1.5 hours from home, and I work about 45 minutes from home. So if I leave at my normal 5, I will get home just before 6 and my wife and I will be getting to the hotel about 7:30 or 8. (My wife will be loading the car while I am at work so when I get home, I can change clothes and we can leave.) That isn’t too late, but there is a restaurant that we like to go to when we fly. Getting to the city that late means we won’t get to have our pre-vacation dinner. (Sounds stupid, I know, but it is a special thing for us.)

    I have enough leave to cover my week vacation, but that is all the leave I have. I don’t have even 2 hours to leave a little early. I do not know my employers policy on leave debt. The office manager told me to use sick leave (which I have plenty of), but I feel guilty doing that. I am hesitant to ask my boss (who is a great boss) because I don’t want to tip him off if I cannot go into leave debt.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I think you have to skip the special dinner this time. It doesn’t feel appropriate to use sick leave for that hour or two. I would also keep an eye on the office manager for future borderline judgment calls.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t know how flexible your workplace is, but in places I have worked I would ask if I could either (1) start work 2 hours earlier on Friday so I could leave by 3pm or (2) work and extra 30 min Mon-Thurs so I could leave at 3pm on Friday.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This, yep. I regularly have team members who choose to work an extra half hour or hour per day four days a week so they can take 2-4 hours off on the fifth day for an appointment or whatnot.

    3. kiwiii*

      If you’ve been told to use your sick time, I would reexamine just doing that guiltlessly.

      If for whatever reason you don’t want to do that — is flexing your time that week an option? Coming in or staying a bit early on some or all of the other days and then leaving closer to 3 on that Friday?

    4. Fluffy Fish*

      I would be very very leery of using sick time.

      Unless the Office Manager has approval authority over your timesheet and the authority to tell employees what kind of leave to take, don’t do it based on their word.

      The fact that you dont want to tip him off tells me you really dont think sick leave is the right think to do either – go with that gut feeling.

      You can either work your normal hours or talk to your boss about options like going in the negative or flexing your time. If sick leave is an option – he’ll tell you.

    5. Boss Scaggs*

      Will the restaurant really be closed that early? If you get there at 7:30 that seems doable?

      1. Kesnit*

        Dinner would not be at 7:30. We’d get to the hotel about then, but then it’s about 30 minutes to the restaurant. The restaurant gets really busy on Friday and Saturday nights, so it would probably be at least 9 before we were seated.

        We fly out early Saturday morning, so have to get up extremely early in order to catch the shuttle to the airport.

        1. Panicked*

          Could you order ahead, pick up on the way to the hotel, and eat it like room service? Not ideal, but you’d still be able to eat the meal together.

    6. WellRed*

      Make a new tradition. Dinner on the way back. Or special dinner from somewhere different at the destination. It’s one dinner. Ordinarily I’d say take time off for it but it sounds pretty stingy where you work?

      1. Kesnit*

        We land at midnight coming home, so dinner after coming back would not work.

        I have no idea how leave debt works at my new employer. It could be simple (because I would have it made up in March). Or it could be a nightmare.

    7. Cordelia*

      I think you need to ask your manager if you can flex your hours that week – come in early or leave late during the week. If that isn’t an option, you’ll have to go without your special dinner, and make a new tradition instead. Taking sick leave would be dishonest and look very suspicious on the day before you go on leave – not great optics when you are newish to the job. You have a great boss, as you say, and your new job is allowing you to take vacation soon after starting – don’t mess this up for the sake of one dinner.

      1. MaryLoo*

        In some jobs, taking sick leave the day before a scheduled vacation, or the day before a holiday weekend, is a big No, with consequences. The lesser consequences could be requiring a doctor’s note for the sick day. A bigger consequence could be losing multiple PTO days.

    8. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      The office manager told me to use sick leave (which I have plenty of), but I feel guilty doing that.

      You sound sick with guilt to me.

