open thread – March 1-2, 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.

{ 1,102 comments… read them below }

  1. Ashley Armbruster*

    Because I’m still wheezing at “His Pants Feelings” from the earlier post, I’m curious about others’ experiences with this. Have you had a coworker test the waters with you due to his/her pants feelings? What did they say/do? What was your reaction? If you shut it down, how?

    1. Spice Girl*

      This used to happen to me all the time when I was in high school and working at Burger King. I exclusively worked in the drive thru, and worked all the shifts (open, mids, close). I would get hit on ALL THE TIME, regardless of what shift I was on. I would just close the drive thru window in their face when they started, then hand them their food without a word. My managers (male and female) never said a word to me about my attitude or customer service skills, good or bad. The creeps never got the hint as the next time they came through, it was the EXACT SAME THING.

      1. FricketyFrack*

        Ugh the people who hit on teenagers at work are a special breed. If it’s other teenagers, sure, whatever, but that almost never happened to me. It was ALWAYS whole adults. When I was 18, I worked at a grocery store as a bagger and this guy who was in his late 20s and had an elementary aged kid used to come in and try to flirt. When he asked me out, it was so, so uncomfortable. I had other grown men ask me for help out to their cars and thankfully I was usually able to get someone else to go (and then surprise, they’d usually decide they didn’t need help after all). Like, nah I’m not going to your car with you.

        Now that I’m middle-aged, I’m invisible to most men, which is obnoxious because of what it says about middle-aged men, but also a huge relief.

        1. House On The Rock*

          One summer many moons ago in high school, I had a part time “gopher” job at the law office of a family friend (this sounds fancier than it was). Much of my work involved going to government offices and copying large case files to bring back for review.

          I was, essentially, a hostage to the Xerox machine in places I didn’t work, where I was seen as a pest, for most of the work day. I cannot count the number of men who thought it was entirely fine to leer, hit on me, and sometimes worse while I stood there trying to do a tedious job. Many of them happily told me they had kids my age (and older). I was always so thankful when women would come over and literally guard me from them – sometimes inserting themselves in-between me and the men. Now I look back and am enraged that that was necessary, but it was. And, of course, decades later, so grateful for those women who took time out of their day to try to protect 15 year old me.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I learned unfortunately early that once you develop breasts, men like that consider you fair game. The rest of me can look as dorky and preteen as I clearly was, they didn’t care. Tits equaled come ons.

          1. CatMintCat*

            I teach K-6 students (so up to 12 years old). We are currently doing swimming lessons at our local pool. It is amazing how many men think it is appropriate to approach an eleven or twelve year old in a school group and try to flirt. I and the other teachers have zero fucks to give about these clowns, so they don’t last long, but seriously?

        3. Wired Wolf*

          One of my coworkers got hit on by a customer the other day, she shut him down and the dude turned around and called her a racist when she asked for payment. When a supervisor showed up, this guy was suddenly completely innocent and coworker was made out to be the jerk for ‘being rude’. Of course supervisor didn’t want to hear from CW what actually happened. Ick.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Oh yeah, I was a bank teller the summer after high school and the summer after my first year of college, for a commercial bank, so we had a lot of daily customers, and the grown-ass men that would hit on me! Super super gross.

        1. Windaria*

          I’m in HR in banking and that’s *always* an issue for tellers. I always make sure to tell them in the new hire orientation that they absolutely do not have to stand for that and if they let their manager know about it, it *will* be taken care of.

      3. Tio*

        When I worked at McDonalds, my boss and other guys at work, ranging from appropriately aged to call the police, knew when I was turning 18 and would make jokes about me “being legal” and “on the table.” Then when I was 18, my boss asked me out. When I turned him down, he got other coworkers and his mother to try and convince me.

        And this is leaving out the guy who hit on every new girl, often by cornering her in a back room and looming over her. We started a little women’s group to warn new girls about these men and their behavior.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If I had a time machine I would go back and tell 18-year-old you to tell corporate H.R.

          1. cityMouse*

            Although this is a wonderful feeling to have, unfortunately back then it was always the woman’s fault. “You shouldn’t have worn that,” you know, like clothes I guess? “You shouldn’t have flirted,” but you want me to be nice to customers, and they think this is flirting… Alas corporate HR would not have helped.

            I’m old, and I tried. Lost a few jobs for complaining.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I’m elder GenX, and I know all too well … but today I’d still try.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I wonder whether mcdonald’s would care today. Not that i’m asking you to go back and report him years later. Just hoping that things are starting to change.

              1. Tio*

                I don’t know. TBH as a teenager I wouldn’t have even known how to get a hold of corporate; I was a retail cashier then shift manager, and the franchise location owner was in and basically told me it was nothing. He said the same thing about the racism too, so yeah. I kind of have a feeling that this hasn’t changed much.

                I also have a LOT of feelings about the fact that this is a lot of kids’ first work experience and the correlation to people’s willingness to put up with and/or inability to recognize a toxic workplace, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant :)

          2. JSPA*

            they’re only coming to terms with decades of harassment [checks watch] now. Well, strictly speaking, the judgements started to come down about 13 months ago. link to follow. Before that, yeah, everyone more or less knew, and nobody did anything.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Good God! That’s basically a doomsday cult without the preaching. He tried to have his MOM convince you to date him????

          Like, even if that wasn’t wildly, horrifically inappropriate, who on earth would think having his mother call a person and pressure them to date him was in any way a good look?

        3. Anonynon*

          Have told this story here before but my 22 year old McD’s coworker got my 16 yo self a Christmas gift and left it under the breakroom Christmas tree. Later, we were working closing together (everyone wears a headset) and he asked me out over the headset and the manager interceded on his behalf to get me to accept. It was so awkward.

    2. Is it Friday yet?*

      At a past job, had a colleague (who I’d worked with for years, traveled with, he showed me his kids report cards) text me at 2am during a work offsite with his room number, in case I wanted to say goodnight. He did not drink, so can’t blame it on alcohol. I basically never spoke to him again. Luckily our work didn’t intersect in any essential ways and I left soon after. But wow.

    3. BecauseHigherEd*

      Not a coworker, but I used to work at an ESL school for adults. My title officially was “Student Affairs Officer.” One time as I was talking to a student, he google translated “affair” into his native language, and what came up was of course “romance/sexual relationship.” He said, “So, you’re the Student Romance Officer?” I said, “That’s a mistranslation.”

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*


        Poor guy! Hopefully he didn’t follow up by trying to hit on you before you managed to correct the mistranslation.

      2. Random Dice*

        That’s very funny. “Whoo, glad we have someone to help students with romance – I’m crap at this on my own.” I’m glad you shut it down.

    4. Juicebox Hero*

      In my retail hell job, there was a guy from another department who took a fancy to me. I didn’t find him attractive at all and we had absolutely nothing in common. His only topics of conversation were NASCAR, which I dislike; bowling, which just give me some paint to watch dry; and his side hustle mowing lawns, and he would not shut up about them.

      I was too timid to tell him to leave me alone so I basically did my best to completely ignore him, resulting in him chatting nonstop with my hunched back and shoulders about NASbowlawns when he wasn’t trying to hug me, rub my arm, or otherwise be creepy.

      Unfortunately it seemed all the other employees thought his one-sided devotion was just adorable and I was the bad guy for not giving him a chance. I got no relief until he finally did find a girlfriend who was just as quiet but oddly possessive of him, and eventually he left to take another job.

      I’m getting the crawlies just remembering him. Ugh.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        It’s a special level of hell when something is happening to you right there in plain sight but your environment/people are enabling it, and dismissing or blaming you! I’m sorry you experienced that guy and also that environment.

        1. Billy Preston*

          I had a similar issue where a coworker was coming on strong but I was trying to just act like it wasn’t happening, cause it made me so uncomfortable! Then another coworker came up to me and said in a sing-song voice, “Someone’s got a crush on yoouu…” and I backed away and said I didn’t want to know who it was and had to walk away. It was so uncomfortable and I didn’t want to interact with either of those people ever again.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Seventh grade is not the template to follow in adult, workplace interaction.

      2. Wired Wolf*

        Two of us are dealing with a younger guy (basically the lowest rung in the job; all he’s permitted to do is bagging, cleaning and cart collecting) who tends to ask fairly inappropriate questions (my last name? HahaNO) and seems to be hitting on any female employees that he thinks he has a chance with.

        I have reported him a few times for ‘brushing against me’ (not in an overtly sexual way, but still EW) when he puts his break food in my department’s coolers. That’s a cramped space–not convenient, so that excuse is immaterial–and the coolers are never supposed to have anything other than customer orders in them. The one time I politely-but-firmly confronted him about it I was met with “well why are they here if I can’t put my stuff in them?”. I have the right to remove anything but I’m not sure I want to touch any of his stuff. Yeeesh. Yes, he’s on everybody’s radar.

      3. Anonynon*

        Ah, this unearthed a memory of the same thing happened to me, also in retail hell. I worked at a box store super store behind the deli counter and my would be suitor worked in the produce section. I was in a prison, he was free to roam. Truly awful.

    5. METia*

      I had what (I think) was a good experience on the other side where I asked out another co-worker. In this case there was common ground and reciprocated banter, outside work communication, etc. Neither of us where in each others chain of command, and he had just been moved to another program.

      I asked him out by text (outside of work, where we already communicated), he said ‘I don’t date coworkers’, I said ‘cool’, and our relationship went on as normal with no weirdness. We eventually lost touch naturally, as he did move programs and we had less and less contact.

      I just have so few interactions with men that didn’t work out that I don’t look back and cringe on, I always feel like this was a good one

      1. Olive*

        I also had a good experience and a neutral experience. I went on a few dates with a coworker, but I decided that it wouldn’t be a good long-term match and he wasn’t a “dating for fun” type. We kept working together and stayed friends.

        I also went on one date with another coworker and quickly decided that I wasn’t interested. He said something a little bitter at the time, but it didn’t keep us from working together professionally. We weren’t friends but we weren’t antagonistic or barely holding it together or anything like that.

        In both cases, we were in our 20s and at the lowest level of the office hierarchy. Now that I’m at a more senior level, I’d be a lot less likely to consider a coworker.

      2. Heffalump*

        I had a similar experience. I (cisgender straight male) asked my coworker “Linda” to go for coffee. I don’t normally date coworkers because of the potential messiness, so the fact that I asked her should tell you how attractive she was.

        She said, politely, “I don’t date coworkers,” I said, “Thank you anyway,” and that was that. We stayed on good terms for our remaining ~3 years at this company and then were laid off. We stayed in touch for a while longer, but at this point I didn’t have the feeling that she’d go out with me if I asked.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      I know a couple who actually met because one of them was the other’s boss, initially. It became clear that they were developing feelings for each other that made this inappropriate, so Boss quit their job and went to another organization, then asked Employee out. The two are happily married to this day and have an utterly adorable family. The things that keep this from being creepy: there was clear mutual interest. Both knew it was not workplace-appropriate. Boss, with more power and higher salary, was the one to leave their job, and the asking-out didn’t happen until there was no longer a work relationship.

      1. Sense and sensibility*

        Er, what would have happened if the boss had quit his job and she then turned down his request for a date?

        They asking-out almost surely happened before he quit – they’re just not telling you about it.

        1. borealis*

          I read that as “Boss quit and got another job, and then they and the employee started going out”. Which (to me) is a lot less weird than “Boss quit etc and then asked the empoyee out on a date”. Mutual attraction discovered without being acted on until they no longer had a work relationship – surely that’s pretty much the ideal?

          (Also, we have no idea of the genders of the people involved, and I don’t understand why other people at the workplace would have been told about it unless they were extremely close to one or both of the people involved.)

        2. Ms. Norbury*

          Well, depending on how deep the boss’ feelings went, it might still have been the best choice. Alison has given similar advice to bosses who were seriosly crushing on an employee.

        3. WantonSeedStitch*

          No, he actually wanted to apply for the new job anyway! He would have been happy to get it even if the relationship hadn’t progressed.

      2. Venus*

        Workplace romances happen often, but the key is to have more discussions first that help sort out if there is mutual attraction.

        I interpreted the request for ‘experiences with pants feelings’ as excluding the mutual attraction stories.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Also, if you’re asking out a coworker, you ask them out clearly, and take anything but an enthusiastic yes as a no and move on.

          The delicate dance of flirtation can work well in social settings, but it’s not well suited to a work place. They can’t get away from you to avoid the flirting or hovering, and pre-rejecting someone who is obviously interested, but hasn’t said so and isn’t taking subtle hints comes with its own problems. And, as has been discussed, faking professional interest to get into someone’s pants is a jerk move.

    7. Dannie*

      Yes. I had a “comedy of errors” cultural misunderstanding with a Dominican colleague who kept calling me ‘shorty’ while my WASP azz just assumed he was teasing me about my height. So he thought I was encouraging him, and I thought “Damn, this joke just keeps going, I guess” until his manager (who knew I was married and knew I would not have engaged had I understood the reality of the situation) finally stepped in to set me straight and get the guy to back off. I was SO embarrassed.

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Was there something lost in translation here? Because my best understanding here would be that he *was* teasing you and thought pulling pigtails counted as flirting, but I wouldn’t all that a cultural misunderstanding, so I’m probably missing something?

        1. jane's nemesis*

          I think “shorty” implied he was overtly claiming Dannie as his girlfriend? Rather than teasing about height.

      2. Bast*

        Unless there was something in the tone, I probably wouldn’t have caught on to this either. I’ve known quite a few men (not just Dominicans, but other Spanish speakers as well) that call every woman, “mami” “shorty” “chica” and that’s just how they address everyone, except mayyybe a much, much older woman.

