open thread – February 9-10, 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.

{ 1,169 comments… read them below }

  1. Summer Blues*

    A question for staff who has to work in schools during the summer. I’ve been an administrative assistant for a college for the last two years. I found that during the summers, there is very little for me to do. We offer summer courses, and there are still some faculty and students on campus, but I don’t get the same kind of regular work I do during the rest of the year. I might have a project pop-up here and there, and I’ll prep for the new semester, but I have at least two months of downtime. I’m required to be on campus, I can’t just not be here. As the newest assistant in my area, I don’t have a lot of vacation leave. Most of the others have been here forever, and have a lot more leave, so can afford to takeoff a day or two every week of the summer.

    I’d love to know what others in this similar situation do. I’ve been thinking of getting a temporary online summer job that I could do during the summer months of downtime. I know no one cares what I do on the computer because I’ve spent the last two summers writing fanfiction and messaging online with people from my own work computer without being told not to do it. So a temporary online job would keep me occupied during the summer and allow me to make a little bit of extra cash. So I’m genuinely curious what other staff do who must be on campus all summer, but don’t have enough to occupy their time.

    1. Charley*

      When I was a program associate at a university I got a lot of reading in over the summer – sometimes related to my department’s field of study.

    2. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Sorry, not going to be the most helpful post but… could you audit a summer class? Like a creative writing class if you are into fanfiction? It would be mentally stimulating at least.

      1. Miss Chanandler Bong*

        That’s what I was thinking. Or taking an online summer class if your university offers such a thing.

        I don’t work in education, but my job involves periods that are busy along with stretches that aren’t. I listen to a lot of audiobooks in my downtime. Libraries offer them for free!

      2. samwise*

        Your college/uni may offer tuition for coursework. At my U, it’s supposed to be work-related or something that will be helpful to my work, but in practice I could take anything as long as my boss signs off on it.

      3. Siege*

        Or teach a class, depending on if you have skills that match up with a vacancy. A lot of our pro staff members teach one class a quarter or one class a year.

    3. ZSD*

      I had the same problem in a similar role. I would use time to make sure I was adhering to the university’s records retention policies: I’d delete old emails and go through all my paper files and shred documents of type A after one year, type B after ten years, etc. That work took me about a full work week each year.

      1. Three Owls in a Trench Coat*

        My suggestions are similar. Be proactive in finding or creating a project.
        – Update old information in your boss’s contacts.
        – Filing update/maintenance/backlog? Do any file labels need to be replaced because they’re illegible, fading, missing, or about to fall off?
        – Do any records need to be digitized?
        – Does your library keep any of your professors’ works or collections?
        – Do an inventory. Office supplies. Furniture or equipment to repair/replace. *If there’s a department that manages that, reach out and ask if you could verify their inventory lists are accurate (are items in the right location or with the right user?)
        – What needs to be prepared for the Fall semester?
        – Computer training – spreadsheets, databases, proprietary software, etc.
        – Skill & Professional Development. If your university doesn’t offer this, look for MOOCs that would benefit you.

    4. Office Plant Queen*

      Are you able to enroll in any courses? I know some universities offer that as a benefit. I imagine you couldn’t actually attend the courses during work hours, but you could probably do the homework for them during downtime

    5. Dr. Doll*

      Just make sure to adhere to your university’s policies about moonlighting and usage of university assets such as wifi and so forth.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, doing paid work on university time/equipment is not the same thing as doing non-remunerated hobby stuff to pass the time at your desk.

    6. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Reading, professional development (there are tons of free webinars or even just YouTube tutorials), writing. Knitting/crocheting. Crosswords. Planning/researching personal projects as long as they’re work safe topics.

      I would really hesitate to work a separate, additional online job while *at* work. Personal hobbies that could count as some form of personal enrichment are usually fine when you need to just be physically present, but an actual second job is almost certainly crossing the line.

    7. Ama*

      It’s been a while since I worked at a university, but some of the things I used to do in the slow summers:
      – Eat my lunch outside! Our building was near a lovely park so I would go outside to eat and make sure I took my full hour. I’d also sometimes walk a little further off campus to get lunch if I didn’t bring my own. (If I did that during the year I’d come back to find a line of people at my desk.)
      – Tackle big organizational projects. This could be anything from going through a file drawer or cabinet and pulling things that could be shredded, inventorying all our office supplies so I’d know what we needed to order, or archiving computer files from the previous school year.
      – Document processes. Anything that I wanted to ask our student workers to help with the next year I would either check our existing documentation or write new documentation. (Later, as I realized I was getting close to leaving that job I started just documenting general processes that other staff didn’t know how to do so I could hand it over when I was ready to leave.)

      But I also just learned to enjoy the slower pace and the fact that I wasn’t being asked to be in three places at once for a few months. It is okay to sometimes have a day where you mostly just read Ask a Manager all day and restore your mental capacity for the busier times.

    8. Rory*

      I see how it would be tempting to take on a second job, but doing it at the same time you are supposed to be working at your primary job seems like its just asking for trouble. Personally I wouldn’t do it. I can relate to the “slow season” struggle, as I used to work in an office job at a ski resort, so summers were obviously much slower than winter. Summer is when I would tackle tedious but still important tasks like scanning in files to be stored electronically, auditing stored records to see which ones could be disposed of based on the record retention schedule, etc, you get the idea.

      If it were me, I would talk to my boss, people in my department, and maybe even people in other departments to see if they had any projects I could help with, or if I could be cross trained in new tasks that interested me. I also would take a lot of online classes for the software that we used to learn how to really take advantage of all of its features. You could do that as well – most people do not know the vast capabilities of excel or even MS word, so finding some online courses or even youtube videos to watch while you are at work would be a good use of time. Perhaps you could figure out how to use what you learn to make your work during the year more efficient – for instance, automating certain reports, creating letter templates for often used correspondence, etc.

    9. Hermione*

      A bit boring, but I used to take huge advantage of continuing ed during my slow summer hours at work. LinkedIn Learning, Salesforce trailheads, edX courses, CodeAcademy, or online workshops through HR.

    10. Excel Jedi*

      I would be careful about an online job. There may be legal/policy restrictions for moonlighting on a work computer (especially if you’re at a public college). Fanfiction or even creative writing in your spare time may be just fine while paid work is not.

      Personally, I wouldn’t risk it at the schools I’ve worked at (both public and private). Take the downtime to pursue creative things or to give your brain a break, but don’t do work for another company on your employer’s equipment.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        We had someone who did this at my place of work, got caught, and left in a hurry. She was in IT so I think she thought she could cover her tracks well enough. Oops, not so much.

      2. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

        I used to bring in my own laptop for any personal work. They were pretty lax about usage but if I was writing or doing school work I made sure it was on my own laptop and not my work computer.

    11. Inthoseshoes*

      I was you for many years. There are basically three types of things I’d do in the summer. (1) Process improvement. Look through how we’ve been doing things and see if there’s a way to do them more efficiently, particular to automate things that happen when I was usually swamped. Something like setting up a complicated excel spreadsheet for the budget so that during the year I could just enter expenditures and it would automatically provide me totals and estimates on whether I’d have money at the end of year. (If your institution was like ours, we needed to spend every dime but not overspend by one dime.) Auditing student files for missing information. Creating flyers or handouts for programs or classes or events that happened during the year. Going through all our forms to make sure they were still current. Double-checking the college catalog was correct (errors can creep in and then be perpetuated). Clean up or rearrange the supply area. Anything that would help take the pressure off in busier times. (2) Take a class if you can, especially if it’s free. Free education is gold. Usually University pay is subpar so it helps if you considered free tuition as part of the overall compensation. I knew one admin who took one free class a semester for decades. She graduated about the time she retired (30 years, so still fairly young) then used the degree to start a new career while collecting her retirement. Even if you don’t take a for-credit class, there are loads of free on-line learning so improve your skills wherever you can. Become an excel wizard, learn Tableau or Photoshop. You never know when having experience in those areas can help you get your next job. You can also volunteer to help other departments or the school clubs. You can learn new skills, and get a reputation on campus for being “that person” which can be a big boost if you want to get a promotion or a new position on campus (3) Read and write that fanfiction, install the kindle app. If all your work is done and your boss doesn’t care what you’re up to (and campus policies don’t restrict what you’re allowed to use your computer to do). It’s okay to breathe.

      1. Inthoseshoes*

        You can also look at what other Universities are doing and maybe you could head up a new initiative that you could work on in summers? Start a food bank or business clothes closet for students who are struggling. You can do the majority of your collecting and organizing donation efforts during the summer.

    12. jtr*

      I’d recommend reading your employment agreement VERY carefully before doing outside paid work on school computer AND network. While they might not care about unpaid personal stuff, they may draw the line there. They may also have stipulations about actually working for someone else while you are there.

      Some ideas that I think could be justified if an objection does happen:

      Look into online training that is at least tangentially related to your current role or can be applied to getting to the next steps up from there. What will make you more valuable to them (and, coincidentally, to other employers if you ever start looking)?

      I like the idea of auditing some of the classes offered at the school over the summer a lot! At my husband’s school (community college) staff can also take classes for credit for a steep discount. With the auditing, you can also take classes that you might not otherwise have thought of, and broaden your interests. I can see this as being “part of your job” still, since you are increasing your knowledge of what the school offers.

      Learn a new hobby – handcrafts or something that could be done at a desk. You can watch YouTube videos on it, and practice at your desk.

      Maybe start writing fiction that you can potentially sell, not just FanFic? I know it’s not an easy field to break into, and you’re not going to get rich, but you can theoretically make a little extra money.

      Good luck!

      1. GythaOgden*

        Definitely agree on the writing original fiction thing! I got my start in original fic by reversing the fanfic process — instead of using proprietary characters in an original story, I borrowed the storylines I enjoyed and found a way to vary the setting and characters. Quite soon I found that I was going different places to the original author; a lot of what I did was taking young people’s fiction and rewriting it for adults, so adding in things like sex, violence and ‘these people wouldn’t just be passive pawns just trying to escape, they’d recognise the injustice inherent in the situation and act to make things better’. That ended up with me learning better compositional skills, challenging myself to write ‘bottle’ episodes with a limit on the characters travelling out of a particular area (because fantasy fiction does often range over long distances) or adding fantastical elements to existing literature.

        There’s a lot you can do with this and I’ll have to stop now before I waffle on for many more paragraphs about it. But it’s really fun slipping the bounds of fanfic and letting your own imagination run riot. And lots of people write books around their day jobs and get published: I moderated a Reddit writing forum — I quit last summer for personal reasons — and have at least two professionally published books on my shelf written by people from those subs. At least one guy learned his craft from critiquing others and seeing through the emotion surrounding your own work to what unedited writing actually looks like and thus what flaws to avoid, so if your university allows you access to those kinds of forums, then that is a really great resource even if you don’t post your work for scrutiny.

    13. m2*

      I would not take a second job during your normal jobs hours. People close to me work in higher ed and this would be a fireable offense. Doesn’t your university also send out a form asking if you have another job (for conflict of interest purposes)?
      I would also be careful about the fan fiction. IT can see everything and anything you do on your work computers or phones they have access too. I wouldn’t do anything personal you would not want your IT to see.

      1. Ask for more to do. Ask your boss for higher level work or more things in the summer. What are you interested in? Might your department let you assist another department 1-2x per week in the summer if you aren’t busy? Some departments overlap and do this, you just need to ask especially if someone is out or on leave this can be invaluable. Always do your first job first, but this might be allowed.

      2. Asking about courses is a really good idea. Many universities will pay a % of course work you can take up to a certain #. I would look into that and if possible, ask your supervisor if you can take the online classes/ do the work during slow period. Any conferences in the summer your university might send you to for development purposes?

      3. Are you hourly or salaried? If you are not hourly might you ask your boss if you could leave early if you have got all your work done?

      4. Read!

      I would ask your boss what else you could do and ask for higher level work. Does your boss know you have this much free time? I have a member of my team who has been asking for more work and I gave it to them and they realized they really liked that aspect of the role. Are you interested in design? Are they creating a new brochure you could help with or write some blubs on? Interested in communication? Can you assist the communication team on some blogs or social media posts? Does your boss need someone to go in and delete old emails they don’t need anymore? Is there a student general email account you could go into 1xor2x a week and be the person who replied to all the emails? Is there a center that needs help in the summer that you would be interested in managing or working for sometime?

      A friend works in alumni relations and someone on careers services team was less busy, so they came and did work for alumni relations for a couple weeks. They asked their boss and they work together occasionally, but gave person new skills and helped both teams out.

    14. BecauseHigherEd*

      Whenever my team discovers a project that should be done but isn’t urgent (for example, creating training materials, cleaning out the storage cabinet, drawing up plans for a class or program) we put it on a list that we revisit during the summer. We also usually have some staff members go to professional conferences. Not every school can do this, but the provost overseeing our office also organizes a summertime weekly happy hour on Fridays where all of the departments can get together and mingle and a lunchtime speaker series where different staff members give a talk on a subject of their choosing. That can also lead to questions such as, “Oh hey, you’re doing a project? I’ve got some free time–I can help with that!”

      If nothing else, summer is a great time to take vacation, too.

    15. Pamela Adams*

      My university is busy in the summer with new student orientation. Even if you’re not in a student-facing position there are probably ways you can be involved in the process. (same with Commencement)

    16. Rainy*

      I work in higher ed and sort of wish this were my issue with summer. My office likes to pile projects on us in “the summer downtime” but as it happens, summer is not that different for me to the rest of the year in terms of most of my workload.

      However, one of the things I do is shift anything that requires long periods of unbroken effort to the summer whenever possible. I also use summer to get a jump on any required repeat trainings, so that when the academic year starts, I’ve already done all the trainings that I’m going to be reminded I need to do two weeks before fall term when my calendar is already overloaded.

    17. The Rafters*

      You really shouldn’t do any work outside of you place of employment while being paid by that employer. My dad, for example, worked off of several different grants. Sometimes part of that would be to sit there monitoring something to make sure that something didn’t blow up. He really couldn’t legally work on other projects while doing that so he would read. My Useless 2 Cents had a great idea of auditing a class. If not that, something school related that you can do w/o getting into any trouble.

    18. franklin*

      I am an admin assistant/office manager at a university and this is my life every summer! I see that other people have already suggested it, but seriously — look into whether your university has a tuition assistance program where you can take classes for free. At many schools, you can even work towards a degree, if that’s your thing.

      I spend most of my summers knitting, watching movies on my phone, reading, planning/doing personal tasks, talking on the phone to my mom, taking reaaalllly long lunches, etc., and while it’s easy to feel guilty for doing so — don’t! Little things like that are part of the deal when you have downtime and you have to be in the office — you are “engaged to wait” and legally allowed to do things like that. Take up a hobby! Get really good at drawing or making paper snowflakes or embroidery! Write a lot! Maybe stop writing fanfic on your *work* computer, though. You can/should also do some of the boring menial tasks that aren’t urgent but probably need to get done — purging files or updating documentation.

      I’d strongly discourage you from moonlighting — it’s easy to run afoul of policies by working a second job while at your first job.

      Instead, I’d encourage you to spend your capital differently by seeing if you can flex even a little of your time. If your setup is like mine, students are literally not in the building at all most of the time during the summer — there’s really not a lot of need to be there. The staff in my department have an unspoken agreement with the department administrators that our summer hours are 10-3 rather than 8-5, and that we can WFH once or twice a week in the summer. If your department head/other supervisor is even remotely reasonable, they probably will be open to it if you say, “Hey, if I forward my phone to a Google Voice and check my email throughout all business hours, is it cool if I come in for reduced hours over the summer?” At least at my university, it’s not an uncommon situation.

      Godspeed! And really — enjoy the downtime. Every time I get bored, I realize how lucky I am to get paid by the hour to knit and read books. Not everyone gets that mental and emotional space in their jobs, and it’s one of the reasons I love what I do.

    19. You want stories, I got stories*

      My wife does your job for a high school. One thing they do during summer is to change from a 5 day work week to a 4 day work week, 10 hours each day. Although some people have enough vacation time, they do a 4 day week and take time off on Friday. But end result, they are closed on Fridays during the summer. I’m not sure if that could be an option for you, you still might not have stuff to do, but at least you only have 4 days a week instead of 5.

    20. Ope_Sorry*

      Sounds like it’s time to learn to crochet. Or knit. Or embroider. You can get your holiday gifts done before Labor Day! :)

      1. Accidental Itinerant Teacher*

        I worked an admin job for my university when I was a student and I 100% taught myself to knit during our summer downtime.

    21. ivy*

      Why not talk to some of the faculty? They might have a project you could do e.g. transcribing field/lab notes, creating some sort of database, literature searches etc

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        It could be a good time to take advantage of campus resources. Visit on-campus museums or exhibits, meet colleagues for lunch or coffee and get to know other departments, take training if any is offered from university departments (like IT training for productivity tools, wellness, etc.), get to know the library, etc.

    22. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      I’m just sitting here (as an admin at a university) in awe at the concept of downtime in the summer.

      1. Annabelle*

        “I’m just sitting here (as an admin at a university) in awe at the concept of downtime in the summer.”

        Same, I was a department admin at a college where I seemed to be even busier during break periods, like summer, because I was expected to deep clean and reset the classrooms on top of all my other work

        (NB: this is not normal)

    23. Butt in Seat*

      Are there a lot of computers in the physical area you support? Ask your IT department if they’d like help verifying inventory over the summer. I’m in higher ed IT and we are *swamped* in the summer with updating and replacing computers because that’s the “slow” time for everyone else. Admin assistants with keys to faculty offices and the willingness to go through and verify which computer is where, are gold.

    24. Dragonfly7*

      Former campus library worker – I would have been VERY hesitant to work an additional job during the same work hours. Too much potential to have to be in two places at once. Things I could do during downtime once I ran out of work to invent and do? Read, and the content depended on the director at the time (one allowed us to openly read physical books for fun, another required they be work related, and a third was fine with anything as long as it was an ebook being read via computer so it looked like we were working). Took classes – I couldn’t attend them during work hours, but I could do all the homework I wanted in between customers. Unofficially, we also got longer and one additional “15 minute” break and were encouraged to take walks on campus.

    25. Herp-a-derp*

      Something I haven’t seen mentioned: many jobs have you sign a form that any work product that you create on their equipment belongs to them. If I were to write a blog post at work or write code for an app I’m working on as a side business, my job would own the copyright. If I developed something patentable using their equipment, they have the right to patent it themselves of they so choose.

      The latter is an expensive process so sometimes it makes better financial sense to let the worker claim the patent of it’s not a patent the company would make use of. Copyright? That’s cheap. You should never code personal projects on a company machine. There are companies that will claim copyright over your code if you do. The blog post thing is a bit silly, but writing a novel on a work machine could be risky.

    26. Semi-retired admin*

      I currently have a part time job with a lot of downtime. I’ve joined two book clubs that meet monthly and I get my reading done on the job. I use the Kindle app on my phone, and prop it against my monitor so I’m facing the entry to the office, and can see my email etc., and still be easily and quickly engaged.

    27. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Languages! Spanish, French, ASL … especially if you can find people to practice with at lunch or on break. I long ago worked somewhere that did lunchtime ASL classes for staff and got a friend later from being able to at least chat a little with him.

      1. GythaOgden*

        I looked through a gigantic list that Wikipedia had of the numbers 1-10 in different languages. I taught myself a dozen or so sets. It was less a linguistic exercise and more of a memorisation one — I’m good at skill-based education but there are some subjects where you can’t help but have to learn things off a chart (like organic chemistry) so exercising that muscle on a low stakes issue was a good personal development task as much as I enjoyed the language element of it.

        I also learned how to write in Arabic, Devanagari, etc scripts. I didn’t learn the languages, but I wanted to see whether I could copy down those languages with the same fluency that I can write in Latin and Cyrillic scripts rather than just drawing out each symbol as if it was a decorative mark. I got quite good at Arabic but with the Indic scripts the ones I mastered were the ones that didn’t require a siromakha line above them, because I couldn’t find a significant source showing me how Devanagari handwriting handled it. I know that handwriting using the Devanagari script hangs down below the line of a ruled page rather than stands above it like others, but without the free rein to go hunting around other parts of the internet or bring in actual books (I tried but it didn’t go down well, particularly because I had to be alert to the front door and books really suck me in), there was a point where I had to give up and stick to less tricky scripts.

        Unfortunately learning a language required more in-depth resources that I couldn’t have on reception (for reasons above) but if you’re not public facing and can keep one eye on what you’re waiting for to come in, then this is an awesome idea.

    28. RedinSC*

      I had a job like that. I read my first digital books and I taught myself Java.

      I am not a programmer at all, so that was slow going, but interesting. Is there something you’d like to learn, just for you? THere are a billion on line trainings, many of them free on youtube.

    29. BikeWalkBarb*

      You asked what people in similar situations do with their time but you’re skipping over the ethical questions you could spend some of this time thinking about. No matter who you work for you’re violating the terms of employment if you use your work computer for a second job. Not being directly told not to do something isn’t permission to do that thing; they probably didn’t tell you directly not to come to work drunk either, counting on a general understanding of professional behavior to cover that (and they also probably have rules about it in an employee handbook).

      What would your supervisor’s response be if you asked directly, “I have lots of empty hours. Is it okay if I use it to write stories and message my friends?” If you wouldn’t feel comfortable asking directly for permission, that’s a message to listen to. If you do and they say it’s fine, I’d be surprised but at least you’re covered.

      You need to read all the policies and conditions that apply to your job and if it’s a public agency you have ethics trainings and the laws and rules of your level of government to review too. That should take some time.

      In my state we have a de minimus rule about use of *any* state resources and that includes our time as well as computers, tools, equipment, vehicles, and of course money. If you’re working for a public college everything you do on your work computer is fair game for a public documents request or whatever it’s called in your state. Would you want what you’re writing to appear below a headline in the local paper about being paid to waste time? Even if it’s a private college that headline isn’t going to be flattering to the institution. Every time stamp on a message or file tells people when you did any of this.

      Other commenters provided lots of good ideas. I hope you find them energizing and some new doors open up so you don’t feel like you have nothing to do.

  2. Jessica-Ashley*

    We’ve had a lot of growth in my department the past 6-ish months with several people joining. Currently there are about 9 teams, each performing distinct functions and operating at various levels with all teams funneling into Jack or Jill, both Sr. Director levels. The entire department has a weekly meeting that is an hour long where everyone provides updates for each team. This meeting is already exhausting because each team talks about granular information that’s only relevant to their specific teams, the other 98% of the meeting is not useful information for everyone and I doubt most people are paying full attention.

    Jack and Jill have recently started a “fun-time” segment at the beginning of each meeting to boost morale as a team. This takes about 15-20 minutes, which already pushes this hour long meeting back another 10-15 minutes. Each week is different, so one week it’s trivia, another it’s a “friendly” debate about something related to pop culture, another week it’s a 2-minute competitive game (and making everyone post scores), etc. What ends up happening is that the same few people win the trivia questions or try to talk, and I doubt most of my coworkers truly enjoy this. Because of this, we all end up being on this call, cameras on, for more than an hour. I appreciate Jack and Jill are trying to make us bond as a team, as we’re all spread out over the country, but I find it a waste of time and something about it rubs me the wrong way that I can’t really articulate. It almost feels like “we are a family here” and they are trying to force this comradery while simultaneously fostering a competitive atmosphere, although I don’t think it’s intentional. Work-wise this doesn’t impact me at all and I can secretly look at other stuff while it’s happening.

    What is your take on this “fun-time” before a meeting?

    1. Stuart Foote*

      I feel like something similar could be fun for 5-10 minutes, but a 20 minute friendly pop culture debate with co-workers sounds awful, especially immediately preceding an hour long meeting.

      1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

        Plus given how many schisms I’ve seen in fandoms, I can see where a friendly pop culture debate can turn very wrong, especially one that goes on for 20 minutes.

    2. Tisserande d'Encre*

      This sounds potentially good to me for a small team meeting, but a full dept meeting? Absolutely not

    3. Not Australian*

      There’s something very wrong about ‘organised fun’, it’s like having someone standing over you insisting “You *will* find this funny!” I would think a better way of bonding/integrating would be to make the meeting as efficient as possible.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      My take is that they identified a problem (team overly siloed, which affects trust in workmates) and have the wrong solution. And it sounds like you don’t have standing to address that.

      More helpful take: You might have standing to propose to your boss that the weekly meeting be adapted, and save the granular stuff for a breakout meeting that only has the relevant persons in it.

    5. Tio*

      I don’t think the fun time would be as much of a problem if the meetings weren’t every week. We do a little “tell us about yourself” type question at the beginning of our team meetings, but those are once a quarter, not every week. The problem is that when they’re sucking up so much of your time it becomes not fun and just frustrating. Does anyone have the standing to bring up that the general meetings are not accomplishing anything and running too long?

      1. Jenna Webster*

        When I got my current management job (and I was returning so was a known quantity), 4 of the 25 people in my department asked if we could please stop doing the “tell us about yourself” questions in the staff meetings!

    6. English Rose*

      Inappropriate because of the size of the meetings. Also, bonding and camaraderie tend to emerge naturally in small teams without special ‘fun-time’ segments (shudder).

    7. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I would recommend starting the fun time at 20 mins prior to the start of the formal meeting so people can opt in.

    8. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I totally agree with you! My org does this sometimes in our staff meetings, which are very similar to what you describe, in which department heads talk about what they’re up to these days and the rest of us (not me) either listen because the topic is somewhat interesting to us or we don’t listen (me) because the stuff they’re saying might be interesting but doesn’t affect my day-to-day at all. To be fair, the stuff they’re saying is actually important to the org as a whole but how they carry it out doesn’t matter to me nor probably does it matter to anyone outside of the department speaking. (I.e., do I care that Fergus is going to be in Europe for a meeting about his project? Do I care that the other people in the meeting are from various related orgs in their countries? Nope, but someone here might, I guess.)

      I was diagnosed with ADHD last year and I’m realizing that it’s entirely possible that my ADHD might explain why I want (nay, need!) meetings to be concise, on point, and necessary. I get really frustrated at meetings that are held just for the sake of having a meeting, because trying to pay attention to a meeting that is 99% fluff/unimportant to me is really draining. Trying to weed through the fluff in real time to sort out what I might actually need to know is exhausting and a frustrating waste of time. “This could have been an email” is a line I wish I could use with the higher ups here but of course I can’t.

      Once in awhile at our staff meetings we’ll have some kind of “fun-time” and some of these are nice…I like hearing how everyone is doing or the “go around the Zoom and talk about one thing you did over the holiday break that you enjoyed” kind of thing. Since we are also all remote it’s necessary for these kinds of conversations to happen in a more controlled way than they would if we were in person. But when we do have more games and that kind of “fun-time” I find it a bit childish. I love games, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t want to waste my work time playing them and I think games should be opt-in, which isn’t really possible in a work setting where you might be considered “not a team player” if you decide to opt out.

      TL;DR: I totally feel your pain, Jessica-Ashley. At least in my case our staff meetings are only every other week and we don’t do “fun-time” at them on a regular basis.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I have the exact same ADHD reaction to “could have been an email” meetings, because people are turning my brain into a pile of white noise mush, purely so they can grandstand about how cool they are. Also, I don’t think 20 minutes of games does build camaraderie. It’s a cop out to cover up the fact they aren’t paying attention to people. They could make people feel genuinely good and connected by giving sincere praise, helpful advice, by remembering details about people or even just commiserating about hard things that people doing the job have had to grapple with lately. Or giving people a forum to share their opinions. Do the games separately in a purely opt in context, don’t just inflict it on people who don’t care because you have a captive audience.

    9. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I love morale exercises that continue to tank morale instead of improving it!

      Can you talk to your manager about your concerns about the productiveness of the meetings in general? Because it sounds like even without the mandatory fun, these aren’t helpful meetings. Would they be more useful if instead of “general updates”, each team had to give a “What do other teams need to know about what you’re working on right now?” update instead? You don’t need the granularity, but you *might* need to know if the end result of whatever Team A is doing will impact Task X on your team, etc. Having a change in format that better hones in on *why* you’re meeting could help.

      I’d also find a way to pull the “hard stop” after an hour trick. If they want to waste everyone’s time for twenty minutes, fine, but they’re only getting 40 more minutes of your time because you have another meeting / deadline / whatever at the end of the hour.

      1. Jessica-Ashley*

        I report to a middle manager, who reports up Jack. I know that he’s talked to him about the actual meeting being too long and how we can improve it, I don’t know if he’s talked to him about the fun-time. I got the sense Jack gave him a non-answer on that.

        1. House On The Rock*

          When I was a middle manager who reported to a “fun loving” director, I’d use my own capital to advocate for less “fun”. If your manager is up for it, perhaps you can have an open conversation with him about how these activities are potentially counterproductive. You brought up how they were sometimes alienating for those not interested and how the same sub-segment of the team seemed to participate/win all the time.

          If your manager hears all this, that could arm him with something more concrete than “people don’t like it”, because that’s more easily dismissed. But “it’s actively hurting rather than helping morale, and here’s why” might have an impact.

          The other way to approach this is to talk to your manager about how it’s impacting your ability to do your work – e.g. the meetings running long.

    10. Mrs. Rabbit*

      Ideally, it sounds like it would be better for overall engagement and morale if Jack and Jill refocused the weekly meeting and really encouraged people to keep their updates top-line. Then had separate team bonding “meetings” that people could opt to participate in.

    11. Antilles*

      I have attended a lot of meetings that sound EXACTLY like yours. And while it can get exhausting to hear a bunch of updates that are irrelevant, it makes sense on an overall level for the Director/Project Manager/etc to have everybody in the same Teams call. Both for the senior person’s benefit and also because there’s often cases where someone who’s half-listening hears something that pings their interest (wait, what? I didn’t know that change was made, that’s good to know).

      However, in my experience attending similar meetings, I have never once seen one of these meetings have that sort of fun time segment. Not once. Maybe the first 2-3 minutes has a little bit of casual chit chat about sporting events or plans for an upcoming holiday or something of the sort, while people are signing on…but nothing beyond that. This sort of fun time sounds like a terrible use of time and also completely ineffective.

    12. Colette*

      One team I was on did it the other way around – they had the meeting first, and then social /games time after – and it was really effective. If anyone didn’t want the social time that day, they were free to go, but it gave some casual time for those who wanted to stick around. (Those were Friday afternoon meetings, so people were often winding down anyway.)

    13. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      It is awful. Any way you can contrive to have a meeting just before that runs long, or need to take a quick break before, or something else to be able to miss part of the “beatings will continue until morale improves?”

    14. Zona the Great*

      Terrible idea. I’m at the point in my career where I simply wouldn’t show up for the first 20 mins and let the consequences land where they may.

    15. Quinalla*

      Honestly, the fun time is less of a problem (though sounds potentially a little long and possible not suitable for the size of the group, I’d go for 5-10 minutes and use breakouts if it is a large group) than the fact that you are spending way, way too long on a report out meeting. Should be very short for each report out, 2-3 minutes, 5 minutes MAX if there is something really important to share.

      I can understand why it is annoying, but I think the “fun time” is the icing on the cake of the bulk of the meeting content that sound way too long for a report out. I’d focus on the content portion and maybe suggesting shortening up the fun time or using breakouts so people can connect in smaller groups.

    16. BellyButton*

      Gah no. No to all of it. Someone needs to read up on how to run effective meetings, because this ain’t it. Update meetings should be only for those who need the updates. All dept meetings should be at a higher level – what deadlines are coming up that may affect many teams, what roadblocks are being seen, etc. Not project updates that are meaningless to most people. It is such a waste of time.

    17. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Sounds unpleasant. My workplace also has a “gametime” segment during monthly department meetings, but it’s consistently no more than 5 minutes, often less, and occurs at the end so that anyone who needs to hop off and do work can.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Yeah, we do this with a much shorter fun segment, but it’s once a month, and team updates are streamlined.

        If you have to do fun time maybe advocate for something shorter, like using the polling feature in your meeting app if it has one to ask a fun question that would let lots of people participate efficiently.

    18. Jen*

      We usually do a short “check-in” at the beginning of meetings. Our Monday morning weekly team meetings are longer and have a relationship-building component where we talk about “What is giving you energy this week?” and generally discuss the weekend and what is going on in life, but we are also extroverted consultants working from home so we really need the human interaction. It’s really just a more structured way to get our chit-chatting out.

      For cross-department meetings and external meetings/trainings/etc. that we lead, we usually spend maybe 5-10 minutes on a check-in icebreaker. With a smaller group it could be something like “What is your favorite artist?” (something that I did during the week of Picasso’s birthday); with a larger group online we might have everyone drop an emoji in the chat showing how they are feeling that day or something along those lines.

      I can see every once in a while doing some kind of a longer “fun” thing – like maybe once a quarter – but generally people just want to get down to the meeting.

    19. Anita Brake*

      I’m a teacher, and I personally abhor the mandatory “fun” at the beginning of our staff meetings. Our meeting room is too small in the first place, then they make it smaller (necessarily) by putting in enough tables and chairs for all of us. THEN, they have this “fun” time and every time, for at least part of it, they make us “mill around,” which means to roam around the room and find a partner or team. I get so claustrophobic and uncomfortable. Most of our meetings could easily be turned into emails in the first place, and if we’re going to have “fun” time, they should let us talk to and get to know our coworkers! And like Jessica-Ashley’s situation, the same brown-nosers (my words, not Jessica’s) win most of the time, and take up most of the question and answer period.

    20. cosmicgorilla*

      Would be better if

      it was at the end of the call
      it only lasted as long as the call was scheduled.

      Wrap up the agenda 5 minutes early? You have 5 minutes of “fun time.” Don’t wrap it up early? No fun time.

    21. OtterB*

      We start each staff meeting (twice a month, mostly hybrid) with a round of Two Truths and a Lie. One volunteer, selected in advance, has a slide with three statements about themselves, two of which are true. The meeting host sets up a poll for each person to vote on which statement they think isn’t true. The volunteer runs through the choices, explains any that are obscure, and identifies the lie. It doesn’t take long, and it’s a nice way of getting acquainted with new staff, many of whom are remote.

    22. KitCaliKat*

      My old workplace used to do this, too. We had an hour-long all-staff meeting over Zoom at 10 am every Monday morning. The meeting started with an ice breaker, and every single employee had to answer a prompt. It would take 20 minutes to get through everyone, and God help us if there was a new employee in the meeting, because then we also had to go around everyone AGAIN to introduce ourselves. Sometimes, almost the whole meeting would be spent on this nonsense, and by then I’d be vibrating with rage. I don’t miss those meetings (or my old workplace, for that matter) at all. Mandatory fun/socializing is the wooooorst.

    23. OMG, Bees!*

      This “fun-time” sounds like a forced fun meeting, which tend to be the opposite. It sounds good as a meeting is starting and people are trickling in, but once everyone has joined, it should end and the real meeting start.

    24. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Your manager may have more success getting Jack&Jill to streamline the meetings by making a rough calculation of how much the staff time costs.

      I long ago pointed out that task details made sense for project teams. but not for the other project teams. Unless it was a bug or feature change that would affect their work/time-line. And I used a trick I’ve seen discussed here and elsewhere – give a ballpark cost per minute in staff time. (I used a nice round $20/hour because it is easily calculated and obviously lower than what the VPs in charge would be making.)

  3. My Useless 2 Cents*

    This week I saw an article published by about the double standards of work social climbing between men and women. And when they say “social climbing” they seem to mean “standard networking with people in higher positions to yours”.