    9. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’d ask your boss, so you don’t spend your “special dinner” feeling guilt and worried he’ll find out. Also, no dinner is worth wrecking you relationship with a new boss if e.g. the office manager lets slip you aren’t really sick

      He might let you go into leave debt, so you could really enjoy that dinner (or he might not, so you skip it this once)

  66. Emily Byrd Starr*

    So weird- I typed out a comment here and it didn’t get posted. This is a test to see if it gets posted this time.

    1. Emily Byrd Starr*

      Okay, weird. I wonder what happened to my other comment. I really don’t feel like typing it out again.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Sometimes comments go to moderation. Comments will always go to moderation if they contain a link, or certain words. Other times, the mod filter will grab comments for no discernible reason.

        Comments that follow the commenting rules will be posted after they’ve been approved from the moderation queue.

  67. NotFair*

    Feeling stressed and TBH a little bit salty. My sister was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily it was caught early and her prognosis is good; however, she will have to have a double mastectomy and possibly chemo/radiation. She has 3 kids ranging in age from 8-15 and an ex-husband who lived out of state and who is, frankly, kind of worthless. She is going to need a lot of help after her surgery – both caring for herself, and her kids.

    I would LOVE to be able to take leave for a few weeks to go help her – and if she were my mother, or child, or spouse, I would be able to. My company is small so is not bound by FMLA, but it does in practice follow it. But since it is my sister we are talking about, they won’t approve the leave because FMLA does not cover siblings. The salty bit comes in because I have never taken parental leave nor will I ever…never taken time to care for a parent, because both mine have died…have never taken time to care for a spouse…and likely never will. Meanwhile I have co-workers who have taken leave every other year for four years to have kids. I know, I know, I can’t “blame” them – but it is just infuriating that only some “familial” relationships are deemed worthy.

    As for the advice part – any suggestions on how I might get my employer to make an exception for me?

    1. NotFair*

      ^^I forgot to mention my company offers PAID parental/caregiver leave. I could potentially take unpaid leave, but that would be a stress on my finances (and even unpaid I am not confident my employer would allow it)

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

      Definitely direct your frustration at this at the law/your company and not your coworkers. How long have you been at your company? Do you have any leverage?

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      Have you actually had a conversation with them or are you (understandably) assuming that it wont be covered based on the rules.

      If not that’s really your first start.

    4. anywhere but here*

      “I understand that strictly speaking, I am not entitled to the paid leave. However, I believe the same principles for why you offer that paid leave for parents (etc) apply to me. I have been at Org for X years, done great work, and I have not ever needed to use the paid leave. By way of comparison, other coworkers have used it Y times over Z years. I would consider extending this benefit to me for a relationship that is not technically covered by the policy, but is a similarly important relationship, to be an investment from Org in me as an employee.”

      Might be worth mentioning that you will never need to use the policy for your parents, but I would leave out not expecting to have kids or need to use it for a partner. Ideally, you would have a good manager who can go to bat for you with HR/whoever but if your company is s.all that may not be the case. If they don’t give you the paid leave, I would consider that to be a sign of their valuation/loyalty to you as an employee and proceed accordingly. (If you would leave over this, maybe hint at that.)

      1. NotFair*

        I like this language/approach, thanks. Not sure it will work but worth a try. I have been at the company for 8 years (longer than all but one person, aside from the founders) so hope that will be worth something.

        As for leaving over it – honestly, that would not be off the table. I otherwise really like my job and the company I work for, and kinda think of this as my “last” job – as in, once I am no longer at this job I don’t really plan to get another. I can afford it (see above: dead parents who did well for themselves). But I am not quite there yet where I want to stop working. But this could potentially move up that timeline.

    5. Maleficent2026*

      Would remote work from your sister’s house be an option? Combined with a lighter workload during her treatment and recovery, that might be an acceptable compromise. The ages of the kids sound like they’d be in school most of the day anyway. And they probably would agree to taking on more responsibility around the house as well, especially if they realize how much it would help support their mom.