        1. Kay*

          Well – thats is the same thing as calling someone “baby”, “honey”, “girlie” so… still gross?

          1. Banana Pyjamas*

            No. Culturally that’s normal. Women also use papi, Chico, muchacho the same way. Even children are called Mami and Papi.

            1. Kay*

              No, it is not normal for men to go around calling women mami, shorty, etc. I expect this usage to come mainly from speakers from Mexico – and even within those circles its use is flirty/sexually charged, so definitely not work appropriate!

              1. TeaCoziesRUs*

                Depends on the person. My Mexican Aunt-in-Law calls her grandson (my nephew) “Papi.” He’s 3. I GUARANTEE there’s no flirting there. :D

                Yes it sounds weird to my Anglo ears – why call a kid “dad”? BUT that’s her, she’s cool, his parents are cool with it, so that’s that. I’m just an uneducated Anglo wise enough to hold my tongue. ;)

                1. Bast*

                  Yes, this is one of the instances where tone matters. In my family (Ecuador), these terms are not used often in any context (though my family there is mostly all old, so there’s a generational thing to consider) but I’ve met my fair share of families where these terms are used with absolutely no sexual/romantic connotation. I can almost equate it to a southern “honey” — which some people will also find slightly inappropriate, but is not meant in a romantic or sexual way — everyone is “honey.” As a New Englander, it reads as differently because I do not find that we use the term unless we are being condescending or it’s a nickname your SO calls you, but in the south, it seemed commonplace enough.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      I was 19 and working at a dive bar over Christmas. An older man grabbed my butt. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say. But after a few minutes, I figured it out and marched back up to him, telling him not to touch me. He laughed. I asked him how he would feel if someone treated his daughter like that. He said he didn’t have children. I asked him how he would feel IF HE DID HAVE A DAUGHTER. He had the grace to look a little bit ashamed and gave me a $20 tip. I took it.

      I was 23 and a male co-worker my dad’s age (so – old) started massaging my neck. I froze. He finally stopped, but later asked me out to dinner that night. I didn’t know what to say, but wanted to be polite (only 24 and not used to being asked out) and I didn’t want to say he was too old for me (plus – co-worker), so I told him I was too young for him. His co-workers started laughing at him, which was fine with me. Dude.

      I was 24 when a married broker my dad’s age kissed me on the lips. I told my boss I didn’t want to work with that broker anymore and my male boss told me I must have done something to provoke the kiss. I stole the broker’s biggest client, selling to them direct instead of through the broker, and cost him thousands of dollars in commissions.

      I was 38 and (reluctantly) eating lunch with a male client. He didn’t want to meet me at the restaurant – I met him at his work and he drove. He put soft romantic music on in the car and spent lunch telling me about his divorce and asking me why I wasn’t married. I didn’t know what to say but did not have lunch with him again.

      I was 38 and a magazine ad sales rep had met with my male boss and me. Rep gave us his presentation, we had no budget for ads, etc. Then Rep – away from my boss – asked me (not my boss) out to dinner. I said no. Boss was pissed, telling me I am supposed to do things like that. “Spend my free time with a salesman?” I asked. “He can talk to me during work hours – I do not owe him my evening.”

      1. GoryDetails*

        Sounds like 24-year-old you figured out the best revenge! I am impressed!

        “I was 24 when a married broker my dad’s age kissed me on the lips. I told my boss I didn’t want to work with that broker anymore and my male boss told me I must have done something to provoke the kiss. I stole the broker’s biggest client, selling to them direct instead of through the broker, and cost him thousands of dollars in commissions.”

    9. Sheepherder*

      Had a co-worker leave a pen as a gift on my desk. I glanced at it and put it in a drawer. He asked if I got it, and I replied yes, only to have him ask what I thought. Huh?? He then told me to look at it again. Later, I saw that it had a web address on it – to a swinger’s club!!! I reported him the next day. Things were awkward for awhile, but I eventually let it go. Years later, he retired and within less than two months, was part of a murder/suicide with his “girlfriends”.

      1. FricketyFrack*

        “was part of a murder/suicide with his “girlfriends””

        Well that escalated in an alarming way. Holy crap.

    10. English Rose*

      Um, I’ve done it the other way around. Met a guy at a networking event, I was convinced there was a spark, thought I’d be a modern woman and invite him to lunch, he clearly thought it was only business to discuss a forthcoming project. Quick gear switch needed on my part, I don’t think he realised!

    11. anon for this*

      I’m usually oblivious to people flirting with me, and work is the last environment where I’d look for signs of it. That’s a combination of being a little socially awkward, more than a little asexual, and very loyal to my partner in a long-term relationship.

      That said, I’ve sometimes wondered whether a teammate at an old job was flirting with me. He was nice enough, but I wouldn’t have called him a work friend; everyone at the office knew I love cooking, and he’d sometimes Slack me photos of dishes he made, which gave off “looking to impress” vibes (they were fancy recipes I’d never make, as I’m all about uncomplicated comfort food). Often, he joked with me in ways that came across as negging. At a company party, nowhere near drunk, he launched on a speech about dating apps and said something along the lines of “why are all girls on the apps so fickle, why can’t they be smart and genuine just like you”.

      Oh, and there was also the time he told me a story about wanting to ask for a retail assistant’s number because she was nice to him and he found her very attractive, and what did I think, should he have done it? I looked him dead in the eye, and said “of course she was nice to you, she was doing her job, being nice to customers is literally her job.”

      My gut feeling said “kind of flirting but professional enough to know better”. I was half expecting him to get in touch after I left, and I’m glad he didn’t (I’d have shut him down with the force of a thousand suns).

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Oh same, on most of the first paragraph!

        I’m also still trying to figure out if a colleague (more like, co-contractor, so only occasional contact thankfully) is actually testing the waters with me or just genuinely desperate for an open ear to bitch about his ongoing divorce because his wife got all their friends in the split…

        1. birb*

          Imagine admitting to someone that you’re attracted to that YOUR friends took your wife’s side in the divorce.

          1. Susan Calvin*

            I mean, he didn’t actually say that, it’s just the best my “benefit of doubt” can come up with haha

        2. Rainy*

          If he’s griping about his divorce, he’s definitely testing the waters. In fact, he’s already wet to the knees and charging forward.

      2. Some Words*

        Sounds like he was testing the waters, but didn’t push.

        Then again, I’m a little oblivious about these things.

    12. Artemesia*

      I was an academic for most of my career and was often among the view young women at professional conferences or in departments etc. EVERY major professor (i.e. degree advisor) and some of my ordinary professors including my freshman philosophy prof hit on me. I was an attractive but not beautiful young woman and not at all flirtatious or provocatively dressed and yet it was just part of the experience of being a woman professional. I had many advisees as a prof who had those experiences including one who had changed schools and majors to avoid a particularly aggressive senior professor in our institution who as a big grant getter was never held accountable.

      She realized that going after him would just ruin her career not hers and was probably right in that calculation.

      I never seemed to learn that these guys so interested in my research always had a little something else in mind and it was sort of crushing to realize that each time when I was trying to establish myself as a scholar.

      1. Nesprin*

        I know some women who’ve gone after their harassing professors- it’s a huge professional risk but it’s also incredibly brave and valuable work, and a few of them have been recognized for it.

      2. RLC*

        Academia does seem to “look the other way” if the harasser is likely to bring funding or good publicity to the institution. Had a male prof grope me in front of class, classmates staring incredulously (I the only woman in class). Reported prof to department head, his words “he was just being friendly, he’s a good guy who delivers hot meals to pensioners”. Asked classmate/witness to help me report higher level, his words “I didn’t see a thing and YOU REMEMBER THAT!!!”
        Prof proceeded to stalk me all over campus for a year, AND I had to finish out his class (see him 3x/week) as required for my degree.
        Nothing ever done as prof was a Big Important Scientist working on an internationally famous project.

    13. GoryDetails*

      In my youth I tended to be oblivious to anything short of direct words (and/or physical contact, but I was lucky enough not to be groped at work – yeah, I guess “no groping” is a low bar for behavior, but I’m glad of it!). I was also oblivious to many workplace mores, and often wish I’d had the benefit of Ask A Manager back in the {gulp} 1980s.

      I did have some pants feelings of my own for a co-worker or two, and had a major crush on my project leader at one place, though as he was married I managed to keep that to myself. (Would also have loved to have had the benefit of Captain Awkard’s advice re tricky “feelings” and “boundaries” situations back then…)

      The thing is, I was in the software industry, and most of my contemporaries were equally late-blooming/clueless/non-socially-adept, and most of us wound up having relationships (those who had them at all) with co-workers because we seldom met anyone outside that circle (and had little to talk about with non-computer-folk when we did meet them). It worked out surprisingly well for some, and I don’t recall cases of anyone bringing relationship baggage to work (then again, oblivious, so it may have happened and I just didn’t notice).

    14. Hazelthyme*

      Yes, sort of. It’s pretty much a textbook case of when and why this ISN’T creepy:
      * We’ve worked together and had a friendly working relationship for several years, so no one is flirting with or hitting on anyone else solely because of their gender.
      * We keep the flirty/suggestive comments just between us, so we’re not making anyone else feel uncomfortable.
      * We’ve had explicit conversations about what this means (entertainment at work, with no intention of following through). We’ve also acknowledged that if we’re playing a game of pushing boundaries, someone might inadvertently cross a line — and if that happens, the other person can say, “Stop, too much” (which hasn’t happened) or just walk away/change the subject (which has.)

      Even though in this case it’s not leading towards anything more, I think the lessons about not just flirting with every random person who crosses your path professionally, and proceeding very cautiously with the understanding that there will be minimal awkwardness or hard feelings if the other person isn’t interested, are important.

    15. Typing All The Time*

      Yes, an IT guy. Made the mistake of being nice but I clearly was not interested. The last straw was when he gave me his number on a piece of paper and tried to ask me one more time. I rejected him loudly from my cubicle and he never asked me out again.

    16. The OG Sleepless*

      We had a 40 year old guy who gave us all serial killer vibes. He used to come up to women and rub their shoulders, and it was just eww. He pulled me into another room to ask me a question once (a legit question that needed a bit of privacy, as it turned out) and all I could think was, he’s going to murder me in here. He ended up MARRYING our 19 year old receptionist. They have KIDS now. I hope they’re genuinely happy, but ewww….

      1. RVA Cat*

        Eww. I hope she’s okay.
        Reminds me of an infamous local politician who married his teenaged intern (!) and had several children with her before she divorced him. Thankfully he’s since been voted out of office and also disbarred.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        My somewhat clueless mom, bless her, managed to set me up on a bizarre “blind date” from across the country. Apparently she had a friend who was visiting her son in the city I lived in, and Mom decided I should go out on a dinner date with the guy. Just called me and announced this.

        Luckily the guy’s mom came along and I thankfully met them at the restaurant. He wasn’t overly stabby or anything, but apparently lived in his van and had no fixed address, just traveled around. I’m out at dinner with this total stranger and his mother thinking “this is how people end up on Hard Copy…”

    17. Lily Rowan*

      I had a classic I-wouldn’t-call-it-sexual-assault with a guy who was a professional contact. We met for a drink, I thought he was being helpful in my career, and then before he got on the train home to his wife and kids, he stuck his tongue in my mouth. I was like, WTF was that, and he did not turn out to be helpful in my career.

      1. CG*

        The Venn diagram of people who act like that and people who are never going to be helpful to anyone’s career is just two fully overlapped circles.

    18. Always Tired*

      I have had several casual attempts and I just put on the same kind face I would use if a child brought me macaroni art and tell them that while I am flattered (I am not) I like to keep my work and personal lives completely separate (that part is true) and stay professional at work (aka: I was not flirting with you and never will), so I’m sure they will understand and we can continue to work together (without ever referencing this nonsense again).

      The one dude who tried to push that boundary got the full “I’m not sure what you are hoping to achieve with this continued sex based harassment, but I’m sure your boss would disapprove. Pull this again, and I will escalate.”

    19. higher ed teaching*

      when I worked at a burger and fries place that always scouted locations for another similar one so that they were always catty corner from each other, a manager cornered me behind the shake machine while I was changing the bag to aggressively ask me for…favors. his married pregnant wife was watching. he forgot there was an escape route out the back so I left and ignored him except to ask never to be scheduled with him again. he was later transferred and did the same to another teenager whose mother threatened to sue the franchise owner. I called and reported him then, and he was later fired and banned from all 14 stores the owner had in the area. he had a lot of Pants Feelings. thankfully even in 96 it was recognized when that non subtle.

      the manager who said I was only in college and working to find a husband and he was off the table so dont flirt with him was another matter that 17 yo me was oblivious to. now I’d definitely protect my college students in some way.

    20. AnonAnon*

      I’ve had incidents over the years of guys being gross on work trips. But what really got me angry was when I was going through my divorce (horrific time in my life) and when it became public that I was divorced. People who I had had great, professional working relationships for over 10+ years became really gross. It was so off-putting that I avoided them even professionally. I was even tricked one time in going to a regular team happy hour (that I had done for years) only to find out Mr. Pants Feelings didn’t invite the team, on purpose, and it ended up being the two of us. It literally sent 10 years of trust in the toilet.
      Thankfully I am not at that job anymore. But I still avoid when the old gang gets back together.

      It has gotten my hackles up so much that I now have to put so much energy into things that are not needed. I am not married but in a committed relationship and find myself making sure I have a ring on the right finger, dress extra conservatively and think about if I am giving off signals just to ward off these potential creeps.

      Guys need to knock it off.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        What the hell is with the type of guy who automatically ranks all women he knows in terms of availability?? Not just “potentially interested in this person” but “should expect to be hit on due to X factor.”