    The article states that when men seek networking opportunities with Managers and Corporate Officers it is seen as a good thing to do and it boosts their long-term prospects. However in women, it is seen as selfish ambitious schmoozing that lowers their long-term prospects and that women need to couch this networking in “I’m looking out for the good of others” terms to avoid any negative blowback.

    To be honest, the article pissed me off! This kind of double standard just makes me so upset and I hate the manipulative nature of having to do that when there is nothing wrong in a woman seeking to network with top tier managers or in women wanting to move up into the higher management roles. I’m just wondering here, what kind of workplace double standard gets you most riled up?

    1. happybat*

      I really dislike the aggressive/assertive dichotomy. Although I did have a classic ‘good idea only when male colleague said it’ meeting the other day, which made me feel so… womanly.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        I used to work for a head office and was out visiting a satellite plant. One woman on second shift was showing a lot of initiative and working hard. I pointed her out to the supervisor and he called her “bossy.” I flat out told him that only difference between bossy and assertive was gender (only far more blunt.) Unsurprisingly, she left for greener pastures, hopefully to a place that respected her work ethic.

    2. AnonITnow*

      Men interrupt women all the time. Women (me) get spoken to by our managers for interrupting and told to stop.

      1. I Can't Even*

        My managers tells me that I am “upset” or “hysterical” if I disagree or point out a problem with work flow.

        1. RedinSC*

          Your managers literally use the word “hysterical”?!??! OMG, I’d be hysterical after hearing that, for sure!

      2. My Useless 2 Cents*

        This reminds me of a “news” segments I saw once that stuck with me (like a 20/20 or Dateline thing, probably late 90’s).

        In it, there was a study where researchers interviewed multiple kindergarten teachers. A couple of the questions asked was who was more talkative the boys or the girls? and Who interrupted more, boys or girls? Answer to both according to the teachers were the girls.

        The researchers then recorded the class and (surprise!) on average the boys talked on average about 10 min more than the girls each day, the boys interrupted more than the girls, girls who interrupted were always reprimanded but boys who interrupted were only reprimanded about half the time, and girls were reprimanded more often for side conversations than the boys for their side conversations even though the girls side conversations tended to be quieter and less disruptive to the class as a whole.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Yeah they’ve done these studies with adult men and women too and the so called talkative women were actually talking much less than the guys.

      3. RLC*

        Asked a question in a meeting and was shouted at by male colleague running the meeting “YOU BE QUIET!!!” I’m a woman, same age, same level of education in same field, only difference that I have more professional licenses than he does and ten years more experience in the organization.
        This was in 2014, over thirty years into my career.

    3. ONFM*

      The classic communication conundrum! When a man is direct, he is confident, authoritative, and firm. When a woman is direct, she is aggressive, the B word, and difficult to deal with.

      I have seen men in meetings throw items, kick trash cans across the room, stomp out, and slam doors, but that’s seen as unprofessional. If I address an issue in direct, clear, concise terms, without the usual waffling language, I’m intimidating and hard to deal with.

      Retirement is within reach. I don’t care anymore.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        And the flip side — when a man is polite, that’s just normal; when a woman is polite, she’s “overapologizing” and “undermining herself” and “needs to stop saying the word ‘just’”.

    4. Aggressive woman*

      I (40s female) work in a male dominated function within a female dominated industry (think facilities or IT in education). The double standards exist and leadership doesn’t see a need to address when called out it because we are a female dominated industry. It makes me feel like we’ve taken many steps backwards.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        I’m in medicine. Front office staff,nurses, phlebotomists, radiology techs, medical assistants and mid level providers are overwhelmingly majority female. But doctors? Well there’s a lot more female doctors than there used to be but it’s still majority male. There’s 14 people working in my office today, only one person is male, and I’ll give you three guesses what his role is and the first 2 don’t count.

    5. Chirpy*

      The fact that customers think I’m invisible, don’t know what I’m talking about, or less knowledgeable than literally any man, whether it’s the guy I’m training, a part-time high school boy, or literally once I was asked what my boyfriend thinks about a product, so a guy who doesn’t work here and in fact doesn’t even exist apparently knows more than I do.

      From the coworker/ boss side, it’s that anything I have a concern about is irrelevant or overreacting, but will be taken seriously if a guy says it. This has included tornado sightings and a trying to report a coworker with a knife.

    6. Velawciraptor*

      When I visit clients in jail, people (both inmates and COs) assume I’m a social worker rather than an attorney.

    7. Quinalla*

      Probably the need to be more likeable the more power I get. I’ve had male mentors tell me to stop worrying about being likeable and I flat out told them I personally do not care if people like me, but I also know if I’m not likeable and warm, then as a leader it is a huge strike against me as a woman. And I told them that advice is actually very harmful for women leaders who have to walk a tightrope of being assertive and being warm/likeable. I’ve experienced and seen it over and over and over in my career. Yes, it shouldn’t be that way, but it IS that way!

    8. HE Admin*

      I’ve been told I’m “dramatic” for pointing out issues early on that later became BIG ISSUES because no one wanted to deal with them because they didn’t think they were real issues and I was just “being dramatic.”

      1. JSPA*

        I was treated as paranoid fabulist for noticing and mentioning that a new coworker was living in his private office in our workplace. A few months later, cleaning staff reported it. I got whispered confirmation from one person that his leaving was a direct consequence (I am supposing a “quit or be fired”?) but also to tell nobody. (And, no, not a high cost-of-living area, nor a short-term displacement; he’d apparently decided to save his rent money, and brought in a sleeping bag and several changes of clothes, was cooking in the breakroom and showering at the gym. All of which would have been no skin off anyone’s nose, except it’s in complete violation of the lease, insurance, code, etc) and he also became weirdly possessive of the entire space.

    9. Panda*

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told (by both women and men) to “watch my tone” as a woman. Meanwhile, the male managers are actively criticizing their team, sarcastically replying to what they deem “stupid questions” and generally acting like dicks.

      (Happy to report I now work for a man who backs me up 100% and would never tell me to watch my tone)

    10. BellyButton*

      Look up a powerful video about this- it is actually a Pantene commercial called “labels against women” (I’ll post in a comment but it will go to moderation) I have used this commercial in Unconscious Bias training and also in training on how to conduct performance reviews. Men often look so confused and women nod their heads and look sad.

    11. BellaStella*

      Was reflecting on a double standard on our team today. In 4 years three men got promoted and zero women. We have 5 men and 6 women on the team and boss is a woman. So that is interesting.

      But the double standard is this: we rotate taking notes in staff meetings. The boss pet, a man and the team missing stair, has in two years had to take notes twice. Once he just never delivered. This year he sent the notes FULL of errors and wrong date and spelling nistakes etc. Trying to show how bad he is so as not to have to do it. If I or another woman take notes the boss corrects us all the damn time in public email to team. Did she flag anything in his notes at all? NOPE.

      Do I seem annoyed? yes.
      Am I trying to not point this out? yes.
      Did he complain last year to HR that I am aggressive ? yes.
      Am I looking? yes.

    12. BookMom*

      Female spouses of male employees are expected to be “supportive” (handle child care emergencies, attend and/or host events, whatever that looks like in your industry), but male spouses of any gender employee have no expectations and are praised for any showing-up whatsoever.

    13. Honey Badger just don't care*

      The blowback that comes when you ask for a rise or promotion. Men are rarely penalized in any way for doing either of these. Regardless of whether or not it nets them getting what they asked for, there is no negative blowback. At worst, some gossip along the lines of ‘the cohones on that one.’ but with grudging respect for having asked. But a woman doing it? It’s like negotiating a mine field! I have to suss out the bias in my manager first. Am I going to be pegged as needy? Aggressive? Lacking humility? Overstepping? How is their boss going to take it? At best, the impact is neutral. I don’t get what I asked for but I don’t get penalized. But more common is a penalty for asking. I mean, even the CEO of my company stated very publicly a few years back in a forum called Women In Tech at an annual summit that he thought women shouldn’t ask for rises, they should just wait for them to be acknowledged. He later backpedaled saying he wasn’t prepared to answer that question. Well… good. Cuz it meant you spoke the truth. But you were a keynote speaker at in a forum addressing women in tech. How could you not be prepared to answer that question?

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Ugh, I remember that whole mess and the outrage it caused. But of course a man who’s one of the most public-facing CEOs in the field couldn’t possibly be prepared to think about women in the workplace.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Just the fact that a man was keynote speaker at a women in tech conference is getting the side eye from me.

    14. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      Being challenged on everything. I have two levels of reports: one direct report (Fergus), and a team who I directly train and mentor, but report to Fergus for first-level responses. The men in the team always challenge me when I give them training instructions but never challenge Fergus. I have the final authority on applying Development’s recommended parameters to our processes but the men on my team (one in particular) always question the legitimacy of what I tell them. Fergus could literally answer with gibberish and they’d not bat an eye, but if I say “No, we can’t include references to sodium in our assessment” then they’d argue for reasons why we should. When I put my foot down, then they sulk off by saying they were just being the devil’s advocate so they can understand the process better.

      The women on my team also experience this from the men when they have team discussions. I’ve reported the behavior but all that happens is the worst offenders get shuffled off to a new team only to get shuffled back to me when they wear out their welcome. I’ve gotten very good at saying “This is how we are applying X and there will be no further discussion. If you disagree, submit a complaint to Development.”

    15. Aimless*

      My female, C-level manager complimented me today on my ability to give tough news (to the executive team/senior stakeholders) in a positive, non-defensive manner.

      I feel like this conversation would never happen between two men – they would never consider the likability/credibility balance in delivering the truth.

      1. JSPA*

        Rings true, though I’m guessing minority guys and “stranger to the dominant work culture” guys have their own version of same.

        And it probably should happen more between two (dominant workplace culture) men.

        Guys being aware of not sounding like jerks or leaving people feeling slammed, and caring about their reports not sounding like jerks or leaving people feeling slammed, is good management and good mentorship.

        And it should be possible to praise someone for being excellent at anything (being likeable, having excellent credibility, being articulate, etc) without it being a veiled insult, when they’re indeed far better than the norm. Which you may well be!

    16. goddessoftransitory*

      I answer phones and take orders at my job, and I run into a specific type of guy a lot. Not flirtatious, but expecting me to be their audience–laugh at their (very tired) comedy routines, listen to their complaints about their kids/partner/job, advise them like I’m their mom about topping and whether they’ll like them or not, what their KIDS would like, and so on.

      Because I’m female this type of guy just switches automatically into “take care of me/boost my ego” mode, in a way my male colleagues rarely have to put up with.

    17. Lemonwhirl*

      I was listening to a podcast the other day that was focusing on the collapse of the news site Messenger. They had an interesting tangential discussion about how when men pitch for venture capital funding, they tend to get a lot of questions about potential and their vision and their experience. When women pitch for venture capital funding, they tend to get a lot of questions about the risks.

  4. Dannie*

    Short gripe: I just heard that the job I left in summer 2023 is hiring two additional people, which means the department has now doubled in head count since I left (2 of us then, now 4). I left because I was underpaid and overworked, and the department director was stonewalling any changes to our group. Sheer stubbornness and a touch of “you are women and you aren’t real engineers, so just shut up and put your nose to the grindstone.” That guy was ousted from the company completely, which seems to have created a sea change for the department.

    I’d glad my boss is getting what she needs now, but this is the third job in a row that I left due to crappy conditions, only for the issues to evaporate less than a year after I left. I can’t tell if I have bad vibes or just bad timing. I’m like the workplace version of Good Luck Chuck, if anyone remembers that horrible movie.

    Anybody else seem to induce improvements when you leave?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’ve had this happen, too. I think it’s because there’s no impetus to change at many places if employees point out these problems but keep working there and producing the same amount. Then, when a seasoned employee leaves, it exposed more of the cracks. Especially during hiring and training.

      I just always think that they got what they deserved and now have to spend more time and money fixing the issues than if they had just addressed the concerns when they were first voiced.

    2. Constance Lloyd*

      I left a nonprofit I really loved because the pay was so poor. Everything else about the organization was great, but I couldn’t afford to stay. I was incredibly honest in my exit interview and within a month, my underpaid team saw significant raises. This nonprofit is part of a national network with orgs in each state, and six months later our (relatively new) executive director learned that despite my now former team being among the top performers in the country, they were among the lowest paid. People in lower cost of living areas were making 10-15k more than my team. So they rolled out another wave of raises. That felt pretty cool.

    3. Office Plant Queen*

      Maybe you just have a lower tolerance for BS than other people, or are in a better place to take financial risks like leaving/changing jobs. I wouldn’t be surprised if your quitting gives the remaining people more standing to push for badly needed change – “people have started quitting over these issues” can sometimes make leadership realize that it’s actually a problem because suddenly they actually have to deal with work not getting done

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Or you are an outstanding high producer but do it with such ease that management doesn’t realize until you’ve left that there is in fact a huge gorilla walking thru the basketball game!

    4. Rara Avis*

      After many months of my husband saying his workload was unsustainable, they replaced him with two people while he was out on disability. (They covered themselves by offering him one of the new jobs, but they had made the new positions part-time without benefits.)

    5. periwinkle*

      Improvements, no. However, I have a pattern of joining a team and then the manager leaving the company. My first and current managers are still here, but the others all departed shortly after I was moved to another team.

      Maybe I should hire myself out to AAM readers with crappy bosses. I can make your problem go away for just a small fee…

    6. Ama*

      Every single job I have ever left they have hired multiple people to replace me. Early in my career I probably wasn’t vocal enough about being overworked and so they didn’t realize how much I was doing until they tried to hire my replacement. Later I was *plenty* vocal before I left that the workload was too high, but they remained in denial until I left.

      Part of it is that I tend to find jobs that are in rapidly growing organizations, so I start at a reasonable level and then I get in a frog in boiling water situation where the workload creeps up so slowly it takes me a while to notice. Part of it is that I am just naturally efficient and good at prioritizing which for the type of work I do does give me a larger capacity than other people

      Even at my current job, where they actually did listen and hire new staff to take some of my workload *before* I had to leave, I still think they don’t really realize how much I’m still doing and are going to wind up hiring an extra staff person when I leave. (Also at this point I’ve been here 11 years — it doesn’t matter if they hire the perfect employee after me with tons of experience, it’s going to take them time to learn all of the nuances of the institutional knowledge you need to do this job to be able to do as much as I can do in a day).

    7. JelloStapler*

      I left a position because they expected way more than what they would pay for. When I left and they re-posted, they lowered the grade of the position and the responsibilities to meet what they were willing to pay. So the next person got about the same salary but less to do.

    8. Anoj*

      I can only say I *expect* this to happen when I leave my organization (retiring, yay!). I am handling three completely different jobs because I have the capacity to do so even if I can’t devote enough time or effort to any one of them. I have been able to find one coworker (with his own heavy workload) to transition one of the jobs and have been sending more and more work his way so he can ask me any questions before I leave. As for the other two jobs, we have no one to take over one of them, and the other will either be absorbed by the team or not. My manager wants me to be part of the hiring process but can’t tell me what the position will actually look like. He even wanted the one job that I’ve successfully transitioned to be transitioned elsewhere, which I am not doing since I have spent the last two years training up my coworker. At some point you just have to not look back, whatever happens is out of our control, I did my job, and did it very well. I can’t help if management where I work has always taken the path of least resistance (me) instead of managing (in some cases managing out) others who have tunnel vision when it comes to doing their (1) job.

    9. I Can't Even*

      I have found that in most places things do not change until a large exodus is seen because those on top prevent information about problems from trickling to the top. It is only until the number show a problem OR there is a leakage of information to the public that forces them to take a look internally.

    10. Lucia Pacciola*

      Biggest epiphany I ever had about employment is that it’s all about employee retention decisions. Pay decisions are retention decisions. Workload decisions are retention decisions. Etc. And employees leaving is feedback about retention decisions. That’s how employers find out they’ve made the wrong decisions about retaining employees. So it’s not surprising that some employers start making better retention decisions after they realize they’ve failed to retain you.

    11. Bast*

      Yes. Last year I left a job I had been in for nearly 5 years due to incompetent upper management that blatantly looked the other way at people not doing their jobs and tolerated all kinds of nonsense. While we would have had enough people actually doing the jobs, there were a good 3 or so that just did not. In a small office, that means half the office is not doing anything. Everyone who actually worked was overworked trying to pick up the slack, and upper management refused to do anything about the situation. Would not put them on a PIP, would not fire them. About 3 months after I leave, one of the do-nothings got fired. Another couple of months and another one was demoted and someone capable steps into her spot. I’ve heard it’s much happier there now.

      Granted, this was only ONE problem in an organization rife with problems, but if they had fixed this before I would have been more likely to stay, at least for a little longer.

    12. Chirpy*

      I think my leaving seems to prompt everyone else to leave. I don’t think my old jobs have ever changed for the better, it mostly means I have no references because there’s literally no one left who knows I worked there. It’s like I leave, everyone realizes that I wasn’t exaggerating on what needed to get done, they ask me to come back but it’s too late, and then they all eventually bail themselves.

    13. Been There Done That*

      Oh yes! The last 5 nonprofit fundraising jobs I left, EVERY SINGLE ONE of them, replaced me with at least 2, sometimes 3 people, AND added at least one or two more direct reports in that department – meaning it took 3-5 people to do the work I had been doing on my own. And a couple of my replacements told me they didn’t know how I had been doing everything I did. But if I didn’t do my job, donations didn’t come in and without donations, no programs for the community.

    14. Random Academic Cog*

      It’s been a long time since I changed offices, but when I left my previous employer they had to hire 3 people to replace me. It felt very vindicating, at least.

      1. Mazey's Mom*

        Same here. Not only did they need 3 people to do what I did (and what I had been doing for 17 years!), but they made it a whole new office in the department – something I had been advocating for the past 10 years I was in that job.

    15. I Have RBF*

      I’ve regularly been replaced by two to five younger male employees when I have left a company. They are the only ones willing to take the low pay, when the company could have kept me by paying me more. Now the company has to pay twice, plus the hiring, onboarding and training cost.

    16. OMG, Bees!*

      Perhaps see your departures as part of the impetus for positive change at your past workplaces. You said you were stonewalled for changes, for raises, improvements. But (sadly) some companies do not see the need to change until the employees who get stuff done leave and suddenly they realize they need to hire 2 people just to do the work of the ex-employee.

    17. goddessoftransitory*

      I’ve had at least three businesses close on the heels of my departure–I don’t know if I’ve just got good timing or am inadvertently spreading a curse wherever I go.

      1. Heffalump*

        Maybe there were problems with the companies, you’re very good at your job, and losing you was the last thing it took to put them under. :)

    18. JSPA*

      Well maybe it means that you’re someone who they really really hate to have lost? Losing Dannie over it, that’s really the last straw.”

    19. Me again*

      Are you going to apply? If not, is it because you have a better job now? (Then the bad things that pushed you out were for the good, in the end!) Or because, despite improvements you still don’t want to be there? (Then leaving was for the good!)

  5. Kitten*

    If your current job is a dumpster fire where you don’t even have accomplishments, what are you supposed to put on your resume?

    I’ve been in my current marketing role for about a year and truly don’t have anything to put on my resume because it’s such a hot mess here, I can’t even do my job. My immediate boss is actually great. Both him and I are limited with what we can accomplish due to his boss [VP-level] and VP-level’s boss [C-level]. My boss and I don’t have (1) set marketing performance goals (2) don’t have the proper reporting and (3) C-level keeps flip flopping strategies without understanding how X impacts Y when we do Z, then he asks why Y is down. It’s been a pain because C-level and V-level pretty much just have me pull reports but then don’t remember anything my boss or I explain to them. I think C-level is the true problem here; he’s too involved with us and looking at things in such detail but not giving us the information and resources we need. V-level is decent when it’s just him, however I’ve realized he’s way different on calls when C-level is there and doesn’t try to push back on C-level. For instance, my boss and I will be explaining why we need to do A, and VP-level doesn’t do anything, when he should advocate for my boss and me up to C-level. I think there is probably office politics behind the scenes because I think VP-level sees through some of the bull, but then his actions show he doesn’t want to make waves.

    Literally all my accomplishments at this job have been pulling reports (but I can’t do anything with that data) and sharing trends to senior leadership and other internal teams. I can’t even put those accomplishments in SMART goal format. I’m going to see how it goes during this year. They keep promising changes but it hasn’t happened and there are other priorities within the business that are getting worked on first.

    Thanks for reading, I know I’m venting a bit lol.

    1. Quincy413*

      I work in marketing – in entry-level roles where it’s hard to quantify anything. I would focus on data analysis (you pulling trends) and data storytelling (assuming you’re presenting/putting together these reports) in a resume. If you have data at all, then you must be running some sort of campaign – detail what those are (paid, PPC, SEO). You could also put in a bullet point about supporting senior leadership (since you and your boss work closely). Hope any of these ideas are helpful!

    2. Rory*

      I bet you could use some creative language to describe some of the tasks you are doing on a resume in a someone constructive way. I just plugged some of your basic task descriptions into ChatGPT and asked it to make it sound like impressive accomplishments for a resume, and it came up with this:

      – Strategic Data Compilation and Executive Reporting:
      Spearheaded the meticulous compilation of comprehensive marketing data to generate insightful reports tailored for executive consumption. Ensured accuracy and relevance of data, enabling informed decision-making at the highest organizational levels.

      – Proactive Marketing Trend Analysis and Executive Communication:
      Demonstrated a keen ability to stay at the forefront of dynamic marketing landscapes by consistently monitoring and analyzing emerging trends. Effectively communicated key insights and strategic recommendations to executive stakeholders, facilitating agile and informed responses to market dynamics.

      So maybe ChatGPT could give you some other ideas based on what you’ve been doing. I wouldn’t use these answers verbatim as they definitely sound a little “try hard” with all the buzz words, but I think it helps as a starting point.

    3. CL*

      Totally understand your frustration and having similar roadblocks. Can you make/highlight improvements to the operational parts of your job? For example, can you improve the reporting format or process? Think “streamlined reporting process to reduce monthly report creation time by 50%”. Unless you have been sitting on your hands, you’ve done something, it’s just about framing it

    4. CW*

      Can you get actual, quantifiable marketing experience volunteering or (even better) getting paid for freelance marketing projects? You could build an online website/portfolio showcasing this work. Catchafire and Tap Root are two organizations that you could look at to be matched with volunteer opportunities.

      If it makes you feel any better, I’m very much in this situation as well. A total mess of an org, nightmare leadership, building/running a marketing dept from scratch in my “spare time” from my other full-time job here. No infrastructure to track success of projects, almost no budget, so basically my whole resume looks like a series of failed initiatives. (I am also venting.)

      Good luck!

    5. Stuart Foote*

      I would add the fact that you collaborated with C level people on these marketing plans, even if none of them took off. Seems like you could make a decently impressive bullet point out of that.

    6. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      I understand your frustration! My current job is one where accomplishments aren’t even a thing that can be measured in a way to work on a resume. Either we met specifications and deadlines or we did not. There’s no exceeds expectations and finishing work early would actually screw up a lot. There’s very little professional development available and what exists isn’t transferrable outside the organization. Closest thing I can do to an achievement on a resume is list the projects I worked on, which will be gibberish to anyone outside the organization.

  6. I'm so fancy*

    For remote workers, how do you decorate the space behind you that is shown on video calls? Next month I’m moving and I’ll have a blank wall behind me, and I’m so excited to decorate it! It’s a white wall and immediately I think I’ll put wall decor stickers on to imitate wallpaper.

    1. English Rose*

      I have some fairly bland framed pictures. Used to have a cork board with things pinned to it but people found it too interesting and kept asking what various postcards etc were, so now I’ve gone for more boring. Like the idea of decor stickers though.

    2. AnonITnow*

      Most people where I work simply use one of the backgrounds supplied by Teams. The few who don’t may have a bookcase behind them, or something that gives ‘office’ vibes.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Yes, I just do this or blur the background, it’s infinitely easier than worrying about what’s behind me, especially since I don’t have a wall behind me so it’s just an open look into my general living space.

      2. Dannie*

        Same. My office is an ongoing mess. I had to break apart my closet because an HVAC technician needed urgent access to the crawlspace inside it, and I’ve not had time or funds to rebuild the broken shelving. Before the IT group gave us access to the Teams backgrounds, I used to perch in the corner with my laptop balanced on my knees, so all your could see was a bit of bare wall.

      3. not nice, don't care*

        Mine is on blur by default so I don’t have to remember to switch when I wfh with my giant pantry shelves behind me.

    3. What's that behind you??*

      Oh, I just did this! For a blank wall behind me, I got a long console table and basically looked online for examples of what to put on it. There are guidelines in terms of size, spacing, balance, not being too cluttered etc. Some people do perfectly balanced, with identical large objects on each size, but I’m on a budget working with just what I have at home, so mine is a bit more eclectic: Large framed picture (sidewalk find) in the middle, a couple tall vases, a ceramic pot, and a couple of other random objects to fill it in.
      When I have the budget I’ll do some sort of temporary wallpaper as well.

    4. Constance Lloyd*

      A decorative shower curtain can be a really fun and low budget tapestry imitation! I’m a fan of the ones that have hanging eucalyptus or other greenery, but there’s a ton to choose from. I know Teams has backgrounds, but if you have a blank space behind you that you can decorate you might as well have fun with it!

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

      My coworker has hung a beautiful quilt behind her. It’s very colorful to look at, but not so interesting that it’s distracting.

    6. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      If you look up ‘nature wall tapestry’ on Amazon you can find sizes up to 10×10 feet, made of a handkerchief material so you can hang them with thumbtacks. They’re surprisingly crisp and high quality.

    7. I'm so fancy*

      I forgot to mention this space will be my kitchen in a 1-bedroom apartment, so I want it to flow with the rest of my apartment.

    8. Neosmom*

      I have a large framed piece of needlepoint that I stitched. Monochromatic greens, so not too distracting for viewers.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Oooh I would love to see this! Is it abstract or, like, leaves or something? (I’m in the middle of cross-stitching my favourite work-related quotes, which will go up in my office when done)

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am well known as a nerd, so mostly what’s visible behind me is the top of a shelf with a collection of Star Wars knick-knacks (mostly various droid models). The wall above the shelf is currently empty – I had a Dark Tower timeline framed up there for a while, but then I realized that it mirrored the rest of the room when I was on camera so I took it down and haven’t put anything else up there yet. I’m pondering either a collage of Mixtiles with pictures of my dogs, or a wall hanging of some sort. (I don’t use virtual backgrounds because personally I find them distracting, parts of people blipping in and out of view – I once struggled to focus through an entire town hall because the presenter’s whole very elaborate hairdo kept appearing and disappearing.)

    10. Donkey Hotey*

      Directly behind me is my “accent” wall. blue and gold “wall paper” and a series of photos with me and different celebrities I’ve met. (Weird Al, Karl Urban, Peter Mayhew, Nichelle Nicols, John Cusack, and Tim Curry.)

    11. Rory*

      I just blur my background or use a fake background because there isn’t any great place in my home to create a good background. That’s cool that you have a blank wall to decorate – what I’ve seen some people do is put up framed inspirational quotes or simple, minimalist art that’s usually more abstract. Also, shelves with a few books and plants always look classy and not too busy.

          1. Phryne*

            Ah. The mechanics of the mirrored screen in video calls keeps evading me. I just cannot wrap my head around it somehow.

    12. Casper Lives*

      I put up large framed prints of pretty flowers by a local photographer. And there’s a storage cabinet in frame.

      My work laptop struggles with the bandwidth to boy the background or I’d use that! It depends on your job but anything neutral is the safest bet.

    13. Dinwar*

      My first course of action is to avoid using video. There are FAR better uses of screen real estate on 99% of calls than my face.

      My second course of action is to use a company-provided background to block what’s behind me. Given the number of people (here and elsewhere) who are extremely judgmental about backgrounds, I’m not risking it. In my home office I have bookshelves behind me with sci-fi and fantasy books, some reference books of various kinds, knick-knacks, a bunch of books on Paganism/Wicca, a few books by Ayn Rand, pieces of guns (scopes, the bolt from my bolt-action rifle, that sort of thing–no actual guns), skulls…..I’ve found that when I “bring my whole self to work” I offend EVERYONE. And EVERYONE seems to have this pathological need to comment on it. So nope, not going to deal with it.

    14. Make it bold and make it red*

      I have my Ikea Billy bookshelves behind me so it’s got a semi-artfully arranged collection of books, art, and knick-knacks. Folks at my org have a variety of the following behind them:

      Bold wallpaper from Society6 (a big fave among the org!)
      Room divider (to hide the chaos)
      Blank wall
      Use the blur filter
      Use a background

    15. Lucia Pacciola*

      I used to go all-in on personalization. Back in the day, it was my computer desktop. Custom background, custom icons, custom all the things. When Zoom happened, I played around a bit with custom backdrops. In the end I came to the same conclusion as I did about my desktop customizations: Things change too often for me to be wasting cognitive load on this. So now I just set some basic quality of life things, and forget about it. Set your background to blurred, and leave it at that. Decorate your wall how you want it for your work-life balance. (I work out of shared common area, so I need backgrounds that I can look at and live with when I’m not at work, not just backgrounds that can amuse and distract my co-workers during conference calls. YMMV.)

    16. Llama Llama*

      During Halloween I found an awesome skeleton to display. Most other seasons the wall was blank and I just used a team’s background

    17. girlie_pop*

      I have a bookcase with all of my favorite books from different genres behind me! There are also some cute little knick knacks and mugs (which I collect when I travel). It’s a little busy, and I do work in a pretty casual environment, but I get a lot of compliments and it is a good conversation starter!

    18. Miz Swizz*

      I put up some peel and stick wallpaper on my wall behind me. My workspace is a corner of our living room, which is a very long rectangle in a ranch home. The wallpaper works as an accent wall with the rest of the space but adds a little more interest than the solid color it was before.

    19. PurplePeopleEater*

      I had a white wall, too, and put up long picture ledges from IKEA. That made it easy to arrange a few big prints behind my reference books to add some color.

    20. Phryne*

      I think the question to ask yourself is, what do you want from it? You don’t need to decorate a wall for work calls, you can leave it blank or use a digital or blurred background and it will be fine for work. So if you do want to decorate, it would probably be good to find out what the purpose will be. Do you want to show your personality or taste in art it future? Do you want to come across s certain way, well read, organized, classy? Or do you just want a nice wall for yourself? And ask yourself what the professional standard at your workplace is, is it formal or not.
      Once you have an idea what you want from that wall, it will be easier to make decisions about what to use or not.

      I use the blur function myself, as my camera points straight down my living room and even if I care little about my colleagues seeing it, it is probably distracting to them. Before I had a blank wall behind me and I just put a plant in a corner to break it up a bit.

    21. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I’m not remote but had free rein decorating my work office. I have a large (maybe 5’x4′) canvas print of an 1900s world map showing the telegraph lines behind my head. It’s got a black background and the map is kind of sepia, so it’s bland but still something I like enough to stare at on Teams. It was from a home goods store and pretty cheap.

      And because it’s dark my little hair whispies aren’t popping against a pale background, which annoys me – not enough to straighten my hair, though.

      Ikea has good attractive but mainstream canvases too.

      I rarely have video meetings at home but there I have a painting of the ocean, just broad strokes of greys and blues. I have a lovely bookshelf in that room on another wall but I’d get very distracted by books so wouldn’t subject others to it, or to trying to figure out who my two Funkos are.

    22. jane's nemesis*

      I have lots of plants behind me, people love to ooh and ahh over them! I also have a painting (that I painted) of a sunset scene. I think the main thing is not have it be too busy (especially if it’s very close behind your head, that would look overwhelming).

    23. Dragonfly7*

      I definitely prefer having my back to the wall – I don’t have to make sure the rest of the room is clean! :) I had a large wall banner that looked like a page from an old botanical book. My supervisor must have liked it because she immediately noticed when I took it down!

    24. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      We usually have to blur our backgrounds but on the off chance I forget, I have some framed vintage-themed travel posters on the wall behind me. The state of Wyoming put out a pretty great one a couple years ago, so I have that one currently displayed in the middle. I rotate them out depending on my mood and hope the camera is aimed high enough they can’t see the cats jumping on the table behind me.

    25. DannyG*

      I have a door behind me. I have a hanging hook on it and I have hospital logo shirts on it, with the boldest in front. I also have banners which I can hang for various occasions.

    26. fhqwhgads*

      You do you, and if you want to decorate, do it. But everyone on my all remote team either uses blurred background or fake-background-that-looks-like-an-office. Or keeps their camera off. It’s been a while since I regularly saw the actual room people are in.

    27. RedinSC*

      So many options!

      1. You could do a collection of wall tiles making a scene from a photo you particularly love
      2. buy an inexpensive green screen to make your backgrounds so much better without that weird shadowing thing that the supplied ones do (I find that so distracting!)
      3. Get a standing screen (decorative or use pretty papers to decorate a super cheap one)

    28. GythaOgden*

      I actually chose to sit where people could see a couple of tasteful pictures (albeit one that helped others geek out with me over the Dalek schematics picture that was a housewarming present) rather than the chaotic and cluttered bookshelf containing my collection of Soviet and Eastern Bloc books on the other side of the table. (My ordinary books are elsewhere, although with modern English-language titles I only tend to keep the stuff that I love, had a hand in creating through stewarding a couple of writing forums, or would be hard to replace; I read then donate or sell back to keep the space for the vintage/retro stuff that feels like part of my actual /library/. It was my ultimate dream to live in a library and I’ve achieved it but I’m not going to inflict it on my colleagues!!)

      I didn’t necessarily plan it that way, but being able to geek out with others is important to me at work, and schematics are relevant to our maintenance and facilities org as well. One guy I work with is ex-aerospace as well, so he really did enjoy the art and loved it when I hung another picture up from the Russian-Polish Soyuz joint space mission programme. It shows my interests in our work in a technology-adjacent field and my academic background in Eastern European history and political culture without overloading everyone with a hundred different titles in different languages and scripts and drowning me out as a person. I do have my Pictures At An Exhibition gallery wall in the same room (I walked down the aisle to Mussorgsky’s Promenade, so that’s another little bit of personal memory for me) but again, it would be sensory overload and things keep falling off the knock-off command strips I got in bulk…

      I am the only one who doesn’t blur her background or use a fake background but I felt that I needed something that gave me a ‘hook’ with others to start off with. I feel really well-included in the team rather than just being ‘the admin’, so it really helped to have more of an identity to be on display than a completely blank wall.

    29. kiki*

      I love plants, so my whole wall is covered with planters. It makes me really happy to work in a space with so many living plants. And it’s a background that stands out but isn’t so out there that it’s distracting for other folks (I hope!) I get a lot of compliments.

  7. happybat*

    Well, it had to happen! Completely mis-read an email, gave a chatty, friendly, candid response to a thoroughly baffled colleague, and confirmed my own opinion of myself as an idiot. From the response, confirmed the colleague’s opinion of me as an idiot, too.

    Please tell me I am not the only person to have ever done this….

        1. My dog owns me!*

          Me too, once a month! I asume I’m capable in other areas, as I’ve been promoted a couple of times despite the goofiness.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I once mis-read an Outlook invite and showed up to the meeting (I thought) 1 min late. Turns out the meeting was for the following week, so I was 7 days (minus 1 min) early! Realized my mistake quickly because the meeting organizer’s office was right next to the conference room, but the “sorry I’m late to the [project] meeting, Steve. …by the way, where is everyone else?” / “what are you talking about? the [project] meeting is next Tuesday” conversation was mildly embarrassing.