      1. NotFair*

        Remote MIGHT be an option, but lighter workload is kind of role is such that when I am on I have to be on, but when I am off I am actually able to be off. Ages of the kids are definitely a plus (they can dress themselves and wipe their own bottoms thank god), but there is a lot of driving and shuttling them around from school, activities etc. Really, I need this leave so they have a chauffeur :)

    6. Alex*

      Ugh, I feel you. It’s hard when the “official” definition of important relationships doesn’t line up with real life. I’m in that same boat too–basically estranged from my family of origin, no partner or kids, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people who are important to me in my life!

      I guess the best thing to do is just lay out the actual situation to your company and hope they will find the humanity in themselves to see the situation for what it is–your sister, a single mother with young kids and no living parents, has cancer and needs care.

      Wishing the best of luck and healing vibes to your sister.

    7. Morning Reading*

      Marry your sister? Or, adopt one of her children. Or on3 of them adopt you?
      (Being facetious here, but seriously, perhaps establishing some kind of legal relationship with one of them would qualify.)

  68. Feeling like A/R (which is to say, Outstanding)*


    quit my current job at an org that’s full of nice people, but is structurally crumbling due to questionable mgmt decisions. new position comes with a much less turbulent environment, a 20% raise, and job duties more in line with my skills/career goals :- )

    this site made searching for a new job and leaving my old one feel a lot more straightforward, so thanks to Alison and all the lovely readers here!!!

  69. Anoni*

    For those who manage — we have a comp time policy for exempt/salaried folks where if you were substantial hours past 40/week due to requirements of your job, you can earn comp time to be used in the same or following pay period (but cannot be banked). I’ve come into a situation where an employee put in significant extra hours, in addition to full regular workday hours, on a project that I did not anticipate would take nearly that long (reviewing a long document to provide comment based on existing recommendations and previously written material) — it appears to have taken the equivalent of a full work week when adding up regular hours and comp time. I’ve approved it and we’re moving on, but for the future trying to figure out best strategies to have reasonable expectations about how long something will take to avoid losing a worker for multiple days in comp time after completing a time-sensitive project. This is a task that I think should have taken maybe 24 work hours. For context, I reviewed half of this document myself (employee was assigned the other half) and prepared my comments in about the equivalent of a day and a half. This has happened before at other places that I worked at as well before I was a manager, so the question is how to handle comp time or the like with an employee who apparently just works much slower than you or others might.

    1. anywhere but here*

      How strict is the policy? Since the person is exempt, can you unofficially say “Please take off early on Fridays the next X weeks?” to approximate the time?

      Alternatively, set limits on the hours a person works in a given week and accept that things may not get done. “We can’t have you out for more than X days in a row on short notice, and unfortunately the policy doesn’t let you bank comp time, so I need you to stay under Y hours (unless you have prior approval from me).” Then you try to figure out the cause of the slow work and coach that. If someone takes 2x as long to get something done as you expect, either you need to recalibrate expectations or they aren’t the right fit for the role. It’s not really reasonable to have someone working way too many hours because they are slow, and it probably sucks for them too.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Do you require approval for the comp time process ahead of time? If so, would it be feasible to set a limit for the specific project? “Based on project needs and expectations to successfully complete, up to 12 hours of comp time can be claimed for review and comment of the Umbrella Contingency.”

      Someone can say “Well, I’ve done a quick skim and I think it’s going to take me 16 hours to properly analyze and review the document, can we adjust the expectations?” and then you can have further discussions to make sure all parties have the same expectations of what assures a completed job – like if you want high-level and they think they’re having to get super-in-depth with lots of research and whatnot, then you can calibrate the actual needs.

      Alternately, you can just set a weekly maximum. At my org, we don’t do comp time like you’re talking about, but some salaried folks have supplemental roles that we work for additional hourly paid wages, and the org has a weekly limit that you can’t work a supplemental role for more than 30% of your normal FTE (so if you’re full time, you can’t work more than 24 supplemental hours per 2-week pay period), while departments can set their own internal limits lower (my department caps at 20 per pay period). And supplemental work has to be manager-approved before it’s worked, similar to our overtime policy for hourly folks.