        I can’t fathom looking at a colleague of a decade plus and thinking “at last my chance to get in their pants!” after hearing they got divorced. I’d bet money they aren’t any less gross to someone who’s widowed.

    21. Coelura*

      I was a field service manager for a large tech company managing vendors doing the tech repairs. Not only was I female (rare at the time) but I also looked like a teenager, signficantly younger than my late 20s. The techs were constantly asking me out, making inappropriate comments about my looks, my clothes, everything. And when I’d call them out or turn them down, they’d tell everyone that I was obviously lesbian and in a relationship with my female roommate. So for years, people I worked with would ask me if it was true that I was gay and my roommate was actually my partner. All because I’d shoot down jerks hitting on me. It was a relief to be laid off with most of the rest of the field managers.

      1. cityMouse*

        Oh I hear this! In the late early 00s, I (female) had a coworker, also female, invite me out for post-work beers, where she informed me that I was obviously gay, that “everyone knew” that I was, and that I was the talk of the local lesbian community…

        I was young, thin, had short hair, and worked in a male-dominated industry (theatre), and my work uniform was t-shirts and jeans. Therefore I must have been gay.

        I said it was fascinating that she thought so many people were talking about me, but that my orientation was no one’s business, finished my beer, and left. She never spoke to me again. I was ok with that.

        You can’t win, you know. At least, sometimes it seems like that. Then one day, I passed this magical barrier of Age, became menopausal, was instantly invisible, and some days it seemed like the only other people who actually saw me were other women my age. It was really weird and disconcerting, until I found the power in invisibility: as an introvert, I notice everything and now am free to observe behind my cloak of OldAgeInvisibility.

        We are a strange species!

    22. anonymous anteater*

      I met my spouse through a conference in grad school, so basically identical to the letter. So when I try to think about the factors that made this appropriate and not creepy, I think Alison’s advice is spot-on. We were both grad students from different institutions, no potential for any professional interaction or conflict of interest (very big conference with different disciplines) and no power differential.
      We randomly started talking and both enjoyed another’s company. Throughout the week, it got a little more flirty and we mutually sought out each other’s company (each of us reaching out to make dinner plans or asking which part of the conference the other was attending that day). So it’s really all about reading those signals and making sure it’s not one-sided. Now married and still going strong with our 13th anniversary coming up.

      1. Raisineye*

        Are you my old roommate from UW? My roommate met his current wife the same way and they’ve been married the same amt of time…

    23. Kay*

      Oh man, where to start.

      There was the guy in another department who slid his hands up my skirt and mused about the consistency of my hair color over my body (he was very specific without using medical terms). This guy happened to be a top performer in the other department, so although everyone on both teams agreed this was an outrage, nothing happened. Twenty something me didn’t know enough to hire a lawyer, especially since the company had just been successfully sued by a woman for… you guessed it, sexual harassment. Clearly the court ordered sexual harassment training didn’t serve its purpose.

      The colleague driving us to an off site event asked me if I got around much. Confused I awkwardly started talking about how my current hobbies kept me local but would like to travel more at some point when he stops me and goes “No, I mean do you sleep around much? With my girlfriend (and child) and all I have to be careful about STDs”.

      At an industry event, that also happened to fall on a clients birthday, the drinking started getting to be a bit much and the birthday boy (the CEO for the client and the boss of a few of the women) started getting inappropriately flirty and handsy, wanting to make it a party elsewhere. A number of us women who were not liking where things were headed escaped to the bathroom to try and avoid the badgering and groping, and to come up with an escape plan. The birthday boy was on to us and actually raided the women’s bathroom to make sure we were actually peeing (he checked) and not avoiding him. This was not an isolated incident.

      There is the boss that did the shoulder massage that would creep down the front of the chest, the boss that would stand too close and make suggestive comments, the coordinator for a client (I had only talked to via phone/email) who said if I had only called him when I was sick he would have taken reeeeeal good care of me, if I knew what he meant, sigh… Then there are the tons of client appointments where I’m stuck in a room with just the two of us and have to try and tell some guy I’ve only just met that no I don’t want to go out with them, let alone on a romantic vacation to Hawaii, but can we please just get through the rest of this material that must be completed so I can get the heck out of there. So many more but sadly its probably only the already reasonable people who get it.

      1. Kay*

        But to answer the question of how it was responded to/handled – usually stunned silence followed by a campaign of avoidance, finding excuses to leave/go elsewhere, having other people around me, job hunting, etc. I have employed the elbow and heel combined with a swift turn/reverse, drop stuff, surprised screech & jump – but you have to be careful. I learned that telling men you have an STD – surprisingly effective, talking about significiant others or saying you aren’t into men – completely ineffective.

      2. Csethiro Ceredin*

        The guy asking about STDs is so gross, and when you’re trapped in a car with him it’s even worse! Ugh, I’m so sorry.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            But only if she wasn’t “getting around.” UNLIKE HIM.

            I have to go throw up now.

    24. Medium Sized Manager*

      A pet store manager (40ishM) once asked me (18F) for my phone number to talk about “cats and dogs and stuff.” I laughed really nervously and pretended my manager was asking for me.

      Later, in my restaurant days, I got really good at smiling through the snark so they couldn’t complain about me. “You must be really drunk to think calling me baby and trying to touch my face is appropriate. I will need to cut you off if that continues.” What are they going to say, they’re sober and just being a jerk??

    25. KitCaliKat*

      Oh, yes. I worked at a restaurant when I was in high school, and one of the cooks had a huge crush on me. It didn’t matter that he was at least ten years older than me, that I had a boyfriend, and that my boyfriend also worked at the restaurant! This guy left a note on the windshield of my car one night that expressed his feelings, and when I didn’t respond to that, called my house one night to ask me out. I don’t remember what I said, but from there on out, he avoided me at work. It was all pretty embarrassing for teenage me, because everyone who worked at the restaurant knew what was going on, and I had to deal with a lot of teasing from my coworkers.

      1. traumatized*

        Oh my gosh, reading this brought up memories of a similar situation. I was in my first year of college and working at a restaurant. The assistant manager had a crush on me and behaved so inappropriately. It was 1984, so things were different then and all I could do was try to avoid … the assistant manager. He trapped me in places repeatedly, like the cold storage, and groped me and tried to kiss me as I fought to get away. He left notes on my car, asking me to meet him at certain times to have sex. He was married with small children, what a disgusting human being. I had no interest in him, I told him I was not interested and he needed to leave me alone. Others thought it was funny. I finally quit that job because of him.

    26. LCH*

      i just remembered one! i was an intern at a museum and 21. a guy on staff who was in his 30s (a guess) asked me out. i just remember thinking he was too old for me. so awkward. i forget what i said, but i spent a lot of time avoiding him after that.

      then i ran into him at another museum about ten years later on the other side of the country. i did not say hi and don’t know if he remembered me.

    27. WellRed*

      I hope all the defenders of Pants Feelings on this morning’s letter read this thread.

      1. Angstrom*

        There’s a difference between having feelings and acting on them. That’s part of the definition of behaving professionally.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Exactly this. Pants feelings are just that. It’s deciding they are someone else’s problem/reward/responsibility is what causes the issue.

    28. Csethiro Ceredin*

      This happened a TON in my teens/20s in retail. One guy was the store security guard and just stood there watching me during my shifts, then started following me out at the end of the night. I just tried to act unencouraging. I told my supervisor I felt like another staff member was stalking me, and when I said it was the security guy, she laughed and said “how convenient for him” and that was that. Eventually I mentioned it to his boss, who was sympathetic and changed his shifts, but said his mom was the HR manager (large department store) so there was no point doing anything formal. I was too young and naive to push it further.

      It also happened 10 or so years ago with a man who was a very illustrious consultant we’d hired. I worked closely with him for a few months and liked him in an “eccentric older man who likes telling me stories” way. But then he started making sexual comments at his wife’s memorial dinner, which I attended along with a few senior colleagues he had known for years (he also got very drunk and I thought it was just drunken excess of emotion in all directions and laughed it off, feeling sorry for him).

      I didn’t understand he meant it until he emailed me inviting me out for coffee the next workday. He was 30+ years older, a work contact, had just lost his wife, and we just didn’t seem like a match in any way whatsoever, so it wasn’t even on my radar and I was horrified. One of my senior colleagues ended up telling him I wasn’t interested before I had to say anything to him, but the whole thing was mortifying, and my older male colleagues didn’t understand why I was upset.

      Another contractor I’d hired asked me out right after his divorce too, but by then I saw it coming and said “that wouldn’t be at all appropriate” and he laughed and said “worth a shot”.

      And so on.

    29. Thunder Kitten*

      I was a 20-something clinician (looked like a teen) cleaning up after my case (wiping down equipment in the hall) when this 50-ish surgeon came up, announced “aren’t you the cutest little thing, give me a hug !!”

      I literally backed my self behind my equipment and mumbled something like “um, I need to clean this”. Fortunately he backed off.

    30. coin_operated*

      My first “hired” job was at a Safeway grocery store when I was 15. Strangely, I was hit on a few times by fathers asking me to date their daughters… it was weird. I’m AMAB, gay queer, and out now but was in the closet at the time. I was also homeschooled so maybe that read as “dream son-in-law” to these guys? The worst though however was by this creepy man who asked me about the “C***” of one of my fellow teenage co-workers. I reported it to her and management because whenever she was bagging groceries he would come to her line and ask for “assistance” to his car.

    31. Caz*

      I have strongly, STRONGLY advised not one but two (!!!) male friends not to hit on women in their workplace (one where they both worked, one in a supermarket where the young woman of interest worked). Neither of them listened to me! Neither of them got dates out of it either. I remain annoyed with both the guys about this, in both cases it’s been years.

  2. Petty Spreadsheets*

    A few months ago, my job announced that we would be working in-office three days a week instead of two. According to the C Suite, the increased in-office time was meant to increase collaboration between staff, but most days it feels like I’ve been sitting alone in my cubicle working independently with very little in-person work collaboration. When I do collaborate with my coworkers, it’s over Teams, just like we do on our remote days.

    So this week I started a spreadsheet. I am tracking the number of minutes I spend commuting to and from work each day, and comparing that to the number of minutes I spend on in-person collaboration. I’m toying with adding a metric for how many minutes I spend on digital collaboration on in-office days, but I haven’t decided yet. I only have one week of data so far, but at the moment my total of in-person collaboration minutes is less than my average daily commute. I spent more time on one day’s worth of getting to and from the office than I spent collaborating in person with my coworkers for the entire week.

    I don’t know if I’m ever going to do anything with this data. But I’m going to keep collecting it and telling myself I’m not crazy for feeling like I was lied to by my bosses about why they required me to give up an additional two hours of my personal time every week to drive in to work.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I understand where you’re coming from, but I’m going to caution you to be a little skeptical about the data you gather.

      If you can accomplish something in 5 minute in-person versus 20 minutes over Teams, then it’s actually validating the in-person requirement. Even more so if the in-person talk yielded better results than the electronic thread.

      1. Annony*

        Also, the bosses don’t care about commute time. Comparing virtual collaboration time in office vs home would be more relevant.

      2. Two Dog Night*

        I’m curious… why would speaking in person take so much less time than speaking over Teams? I’ve been working remotely for 15 years, and I’m really skeptical that my Teams calls take that much longer than in-person meetings would.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          In person, you can both be looking at the same papers and monitors side-by-side, and using your hands to gesture instead of a nearly-invisible mouse. No need to wait for screen-sharing to sync up. Facial cues, body language. The ability to talk at the same time without the audio software tromping on one or the other of you.

          And I have yet to find white-board software that even comes close to 2 or three people working on a real white board together.

          1. mushroom*

            Another point: if you need a question answered, you can see who of the 5 people that can answer it are around, and ask them directly (when you’re in person), as opposed to picking one, scheduling a meeting or sending a slack question, and waiting an hour or two for them to get back to you.

            1. EmF*

              Conversely: if I need a question answered, I can send it to all five of them at once via our chat, and the first one who’s able to can take ten minutes to answer it, rather than me having to wait two days until I actually see them at a time when they’re not in a rush to get somewhere.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Well, sometimes it’s not about “how do we accomplish the task,” but more about “how do I manage the amount of time I spend talking on low-level or unnecessary topics without damaging team relationships?”

          With my exceedingly garrulous coworker, one contributing factor is that on Teams, you don’t have many options for subtle “I have to go now” cues other than unenthusiastic facial expressions or “hm” noises. You’re either in the meeting, or you say some version of “gotta go, bye” and hang up. And a lot of times, that’s way too abrupt and feels needlessly rude.

          Whereas in person, there are a lot of different ways to fade out / break the pattern / escape without coming right out and saying “I am stopping talking to you now because I have more important things to do.”

          1. Coelura*

            I find the opposite – I find it much easier to end a Teams call than to walk away in person. The person can just follow me when I walk away and keep talking. With Teams, I can just say “gotta go, bye” and drop.

            1. RagingADHD*

              Sure, but I think if you read my comment you might notice that I specifically mentioned that option and said it wasn’t relationally appropriate in this context?

              Team relationships matter, and sometimes they are tricky. I’m all for being direct as much as possible, but there are situations when too much directness is going to come off as rudeness and cause problems.

            2. Gemstones*

              Maybe you’re ending conversations a little abruptly if people are walking after you while still talking…

    2. kiwiii*

      I feel like tracking your digital collab time both at home and in office will be beneficial as well. I’m curious if you collaborate less in general in office, tbh

    3. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      They’d probably just say “well, you need to get up from your cubicle and walk around and talk to people.” I don’t see a situation where even the best data will convince leadership who wants butts in seats that butts in seats isn’t working.