      1. SomehowMadeItThrough*

        I went to the wrong room for my dissertation proposal presentation. I had all the technology running beautifully 10 minutes ahead of schedule and 15 minutes later was panicking because my committee had ghosted me. Nope, they were downstairs wondering where I was. My committee chair graciously helped me schlep my stuff down a floor when we figured it out. Oh, and I passed. :D

      2. OtterB*

        I showed up to the meeting on time, to the wrong office. I was meeting with people from two different organizations and I went to colleague A’s office. When they didn’t answer the page from the security desk I had to find someone who could tell me that colleague A was in a meeting about Project X (yes, that’s the meeting I am supposed to be in) … over at colleague B’s office. Then take the Metro back halfway across DC to be 45 minutes late. Sigh.

      1. Kuleta*

        At a past employer, somebody sent an all-hands email to two local offices offering a pair of sports tickets for sale.

        The email contained a typo. One team was called the Mighty Ducks.

    2. Margaret Cavendish*

      Last week I had the following email exchange:

      Terry to me and Gina (Raymond’s assistant): Can we set up a meeting with Raymond and Madeleine?
      Gina: Hi Terry, I think you meant Janet (Madeleine’s assistant.) I’ll take care of it.
      Terry: Oops, haha, sorry Margaret!
      Me: Haha, no problem!

      Two minutes later:

      Me to Terry: Can we move the meeting to Tuesday?
      Terry: Um, just to be clear, I sent you that last email in error, I meant to send it to Janet. You’re not actually needed at the meeting.
      Me: What? Oh shoot…I meant to send my email to Trudy!

      Yep, I responded to a misdirected email with a misdirected email of my own. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I guess?

    3. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      I once wrote a long email response to a colleague about computer programming. He was baffled because he meant programming as in programs given as a service by places like libraries. I no longer work there but I still cringe about that and hope he never recognizes me if we cross paths.

    4. Some Dude*

      I am very terse in email and try not to be too chatty in it because i’ve been bitten in the ass by this very thing.

      It’s hard too because I get so many emails and have so much to do that I sometimes don’t thoroughly read them all and I miss things. But…we unveiled a benefit to C-suite people that would take place in Q4…and they all reached out to me about said benefit that they could not access for another three quarters, because they did not read their email.

    5. RedinSC*

      Oh, you totally are not.

      And, while our opinions of ourselves are often mean like that, you are also not an idiot.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Don’t feel bad–it happens to everyone. I’ve done it so often and noticed it several seconds after sending that I now have a sixty second delay for every email going out.

  8. Very Zonked*

    There’s someone who thinks they’re in a supervisory role but they’re in a “Helper to the Lead”-type role. They belittle and insert themselves and insult other folks and those other folks are truly fed up (multiple complaints). This person was specially appointed by the Head and shows no signs of leaving. How have others dealt with this? What happened in your cases?

    1. Lucia Pacciola*

      You should totally launch a series of increasingly bizarre and obnoxious pranks on the Lead Helper, in between wholesome rounds of hitting on the receptionist who already has a boyfriend.

    2. Quinalla*

      Talk to the Head/Lead – if you can frame it in how it is interfering with folks’ ability to do work that is most helpful! I’d also get clarification on what authority if any Helper has and what they are supposed to be doing and then push back firmly on Helper if they are overstepping. If nothing changes, try to transfer elsewhere in the company or job hunt.

    3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      We had one of those, who thought her role of Assistant to the Vice President (basically somewhere between secretary and administrative assistant) meant she was the Assistant Vice President. Isn’t it strange how those misinterpreted titles are always an upward stretch rather than downward?

    4. AnonToday*

      Two times? I mean not with insults per se, but twice it’s felt like someone was pretending to be my manager…

      In the first case, I went to my manager and asked if this person was supposed to be delegating me tasks, etc. It turns out he was. My manager was delegating management responsibilities to him and grooming him to be our new manager. A few months later, Helper was promoted into a management role and he was actually a pretty good manager.

      In the second, I was in a technical role and a senior engineer was giving me unsolicited feedback on my work. Again, I talked my manager. My manager said he was supposed to be giving me feedback on my work because he was the SME. My manager didn’t have the technical expertise to give me feedback. It rubbed me the wrong way because no one ever told me he was going to be doing that, and because he was a tough talking New Yorker who wasn’t super nice about the feedback. But, he was supposed to be giving me feedback.

      So, basically, you need to talk to your lead about what this person’s role is. If they are insulting people, you can also bring up specific examples of that.

  9. Ashley Armbruster*

    What’s y’all take on when managers and above use “we” when they want you to do something?

    Sometimes it feels so patronizing. Such as, “can we make sure to include ‘llama metrics’ next time?” or “we need to decide what to do with that budget” (in this case it needs to ultimately be the manager to decide this, why are they saying “we”?)

    1. Sandra*

      I had a manager like this and found it very frustrating and confusing.

      The biggest issue was that I felt like I never knew who was supposed to the task that she said “we” would do. Sometimes we’d both end up doing a task unbeknownst to each other and sometimes things would fall through the cracks. Eventually I started asking for clarification when she said “we” would/should do something: “Sounds great. Would you like me to take the lead on X?” (Or, if it was something I really didn’t want to do, I’d say, “Sounds great. Will you be taking the lead on X?”)

    2. English Rose*

      Yeah, it’s tone of voice and general knowledge of whether the person leans towards patronizing or not. I’ve had two managers who use this language. Current one is genuinely collaborative. First one… not.

    3. manager who uses we very frequently*

      My recommendation is to just brush it off as common business speak. Sometimes it’s intended to convey that the manager is acting as part of the org generally rather than as an individual (“We need you to do X as part of this role” vs “I need you to do X as part of this role”) and sometimes it’s meant as a way to take partial ownership of the problem. Management is responsible for the mistakes of the people they manage so when you screw up, it’s partly on them. It can also just be meant generally to make the correction less targeted. Sometimes it’s just a habit formed from how often someone *should* say we instead of I (“We [our team]) did this” is more accurate if you’re a manager than “I did this”). It’s ultimately softening language that isn’t worth getting worked up about.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Our org uses ‘colleagues’ rather than ‘staff’ in a similar way but it actually works. The rationale — including talking about cleaners and plumbers and so on, not just in admin/corporate circles — is that a ‘staff’ works for you, but colleagues work with us. There may be a chain of command with increasing responsibility, but it shows we value everyone in that chain of command.

        Some corpo-babble is really awkward and embarrassing but ultimately, I think the intent is to improve relationships in general. It really depends on the people involved and their efforts to make it work, but changing how people refer to you or what job you have can improve those relationships with decent will to make it happen behind the scenes as well as presenting a united face to others.

        We can get too cynical for our own good and that’s when things can get corrosive on our end. But when it’s backed up with real actions, it can revolutionise how we see ourselves as colleagues working towards an end goal.

    4. Phlox*

      Its something I try to stop myself doing as a manager, but definitely is a common habit from me. Generally for me it comes from thinking about the team/work “we” and then not shifting into specifics. And its a language support and softening approach to not be the person saying “you” all the time, not sound like I’m just telling people what to do all the time, and it can be easier than deciding the plan of who is going to do ___. But there is so much value in specificity, clarity and giving staff agency/ownership is not solved by avoiding specificity!

    5. ferrina*

      Eh, sometimes it’s passive-aggressive, but sometimes it’s just a turn of phrase. As a manager, I’m sometimes stuck on whether to use “I” or “we”. If I say “I” too much, it can sound controlling (“I want this report by 9am” vs “this report is due on my desk at 9am”). If I say “we” I can invite more collaboration, and sometimes I’m genuinely talking as the leader of the team (“our budget”, not “my budget”). But I also don’t want to say “we decided” when it’s really “I decided”… unless it’s something where it will look better for my team (regardless of how it looks for me) where it looks like a group decision. Then I’ll say “we” even if it’s mostly an “I” so my team also gets credit, since they are the ones that have to do the leg work. It’s a constant calculous of “how can I inspire my team and give them credit, and invite collaboration while also being cognizant of the power dynamic and taking responsibility for my own decisions?”

      Sometimes a manager needs to guess at which is best, and sometimes they slip up. If this is an occasional error and/or they are a good manager in the other ways that count, try to give this a pass. If they are a bad manager in other ways and this is indicative of one of those ways (like the conflict-averse manager who blames everything on the team and takes no responsibility as the leader), then try to see the pattern rather than the wording.

      1. BigLawEx*

        I *had* a spouse like this. We **always** meant me. In my most passive-agressive moments I’d let his stuff fall through the cracks and pretend *we* meant him.

        I hate this way of communicating. Since you can’t divorce your manager, I’d ask for clarification every time.

        1. GythaOgden*

          I wouldn’t let that show, though. At some point your own adversarial approach is going to rebound and ultimately will only ever hurt you.

    6. TX_TRUCKER*

      When I use “we” that’s as assignment from the grand boss, or somewhere else in the company. When “I” give someone an assignment, there is usually some flexibility. But if “we” give you an assignment, it needs to be done even I think it’s an absurd task. I don’t know if this language quirk is unique to my industry, but it’s been this way in 3 different companies that I have worked in.

      1. anonymous anteater*

        related to this: I use ‘we’ a lot when I try to get people to do something and I anticipate that they don’t want to do it, usually because I need information or a decision from them, and I can’t let them procrastinate on it. I use ‘we’ intentionally so I feel like I can use more urgent language but we still are on the same team/I am not antagonizing them. The message is that I am not bothering you for my own enjoyment but because ‘we’ need to stay compliant/need to get this thing finished, to allow us to keep doing the work that you care about.

        Big caveat is that I am typically lower in the hierarchy. But it’s an ingrained habit for me and I probably do it to more junior people as well.

    7. Lexi Vipond*

      ‘We’ is ambiguous anyway – if the manager and their manager agree the budget that’s still ‘we’ from the manager’s point of view, just not from yours.

    8. Quinalla*

      This a personal pet peeve of mine when folks say “we” meaning “you”. I typically let it slide in business settings as it is generally very clear who is actually going to execute work and is pretty common language, though if it isn’t clear I will clarify. I do NOT let it slide in personal settings and I will often let the we hang there or give a noncommittal response and plan to do nothing as I don’t need anymore crap on my list of things to do haha.

    9. House On The Rock*

      I admit to using this language when talking about work that my team does, but it’s usually in the context of either talking with outside groups about a project or when planning work within the team. For example “We, in the Wombat Wrangling team provide multiple reports on wombats” to an external audience or “As Wombat Wranglers, we are going to be asked to expand to Canberra Caging in the next fiscal year”.

      When I realize that I’m discussing actual deliverables that are produced by my staff, not me, I will call that out in what I hope is a lighthearted way: “by ‘we’ of course I mean the amazing Wrangling protocol that Rick and Ilsa developed last year!”.

    10. A Manager for Now*

      I have 100% been guilty of this. Usually I use it in a “this is a strategic initiative for the group” scenario, where I am making people aware that this project is going to impact them or have tasks eventually assigned to them (eg “We need to kick off a plan to address X change in Y regulation”) or when I’ll be splitting up the work between myself and them (eg “We need to generate Z report, can you tackle getting A, B, and C attachments?” I think it’s important to call out exact assignments though).

      Or when there was an error I’m correcting where I don’t want to point out exactly who made the mistake or I want to make sure it’s addressed across the group or when I’m making changes to an established process that I’m anticipating pushback on (eg “We had a miss on our teapot painting procedure yesterday, generally we use this technique instead.” – I think this is where your “can we make sure to include” example comes in)

      Sometimes I also use it when softening my (female presenting in a male industry) guidance to upper levels, “We may be overlooking the impact of teapot glaze on this project. Should we take a look at how that might change things?”

      I’m going to take a look at how often I say this now, that’s for sure!

    11. BoratVoiceMyWife*

      I’m in this situation several times a week and it drives me crazy. It’s always used in the context of “shit rolls downhill” and urgently requested deliverables, but even though I’m the only one responsible for creating the deliverables it’s always “we need to spin up XYZ.”

      In saying that there’s nothing I can do about it, so I just have to eat it.

    12. Busy Middle Manager*

      It’s not patronizing because it works in both directions. How many times does something go wrong and suddenly it’s my problem (again?)

    13. I Have RBF*

      My line on when “we” is appropriate is: Is it something the group as a whole are doing, need to know, or are responsible for? Or is it just assuming that the right person will magically do the thing? The first is fine, the second is a communications failure. If you want person X to do Y, don’t say “We need to do Y”, say “X, would you please do Y”.

    14. cactus lady*

      As a young manager, the first thing I ever got reprimanded for was saying “you” and “me” instead of “we” when talking about work assignments, because saying “we” was supposed to “foster a team environment”. I have no idea if that’s true or not but it was a Whole Thing at that job and it has just stuck with me since. There’s no ulterior meaning other than I spent a year at that first management job being required to use “we” and it just became a habit. Don’t read too much into it.

    15. M. Magpie*

      With the force of a dwarf star do I hate this phrase. There are times when it can be truly collaborative—fine. There are times when it’s just an annoying not ill-intended phraseology. I inherited and managed a clinical director for a mICU who used it in that smarmy, sing-song tone generally reserved for toddlers. (Toddlers also deserve better). I coached. I was direct. I pointed out that professional staff with combined work experience of over two hundred years collective clinical experience would and did find this objectionable. It appeared on every piece of feedback that was solicited. Patients, the ones who participated in and completed post-hospital stay satisfaction surveys mentioned it. When she would not stop, and I was on the unit for a different purpose and witnessed her turn to a nurse and say, “Now, we don’t want to upset the manager now do we?” Meaning herself, as the manager. I pulled her aside and fired her that day. She had more than enough time to ameliorate what was behavior that damaged morale and put up real barriers. She had other problems, as you may imagine, but that was a glaring example indicative of a greater problem.

    16. Oh yeah, Me again*

      I am more annoyed by people who say who say: “You need to do such-and-such,” rather than “I need for you to do such-and-such.” Not bosses obviously, but co-workers do it sometimes, and people are always doing it to children, like ” you need to sit down and be quiet” when the kid ACTUALLY needs to run around and burn off some energy. or spouses who say to their partners “you need to pay attention to my wishes.” No, YOU need that! Ask for what YOU need, people, but don’t pretend the other person needs the same thing!

  10. Panic At The Interview - 2*

    Hi there, I posted here last week and got some helpful responses (thank you!) As an update, I got an offer (and it was literally 2 days after the applications closed, they decided to not re-interview me and just give the offer) so I didn’t get the chance to learn more about that hybrid policy. In the offer negotiation, I basically reiterated my need for hybrid and asked if the policy would be in place by the start date (which was going to be a while away.) They said they had no clue. It could be tomorrow. It could be at the end of the year. But they were equally frustrated because waiting for the official policy was losing them candidates.

    I really thought about it, because the offer was pretty good and the team was so great about trying to go to bat for me with getting hybrid as part of my condition of employment (i.e., can I have it written in my offer that I will start hybrid in 1.5 months) and the big bosses said no.

    I feel selfish saying no (which I think I need to get over–I know this is part of job hunting), but I know I will be an unhappy employee if I am waiting potentially for another year for hybrid. I’m sure someone would call me a brat or entitled millennial for this, but it is important to me (I don’t even have to be remote! I just want 1-2 days to work from home.) I have an interview next week with a job that’s hybrid or fully remote.

    I’m going to turn down the offer and in my gut, it feels right, but I feel bad.

    1. A manager, but not your manager*

      Sounds like you’re trusting your gut and turning down an offer that wouldn’t be a good fit for both sides. That’ll someone else who is comfortable with their policy and would be happy to have the job can take it and you won’t get stuck in a job that doesn’t work and/or leave when you find a job that will offer hybrid (forcing them to search again).

      Sounds like everyone wins if you trust that guy feeling.

    2. ferrina*

      I’m so glad you did the right thing for you! You’re right- you shouldn’t go somewhere that you aren’t going to be happy! Part of my job is to oversee onboarding, and if they aren’t excited to start, it usually goes downhill from there (usually that excitement is mixed with nervousness, but the optimism should be strong from the outset). If someone comes in unhappy, it impacts everyone around them and is worse for them. You did the right thing for everyone. This doesn’t mean it will feel all sunshine and rainbows. It’s okay to feel guilt for not being able to join team leaders you liked, and disappointment for a job that just couldn’t be, and even (if you’re me) a bit of “I could have tried harder!” (for me that’s a holdover from a toxic childhood where I was blamed for everything). Let yourself feel what you feel, as long as you also reassure yourself you did right and good (which it sounds like you’re doing a great job at!). Do something lovely this weekend.

      Bonus- the team leads will tell the big boss why you passed on the job. This adds to the number of people passing up jobs because they won’t consider hybrid. At a certain point it will reach critical mass and things will change- either the big boss will change policy, or the leaders will get sick of not being able to hire and go to another company.

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I don’t think you’re a brat or entitled: these are the job conditions you’re willing to work under and they can’t meet them. That’s just as true for a work-from-home policy as it is for your salary or the number of vacation days or any other benefit.

      As an aside, I’m personally glad to see people turning down jobs that won’t allow for hybrid at minimum for jobs where that would be an easy thing to offer as I think it’s important for hiring companies to hear that there’s an appetite for this still.

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Do you feel bad because of how you imagine they will feel? Or because you have an inner critic telling you how others will feel about you?

      1. Panic at the Interview*

        A little bit of both. I know this means they’ll have to re-open the search, which is tiring. And I feel like if I did something different (I don’t know… asked if they were gonna interview me again? Stopped them before the offer?) I could’ve made this easier for them, but I also think it’s a lot of that inner critic and wanting to try to not “burden” people. It’s good things to bring up in therapy!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Would you consider telling them no and asking them to call back if the hybrid policy is finalized before they fill the position?

    5. JelloStapler*

      I would not accept it without an ironclad “yes” because big bosses could easily decide not to and you’re stuck. Maybe tell them that if things change and the policy is approved, to keep you in the loop.

    6. Sherm*

      Ugh, that stinks, and I get it. You’re excited to join, they’re excited to have you…and then, nope, no party. But it’s on them for not getting their act together on the hybrid policy. Maybe your declining will at least add some heat to the big bosses to settle the matter.

      If the job still has appeal to you, though, maybe it would be good to wait a few days before declining, in case the policy really is established tomorrow.

    7. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Saying no is a smart call! You know that you’ll be unhappy there, so this is the best outcome for everyone.

      Interviewing is not a commitment to accept the job if it’s offered.

    8. Phryne*

      – I’m sure someone would call me a brat or entitled millennial for this

      If they do, it is them who are woefully out of touch with the times, not you.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      If you need hybrid and they’re not able to commit to that, then this is THEIR price. You sound like you have been very transparent and professional about this.

    10. Tio*

      You can always tell them they can contact you again if the hybrid schedule is confirmed, who knows. Maybe a week alter they’ll call you back with good news

    11. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      Definitely go with your gut! My brother left his long-time job for a higher paying one that promised hybrid days. Then six months in, new administration came in and canceled all hybrid days. He’s absolutely miserable now. He only accepted the job because of the promise of hybrid days and his old job no longer exists so he can’t return to it. He really regrets having taken the job and said this first year after they canceled hybrid days has been hellish with the commute.

  11. Irish Teacher.*

    Inspired by the previous post on the boss obsessed with the dress code:

    Does your workplace have a dress code? If so, what does it require? If it doesn’t, are there informal expectations? And if you are comfortable saying, what field are you in?

    My school does not have a dress code for staff (students wear a uniform) and there aren’t any informal expectations either. People wear everything from suits to jeans and t-shirts to things like short skirts.

    I only ever worked in one school that had a dress code and that seemed to be entirely ignored but I have worked in a couple of schools where the norm was business casual – jumpers (I think sweaters to those in the US) or shirts and pencil skirts or nice pants for women and jumpers or shirts and nice pants for men. Nothing was ever said, but most people dressed that way, so it was fairly clearly the culture.

    1. happybat*

      I taught a a school a while ago where a colleague was sent home for wearing jeans, and another where a colleague was sent home for not wearing a shirt under his jumper (again, probably US sweater?). I felt sorry for jumper-colleague – he was from another (much warmer) country and I think was just doing his best to adapt. But there was no mercy…

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          My guess would be that you had to wear a shirt with a collar – ok to put a jumper over it for warmth, but not to just wear a jumper (too informal).

    2. Turingtested*

      We’ve always been business casual. Recently hoodies were banned and people are furious! I’m front office at a manufacturing facility in the US.

      1. ONFM*

        My workplace has a dress code that is titled “business casual” but is decidedly “business” in terms of the definitions and specific prohibitions. I think dress codes (in general) have been sliding more into just plain “casual” lately, and it’s caused us some problems. We’ve had people showing up in colored jeans, claiming they are trousers (“jeans” are specifically banned by policy); men wearing those white-bottomed casual shoes (the item description usually calls them “sneakers,” which are also banned), and last week, in some unseasonably warm weather, someone showed up in a pair of SHORTS. Our director hit the roof.

        1. The Twilight Barking*

          But are these more casual items causing any problems with the work or the optics for clients? If not, I don’t see what’s wrong with somewhat more casual clothes, as long as they’re clean and neat, etc?

          1. ONFM*

            They are not appropriate for the environments we work in and the people we serve. If they were appropriate, they wouldn’t be banned.

              1. Nope.*

                ONFM is pretty clearly speaking to their particular office’s dress code, not all that exist everywhere.

              2. Not all of us work in an office*

                I work in a science lab, if someone came in wearing shorts, they’d be heavily penalized and rightly so.

    3. londonedit*

      I’m in book publishing, in the UK, and we are pretty much business casual. I’ve never worked in an office with a strict dress code – it’s more about informal expectations. People wear jeans as standard and you see a whole spectrum really – younger people in junior roles might wear jeans and sweatshirts, people in senior roles will probably wear jeans and shirts with the top button undone (men) or something like wide-leg trousers with a casual shirt and a jumper over the top (women) or – like I do – a midi or maxi dress with trainers. Smart trainers are fine for everyone to wear, as are sandals in the summer (though I wouldn’t go as far as flip-flops). No one wears suits, men or women – the smartest you might get in my experience as a woman, for the boss’s PA or someone with a top-level meeting that day, would be smart flat shoes with smart yet fashionable trousers or a dress. People don’t really wear blazers unless they’re paired with jeans and a t-shirt. Being London, people are reasonably fashion-conscious (I’ve never seen anyone do the ‘khakis and polo shirt’ thing I see people here talking about) but it’s a relaxed sort of fashionable.

    4. Jane Bingley*

      My current workplace’s dress code is just “dress appropriately”. We’re mostly remote, so most days I just wear a sweater and leggings for Zoom calls. If we’re meeting in person with colleagues I aim for business casual (usually a basic dress over tights), but jeans aren’t uncommon either. I’ve worn the occasional suit for major external meetings.

      When in doubt, I can ask my boss, and have in the past. But generally we just trust people’s good judgment and it’s totally fine.

    5. English Rose*

      Non-profit and business casual including smart jeans (no rips). Some of the more senior folks dress more formally though.
      Reminds me of when I worked in a global law firm which decided to go business casual and the day it was launched I saw five male lawyers chatting. They were each wearing identical khaki chinos, pale-blue open-neck button-downs and tan loafers. So funny.

    6. In the Middle*

      US teacher. We might have a dress code? Bascially we’re at the point of “eh”. Buisness casual if I had to guess. There’s so few subs and teachers we all shrug and say “what are they going to do, fire me?”

      1. CL*

        My child’s teacher could wear a bathing suit all day and I wouldn’t care. I just want competent, qualified educators…they deserve to be respected and well paid. Unfortunately, I know not all parents feel this way.

    7. ForestHag*

      I’ve worked in higher education my whole career, mostly at a large state school. The dress code is all over the place and is highly dependent upon which department you’re in, what your bosses are like, and the time of the year. We do have a university-wide dress code policy that is basically, “adhere to basic hygiene and public decency standards, and don’t wear anything obscene”, but it does not list specific articles of clothing – unless it’s role with safety requirements (like Facilities Management). I’m grateful for that, but it can be sort of frustrating when you feel like there’s this unspoken pressure to dress a certain way but it’s never spelled out.

      For the most part, it’s casual to business casual – jeans and sneakers are very common, hardly anyone except manager on up wear button-downs, etc. School spirit shirts are encouraged, so I wear a lot of school t-shirts and hoodies. Some departments are more formal than others – for example College of Nursing typically dresses a little more formal, but then they will also wear school-branded scrubs. VPs can be very formal, but they often meet with people external to the university and do a lot of fundraising. Professors are truly a wild card – some dress to the nines every day, others look like they are wearing trash bags and flip flops.

      Most recently, our president has pushed back a little on the formality of staff clothing, and I’m loving it. She definitely does not dress as formally as previous presidents have – but also, she’s our first woman president and all the previous ones were men who wore suits. Depending on the day, you might see her in a suit or just basic slacks and a blouse. There is still an unspoken expectation that if you want to move up in your career here, you need to have a more “executive presence,” which has meant more formal clothing. However I’m a middle manager desperately looking for a new job outside of higher ed, so I can’t be arsed most of the time. If I am meeting with a lot of VPs or doing a presentation, I will try to wear something a little nicer than a hoodie and leggings, but that typically means my department branded sweatshirt and jeans. If it’s holding me back, then no one has told me or cares to tell me.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        This was my higher education experience. I once did have to tell a student employee in a public facing role that a “spank the monkey” t-shirt was inappropriate for work.

        1. Aspen*

          I had a student employee show up to work the other day (also in a public facing role) in her pajamas. I’m talking a full plaid flannel pajama set– they weren’t revealing or schlubby, but they were so clearly pajamas. We don’t really have a dress code in our department besides “dress appropriately”, and I found myself having to explain to a legal adult that PJ’s are not work-appropriate. (In her defense, she said, she was really sleepy that day).

    8. Hawk*

      I work in a public library system run by a municipal government. Our written dress code is to dress appropriately for work (no holes, dirty clothes, wrinkles, etc). I believe in certain positions closed toed shoes are required, but not mine. Depending on the location, the “unwritten dress code” (the informal/social dress code) varies from casual to business casual, with a few folks who just enjoy dressing up. Managers dress more business casual than the rest of the staff, especially the men, although our female director is usually on the casual side of business casual. I wear practical clothing (sweater, flannel, or button-up shirt, graphic t-shirt, and a nice pair of jeans, khakis, or cords), because I sometimes have to get on the floor to repair things, or to engage with small children. Layers are important because sometimes the HVAC system in every library I’ve worked in will either be turned to an extreme or broken.

    9. Ranon*

      I think we’ve moved from dress code to “dress for your day” – so dress appropriately for client meetings and otherwise since we’re all open floor plan office look reasonably put together if a client walks by.

      So jeans fine, sneakers, fine, athleisure, mostly no. Any given day spectrum in the office ranges from business formal to dressy casual.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Similar situation here — my job (higher ed fundraising) used to be a pretty business-y “business casual” dress code, and now we are “dress for your day.”

    10. Rara Avis*

      My school has a dress code for teachers. Dresses/skirts/slacks/blouses/collared shirts. Jeans are allowed only if worn with a blazer. No t-shirts, no sneakers. (I hate dress shoes.)

    11. nopetopus*

      Depends on the day and where you are headed. Sometimes scrubs, sometimes blazers, sometimes jeans and hiking boots. But the universal rules are: no patterns, tops must contrast with your skin tone, and no distracting jewelry or fingernail polish.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        What field are you in that has rules about patterns and contrasting with your skin tone?

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

      I’m in higher ed. Non-faculty employees are “business casual” but also “work/task appropriate.” NICE jeans are supposed to be worn only on Friday for office staff, but if a person’s task for the day is, for instance, campus tours or alumni lunch, then we are expected to dress to the formalness of the event. I have no idea if faculty have a dress code, but if it’s written down at all, I’m sure it’s something along the line of “clothing must be worn.”

    13. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I am so grateful to work in a place where the dress code is “please wear clothes.” We can’t run around barefoot for safety reasons because the work sometimes generates little sharp bits of metal and our t-shirts can’t have bad words or other such stuff on them but I wear a T-shirt, jeans, sneakers, and a ball cap to work every day.

    14. periwinkle*

      That’s the lovely thing about working in manufacturing (in the already-casual PacNW) and having an office inside the factory even though you have no idea which end of the drill to hold. Jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts all day every day.

      In previous roles I had to meet with internal clients in person, so I wore standard business casual (chinos and nice sweaters). Now I just play with data so bleep all that.

    15. JelloStapler*

      University- but most mid to lower levels are business casual (nice pants and shirt but suits not required) here unless we are helping with an Admission event then we dress up a bit more. Jeans Fridays – and you can wear “spirit wear” that day too.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        What is spirit wear? I’m not from the US and I am picturing an office full of Caspar the Friendly Ghosts!

    16. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I work for a hospital system, as non-clinical staff. Most of the clinical folks wear either scrubs or business casual, depending on their roles. Non-clinical staff are explicitly not allowed to wear scrubs. Standard is business casual, which can include jeans if you are not patient-facing and have your manager’s approval (but you can’t wear your name badge if you are wearing jeans in a patient-facing area, you have to take it off).

      When I first started ten years ago, the dress code was way more complex and picky, it was like 10 pages long and ran the gamut from “no unnatural hair colors or visible tattoos” to “pants must be no higher than 2.75″ above the ankle bone” and “underwear must be worn UNDER clothing, not outside”. They have since cut it down to half a page (mostly what I said above, plus some safety regulations about nails and jewelry and similar for clinical staff) and dumped the rule about unnatural hair colors and visible tattoos.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        But I work remote, and our dress code for remote staff is basically “if you are in a situation where you have to turn your camera on, please be wearing clothes that cover your parts and don’t have cuss words, marijuana leaves, or other NSFW references.” Today I am wearing black cargo pants and a Disney t-shirt. :)

      2. Janne*

        I also work in a hospital, but we don’t have a dress code here, only uniform requirements for some functions. Doctors are in long white coats, nurses are in white uniforms, and there are blue-grey uniforms for cooks, cleaners, logistics staff, maintenance people, etc. Actual scrubs are only worn for operations so we rarely see people wearing them as they mostly only are in the operating rooms.

        I work in an office space that belongs to a lab and can wear business casual with long pants, tied up hair and closed shoes (with a lab coat if I’m actually in the lab space). I’m changing jobs soon to an office that’s not with a lab, and looking forward to wearing dresses :D

      3. Elle Woods*

        This dress code sounds a lot like one I encountered when applying for a non-clinical role at a hospital system. Weirdly, I liked how specific it was mainly because my then-employer had an “anything goes” rule and it was a nightmare.

      4. Observer*

        “underwear must be worn UNDER clothing, not outside”.

        OK, I hope that that’s gone only because you now employ adults who understand this without being told.

        For the rest, wow! It sounds like it was a lot. I’m glad it got simplified.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My old hospital had rules that specified no plaid hair, and they also had the “underwear on the inside not the outside” rule. I was always curious how a couple of 35,000 employee systems had that happen often enough that they had to make a rule about it.

    17. Lucia Pacciola*

      My employer’s apparel business is based entirely on brand recognition and brand loyalty. The stated part of the dress code is no competitor brands visible at any time. The unstated part of the dress code is, at least one instance of the employer’s brand visible. Recruiters go so far as to stress this heavily, when coaching candidates for interviews.

    18. Lilith*

      I once worked somewhere with a dress code of business-casual, and specifically named trainers (sneakers?) as not being allowed in the office.

      The problem was that this business was in the centre of a large city with everyone travelling to work with public transport, and it’s so much easier to run for the bus or change train platforms in trainers. The CEO hated trainers so much though that trainers were literally not allowed past the front door – not even to change to formal office shoes. I’m not sure why it was considered more professional to have the staff balancing outside the front door every morning changing their shoes!

    19. Your Social Work Friend*

      I work for a school (US) and the dress code is pretty lax at the elementary level because sometimes we are literally chasing children down the halls or crawling on the floor. Officially, jeans only on Friday and no hoodies. Unofficially, a bunch of us wear black jeans every day and there are plenty of hoodies because the building is ancient, some of our classes are in trailers outside, and -40 F is a “normal” winter temp here.

    20. Museum Witch*

      Archivist. For safety (we climb a lot of ladders and move a lot of boxes) we require non-restrictive clothing, close toed shoes, no painted or bejewelled nails, and the ability to tie hair back and take off/secure jewellery. Otherwise we follow a code of “look presentable but it’s the humanities so have fun.” We do have to do conscious of looking professional enough that people trust us and our authority, but not stodgy or dour because that’s unwelcoming. My boss wears jeans, flats, and business casual tops or sweaters. I’m a pretty goth fashion lady whose clothing bounces around a lot, but I follow the format of always adding something to every outfit that “businesses it up.” So like, a funky patterned shirt with themed jewellery, but with a pencil skirt, socks, and loafers. Or a band t-shirt and chunky boots, but with a really nice vintage wool skirt and nicer jewellery.

    21. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Business casual, occasionally ranging up to business professional, but I’m in a client-facing professional job and management’s pretty level headed about it. Mostly it boils down to “please don’t wear jeans to the client site, unless you’re going to be doing walkthroughs of a lumber yard or something, in which case please do wear jeans and practical shoes”.

    22. Agnes G*

      Office job at a small manufacturer (different facility, we’re not in or adjacent to the factory). I started after the pandemic began so, while we still have a dress code on the books, it’s been very lightly enforced since 2020. Shorts, logos on shirts, and flip-flops still aren’t allowed but jeans, sandals, unbranded tees and sweatshirts now are. I’ve never seen the owner or the male VPs on my floor in anything but jeans and sneakers. Our lawyer usually wears chinos. Women vary in formality a lot – the dark jeans + waterfall cardigan look is very popular! – but some women wear dresses and heels while others wear blue jeans, sneakers, and hoodies. It’s not closely correlated to role, more so to personal style. We never have clients or vendors in our building, however, I’m guessing if we did it would be more formal. (Today I’m in pink trousers and a yellow sweater because I feel cheerful, but I wore a hoodie and “nice” yoga pants earlier in the week!)

    23. anonymous anteater*

      I’m very surprised how many universities have dress codes!
      Research Lab that is a government contractor. I guess it also matters that it’s on the West Coast.
      Formal dress code: no style restrictions whatsoever, if you enter research/lab spaces, then safety matters (closed toe shoes, long pants, tie back your hair depending on what you do, etc).
      Unwritten (although I see it spelled out occasionally): when you meet with an important stakeholder (the people that fund us or the politicians that fund the people that fund us), dress up to business casual at least. For 90% of employees this applies maybe 1 day of the year.
      In reality: people wear really anything. Jeans, tshirt, hoodies, shorts, flip flops, you name it. Only the top level leadership is regularly business casual or wearing a suit, but they always have those meetings.

    24. Ellis Bell*

      There’s always been a dress code of business dress in every school I’ve ever worked in. So, jeans expressly banned as well as sports wear, or trainers for example. I did notice that pretty much everywhere though that teachers do quite like to find the comfiest incarnation possible and the most “technically this passes” version of the dress code that they can. In my previous profession (provincial journalism) we had to look smart enough for a courtroom, but be warm and sensibly shod, in case there was stuff going on outdoors. So, as far as my professional wardrobe went, my shoes matched the other teachers, but some of my clothes were a bit out of step. I’ve definitely relaxed things a bit; from shirt dress to leggings and jumper dress or soft knits with comfy pants and jersey skirts. We’ve just got a new senior leader and she’s all matching skirt suits and heels, or pants with razor creases, which are definitely some degrees sharper than anything anyone else wears (some amazing clothes actually) and I have to conclude she keeps slippers in her office; that was the secret of the only other heels wearing teacher I’ve ever known. Not many of us have offices, or even a classroom.