    3. Insert Pun Here*

      You should establish a general pages-per-hour guideline, and what that should look like depends on how intensive your review is. I can’t tell exactly from your description exactly what would be the closest analogue, but the Editorial Freelancers Association lists the following “median paces of work”:
      Copyediting fiction: 7-10 pages/hr
      Copyediting nonfiction: 4-6 pages/hr
      Developmental editing fiction: 4-6 pages/hr
      Developmental editing, nonfiction: 4-6 pages/hr
      Developmental editing, STEM: 1-3 pages/hr
      Line editing: 4-6 pages/hr
      Proofreading, fiction: 11-15 pages/hr
      Proofreading, nonfiction: 7-10 pages/hr

      1 page = 250 words (industry standard.) What you’re describing sounds like it might be closest to developmental editing but only you know for sure!

    4. M2RB*

      It sounds like expectations for how long the project would take weren’t set ahead of time. One thing I’ve done that’s helped is to tell people, “Spend 20-30 minutes looking this over and then let’s get back together in 30 minutes to talk about strategy.” Then you can both communicate on the level of detail needed, how long different elements of the project should take, and when they should come ask for help.

      Example – complicated account reconciliation that I took over from someone at my last job. I needed 30 minutes to look over the file and get a general understanding of how it worked. Then I met with the previous task owner and we talked in detail for about 30 minutes to make sure my general understanding was correct, how long I should expect it to take to update elements A, B, and C, and then if I got stuck on G, H, or I, I should immediately ask for help but if I got stuck on M, N, or O, I would need to struggle a bit to figure it out before asking for help.

    5. TX_Trucker*

      Set aside the comp time issue for a moment. If you have an employee that works much slower than others during their normal 40 hour week – how do you handle that? Follow what ever process you have in place for performance expectations. If they are “slow” but still within the acceptable range, then you either adjust your comp policy, adjust their work load, or just accept the fact that they will be out for multiple days.

      1. linger*

        Also, is this employee unexpectedly slow to complete tasks in general, or only when they are in line to get comp time?
        In the former case, it’s predictable (and also, you’re not losing as much productivity by having them out for comp time). So more general coaching on ways of increasing speed or efficiency might be worthwhile.
        In the latter case, it looks more suspicious. Though if this is a last-minute extra task landing at the end of a full workday, that would also predictably lead to reduced speed.

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

    It’s so hard to know when your new teammates are being picky/offering minute suggestions on your code because they really care about optimization or something, or because you’re female and they’re male. =P

    (In this case I ended up accepting the suggestions, but I found myself getting a little defensive, especially since I transferred internally don’t know these coworkers really well.)

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Have you had other situations with these specific folks that suggest there’s issues based on gender? Absent undescribed context or prior history of poor behavior, assuming positive intent generally seems a better way to develop rapport with new teammates.

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

        This is definitely a “me issue” until proven otherwise! My company is generally pretty good about not hiring a-holes.

    2. Qwerty*

      Since you say you are new – I find the first few code reviews are rough for even the most experienced developer because you don’t know that team’s quirks or the existing code base, plus reviewers are paying extra attention to the new person’s code and will likely be a bit more nitpicky than normal.

      But I get feeling defensive when you’ve gotten used to your code sailing through easily.

  71. EngGirl*

    When it comes to evaluating employees do you think that results or effort matters more?

    Let’s say I have two employees Pat and Sam. Both are at the same level, with the same experience, same workload, and currently making the same rate of pay. Both are salaried exempt, so no OT.

    Pat comes in on time, puts in 38-40 hrs/week and has never had an issue keeping up with the workload. Pat’s work is typically excellent and usually it’s done ahead of schedule. Pat will stay late when it’s required, but it’s not something they do without being asked, although they don’t complain or have an issue when it’s asked of them.