      1. Petty Spreadsheets*

        As I said in my post, I don’t really have plans to use the data for anything. I decided to track it mostly to see if I was overreacting. Like, was I actually sitting alone in a cubicle with no collaboration for 90% of my day, or was I blowing it out of proportion? Just getting the verification that it’s really happening and I’m not making it up.

    4. TheBunny*

      I would track Teams calls with coworkers. It’s how I won a similar fight. I was told I needed to be in office to collaborate and then spend most of my time either alone in office OR on a call…with someone in another office or state.

    5. College Career Counselor*

      Agreed with others about tracking Teams Collaboration vs. In-Office Collaboration. Also, unless the bosses can mandate that EVERYone you’d collaborate with is on the same in-office schedule, then having you come in and be available (to an empty room/department) seems….counter productive.

      1. Kuleta*

        It is. I heard that a past employer of mine required all the junior professionals to be in-office for collaboration. However, they didn’t require the same of the mid-level and senior professionals the juniors were to collaborate with.

        This employer has always been stupid anyway. Unfortunately, they can’t be singled out for this kind of thing.

      2. Petty Spreadsheets*

        That’s the thing. We’re all in person on the same three days every week. But our office is kind of spread out and instead of walking back and forth to each other’s desks when we have a quick two second question, most people will just send a quick teams chat.

    6. Dannie*

      This is what led me to seek a new job. I was fed the “collaboration” line too, except…my team mates are in other countries. So I was driving to hold my virtual meetings with a different background, basically.

      1. soontoberetired*

        that is an issue with almost anyone working in Tech, regardless of industry. We have outsourced our contractors to India which makes things really hard.

        I am in part time now, and the only good thing about it for collaboration is accessing business partners for emergencies. that has been harder to do in teams – they just ignore team messages. the collaboration only works if the right people are in.

    7. Bruce*

      Ooof… I remember driving an hour each way… when my wife retired I was able to go fully remote, now my commute is the stairs to the attic :-)

    8. Happy meal with extra happy*

      I would caution against getting too deep into this, especially because you know you’re unlikely to ever use the info. I’d be afraid that focusing my time on this would just spiral and intensify my negativity, when I could be channeling my energy elsewhere.

      1. Velma*

        I second this. Anything I have ever tracked in a petty way has only lead to me feeling even worse and more fed up. Unless your goal is to get yourself worked up enough to quit, this isn’t going to help anything.

    9. Richard Hershberger*

      What always strikes me about these discussions is how they are abstracted. Some jobs clearly need face-to-face. Some jobs clearly do not. Many are somewhere in between, with that “somewhere” covering a lot of ground. Yet I never see an article couching it in these terms, with those companies requiring in-office giving a specific explanation of why they fall into the “needs face-to-face” category.

      What we get instead is vague talk about “collaboration,” or even “spontaneous collaboration.” The idea seems to be that Bob, sitting at that day’s hot desk, will turn to Mary, seated at hers, and they will bounce ideas off each other to better maximize return on shareholder investment. Whether Bob and Mary work on anything related, or have ever spoken with one another before or ever will again, simply doesn’t enter into the discussion. I guess maybe this sometimes happens? Though it seems more likely that they will discuss whatever was on TV the night before. In any case, the absence any real discussion (likely because frankly it sounds kind of dumb when you lay it out like that) is the tell that this is BS. And don’t get me started on “corporate culture.” Whenever a senior executive talks about their corporation’s culture, it is sure to be BS: perhaps clueless rather than malignant, but BS nonetheless.

      The only critique of remote working that rings at all true in the general sense is the difficulty of training up new hires, especially entry-level new hires. I buy that this is a problem, but not that making everyone commute is the only solution.

      1. Dasein9 (he/him)*

        Yep! I need a little collaboration + large swathes of “maker time,” in which I produce documents that are then reviewed and altered by others, which is more collaboration, but asynchronous.

        Putting me in an office deprives me of the maker time I need to produce the things I make. It’s loud, people just come up and interrupt me, my clothes have to be tighter and pinchier, the temperature’s usually wonky, other people’s food smells, and frankly, while I occasionally do make friends at work, I don’t really like most people and resent using up all my other-people-energy on coworkers instead of loved ones.

    10. Corporate Fledgling*

      My office currently does two days in and the commute is almost 2.5 hours round trip for me and I’m zonked on those days. Our of the C-Suite made a bit of a cryptic comments about it might change to more days in the future and I got heart palpitations. At your company did they explain why the two days was not enough and they moved it to three? I’m really worried about that happening but I’m too new to ask around/say anything.

      1. Petty Spreadsheets*

        Really all they said was that in-person collaboration is better than remote collaboration and that being in the office an extra day would give us more options for scheduling client meetings, but we were already coming in for client meetings if we needed to on a remote day anyway.

        1. Corporate Fledgling*

          How was it received and how long did they test out the 2 day? I’m just trying to mentally prepare ugh.

    11. Momma Bear*

      Likely that if the culture is Teams, it’s going to stay largely Teams. We had a high-level person (who doesn’t like WFH) decide that their project meetings were going to be in person and if you’re in the building, you should be in the room. It’s a butts in seats mentality that has little to do with workflow and much more to do with corporate anxiety. Most meetings are still…you guessed it…over Teams.

      So that said…since you know you have x days to overlap with y people in person, is there anything you can do to maximize the face time? As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes the best info I get is in the office kitchen. Or is there work that is easier to do in the office than at home? Some of us have better office setups than we do home setups.

    12. ShysterB*

      I have been doing something very very similar since my employer started “encouraging” people to come into the office at least 2 days/week. I call it my Co-worker Interaction Log. On any day I am in the office, in 30 minute intervals, I make a note of who I had any interaction with (name), whether it was by Teams (in purple), whether it was substantive (in bold, anything more than a “hi, how are you?” while passing in the hallway counts) and whether it was connected to a specific need to be in the office for example, with a client who wants to meet face-to-face for whatever reason (in red).

      By far, the only substantive interactions I have on days in the office are either Teams (because I’m dealing with people in other locations, or they are co-workers at home) or relate to a specific meeting that required in-person presence. The days when I go in for no specific reason, I typically have only non-substantive interactions.

      I have no intention of actually doing anything with the information. It’s largely for my own amusement and the amusement of those co-workers who know about it (when they see me in the office, they’ll pause long enough that they can say, “Now, you have to put my name IN BOLD on your spreadsheet!”).

      It’s a minimum 2-hour round trip commute for me if the trains are on time. My average hourly billing rate exceeds $800/hour (it’s BigLaw, I couldn’t afford to hire myself). Three days a week, 50 weeks a year after holiday/vacation weeks, that’s $240,000+/year in commuting time. I’d offer that as justification, except on days I commute, those two hours come out of my personal time allotment rather than billable work — I don’t bill less, because that would have an immediate impact on my own personal bottom line.

      Anyway, tl;dr — long live petty spreadsheets.

    13. Chaordic One*

      In my job we are required to use the laptops they provide to us for security reasons. They now want us to have our laptops turned on and logged into our company’s network all the time so that they can update the laptops. You can usually tell they’ve done this because when you go to start working on your laptop, it will be turned off. My laptop is now on all the time.

      On the one day that I have to work in the office, I will have left the computer turned on and logged-in from the night before and I can’t really shut anything down until just before I leave for work. Then when I get to work I have to get the laptop set up, turned on, logged-in and then have log into several different programs and also open up several different job aids (cheat sheets) that I use that are saved as word documents and pdfs. (We have very convoluted log-in procedures, supposedly for security reasons.) I swear that I must waste at least half an hour, and sometimes a whole hour, just setting up my computer on the day that I’m required to go into the office.

      When I come home, I have to get the computer set up again. I usually do it the same day that I come home, but sometimes I don’t get it done until the next morning. Again it ususaly takes about half an hour or so, but when I set it back up, it is on my time and not the company’s.

      Anyway, the time wasted by having to shut down and restart the laptops is the biggest factor in a loss of productivity when we work in the office. I’m afraid that when management finally figures this out, they’ll want to have everyone back in the office all the time and quite a few people will quit. (There were a handful of people, who for reasons, were no allowed to work from home and they quit.)

    14. Churu*

      “but most days it feels like I’ve been sitting alone in my cubicle working independently with very little in-person work collaboration. When I do collaborate with my coworkers, it’s over Teams, just like we do on our remote days.”
      That is frustrating and I get the desire to have an outlet but I think this is only going to make your resentment and frustration way worse. And the next thing you know, you’re snapping at your boss and hello PIP or worse.

      The time already spent on this spreadsheet could have been spent on looking up WFH jobs at least, if not applying for them. Or jobs with shorter commutes at least.

  3. Unfettered scientist*

    Anyone here work in biotech/pharma? What’s the situation re: layoffs in your companies? There’s suspicion of one for us despite the company performing well and we’re already short staffed.

    1. Lunchtime Doubly So*

      Yes, I do. We’ve done a series of layoffs over the last year and are quite short-staffed. We’re hearing it’s happening in a lot of other companies as well.

    2. pally*

      I’m in IVD. San Diego area.

      Increasingly lately, the trades (specifically MD&DI) talk about layoffs AND companies doing well financially. WTF?

      Granted, now the demand for COVID testing has dropped a great deal, there are IVD companies suffering over that. Suffering = loss of revenue & layoffs announced.

      Sure, IVD is not the same thing as pharma. I wonder if the fact that Medicare can now negotiate prices with drug companies (effective in 2026) has pharma companies working to protect against the anticipated revenue decrease this may cause them. This was the case for IVD when the anticipated Device Tax became law with the Affordable Care Act. Something like 27,000 medical device jobs were cut in anticipation of having to pay this Device Tax.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        “talk about layoffs AND companies doing well financially. WTF?”

        You must be new around here. That’s capitalism, baby!

        1. Quill*

          Specifically, juicing the numbers on stocks every quarter. “We saved so much money by not having anybody to do the actual work!”

    3. Engineer*

      Healthcare in general is going through a lot of rolling layoffs right. Since biotech/pharma is more grant funded, bigger waves of layoffs are expected. Source: my mom works for a health insurance company and her job requires her to work with hospital and pharma staff frequently. There’s a lot of people gone from one week to the next.

      all hail the mighty corporate profits.

    4. I work in biotech*

      I work in biotech and the company that I work for had layoffs last year. But we were not performing well and it was expected.

      I have been in the industry for about 15 years and weather in outsourcing/insourcing trends. Companies lay off a bunch of people and outsource their functions and then 5 years later they get rid of the FSP and re-hire FTEs for the function.

      I have also seen layoffs because of divestitures or project failures. Lots of musical chairs in biotech.

    5. JMR*

      I’m in biotech. I survived our layoffs late last year, but my husband, who also works in biotech, was on the wrong side of a RIF a few weeks ago. I’ve been in the industry a long time and I’ve never seen so many layoffs before. In the past, layoffs were always a risk, especially at smaller companies where the fate of the company was completely tied up in 1 or 2 clinical assets, but they’d be more sporadic – they’d happen here and there as a company had a poor clinical read-out and discontinued a program or an investor pulled out. This feels widespread. I’m in a biotech hub and nearly every company I know of had some amount of layoffs in 2023 or early 2024. But things do seem to be trending back up in terms of companies receiving investments, and we’re seeing a lot more partnerships/deals between big pharma and smaller companies than in 2023. My friends who work in biotech on the investment side all think hiring will pick back up soon too, but who knows whether “soon” means “next month” or “November.”

    6. NjPharma*

      Officially, my company is cutting contractors first, and offering packages to EU employees. but we have pipeline challenges

    7. Medtech*

      I’m in medtech, and we are bleeding people and money. Can no longer tell who is leaving voluntarily or not, because the trickle-layoffs have spooked everyone. (I suspect, but cannot prove, that this years-long layoff happening in dribbles and drabs is intended to circumvent the WARN Act.) Of course, all the worker bees are the ones being shown the door, but every other day we get an e-mail announcing yet another new “Head of Some Bullsh*t or Other” role being hired. Can’t wait to work for a company full of useless upper management with nobody to actually work in the trenches and accomplish anything.

    8. Susan Calvin*

      FWIW, about a third of my company’s revenue comes from big biotech/pharma clients, and we don’t seem to feel a particular squeeze on that front (and you would normally expect IT projects to get cancelled before mass lay-offs), so there seems to be at least *some* parts of the market staying stable.

      Good luck!

    9. AnonToday*

      Yes, checking in from a small biotech. We had a RIF late last year (which included a handful of people that were not performing well and some that were hard to work with behaviorally). We’re kind of running a skeleton crew in the hopes that we’ll get acquired or other funding soon.

      I’ve had a small uptick in recruiters scouting me, so I’m hopeful that’s a good sign for the industry even if I myself am not looking.

    10. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m in large biotech, SF Bay Area. The company sells COVID-related items, so there was a huge hiring push in 2020, and now sizable layoffs but we all knew it was coming. My team doesn’t do COVID stuff, though. We lost a senior manager a few months ago, for cost-cutting reasons, but we think that’s the extent of it.

    11. Anooooooon*

      It’s definitely a rough market for biotech right now, globally. I’m not in biotech myself any more but I have a lot of clients in the industry. What I’m hearing from them is that the rapid approval and ROI on COVID vaccines and therapeutics attracted a lot of first-time biotech investors into the industry who didn’t realize that it usually takes decades to get a product to market, quickly got cold feet, and pulled out, essentially bursting an artificial bubble. New investment is still happening, but only in the companies that are closest to getting a product to market. So a lot of companies that are more in the pre-clinical phase are cutting back. I have a bunch of friends who’ve been laid off in the last year or so, all from pre-clinical companies.