    25. Emily Elizabeth*

      I work in early childhood Ed. When I worked at a daycare, our actual uniform was leggings/joggers and a school t shirt with our name on it, which I appreciated – when working with toddlers it is fully the right set of clothes (although some colleagues and I still believe that the absolute best daycare uniform should be scrubs). When I moved to a preschool, there was never any dress code but we all dressed a little more cute and “teacher-y,” though still functional; jeans and blouse or solid t shirt/maxi dresses/blouse and khaki shorts/etc. We worked in a religious school and I was really glad/impressed that no modesty dress code was ever asked of us, but I think we all naturally dressed appropriately conservatively for being in a school setting.

    26. Head sheep counter*

      I’d find it weird to have a uniform policy for students and a total lack of a policy for staff.

      My work is casual/business casual and its a mixed bag.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Well, the logic for uniforms is mainly so that kids don’t go home whining to parents (particularly those on lower incomes) that “it’s not fair that so-and-so has designer clothes and I don’t. I want designer clothes too.” That and to make it easier for teacher to notice if a kid is sneaking off somewhere. None of this applies to adults.

        It’s no different than schools that don’t permit students to leave the school at lunch break. Adults can both be assumed to be mature enough not to decide to spend money they don’t have on clothes just because the “cool person” has them and if they’re not…well, it’s their money, so nobody else’s business really.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        The main reason for school uniforms in the UK is to stop kids from indulging in designer one upmanship. Until recently only the indoor clothing was uniform, and your coat was your own choice, but kids started to buy coats worth thousands of pounds, to be outgrown in a year and bullying those with “cheap” coats. Families who had no furniture or food in the house were buying coats on credit. So, now we have a uniform coat. Also, kids who misbehave on public transport, or in local businesses can be identified to the head and they can be our problem off the clock too :) I do think it’s pretty weird that school uniforms are still mostly tie+shirt+blazer iterations if the point is to save costs. Some parents have to buy several logo’d items, like tie and blazer and jumper, at least and the only generic things they can buy are the shirt and bottoms. One school I was at just had a logo’d polo and that seemed way more sensible. My nieces new school even insists on special leggings and socks for PE; that is bananas.

      3. Head sheep counter*

        I can see the upsides of school uniforms absolutely… but still contend that a minimum standard would seem logical for staff. I, personally, would feel weird enforcing a rigid uniform policy whilst wearing sloppy jeans and a tee shirt. It would feel like… do as I say not as I do.

        1. Fellow Teacher*

          I’m a teacher and I agree. Teachers are adults and don’t need a “uniform” but to me some degree of professionalism in dress sets the right tone for taking what we’re doing seriously. It’s a personal preference, but the one year I went back to teaching in school without uniforms, I felt like a babysitter trying to entertain kids in their pajamas.

      4. Annabelle*

        “ I’d find it weird to have a uniform policy for students and a total lack of a policy for staff.
        My work is casual/business casual and it’s a mixed bag.”

        Is this just one of those things that like, if you didn’t have a particular lived experience, it’s completely anathema to you? Because I was in a school uniform from ages 5 to 17, and even though I had a long list of complaints about that, not once was “but the teachers don’t have to wear uniforms!!!” on that list (and even though these were parochial schools, the majority of teachers were lay people so they were wearing regular clothes).

        IDK, maybe my teachers just knew how to dress professionally enough that my classmates and I weren’t like “why are you telling us off over the uniform policy when you yourself look like you just got out of bed”????

    27. Bast*

      My last 3 offices have all been “business casual” but to different degrees. As in, one there were quite a few who let’s say could be in a club and not look out of place (short SHORT dresses and skirts, 5 inch heels, etc). The only thing really frowned upon in that office was T-Shirts. Next office was slightly more strict, but especially in the summer, there were certain “business casual” options that would be questionable where I am now. I have a hunch that unless I dress wildly inappropriate in my new office (ie: looking like I’m going to a club) or wore jeans no one would care. I could wear khakis, a skirt (as long as it passes the fingertip test, though no one has ever said this out loud — just my rule), black or navy dress pants, dresses in the warm weather, sweaters, button downs, dress shirts and plain shirts. I wouldn’t call them T-shirts per say, but they have no logo or design on the front and in the summer I typically where them tucked into a long, flowy skirt.

    28. IndyDem*

      Fortune 500 company here – our dress code is “smart and presentable casual office dress” and more formal for field based employees or those who meet with external stakeholders regularly.

      The main points are 1. Dress like you care 2. Avoid revealing clothing 3. Always be well-groomed 4. Dress suitably (so if you are in a high level meeting, dress up)

      That being said, jeans, sneakers are normal. I’ve worn company branded T-shirts as well, but normally wear polo/golf shirts and fit in.

    29. cityMouse*

      I’m a stagehand. You would think our dress code is simple: typical workwear for setup, strikes and some rehearsals; show blacks (black teeshirt or shirt, pants, shoes, no huge logos) for shows; finally, dress blacks (black collared shirt, dress pants, shoes, suit jacket) for symphonies/awards shows/etc or as requested by the client.

      But no, there’s always someone who refuses to wear black because “no one will see me,” which is kind of the point of wearing blacks, or “this is just not who I am,” argued one person, who insisted on wearing a bright red sweater, and only took it off when he was told to “take it off or leave the workplace.” I’ve seen really heated arguments about this in the past. The new Head Carpenter now just tells them, “it’s in the contract, comply or be removed from the call.”

      I really don’t understand. It’s the traditional uniform for backstage workers. Some people just don’t like rules, I guess. The corporate world, while somewhat alien to me, seems fairly sensible.

    30. Quinalla*

      Our dress code has been casual except for client meetings since COVID happened and not clearly defined, but folks generally wear things like jeans/nice yoga pants and t-shirts at the most casual, not PJs/muscle shirts/etc. They are updating the employee handbook and said they will clarify dress code, but it basically will be what everyone understands it to be now, reasonable casual except for clients meetings where you dress appropriate to the meeting/client.

      It was very interesting when COVID happened because everyone just collectively agreed we were going to dress casually when working from home without anyone saying anything lol.

    31. Big sigh*

      If students must wear uniforms then there needs to be a dress code for all staff. My children wore uniforms which did not allow open toed shoes and yet the teachers wore them. If they were allowed to also show up in jeans and tshirts there would have been protests from students and parents alike.

    32. Flower necklace*

      At my school (US public high school), it used to be that we could only wear jeans on Fridays with school attire (i.e. one of the shirts we’re given each year with our school’s name on it). That changed sometime around the pandemic. Now teachers wear whatever. Some people are in jeans and hoodies every day, while others are in full suits.

    33. L*

      My office (labour union headquarters) does have a dress code, but it’s fairly relaxed. It basically boils down to “don’t dress like you’re going to the beach.” Otherwise, people’s clothes vary from casual to business casual. The lawyers and higher ups might wear a suit if they have to be in court or a meeting with the government.

      It does have a rule against leggings, but I wore thicker leggings with sweaters for an entire winter with no problem. As I understand it, the rule really means “don’t wear your cycling leggings that clearly outline everything. We’re talking to you, Fergus.”

    34. Dragonfly7*

      My former workplace (and the next one, I hope) didn’t have a dress code for non customer facing employees beyond no shorts except for certain days in the summer. They weren’t explicitly banned, but folks definitely got judged for wearing flip flops. It was generally be neat and clean and comfortable.

    35. Telephone Sanitizer, Third Class*

      I once worked somewhere where the dress code was “If there are guests in the office, wear clothes. There are always guests.”

    36. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      No formal dress code, but in practice for our team (we’re software engineers and data scientists, and all our customers are internal) it amounts to “no visible holes beyond tiny pinpricks, and T-shirts should be plain unless it’s company swag, no other decorations”. Someone wearing a suit would be assumed to have a job interview.

    37. Ciela*

      We actually do have a written dress code. No torn clothing, no offensive language on clothing, no exposed underwear, or exposed body parts that should be covered by underwear Employees must wear closed toe shoes.

      and yet… The hardest one to follow seems to be about exposed underwear, or body parts that would normally be covered by underwear. I don’t mean a bra strap slipped somehow, or an undershirt was peaking out. I mean “my clothing choice today was a green satin bra and black booty shorts.” This is a job in a light industrial setting. Just… why?

    38. Generic Name*

      I really appreciate how my company, a large construction company, describes their dress code for people who work in the office. It’s “smart casual” and says the following is acceptable: jeans (clean and no holes), and a nice top. It gives example of the types of tops that are acceptable and specifies things that aren’t (shorts, sweatpants, leggings). I appreciate that the dress code is gender neutral. Very simple and understandable.

    39. GythaOgden*

      Dress for your day. That can mean being interviewed by someone in a grey hoodie, but we’re maintenance and facilities so it would be absurd to expect someone walking around a site in a posh suit and heels. Going in to the main HQ earlier in the week in a general government building, there were a lot of people in nice casual clothes and shoes, although I did change into supportive black shoes from my trainers when I got there. I do have colleagues who can make very casual clothes look sharp, and because we have a more nomadic job touring around various sites than I did when I was on reception, I find I put more effort in when I’m onsite so that my dyspraxic body doesn’t overheat and start to sweat too much.

      However, there’s a way of being casual without being scruffy, and I think that would be the line people would draw. The hoodies are clean and the person inside them looks put together. I think that matters more right now than clothing — that someone takes enough care of themselves that they don’t look like they need to fall into bed within the next few minutes. (And if that was the case we’d suggest for their own sake they needed to take a break, so even then it would be out of concern for their welfare than their appearance.)

    40. Clisby*

      During most of my 27-year tenure in IT, the dress code was basically:
      1) Wear clothes.
      2) And shoes.
      3) Nobody naked.

      Later, when I was already 100% remote, they added things like no short and no flip-flops.

      I’m sure this was different for the people in marketing, sales, business, etc. – but we didn’t normally meet with vendors/customers. (On the odd occasion that we did, we apparently had common sense enough to upgrade to what now would be considered business casual.)

  12. Sharknado*

    How do you work with a manager whose primary focus is being seen as an expert in everything?

    My new supervisor has less work experience than I do. That’s fine—I know years of experience don’t necessarily equal management ability. But they also appear solely focused on self-promotion. Essentially they’re a know-it-all (but with the caveat of often being incorrect). They also seem very keen to casually remind me of their status, frequently finding an opportunity to say that they are senior.

    I guess my main issue is that they seem unwilling to defer to anyone who is not in their pay band, whether or not the issue at hand is something they are actually skilled at. They also just don’t have a sense of the depth/breadth of experience of their direct reports. For example, let’s say I have years of experience in how to best develop teapot painting courses, yet, when anyone raises teapot painting, they assert they’re the expert in the room because they once took a teapot painting course.

    All that said, they’re a nice person and friendly! It really reads like obliviousness and/or lack of experience, so I’m not sure what (if anything) I should do.

    1. ferrina*

      What happens when you bring up your own expertise? Do they handle correction well?

      I’ve worked with quite a few people who had the be the expert in everything. This was almost always accompanied by other boorish behavior- talking over people they saw as “lower” than them; refusing to prioritize things that didn’t directly impact them; getting huffy about any kind of correction.The big issue is that they put their ego ahead of results. They don’t really care about who the real expert is, as long as they look like the best. With these folks, I usually end up playing to their ego to work around them. Politics happen, yada, yada, I can give you more techniques if that’s what you want.

      If they are open to feedback, would it be possible to have a conversation with them? “Hey, I know your new and there’s no way you could know all the expertise the team has, but the team has a lot of random skills and expertise we’d love to share. Would it be possible to ask the team if anyone has experience first? That was we can tell you what we know, and you can decide who the best person is to spend time on this project.”
      If they think that they are the best person to consult on every project, you can add “Obviously we don’t want you to spend your time consulting on every single question- we know you have a lot to do with your time!”

      That said….I’d be wary, since the supervisors I’ve had like this have gotten tetchy when they feel called out (even nicely!). Unless this person has a track record of taking tough feedback really well from their direct reports, I personally would steer clear.

      1. Sharknado*

        I like that idea, but, unfortunately, I’m not getting the impression that it would go well. It doesn’t seem that they have actually been a supervisor before (or at least have very little supervisory experience) and they’re leaning heavily into being part of “leadership” now. The lack of supervisory experience was actually something I raised before they were hired and no one cared, but oh well…

        1. ferrina*

          Ugh, that’s tough.

          I’d go the flattery route and the “I drew up this draft- I’d love your expertise on this! What do you think?”
          Basically taking care of things for them and talking to experts before they can tell you not to, then coming to them for “their expertise on this initial draft”. Let them feel like they have final say so, but really do all the leg work for them. Bonus if you can find a low stakes strategic thing that you “need them to decide” that makes them feel powerful.
          Tell them what you want, then ask them “what do you think? Am I doing this right?” so they feel important.
          Good luck!

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        It sounds like they’re insecure in their position. What may work is to choose specific things to actively solicit feedback from them – “I’d really appreciate your take on slides 5-8” or “How do you think we should prioritize tickets X and Y”?

    2. I Can't Even*

      Ahh the Professional Know it All. In my experience these people are terrified that others will find out that they do not have all of the answers and their behavior comes from a place of anxiety, self-doubt, and fear of “being found out”. I have found it best to ask a lot of questions, let them take the lead, and document their responses so they cannot throw me under the bus if things fall apart.

      1. ONFM*

        This is the way. You probably cannot correct this behavior, because it stems from a deep-seated issue for the individual. You just need to minimize it’s effect on YOU.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I think that plan makes the most sense. You could try framing suggestions as questions. Like, “what do you think of using wire brushes on the llamas, because of how they deal with burrs?” rather than just suggesting using wire brushes. It sucks and does run the risk of undermining people’s actual expertise.

        One tool that could be very helpful is an actions and decisions log. It’s half of a RAID log, basically. Functions as a way of documenting the tasks everyone is assigned and decisions that have been made / need to be made. I’ve found this helpful in keeping meetings focused and projects on track, by projecting it for everyone in the meeting and updating in real time.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Just to add – is there anyone else you could raise this with? Another supervisor? The supervisor’s supervisor, as an FYI that this is something they should keep an eye on because it’s alienating staff and risking that sub-optimal decisions will get made?

          1. Sharknado*

            I theoretically could raise it with my coworkers or grandboss, but I don’t have a clue how to do that tactfully or in a way that doesn’t come across as complaining. As far as I can tell, no one else seems to have the same read on the situation that I do.

      3. Sharknado*

        Yeah, I think that might be the issue here. It’s just bizarre to me that they’re so keen to chime in loudly with the wrong answer — even on incredibly low-stakes, non-work-related things!

    3. Goddess47*

      You can try the innocent, “Oh, I thought it was X! Let me look it up /consult with another expert to see what I can find out for you.” If they won’t back down in the face of documented information or a ‘proper’ authority, you will never win.

      And when they are wrong, document, document, document. At some point it will be your fault they are wrong.

      Just because they are friendly doesn’t mean they won’t stay that way.

      Sorry! Good luck!

    4. House On The Rock*

      I thought my old director had been demoted and no longer had direct reports! I kid!

      When worked for someone like this, I found that framing things as “well of course this is commonly accepted” scrambled his innate programming and let me push things through. His need to be seen as the “respected authority” conflicted with his anxiety over being revealed to be wrong. So if I just bowled ahead with “we all agree that X is the solution to Y because Z said so” and he didn’t quite know how to counter that in the moment.

      Of course he would also take credit when the things I and others proposed went well, but at least it countered the worst of the know-it-all tendencies.

      Good luck, I know this can be soul draining.

      1. Sharknado*

        I think this is a good strategy — I’ll try to figure out how to work these things in. One of the challenges with they will always talk first, loudest, and longest in any meeting, talking all over everybody else. One-on-one meetings are the only time when this doesn’t seem to happen.

    5. BoratVoiceMyWife*

      I would posit that what you’re actually dealing with here is someone who’s insecure about being a supervisor to someone with more experience, and they’re trying to puff their chest out and enhance their management credentials, particularly since you said they’re often incorrect.

      1. Sharknado*

        In one meeting, when a particular topic I’m very familiar with was raised and I explained my experience doing X, they literally said, “I’ve done that before. I know a lot about X.” That was it. That was the extent of their contribution to the discussion.

  13. AnonITnow*

    I am an IT professional and am nearing retirement. For 20+ years I have given presentations, demos, and training sessions, mostly over a headset. And for 20+ years people have been telling me that they love my voice, that it is “soothing” and “calming”. They sometimes say this during the meeting, sometimes put the comment in the meeting’s chat, sometimes share it at the beginning of another meeting entirely, and so forth. Some people who say this are first time listeners, some have heard me many times over the years. One person, who has heard me multiple times but not recently, said during a recent training session that I “should be the voice of [company]!” and many chimed in to agree.

    I said all that to ask this: is there a “voice” job I could do after retirement? Excluding customer service jobs, more like ‘one and done’. The only one I can think of is reading books aloud, for audio book recordings, but have zero idea of how to even get my foot (voice?) in the door for that.

    Any other job suggestions? I’m located in the USA.

    1. Angstrom*

      There are volunteer opportunities for recording books and publications for the blind. I don’t know about paid work.
      Perhaps companies that make training videos?

      1. JelloStapler*

        My dad did this when he retired- a radio station would have someone reading the newspaper on air.

    2. Wordnerd*

      Again, not for pay, but providing specificity for Angstrom’s comment – LibriVox dot org is a collection of public domain audio books, and you can record stuff there.

    3. English Rose*

      I used to use an app called Slumber which has people reading grown-up stories. They all have very soothing voices, in order to help people drift off to sleep. I think there are similar apps. Might be an idea. But sorry no idea how to get your foot in the door.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      In college, I was briefly a reader for the blind. There is now more tech for that, but I think it can still be needed for non-digital materials.

    5. pally*

      There is voice over work. Might google that.

      I don’t know the ins and outs of voice over work, but anyone who has a voice folks want to listen to, really should be out there doing it. Reason: I find a fair amount of narration work on videos and such is not very good. For a number of reasons- difficult to understand, meh voice quality.

      Might offer to do narration for someone who does videos like on YouTube and such as a way to build a portfolio of your talents.

      1. anonymous anteater*

        +1! My workplace has a lot of training videos and the quality of the voiceover really can make or break the experience.

      2. Malarkey01*

        My son did voice work when he was really young (adorable kid voice and he could read well). Try reaching out to a recording studio in your area and ask if they have any direct contact with advertisers or with companies directly sourcing from them. Some areas have talent agencies for this but if someone at a recording studio likes your work they’ll throw a ton your way. The money in commercial/advertising is stupid good. Like you feel like you’re stealing to be paid that much for 30 minutes.

        Audio for books is not great. It’s actually really hard to get the pacing right, typically they want you to have the studio setup instead of paying someone else to do all the tech work and have the equipment and it takes 5x longer than you’d think.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          If you do this, make sure your contracts are IRONCLAD that your voice/likeness cannot be sold on to other companies for use. Way too many actors are being screwed out of residuals or having their voices reappropriated by AI and used over and over without being paid.

    6. ButtercupDC*

      A handful of nice-voiced former colleagues of mine do voiceover work! Slightly related, but I just recently did a video project where we hired voiceover “actors.” It was definitely one-and-done, no one becoming the voice of the organization. I recommend looking into it. I’m in the DC area but I have no doubt people are recording local radio commercials all over the country.

    7. Voiceover*

      Look into freelance voiceover work. Translation agencies often offer that service, but freelancing platforms like Upwork also have some requests. Some may require you to use a professional studio, though, but many won’t care.

    8. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      Guided meditations? Insight Timer has a revenue split with “teachers”.

    9. periwinkle*

      ASMR videos on YouTube?

      I’m serious about this. There’s a channel I love (Fascinating Horror), due in part to the calm, measured voice of the creator/narrator. I’m not the only one! He recently started a second channel where he reads classic horror stories in that same calm voice, which makes the stories even scarier.

      1. Sharpie*

        Fascinating Horror is a really good channel, not only for the things he covers but the quality of the narration. Definitely one of the best ones out there!

    10. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      General voice acting? Though I understand it can be pretty tough to get into that industry.

    11. The Twilight Barking*

      People say the same about my voice, and I always wonder “how can monetize this?!”, especially since I really enjoy using my voice (performing, reading aloud…) But voice work is a competitive field. The voice workers I know have recording “studios” in their homes – either fancy (installed by a specialist company) or home-made (Eg, a set up surrounded by clothes in an airing cupboard). And – at least in my neck of the woods – to attract work, you need a voice reel, which is an edited collection of clips of you using your voice in different ways. You generally pay a company to help you make that.
      But maybe I’m just seeing this all a bit negatively. I’d love to figure this out.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      It would be volunteer, probably, but you might check out Books for the Blind–they are always looking for readers. Not just books themselves, but newspapers, instruction manuals, and so on. It would be a good way to get practice at pacing, emphasis, pronunciation and so on and look good on a resume’ once you start trying for audio books or similar.

  14. Fed up non profit worker*

    I just need to vent: My nonprofit has decided in 2024(!) that my office must return to weekly in-person days, up from just a few times per month. The field we are in is mostly remote now, so this is very much against industry standard. And, on top of this, new hires at a lower level are being offered salaries nearly in line with mine after being in this office for years. I know leaving is the answer, but pickings are slim right now. Has anyone dealt with either issue recently?

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Did they give a real reason for why you must return to weekly in-person days, or was it for non-specific “collaboration” purposes that they’ll never articulate in detail?

      I have no advice, but it’s truly a morale killer if you love working from home. Solidarity.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        They never do. After a few rounds of re-orgs and layoffs, I’m the only one on my team in my office, but they still mandate three days a week sitting in a tiny hot desk cube, finding fishbowl size “talk rooms” to sit on Zoom with people scattered across four other offices, but “collaboration” and “team building” require that I Zoom from the office rather than home, apparently.

    2. JS*

      Oh salary compression plus requiring you to come in when it is not necessarily needed… just because. Solidarity as well.

    3. Ama*

      I would tackle the salary issue first — simply just mention to your boss what you’ve noticed and propose that you get a raise commensurate with your experience. If they’re unwilling to even consider it, it’s probably not worth fighting the in office battle because you’re going to leave anyway.

      As far as the hybrid — unfortunately I spent the last year fighting our return to office policy and could get absolutely nowhere. Our senior staff are convinced that the problems with one particular department were caused by wfh (they kind of were but only because the head of that department never paid enough attention to what her staff did even when they were in office and that got worse during our full shutdown) and opted for the “we have to be fair and make everyone come in instead of just dealing with the individuals who are the problem” approach. (And of course a few weeks ago, after almost a year of three days a week in office, that department, which has all new staff, blew up again, so clearly that solved absolutely nothing.)

      So you have my sympathies, but in my experience once the senior staff are convinced they need to have people in office they will not budge.

    4. Lucia Pacciola*

      If pickings are slim, then leaving is not the answer.

      Also, the salary thing is going to happen pretty much anywhere you go. If you want a raise, passively expecting your employer to give you seniority bumps in step with new hire pay bands is not the way. Document your increasing responsibilites and contributions, and ask for a raise on that basis. (In my experience, it’s pretty typical to get hired on at a really good pay rate, and then see it stagnate while new hires get a nice raise for joining.)

      Also, I think you will find that a lot of employers are going back to a more “in-office” paradigm. Remember that up until three years ago, it was absolutely the expectation that you would be in the office 9-5, M-F. We’ve been experimenting heavily with alternatives recently. A lot of this has been out of necessity, rather than any proven business advantage. I think going forward, hybrid and remote work will become more common, but that doesn’t mean it’s an obvious slam dunk for every employer or role. The way I’ve dealt with this issue recently is to show up at the office and do my job, just like I used to do in the Before Times.

      1. BoratVoiceMyWife*

        “The way I’ve dealt with this issue recently is to show up at the office and do my job, just like I used to do in the Before Times.”

        The implication that OP just buck up and go to the office because “that’s how it used to be done” with no regard to their specific family/health/commute situations reeks of middle management. And it was absolutely not “the expectation that you would be in the office.” I think someone is assuming their lived experience is identical to everyone else’s.

      2. Two Dog Night*

        Remember that up until three years ago, it was absolutely the expectation that you would be in the office 9-5, M-F

        I’ve been working remotely since 2008. I was managing remote employees in the ’90s. There were certainly a lot fewer remote jobs prior to 2020 than there are now, but that doesn’t mean that in-office was the expectation for everyone, or that everyone has to expect an in-office job now. Yes, some jobs are best done in an office. Some people work best in an office. But remote work is an option for a whole lot of jobs, and if the OP is in a field where remote work is common, their employer is probably going to have trouble retaining employees if they expect too much in-office time.

      3. Coffee Bean*

        Interesting take on this. I have been working remote for over twenty years. At least 60% of the workforce in the large company I work for are remote employees. This was a thing pre-pandemic.

    5. Victoria*

      If you don’t want to work in the office any more than you do now, and other employers in your field don’t require that, you should go ahead and look for a new role.

      The salary issue I’d address within this job — it’s reasonable to ask for a pay review. Make your case about your responsibilities/skills outpacing the new hires.

      I’ll admit I don’t understand with the parenthetical exclamation point after 2024 means — can you explain?

    6. Some Dude*

      The salary thing is a real bear. Nonprofit salaries have raised a good bit in the past five years, so you can’t hire someone by offering what you started at five years ago. But your yearly COLA raises likely are not keeping you equal. In my experience unless you are being promoted regularly you often get screwed by staying somewhere a long time and only getting COLas. Not always, though….my report makes almost as much as I do because they have seniority.

      1. Fed up non profit worker*

        Thanks, all! The mandate for return to office came down from far, far above, so it (allegedly) affects numerous offices. What’s especially disappointing is that I don’t think leadership pushed back at all, even though our field is mostly remote now. My boss is scrambling to come up ideas for things we can do in-office that we couldn’t do at home, so it’s not seeming at all like a justifiable change. As for the salary issue, I am definitely going to request that a comprehensive office-wide salary review be conducted, as I suspect women who have have been in the role for years are earning less than newly hired employees in the same role, which include many men. I have student loans in the PSLF program, so I have to stay in the non-profit world for another year. :(

  15. Over the Moon*

    I applied to a job and got an interview. I am overqualified. I knew going into it I was overqualified, but I wanted to try–because if I could get the end of the salary range–I’d definitely do it!

    I asked about room for growth and they said yeah, you could definitely move up if you do well in this job.

    The thing is–I’m burned out. I just wanted a job where I’m not managing people (never have, but never had an interest in this) and could build skills in an area I’ve not worked in. The job is full time but they do short weeks–meaning you get paid for your full salary but work about 37 hours.

    – Have any of you worked in a job you were technically overqualified for?
    – Does anyone ever get the end of a salary range?? I feel like every job I’ve applied to, that salary cap is there for show–no one actually recruits for it.

    I feel slightly…embarrassed? If I get a job I’m “overqualified” for, I technically feel fine about that, because I’m so tired of hustling and trying to move up and up. But I wonder if people will look at me and be like “Oh, you must be sad and desperate.” or “I’m younger than you but I’m in a higher position as you.” or “We have the same level of experience, but you’re starting there??” I don’t feel that way, but certainly am afraid people will think of me that way.

    1. londonedit*

      Yep, I’m doing a job I’m overqualified for right now and have been for the last five years. In my twenties and early thirties I did the whole climbing the ladder thing, because I thought that was what you were supposed to do, and with every step on the ladder I hated my job a bit more. Eventually got to the point where I had a whizzy job title and a decent amount of money (well, half-decent, this is publishing we’re talking about) and it was just awful. I wasn’t doing the things I’m good at – I was just firefighting and having to deal with all the stuff I hate dealing with. I ended up completely burnt out and in the end took some time to do freelance work (luckily I had enough publishing contacts). I honestly thought I never even wanted to work in an in-house publishing job again. Eventually a friend persuaded me to apply for a job at the company she worked at, which I got, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve since made a sideways move in the same company and it’s still great. Really supportive working environment, I’m doing the job I’m good at, I’m respected and valued and my boss is super happy with my work. ‘Technically’ I should or could be maybe 3-4 levels above where I am by now, but I don’t want to do those jobs. I’m happy where I am.

      As for the salary…no, I don’t earn as much as I should with my skills and experience. But I earn enough to pay the rent, and I’m happy and content in my work, and I have a good work/life balance, and that’s what matters to me. I’m in the middle of my salary band and I hope that I will be able to move up at some point by adding on a few extra responsibilities, but I want to be careful about what those responsibilities are and make sure they don’t affect my ability to do my job to the standard I want to maintain.

    2. English Rose*

      Yes I’ve done this. In fact I’m doing it in current job. In my case it was moving away from managing people among other responsibilities.
      There are people who are a bit – condescending – but honestly, the relief of not hustling is worth it.

    3. Gina*

      I’m sort of in this position now. I was technically overqualified for my role, but it looked like it would open up opportunities to focus on skills I had been too busy to hone in my previous position.

      There have been some challenges and I feel like the biggest has been organizational perspectives on hierarchy and that’s hard to know before you’re on staff. I’m an individual contributor, but “senior” in my area. However, the organization isn’t structured to know what to do with this–it’s very much set up so that advancement is about managing people. I have not gotten judgement about my position relative to others who are younger than me and in more “senior” roles, but the focus on hierarchy does make me feel uncomfortable at times. There are so many organizations that don’t know a thing about developing advancement paths for individual contributors and that’s a real problem. It’s been somewhat helpful for me to think about that framing and that your own experience is what’s important vs. managerial responsibility.

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Honestly, very few people are going to care about your level of experience as long as you’re competent. I care a lot more about if my coworkers can do their job than if they’re hustling/trying to move up. It’s also nice to just work with people who are happy where they are. And *everyone* can’t always be moving up–there just aren’t as many jobs as you go higher up the ladder.

      And even if they do think of you in the way you’re worried about…so what? You gotta do what’s right for you, not what other people think is right for you.

      As for the salary cap thing, I think getting the end of the salary range is rare, but possible. I say this b/c my brother actually did get the top of the salary range at the job he started last year. He is definitely overqualified for the job he took, but was wanting to move out of running his own business and into a job that would give him healthcare. Fortunately, he probably won’t always be stuck unable to get much of a raise, because that institution does have a history of re-evaluating salary bands every five years or so and adjusting as the market changes (which is why they’re a great place to work for). So it’s not impossible.

    5. JS*

      My next step will either be lateral with more pay or a step down with the same pay I have now. I’m tired of always doing more with less and seeing new hires be paid what I am now after a looong tenure.

    6. SansaStark*

      Yep, I did this along with a giant pay cut. I had the same concerns (especially about my boss who was younger than I was), but it turned out to be great. I held a pretty entry-level job, but everyone was thrilled to give me greater responsibility and autonomy (but still at a comfortable level) than they would with a more junior colleague. My manager was able to get more done because she could delegate some stuff to me and didn’t have to review my work as much as you might on a more junior person. It was amazing and set me on the path that I’m on today.

      This was also at a small nonprofit so maybe that had something to do with it, since there wasn’t much of a ‘corporate culture’ going on there.

    7. Parenthesis Guy*

      I’ve known people in your position that have gotten the upper end of the salary range even in a company that was big into keeping people at the middle. But in some companies it’s definitely just there for show.

      I think people will look at you and wonder why you’re not in a higher position. But I know plenty of older people in junior positions.

    8. the.kat*

      I’ll offer the slightly different experience here. I’m working a job that I’m overqualified for and am having trouble. My nonprofit is – with complete transparency – poorly run. Imagine being a lifeguard and watching someone swim towards danger, but because you’re not their lifeguard, they ignore you. That’s what I’m dealing.

    9. Percy Weasley*

      In my experience, working in a job I’m overqualified for was a blessed relief. For a while. (I have no regrets!) YMMV. You say there is room to move up in the position you’re considering. Will they force you to promote if you don’t want to? If not, there’s nothing to worry about. See how you feel if/when the time comes. AND for the love of whatever deity you might be on speaking terms with, other people’s feelings about your move are not something you can manage. Attempting to do so would be just another weight on top of the burnout. Most people will take their cues from you, so just be matter-of-fact about it, and remember that you’re not required to justify your choice to random people just because they might have an opinion. Best of luck to you!

    10. spcepickle*

      I hire lots of people – and over qualification is one of my yellow flags when it comes to hiring.
      I sounds like you already had an interview, but if not I would suggest being really clear in a cover letter / interview about why you want the position you are interviewing for. I would also make sure to talk about the experience you have and how if applies to the job you are interviewing for.
      My office has an on going issue of hiring people who are over qualified who really quickly want a promotion, and / or really quickly become bored with the work they are assigned. You need to make it clear in the interview / follow up that this will not be you, give concrete examples if possible.

      Lastly – I work in state government – we always post salary ranges. Ours work in 2.5% step increases A-M. I can offer L (so 2.5% below the posted top) to someone with good experience. I normally offer J or K to people with experience because they get an automatic 2 step bump after a year (putting them at the top). I do not offer the very top number to new hires, because it is the very highest anyone in the job can make. I do bump people up to step M after a year or two.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Do you think this is changing over time? May be because I’m focused on software stuff, but I feel like 1) there are so many BS titles (example, VP with no reports) 2) people with average technical skills, that I don’t focus on stuff like their career trajectory or whatever anymore

        1. spcepickle*

          I would thing yes … and.
          There is title creep, but I have had people with a MBA, or master’s degree, or 15 years of experience apply for my entry level, high school diploma, totally understand we will have to train you in everything jobs.
          We have hired a few of them who talk about wanting a career change and it has never worked out. I am still willing to try. Any way more willing to be flexible for middle career people (taking one or two steps back instead of a full restart).

    11. anonymous anteater*

      I did this and switched from chasing the prestigious role in the field, to a job that is more supporting the prestigious folks. On paper, I am overqualified in the sense that I have several degrees more than what was asked in the job posting. They offered me something in the middle of the scale, which I think is fair. I came in knowing ‘the client’ quite well (because I had been one myself), but that didn’t guarantee that I would do an outstanding job serving the client because those are two different pairs of shoes. I had little experience in some of the job responsibilities and just assured them I would learn them – which I did.

      Regarding the embarrassment factor – I get it. When I made that step, I focused on my own happiness, and the fact that I’d rather spend 5 days a week doing something fulfilling than chase something I am supposed to chase. This has been 100% the right move for me. My overqualified-ness makes me pretty good at my job, and my colleagues appreciate what I bring to the table and like working with me. I get a lot of autonomy and support when I want to take on new projects that interest me. I got a decent raise in the first year and a higher title with another raise in the second year.

    12. Busy Middle Manager*

      I think it happens to alot of people once middle age sets in and there is only so many places “up” you can move, and moving “up” no longer feels like moving up, but just like moving into something lateral. In fact, I recently took a “demotion” and it feels at the same level because I am more technical again, just in less areas.

    13. Victoria*

      I did this many year ago. I was in a high-pressure “hustle” environment as a director, and transitioned (by choice) to a lower-level role at an organization with a more low-key environment.

      They offered me the low end of the range, which genuinely made me laugh. I negotiated (I was completely transparent: Listen, we both know I’m overqualified for this role. I’m excited to do this work at this organization but I need to max out the salary band.) They countered with $1,000 less than the maximum “so I’d have to room to get an increase.” Ridiculous, but whatever.

      I took it (a near-40% pay cut, enabled by the fact that my husband had finished grad school and was contributing to the family income) and could not have been happier with my choice. I stayed there 7 years, grew the role, ended up in a more senior position, and caught up to my original salary while being much, much happier.