    Sam is routinely early and stays late working 45-50 hrs per week. Sam’s work is on par with Pat’s in terms of quality, but Sam is a little slower to get things done (still totally within the expected timeframe though). Sam isn’t a martyr but others notice the extra time and effort Sam puts in to complete their work. Sam has never complained about needing to put in the extra time, and seems to get fulfillment from their career.

    In a discussion about performance and merit increases surrounding the two employees it came up that on a scale of 1-5 with 3 being “meets expectations” the feeling was that Pat should get a 4 and Sam should get a 5. The reason was that Sam goes “above and beyond” because of all the extra time they put in. I am of the opinion that they should get the same rating whether we determine it’s a 4 or a 5. Yes Sam puts in more time, but the results are the same. I think that people have different work habits and abilities. Maybe Sam takes needs more breaks during the day, or maybe they need to spend more time checking their own work than Pat does.

    Some people are concerned that if we don’t give Sam a high rating it will demoralize them and make it seem that the extra effort isn’t being noticed, so I said great give them both a 5, but there are concerns that Pat doesn’t do enough to deserve that rating. A suggestion was made that I shift some more work from Sam to Pat in order to equalize things, but I don’t think it’s fair to do that without giving Pat some kind of title bump and pay raise. In my mind we’re paying them for their work product not for the amount of effort they put in to achieve that.

    In fairness I’ve always been a work smarter not harder type. I was one of those kids that would show up to school not realizing we had a test that day and then finish it 20 minutes before everyone else and get a 98. It drove my friends and parents crazy, my friends because they’d stayed up studying for two hours the night before and my parents because they thought I would never learn the value of hard work. I’m including this to say that I’m definitely more biased to Pat’s style and I’m wondering if that’s affecting my judgement.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      How much work do you expect a person to be able to complete in 40 hours? Is Sam slow or is Pat abnormally fast? Which one of these two things is happening? Because it seems to me that you don’t have a baseline, which means you don’t know if Pat is fast or Sam is slow.

      Imagine you hired a new person in the role. Once they were fully trained, in 40 hours, how many widgets would you expect them to make? If Sam started working the same number of hours as Pat, would that be an issue for you? If so, why?

      Those are some of the questions I would start with.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’d focus on results. It seems to me that if it takes Sam 50 hours to do what it takes Pat 38 hours to do, then clearly Pat is doing a more efficient job than Sam.

      Additionally, you say they’re both salaried, but what if they were paid hourly? Would people raving about Sam’s dedication to working extra hours (which, as you say, do not produce extra work) still think it was amazing if it cost an extra ten hours of time and a half every week? Why is taking extra time to do the same amount of work admirable, even if Sam is happy to do it and it doesn’t technically cost the company any extra money? It’d be one thing (and still somewhat problematic) if Sam was working 25% more hours AND producing 25% more work at expected quality – but that’s not the case.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      It sounds like Sam isn’t going above and beyond – they require the extra time to complete the same amount of work.

      Simply working more hours is not and should never be a measure of “effort”. Effort can not be separated from the work product. You wouldn’t reward someone for putting in extra hours but doing poor or even unnecessary work.

    4. Rick Tq*

      Outputs matter more than effort, and you should reward people who can take on more work without burning out. Pam gets a 5, she gets her work done early and does what is necessary if extra time is needed but normally works a standard work week, so she could take on more projects

      Sam gets a 4 at best, he takes significantly longer to produce the same results as Pam, and if he routinely works 50 hours to do so he is at his reasonable limit and shouldn’t be assigned more projects.

    5. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Like the other replies, I’m confused about how they even came to this conclusion. If Pam is doing her work well and in a normal 40hr work week while Sam does the same quality work but takes 45-50hrs, why isn’t Pam being considered for the 5 and Sam for the 4?

      “Above and beyond” doesn’t mean “puts in extra hours because they can’t finish during the week when their colleagues can” and it’s weird your colleagues think it does. Sam isn’t putting in extra effort; Sam is putting in the same effort spread over more hours.