    12. Pharma here*

      I’m in pharma, we’re doing layoffs but we also have issues with our pipeline. I hear from US colleagues that there are layoffs across the board in the big companies and there’s only one bigger company really hiring. In EU, due to the energy price situation, layoffs are definitely a factor in big pharma as well. But big tech is laying off like crazy as well in the EU, and in the EU this means packages and long term planning so they mean it.

      This’ll be interesting when all the boomers retire, because that’s up to 30% of their staff sometimes.

  4. Emily*

    My work is insisting on having a baby shower for me and I don’t want it. I’ve been polite but very clear on this with the “party committee,” and I even talked to our boss about it. She basically said it’s going to happen so I just have to deal. I am uninterested in being the center of attention this way. I’m considering just calling in sick on that day, but I feel like they’ll either move it or there will be significant blowback. I feel like it’s reasonable for me to not want it, but also maybe not what I want to spend a lot of capital on. Any ideas for getting out of this?

    1. Petty Spreadsheets*

      Who’s your biggest office gossip? Can you tell that person that you asked not to have a baby shower but your boss and the party planner are insisting on it, even though it’s not what you want? I think if your coworkers knew you didn’t want it, they might push back on your behalf.

      1. Bast*

        I love this! Make sure to mention how sick and stressed this makes you as well, so they know you REALLY do not want this party, and it isn’t just a polite, “oh, you really don’t have to.”

        1. Emily*

          I used the words, “I do not want this party. It makes me uncomfortable to be the center of attention for something like this, please do not do this.” In writing.

          1. MsSolo (UK)*

            I think people are probably downplaying “uncomfortable” and “something like this” as “well, Emily doesn’t like normal parties, but our special one will show her how fun it can be to be the centre of attention”. I’d maybe follow up with “thank you for your kind thoughts, but due to the impact on my [list physical symptoms of stress/pregnancy they can’t downplay], I won’t be able to attend.” It’s not about what you want, it’s about unchangeable circumstances that aren’t anybody’s ‘fault’ and isn’t it just a shame but oh well lets all move on.

      2. Emily*

        The biggest gossip is in charge of planning the shower. It’s not a huge office, everyone knows I don’t want it, they’re doing it anyway. That feels ridiculous to type and I swear they’re usually people I enjoy working with, they just seem to have completely lost all sense on this.

        1. samwise*

          They’re assholes. Even if you usually enjoy working with them and they’re usually reasonable.

          Do you have an all-staff meeting? If so, take that opportunity to say, I appreciate your effort [even if you don’t!], but I do not want this party and if you insist on throwing this party, I will not attend it.

          And then if they do throw the party, do not attend it. Don’t call in sick, they’ll just reschedule. Walk away when the party starts.

          Is it a big enough employer to have HR? This might be something to take to HR. But really, your boss needs to shut it down yesterday.

          1. ampersand*

            I agree. If your pregnant coworker says they don’t want a baby shower, for the love of god honor that. Pregnancy is hard enough without dealing with this (completely unnecessary!) issue.

            If this had happened to me when I was pregnant I would have not attended and felt completely justified/not at all like I was in the wrong.

        2. Petty Spreadsheets*

          I agree with samwise that you’re probably going to need to bring in HR if you have it, or your boss’s boss if there is one. You shouldn’t have to have a party thrown in your honor if you don’t want one.

        3. Typing All The Time*

          I think you have to bring in your boss or HR in on this one. Maybe put out a gracious company email saying you don’t want it so you have record of your decision and your employees know that you mean it.

          1. linger*

            “For obvious reasons, I will not be attending the planned ‘Haven’t Miscarried Yet But We Wanna Jinx It’ event.”

        4. goddessoftransitory*

          Are you the first pregnancy in the office in a while, or ever? I’ve found that post Covid especially the whole CELEBRATE LIFE thing can get quite spirally quite fast if the work culture latches on.

          But that’s not to say that it’s suddenly okay that you are being forced into being their Avatar of Joy or whatever the reason is for this explosion of boundaries and reasonable behavior.

    2. Bast*

      There was a case where someone had sued after their employer for throwing him a birthday party he had explicitly stated multiple times that he did not want — print the article and leave it on the manager’s desk. Honestly, I’m not sure if calling in sick would work, as they may just hold it the next day instead. Perhaps feign being sick very, very early on upon the party starting so that it’s too late for them to pull back and use the stuff at a later date? You could always go to the restroom and fake being sick and mention that the stress and anxiety this is causing is making you physically ill. If they are dying on this hill, I’m not really sure there is a good way to make them stop — you leaving/not being in attendance is the only real solution I see, as they appear to not respect boundaries.

    3. Super Duper Anon*

      I would weigh how much political capital you have vs how much you will hate it vs how inconvenient it is for you. In my first career job, I was getting married around the same time as two other coworkers, so they held a joint wedding shower for the three of us. I also dislike these things and didn’t want to go, but I knew I had very little political capital to get out of it, even though it was at the organizer’s house after work, instead of in the office. Since my level of discomfort was mid-tier, I just went and got through it and was glad when it was over. Where I am in my career now, I could easily push back on something like this.

      1. Ashley*

        I think this is a major factor. Is it worth the political capital. It is stupid you have to spend it on this but you may need to.
        Also if you are getting gifts and that makes you uncomfortable could you maybe out loud announce how much stuff you have already gotten from X so new stuff is going to be donated to some group that helps new moms?

    4. ChaoticNeutral*

      I don’t have any advice, just sympathy. How odd! I hope your wishes are eventually respected.

    5. MsM*

      Show up fashionably late, have an urgent phone call you need to take after about 10 minutes of small talk, and insist everyone carry on without you?

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I come at this from a particular perspective in that I belong to a culture that does not do baby showers at all for superstitious reasons so I’m inclined to get weird about baby showers at work anyway, but I am actually angry on your behalf (and I enjoy workplace parties). The fact that your boss blew you off is absolutely ridiculous. In your place, I would go back to the boss, close the door, and state very calmly and firmly that you are uncomfortable with a baby shower and you do not want to participate. You appreciate everyone’s excitement for you, and they’re very kind (say something like this even if you don’t believe it), but you are uncomfortable with this party and you will not attend. If she probes you on why, just repeat that it makes you uncomfortable.

      It’s not quite the same thing, but years ago I worked at a place that had a birthday rotation– the person who had the last birthday brought in treats for the next birthday. When it was my turn to bring in treats I asked my co-worker when he wanted his “party”– he told me he hates parties and he’d prefer to skip it. So we did. And I got the worst pushback from our office manager. Why people insist on throwing a party for someone who doesn’t want a party, no matter what the occasion… I will never understand it. It’s the opposite of celebratory or caring, it’s extremely selfish.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        I think it’s at least partly because parties usually involve food and time away from one’s desk. And people get weird/entitled about free food at work. Regardless, it’s definitely a selfish thing to insist on having when the person it’s for doesn’t want it. If they want a party so badly, come up with another excuse rather than making it about the person who explicitly doesn’t want it.

        Some people just genuinely don’t understand why someone doesn’t want the same things they want, but you can not understand AND still be capable of following someone’s wishes to not have a party.

    7. theletter*

      I’m pretty sure there’s a few posts about baby showers, but I couldn’t find one about moms-to-be getting out of it. I know there’s one mom-to-be who objected to the shower for religious reasons, the thought being that overhyping the pregnancy through baby showers creates unnecessary anxiety. I think there’s a bit of truth there – the mom-to-be should be able to set the boundaries around who and what is involved in celebrating because it is risky and different for everybody.

      A snarky response could be pulling up clips from the baby shower episode from ‘The Office’. I feel like that show makes the pitfalls of mid-century personal celebration traditions at work very clear.

      Another option, if you really have to just deal with it, is to request that it’s not a traditional baby shower. They have to come up with activities that don’t involve opening presents in front of everybody, and don’t involve awkward games.

      I did attend a (non-work) baby shower a few months ago that worked well – there was plenty of drinks, food, music, conversation, and an activity of rolling the baby’s DnD states with a giant 20-sided die. Attendees were encouraged to give the kid fairy godmother gifts in the form of DnD skills on post it notes. (I blessed that kid with Operate Heavy Machinery). We also doodled jokes on cheap baby clothes. With all of this, people were very engaged and the presents were ancillary. This is just to say that worst case scenario, you could push them to make it more of an excuse to party and less about you.

    8. JP*

      It’s wild that they insist on throwing a baby shower for a person who has communicated that they don’t want it. Who is this party for, since it’s clearly not for you?

    9. TheBunny*

      I’m going to chime in with the exact opposite opinion of others.

      Suck it up and go. I get that it’s not fun…but it’s really not worth using capital on this, especially as it’s something others are doing to celebrate you, to do something nice, and to get cake at work.

      I do understand not wanting it. I do. But I’d save my clout for something truly awful that’s not a one-time event.

      1. Bast*

        There’s different levels of anxiety though. There’s “this makes me mildly uncomfortable and I don’t like it, but I will push through” and there’s “I will hyperventilate, puke, and have a full blown panic attack as I work myself up all day about this party” which is likely to be exacerbated by pregnancy for some. In the former scenario, maybe I’d just go, but given how vehemently opposed OP is, I’m thinking they may fall more within the second.

        1. Emily*

          I am closer to the second, but it is usually not outwardly noticeable. I will likely have a meltdown when I get home, though.

          1. Betty*

            “Boss, I know when we’ve talked before about the shower that Coworker is organizing, you’ve said I should just accept that it’s happening. I don’t think I’ve been clear enough*, and I need you to understand that because of some personal, medical things going on**, I *will not attend a shower*.”

            If she asks about the “personal medical thing”– “I appreciate your concern. Right now the only support I need from work is for this shower not to happen.”

            * You have, this just helps save face a little
            ** Your anxiety is a personal medical thing; there are also lots of things that can be happening with a pregnancy/history of things that happened in previous pregnancies that might someone uncomfortable with a shower. None of that is anyone’s business.

            1. (I also hated baby showers)*

              I think this is the best suggestion that will use The minimum amount of social capital. I *might* loop in HR with the same script.

          2. Always Tired*

            mostly joking: have you considered crying at Party Planner? Because I have done that accidentally and it was VERY effective to get everyone to get out of my business and give me the requested space.

            alternative more aggressive choice: “If you go through with this, I will just walk out. If you are that desperate for a reason to have a party at work, it’s women’s history month and you can do an event for that.”

      2. Not Australian*

        Yeah, no. Effectively, she’s really just being asked to provide entertainment for her workmates: *they’re* the ones who want this shower. I can’t imagine having to deal with the kind of idiots who are entertained by watching an expectant mother squirming in embarrassment at being the centre of attention when she’s already said she prefers not to do that. Clearly, you actually *don’t* actually understand not wanting it: she’s not a paid clown or a trick pony, and she should be allowed to opt out if that’s her wish.

      3. Workerbee*

        Nah. If her coworkers really wanted to “do something nice” for OP, they’d listen to her stating that she does not want this baby shower.

        Not adhering to OP’s wishes means the coworkers are doing this more for themselves than for the purported guest of honor! Whether they want to grab that oh so important 60 minutes of chat and cake, or Just Can’t Believe someone wouldn’t want this, because _they_ certainly would.

        There’s probably a ratio or Venn diagram for “people who want to feel good about themselves by performing Action At Others” and “people lacking in empathy for what those Others really want or need.”

      4. anotherfan*

        well, the downside to ‘suck it up and go’ is that once it’s over, everybody will congratulate themselves on what great coworkers they are, tell Emily “see, it wasn’t so bad! you enjoyed it after all!” and … boundaries will be seen as negotiable.

    10. Cacofonix*

      Personally, this would make me offended enough to blow some capital. I’d take the boss and organizer aside separately and tell them that while I’m grateful for their generosity, it would be a kindness to cancel the event for everyone because I would not attend. Any gifts I receive would be donated.

      1. Momma Bear*

        This is one where I’d be very clear – to the organizer and the boss – that they can gather if they want to, but YOU do not want this shower and will not be there. And if they don’t back off, go to HR because after a point that becomes harassment and you don’t need that stress. They can mean well and want to do something but it not be the right thing. Maybe if they want to buy stuff just point them to your registry (if you have one) and have it appear quietly like Santa was in the office. Or a gift card. Gift cards are good.

        I’ve had a couple of surprise events and most of them ended up being more about the host than me and left out some key things I’d want or left out some people I’d want. At least you know so you can steer them toward “don’t”.

        Your boss shrugging it off and saying just deal is so lazy. This is no longer about you (if it ever was).

        1. Kyrielle*

          My husband’s then-employer did a baby shower for him with our first child, and they handled it, IMO, perfectly. The company provided a card and a small gift (baby clothes, if I remember right), and a cake. And the main point of it was to say congratulations to him and eat some cake. I’m pretty sure they’d have skipped it if he asked, but he was down with cake.

          My office did a full-on baby shower with gifts and games. I was expecting something a little more like his and was rather taken aback, but I had agreed to it. I probably would again, rather than make waves, but it just makes me mildly uncomfortable, not full-on anxious or avoidant.

          Forcing people into “celebrating” something *your way* isn’t celebrating *them or their situation at all* if they’ve said they don’t want it. Just…don’t.

    11. HugeTractsofLand*

      Since the office gossip route won’t work, maybe you can send an email to your whole team saying roughly “I know a baby shower is being planned, but I actually don’t like parties and being the center of attention. Since it’s happening anyway, it would be a favor to me if you treated it like a random get-together instead of bringing cards or gifts or making it about me. Thank you in advance!”

      It’s ridiculous that you have to resort to this, but hopefully making it super clear to the whole group will shame the party planner into stopping it. If they give you grief, just stick to your guns and say calmly that this is your preference. Good luck!