    14. Sloanicota*

      Let’s not pretend that people can’t be jerks about work-status prestige; they definitely can. I found this when I switched to freelancing, which I guess is something a lot of people say they’re doing when they’re unemployed. It was a bummer to have people turn their nose up at me after asking what I do (I work in DC where professionals tend to be elitist/classist/whatever you want to call it). The question is, are you willing to run your entire life on the basis of what mean people who don’t even love you are going to think?

    15. samwise*

      I guess my question is, why do you care that other people may think that? (if they even would).

      I wonder if you do think that way, if only a little.

      There’s nothing wrong with taking a job that is just a job. In taking a job that does not lead “up”. In keeping a job that’s satisfying or satisfactory.

      You have bills to pay. You need health insurance (if you’re in the US), you need a good retirement plan. Good enough reasons.

    16. Cowgirl in hiding*

      I did this almost a year ago because I knew my job was in jeopardy just from what my boss was doing and saying, I needed something quick. I found an opening at a place I had worked previously, called the HR and told them my situation, then had the interview. I took a 30K cut in pay when I accepted the job, but I’m so glad I did because day after accepting, I got laid off.
      In the back of my mind I am like, did I kill my career, taking these steps back. Maybe, but I also don’t have the stress and worry that I had in my high-pressure job. I come, do my job and go home. I did recently ask my boss to change my title, but HR pushed back, like always. So, I am going to hold my position, not take on anything new and leave here in 2 years when my business starts paying me.

    17. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      I’ve been working those jobs pretty much all my life. Partly because there’s so few jobs in my field to begin with that I’m essentially taking what work I could get. Most of my coworkers are also overqualified for the job. I’ve run into a few snobs and then there’s my parents who think I’m wasting my potential, but most people I’ve talked to wouldn’t even bat an eye at it. My parents have been retired for 20 years, I’m practicing not listening to what they say.

    18. OtterB*

      I took a job I was overqualified for almost 20 years ago and will be retiring from it soon. I have a PhD; the job they hired me for in no way required one. The organization was a small not-for-profit when I started and had a lot of flexibility in what people did, so my education helped me contribute to some other projects along the way. My two kids were in elementary school when I started and one has special needs, and a flexible and pretty low-stress job has been a good thing. I wasn’t clearly stepping down a level- more a lateral move- but I agree with Percy Weasley that most people will take their cue from you. If you’re happy with the job because you’re learning new things and contributing to an organization you like with a comfortable work schedule, it will mostly be a nonissue. If you seem apologetic or embarrassed about it, they may pick up on that attitude.

      Re pay bands, when I took the job they didn’t really have pay bands because too few staff. We did have a salary mismatch when I applied, but my future boss and I agreed it was worth it to keep talking. In the end we split the $25k difference between what I was looking for and what they planned to offer. They had excellent benefits that made up for most of it.

      When my husband took his first fed job about 10 years ago, his future boss went to bat to start him at Step 6 within his grade instead of Step 1 because of his experience. So not the top, but not the bottom either.

  16. getwellsoon*

    Is it common where you work to say something like “get well soon” when someone mentions they are sick? Example: you send a message to a coworker you had a meeting with saying “I’m sorry I can’t attend today’s meeting, I’m on sick leave”. Do you expect them to reply with “Okay thanks for letting me know” or would you expect “Okay thanks for letting me know, I hope you’ll feel better soon”.

    1. A manager, but not your manager*

      On teams I’ve been on, people either say it directly on the message (usually on slack) or throw on a getwellsoon emoji (since slack has custom emojis, there’s always been a couple to choose one).

    2. ferrina*

      “Hope you feel better” is what I prefer. It’s more personal and caring.
      Side note- I like “hope you feel better” rather than “get well”, because it applies better to chronic conditions as well as temporary conditions.

      1. GERDQueen*

        Thank you for thinking of this. It honestly took my own chronic conditions getting much worse for me to realize how ingrained the “get well soon” script is. If the colleague is close enough to be a friend, I also like to say something like “I’m glad you’re taking some time to rest/focus on taking care of yourself/etc”

    3. K8T*

      I wouldn’t think twice if someone just said “thanks for letting me know”. If they don’t specifically wish you well – it’s not like they’re wishing you don’t get better

    4. anywhere but here*

      I wouldn’t expect it from someone else toward me but I do expect people to say that generally. (So, if someone I managed managed someone else and didn’t do this when that person was sick, I would instruct them to do so.) It’s a common courtesy and a very minimal investment that says, “I acknowledge you as a human being and not simply a work machine.”

    5. Ranon*

      I tend to go with “I’m sorry you’re not feeling well, thanks for letting me know”. Some folks have chronic stuff that doesn’t get better so wishes for improvement sometimes don’t land.

    6. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I usually say “Feel better!” even though I know they’re letting me know for logistical/functional reasons, not to garner sympathy or whatever.

    7. Feral Humanist*

      I usually do, but I’m sure there have been times when I was very busy when I didn’t — obviously not because I don’t wish for my colleague to feel better, but because I was slightly stressed and moving very quickly from one email to the next. What you really need is the acknowledgment of the message — the rest is a courtesy and I wouldn’t read anything into it if it was missing.

    8. Rara Avis*

      I had to teach myself to do this because I tend to be very logic-focused. So a student would email me about being sick and missing work, and I would answer the question asked. It finally occurred to me that I should be adding “ I hope you feel better soon.” But I’m also a person who hates “How are you?” As a casual greeting, because most people aren’t looking for a true answer, just the ritual fine.

      1. AFac*

        I make a point to add “feel better soon” for students because I don’t want to give the impression that I’m annoyed by their absence. Sometimes I am because of scheduling issues, but I’d rather they stay home and not spread germs everywhere else.

        It also sometimes softens the rest of my message, which sometimes is not what they’d like to hear (no, I can’t repeat the entire 50 minute lecture for you at 5:30pm tonight).

    9. Tinamedte*

      “Get well soon” would be the norm (or at least the more common option) at my job. But I wouldn’t be offended if someone left it out, I would just assume they didn’t think of writing it this one time.

    10. Irish Teacher.*

      Yeah, I think it would be the norm to say it in my workplace, but I wouldn’t take any notice if somebody didn’t.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      for a peer, I would say something like “thanks for letting me know, I hope you feel better soon” – for one of my reports calling in sick, especially if they’ve apologized (which is not necessary), I say something like “No worries, I’ll put it in, get some rest and take care of you!”

    12. Ama*

      The only time someone’s response to my “I’m sick today” message annoyed me was a coworker at a previous job who would demand “when are you going to be back?” (she was always mad when I was out because she had to cover the phones).

      If you’re not doing that I don’t really care how you respond.

    13. Rainy*

      Oh, I always say something like “No worries; thanks for letting me know” plus “Hope you feel better soon!” or “Take care of yourself!”

    14. A Manager for Now*

      TBH, I don’t expect a response at all and would be pleasantly surprised to get one! So, yeah, I would go ahead and say UNCOMMON.

    15. RagingADHD*

      Yes, where I am it is customary to say something like, “Oh no! Feel better,” or “Take care,” etc.

    16. OtterB*

      At my office we’re reporting this to coworkers on Slack and will usually get emoji responses, though not from everyone. If I email my supervisor with a more formal notice that I am out, she will usually say something like feel better soon in her acknowledgment.

      I email people at 150-200 universities as part of my work and for the most part we’re cordial but not well acquainted or personal. But I noticed after Covid that it’s become much more common for a short email to open or close with something like “hope all is well there.” It was originally, I think, an acknowledgment that we live in strange times and it seemed wrong to be so task focused that we didn’t acknowledge that. I do get emails from individuals asking for an extension on a task and saying that they were out on medical leave, sometimes more specific and sometimes not. My response to that will usually include that I hope they feel better soon.

    17. Me again*

      Of course! (Or, if they are terminal and you know it, you say, “I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll be thinking of you.)

  17. How do I know I'm paid fairly if I can't discuss it?*

    What can a manager talk about re: salaries? Alison has answered lots of questions about discussing salaries among non-supervisory roles, and I get it that managers should not discuss the salaries of those who report to them. But as a manager, can I discuss my salary with other managers? In my past non-manager roles it was very helpful to know what my peers were making so I could ensure my own salary was fair. Now that I’m in management, it seems not great that I can’t do that.

    1. Rory*

      Legally you have the right to talk about wages and salaries with anyone. But it’s been so ingrained in our culture that asking about salaries is “rude,” that it’s still the norm to feel like you can’t ask. So essentially it’s just up to you to get up the courage to start asking people and see what they say.

      1. Tio*

        Yeah, that legal right specifically excludes supervisory roles. So they could actually get in trouble for discussing this with other people.

    2. Four Redwoods*

      Thank you for asking this, I am wondering the same thing.

      Also, if I can discuss my salary as a manager with other managers, how far down the hierarchy does that go? If I’m a Director, can I discuss my salary with a Senior Manager or Manager?

    3. TPS Reporter*

      From the NLRB website: Most employees in the private sector are covered under the NLRA. The law does not cover government employees, agricultural laborers, independent contractors, and supervisors (with limited exceptions). The term “supervisor” means any individual having authority, in the interest of the employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees, or responsibly to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such action, if in connection with the foregoing the exercise of such authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment.

      That being said, your state might have laws that protect supervisors from certain actions.

      1. TPS Reporter*

        for example this is MA law: Q: May an employer restrict employees’ discussions about their wages?
        Employers generally may not prohibit employees from discussing either their own wages or their coworkers’ wages or from disclosing wage information to any person or entity. An employer may only prohibit human resources employees, supervisors, or other employees whose job responsibilities give them access to other employees’ compensation information from discussing such other employees’ wages—unless the information qualifies as a “public record” under M.G.L. c. 4, § 7. However, these particular categories of employees may not be prohibited from discussing or disclosing their own wages.

    4. Quinalla*

      Talk about it with folks outside your company that you can trust or do research. Some industry organizations have the information available to members/non-members, Alison does salary info for her audience once a year, etc..

    5. KatieKat*

      Late to the party, but the point here is that non-supervisory employees have the RIGHT to discuss wages, whereas supervisors do not. This means that whether you’re allowed to is up to your employer’s policies on the matter (formal or informal). It is legal for them to have a policy saying they’ll fire supervisors for discussing wages, it is not legal for a similar policy to apply to non-supervisory roles.

  18. Rosey*

    I have a good problem. I have two job offers. 

    Both are in human services. Job A is directly serving clients and Job B is supervising people serving clients (which I think I would prefer as I am tired of constant client contact). 

    Job B is better money and PTO and commute and hours(not by a ton, but enough), but worse retirement/disability/parental benefits. Job A offers 1 day a week remote, Job B does not. 
    The vibes at Job A were much better. People seemed busy and engaged and active. It was much quieter at Job B, and the vibes were iffy. Both the VP and the CEO asked me several questions about whether I was able to “put my foot down” with staff and implied that the front line staff were uncommitted complainers who struggled with empathy for clients. These are social workers, a famously underpaid profession, so it doesn’t really make sense that they would be in a job because they didn’t care. 

    I did get to speak to someone else from Job B who would be a peer of mine, and I asked about this. He laughed and said that the VP and CEO were “very old school” and have some outdated expectations about the level of personal commitment people would have to the job. He said that though he has had challenging staff it is not a frequent problem and he doesn’t find it concerning. He said that the higher ups have a tendency toward micromanagement but are generally supportive and flexible. 

    My husband thinks I should go with Job A. He thinks the weird vibes and impressions of the VP and CEO are big enough red flags to not engage. He thinks my desire to be managing rather than providing direct service is clouding my judgement (he may be right). 

    I just want to make the right decision and it’s so hard to know what I’ll regret long term. Thanks for any thoughts. 

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I wouldn’t take Job B.

      Social workers are usually like that because of structural issues and lack of support, which causes burnout.

    2. I edit everything*

      What’s the trajectory for Job A? If the atmosphere at Job A is supportive and there’s a clear path of advancement that would mean moving from client contact to management in a year or two, then I’d be inclined to go with Job A. The work is only half the picture, but it really depends on how heavily you weight your need for different work.

      Flip a coin and see if you’re relieved or disappointed by the result, and choose accordingly.

      1. Rosey*

        Job A is way way more corporatey, with hundreds of locations nationwide. It’s hard to know about upward mobility but there would be a lot of competition for internal promotions

    3. I edit everything*

      It’s also possible that neither job is the right choice and you should keep looking for something with the work of Job B and the atmosphere of Job A.

      1. Rosey*

        That is definitely the long term plan but I am currently unemployed so I gotta take one of them for now

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      If it were me, I’d go with Job A, almost entirely because if you know your VP and CEO are going to suck–particularly in a micromanaging way–there is not going to be a chance to make that job better if there’s anything else you find out you don’t like about it.

    5. Antilles*

      My big question with Job B is about how much the VP/CEO’s expectations are going to affect your life. If they’re a couple levels up, it might be totally irrelevant, but if they’re going to be directly in line with you, then their “old school” expectations about commitment seems very likely to fall on you. Both in terms of pushing you to be a hard-ass towards your team and also setting those same expectations on you.

      1. Rosey*

        The VP would be my direct supervisor and the CEO is her direct supervisor.

        To be clear, there were lots of things I liked about them as well, but that attitude toward the staff gave me pause

    6. I Can't Even*

      Job B sounds like a dumpster fire. You are going to be between upper management who thinks their employees suck and the employees who know that management doesn’t support them. There is already bad blood there and you will not change the system so you will not be able to win in either sides eyes.

    7. ferrina*

      How much work are you willing to put into a new job? And how soon would you be willing to walk away?
      Honestly, I love being a supervisor, so I’d probably go with Job B. I’ve navigated weird office politics before, and I’m fine with some awkwardness (not toxicness, but folks that don’t quite connect are fine).

      But also think about how soon you’d be willing to jump ship if things go wrong. Are you okay with job searching in a year if it’s not a fit? Or do you prefer the longer term security?

      No wrong answers, do what feels right to you!

      1. Rosey*

        I’m totally fine with jumping ship in a year if things don’t work out. I would prefer to work for longer in one place but that’s not really a factor in my decision I don’t think.

        “How hard are you willing to work” is a very interesting question for me. I do get commited and passionate when I feel like I’m making a difference but I can also get disillusioned and irritated and checked out fairly easily

        1. linger*

          If you’re only going to be in either job for a few years, then: which job will add most to your CV for the next job search? If you’ve been hands-on with clients so far, it actually sounds like that might be B.)

    8. Anonymask*

      If you got a bad feeling about Job B before accepting, I think you have your answer. I totally understand how your preference to manage may add points to your Job B tally, and I feel you about wanting to make the right choice. But if the vibes feel iffy going in, I think you might regret it in the long term anyway?

    9. KeinName*

      I think you should take job B and continue job searching. You don’t want client contact anymore. So you need to set yourself up for a management path.

  19. Mrarrr*

    I’m starting a new job on Monday! what are your best tips for relaxing and enjoying this final weekend? I am someone who errs on the side of stress-cleaning and doing life admin tasks when I have downtime so I want to try to actually relax and recharge…

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Congratulations! I do the same thing – what works for me is to force myself out of the house and into a task like hiking, movies, museums, browsing a bookstore, taking a yoga or art class.

    2. DrSalty*

      Put “relax” on your to do list. Schedule something fun/relaxing like a massage that you have to go to – automatic blocked out time to chill :)

      Good luck with your new job!

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      Ha! I am in the same boat. I have a massage booked for later today, but honestly I think I’ll spend the weekend cleaning.

    4. SansaStark*

      Since you tend to do life tasks during your downtime, would you actually even enjoy just relaxing or would it be sort of stressful because you’d be thinking about what you could be “getting done”? You might consider doing some of the life tasks that would set you up for a better first week — like prepping lunches, figuring what you’re going to wear, maybe some cleaning/straightening of your space to clear the visual clutter. I like to think about this type of thing as taking care of my future self. She’s always super appreciative of these little things when she’s mentally exhausted from stuff like starting a new job.

      Congrats on the new job!

    5. just here for the scripts*

      Put any/all of the above on your to do list for the weekend:
      Book a massage
      Go for a mani pedi
      Get a facial
      See a movie or play
      Make a date with a friend for brunch
      Schedule sleeping in and/or taking a nap
      Schedule a work out session—or a walk in a park
      Start a new book

  20. Major malfunction*

    Does anyone have ideas for how to work under a manager that is running their department like they are a four-star general and I’m an enlisted aide?

    For background, this is a medium-size start-up, I’m the second person on the team, and I’m mid-career (15 years of experience) and was (at least, was told) I was hired for my large network, deep subject matter expertise, and demonstrated ability to lead cross-functional projects. My manager is more senior, experience-wise, by several years.

    But we are not a team. My manager insists that everything important run through them. I can’t speak on panels (even when the invite went directly to me). I can’t take meetings above a certain level by myself; even if I’m then point if contact, I often get taken out of the loop. I can’t talk to press. I can’t talk to people above a certain seniority level at other companies. I can’t chat with anyone in the C-suite without the manager attending. I can’t say no to meeting requests, but since I can’t take them alone and they don’t have an admin, I have to handle all scheduling and logistics. I’m expected to sit silently and take notes in meetings, I have to provide weekly digests summarizing in detail each meeting I attend during the week without her, and any attempt to provide input on anything of a strategic or tactical nature is ignored. I’m sometimes uninvited to things arbitrarily, and if they ping me about anything at all, I’m expected to drop everything and do it right away or I’ll get bombarded with messages and phone calls. (Also, as you may have guessed, they are obsessed with meetings. It’s part of my job, but it was not supposed to be all of it.)

    I’ve tried various things. Direct communication doesn’t work; they get visibly agitated at upward management. I can try to hide… umm, delay providing … information so I can get things done without having to spend entire days as a scheduler, but that is uncomfortable and doesn’t solve the fundamental problem that I have no way to do sustainable good work or a path to recognition or career development. And worse, they have no reservations about burning my relationships with outside people by saying things like, “X doesn’t speak for the department,” “only I can decide those things,” etc., so trying to build my own relationships or working on projects autonomously is also not sustainable.

    I assume this is a polish-my-resume and get out situation?

    1. I Can't Even*

      Get out. Your manager is trying to be a gate keeper and is actively preventing you from advancing in your career.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Weekly reminder that “get out” isn’t that helpful right now in white collar jobs, so many hiring freezes and silent job boards the last few months.

        1. EMP*

          Pretty sure people just mean “update your resume and start looking”, not “literally run out the door and set fire to your cube on the way out”

          1. No name Username*

            Thanks for that – I needed a laugh. Our office is going thru layoffs and the atmosphere is awful.

    2. Lucy*

      It has been for me. This was a situation I faced twice. Once was after a change of manager, which made the difference very stark. I had a number of sit down conversations about the importance of my being seen as having at least some degree of decision-making capacity in order to do my job effectively (otherwise, no one would want to waste time dealing with me, knowing I couldn’t resolve anything!).

      As I predicted in these discussions, people rapidly began asking to meet with my manager instead of me, knowing I couldn’t actually do anything to resolve their concerns – and the new manager took this as vindication of her view that if she wanted something done, she had to do it herself.

      I got out quite quickly.

      The second time was almost worse – my manager had a lot of anxiety and was a control freak – but the anxiety also meant that she herself struggled to make decisions. I did enjoy that job when I could sneak all the major decisions for my projects through without my manager knowing. She didn’t mind so much, if she only heard after the fact, when they were self-evidently successful, and the right choices. But some projects were high profile enough that she always had eyes on, and I couldn’t progress them without her decision making. She didn’t make decisions, no matter how often you chased up, so they just stalled. The worst thing was, I had to hold regular, public meetings for some of them, and try to explain our lack of progress in each one. It was mortifying. Anyway, I left there, too!

      I expect it’s doable somehow – either by a really direct conversation (though you’ve had these..!) or with the tactful support of manager’s manager, who may be able to support manager with more appropriate delegation of responsibility… But I’ve not had success with this…

    3. WorkplaceSurvivor*

      From someone who’s been there- Get out. This type of manager is gonna do damage to your confidence and potentially mental health. It’s bad for you to second-guess everything you do and walk on eggshells, and if you’re there long enough, you’ll notice the effects at your next job.

      You can’t help someone like that from an employee position, since that level of monitoring of others usually is a symptom of deep insecurity. In my experience, they see their employees as extensions of themselves (bad personal boundaries) and thus are WAY too hard on employees for anything that isn’t handled exactly like the manager would have.

      So yeah, get out. Sorry you’re having to deal with that, it’s rough.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah, this doesn’t sound like someone with the skills to guide from the side, to assess another’s skill set and trust in it. This is how they do.

    5. Busy Middle Manager*

      Delegate problems upwards. It will feel like malicious compliance in the beginning, but it’s not

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      I think it is a polish your resume and get out situation.
      I’m in the same boat and am actively looking. My boss is a total micromanager and I am actually senior to him in years and experience, but he’s the CEO and I report to him. Which is fine, but omg he is such a micromanager. Like get a few clerks to replace me, ok?

    7. Oh yeah, Me again*

      Are you of the opposite sex from this manager? Or substantially older/younger? If so, you might try calling them out on the discrimination before quitting. It’s remotely possible they might be pulled up short and straighten up, but unlikely. And if it’s not prejudice based on age or sex, they just don’t trust you. Either way, leaving is best.

  21. Damn it, Hardison!*

    Tips for navigating work with/accommodations for a broken shoulder? I broke my shoulder Wednesday (fainted and fell); fortunately it’s my non-dominant arm, but I’m in a sling and a lot of pain. Has anyone navigated a similar situation? I am WFH, but can only type with one hand. I am looking into voice software but that’s the extent of what I came up with. I haven’t talked to my manager yet (other than to tell him what happened and that I was in the hospital) but he’s a great manager so I’m not worried that he’s going to be unreasonable.

    1. Lucy*

      Oof! I don’t know the answer for your work’s context but one of my colleagues broke her arm very badly (a compound fracture which needed surgery) and she had to stay off work for more than a month. Having said that, her role required a lot of driving, so it probably depends on how much driving, lifting and carrying you’ll have to do! And how much typing, as you point out.

      I hope it heals well and rapidly!

    2. Seal*

      I had rotator cuff surgery a few years back (tripped and fell) and was in an immobilizer for 6 weeks. Worse, it was my dominant arm, which made the whole thing that much more challenging. My best advice to take the first 2 weeks off after your surgery, longer if possible; in my case, the surgeon mandated it. The first week in particular is the worst pain-wise, plus you’ll most likely be flying high on the good pain meds. Once the pain improves and you’re off the heavy-duty drugs, consider working part-time for a few weeks if you can. Surgery and PT take a lot out of you; I was surprised by exhausted I was and how many naps I took. Good luck!

    3. Some Words*

      Similar situation, I broke a bunch of ribs. Very painful. I asked the doctor to write me a note excusing me from work for 2 weeks. He gave me a bit of stink eye, but I assured him my absence wasn’t going to be problematic. He was going to only approve 1 week of leave. And generously gave me enough pain pills for 2 days. Gentle readers, I had broken (not fractured) 5 ribs.

      It’s okay to take time off when you’re injured! Taking care of yourself needs to be your priority.

    4. Butt in Seat*

      Broke my elbow on my non-dominant arm a year ago December.
      1. Rest as much as you can.
      2. Work part days if you can. (see #1)
      3. Set up a recliner or a station in your bed where you can access your computer but also keep your arm in whatever position is most comfortable. Do not neglect ice/heat/stabilization/elevation or whatever is recommended by your medical team! I used a tray table designed to go over my lap and hold my laptop, and put an external keyboard and my mouse on a book lower down at my dominant side.
      4. Phones have a lot of voice to text already; I ended up dictating all my work emails via my phone for a while (already had it set up to get work email on my phone).
      5. Double check your employer’s sick time policies. My employer’s offical guidance for salaried workers is to take sick time in increments of four hours – meaning if you worked 5 hours out of 8 in a day, you did *not* need to take sick time. Very helpful for PT appointment days!

    5. I Have RBF*

      As someone who has not had the use of my right arm for 28 years, I can tell you that it gets better.

      At first I struggled with typing with only one hand, but now I am typing this on a standard keyboard using a heavily modified touch style. Yes, you will be slower at first, but if it’s temporary, don’t throw a lot of cash into adaptive stuff that may not work for you.

      You will make more typos at first, and be much slower, so you may need to warn your manager that your typing speed accuracy will suffer for a while. Just double check stuff, and believe me when I say it will become easier over time.

    6. Indolent Libertine*

      In my state, disability doesn’t come close to replacing your actual salary, but it is possible to have your doctor certify that you are unable to work, which enables you to collect state disability benefits for the period when the doctor certified you as off work. I had a broken arm a few years ago, also non dominant side, and it was extremely painful and voice to text just never worked well enough to be a good substitute for typing for me.

  22. Samantha Parkington*

    I got laid off in January – I’m in the mortgage industry, so it wasn’t a huge surprise. This is the first time I’ve ever been laid off (in a decade of working full time) and it’s been frustrating, especially with the way my industry is right now. I swear all the available jobs are either entry level or something I’m highly underqualified for. I’m looking for advice on how to pivot to general office jobs when most of my skills are highly specific (property title). Any advice?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      If you are used to using government databases (like title searches), that can be a plus in any job that requires use or research for government data (either within government or in an organization that often interacts with the government).

      I’d think in general terms of transferable skills.

    2. FricketyFrack*

      I work in a government office and we hired someone from the mortgage industry to manage our records. We had a ton of applicants from that industry, but she was the only one we interviewed because she included a cover letter explaining how she saw her skills translating to the position. Stuff like being used to working with confidential information, maintaining a lot of files simultaneously, and so on.

      Basically, this is one of very few cases where a well-written cover letter is probably your friend, or at least a careful tailoring of your resume and/or applications to emphasize the skills you have, not necessarily industry-specific tasks/accomplishments.

    3. Lucia Pacciola*

      What’s a general office job and why would you want one? Look for other jobs that require the same or similar specific skill sets.

      1. Annie*

        My guess is she was really asking what other office jobs her mortgage industry property title job skills and experience would best translate to and how to target her job search to those.

        One reason for looking outside that specific industry is she may be seeing the lack of available job listings for her level of skill and experience as a sign that she should do something different, especially if she can’t afford to take a pay cut or wait for anything like her previous job to materialize on job boards.

  23. BetweenTwoJobs*

    Does anyone have any advice for choosing between two very similar jobs?

    I left job A for job B just over a year ago because of the pay. Job A can now pay match and wants me back (government job so asking for a pay increase was not possible). I have a niche skill that I know is hard to hire for and I feel guilty contemplating leaving job B but I also feel guilty turning down job A.

    1. Janeric*

      Which one was more fun? Which one was less stressful? Was there a difference in how the work impacts the world?

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        What is the commute like?
        What are your coworkers like?
        How was the office culture?
        How is the long term prospect (raises, promotions, stability) of each?
        How do the benefits compare (days off, retirement matching, insurance etc)?

        1. BetweenTwoJobs*

          Both jobs are in government offices and so pay and benefits are identical with no room for negotiation. The long term prospects for each are a good point and something I haven’t really thought about.

          Job B has the greatest schedule flexibility which I really love but I’m bored and left some projects at Job A that I was not ready to leave. At both jobs, upward mobility means going into management. I have no interest in management.

    2. Roland*

      Which job do you enjoy more? Which job will help your resume look like you want it to? What is the pay trajectory over time, not just at this moment?

      Questions like this should guide you, not guilt. It’s not your responsibility to fill every company’s needs, it’s only your responsibility to make reasonable efforts while employed somewhere and give reasonable notice when you leave. And you’ve been at B for over a year so it’s not like you’re the person satrting then quitting in a week for no good reason.

      Good luck!

      1. BetweenTwoJobs*

        Those are good questions I need to ask myself and yes, I do need to leave my guilt aside. Thank you!

    3. Ama*

      Was pay the only reason you left job A or were there other things that you like better at B than A? Would going back to A and having to deal with those things again be worth it if you had the higher pay, or not?

      Conversely, are there things at B that aren’t as good as at A and you’d be happy to leave them behind?

    4. Bast*

      Was money truly the only factor in why you left Job A? What other items are important to you? Ability to work remotely? Commute time? PTO? Health and dental? Don’t let guilt be the deciding factor. Also realize that if this is purely a money thing and the government job is not really great for raises, you might get a big raise to go back and have that be it for a good long while, and you’d be stuck at Square One the next time you wanted a raise.

    5. Bunny Watson*

      If you go back to Job A, will you be at the top of the pay scale again whereas if you stay at Job B you could move up? I ‘d say you left Job A for reasons – was it all money? Some of the others have mentioned other factors, but going back just to get stuck on pay again might not be worth it.

      1. BetweenTwoJobs*

        I’d be at the same pay rate. The two jobs were on different pay scales but they’re now the same scale. Government jobs, so pay raise? What raise?

  24. Guilty*

    Is it unfair of me to take vacation over a holiday I don’t celebrate? I am a Canadian living and working in the US. My fiance and I are planning to take our honeymoon in October/November and I thought about taking the week of Thanksgiving so we could take a week and I would only need to take two vacation days instead of four (my job gives us Thursday and Friday off and we are always closed on Wednesdays). I feel guilty though since our policy is that only one person in each role can take time off at the same time and we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in November since we’re Canadian (we celebrate the first Monday in October). Is it unethical for me to think about doing this?

    1. Rara Avis*

      No — your honeymoon is an equally good reason to take the time as Thanksgiving, and you won’t be asking for it every year, just this year.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I would think it’s okay as long as you make yourself available to be the person in the role that works on a similarly-desired holiday (like Christmas or New Year’s).

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      How does your company decide who gets that week off, presuming you’re not the only one interested?

      1. Guilty*

        It is first come first served within each different role, with the caveat that if you take the week of Thanksgiving you can’t have the week of Christmas as well unless nobody else wants it, and vice versa.

    4. Feral Humanist*

      I don’t think you should feel guilty if you end you doing this, but would it use up social capital in the office for you? I can imagine feeling frustrated, especially when I lived very far from my family, that I couldn’t take off extra time for the holiday because my colleague who didn’t celebrate it was using it for a vacation. I can’t imagine saying anything about it (what good would it do?), but depending on how badly I wanted to be able to go home that year, it might have led to some resentment. But if most people in your office have family living locally, it might not matter at all — especially since they already get Wednesday.

    5. Roland*

      Not even a little unetihcal. I don’t celebrate Christmas but I feel zero guilt if I schedule a vacation to overlap with days off for Christmas – probably at least half of my last team were also non-celebrators who did the same. This is in an industry with no coverage needs beyond maybe one person on call. I see how coverage might change the equation in terms of coworker goodwill but it’s still 100 not “unethical”.

    6. Decidedly Me*

      It’s not unethical. If you didn’t already get Wed-Fri off that week, I think I’d feel differently (not unethical still, to be clear), but if everyone already has the day of, before, and after off, I don’t see taking the Mon/Tues as a big deal. I actually don’t know anyone that takes off more than the Wed-Fri off for Thanksgiving anyways.

      1. Feral Humanist*

        When I had to fly across the country, I took the full week. Flying on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is both prohibitively expensive and awful.

    7. Some Words*

      Not unethical at all. People take extra days around holidays all the time & nobody thinks it’s because they’re extra devout about President’s Day (for example). Nobody cares.

  25. Janeric*

    I need a pep talk about taking my excess vacation time between now and the end of the fiscal year — I have a job where I do meaningful work for climate mitigation, at this time I’m the only person who provides my work product, that work is almost entirely self-directed. When I have had training weeks, things grind to a halt and then we have missed deadlines and people have gotten snippy with me for not meeting my monthly quota while in required training for a week.

    I have about 100 hours of leave I need to use or lose by the end of the fiscal year.

    1. DrSalty*

      Do it! Maybe try taking a little bit at a time more frequently (eg, a half day every week) vs huge chunks all at once.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Vacation time is part of your compensation! In addition to being part of your earned compensation, taking vacation prevents burnout, lets you see things with fresh eyes on your return, and in general makes people better employees than they would be without taking vacation. Vacation time: good for you and good for your employer (in the long run).

      You mention problems when you’ve been in week-long trainings before and you didn’t mention if you already have plans for your 100 hours, so in case you don’t have plans yet: can you take some of your vacation time as single days here and there? A Friday or Monday to give yourself a long weekend. A random Tuesday when the weather’s nice and you want to be outside. Taking your leave in 8-hour chunks instead of 40-hour chunks will cut down on some of the “things grind to a halt and we miss deadlines” problems.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Seconding this. Take a full week somewhere to give yourself actual time to recharge, but long weekends between now and the end of fiscal sounds fantastic to me.

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Take the time! People are going to be snippy and weird about something regardless, as they’ve already demonstrated with your attendance at required training, so you might as well do something fun with that time if you’re going to have to endure their comments anyway.

    4. Miz Swizz*

      Take your time! I can’t tell whether you aren’t taking the time because you feel you can’t or because you don’t really want to. I don’t travel much and I love to take a personal day here or there to go do exactly what I want on a weekday. Sometimes it’s to run a bunch of errands in the morning followed by a fabulous lunch and a nap. Sometimes it’s to sleep in and watch movies all day. The time is yours, you’ll probably feel better after using some.

    5. m2*

      Vacation is part of your compensation.

      I have a very busy period and I make it clear (in writing and verbally) in interviews, you can’t take weeks off at a time during this couple month period. I had someone take 5 days off for a family reunion that was fine, but another person who also worked with them wouldn’t be able to take any of those days off or nothing would get done and we couldn’t keep up.

      I tell people take the time before or after the 10 week period. We have other busy periods, but for about 10 weeks it gets crazy. Of course if you’re sick or have a family emergency people take off, but everyone knows you can’t take a 2 week vacation during this time. People take days off here and there or a long weekend.

      So take the time, but in the future try and take vacation so it doesn’t bank up. Maybe take long weekends so you don’t come back to piles and piles of work. I have been there, I have maxed out vacation, so now I take long weekend trips, days off here and there and actual 1-2 week vacations during the year when I am not as busy. I have been such a better employee and overall feel better when I do this instead of stressing when away what will happen when I return or for actually not being able to get my full compensation (missing out on vacation days).

    6. Dinwar*

      Take the time.

      But I would also have a conversation with your boss. Being irreplaceable is not good for either you or the team. You WILL burn out under such conditions–and while environmental work is important, that can only let you push your limits so much. It’s also incredibly complicated and high-risk work, burnout is real. And you won’t be good to the company if you’re so mentally fried you can barely function (trust me on this). As for the company, what will they do if you leave the job? Are they going to just have to shut the doors and say “Whelp, sucks for coastal cities, but without Janeric we can’t function”?

      Purely from a business perspective, the company needs to provide you with enough support that you can take time off, go to training, and in general live your life without the system grinding to a halt. And this isn’t a you problem to solve, but a management problem.

    7. OhGee*

      you’re doing important work and taking your vacation time will help you recharge. climate folks are good at burning out because they’re passionate about such urgent work. you deserve a break and it will help your work in the long run.

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        I was going to say this. You can’t take care of anyone else, or the climate, if you don’t take care of yourself first.

        I’m also in a position where I’m the only one who knows how to do 99% of my job, my work is self-directed, and people grouch and complain when I’m not available. My work is quite repetitive and boring while simultaneously requiring serious attention to detail, and forces extremely introverted me to deal with the general public day in and day out (property tax collections). People grouch and complain if I’m not available during every second of my office hours and even beyond.