      1. EngGirl*

        I think maybe it’s an optics thing more than anything. Like people see Sam “burning the midnight oil” and Pat leaving at 4:30. Since they’re both doing great work it *looks* like Sam is putting more into it.

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

      Are the results something very quantifiable like making widgets? If so then results matter more than effort. But if there is anything difficult to quantify, or immeasurable, in their work, like generating creative ideas or relationship building with clients, sometimes effort does matter more than results even if it takes longer to achieve.

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      It’s results that should count, not whether someone is slow or efficient in doing the same work

    8. WantonSeedStitch*

      You reward results. It’s worth making a note of Sam’s effort–they’re willing to put in extra time as needed to complete their work and they do so with a good attitude. That’s not nothing. But you need to rate both them and Pat on their results. Heck, I would put in Sam’s review that they could use some extra practice/coaching on whatever is slowing them down the most. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could achieve the same results in a shorter time?

    9. platypus*

      how would you feel if the same assessment were applied to you? how would the review team feel if the assessment were applied to each team member individually?

  72. StudentA*

    The creative industry is really suffering right now. Creatives are usually one of the first targeted during layoffs. Recruiters/HR often too.

    So, those of you impacted by the overall industry shift, have you been reconsidering your career paths?

    1. Elastigirl*

      I teach creatives in a professional school, and more than a few of my students are close to paralyzed by this issue. Pressure from their tuition-paying parents adds to this. As does the unknown threat of AI.

  73. Mentor*

    This is the mirror to a question listed above. I’m mentoring an employee (in a fairly formal sense, including working together regularly, reviewing her work before it’s processed to completion, etc.) who has shared that she has ADHD. I’ve been here for a long time, and have tried to give her tools for helping manage things (our job is very detail-oriented and has a lot of hoops to jump through and very specific deadlines). I also because of my length of time here am familiar with the RA (reasonable accommodations process), both the formal (submitting forms and what you need) as well as informal (asking for a change without giving a diagnosis). Any suggestion on tools I can recommend or RAs that might be helpful? I’ve tried to give some ideas on tools I use based on what she’s mentioned as issues but she’s not yet where she needs to be. I know this is something she will mostly need to lead but since I’m the more experienced person I wanted to get some ideas on the kinds of things I could suggest since neither of us really knows the range of what might be a fix. I hope this makes sense; I’m not wanting to fix things for her, but I thought if I could get some ideas for things that are frequently helpful with ADHD then I could use that to ask more informed questions of her since she hasn’t had this kind of job before and I get the sense that she’s flailing a bit. Any thoughts?

    1. Maleficent2026*

      As someone with ADHD in a brand new career field, I’m struggling with things that aren’t normally issues for me. Organization and time management are my main two. My field is also one that requires a lot of attention to detail with specific deadlines on things. I would talk more with her to find out which areas in particular she’s struggling with, and then share the tools you use to manage those areas.

  74. kiki*

    Does anyone have advice for those who struggle to ask for help? My issue isn’t the phrasing or making sure I’ve done enough due diligence before asking– it’s getting up the courage to bother somebody about something that maybe theoretically in some parallel universe I would know how to do.

    For context, I am a person of color and a woman. I think the environment I grew up in meant I was discouraged from or chastised for asking questions or for help. I learned that silently figuring it out– even if it meant staying up all night when one clarification from a teacher would have taken care of the whole thing in 15 minutes– is the better path.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      What would you do if someone approached you with a similar question or challenge? You would help them, right? If you’re like me, you would assure them there’s no such thing as a stupid question, and you would direct them to resources that would help.

      That’s what I remind myself every time I need to ask for help. I am hyper resourceful because I hate looking like I don’t know, but I’ve also figured out that I build trust and rapport by reaching out. And when people come to me, I try my best to help them. So basically, flip it around. I promise you are not alone in this fear/way of thinking.

      Often, it helps to start with, “I have done x, y, and z and I still can’t find the answer– can you tell me the process for ____?”