    12. (I also hated baby showers)*

      I wrote some suggestions that are probably bad ideas and so I’m just here to note that you aren’t wrong and aren’t overreacting. Anything you do to get out of this — weeping, lying, faking illness — is absolutely fine in my book. An unwanted baby shower at work can be such an imposition of work into your personal life — if they won’t listen to your words on this make them rue the day.

      1. I also hate showers*

        I also tried not to have a shower but realized it wasn’t worth the political capital so instead I asked for a book shower with attendees bringing unwrapped books. Maybe you can suggest something to make it more tolerable.

    13. I'm just here for the cats!*

      coould you just send an email to the team and say, nicely, that you don’t want a baby shower.

      Would you be ok if someone brought in cake, etc. It might be more about the socialization and food than actually throwing you a party.

    14. RagingADHD*

      Wait till the party has started, walk in late, after a minute, get “sick,” excuse yourself quickly to the bathroom, stay in there for a good 20 minutes, and when you come out, go home “sick” for the rest of the day.

      They aren’t going to buy two cakes and do the whole thing over again the next day if they already started.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Yup. It is the baby shower version of how I dealt with those dreadful company holiday parties, back when I had to deal with them: Show up within a reasonable window of “on time,” chase down my boss for a few minutes of idle chit chat, then chase down my boss’s boss for another few minutes of idle chit chat, then slip out the door and go home.

          1. Generic Name*

            This is roughly how I handled going to a cringey 30th anniversary/founder retiring/yay new CEO party I attended on my second to last day at a previous job. Said “hi” to high profile people, left before the tribute video and speeches started (thank god) and to anyone who said they missed me I said, “Wow, such a great party! There were so many familiar faces [clients] that I kept getting stopped and I couldn’t even make it across the room!!”

        2. RagingADHD*

          Granted, I wouldn’t advise this as a first line approach. Clearly stating your wishes is number one, enlisting someone chatty to get the word out is #2, and talking your manager is #3.

          But OP has tried those, and everyone is determined to be a jerk about it. So they get lip service.

    15. Lost academic*

      Get your doctor to write it up that you can’t go. my doctor would have been over the moon hysterically on board with it. file it with HR. if it doesn’t work leave “sick” 15 minutes before it starts so they can’t reschedule it.

      these people suck in this respect. I hope they learn. even the wildly annoying people in my office didn’t do this for my first pregnancy – though it was extremely clear I didn’t want it to be discussed at work (in that I literally never made an announcement).

    16. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

      This really sucks and I hate they’re putting you in this position. In the past, I dealt with a mandatory work birthday party I didn’t want by showing up for the first five minutes, excusing myself for the restroom, and simply returning to my desk. It upset no one in my case because they just wanted an excuse to have cake on company dime, but only you can judge how that would land with your folks. And, of course, it’s only possible if the party is off site.

      I think the best approach is a polite “No thanks” when they come round to get you on the day of the party, or dipping out early like I did. But you’d be totally justified in wanting to make it more of A Thing or in doing nothing at all. Sorry they’re being jerks about this.

    17. Choggy*

      I am retiring this year and am saying to anyone within earshot I don’t want a party. The thought of being trapped in a room with my coworkers, especially one who is my former manager, who will dominate all the conversations and ultimately embarrass me is not my idea of a good time. I have developed quite a lot of anxiety being in a conference room with others and will not put myself through that for them.

    18. Nesprin*

      Can you ask the planners to make it a baby welcoming (say once there’s an actual kid and you’re no longer pregnant) instead of a baby shower? If nothing else it gets you a couple of months and more focus on the baby and less on you?

    19. Employed Minion*

      If you can’t get out of it, try to get involved just a little. If they are doing gifts, have it be diapers so you’re not stuck unwrapping gifts in front of everyone. In many offices, its just an excuse to have cake etc.

    20. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      My work baby shower was scheduled to be a surprise. I was so cranky because I had NO INTEREST in having the “meeting” that they told me I was going to. I was trying to push back on the meeting and finally the coworker who nominally scheduled the faux meeting cracked. It was quick, silly, people put their name ideas on a flip chart and we had some cake in the time that it takes to have a pointless meeting.

      I think in your case you might just as well accept it, but put the word out that since you’re so busy getting things done before you go out on maternity leave, you need to limit things to a quick event with nothing elaborate. Maybe even schedule a meeting an hour after the shower starts, just to be sure.

      (I’m hoping there’s no history of over the top events at your workplace.)

    21. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      Maybe try, in writing, “My pregnancy is not a company resource and I need you to respect my boundaries with regard to this shower. If you insist on holding it, I will not attend.”

      Sometimes people treat people who are pregnant like public property and cross normal boundaries, and it looks like that may be what’s happening here.

    22. EA*

      Make a suggestion of a format that you like more, instead of trying to get out of it altogether- which probably won’t happen. Throw your energy behind no games and no wrapped gifts (do diapers or books instead), or whatever you find most intolerable. I’ve seen showers where everyone decorates a onesie, gets the focus off of the mom. Or is there another upcoming birthday or event so it could be a joint ceebration and take focus off of you?

    23. Frankie Bergstein*

      What about “urgently needing to go to the doctor and this was the only time they had available”? And sharing that around the time of the party so you don’t have to go but your coworkers still get cake and time away from their desks?

    24. AuDHD spaghetti monster*

      Does your office normally throw baby showers for people?

      It seems really weird that they’re insisting on doing this when it sounds like everyone knows that you don’t want it. Like they’re stuck in some idea that this is a tradition and it wouldn’t be nice to not do it for you. Maybe they just assume you won’t be the centre of attention the whole time?

      So strange.

      Is there any way to… not be the centre of attention? I know that might sound silly, but I genuinely don’t know; I’ve never been to a baby shower, much less a work one, so I really wonder if it is possible to stay out of the lime light with phrases like “oh you can play these games” and “oh I’d rather open the gifts at home so that I don’t lose track of who they’re all from. I want to write thank you letters to everyone. Can Jessica and David help me bring them to my car?” Is it possible to find out what the plans are and work with them to make it so that the attention isn’t on you?

    25. Seashell*

      You can do what I did and have the baby early, so you miss the shower. :-) There were two of us in the office who were pregnant, so they still had the shower for the other person and my husband picked up the gifts later on. I didn’t mind the idea of the shower, but I am not a big center of attention fan either.

      1. NewbornHaze*

        Same haha – ended up having baby 2 days before party I very much didn’t want to attend

  5. Elevator Elevator*

    Anyone have tips for when a friend is one of the candidates in a hiring process you’ll be asked to weigh in on?

    Context: I am a senior llama wrangler in an office that is hiring another llama wrangler. One of the applicants is a former coworker I’m still friends with. I was also senior to her when we worked together previously. My manager did ask me if I knew her, and I gave an honest assessment: I’d be happy to have her here because I know I can work with her and her floor is definitely higher than other people we’ve had in the role, but she also has a ceiling and it’s possible we’ll see other candidates who would be better hires.

    She has a phone screen with my manager next week, and if she moves on in the process she’ll almost certainly end up meeting with me. I’m generally brought in to discuss the role and responsibilities with the candidate, get a feel for how suited to the daily responsibilities they might be, and answer any questions they have.

    I’m curious whether anyone has been through a similar situation and has advice – what’s different about interviewing someone you know well? What’s the best way to approach it? Anything you wish you’d done differently?

    (For what it’s worth I’m really just curious about navigating the hiring process. Famous last words, but I’m not worried about work impacting the friendship or vice versa. I could handle losing the friendship if it came to that, and our larger friend group is used to navigating changes in professional dynamics.)

      1. Elevator Elevator*

        That’s really not my call, it’s my manager’s. We’re tiny and there’s nobody else who can speak to the daily responsibilities of the role the way I can. If it’s not me, the options are my manager or our other brand new llama wrangler.

        It’s entirely possible my manager will decide to handle everything herself given the history, but I’m trying to think ahead in the event that I do end up involved.

        1. HonorBox*

          I think I’d be very clear with your manager that you feel uncomfortable interviewing a friend and you want to do your best to handle the process objectively. Tell them you don’t want to put your business in a spot where there’s any sort of appearance that the process wasn’t fair and objective.

          Then if you are expected to be involved, you’ve at least spoken up. If you have to proceed, I would suggest a conversation with your friend, away from work, before the interview. Let them know you’re going to approach the interview with them the same way you would with other candidates and approach them as an unknown person, which you’re expecting they will too.

        2. M2*

          You need to recuse yourself. Tell your manager you are close friends with this person and it wouldn’t be right to give your thoughts on hiring them.

          My sister did this and the friend they hired ended up being not the right fit to put it mildly. My sister who was a super star ended up getting a not great reputation because of how bad this person was at their job and how they put the organization through hell and ended up getting paid just to leave. My sister had worked with this person years before too but they clearly had changed.

          Recuse yourself because if this person ends up not being good you will be blamed!

        3. JSPA*

          you can recuse yourself from having an opinion, while still meeting with her as a resource / source of information. someone else would ideally sit in to rate the attitude in her responses, and to quiz you after that fact about any by- the- numbers strengths and weaknesses.

      2. Artemesia*

        The OP can be ‘brought in’ to discuss the role with the candidate, but should recuse herself from decision making because of her relationship. She can say ‘I think she is terrific at llama wrangling but she is also a friend, so I can’t be part of judging the candidates.’ And tell her the same thing — I have been asked to tell you about the role but because we know each other, I will not be part of the decision-making process.

    1. JP*

      If you don’t actually have experience working with your friend, I’d decline to weigh in beyond what’s presented in her resume.

      1. Elevator Elevator*

        I did address that in my comment – she’s a former coworker. I’m familiar with her strengths and weaknesses as an employee and have discussed them with my manager. In an interview setting I don’t typically already have firsthand knowledge of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, and if my manager chooses to keep me in the process then this time I will – just curious if anyone’s experienced that before.

        1. HonorBox*

          I have had similar experience, and it isn’t easy. But I think the easiest way to approach this is to assume nothing about her and assume that she knows nothing about your job. And then you have some opportunity to ask some questions about experience that you might not have first-hand knowledge about. She’s a former coworker, but in the time since you’ve not worked together, there are probably things she can talk about to give you a better perspective.

          We interviewed someone who had worked for our org, left, and then applied for a different position. Because it was quite different than what they had done previously for us, even though we had some institutional knowledge, we could ask some questions specific to the role and others about their present role.

    2. ferrina*

      It sounds like you did the right thing by letting your manager know early on that you knew her. It isn’t clear if you told your manager that you still see each other socially. You don’t need to say “we’re great friends!”, but you do need to let your manager know that you are closer than random ex-coworkers.

      For the interview- you need to recuse yourself from being an interviewer for your friend. You have a conflict of interest. Share your experience with the other people in the hiring process, and openly disclose that you see each other socially. If your company asks, you can share the day-to-day with your friend, but you shouldn’t be a primary interviewer. I have been in a situation where I was part of a panel interview for a friend- I let other people lead the interview and only asked a couple minor questions near the end. That worked out really well.

      1. Elevator Elevator*

        My manager does have full context for the friendship, and may decide to keep me out of my usual role in the process based on that. But we’re a tiny office and nobody can speak to the daily work like I can, so it’s possible she’ll want me involved anyway.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          I think that – since your manager knows the situation clearly, and since you’re the only person who can really explain the work and evaluate your friend’s skills, that you’re going to have to just proceed to do the interview.

          Perhaps, though, you can negotiate with your manager to have someone else co-interview with you as an objective observer. Eg. your manager. Surely they can evaluate the candidate while you’re providing the information about the daily tasks of the role.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Share info, avoid bias in what/how you share info, and stay out of decision-making discussions.

    4. OnyxChimney*

      I’ve been in this situation before. You’ve already done your due diligence, disclosing your social relationship and working relationship with the candidate with the hiring manager.

      I was also included in the informal peer interview portion despite my friendship. What I did was create a rubric for all the candidates and I went through it with her but I made some tweaks.

      Tell me about yourself! became Tell me about your Career since X position at place we worked together!

      Some questions remained the same. Why are you looking? What excites you about current company?

      Then I explained nuances of the role and asked if she had any concerns. I then let her ask me questions just like anyone else.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        I went through this recently and would also highly recommend a rubric. I’m in government so we’re very limited in the questions we can ask people, but we don’t have a response rubric. I created one myself and outlined the criteria for each score. My friend did phenomenally because she’d worked on the project from a slightly different angle and was able to make connections to the work in her answers, but that didn’t have anything to do with me or our friendship.

    5. Parenthesis Guy*

      I worked with someone who was a poor performer for their first few years on the job. All of a sudden, something just clicked and they turned into a superstar. Never would have predicted it, but you can’t argue with results. So, I think you owe it to your friend to make sure that something similar didn’t happen here.

      Aside from that, you should definitely be part of this process. You’ve already told your supervisor about your opinion of this employee which is great. Now, it’s your turn to be a resource to her to explain what she’d be getting into. In other words, this interview will be less about you and more about her.

      The difference is that you know this person, so you have an idea of what they can do already. That means you can focus more on discussing the role and less your thoughts about her abilities.

      1. Elevator Elevator*

        This is super helpful, thank you!

        I definitely see your point about the poor performer turned superstar, and when discussing her with my manager I did leave room for that possibility – I covered her strengths and weaknesses as I remembered them, but I was also clear that I knew her in her first professional role, she’s gotten more experience in the intervening years, and I didn’t want anyone to assume that my assessment was definitive. (And even if she hadn’t changed at all – she’d still be good in this role! It’s just a question of what my manager’s looking for and how strong the rest of the candidate pool is.)