        If I don’t make sure to take time to decompress, I find myself making mistakes that make life harder for myself, and also not in the best mood for a customer service position. I make sure it’s not during my busy seasons and that my coworkers know exactly what they are and aren’t allowed to do with My Stuff, and the grouches are gonna grouch no matter what.

      2. anonymous anteater*

        something that I have found is that people in the middle will get very uncomfortable about missed deadlines/quotas that are requested by funding agencies, but when you contact the actual program manager at the agency, they are often willing to work with you and give some grace and stretch requirements. Often there is a reluctance to ever ask for any exceptions but if you have a solid track record with your funders, there is room for wiggle.

    8. Rainy*

      I am in a similar situation. I am the only person in my office who does what I do. Plenty of people can pinch-hit for some of the lower-level stuff I do, but if something gets complicated I’m the only resource.

      I have reached a point of glorious unconcern. If my department really cared about always having someone around who can deal with the issues I deal with, they’d hire another person for my program. Since they haven’t, they obviously don’t *actually* care, and I won’t care more about something than leadership does until I make more than them.

      I now take 2 1/2 to 3 weeks off at the winter holiday every year, and I also take most of a month off during the summer. Worrying about your job function grinding to a halt when you are away will make you not take time off, which will burn you out, so you have to take that time. If your boss actually cared about your job function happening without interruption, they’d hire another person, and since they haven’t, that’s not a priority, so don’t treat it like one.

  26. Another professor*

    An article just came out in Current Sociology (link in follow up comment) about the different ways that “service” is gendered. Here, “service” means things like committee work, mentoring, etc., in academia. Based on research, the study shows that men focus on individual interests and women are more community-focused, leading men to more “glamorous” or “respected” types of service. In addition, women generally take on *more* service overall. The study looks at this through the lens of “relational work” and finds compliance, evasiveness, barter, and investment strategies. To me, one of the most interesting findings was that men often just said “no” or purposely performed badly so they would not be asked again to perform certain kinds of service.

    I suspect that most of this is not shocking to many women, though it is nice to have some evidence that supports our anecdata. My question is, what can/should we do about this?

    Obviously, academia has problems in often valuing various types of work inappropriately (why is mentoring not valued more, for example?). So there are systemic things that I’d change if I could. But on a more localized, individual level, what do we do?

    1. ferrina*

      This tracks. Years ago I read a study on voting trends that said “men vote as individuals- what do I personally want to happen? women vote as a representative of their family- what policies do I think will best help my whole family unit?” I can’t find the article now (very grateful if anyone finds it and can post; likewise if I’m wrong and anyone can refute!)

      The weaponized incompetence tracks, too. Personally, I’ve seen this used way more by men than women (haven’t seen any studies on that, though would love to read one). Interestingly, the women I’ve seen tend to be quicker to admit that they are deliberately weaponizing incompetence. The men will swear up and down that they are incompetent at the basic task and need someone else to do it, then will immediately turn around and say they should be empowered and respected to make a high powered decision.

      Obviously #notallmen, but enough that I’m thoroughly jaded.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Can you imagine trying to get away with weaponised incompetence as a woman? It makes me shudder to think of the risks involved there.

        1. linger*

          Depends on the task’s triviality/irrelevance to official duties of the position?
          More than a few commenters here have reported some success pushing back on “women make coffee” with weaponised incompetence.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      *shocked Pikachu face*
      My university has a limit to how many large (cross-college, faculty senate committees, consortium) committees you can serve on. Our tenure process uses “Professional Activity” instead of “Scholarship”. It’s defined a little broader and includes things like continuing education and grant applications.

      Beyond that, I think chairs/leaders need to be more proactive about forcing men to be on “low visibility” committees and take on more of the little bits of “feminized” labor that add up. Mentoring is a great example. Advising, organizing events, organizing online files, following up with people, notetaking… But how to actually make that a reality? No idea.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Don’t do it on a volunteer basis. If there’s something like notetaking that needs to be done, have a notetaking rota. Or if Mary is always taking the notes, make sure that she’s not also stuck with the job of sending out the department summary email while Bob ends up doing neither job (all of this is purely hypothetical).

    4. AFac*

      I really try to say no to things I don’t want to do. But I’m senior enough and have a good enough relationship with the administration and peers that I can get away with turning things down, especially the things for which I would serve as a diversity body (I’m a WoC in STEM).

      I am also trying to complain less about people who are ineffective. If it’s really hurting me, I’ll push it up the chain, but if it’s just being slow I just bite my tongue and deal. Would it go faster if I did it? Yes. Am I willing to do it? No.

      Having said that, it’s hard. I’m running a project in which we got a late start but are now on track–which means I’m a target for leading similar late projects in the future.

    5. EMP*

      I don’t have a good answer but at my office job in tech, as a visible female, I just make it a point to do less
      – I don’t clean the kitchen
      – I don’t take notes in meetings
      – I don’t schedule meetings
      – I’m not on the “events committee”

      none of those are my job. Would it be “stepping up” and “being a team player” to e.g., clean the kitchen occasionally? Yeah, but the men should step up and be a team player first.

      1. Treena*

        Same (except I coordinate meetings with some colleagues who work in different orgs because we work on a project together and it’s sending out a doodle and a few emails nothing more)

        I make decisions with this frame: I don’t do non-promotable work. Does this task/job/thing help me get promoted? No? Then no.

    6. kiki*

      I work in tech and this is 100% true in our industry as well. I read somewhere once though, that when there are no women present, men do service work without a second thought. In industries that are exclusively male, mentorships and committees exist and are successfully run by men. Taking part in “service” is more highly valued by men when only men are around then when women are around and take part in service work.

      I think on an individual level, as women, we need to refuse to take part in service work that won’t be adequately rewarded and push for service work to be considered a rewarded part of employee performance.

    7. Dr. Doll*

      I am seriously pissed off today because a white male professor on an internal grant selection committee just informed the committee chairs, now that reviews have been assigned, “I will not be able to participate in reviews this year. I regret any inconvenience caused.”

      Dude: Others on the committee will have to take more work. You’ve had *months* to decide not to be on this committee and let someone else from your area step in. This is seriously bad form.

      I really, really hope he doesn’t list this committee on his university service in his tenure packet, because he hasn’t done jack but put a load on the rest of us. And I hope the committee chair, who is an administrator type, told him off.

      Oh, to be as confident in the lack of blowback as an ordinary white man.

      Also, all y’all should read the book “The No Club.”

    8. Hillary*

      I’m late to the party here, but my take… I was middle management in my last corporate job, these days I’m a founder so I do everything.

      My advice: picture the most mediocre bro you knew in college. what would he do?

      When I was in the corporate world, I didn’t volunteer. I didn’t clean, I didn’t take notes, and I never brought baked goods. If there was a potluck I brought something premade (ever notice how the guy in charge usually brings fried chicken or another protein?)

      I was lucky to work with a lot of early career folks in leadership role. I didn’t ask for volunteers, I would voluntold the guys to organize events so the work was balanced. And I spent more time with the gals talking about their careers and my strategies.

  27. Working for the weekend*

    After a really long time, we have new people starting with my company. What’s your best onboarding advice? (or if you have funny stories, I’d love to hear them too!).

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Give a tour both of the building and of any online resources they’re likely to need.

      Make sure they’re aware of “company culture” expectations. (And regional if they’re not from the area.)

      If you can, assign a “buddy” or office culture mentor who can show them the ropes and answer questions or guide them to who can. (Things like, “Grand-boss really prefers [full in the blank].” that helps them not stumble too much.)

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Things I wish we did but don’t or don’t do well:
      – every role has a job manual that gets updated once (or more) per year so that new folks have a great place to start on Day 1
      – have an actual training plan and make it detailed
      – set up meetings in advance with the key people they’ll be collaborating with so they can go over how the roles work together, what kinds of work product they share, etc.
      – have an actual list of who they need to go to for what types of things, both with names and roles, e.g. Merlin (Office Manger): talk to him for office supplies, photo copier codes, replacement toner for the printer, etc.
      – make sure you add them to all the Teams/Slacks/SharePoints/Whatevers they need to be a part of (I’m genuinely shocked by how many people get added to a really generic Team that they should have been on from Day 1 but only join six months in)
      – make sure their manager actually sets aside time to meet with them regularly in their first week, as well as in the first month
      – don’t assume they know how to do the job at your org just because they did similar work elsewhere; training is about how you do it at your company specifically, and so many teams just skip over that because they assume you should know based on your past experience
      – if they need to participate in any frequent and/or long training sessions, let the trainers know as far in advance as possible; it’s not always easy to fit these things into a calendar when you tell me on the Friday before they start on a Monday

      Additionally, I worked somewhere once where they had a “lunch buddy” system where someone volunteered to eat lunch with you on your first day so that a) you weren’t alone, and b) you had someone to chat with about your first morning. It was often not someone you would usually work directly with, so it was a good way of introducing new folks to other teams.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Co-sign the part about laying out who to go to for which things, and make sure it includes their manager! (On more than one occasion I’ve had trainees ask me things they should’ve asked their manager, which isn’t a big deal of course but always makes me think “wait, have you been thinking I was your manager this whole time?”)

    3. Yes And*

      Have a plan for their first week. Make a list of everything they need to be shown (from the layout of the office to the file system to lunch options to internal policies to HR manuals). Then schedule it out. Who’s going to show them what when, and what resources they’ll need. Make sure they have time with everyone they’ll be regularly working with. Include time for them to be on their own to absorb new information, get themselves settled, and read up on anything they need to read. Give them all the resources they need to get started off on the right foot.

    4. Generic Name*

      Here’s what NOT to do:
      -Have the person sit at a card table because there isn’t a desk for them. (Bonus points if the card table is in a weird cubby hole space that doesn’t seem designed for human occupancy)
      -Throw them into the deep end immediately with no training or context. Just hand them a file and say, “Here, you’re managing this project now”
      -Or conversely, don’t actually give them any work or training links so they have to pretend to be busy and/or beg for something to do
      -Have the training for the byzantine timecard system be ad hoc and given by an admin who has used the software the longest. Provide no written documentation and hope they have a photographic memory or can take notes at the speed of light. Bonus points if the employee isn’t given the correct access for their level, and you only find out a year later when said employee asks how to do something and you discover the reason why they are confused is your company messed up their access settings when they started.
      -Provide absolutely no training on HR topics such as safety, harassment, ethics, etc.
      -Don’t assign the new hire a manager/supervisor because your flat management structure is a feature of your organization (everyone reports to the CEO!). Bonus points if you chastise the new employee for referring to the person assigning and evaluating their work as their “supervisor”. Even better if you do this at a work party, in front of other people.
      -Do not provide an org chart to the new hire. If they ask questions like who is someone’s manager, act like they committed a faux pas.

    5. Clean desk*

      If they are going to be working onsite make sure their desk is set up and clean, maybe stocked with some basic supplies like a notebook, pens, post its. It’s really annoying and gross to have to clean your own desk/drawers when you start.

      1. Some Words*

        OMG yes! I can’t remember the last time I got to move into a desk that wasn’t disgusting.

        1. Clean desk*

          Same. I think having the desk cleaned and ready shows another layer of welcome-ness and excitement towards your new hire, who is probably nervous about their first day. Bonus points if there’s a gift on the desk, like a company branded mug or even a little note/card that says, “Welcome; we’re so glad you’re here!”

    6. Sharpie*

      I haven’t worked in an office in forever but here’s what I wish someone had told me the first day when I did:

      Who/where to go to for stationery and things like a footrest or computer privacy screen

      What the holiday request procedure is – by the time they’ve been there long enough to want to take a long weekend or week off, it’s going to feel awkward for them to have ask how to go about it.

    7. ButtercupDC*

      I came here specifically because I wanted to ask for onboarding advice!! So glad you asked, and hope people will share some of the best things they’ve experienced as new employees.

  28. BRR*

    How do I tell my big boss that I don’t want to report to someone? I’ve been at my employer for about five years and have always reported to big boss’ second in command. We have a new second in command starting soon and since that position has always had too many direct reports, I have very credible concerns that I might be moved under Jane. There’s nobody else that would make sense for me to report to.

    While I like working with Jane, I absolutely can’t work under Jane. She’s a micromanager, she doesn’t listen to other people’s ideas, she’s overall disorganized and erratic, etc. I would also lose autonomy and opportunities to work on more interesting things. She’s been here longer and has a higher title, which doesn’t help, but I’ve always felt like we worked as equals and it was just luck of the draw that we each ended up in the positions we did.

    So if big boss says “BRR, you’re reporting to Jane” how can I push back? I would like to believe I have some capital that I’m willing to use up but we tend to have a culture here of not pushing back and especially with a decision like this I can see big boss just shutting down the conversation. But this is a hill I’m willing to die on.

    1. Miss Lemon*

      Would it make sense to bring this up to him ahead of time, before a decision is made? That way you wouldn’t be asking him to reverse a decision.

      1. Roland*

        I agree. It’s easier to change plans that haven’t been determined or announced yet. People don’t like walking back public decisions, but updating draft is something different.

      2. Moths*

        I agree as well. If you have strong feelings, I’d go to your boss or big boss ASAP and just be honest with them (assuming you have a good relationship). Maybe frame it as a trial if you get some resistance, where you don’t move, but if your new boss starts to get overwhelmed with the number of direct reports, you can revisit in the future. I hate to give that concession, but sometimes it can help to show that you’re not completely rejecting their idea, just asking to try something different first. But the sooner you get ahead of this, the less likely they are to view it as you pushing back on a decision they’ve already made.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      Is there a way you could position your ideal reporting structure as a win for the company? As in, “I know Jane is coming in and I’ve been thinking about my role here – if a re-org is going to happen, I think I could be beneficial working for Sally as we have X Y Z in alignment and I’d be able to…” ?

  29. Sanibel Island*

    If the owners / managers order and pay for food, then request the food to be picked up by another employee, should they order something for said employee picking up the food? Whether it be a meal as well, dessert/treat, etc.

    I had this happen to me twice, at two different jobs.

    The first time, years ago, I didn’t think anything of it until our contract worker said loudly so my manager heard, “don’t forget to get yourself some cookies!” (The place I went to was well known for their fresh baked chocolate chip cookies). The manager agreed to this. I got my cookies when I got their lunch :)

    The second time happened earlier this week: I was given a company credit card, took all 5 managers’ orders, ordered lunch for them, and went and picked it up. I didn’t think anything of it until a couple of people said I should have ordered something for myself, since I did it all. But I didn’t feel right about it because I wasn’t told I could, and didn’t want to ask because I’m not a manager.

    I was more salty that I wasn’t thanked; the owner paid for lunch, but I did everything else, even making sure everyone’s order was correct. Not the hill to die on though.

    The few people I told about the run this week have been split. Some said I should’ve gotten something out of it, some said I was doing my job, nothing more or less (I’m an executive assistant so par for the course?).

    Just curious on what the etiquette is in situations like this.

    1. Colette*

      I’m inclined to say that it was your job, and (as long as you were being paid to do it), you weren’t owed anything extra – and I’d think it was overstepping to buy yourself something.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Same. But I also think it would be nice to be thanked. Picking up food can be a pain (especially carrying it in), and it might take more time than expected, so it’s one of those PITA job duties that people should show more appreciation for.

      2. Sanibel Island*

        I’m hourly, so I stayed clocked in when I went to get the food, and clocked out when I took my actual lunch, after I came back.

    2. HR Friend*

      If you’re an EA, picking up food seems like part of the job. I was an EA in a former life and got my boss’s lunch nearly every day. I don’t see why they’d pay for your lunch; you’re running an errand as part of your work duties.

      A passing ‘thank you’ would be nice, as it always is, but as Don Draper says, “that’s what the money is for!”. :)

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      For you, I think the etiquette is to not assume that you get to order something unless it’s explicitly stated. For them, I think the etiquette is that it’s kind but not mandatory to suggest you order something for yourself. I used to have a role where I’d go grab coffee for my boss and she’d usually tell me to get something for myself, which was nice.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Whenever I worked as an EA, it was always customary and expected to order something for myself on the company card if I had to go pick up or if I were working the meeting.

      If it was a Doordash and I wasn’t really involved beyond inputting the orders, then no.

      If it was a catering order for the conference room, something offsite / after hours that didn’t involve me being present, then of course no.

  30. Lucy*

    I have a question: when does a colleague become a “work friend” and when is it appropriate to text a work friend on their personal number?

    Context: my team is close and as far as I know, we all get along and genuinely like each other. We all exchanged numbers after the unexpected death of a team member last year, I think in the sense of, “we’re all in this together if anyone needs to talk” – but I don’t think they’ve ever been used really.

    I get lunch with a few of my colleagues fairly often and we talk about shared hobbies. I just texted one about sewing techniques, asking a question I think she’ll know the answer to, and now I’m second guessing whether it was appropriate, as it’s actually her day off! But it wasn’t work-related..!

    What’s the verdict?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      You’re fine! You used an asynchronous form of communication to ask her something about a hobby you both share/enjoy. If it turns out she doesn’t want you using her personal number to talk outside of work she’ll let you know, but as it stands there is zero inappropriateness happening.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I agree with A Simple Narwhal. I have a few of my coworkers’ personal numbers and I occasionally text them about non-work hobbies/interests we have in common.

      1. Lucy*

        Thanks! I obviously thought it was fine myself, when I did it, but I just had a moment of panic after, in case it felt like I was bringing the work world to her home life. But I wouldn’t have minded if it was the other way around!

    3. Colette*

      In general, I think it’s fine if your relationship remains strong, it’s a personal contact (i.e. not something you’re sending to your 50 closest friends), and it’s relevant to them – and this fits all three.

      1. Lucy*

        Thank you! I have come to the conclusion that it was fine, but if I felt so weird and stressy about it, it probably implies that it’s not a workplace standard for us, so I should be sparing.

    4. Still*

      I feel like it’s completely fine, but 1) if she doesn’t reply, don’t bring it up and 2) let her be the one to text you the next time, if she wants to. That way you’ll be sure she doesn’t feel pressured to reply.

      1. Lucy*

        Thanks! She did reply, but I think you’re right. If I started to feel this weird about it, it may just be not our work’s culture, and I can let her decide if she wants to change that. There’s also a generational difference – I am far and away the youngest person in my team, and approx the age of my colleagues’ children – this is usually not noticeable in a work context, but I’m never sure when it comes to social times! It makes ordinary things feel fraught!

  31. Fire Lord Azula*

    I’ve been meaning to post this on here for weeks, but I just want everyone to know that when my unit had a potluck, I signed up to bring Hawaiian rolls. (then added ham because I felt weird about just bringing the rolls)

    1. Tinamedte*

      Let us know if you actually bring them, or decide on your way to the potluck that you’ll only bring cheap ass ones.

      1. Fire Lord Azula*

        I did bring them, and there were also some “cheap ass” rolls there. I was so offended that I ate both kinds of rolls!

    2. Elle*

      One day one of us will work up the courage to mutter cheap ass rolls at the buffet and see if anyone recognizes it.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        We had one not that long after the original post, and I was half tempted to write “cheap ass rolls” on the sign up list.

    3. Feeling Excel-lent*

      Thank you for doing your part in the ongoing struggle against cheap ass rolls :salute:

  32. No aurora*

    I posted in open thread over a month ago about applying for an internal promotion, even if I had some questions I needed answers to.
    The interview stage has arrived and boss (who’s the general manager of the place and our interim boss) has decided that it will be an group interview with my coworkers present (we’re 4 in total, excluding boss) and one of us will be promoted, doubling as a division meeting.
    I think this is a bad idea but whatever, not the first bad idea in this workplace.
    My question is; should I ask questions about wage, work time expectation and, most importantly, personelle decisions/ability to manage personelle up and to firing. Usually, my country only has one interview for jobs so there won’t be a second one where I can discuss the personelle thing with only boss present.
    With that in mind, are these questions something I should ask at this group interview (and making things akward) or insist on asking them to only my boss afterwards?

    1. Goddess47*

      You could bring it up as “I have questions on personnel issues, such as…[list your topics]. Do you want me to bring them up now or can we stay a few minutes after and discuss the questions then?” That will let your boss decide how to handle it…

        1. No aurora*

          That’s a good idea but I’m not sure how exactly to say that as one big issue is one of my coworker and is bad enough I’d personally think firing would be the best option and I’d very much not want to say it in front of everyone

          1. The New Wanderer*

            The group interview with your own team sounds very much like a bad idea, lots of potential for awkwardness.

            Could you ask the questions in as neutral a way as possible: “Could you describe how the person in this position is expected to handle performance development and management efforts?” “What are the expectations around working hours for this role?” I don’t think the answers to those would be particularly awkward, and they do make sense as questions to learn more about a management type role.

            Personally I would leave out any question about wage or salary in the group setting, since that could be addressed if you’re given the offer.

          2. Cordelia*

            but even if saying it in an individual interview, you wouldn’t be able to be explicit about which coworker and what the problem is – thats not what an interview is for. You’d have to be more general, asking about the involvement of the role in personnel decisions such as hiring and performance management. No reason why you can’t say that in front of the group. But you’re right in thinking the group interview is a terrible idea, I’m sorry you have to go through this!

  33. Wouldbelibrarian*

    LinkedIn offered me a month of their premium service for free. I’m amping up my job search (I’m looking for a librarian or archivist-related job) and can use all the help I can get; however, I’m skeptical that’s worth while. Anyone else use/used it? Is it markedly better than standard LinkedIn for job searching?

    1. ecnaseener*

      It’s not a huge difference, but you can see who’s viewed your profile and I think some extra details about who’s applied to job postings (but that’s not very reliable because it can only count people who applied directly through LinkedIn).

      No reason not to take the free trial though, just set a reminder to cancel before it renews. I always take the free trial and never have any trouble canceling or anything.

    2. pally*

      It’s exactly what ecnaseener wrote. AND, you get access to their job searching group where you can ask questions and other members of the group will answer them. Think of it as Ask a Manager Friday Open Thread minus all the knowledge and expertise Alison provides. IOW, the advice may be spot-on or gumption.

      I paid for a year’s worth. Got nothing from the job search group. That’s why I came here. And knowing who is peeking at your LI profile serves to quell your curiosity, I found these ‘contacts’ never amounted to anything. No follow-up or reaching out of any kind. When I contacted them, got nothing but crickets.

      Take the free trial, then be sure to cancel before they bill ya.

      1. BoratVoiceMyWife*

        To be fair, the premium career group is the absolute worst damn community on the internet and on more than one occasion I’ve commented with something along the lines of “everyone in this group would be better off reading AAM than asking here.”

        It’s full of spam, quasi-motivational bullshit and people who haven’t put an ounce of effort in before asking “how to find job.” I don’t know why I still pay for it, but here we are.

        1. pally*

          1000% agreement with this!

          I was SO disappointed with the advice: Pain letters, call HR (Or hiring manager-if you can locate their contact info) if you don’t hear from them after a few days, gumption, try to talk about things the interviewer likes (because you stalked them online), calling the company to make an interview appointment (Oh, yeah, that works well-not!) and other things that just don’t work.

          The basic problem is there isn’t anyone with expertise to respond to the questions. Just job seekers giving advice to other job seekers. And, there’s folks trying to get people to sign on for their resume or job coach services.

      2. Sloanicota*

        That’s such a funny “premium” offering; it’s like a dating site thing. It’s not really the information I want from LI!

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Never used it. Never needed it to find any of my library gigs.

      For archives jobs, Archives Gig, SAA and whatever regional or state level groups you want- Northwest Archivists, Society of Southeastern Archivists, Midwest Archives, etc. Most, though not all, have job boards. Similarly, ALA and then whatever section you’re interested in- ACRL for academic, RBMS for special collections, etc.

      Biggest thing to consider- if you really want to work in archives, special libraries, etc, you will need to be geographically flexible. Good luck!

      1. Tammy 2*

        You can also try ARMA, AIIM, and ICRM if you’re at all interested in the records management side of things. Also GovernmentJobs

    4. Sleepy in the stacks*

      You definitely do not need it.

      For public librarian positions, you can simply check the library/city pages of libraries in your area or use the ALA jobLIST website. There are tons of job websites for library jobs and IME, most (in my area) don’t even post to LinkedIn

    5. RagingADHD*

      I found it helpful to identify listings where I could get seen, vs ones that were inundated with a thousand applicants already.

      Also Linkedin Learning came with.

  34. Am I overthinking this?*

    Outside of work, all of my team members save one use LinkedIn messenger to communicate with one another. Sometimes it’s for (work-appropriate) memes, links to (work-relevant) articles, updates if someone is going to be late, etc. The chain was started by me, and we have added people as they have joined the team.

    There is, however, one hold-out. Jack refuses to use LinkedIn — or any form of non-email communication (so no WhatsApp, no Signal, etc.) Apparently it’s not that Jack minds speaking to colleagues outside of work, but he doesn’t want to learn any new tools (“I’m too old for that ****”, in Jack’s words)

    It’s a really useful tool for all the unofficial stuff (especially sharing news links, so no one has to sign on to their work phone), but I am increasingly uncomfortable that Jack is the one team member not included, especially if I am participating as the manager.

    The team that uses it doesn’t want to stop using it, so it feels like my best option is to step out of it. I don’t love the idea of giving it up, since it’s so useful, but I’m also not comfortable telling Jack that he needs to get over this personal policy position he’s taken since it’s not a work requirement for him to join in.

    Am I overthinking this? Or am I underthinking it and there are more possibilities than I am seeing right now?

    1. Annony*

      You are overthinking it. Jack is allowed to opt out of unofficial/non-work things, even if you choose to participate. He is not being excluded. If it is really important that he be notified of a relevant article or that someone is out sick, email him.

      1. BellaStella*

        Agree. Official work channels are best and I wish I could opt out of the whatsapp stuff as I do not even have a work phone! As it is I mute and archive work chats and check only once a week ish.

    2. Rick Tq*

      Yes, step out of it but also rethink your use of external applications for work.

      I’m on Team Jack for a bunch of reasons, beginning with work-related communications should be on work-related tools or platforms. Teams Chat, a Slack channel, or texting to a work phone are fine to me but using external apps is not, especially since every social media app (included Linked-In) wants more and more information about their subscribers to be sold to the highest bidder.

      Do you work in an industry with records retention requirements, or has your company been sued? Jack may have been in that situation before and doesn’t want to deal with potential issues of his personal social media activity being subject to legal discovery.

      You might want to talk to your company’s General Counsel or legal department about your team’s use of external applications for business.

      1. Roland*

        Yeah, if it was just memes it’s one thing, but work updates should be in your work ecosystems. If your company doesn’t use any messaging tools then there should be email distribution lists for these things.

      2. Reba*

        Yeah, and even setting aside the question of whether it’s according to company policy, FWIW I think using LinkedIn for time-sensitive, non-optional work updates (running late, out sick) is just kinda odd. I wouldn’t want to participate either.

        1. Ell*

          I certainly don’t mind using stuff besides of email for communication, even occasional outside-of-work stuff. Love Slack at my new job! I even miss using teams a little bit from my last job. Texting about taking a sick day? Cool. GroupMe or WhatsApp for team messages? Sign me up.

          But LinkedIn of all things? I can’t totally explain why but that makes me shudder. I would feel similarly about Facebook messenger, instagram or twitter too. No social media requirements at work pls.

      3. Ama*

        Yeah this is actually a potential security risk if you are discussing confidential work info (which includes who is actually going to be in the office that day) on a third-party app where your employer doesn’t control what happens to those records.

        I know that sounds like paranoia, but that is exactly the kind of information hackers who do phishing scams are looking for — they want any “inside” info so when they email/text someone pretending to be your boss they can say something that makes them sound legitimate.

    3. ferrina*

      As the manager, you have standing to say “this is our preferred communications channel”. You get to set the policy on how the team is notified for when someone will be out of office, etc. So yes, you definitely can make this part of Jack’s job.

      If you do, just be kind. Sit down with him to help him install and navigate the program. Give him personal support for the first month or two. Be clear on your expectations- “This is the program we are using for letting me know when you are out sick. I’m going to require the whole team to use it.”

      Caveat- if it’s used for work communications, are you using work accounts? If not, your personal accounts are subject to review if it ever comes up in a lawsuit. It’s very reasonable to provide work accounts for work communications. If you can’t do that, you need to find a different channel of communications. Maybe Slack?

      1. Deanna Troi*

        It is not at all reasonable to require that employees use a communication system on their personal device. My husband has a flip phone with no internet on it. I have a new Samsung Galaxy, but absolutely refuse to use it for work. as others have said, this gives my employer rights to my phone. My employer gave me an iPhone because they want to be able to reach ke outside of work. What is routinely so important that it can’t wait until they see their email on a work device?

        1. ferrina*

          I’m not sure where the personal device came in- I was assuming Jack was accessing everything through a work device. If you want him to download something on his own device, that’s something I think should be optional.

          I work in an industry where off-hours work is pretty common (don’t worry, we have flexible hours, so running to the grocery store during work hours is common too, and we also tell people when we expect them to be online during off-hours so it’s not a constant thing- more like “next week we have a tight deadline, so expect to be checking email Tuesday and Wednesday night and responding as needed”). Many middle and senior managers choose to have our internal IM and email apps on our personal devices due to the nature of our jobs, but junior staff are neither required nor expected to have that. Because like Deanna Troi said, they don’t have anything important enough that it can’t wait until working hours.

          1. Deanna Troi*

            Good point, ferrina, it doesn’t say it is a personal device. If it is a work issued cell phone or iPad, then it would be easier just to text. If they’re using laptops, then email should be fine. I’m not understanding what benefit LinkedIn brings.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Making linkedin the official notification channel for call-outs / time off would be a colossally bad idea.

    4. anywhere but here*

      You need a way to communicate information that is relevant to your work with your team that doesn’t require people to have or connect a social media account. LinkedIn is a form of social media, albeit a work oriented one, and not a tool for workplace communications. I’m not familiar with Signal but WhatsApp is also not really appropriate for workplace communication. If email isn’t viable, then have your org invest in a platform (Slack or similar) that provides what you need and doesn’t require people to use accounts that are meant for their own personal use for company communications.

    5. allathian*

      You need to keep work-related communications and personal fun stuff with employees separate. Jack has the right to opt out of the latter. You aren’t excluding him if he’s opting out.

  35. LlamaDrama*

    I don’t have time to type out the whole story right now because I need to leave for work soon, but to cut a long story short, there’s been an ongoing conflict with one of my coworkers for a few months. Let’s pretend we work at a llama-grooming place. There was a pattern where I would start grooming a llama with a medium-sized brush, she’s say (often but not always in an insulting way) “you should obviously use a large brush instead”. Then I would a large brush, realize it wasn’t working but be too afraid of her reaction to go back to a medium brush, but she’d get mad at me and say “you should have realized it wasn’t working and used a medium brush.” (In her defense, sometimes I was also grooming llamas with the objectively wrong brush and she was frustrated with me about that, but even when this was the case her reactions seemed over-the-top.) This kept happening, but got worse over the last few weeks. I tried to fix things on my own, this didn’t work. She went to our managers and complained about the situation, which from her perspective is that I’m bad at grooming llamas and she can’t take the stress of having an incompetent colleague. When I was asked about it, I described the situation as objectively as I possibly could and emphasized that sometimes I was wrong, and that while I didn’t like the way she interacted with me, she was genuinely good at grooming llamas. I did, however, cry a lot, because I was feeling stressed. This was all last week.

    She was sick Monday through Wednesday this week, so we couldn’t deal with it until yesterday. (I know she was genuinely sick and not faking; there’s a nasty bug going around my workplace plus she was still coughing and congested when she came back.)

    My boss and grandboss had a private meeting with her while I was on my lunch break yesterday. When I came back, she informed me that she was quitting. She said that she had wanted to walk out there and then, in the middle of the day, but they had argued her down to working two weeks’ notice. She said she was mainly mad at boss and grandboss, not me, but I don’t know if I believe that.

    Yesterday afternoon was awkward. I tried to be at opposite ends of the room to her, but the nature of our job means working closely. It’s going to be awkward until her last day. How do I get through the next 2 weeks?

    (There is more to this story but like I said, I don’t have time to share the whole thing.)

    1. Roland*

      > How do I get through the next 2 weeks?

      By internally celebrating that every annoying thing she does is not going to happen again in 2 weeks from now. You are free! She can think what she likes and be mad at who she likes, it’s not your problem.

    2. Alex*

      Remind yourself that you didn’t do anything wrong! She decided to quit, it seems. That’s her choice. Maybe there were other issues you don’t know about. She had a lot of options, including not being rude and difficult to work with.

    3. Awkwardness*

      As others mention, you do not know what is going on in her life or how satisfied she was with her job. You might have very well been the easy outlet for her anger and frustration, but not the reason. So maybe try to believe her when she says she is not mad at you.

      Even if she was so mad at you, it would be no healthy coping mechanism to quit a job because of one co-worker. So this would be a her-problem, not a you-problem, too.
      (Mobbing/bullying might be one of the exceptions to this, but according to your description you were not aggressive/mean towards her)

    4. ecnaseener*

      Well, try to take her at her word that she’s not mad at you, because she has zero reason to be mad. She brought the issue to management, not you (you would have been justified if you did, but you didn’t!!). You were honest and even charitable in your explanation when asked about it. Your bosses then presumably said something to her along the lines of “you can’t talk to people that way, even if you feel your frustration is warranted” and she decided to resign rather than follow that direction. At no point did you wrong her in any way. Approach your remaining interactions with her on the assumption that the two of you have no hard feelings and even vague goodwill toward each other, and she’ll probably mirror that.

    5. Janeric*

      Huh. So she’s very critical and is micromanaging a peer. She complained to management that this peer is incompetent, and working with the peer is stressful. When management followed up with you, you explained that while she had more experience, she was frequently unkind and overbearing. You also had a very natural emotional reaction while talking about the issue.

      Your boss and grandboss followed up with her to communicate one of two things. Either:
      1.) Hey, the way you’re speaking to and about this employee isn’t what we expect from our staff, knock it off.
      2.) Hey this belittling and criticism is part of a pattern, and if it doesn’t stop immediately you’ll be let go.
      (This seems like good management! And your working to be objective was very useful, and made it so that they could make a reasonable decision!)

      Then either 1.) she over-reacted to some pretty reasonable behavioral correction and flounced and your bosses were probably like “that was the right decision, whew” or 2.) She opted to leave rather than try to improve and face dismissal. I don’t know that her narrative about the situation is something that you can rely on as accurate.

      The notice period is likely to be very uncomfortable but it is a defined notice period. I’d talk to my boss about transitioning and documentation of her projects — and honestly, I’d tell them if you think that she’ll make it so unpleasant that it should possibly be delegated to someone else — and I’d take the opportunity to thank them for managing for a supportive work environment. I’d also gray-rock with her — be as uninteresting and unengaged as possible. And like. If you need to take leave during the notice period for mental health reasons, I’d do it.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      She sounds like A Lot, but she is probably good practice on standing your ground. People like this want you to think that going along to get along will make them quiet down, and shut up. But it doesn’t work, and you’ve changed the way you do your work for no reason and given them more ammunition against you. There’s a certain type of jerk who can’t be appeased. So get in some practice saying “I’m fine using the medium brush thanks” and bland facing her out of existence while she has her dramatic explosions alone in the corner. Oh and I’m sure she is still going to overstep a lot, based on past patterns; pretend you’re observing a very odd type of creature or collecting anecdotes for future dinner parties. Flouncers tend to make good anecdotes.