    2. Random Academic Cog*

      What’s your experience with the people you’d be asking for help? If it’s helpdesk-type help, don’t hesitate. They are literally there to do that and even though it sucks (I speak from experience here) when the answer is something you think should have been obvious, at least you have the info you need and you can move to the next step. Unless you already work for the helpdesk, there’s no issue of one of them going to your boss and saying, yeah, Sam keeps asking basic questions. So literally no reason not to call them. Just make a note of the answers so you aren’t calling them for the same reasons.

      If it’s coworkers or people in other groups, a certain amount of assistance is entirely reasonable. “It’s been 2 years since I had to handle this situation and I honestly don’t recall all the steps and didn’t see this task in the office wiki/when I googled it.” Or, “I know the process has changed and I haven’t dealt with one of these using the new system. I already checked the training materials and didn’t see this specific situation explained.” Always followed by, “Can you please walk me through it so I can document the process for next time?”

      I know my office is very customer-friendly and we often tell our user base to ask for help early instead of getting frustrated. We also have a lot of situations that are nuanced, so even senior staff often request input. At the same time, if an employee is asking the same questions over and over and not retaining or documenting in an accessible way, I have considered that a performance issue.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I love figuring out things for myself, but I have learned that there’s a point when you should ask for help. (I’ve been an instructor and trainer, so I have both sides on this.)

      It drives me just as crazy that my manager doesn’t seem to like to ask for help (despite clearly needing it) as it does that one of my teammates will just expect people to do her work for her if she hits the tiniest speed bump

      Figure out where your “I need help” point is, find the best person to ask (not just the most knowledgeable SME but the one who is approachable), lay out the problem and what you know from your research, then ask your questions. This will help you both in get the answers you need as efficiently as possible.

      And keep in mind that this could help others! It might turn out that documentation needs to be created, updated, or just plain clarified.

      Good luck! It can be hard to ask for help if you’re used to going it alone.

    4. Box of Kittens*

      I think it may also help to learn how to ask. When I ask my manager something, I will sometimes preface the actual question with “I have a question about X – do you have time right now to talk about that?” That way you’re being courteous of their time and won’t feel as much like you’re “bothering” someone (even though asking for help isn’t bothering) with your question. You could even ping the person you’re asking/email them and schedule a 10 minute call or something like that. I really think that buffer helps.

      Also, your coworkers really do understand that you don’t know everything and it reflects well on you to ask about stuff you don’t know. Honestly, a lot of time when I have anxiety about asking a question I feel like I should know the answer to, it turns out to be something weird that the person I’m asking also hasn’t seen before. If you trust yourself enough to do your due diligence, which you said you do, you can definitely trust yourself enough to know when your next resource is a person. Good luck!

    5. Nesprin*

      It’s outstanding that you’ve developed the ability to find information for yourself. That level of independence and sticktoitiveness is a virtue.

      Now as for knowing when to ask for help- it might be worth setting guidelines:
      -it might be worth setting a time limit for looking things up vs. asking for help- if you’ve checked the documentation and looked at google and spent >30min, ask someone.
      -if the official guidance is X but X feels like it’s above your pay grade or otherwise political, or X has been the subject of multiple contentious meetings, ask.
      -If you can’t summarize your next step to yourself, ask for clarification.

    6. SofiaDeo*

      People are often flattered to be asked for help, try to keep that in mind. So a “Can I pick your brain?” type questions comes across more as a “I wonder if you have a great way to do/remember this” as opposed to you coming across “I forgot/can’t easily find the answer.”

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’ve had reports like this. I’ve told them: I’d rather have you ask for help as soon as you realize you need it. If you’re not sure how to do something and you end up doing it wrong, the time you spent working in the wrong way/on the wrong thing is wasted. Even if you do it right in the end, if it would take less time to do it after getting some help, that’s a lot more efficient. I want you to work efficiently, which may mean you need to ask for help sometimes. Asking for help when they need it is something I have actually praised my reports on in their annual reviews, as it shows accountability and good judgment!