    6. House On The Rock*

      Can you limit your part to just information sharing and not weigh in on how suited (or not) you think she’d be for the position? I’d echo what others have said that weighing in on her qualifications or giving input on whether or not she should be hired could be a landmine. Plus, you already shared some feedback with your boss. Chances are your friend also doesn’t really want these lines crossed and might be relieved to know you are only there to talk about the job and answer questions, not evaluate.

    7. Synaptically Unique*

      I’ve had to interview people I knew pretty well, sometimes knowing they would not be a good choice for the position, and sometimes knowing they would be a reasonable fit but feasibly we could have a better applicant.

      It sounds like you’ve given your boss the critical information in an unbiased way, so if it comes down to you needing to do your part, you just own it. Keep it clear and professional, and follow your standard script/format. You’ll be fine.

  6. Hypoglycemic rage*

    Can we talk about how a toxic past job can really mess with your head?

    I started a new job last week as an admin assistant at a law firm and for the most part I think it’s going well.

    I’ll occasionally make a mistake, like not pushing a chair in all the way, or a page for scanning is a little crooked. I try to fix those mistakes going forward (or redo the scans in the moment), but I imagine I’ll be making little errors for awhile.

    However, thanks to my last job, I am convinced I’m going to be fired asap. My last job gave me a decent review and then put me on a PIP the next day (I wish I were kidding). They also didn’t communicate well, so my getting placed on the second strike for my PIP was also a shock. This new job is the exact opposite in every way, and I am so grateful.

    It’s a new job and a new field, and I’m also not a perfectionist – so if a chair were pushed out at home, I’d leave it because I don’t care. But it’s different at work, and I’m also trying to adapt to that.

    I know if there are any issues my boss and coworker will bring them up to me, occasionally another coworker has called them about mistakes I’ve made. Everyone knows I’m new, but I just…. My last job really messed with my head.

    I try to use checklist and lists and do the best I can, but I’m worried it won’t be enough. And I’m only a couple weeks in to this new job…. I’m trying to give myself grace but I don’t know.

    1. Elevator Elevator*

      It’s really hard! I went through something similar and it took a while for me to stop feeling like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I did get there.

      I’m glad you’re in a better situation now.

        1. Not Jane*

          Hey I have see your posts in the past and have been able to identify with the same issues. I have FINALLY got a new job after many many applications. I am not taking time between my toxic job and my new job for financial reasons. I’m worried about the long term effects of my toxic job on my new attitude. I lack a lot of confidence due to the environment I’ve been working in, and with the new job I just keep telling myself, they believe in me so I believe in me too. I hope I can maintain that feeling. I guess I’ll find out in a few weeks!

    2. ThatGirl*

      Not pushing a chair in all the way is a mistake?

      I mean, things happen – it’s OK if a scan isn’t perfect the first time, of course you should check it, but none of your examples strike me as true mistakes. Just take a deep breath – any company that expects 100% perfection in even the tiniest of things is off their rocker and not worth working for. Focus more on the broad strokes of your job?

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        you’re right, I should take a deep breath! I’m sure this job isn’t as perfectionist as I am making them out to be in my head, I just know we have a lot of external clients and we want to make sure things look good for them, because that reflects on us.

        staff kitchen restocks are different, but I know people aren’t supposed to ask for things, because I am supposed to be generally on top of restocking whatever is in the kitchen when things are getting low.

        this job is not hard, it’s just, like, a lot of muscle memory and checklists and figuring out as I go.

        1. ThatGirl*

          And I totally understand that it can be hard to break through that constant anxiety. Just keep reminding yourself that nothing bad will happen if you miss pushing a chair in – and the checklists will help and the muscle memory will develop :) You got this.

    3. A Girl Named Fred*

      Give yourself time and grace. I started a new job a year ago after two jobs that were the absolute worst and most toxic for me, and it took me a solid three months before I started thinking that maybe my new place actually WAS different, another three months to fully believe my manager and coworkers had my back and weren’t about to do a 180, and the rest of that year to fully relax and believe I had moved on. And then my fantastic manager announced she was leaving and it all came flooding back. (I’m doing fine now; her replacement is okay so far but I still have days where the wariness pops up.)

      Sometimes it just takes time. Remind yourself that these people are not those people who wronged you. If you have the means to access therapy, consider going for a few sessions to talk it over with a neutral person. And also, while I don’t know your job requirements, make sure you’re correctly evaluating whether the things you’re classifying as making mistakes are actually being perceived as making mistakes. They seem a little… extreme, for lack of a better word, so I’d just make sure you aren’t holding yourself to an unreasonable standard. I know law can be a very formal field though, so you’re best positioned to know whether your standards are reasonable for your workplace!

      Best of luck to you; you’ve got this!

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        “And also, while I don’t know your job requirements, make sure you’re correctly evaluating whether the things you’re classifying as making mistakes are actually being perceived as making mistakes.”

        Oooh this is a good point. Earlier in the week, my manager emailed me about things I needed to fix (some of the kitchens were running low on stuff, which I missed when I was doing my usual checkin). In my last job, the toxic af one, we had all our mistakes totaled up each week, and then we had a weekly update with our trainer, boss, her boss, and some head of training person.

        So, having all those mistakes laid out like that was…. uhhh a lot (and I had also never had my mistakes totaled up like that), and I guess my mind still goes back to that whenever I make any kind of mistake, even if it’s not actually a mistake.

        1. Sharon*

          Remember that it’s not normal to be judged against “perfect” – everyone does something wrong sometimes and no amount of training or feedback can change that. As a manager, I’m concerned about patterns of mistakes (you always scan half the pages upside down) or mistakes that have huge consequences (you missed a filing deadline and the statute of limitations expired, or you sent confidential data to somebody that shouldn’t have it), not normal human errors.

          1. hypoglycemic rage*

            thank you so much for this! :’) we are all just humans and nobody is perfect and someday that’ll click for myself in my own head.

        2. A Girl Named Fred*

          O O F, yeah, I totally get why you’re having this reaction to instances like that then! Some part of you has learned “people in power are tallying up my every wrong move, therefore I must also tally up my every wrong move and brace for impact,” but most people are not like that. People are human and they do stuff wrong sometimes, and most bosses will do exactly like your new boss did and just say, “Hey, looks like we need more coffee creamer, could you grab that when you get a chance?” (If you want solidarity about making a mistake, I can tell you about the time I thought people could wait one day for a coffee creamer delivery, and how utterly wrong I was lol.)

          It’ll take time to shake that kind of conditioning off, but the more you do your job and the more you see that you are capable and probably kind of awesome, the better it will get.

          1. hypoglycemic rage*

            yeah it is Not Fun. like, in past jobs that were not like the toxic one, I had obviously made mistakes, as have we all. but they were never totaled up like that – usually my boss and I would talk about it and why it happened and how to avoid it happening again. the toxic job was…… a whole other beast.

            however, I would LOVE to hear our coffee creamer story. :D

        3. Moss Gardens*

          This sounds really abnormal – presenting people with a list of their mistakes at the end of the week! It sounds bizarre, maybe even abusive. As a sometime-employee and sometime-contractor I’ve worked under dozens of managers, and I’ve never seen this or heard of it being done.
          I am so sorry you went through this. It’s weird. You are not prone to making mistakes, any more than other humans. I’m fact, you’re particularly conscientious. Your last place – as you’ve said – was toxic af.

          1. hypoglycemic rage*

            i should add that the totaling up of mistakes was only done during training (which i never got off of during the nearly year i was there, which is a different story) – but if they noticed you making a lot of mistakes, i’m sure they’d start tracking everything again. they could also put you back on training/qc for stuff you had “passed” so.

            the point, i guess, was to, in the meetings with everyone, talk mistakes through and see if anyone had any ideas on how to stop the mistakes from happening. but those meetings almost never helped and usually made me feel worse about my job and how i was doing at it (but i also had an unsupportive trainer – for, again, most of my time in that role – manager, and grand-manager).

            but yeah!!! it was not a good decision!!

        4. Tio*

          If it makes you feel better, I’ve sent emails with things to update or tighten up, with no ill will. Sometimes you need to make some adjustments but literally was not considering them negatively at all. Especially as you’re new, now is going to be the time to sort of adjust you into their preferred version – if you let little things linger, they’re much harder to course correct after they get ingrained, so catching them early means everyone stays happy.

          Hope that kind of perspective helps

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      You can actually get help for this from your boss! Don’t feel like you need to go into your hell-job trauma, but you can say to your boss, “in previous jobs, it’s been hard for me to really know how my performance is and where I need to improve because of a lack of clear, timely feedback. I want to do my best here, and it will really help me if you’re able to let me know where I need to improve and, conversely, what things I’m doing that are working well.”

      1. M2RB*

        I really like this approach. I get the same kind of anxiety around performance and expectations, so what I have had good results with is saying something like WSS’s comment. Then I follow it with, “Can I schedule a quick (daily/weekly*) check-in meeting with you for the first (appropriate interval of time – 30 days?*) where we can talk about what’s working and what needs adjustment?” Then I can bring up my issues, like not knowing who to ask for item A or task B, and my manager has the opportunity to relay on things that I need to adjust. I also ask things like, “I wanted to check in on the scans I sent over yesterday; were those in the format you were expecting? Is there anything I should change for the next time?” Asking for feedback like that, with a sincere and calm demeanor, alerts the manager that yes, I do actually want to hear if I need to adjust my process or work.

        *I would start with a short daily check-in for a short period of time – 2 weeks? a month? – and then shift to a longer weekly check-in to account for settling in to a role and developing relationships & job/firm-specific skills.

        GOOD LUCK! You can break free of the toxic workplace mindset! It may be hard but you can do it!!

      2. hypoglycemic rage*

        ooo I like this approach a LOT! I think adding in the wording about what I am doing well would also help, because then it’s not just them reaching out whenever things are going badly or I did something wrong, you know?

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          This this this! Feedback shouldn’t be a synonym for critique or criticism. It’s letting you know how you’re doing. That should include positives.

          If your manager only mentions things that need to change (because you’re new and still learning so that’s to be expected) think of that as an opportunity, not something meant to sting. They want you to improve; that’s why they’re telling you about it. Take that to mean they believe you can. Before the end of the check-in ask “I’d also like to know about things I’m doing the way you like to have them done so I keep that up.” That may only engender a vague “Oh, everything else is fine” but then you know EVERYTHING ELSE IS FINE. That puts any stingers into more context.

          You may in fact have feedback for your manager and I hope they’re open to it; feedback ideally is a two-way street (or maybe a roundabout). You may need to ask along the lines of “This one thing came up and I’d like to talk about how it went and how it might be handled next time” to introduce it, not “And boy howdy do I have feedback for YOU.” Then it could be something like “You left me with Task ABC via email before you went on vacation and I didn’t quite know how to handle C. As you assign something that’s new to me I’d really like to have the chance to go over it with you to be sure I have everything I need to deliver what you expect.” That’s “about you” but it’s really feedback for the manager that their delegation needed more details, as one example.

          So sorry you worked in a hellscape before this. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

    5. ferrina*

      Ugh, yeah. I’ve had several toxic jobs, and they absolutely mess with your head. I had a similar/opposite experience as you- at one job I was told that I couldn’t telework once a week because I “wasn’t responsible enough”, then 2 days later was told that they were increasing my responsibilities and wanted me to manage someone. Um, what? If you want me to work in office, just say no, no need to make up an excuse. At another job I had a boss put me on an “unofficial PIP” that had no benchmarks, timelines, and only nebulous goals like “Communicate well”. My boss only used it to document things she didn’t like me doing, even if she had told me to do the thing. She was actively trying to undermine me so she could give an upcoming promotion to her golden child (who was nice, but unprepared for the promotion. But that’s a different story).

      I eventually found that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was really, really helpful. There are therapists who can help you with this (look for someone experienced in CBT), but I was also able to do it myself (I’m a psych wonk, so ymmv). I started by eavesdropping on my own thoughts and looking for patterns. I found that I was constantly thinking about what I hadn’t done and completely ignoring things I had gotten done. This was a habit that had been encouraged by an overbearing parent, a couple high-maintenance incompetent bosses, and an ex who made me responsible for his emotional outbursts (i.e., all people who basically expected me to predict the future and magically make things work).
      Once I figured out this thought pattern, I looked for ways to disrupt it. I started keeping an Accomplishment Journal. Every night I wrote down what I had done that day. I wasn’t allowed to write anything about what I hadn’t done or what I felt like I’d failed at- accomplishments only. It could be as simple as “I did the dishes” or an anecdote about how I’d diffused a difficult situation at work. Mostly I just listed stuff I’d done that day. I’d gotten a medium-small journal, so I tried to fill most of a page every day. It took a few months, then I noticed that I was starting to be gentler on myself. I had more realistic expectations. I had basically practiced noticing and appreciating what I’d done, until it had started becoming a habit. It was really helpful!

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        I love the idea of doing an accomplishments journal – I have a much-loved mood tracker app on my phone, and I could easily do this list there. thank you so much for this and your comment.

      2. Tinamedte*

        Seconding this! I do it too, and it has really helped me. Since writing an actual journal quickly becomes overwhelming for me, I just round off each working day by thinking quickly about all the things I did today.

        No judgment if it’s a list comprising 1 item :-) Only things that I actually did are allowed on the list, absolutely no room for stuff I didn’t do or need to get done tomorrow, or for judgments about whether it went well or was the right priority or anything like that.

        Just accomplishments, twenty seconds, boom, I feel like I made a difference today and now I’m off to pick up my son, and any other work thoughts will be dealt with at work tomorrow.

        Good luck!

      3. Fitz*

        +1,000,000 on CBT. I’m impressed that you could work through it yourself, ferrina! I had been told about it in the past and always dismissed it, but finding a great therapist to go through it with me changed my life.