  36. Miss Lemon*

    If you have made a career change out of teaching or tried to or worked with someone who has, what advice would you give? I would love to hear about other people’s experiences!

    I have some experience training and coaching adults and developing curriculum. I used to love teaching, but I’m so burned out, and I want to be able to earn money. Thank you!

    1. ferrina*

      Have you looked into Talent Development? It’s corporate-speak for internal professional development programs. I’m a former teacher, and I ended up for a stint in Talent Development and my teaching background was really helpful. And I made 6 figures (U.S.), so that was a nice change.

      1. Miss Lemon*

        Thank you! I hadn’t thought about that job, and it might be something I would enjoy. I’ll look into it!

    2. hope that helps!*

      I’m a curriculum designer and work with mostly former teachers — but I think it is tricky as a transition because there aren’t a ton of openings! I’m only on a limited contract and think it will be tough to find something similar after it ends.

      I have a mentor who is an instructional designer at a university. It definitely pays better than teaching, and there are lot of different positions available, at all kinds of places– universities, community colleges, hospitals, large corporations. Some of the positions are more about tech support (like helping people access their trainings more than designing the training itself), but others do involve more teacher-y skills. For example, she helps professors both put their courses online and redesign their courses to be more student-driven and less old school lecture-y.

      Another option is ed-tech — I know some adult training start-ups that employ former teachers to design curriculum and interface with customers. Tech industry hiring is weird right now because of all the layoffs, but edsurge has been a good resource for finding open positions in the past.

    3. Not a Teacher's Wife (anymore)*

      My husband moved out of teaching English to technical writing to deal with some of the burnout. It’s not perfect, but he’s much happier. Like, him being happier now than when he was a teacher literally came up as I was typing.

  37. EverydayIRefreshMyEmailForWhat*

    Okay, I need some feedback here because this has been driving me nuts all week.
    I’m a mid-level supervisor for a customer-facing position. I’ve done everything from one-to-one high profile clients to the usual retail hell, so I figured I had a pretty good read on customer expectations. Our newest hire, “Sally,” is fresh out of college but so far has been great. We had a customer come in, about the same age as Sally, walked up to my desk and said, “I need X.” I said, “Okay, here is X,” and handed it to her, at which point she walks away. No “hello,” no “thank you,” no “goodbye, have a nice day.”
    After she was well out of earshot, I turned to Sally and said something along the lines of, “Well, you’ll get rude people no matter where you work!” Sally gave me a look and said she didn’t think the customer was rude at all. We got into a conversation and Sally basically said that expecting pleasantries was “real Boomer behavior” (I’m 35 for the record) and that everyone knows everyone else is busy, and why waste time with small talk? In fact, she said young people nowadays think it’s rude to try and hold a conversation when a simple transaction will suffice.
    I’m frankly stupefied! Is this really a common thought among young people nowadays? Should I correct her? I always believed a simple “thank you” and “please” can get you a long way, but am I out of touch? I need some more perspectives here!

    1. ferrina*

      Nah, I haven’t heard Sally’s take on it ever! You should say thank you- it takes 1 second or less. Heck, sometimes I’ve yelled it over my shoulder while running to the next thing.

      That said, it’s not something you can police with customers. And complaining about customers can be a bad look. But Sally should absolutely understand that exchanging pleasantries can be an important part of customer service. People will remember a pleasant interaction just as much as (if not more than) the end result. As long as Sally knows that she needs to have pleasantries when customers want pleasantries, I’d shrug this off as a weird convo

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I dunno, we seem to see plenty of people in this website’s comments section who object to having to engage in small talk with their co-workers for one reason or another.

      Hopefully Sally won’t have to learn the hard way (that is, by alienating the people around her) that social pleasantries make the world go ’round.

      1. Ochre*

        I think “please” and “thank you” are different from ‘small talk,’ though. Small talk (to me, age 45) is “how about this weather?” “who do you think is gonna win the big game?” “Got any fun plans this weekend?” Please/thank you/you’re welcome/I appreciate it/no problem are all just courtesies that I would *expect* among co-workers and would at least hope for from customers. However, I would take the overall tone and demeanor of the customer into account before calling them ‘rude.’ People can say “please” in an astonishingly rude tone and people can accept an item and smile wordlessly (or other non-verbal indicators) so I wouldn’t say that the words are the only distinction of rude/not-rude.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        100% this. The whole schtick is too respond to the customer and meet them where they are, while maintaining their own boundaries. She was pleasant to the customer and meet their needs, what more do you want? I mean one more discussion about the weather or a “fine, thanks” isn’t going to make it break anyone.

    3. Awkwardness*

      There is a big difference between acknowledging somebody and offering basic politeness versus small talk and holding conversations. Preference for latter is not necessarily an age thing; but maybe she is too young to recognise this and really only associates it with “older people”.

      I would call out borderline rude behavior, where you only demand instead of ask because this would also influence how she would interact with me. Also, even if this was standard behavior within her circle of friends, she is likely to come across a lot of other (older) people within your company and within your customers, who will not share her opinion and get a bad impression of her.
      But it’s her call if she does not want to engage in small talk.

    4. ecnaseener*

      Sounds like either you two were talking past each other and she genuinely thought you meant you expected an actual conversation with this customer, or she was just too invested in sharing her Hot Take to consider if it made sense in context. “Hi, I need X” and “thanks, have a nice!” are not small talk, they’re greetings that add all of 2 seconds.

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      I wouldn’t have called that customer “rude,” and I think you were incorrect to characterize a direct and to-the-point interaction that way. That said, I also think that Sally is wrong and social pleasantries go a long way to make life easier and more enjoyable.

    6. Head sheep counter*

      I would find it sad if pleasantries are something that are now being dropped. But it does seem plausible in a world where being constantly on your phone even when conducting business… that there’d be a push to normalize being abrupt and well… unpleasant…

      I think that one of the lingering problems from the pandemic is that more people are feral and insular in ways that aren’t ok. Whether or not this is a permanent shift remains to be seen.

      I do think not offering even minimal pleasantries in a shop is rude.

    7. anywhere but here*

      It’s not so much an age thing as a regional thing. In some areas, the most courteous thing you can do is take as little of someone’s time/attention as possible, whereas in others nicities (ranging from “hello” to multiple sentences of small talk) are an expected part of the communication.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I don’t know about that. I’m from (and in) the Northeast, and you can be pretty friendly without taking a ton of extra time. “Howaya, lemme get a X” is not much slower than “I need X.”

        On the age front, the person I know who is the most abrupt in these situations is my mother.

      2. Bast*

        This is also true. Where I live, when asked how you are, the typical response where I live is, “Fine, thanks” or “Fine, you?” No one expects a real answer. I have been to other places where “How are you” is an actual invitation to tell a story as to how you are, and not just a social pleasantry. These also tend to be places where people stop and chat a little more — whether it is about the weather, sports, or the restaurant down the road. Where I live it would be seen as a little off base. That being said, a basic “please” and “thanks/thank you” would still be seen as a bit rude if omitted in many exchanges.

    8. Ellis Bell*

      I work with teenagers and they’re all very good at pleasantries. Sally sounds like she’s trying to make Fetch happen.

    9. anxiousGrad*

      Sally is wrong (and I’m 24, so I guess similar age to her?). Last year I lived in a country where the amount of small talk Americans use in these kinds of interactions is considered disingenuous and therefore rude (like don’t ask “How are you?” unless you actually want to hear about the person’s life). But even there that woman’s behavior would be considered rude. At the very least you should always start the conversation with “Hello” and end it with “Goodbye,” if not “Thank you, have a nice day!”

    10. cityMouse*

      As an older person, I am really tired of hearing the phrase “real Boomer behaviour” and other “Boomer” judgements. And… I’d be quite annoyed at the ageism.

      There’s nothing wrong with social graces. We need more of it, not less.

    11. Bast*

      As someone who isn’t really much of a small talk person, I believe in at least saying hello, please, and thank you. I mean, in some contexts I can see where you may not say hello, but the other two are no brainers. I can see “, I’d like an X please” *hands x* “Thanks.” I can get maybe someone doesn’t want to BS about the weather or how the Superbowl or whatever, but not dispensing with basic manners. Now, a nasty tone could change an entire encounter no matter what is being said, but that doesn’t sound like the case here. I’m in my early 30s BTW.

    12. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Not generational. Nearly everyone I know, with ages ranging from 20 to 90+ say please and thank you as basic courtesy to fellow humans and often “hallo, bye/have a good weekend”.

      However, I would consider it too intrusive to ask a stranger how they are and too chatty to discuss the weather. I just stick to very basic politeness in shops etc so I don’t waste anyone’s time.

    13. The New Wanderer*

      It sounds like Sally is mixing up basic transactional politeness (please, thank you) with small talk (how are you, how’s the weather). Maybe she thought you meant you were expecting to chat a minute socially with the customer, while you were thinking wow, this customer barely registered me as a person. Either way, she lost me at “Boomer behavior,” that’s just intended to be insulting, not contribute to a useful conversation.

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      Nope. Gen Xer here who says please and thank you, and really hates those terse people on the phone who act like they’re going to be billed for the number of words they speak in a day.

      Sally has probably ruffled a lot of feathers without knowing it…

    15. Me again*

      From the customer’s perspective I find that way of working unpleasant and stressful: I walk in and say,”HI, I need X.” and the person I was speaking to walks away, and I don’t know why! Did they go to get me some X, or ask someone else where X can be found? Did they not hear me, or think I was speaking to someone else? Did I offend them? Do they not speak English? Not work there? Do I need to ask someone else? It comes, I think from interacting with screens, rather than humans. It’s really takea no time to say: II need to find it” or “after I finish with this other oerson” or even “sorry, I don’t work in this department, but she can help you!”

  38. Managercanuck*

    I had to send out a gentle reminder to some colleagues to book their travel for an upcoming meeting. One replied that she had done so, but her closing line made me stop short. She’s older than me and we don’t interact that often so I’m 100% certain she doesn’t realize how this came across:

    “It feels so good to get your gentle nudges ”

    Dying of laughter at my desk.

    1. spcepickle*

      The bank of lights above my desk once went out. I had an older male coworker (I am middle aged female) ask me – “Do you have nocturnal needs?”
      I swear he was just wondering why the light was out – but still one of most awkwardly amusing questions I have been asked at work.

      1. Managercanuck*

        That would be one of those situations where I’d be at a complete loss as to what to say in the moment and come up with something really good afterwards…

    2. Ha!*

      I was in France and struck up a conversation with the guy on night duty at the front desk. His English was very good and my French was ok, so we spoke English. I was in my twenties and he was probably early thirties. There was definitely some flirtation on both sides, so when he said to me, “you have a baby for me,” I thought he was propositioning me. Took me a minute, but with relief I realized he meant that I was substantially younger than he was.

    3. Rage*

      I was reminded of this story just yesterday; I attended the funeral of the former coworker in question and got to talking to her son about it.

      Former coworker, let’s call her Jean, had a funny habit of starting conversations with you in her head, and then coming to you in person and continuing on from that point. And she often remembered small details and, when you wind up being thrust into the middle of a conversation that you weren’t present for the start of, it would lead to some confusion.

      So. Jean had a clock above her desk; she was short, I was tall, can I make it any more obvious? Twice a year she would ask me to change her clock (for Daylight Saving Time). So I would climb up on her desk, fetch down the clock, change it, then climb back up to replace it. Well, one year I just decided I was done with the up-and-down so I just stood on her desk, fiddling with the clock.

      Jean commented, “Wow, you sure are high up there!”

      I nodded and went about my life.

      Six months later, she comes into my office. She remembered her comment the last time; I didn’t. So she opened up with “Would you like to get high today?”

      After a few moments of stunned bafflement, it finally clicked and I chuckled as I made my way to her office, and up onto the desk.

      As I’m resetting the time on her clock, she also has a revelation: “Oh! You thought I was offering you DRUGS!”

      Yes, Jean. Yes, I did. May you rest in peace.

  39. Rara Avis*

    I’m in the middle of breast cancer treatment. I missed two weeks for my first surgery and will miss another two for a second surgery. I’m a teacher, so my classes are covered, but I teach an unusual subject, so there are no substitutes who can teach for me. I’m expected to come up with two weeks of lesson plans for my students (3 different levels) that can be done without any instruction. There’s also no one else who teaches the subject at the school.

    I went to my boss and told him that I was overwhelmed with catching up from the first absence and out of ideas for the second one. He was sympathetic, made some suggestions, but also said that it’s not okay for the students to be doing nothing for two weeks. Then I caught one of the viruses the students have been bringing to school and lost my last two days to do that planning in my classroom with access to my resources. To add to the chaos, my area had a major storm this week, and my house lost power for 36 hours.

    Everyone at work who knows about my cancer keeps offering to help, but no one can provide the kind of help I need. I don’t know what to do.

    1. trust me I'm a PhD*

      I’m also a teacher, though at a private college, not a high school. It’s not acceptable that your boss is offloading so much labor onto you in the middle of your treatment. A few possible ideas:
      * Can you go to a different boss? E.g. if you went to your department head, can you go to your principle?
      * Is there material broadly related to learning that would be useful for students to engage with? I’m thinking really broad here –– learning psychology and motivation, college applications, job applications, etc; it would benefit students in the process of becoming adults, even if it’s not related to the specific skill.
      * Can the lessons be student-run? Divvy up the class periods among student groups, assign each group to teach the others a lesson, the sub supervises. Teaching each other is a good learning strategy.
      * Maybe there’s a way that you can get life admin stuff off your plate, freeing you up to deal with the lessons. Can you have a “sub” who can make meals for you, buy groceries for you, assess homework for you, even if it’s just marking complete/incomplete?
      * How can you scale back the level of your own teaching commitments? Marking can be complete/incomplete; it’s okay if you moosh two of the levels together and use the same lessons, etc. This is a time to do “just getting by” teaching.

    2. LlamaDrama*

      Is there an educational documentary that’s relevant to your subject that your students could watch in class? I don’t know if your boss would allow it, but if he would that seems like they would at least be learning something and you wouldn’t have to make a bunch of plans while sick.

      It’s not surprising that we have burned out teachers under these circumstances.

      Good luck with your recovery. I hope that your surgery goes well.

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      When you say it’s unusual, is it that it requires a technical expertise that subs just won’t ever have (e.g. you teach Physics of Something Complicated only taught at two schools in the country) or is it unusual in some other way?

      Is there a broader teacher network you can reach out to, or someone your union might be able to connect you with (if you’re in a union), who might also teach the same subject?

      I’m so sorry you’re catching viruses on top of the surgeries! Hope the second one goes well.

      1. Rara Avis*

        A lesser-taught language so there just aren’t a lot of people around who know it. (When I went on maternity leave, for a while it looked like they wouldn’t find someone to replace me. In that case I walked away and it was their problem. In this case I’ll have to pick up pieces when I come back.) There is a broader network I can access, but a lot of their suggestions are via platforms that I haven’t used with my students.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Are there age-appropriate movies or TV shows that were made in the language you teach? Two or three days of class time could be covered by “watch this movie,” maybe with a worksheet asking a few comprehension questions at the end.

          1. Rara Avis*

            Oh gosh. I should probably just say that I teach Latin. That limits the movies/TV shows/novels available!

            1. anxiousGrad*

              I took Latin in middle and high school and as I recall, learning about ancient Roman history and culture is a very important part of the curriculum even for the AP exam. Can the lessons be focused on those aspects while you’re out, and that way it will be easier for a substitute teacher to cover it? Mary Beard just did an excellent six part podcast called “Being Roman.”

              Side note: despite having taken many more years of Latin than Norwegian, my brain kept insisting that your username was in grammatically incorrect Norwegian and therefore meant “strange newspaper” instead of “strange bird.”

              1. RVA Cat*

                Yeah most movies and shows about ancient Rome are on the hard-R rating for sex and violence.
                I did enjoy The Eagle and IIRC Channing Tatum keeps his clothes on (sigh).

            2. Indolent Libertine*

              Arma virumque cano! Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres!

              I loved my high school Latin classes and teacher. I don’t have any brilliant suggestions for you, only good wishes for successful surgery and easy recovery with a good outcome.

            3. Nightengale*

              I recall my high school Latin teacher unearthing a play with all the dialogue in classic sayings (carpe diem) etc that made for a few fun days. Unfortunately that was 1989 and I can’t find an online version. But can they do something along those lines? Write a short play in Latin? Comic strips? Translate state mottoes? Can they correct each other’s work (or the III students correct the I students’ work?) Can they read English translations of part of the Aeneid for a few days? Or even compare two different translations? If Latin II is still Julius Ceasarland, maybe watch, um, Julius Caesar. ..

            4. Awkwardness*

              I took Latin in school and found always interesting in which ways other languages were influenced. Maybe there could be workshops about words in different languages and their root in Latin?
              Or about use of Latin words in current society (medicine, law, religion)?

            5. JSPA*

              Split then in teams to translate a favorite children’s book, Winnie ille Pu-style?

              Hard to do, easy to read over afterwards.

              That, and repetitive, self-re-inforcing worksheets from some moldy old textbook. With the answer key given out at the end of class for self-correction.

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          In that case, are there any tv stations or magazines that you could direct the sub to use, eg “show such a show on Monday, give students free reading time reading such a magazine on Tuesday, etc.”

          When I cover Irish classes and don’t know what the class has been doing, I often show a show from TG4 (Ireland’s Irish language TV station). If they are a weaker group, I put on the English subtitles.

          Or are the students sufficiently advanced to do a novel? If so, you could ask the sub to get different students to read each day. Might be difficult without anybody to translate, unless there were books with notes in English giving the translations of the more difficult words.

        3. Caramel & Cheddar*

          I’m assuming your kids are in high school if you’re covering three different levels, but I’m wondering if they’re able to take what they’ve learned so far and turn it into a creative project of their choice, e.g. write children’s picture book, create a video pronunciation guide for your vocab lists, make an audiobook of some of the conversations that I assume appear in their textbook, create a short film version of those conversations, etc. Something that they might not otherwise get to do that they’ll have an opportunity to do because they get to be a bit more self-guided during the two weeks you’re out.

    4. Maggie*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. Are there other teachers that you could borrow their lesson plans? An educational series they can watch? If not maybe a note from your doctor on how you need to be off work. The principal can’t reasonably expect you to have detailed lesson plans for two weeks with your current health situation.

    5. anywhere but here*

      I don’t have any specific advice but I do want to flag that despite taking time off for your health, your boss’s expectation is that you effectively do all the work you would have done while out, just in advance. That’s fundamentally unreasonable, especially when you’re out for serious health reasons. If you were hit by a bus tomorrow, they’d have to deal, so they should figure out a way to handle your sick leave that doesn’t overload you, even if it means the students aren’t learning as much as they would if you were there.

      1. Rara Avis*

        Unfortunately, that’s par for the course in education. Lots of teachers I know come to work sick because it’s more work to make lesson plans for a substitute. I had to burn 7 sick days for asymptomatic covid last year, when I was pretty much working from home every day.

    6. Claire*

      Can you connect with other teachers of the subject online and ask for resources? I teach a subject which is quite uncommon in secondary schools and I’m in a FB group for teachers of the subject across the country. It’s pretty common for people to ask for help in situations like yours, and others will share work booklets, lesson materials etc that don’t require much effort to utilise. Alternatively, have you tried TES Resources, Teachers Pay Teachers etc for materials? They can be a real help when you don’t have time to develop something from scratch.

    7. Squirrels! Squirrels!*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this and I agree your boss is being unreasonable, but…

      Is it a subject taught in college? There are so many free (no credit) college courses now. Could they watch videos from that? Some even have assignments. Are there videos on it on YouTube they could watch? Are there homeschool curricula on the subject: they’re usually self teaching. Is it a topic on Khan Academy? The students could do the videos and assignments independently. What about Coursera or another learning platform? Many public libraries have free access to learning platforms. In my area the school district will set the students up with public library cards. Could the students go to the school library and research the subject you’re teaching and do a project or write a paper that will take them 2 weeks to work on it?

    8. DefinitiveAnn*

      When I was in HS, a thousand years ago, my Trig/Analytic Geometry teacher was out for 6-8 weeks after a heart attack. We were in a city with a large university, so they reached out the math department. Doctor Bell was retired, so they had her come in and teach (for pay). However, she was not certified to teach, so another math teacher, who taught the other classes, sat in the room as the teacher of record.

      Somebody needs to do some creative thinking about this. But not you. It’s some BS that this is on your plate.

    9. Just Me*

      Former Teacher here. First I am so sorry. What would they do if you were unable to communicate at all? Thats what they should do now. Extra math support, counseling lessons that never get done, time to write college essays( if high school), extra instrument practice for band/orch/ choir, extra art time, extra PE- whatever! Get those kind teachers that want to help to provide lessons on whatever subject they teach.

      Your principal is completely callous. I would say “I really tried to come up with plans but with the exhaustion and acute illness on top of having cancer I just cannot get two weeks of lessons for three preps done before my next cancer treatment. I am sure you understand.” Then I would reach out to HR about FMLA. You might miss more than the two currently planned weeks. Again, so sorry. Take care of yourself first.

    10. M2*

      I am sorry you’re going through this. I’m surprised, can’t the sub use your lesson plans? When I go on leave I have to come up with a plan (or curriculum if you’re a teacher) and send/ go over with someone before I go on a long leave.

      If it’s an emergency, I always have some sort of outline of what to do for the next at least month. I ask everyone on my team to do something similar and if any of them go on a long leave we go over things weeks ahead of time. If it’s an emergency then we all have something easy to find and we need to know what’s up. I had someone who was out for a 3 month medical leave and they had no warning but it was fine because we could easily access their files with their next months plans and could go from there. The #1 priority was this person’s health.

      My MIL was a teacher and showed me her extensive lesson plans she had throughout her career. She shared them with colleagues and the subs used them when she was out (she had a few surgeries and was out for long periods). Do they not do that now? Does your district/ school have a language curriculum supervisor who could help?

      Can you ask your principal to reach out to a college and ask the classics department if there are any retired professors who might want to sub or if they have any easy plans they would be willing to share? Or if a student graduated with a classics degree they might want to substitute while you’re away to see if they like being a teacher.

      Can they do a group project together in the two weeks?

      Does the college board have any AP Latin help on their website?

      Any Facebook groups or college classic groups you could reach out to for ideas/ help?

      This is something I just found on Reddit from googling

      Sending good energy your way

    11. Fellow Teacher* has several articles on ancient Greece and Rome with comprehension questions. Free and easy to use, printable as PDFs with answer keys. Type up one simple lesson plan telling the sub to take attendance, pass out the article, and possibly go over it using the answer key. Print out five articles, one for each day, and you have the first week covered. Use that for all three levels. You might create some sort of summary/synthesis writing assignment, or find some printable Greek and Latin roots worksheets online. There’s a lot of room between “leaving the kids with nothing to do” and spending a lot of time making very thoughtful and creative plans. Your boss and whoever covers the class just need something clear and simple to keep the students somewhat productively occupied.
      If the school wants them to learn as much Latin as they would have with you there, they can try to hire someone who knows Latin or look into online class options. Not something you should be worried about while you’re having surgery!

    12. Lbd*

      As I am sure you know, Latin is used a lot in fields such as medicine, biology and botany. What if the students were assigned a project to design a garden based on some kind of pop cultural reference? Inspired by high level garden shows, I have always wanted to design a Dr. Seuss themed garden, with weird topiary trees and fantastically shaped adobe walls. Suggest some possible themes like a tv show or movie (Barbie garden?), favourite sports team, musical performer or song. Then choose plants by latin names, as well as figure out surfaces and features.
      A fellow teacher who has a bit of interest in gardening may be able to set this up in a more substantial way for the class to work on for a couple of lessons. They could use seed catalogues, either paper or online, which usually list the Latin names in the plant descriptions. Borrow gardening books that are heavy on plant selections as opposed to designing decks? Perhaps they could even mark the students’ work? I know that I have learned, for example, that aureus means golden, because plants with aureus in the name usually have yellowish or golden leaves.
      I wish you all the best for your next treatment, and a restful recovery period with no stress!

    13. PX*

      First off, I think your boss is an ass. I know it’s education, but being a boss should mean picking up the slack in a case like this to help figure out a solution rather than leave it all up to you. Its giving “helpless incompetence so no one asks me to do anything vibes”.

      Having said all that, while Latin probably isn’t super common, I would try reaching out to as wide a network as possible to ask for help or resources that kids can self learn. I’m thinking online courses that already exist (eg in the UK the Open University has Latin courses – could you get kids to do something from there), a local (or not so local) university who could send a TA or materials that you could use, someone who has recorded Zoom lectures from COVID times.

      It probably feels hard and like a lot, but quite frankly, on the whole, people want to help each other. I think just reaching out to anyone and everyone who might be able to help (maybe an old professor or the university where you studied?) and also committing to only doing the bare minimum is an acceptable solution.

      but also your boss is an ass.

  40. anon for this*

    I’d appreciate some advice on an employee I’m struggling to manage. She is very dedicated and invested in her job, which is a good thing, but it frequently takes the form of taking setbacks very personally. She will be openly frustrated, sometimes to the point of tears, about a report not coming out right or a colleague not turning in their part of a project. She feels personally slighted due to miscommunications from other departments – and in those cases, she’s usually right that she should have been consulted, but the reaction is outsized. She will spend hours, even days, hunting down immaterial discrepancies. She is genuinely overburdened in her workload, but rebuffs all of my efforts to get her to hand off parts of her job to a more junior member of the team (who has the capacity to spare).

    I’m pretty sure the high stakes with which she approaches things is not coming from me – if anything, I’ve struggled to get her to let things go, and to impress on her that sometimes “done” is preferable to “perfect.”

    The thing is, the work she does is superb. I value her meticulousness, and rely on her judgment in helping make policy choices. And the things she gets upset about, she’s usually right about how things should have been done – but I’m finding it exhausting managing her emotions, and I’m worried she’s going to burn out. What can I do?

    1. ferrina*

      More info needed. How have your conversations gone so far? What have you told her needed to change, and how has she taken it?

      1. anon for this*

        At the last performance review, I discussed trying to hand off some of her workload, and she was resistant – agreeing in principle but refusing to identify any tasks that could actually be handed off. I discussed her resistance to change, and she agreed to work on it, but I haven’t seen any improvement.

        As for the general emotional fragility/taking the work personally, I haven’t brought that up, because I don’t know the appropriate language to use. That’s a lot of what I’m asking for help with.

        1. ferrina*

          Ooh, this sounds tough.

          I’d tackle the workload first- “I crunched the numbers, and you have too high a workload. I want to redistribute that- you are too valuable to waste on burn out. You also don’t currently have any time to devote to growth, and I want both you and these projects to be able to grow. By removing some of these responsibilities, we’ll be make the space for you to take on higher level work if you want. But right now, I want to get this down to a reasonable level. Here’s what I want to take off of your plate, and here’s the list of things that you will continue being responsible for. [Hopefully you can add: “I think This will allow you to build out X like we’ve been hoping”, so she can see it as an opportunity for growth]. What do you think? Is this the right balance?”
          If she tries to add something back to her responsibilities, then force her to remove a different responsibility. One in, one out (or whatever equation makes sense). It can help to break out each of the responsibilities by hours so she can see the calculus.
          Then give her a deadline. SOPs due by X date. Training with Person Now Handling Task by Y date. New Person Completely Takes Over by Y+1 week. Then you surreptisiously check in with New Person at Y+2 to make sure that New Person is doing the job, and not your person that needs to stop.

          Next, tackle the perfectionism. I assume this is a job where perfectionism isn’t necessary. Say “I want things done 98% right. Not 100%- the last 2% doesn’t have ROI in our line of work, and that time is better spent elsewhere.” Again, position it as her reinvesting that time in growth, not her doing something wrong.

          You can also set time limits on how long she spends tracking things down- at my work, I have a rule that if you spend more than 10 minutes looking through my files, you reach out to me. That way you don’t waste time, and I get you what you need. “If you spend more than 30 minutes looking for something, check with me. I will confirm whether or not that’s the priority. My job as your boss is to protect your time so you can be as productive as possible and not waste time with things that won’t matter.”

          For not taking things personally- I like to frame it as customer service. I don’t work in customer service per se, but a big part of my job is to be approachable. This means constantly cultivating a welcoming environment. People know that if they miss an email from me, I’ll gently follow up. I say “no worries, sounds like your team was slammed this week!” And because they feel validated and heard, they are more likely to respond to my next email, or my next request for help, etc. Grace can be a business investment. Most people don’t think of it as such, but I have literally gotten promotions and custom roles created for me partially because of my ability to be approachable and easy to work with. Coach her through when to escalate issues with colleagues and when to let it ride. If you can tell she’s frustrated, gently say “hey, I can tell you’re frustrated with this. Having people run late is going to be a part of our profession; what separates the great [Profession] from the good [Profession] is how they handle it. How can we handle this in a graceful way that both gets us what we need and builds our connection with our collaborators?”
          Basically put “building the relationship” on the same level as “completing the work” (yes, there’s times to torch the relationship for the sake of the work, but she’s not at the point to have the discussion). Show her that nurturing relationships is a long-term approach, while only focusing on the work only gets short-term results. Talk her through strategies to build relationships. (i.e., if I can tell you’re visibly frustrated, other people will too. Do you need to take a quick walk to calm down? This email can wait 10 minutes.)

          If your boss or HR is any good, I might ask them for some advice as well. For HR, you can pose this as a BurnOut Risk that you are trying to mitigate. If they aren’t any good, don’t bother, but sometimes HR can have strategies tailored for your specific situation.
          Good luck!

    2. Also anon*

      I managed a very similar employee recently. There were a couple things that I found that helped.

      If the employee is open to feedback, then doing the thing that Allison so often suggests – naming the overall behavior specifically and trying to address that and how it impacts folks is a great place to start.

      Beyond that, I really focused on reducing the impact their emotions had others. We talked specifically about professional relationships and collaboration being a key job function and that if they needed to vent, that I was the safe space to do that as their manager. One of the mantras that I use personally as a recovering perfectionist, and encouraged this employee to use is to focus on what is going to get me the best outcome, not being right. There are no points for being “right” at work.

      And then what helped me the most was coming to terms with the fact that I can’t be responsible for managing their emotions. I can do the best I can to set them up for success, but ultimately it’s not my responsibility and just letting go of that helped so much for my own mental health, I will say that I definitely worked on this with the help from my therapist, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to get there on my own. I know that might sound harsh or uncaring, and I don’t necessarily think that way with all of my employees, but with this particular, one, really all I could do was let go at a certain point.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Did your employee come from an environment where she was blamed for every error that occurred within a mile of her? As a woman who has worked in male ruled organizations, I was blamed for everything and it took a whole year at a new org to shake off my conditioned behavior. If Bob was sick for a week and didn’t turn in his TPS report, that was my fault for not knowing Bob was out. If Ted didn’t feel like turning in his TPS report, my fault. If the printer broke, my fault. Time doesn’t loop backward to allow recordings of meetings a year before I started, my fault.
      When I started my current job, I was working with a larger team on projects with many tricky timelines. Since I was the last person in project flows, I felt everything was my responsibility and I would be personally held responsible if there was any delay. I was stressing myself because I seemed to be the only one feeling the pressure.
      In my case, the entire organization understands that there are legitimate reasons for delays, but I wasn’t able to morph into their way of working. I had to have a frank discussion with my current boss about what I was actually responsible for.
      This may be what you need to do with your employee. Let her know that you understand that some parts of projects are outside of her control, and all you expect her to do in those situations is to create a new plan with the new information, and communicate the new timeline.

  41. anon24*

    I’m a cis female in my early 30s seeking advice on figuring out an office wardrobe when I’ve worn uniforms my entire working life and am incredibly fashion ignorant. I don’t even understand what business casual or business professional is, and I live in jeans and hoodies outside of work. I don’t even really understand what working people wear or where to start looking. I’m in college in the tech field now and will probably be starting an internship in the near future. The thought of trying to dress for an interview and dress for the office stresses me out more than the thought of actually interviewing and interning! So any advice or resources are welcomed!

    1. Roland*

      Tech like software engineering? Do you feel comfortable sharing your general area? In Seattle and SF, expectations are very low for software engineers. For an interview, a nice sweater or blouse over any kind of “nice” pants (including nice jeans, no holes and well-fitting) is a safe choice. And in the office, jeans and hoodies are common and you’ll fit right in. This is all for “tech companies”, I’m not sure what the vibe is for say a software engineer at a bank.

      1. anon24*

        My degree will be in computer science: cybersecurity concentration. So I could end up in an internship with any company really, I’ve heard that there’s a lot of companies that take interns from the cybersecurity program (I haven’t yet transferred into it, I’m finishing up at community college first and will transfer over. Near future is more like next winter, but I want to start aquiring a business wardrobe now). As for location, I’m in Tennessee. I’m worried about going too casual, but I don’t want to overdress!

        1. Roland*

          Gotcha. I think you should see if your program is able to connect you with recent grads or former alums, since it’s hard to say if “schlubby west coast engineer vibes” or “regular company outside the west coast vibes” win out in this situation. And as Alison often says, college career centers may or be giving great or terrible advice and it’s hard to know which, so someone in the field in your area is best.

        2. kt*

          Well, the most accomplished cybersecurity ppl I know vary from black jeans and grey t-shirts to purple hair, mohawks, semi-goth, hoodies all the time, or middle-aged mom (stereotype, as certainly middle-aged moms can wear any of the above). Delightfully, you are in a field where dress code is less rigid than many.

          Channeling some of the tropes of the field can be helpful. So a black turtleneck like Steve Jobs can be good code (it worked for Elizabeth Holmes haha), or for some jobs, a t-shirt from a local (or national) conference, perhaps under a knit blazer to gesture at formality. Otherwise go for generic business-casual-plus for the interview. Reddit has some decent guidance, let me see if I can find the right place.

        3. IT Manager*

          Hi from a fellow female Cybersecurity worker! I’m now in management, but the “uniform” I wear has worked for everything from Board meetings to crawling around data centers running cable:

          – black pants (or dark jeans post-pandemic)
          – “nice” black t-shirt, scoop necked
          – 3 patterned blazers, 2 lightweight button up sweaters (Eg not black, or you have to try and match the pants like a suit)
          – black loafers or flats

          Dress this up with earrings for meetings, otherwise just grab one of each from the closet each day and so far (25 years) this has been my best pattern. I used to stress about it all the time while my male peers wore slacks and button downs, or suits, or hoodies…. This combo works everywhere for me.

    2. helpless little turtle*

      I don’t know what sector of the “tech” field you’re in – that’s pretty broad. In my engineering experience, jeans and plain t-shirts or plaid button-up shirt would work. It depends how much you’re working with equipment, or sitting at a desk doing software. For an interview, I’d do a plain-coloured button up shirt and dress pants. Dress pants are like suit pants, but in plain fabric; google “dress pants women”, and “suits women”, and you’ll get ideas; make sure the pants aren’t too tight like skinny jeans, nor too loose. I can’t advise you wear to buy, because stores vary by country. So, then spend a day at a mall, go in to all the clothing stores and ask for that. Buy a pair in a dark-ish colour, and a plain button-up shirt.

      1. anon24*

        Sorry, I wasn’t sure how specific to get! I’ll be interning for cybersecurity hopefully, although I know theres quite a lot of companies around here who take cybersecurity interns. I still have time, I’m currently in community college working on my gen eds and pre-reqs and then next spring I transfer to the 4 year school to really start the program, but I’ve been realizing that I really should start figuring out a wardrobe before the time comes and I’m left staring at my sweatpants and jeans in horror.

    3. EverydayIRefreshMyEmailForWhat*

      Look through sites like Ann Taylor or Loft for ideas on what’s considered business casual nowadays. In general, a modest blouse or top and a pair of slacks will take you far in a lot of environments, and can be dressed up or down to match what the company culture is. For example, throw a blazer over it and you’re now formal enough for most interviews, but trade the slacks for jeans for something more casual. A pair of flats in a neutral color like black are a must and I like to look through DSW for their selections, but some tech companies are okay with sneakers. I think being over-dressed is almost always better than being under-dressed, and it’s easier to scale back than dress up, so shoot for more conservative business and then adjust as you learn more about your company’s specific culture. Just some general advice I’ve picked up through the years.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      This might sound weird but hear me out — the dress code website for LDS female missionaries actually has some really good examples of office-appropriate attire for female-identifying folks. (And they actually have a decent range of ages, sizes and skin colors in their example pictures as well.)

      Some of what they suggest may be a little more conservative than a particular individual wants – for example, they tend to suggest knee-length skirts where above-the-knee might not be entirely inappropriate. But nothing they are suggesting is likely to trap you in the “but J C Penney said that cold-shoulder cutout tops are business wear!” dilemma, and at the same time nothing they’re suggesting is excessively conservative; they don’t require pantyhose, it’s not all turtlenecks and ankle-length prairie skirts and special underwear, etc.

      The name of the webpage is “Guidelines for Sisters” and it’s google-able if you search for “Dress code for female LDS missionaries”.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        That site suggests clothing that is way more formal than what you see in my business casual office. We would call that business semi-formal.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It’s pretty much bang-on for the business casual folks I work with. *shrug*

        1. RagingADHD*

          I would have thought so, too, and then I went to look. They’re perfectly fine, standard-looking outfits – an assortment of slacks, tops, skirts or dresses you could get at any midrange or discount retailer.

          They’re actually a little more casual than my office that is supposedly business casual. But I work in the legal department of a bank now, so it’s always going to be more formal than average.

          1. connie*

            Your point about the accessibility of the clothes is a good one. LDS missionaries are stereotypically in their late teens and early 20’s so they would be a good age analog for the OP.

            The other thing is, missionaries can expect to walk or bike miles a day and be called upon to help out with chores or whatnot, so the clothes need to allow them to move relatively freely. For someone doing a tech internship that might require moving around places, crawling under desks, etc. that can be useful to keep an eye on.

            I’ve known a lot of missionaries, including women, and I think especially the women’s clothes can read as “churchy” but not work inappropriate, especially if the internship is in Tennessee or another Southern state.

    5. spcepickle*

      If you are west coast I highly recommend dresses with leggings. Get leggings where you can’t see the pockets with the dress you wear. Because of the leggings the length of the dress does not mater (but don’t go super long unless you want the missionary look, mid calf to mid thigh). I do simple colors (always black leggings, always solid color dresses – I get mine from Eddie Bauer or lands end). When I want “professional” I wear a cardigan with flats. When I am in my office (which I am the boss of but it is a casual place) I do 1/4 zip polar fleece and sneakers.

      The whole thing is comfortable, the materials are stretchy, I only buy dresses with pockets. You can add pattern and / or color as it works for you.

      The east coast is more formal and the south does not always need the same layers – so vary based on location.

    6. anywhere but here*

      Knowledge of fashion isn’t a workplace requirement. Nice pants (slacks) + nice top + perhaps a jacket/blazer is all you really need. If you have any mentors or helpful professors, they can give you good advice and want to be helpful. It’s very reasonable to want some explicit guidance around dress norms that are typically communicated implicitly!

    7. Sharpie*

      If you just want to up your style game overall, I can recommend watching some of the style channels on YouTube – Alyssa Beltempo, Audrey Coyne and Christine Mychas are really good, as is Emily Wheatley and Daria Andronescu. They talk a lot about capsule wardrobes, but also cover finding your own personal style and various other great style ideas and concepts.

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      You sound like me 35+ years ago! I had been in uniforms for my first job, then went into finance. I just tried to make a work ‘uniform’ that I wouldn’t have to think about. So jeans or slacks or comfy skirt with a tee/sleeveless top/turtleneck with a cardigan over that. Or a casual stretchy dress with a cardigan. Either sandals, boots or some kind of flat depending on the season/weather.
      I get a lot of my clothes at thrift/consignment shops and just sort of built up my wardrobe gradually.
      Good luck!

    9. WestsideStory*

      If you are in US, Talbots has quality pants and tops and jackets that can match and make a suit type outfit for interviews.
      The clothes are good quality so not cheap. However, once you find a style and size to fit you, you can get second hand exact same pants on Poshmark. Or re-order the same style and color when they have a sale online. I’m a hard fit and this has really upped my game. (they also sell jeans and very nice accessories.)

    10. also fashion unaware*

      Sounds like me, except I didn’t work first :) In my internship days, the dress code was mostly business casual. I wore short sleeve golf shirts (basically t-shirts with a collar and 2-3 buttons) or dress shirt if it was winter or a more formal place. In winter, I also wore an undershirt under the dress shirt, or a knit sweater on top. For bottoms, I had dark slacks or black jeans if they looked enough like slacks. I used a pair of black dress shoes, black boots (winter) or dark sneakers if it was a more casual place.
      For interviews, I mainly wore a dress shirt, slacks, and those black dress shoes.

    11. Cordelia*

      I’m a nurse, now working in a non-clinical management role after years of wearing a uniform. I have just created my own work uniform instead! I wear dress pants, I’ve found a brand that fit, are comfy, look smart enough and don’t bag at the knees after a few hours, and I have multiple pairs of those in black and grey. On top I wear a patterned blouse or fitted t-shirt in fairly muted colours, with a non-baggy cardigan if it’s chilly, which it rarely is in our workplace. I wear plain (non-visibly branded) sneakers because I walk a lot, and because I work in a hospital that’s the norm anyway.

    12. ItVaries*

      it’s going to be very dependent on the company. It could range from a dress code of you have to get dressed to specific rules like no jeans, no sneakers, no X, Y at least Z long, etc. The best way to figure out what’s normal at a company is to check out what r as nfom people in the office are wearing when you interview (ask for a tour – I recommend thisanyway, but it will also give you the opportunity to observe more people).

      If you’d like a more casual environment, choose one – you can weigh all sorts of factors into your employment decisions.

  42. executive functioning woes*

    Hi all! I’m having a lot of executive functioning issues related to work. Examples include being able to refocus when I’m interrupted, remembering to do steps 2 and 3 of a task after I am done with step 1, and prepping for meetings I need to lead in a reasonable amount of time. Does anyone have any organizational apps, tricks, tips, advice to offer? I really need to get better at this.

    1. ferrina*

      Do you have a health condition that impacts executive functioning? Is this a new thing, or has it been going on for a while in various forms? I’m ADHD, and everything you list can be really common for ADHD. A diagnosis isn’t a silver bullet, but can help you focus your strategies.

      That said- maybe check in with ADHD resources for tips on executive functioning. There’s a ton of tips that come out of the ADHD community, since it’s something we’ve all struggled with forever. I’ve had to compensate so much for my ADHD that now I’m considered one of the most organized people in my office! I love How To ADHD channel on YouTube- she’s got some really well-researched tips, and her videos are really well-organized.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      For remembering to do steps 2 and 3 of a task, I’ve just started making really specific to do lists that deliberately spell out even the most minor tasks so that I remember to do them. Sometime I don’t need the reminder, but it’s there for me to check off to confirm whether or not I did the thing.

      In my work, I write a lot of reports that then need to be uploaded somewhere and tested. I work on the reports themselves often in tandem because I might need to pause while I wait for more information, etc. so it can be hard to remember if I’ve uploaded/tested them even once they’re done. So I literally just added “Upload” and “Test” tasks to my to do lists for each report so that I can see at a glance if I’ve actually done those things. It sounds super basic/obvious/whatever, but it helps a lot, especially if I’m coming back to something after a few days of not working on it.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      I live and die by my kanban board. I have a real one in my home office with post it notes and a digital one I made up in google drive.

      Upcoming/To Do/ Doing / Waiting (on someone/thing else)/ Done are my columns.

      Being able to say “ok this is what i am doing”, and then move it into waiting (ie program is running will finish in an hour or I sent draft now waiting for reply with edit requests) really helps my workflow. Then at start of day, immediately after lunch and end of day I check the board. Stuff in waiting, is it still waiting or does it need to move back to To Do? Stuff in Done, did I get any feedback or can I delete that list off (usually on Fridays, nice to see everything done in a week!). Upcoming, helps me remember to follow up – Jan said she’d have new datasets for me soon, what happened to those….

    4. RagingADHD*

      Sounds like you are having trouble with working memory, which is very common when tired, stressed, or going through hormonal changes. I have chronic working memory weakness, and as a result I have to operate somewhat as if past-me, now-me, and future-me are three different people. An interruption or threshold moment like finishing a step are almost like I am leaving and this other person is going to have to take over for me.

      (Not literally. I will remember that I was supposed to do the thing eventually. But “eventually” may not be good enough.)

      What I have found that helps a lot is to create concrete, visible (or better, tangible) prompts for future-me: Post its, a pad of paper, checklists, and / or pattern interrupts like turning things sideways or placing them on my keyboard or chair where they are in my way.

      When interrupted, make yourself say “one second” and then place your prompt.

      If you’re typing something when interrupted, put a searchable note in the text. I use [START HERE] or anything in brackets, because I never have a need to use square brackets otherwise and they will be the only search result. If they would otherwise occur in your work, use something else.

      These also help save time when you know you were working on Project X last week, but you can’t recall exactly where you left off. Makes for less hunting about and duplicating effort.

      Think about what kind of visible breadcrumb trail you’d leave for someone if you were going to suddenly go home in the middle of the day, and they had to complete what you were working on.

  43. Cacofonix*

    What workplace professional norms did you find interesting or hard to get used to when working in a different country or region from your own? There was a question in the last couple of weeks that triggered this interest. Whether it’s super focus of hierarchical deference in Japan, employee work balance, flexibility and parental benefits in some European countries or the insane working hours in South Korea, what have you learned on the ground?

    It was some years ago so this is dated, but I found Australia to be years behind Canada in gender equality when I worked there in the early aughts, including calling women Sheila or bird at work, even by women. I was gobsmacked by this. I hope it’s different now.

    1. Roland*

      As a software engineer, most jobs I applied to in my last job search were fully remote and didn’t want to exclude big software talent states with their pay transparency laws at various parts of the process, so most roles either had a range posted, or the recruiter would tell me when I asked. I’ve been very spoiled by this! I’m now searching in another country where the recruiters ask for your number and you just need to give an answer, and I hate it. I did have a phone screen for a role with an international company where the recruiter was based in the US even though the role is not, so he didn’t get the cultural memo and just told me the salary range, which was nice.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I started at a defense contractor in the US, then we diversified and spent time in Russia and France.

      The drinking. My oh my, the drinking.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        A long time ago I worked with a lot of Australians. I’ve never seen anyone, other than Russians, drink like that before. Absolutely epic levels of alcohol consumption.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Heh, I remember a Zadie Smith essay about going to Italy with her dad, and finding this little beer garden type place popular with tourists. She said it was such a relief to “be able to drink British amounts of alcohol without people looking at you pityingly.”

    3. Honor Harrington*

      I was once caught in the middle between a very New-York executive male, and a very Southern belle executive female. I about died laughing when she was complaining about how abrupt he is and finished up with “why, he never even asks about my mama!”

  44. MiddleManagerHotWater*

    My workplace is situated in a diverse city that consistently votes blue. My team discusses politics like any other talking point (ie: sports, weather). I am mentioning age demographics and political affiliation because it really matters for this conflict. When Biden announced his run for re-election, several of my Millennial/Gen Z (MG) direct reports said they were deeply unhappy with this choice because of Biden’s age. A few Boomers/Gen X’ers took this as an ageist statement that made them distrustful their younger co-workers would treat them fairly. One Boomer, in particular, initiates political conversation the most. The MG’s said that comments on Biden’s age are political comments that are published in major news sources. The Boomers were steadfast that Biden is their candidate and he’s mentally fit. This was getting so heated that I issued a new rule to avoid politics during this election year. Things were really bad still for a few weeks, then they got better. With the Special Counsel Report announced this week, nobody has discussed anything at work, but the tension is palpable. I know discussing politics in the first place was a mistake, if I could go back in time and stop it when it started, I would. Since I can’t, how can I improve this going forward? It is months until the election and this conversation is unlikely to phase out on it’s own.

    1. Head sheep counter*

      It was an ageist statement and given the use of Boomer here… I wonder if your whole office is giving ageist vibes?

      Something can both be in the public domain and be discriminatory. Particularly at work. Privately we can all have concerns about all kinds of things… but at work… its not a great look.

      1. New Mom (of 1 6/9)*

        I don’t think it’s necessarily ageist to use the word Boomer, especially when plenty of other generational names are present in the comment. In this context it’s purely descriptive.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      This thread may get deleted as “no politics” but I totally agree and this has been a pet peeve of mine. Somebody simply being old is not the issue. We all know loads of super smart old people. Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are/were examples of that. People should say what is in particular that bothers them.

      You do need to reiterate a strict “no politics” discussion in the next team meeting. I think you’re hinting that the team “should” all agree based on how they vote, but that’s not usually true. I learned than in the last few elections. People know I follow economics and news at large and I can’t tell you how many coworkers came to me at lunch or when we were alone, usually working late, to tell me they disagreed with their coworkers on issues but didn’t want to get into it. I became the go-to person for that because people knew I would know the issue they were talking about, and then it became a whole thing of convincing the manager of that adjacent team that their people didn’t actually all agree. etc. And on the outside, they “should” agree with eachother. Why let this sort of tension build?

    3. Future*

      I would just like to point out, though it’s not really answering your question, that Biden and Trump are essentially the same age (Biden is only four and a half years older).

      I only point this out because it’s recently come to my attention that a lot of people don’t know this and it looks to me that the “old man Biden” schtick from, presumably his opponents, seems to be working.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I could be wrong but I got the impression that the younger colleagues wanted a younger (and perhaps more liberal) Democrat candidate rather than that they were supporting Trump. Especially as yeah, Trump is a similar age and MiddleManagerHotWater has said they are in a blue city.

        I assumed it was a centrist older employees versus more liberal/left-wing younger colleagues who want to see more diversity in politics instead of just two older white men running against each other.

    4. anywhere but here*

      I don’t think mentioining concern about the oldest president we’ve ever had (when he was elected the first time) getting elected a second time is per se ageist. Lots of not great things correlate with advanced age, and the presidency is a massive responsibility. I doubt the stress of the job is good for anyone’s health.

      That being said, it sounds like you’ve banned the topic so that it doesn’t have to “phase out on its own”? If anyone is worried about workplace discrimination, make it clear to them that it is unacceptable and what the avenues for recourse are if they feel they’ve been discriminated against. I don’t think commenting on an 80+ year old’s fitness for the highest office of the land qualifies, but it’s best to just avoid politics generally anyway.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        I think the issue is always blaming it on age instead of the actually criticism. Looping it back to work, you wouldn’t say “you’re old!” You’d say “it’s been taking you a month to do those regulatory reports that you used to get out in a week. What’s happening?”

        Or whatever the crux of the issue is. That way your “older” employees aren’t thinking you will just them harshly purely due to their age

    5. K8T*

      Not looking to start a topic on this but just to give context to my viewpoint
      – I 100% agree with the “younger” folks IRT Biden and I voted for him last time. I don’t think it’s ageist to say an elderly person may not have all their mental faculties as that’s just what the human body eventually does.

      The tension will come and go in waves especially with more primaries/debates/etc. If it really becomes disruptive then you should reiterate that they need to leave their opinions at home, otherwise I’d just do my best to ignore it and carry on. I live and work in a purple city and office, we are all close and discuss many things but politics very rarely comes up because we all recognize it’s inappropriate and that we all will not all agree. Genuinely hope everyone settles down for the rest of the year as I’m sure they don’t like that atmosphere either – good luck!

    6. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’m a boomer and thankfully retired since age 63. Such remarks wouldn’t offend me, as I think we should generally move aside and let the younger folk have the career opportunities we did at their age – the generation above me didn’t stick around and block my advancement.

      I’ve been baffled why US presidential candidates have been so old the last several years, with such a large population and presumably a much bigger pool of talent than we have (UK/Europe).
      Most people after 60 have less energy to pull all-nighters during a crisis. Also, after age 60, there is risk of the early stages of dementia being missed, affecting capability and judgement at crucial times (Probably Mrs Thatcher, also Reagan?).
      UK PMs are normally in their 40s and 50s and it’s been widely commented how most have noticeably aged after 1-2 terms in office.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Just a note — Margaret Thatcher was in her 50s when she became Prime Minister. She may have made mistakes, but a lot of younger PMs have made mistakes through inexperience, so it really doesn’t matter which age you come in at, we’re all human beings. 40 is probably the lowest age you can become a credible leader if you’re really driven to it, but 50-60 is probably the age at which you have the most credibility and experience and those traits intersect with enough actual energy to be able to function in the pretty much 24/7 role.

        I agree that 70+ is pushing it a bit, though.

    7. Awkwardness*

      If retirement would be around 65, your Boomers would be around 60-65. Gen X would be 45-60 (at least according to Wikipedia).
      In my mind it is a huge leap to take the opinion about 81 year old Biden and his abilities to be President as a judgement about themselves in their work environment. But it is not clear to me why your older employees would take that as a sign that they might not be treated fairly by the younger ones. Are they drama queens or is there actually something about the way the generations in your office interact with each other?
      Maybe not the political talk is the outlet of a deeper problem and not the problem in itself?

  45. Mr Gee*

    I was recently disciplined in my office work place for two separate breaches of the company dress code. This came about after the company upgraded the dress code and the breaches I had were just for wearing incorrect footwear and on another occasion for not wearing a tie. I did not do either of these deliberately, they were just lapses following the upgrade of the dress code.

    This is the first time in 40 years of employment where I’ve been disciplined for anything. At the disciplinary meeting I attended with my manager and an HR representative, my manager said that she accepted that the two breaches were minor but also very careless on my part and not adhering to company policies is a matter that is taken seriously.

    I was given a warning and my manager stated that if I have any further breaches, she will then further discipline me and this could lead up to a final written warning and then termination.

    I’m now being extra careful in fully adhering to the dress code, though do you feel this is a bit harsh or is she being fair with the discipline procedures?

    1. octfoos*

      well, I think dress codes are silly, but the process seems fair, so long as it’s applied to everyone. What’s the next discipline step? It doesn’t sound like “one more breach and you’re out”. But fairness or not aside, this is where you work. Do you have a desk? Stick spare tie/shoes in there. Or, pick the same suit, and in the morning, pick a new shirt/tie and just wear the same thing each day.

    2. Sherm*

      Yeah, it feels pretty harsh to me, unless a safety issue is at play. If they have been having trouble getting people to follow the new code, maybe your manager was feeling frustrated and you were the unfortunate target.

    3. Sleepy in the stacks*

      This is overly harsh for such minor infractions. The wrong shoes and not wearing a tie are such little things, especially during the learning curve of a new policy. These should have been reminders the first few times.

      I can’t ever imagine firing someone over dress code violations unless they were extremely frequent to the point where it just feels like a joke to the employee, or the person was wearing super inappropriate clothing to work a few times.

      1. Mr Gee*

        I completely agree with you and this could have easily been dealt with by reminders. Others might take a different view but I felt it was harsh on me particularly as it was just small lapses after the policy was recently upgraded.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Honestly my first thought was “they’re trying to push you out.” Because I find this ridiculously minor unless the entire company is regularly lapsing and they’re all getting the same series of warnings.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yikes. Those people seem really rigid.

      I hate to give you advice that I was given when I was in Catholic high school 40 years ago, but always keep a backup tie in your locker. Er desk. Desk.

    5. Honor Harrington*

      That seems pretty harsh. Is there any chance they are looking for a reason to get rid of you and using this as an excuse?

      1. Mr Gee*

        Not that I’m aware of! I haven’t been in any trouble before, the manager hasn’t been with us for that long so she has maybe just gone over the top! I’m taking good care with it now so hopefully I won’t have any further issues.

        1. pally*

          Agree that this seems excessively punitive for something so minor. The comments outlining escalated punishments should you ‘dress wrong’ again seem very harsh. Out of line even. This isn’t like you messed up a work task causing a major company expense or failed to meet critical deadlines.

          However, 40 years of employment make you an older worker. And your comment about the manager going “over the top” may mean more than what it seems. Could management (or just this manager) be setting the groundwork for a string of picayune ‘infractions’ that would result in termination. Something along the lines of “Sorry, the company handbook says that after 3 write-ups you have to be terminated. I can’t change the rules. You are fired.”).

          My pop, an engineer, who worked at Lockheed for decades with stellar annual reviews, suddenly garnered poor reviews. There was no loss of skills or slowing down on his part. He protested these reviews but, they laid him off.

          Watch your back.

          (and a small start-up snapped him up pronto. But that’s another story.)

          1. Potoooooooo*

            The comments outlining escalated punishments also sound somewhat boilerplate, as if they would have to say it regardless of who they were disciplining or how.

            That said, there’s not a pattern of the same issue (or even issues in general) as far as I can see to where this seems like anything other than tickytack chicanery designed to edge someone who’s likely more senior and thus more expensive out of the workplace in favor of some Pimply Faced Youth they can pay significantly less.

            I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a Resume Generating Event, but it’s close to it.

    6. Lily Rowan*

      That sounds harsh to me, but I don’t think I’ve ever worked anywhere that had a formal disciplinary process, or certainly not for anything so inconsequential.

    7. WellRed*

      A disciplinary meeting? Over the top. Did you read the dress code letter this morning? Cause yeah, what’s really going on at this company?

    8. anywhere but here*

      Can you tell if this is something your manager is genuinely on board with vs a decision from higher up that she’s stuck enforcing? The only way this makes sense to me (unless your manager is bananas) is if someone higher up is busting her chops to make sure her team follows the new dress code.

      1. Mr Gee*

        Manager hasn’t worked for the company long, so I guess it could have been a decision she took herself but possibly came from above. I wasn’t expecting anything like this but I’m being really careful now in adhering to the dress code so hopefully I won’t have further issues.

    9. Some Words*

      The process itself seems to be in line with what I’ve experienced. However, bringing those processes into play for such very minor infractions seems like a wild overreaction to minor issues. It shows me a lack of perspective on your manager’s part. They really thought you needed to be hauled into a meeting with HR because you forgot to wear a tie one day? Way over the top.

    10. Bast*

      If the policies have changed after 40 years, of course folks that have been there long term are going to need an adjustment period. If you’ve been doing/wearing the same thing for 10, 20, or beyond years, it stands to reason that you might go on autopilot one day and do whatever “the thing” is, whether it is forget a tie or use an old format. There needs to be a grace period and gentle reminders for awhile instead of wasting time with formal meetings over a stupid tie, particularly when the employee has 40 years with the company and has never been in trouble before.

      1. Mr Gee*

        I think ‘Autopilot’ is a good word to describe what I did, nothing deliberate about it at all. I’m getting used to the upgraded dress code now so hopefully there will be no further issues, I just thought this was harsh and could easily have been dealt with better.

    11. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Sounds very harsh and really petty to bring in HR about minor dress code breaches, unless you were pushing back hard when she privately corrected you.

    12. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      I’m sorry, Mr G, but I think your manager is trying to move you out.
      You say “I was given a warning and my manager stated that if I have any further breaches, she will then further discipline me and this could lead up to a final written warning and then termination.” Please don’t assume the “any further breaches” only relates to the dress code – maybe your next breach will be for taking too many pens from the stationery cupboard.
      I don’t want to make you feel paranoid! But sometimes they are out to get you…
      Have a look at your overall circumstances, think about what you would do if you suddenly lost your job, are there any preparations you could be making etc, for example now is probably not a good time to buy a new car or take on debt.
      I find it so ludicrous that your manager has done this; it isn’t about the dress code!
      Best wishes to you, stay alert.

      1. Mr Gee*

        You make some interesting points, some have suggested it could be age related. I need another few years of work then I could possibly retire!

        1. Engineery*

          There was absolutely no purpose for that meeting except to establish a (shoddy) legal foundation to terminate you for cause in the immediate future. You are absolutely going to be fired sometime within the next few weeks, regardless of your performance.

          You should be looking into legal options (union, lawyer) for unlawful termination. A quick consultation and a firmly-worded letter from a lawyer might be sufficient to convince HR that violating your rights is going to be more expensive than they planned.

    13. Oh yeah, Me again*

      Yeah, that IS harsh! Over 40years experience puts you over 55. I wonder if they are trying to force you out and using this to avoid accusations of age discrimination? (practical suggestion: stash a “back-up tie in your desk or locker, just in case you forget again. -And claim “senior moment!” if you need to excuse yourself to put it on. Put “em on notice you’re onto their little game, and won’t go quietly!)

  46. WanderLlama*

    Is it acceptable to expense data/wi-fi to work remotely while traveling if I am not traveling for work reasons?
    The context: I’m lucky enough to have a remote job that is %100 WFH, and my boss has already made it clear he doesn’t care where in the world I work from as long as I get my work done. I love traveling and I have a family member who is now traveling internationally very frequently for work, and I’ve started going with her. She likes having me around and it works out well for both of us because we can help each other out when dealing with the challenges of travel, we each do our separate jobs during the day, and then in our downtime we can explore the area together. I’ve also taken myself on a couple of short solo trips. Most of the time I don’t have a problem using local wi-fi to get my work done, but I do have a mobile hot spot I bring with me just in case and once or twice I have had to buy data to use it when the connection otherwise wasn’t sufficient. I’ve also considered hypothetically that there could be times when maybe I might need to buy wi-fi on a long flight to get something done. So, my travel isn’t business travel, but buying data/wi-fi would be a business expense because the only reason I would buy it is in order to work while I’m abroad – so is that something that I could ethically expense to my company?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Agreed. I will add that my company gives us all a stipend to cover expenses of working remotely and I would consider these charges paid for as part of that stipend. Even without that stipend, I think it would look pretty tone-deaf to ask for reimbursement for this.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Hmm so my initial thought is no, but I think it depends on your company. Do they offer reimbursement for remote work expenses, like at home office furniture, extra monitors, your wifi bill, etc? Because if they do then there is a chance they might cover the expense. But if they don’t cover remote work expenses, then it really is on you to ensure that you have proper internet access, and if that means you need to buy wifi on a flight then that’s what you have to do. I’d think of it as a part of the cost of having the freedom and flexibility to work wherever you want, sometimes you have to pay extra to have internet there.

      You could always ask your boss, but I wouldn’t expense it without asking.

      1. WanderLlama*

        They do reimburse remote work expenses, it’s a very large and international company and I’ve had no problem expensing remote work equipment before (and my team and boss have even urged me to do so on more than one occasion).
        I do of course plan to ask my boss before my next trip – I am just hoping to get a better feel as to if it’s even a reasonable ask in the first place. I think it being the cost of having freedom and flexibility is a fair stance haha, and if that ultimately is the case I am fine with paying it myself.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Check your company’s expense policy. I’m in a hybrid role and a part of that is that we’re allowed to expense our phone bill/home internet (up to a certain $ amount) with the understanding that we are expected to at least partially use that for work (like using a phone hotspot for a connection if there’s bad wifi). But otherwise – no. You might be only buying it for work but you’re buying it because you chose to travel.

    3. Awkwardness*

      You do not work while abroad (going out of your way, as a favor to the company), but you chose togo abroad while working. Then it is on you to make sure you are able to fulfil your job duties.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yup. A very good analogy would be the cost of commuting. It sucks, and my company will pay train fare if you really HAVE to be somewhere (like when I went to London last week for a training day), but in general, no, they don’t pay for a regular commute (like if I found the HQ so awesome — and I did — that I wanted to work there every day regardless of whether my boss was organising something or not). This is the same thing — if you HAD to be somewhere overseas, it would be their cost to pay. But if you’re choosing to be elsewhere in the world, then that’s on you.

    4. Sneaky Squirrel*

      This will depend on the company and the work a bit, but I would argue in most situations, the intention of reimbursing for remote expenses is that you have one location established as a ‘home base’ (and likewise, generally this location is on record with HR as it is also your tax base). Your boss may not care that you travel, but requesting the company to purchase your wifi while you’re traveling when it’s not for work could be perceived as taking advantage of any reimbursement policies.

      A word of caution – bosses don’t always do their due diligence when permitting staff to work from anywhere. Working internationally, even for very short periods, can sometimes have tax implications to you and the company. This may not be something you want to rock the boat on by highlighting it for IT.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Yes, some countries are very strict about requiring a work visa if you are doing more than attending a conference/meeting/training.

    5. Belle*

      HR person here. Working remotely, especially in another country, can have huge tax implications AND employment law implications. I wouldn’t ask for the reimbursement — but you might want to double check that the work anywhere policy is okay with you working outside of your location state/country.

    6. Llama Llama*

      Don’t do it! Your manager is turning a blind eye to work laws (or just ignorant himself). It will just open up the flood gates to questions if you do this. They may pay this but then say you must only work from your home location.

  47. MozartBookNerd*

    Does anyone else sometimes chafe about having to be your own “involuntary software consultant”? If so, any ideas on the best ways to find ongoing help outside the office?

    My job has nothing inherently to do with I.T. (other than that I USE a laptop, as a professor of Llama Behavior at a state university), but my employer provides inadequate user support (university has reducing support-staff positions for years). And the result is that I squander way too many hours trying to solve software issues on my own!

    Writing and e-mailing about llamas using my computer, I naturally have a pretty regular flow of computer snags/inquiries. (On one day my big llama manuscript might be full of unremovable mysterious page breaks; on another day I might need a supposedly simple camera-ready diagram of last year’s local llama population movements . . . .) It’s all mostly Microsoft or Adobe, but those things can still get pretty obscure! Sure, I can figure out plenty of it on my own – but OTOH pretty regularly it’s way too complex for me to roam around ignorantly in submenus or Google. I’m supposed to be writing so I can’t spend hours on submenus.

    The university won’t improve its staffing — but I’ll hire my own help — if I can find it! Should I save up questions and hire my own temp, for a mere couple of hours every couple of weeks? Maybe on Upwork or an interface like that? Ideally I’d work repeatedly with a person who would learn my general needs. Seeking common-sense solutions to a chronic situation, thanks so much!

    1. Kenelm*

      I think a PC and the software on it are the tools of your trade. To me it has been worth it to learn more about maintenance, hidden features and general problem fixing. Just like my grandpa kept his tools in tiptop shape (he was a carpenter) I should also do that. Instead of hiring someone to fix your Word, maybe look into other programs such as LaTex and InDesign and see if your employer will pay for courses to get the most out of the tools you use.

      1. MozartBookNerd*

        I’ve had that same thought, but a PC and software are SUCH complicated “tools of the trade” that it has to be a whole other job, which is beyond my capacity to do. Like if our carpenter grandpa’s circular saw blade didn’t just have to be sharpened and cleaned, but also electrochemically manipulated with freshly mined bauxite to prevent different kinds of weird ionization every few days. :O

    2. Goddess47*

      Since you’re at a university, do you have the ability to hire a student for such work? Either a ‘work study’ student who wants to learn about your topic who is also tech savvy or a student from the business/IT department who is willing to consult on an ad hoc/cash basis? That wouldn’t necessarily give you a long-term contact but once you start working with one student who is reasonable and knowledgeable, maybe as they graduate they can recommend a friend or fellow classmate.

      And/or pay for Adobe / Microsoft tech support. But you’ll get a ‘single source’ response if you do use something like Upwork or a local bulletin board.

      (Yeah, my job used to be faculty support until the college decided it couldn’t afford the tech support it had. I was lucky to be able to retire but I heard the year after I left was a mess… and they still have not replaced me! So I understand where you are coming from!)

      1. MozartBookNerd*

        Thank you for relating to this whole thing from the other side of the table, and I hear you too! Can you please explain “single source” (do you mean probably some good continuity, or do you mean probably some kind of detrimental limitation)?

      2. New Mom (of 1 6/9)*

        Hiring a student temp (who presumably would already have access to the university’s systems) seems like MUCH less of a security risk than hiring someone on Upwork or whatever. They also might be able to meet with you in-person.

    3. WellRed*

      Oh I feel like this! I recently had trouble with accessing something that required me to scan a QR code. It only worked through the Duo app! A. How was I supposed to know that? B. How was I supposed to know duo had that feature? I literally use it for one thing.

      1. MozartBookNerd*

        Yes yes I know, right?! There’s new software all the time (or newly needed aspects of existing software) — But we need it only once in our career, or once or twice a year. So it’s insane to expect us to “learn” it (or even remember its deep details on our own LOL) for just those isolated occasions.

  48. SylvieM*

    I am having an issue where I am a softly spoken woman, and I work with a majority of not so softly spoken men.

    I tend to get interrupted a lot, if I raise a procedure issues I tend to get the whole procedure explained back to me, and then told why the issue I just raised is an issue. like I know, that’s why I raised it?? Or one of my colleagues will repeat exactly what I just said, and everyone will be all googly eyes over him.

    I have also many times suggested alternate solutions to situations that were likely to be problematic, and not listened to, and then colleagues are very taken aback that the problems occur.

    I have tried variations of “I don’t require further clarification on this procedure, but if we can review X, Y and Z that would be more productive moving forward”, “If you can hold that thought for just a second while I finish up..” etc etc

    But people now think im being not so nice because I’m trying to hold a bit firmer in my boundaries, I’m hoping they just get used to it and then over it and be taken more seriously. but I also don’t know what to do without being extremely firm.

    1. Alex*

      This has happened to me too. One of my strategies is to reframe back to them how they are agreeing with me. For example, if they are trying to summarize/mansplain a problem you just brought up, say, I’m glad you agree with me that it is a problem. Or if they are trying to pass off your ideas as their own, say, I’m glad you like my idea.

      1. SylvieM*

        ooo this is a good take I will give it a try next week and report back.

        some of it is cultural, where I work with people from countries known to be very blunt, and im from the UK so it is anathema to me to respond in the same way haha, although I suspect they wouldn’t mind..

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I like Alex’s advice. Relatedly, are there one or two (male) coworkers you can explain this problem to and ask them to, when they overhear these situations, say “stop interrupting SlyvieM, let her speak” / “yes, SylvieM knows that’s the issue with the procedure, that’s what she’s asking about” / “thanks for repeating SylvieM’s great suggestion, Dave. SylvieM, thanks for the suggestion to [do whatever], I agree it’s a great idea.”

      It’s stupid and sexist that men will listen to a man and not to you, but if you can get a coworker or two to reliably speak up for you, the ones who tend to run roughshod may get better about not interrupting you/mansplaining to you/repeating your ideas as their own.

  49. Albatross*

    I’m pondering professional behavior on long work trips and curious about what others think. I’m looking at a job that would involve unusually long work trips – three weeks in the same place, for example.. The work is still Mon-Fri, but it’s not worth it to the company to pay for my plane ticket home and back just for the weekend. I’m curious if the usual standard of “everything you do on a work trip has to be work-appropriate, except for showering” breaks down a bit on trips that long. On a Saturday night, for example, does the company still get that much control over my behavior? I have a couple categories of thing that I’m curious about thoughts on:

    1) local attraction, child-friendly, like the local zoo or a theme park.

    2) local attraction, not child-friendly, like gambling in Las Vegas or anything involving alcohol.

    3) casual sex. I’m single and would not be paying for my partner’s time (I don’t make that kind of money).

    4) religious services.