    6. FricketyFrack*

      If it helps, none of those things you listed are mistakes. They wouldn’t even register with anyone I work with. I’d echo the suggestions others had about asking your boss explicitly for feedback, but I’m absolutely positive that no one is looking at things like that and thinking you’re messing up.

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        <3 :') thank you. I know law is formal and we have a bunch of external client meetings, so we want to make sure everything is as neat for them as possible, but my manager has even commented that the rooms look good after she checks them (after I've cleaned up after whatever meeting has ended).

    7. MrsPookie*

      20 years later and I still feel like Ill be fired every time my manager says she wants to speak with me.
      Because a former manager would only say those words if they were bringing you into her office to be let go. The PTSD from a toxic boss never leaves you.

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        omg the HR director called me into her office last week and all she said was “can you stop by when you have a moment? if not, we can talk next week.” and I of course went right there, heart pounding. it was about benefits or something, but I did ask her “so I am NOT in trouble….?” she laughed (not in a mean way), apologized, and said she calls people to her office all the time….

      2. Caramel & Cheddar*

        This, unfortunately. It took me a long time to get over the easier parts of it once I got used to the way things were done at my new company (i.e. discovering that no one actually cares if you make XYZ mistake), but the worst of it is still there lurking more than a decade later.

      3. WantonSeedStitch*

        Ugh, I’m sorry the PTSD has stayed with you for so long! I want to say that for some people, though, it does get better. I’m not sure WHY it eventually got better for me (didn’t do any therapy, didn’t have a conversation with my boss about feedback, etc.), but I did luck into a great job that became a much-loved career where I was able to advance significantly, and have had great managers.

    8. OnyxChimney*

      I’m really struggling with this right now actually. At a former job I wasn’t allowed to tell someone – sorry I don’t know. No matter how unrelated and outside my realm it was.

      I was also expected to do the work for a lot of people even though it was their job and not mine.

      It’s been hard to turn that off. More then once my boss has come to me and asked why I’m working on X? That’s not our problem tell the person you don’t know and move on.

    9. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Two toxic workplaces and I’ll say this: it takes tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime. I have been at my current job five years and the nervous system is just starting to regulate. That doesn’t mean it won’t get better in the short term, @Hypoglycemic, but this stuff is real.

      As some commenters have noted, if there’s anything you can do via a conversation with your boss that can help you calibrate to her/the office’s corporate norms, it’s a great way to start. And this one is hard in the moment, but don’t assume you know what “everyone does” or what “every workplace does.” Think of it as reframing to your specific company now, and approach with curiosity. “Oh, this is what’s normal here.” It helps.

      Don’t be afraid to cut bait and look for new jobs if this one starts to give you the same level of stress. My first toxic boss was so bad that I had a hard time seeing bad patterns at my second toxic workplace.

      It will be slow – but it does get better.

    10. Sharpie*

      If your new manager seems at all a decent person, I might say to them that your last workplace was a dysfunctional mess and you’re working to recalibrate your head to what normal looks like. Ask whether you can have regular check-ins about how things are going.

      Take time to review your projects – what went right, what went wrong, what could have gone better?

      If you can get therapy, do. And you’re going to be fine.

    11. I Have RBF*

      I’ve been there. Hell jobs that play head games can have a long lasting impact.

      You are new at this job, and you will make mistakes. The best strategy is to own them, fix them with minimal fuss and don’t over-apologize. If people get prickly about it, look at them like they just sprouted a second head. “Yes, I made an error, then I fixed it. I’m still learning this job, and I’m human.”

      If they are assholes, you will know soon enough. If you have done your best, and have been honest with yourself about what and how you are doing, then even if they have unrealistic expectations you can figure that it’s them, not you. But give them a chance and see how well grounded in reality then are. That’s all you can do.

      I wish I could say that very few jobs are backstabbing dumpster fires that praise you and PIP you in the same week, but I would be lying. There are more than a few, but they still aren’t the majority. It just can feel like it if you have a string of bad luck. (That bad luck can be triggered by desperation to escape from a bad situation and not watching for the red flags well enough, though.)

    12. AuDHD spaghetti monster*

      I’ve come to realize how messed up most of my past jobs were because I would get in my head and be so worried about super reasonable things (like asking to do a virtual interview for a role that would require 2 hours of commuting — not a big deal if I am hired, but sort of shitty for a 30 minute 1st interview) or think I was at risk of being fired for a spelling error on a social media post etc.

      I have also experienced discrimination on lines of gender, disability, family status.

      Sometimes I feel like it’s all in my head but when I tell others, they are horrified and tell me that it’s messed up that my employers were like that

      I don’t have any advice though – I have yet to find a job somewhere functional enough. I haven’t really worked much in over a year.

    13. Anonanonanon*

      I got laid off out of the blue for “failing to meet expectations” almost 10 years ago and I still carry it with me. Had been at the place for years with nothing but great reviews and steady raises, new manager came on who kept cancelling check ins with me, was barely paying attention when we checked in, and then i’m told I’m not what they need moving forward (they hired their friend to replace me).

      It’s hard. see a therapist if you can afford one. It helped me.

      Try not to advertise your anxiety to your new bosses/colleagues. No one really knows what they are doing so don’t beat yourself up about it too much!

    14. Banana Pyjamas*

      So I left a job with micromanagement, and I asked my next manager how they wanted EVERYTHING. The answer was stop asking about small details, make a decision and move on. I couldn’t really judge what was my decision and often had to ask. I mention this because somewhat crooked scans and pulled out chairs sound really small to me. My supervisor was much happier when I framed questions with self awareness. I started asking is X one of the things that doesn’t matter as much, can I just move on?

      That being said, in the offices I have worked in it’s normal for people to tell the person making orders when something is out. It’s also normal for the person making orders to check if anyone needs something specific before ordering. At one office we did have a list where people wrote their name, date and item request. Sometimes it was an item we were out of, sometimes a new request. It just reduced back and forth. Maybe you could ask about putting a sign up sheet in the kitchen? I do think it’s important to double and triple check your stock list though, at least until you’re used to it.

    15. Burrowing Owl*

      My last job lasted two years, and I’ve been at my current job for six, but I’m still dealing with triggers. Every once in a while I’ll overreact out of fear, and my current boss asks if he did something to make me think the situation was more extreme/dire than it actually is, and I have to tell him it’s just old fear responses from a toxic former workplace. But two years of working with a woman who would explode in rage unexpectedly, and whose greatest objection to my work was my personality (and who accused me of insubordination when I was unable to completely change my personality), that really did a number on me.

  7. Juicebox Hero*

    I really want to complain about my office’s broken stair(case) but my offline folks are all sick of hearing about him. He’s a loud, stubborn, bigoted petty tyrant and also an Elvis impersonator. Is that sort of thing too bloggy for the open thread?

    1. ForestHag*

      We’ve heard about plenty of petty tyrants but none who are also Elvis impersonators. Please share!

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I think you’re contractually obligated to end each venting session with “Thank you. Thank you very much… for reading.”

    3. anywhere but here*

      Maybe, but I think it’s worth to learn about this Elvis impersonating tyrant.

    4. Juicebox Hero*

      Ok, here goes.

      This is municipal government, so dysfunction is a given. We have an office vibe that I’m sure would never be tolerated in a corporate environment (lots of joking, teasing, and dirty words), though MOST (lookin at you, Elvis) of us behave in front of customers.

      The office consists of the office manager, Evilynn, whom I’ve complained about frequently; the Sorceress, her admin assistant and the one who actually gets shit done; Orko and Teela, who share an office with Elvis; and me, Juicebox. The bosses, Skeletor and Prince Adam, tend to leave us alone.

      Elvis has the next to lowest seniority after Teela, who started last summer. He’s been here I think 4 years, but he thinks he owns the town and everyone has to do everything his way.

      This week’s offense: Envelope Gate. The Sorceress is on vacation and she’s the one he usually gets to print the letters and envelopes because she has a nice fancy printer. Teela did some experimenting on her junky little printer and was able to print the envelopes, but they came out slightly skewed, not enough that anyone would even notice.

      Elvis lit into her about how UNPROFESSIONAL it looked and he wasn’t sending anyone anything that looked like that and have I mentioned that the man has no inside voice? He has no inside voice. Their office and mine have a common wall and I heard everything.

      Next, he comes to me and asks if my (prehistoric laser) printer does envelopes. It doesn’t, but I can print labels. Ok. He gives me the list of ~30 names and addresses; I do a mail merge, print the labels.

      He starts throwing a fit how I didn’t put the middle initials in. And he has no inside voice.

      I told “you’re welcome” before he could get another word in and retreated to my office. I’ve got 15 years in and am the only one who knows how to do my job, which is a big money maker for the town. I’m Teflon.

      Evilynn then had the idea of using window envelopes, since the letters had been printed to The King’s satisfaction. But a tiny line of the body text showed at the bottom of the window! UNACCEPTABLE! So he starts in on Evilynn, who again is the office manager, our de facto HR person, and the one with the most seniority except for Prince Adam. I don’t know what she said to him, but she had a lot to say to me about it and she was raging.

      More about Elvis after my lunch break.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I feel bad for people who live in such a perpetual state of unhappiness that having one tiny detail go wrong in their day is enough to make them explode. Much more sympathies to all of you who have to deal with him, of course, because he sounds dreadful and is the sort of person for whom petty curses were invented (may your pillow always be warm and all that).

        1. Sharpie*

          Something something ‘may the fleas of a thousand camels infest his armpits’ something.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Eh, the King might be King of the Glass Bowls, but he’s right about the body copy showing through the window. That’s a big no-no, especially if any sensitive material could be seen.

        The rest though? Petty. And not the good kind.

        1. Juicebox Hero*

          According to Evilynn it was just the date, and it was nothing sensitive. Just reminders about a monthly meeting.

      3. learnedthehardway*

        Uh, I think Elvis needs to do HIS OWN printing. And the three of you should tell him he’s on his own.

        (What a freakin’ waste of time to have envelopes redone 3 times due to minor details!!)

        1. Juicebox Hero*

          He doesn’t know how, and he’s proud of it. He’s open, and loud, and have I mentioned his lack of indoor voice yet? about his hatred and distrust of electronics. Anything at home more complicated than turing on the 3 TVs he has mounted on his living room wall, so that he can watch 3 sportsball games at once, he demands that his long-suffering daughter come over and do for him.

          Strictly speaking Teela’s job is to assist him and Orko (who is pretty self-sufficient, and also gets to spend a lot of time out on the road the lucky devil) so she’s kind of stuck. I just won’t, and I’ll remind him why if he demands anything of me, and Evilynn is just done with him.

          1. Coffee Bean*

            I think it’s time to quote one of Elvis’ song lyrics back to Pseudo Elvis: “A little less conversation. . .”

      4. Monday*

        It also seems dysfunctional that a routine printing task is not possible when one employee goes on vacation. I know fixing that would not change Elvis, but it sounds painful!

    5. Juicebox Hero*

      Here’s some more.

      We have a lot of Spanish-speaking people in town and lots of them don’t speak any/much English, but they use translator apps, or else have someone on speakerphone who speaks English. There’s only one person this is a problem for, and no points for guessing who. He refuses to deal with anyone because HE’S not talking to somene else’s phone and blah blah blah. He’s loud and confrontational and scares the hell out of some of them.

      There’s also a large Hassidic Jewish community and I feel sorry for any of them who have to deal with him. He doesn’t say the K word but I’ll bet you he thinks it.

    6. Juicebox Hero*

      I know everyone’s wondering where the heck the bosses are in all of this. Hordak is the mayor, which in our town is a part-time position without much power – Prince Adam handles the day to day running of things and the big stuff has to pass through town council first.

      Hordak is a former police captain who is thoroughly intimidated by Elvis.

      As I’ve mentioned, Evilynn is the de facto HR person. She’s told Elvis several times about being rude to customers, including shouting (!) at them, only for him to shout (!) back at her about he’s right and she’s wrong.

      Prince Adam hates drama, and he’s one of the most patient people I’ve ever met. This means he tends to let tense situations go on for far too long – Elvis isn’t the first broken stair we’ve had. I could tell you about the admin assistant before the Sorceress, who was making Evilynn into a basket case while trying to play the rest of us against each other and her. Then there was Stinky, the former holder of Teela’s job who was here for a year and a half and literally did nothing but play computer games the whole time. She also never showered and wore the same dirty clothes every day. When she was fired she hid and threw away important stuff and Prince Adam darn near had to resort to getting the police involved to make her tell where it was hidden.

      So he’s got a long fuse. But when he blows up, it’s Krakatoa. He’s a big man with a deep voice, and when he yells, it reverberates. Last summer he called Elvis on the carpet, in his office upstairs, and let loose. I could hear him because my office is at the foot of the stairs. F bombs were dropped. And Elvis yelled (!) right back at him.

      So, yeah, I’m convinced that he’s got blackmail material on Hordak, Prince Adam, everyone on council, and maybe a pact signed in blood with the devil.

      In cooler moments, Prince Adam says Elvis really knows his stuff. The rest of us believe that he could find someone equally knowlegeable who isn’t a total peckerhead.

      1. MsM*

        Can I just say I think more people should use He-Man/She-Ra pseudonyms for their offices?

      2. anywhere but here*

        Not to derail but I just want to comment that refusing to handle a situation that needs handled isn’t patience, it’s cowardice. Might be helpful to reframe that mentally because it’s not actually virtuous behavior on Prince Adam’s part.

        All of this to say, wow this is bananacrackers.

        1. Juicebox Hero*

          Oh, he’s a wimp. Evilynn and the Sorceress are basically where they are in the organization in order to placate angry townspeople before they can get to him. Technically the employees are supposed to go through Evilynn and not bother him, either, but I bother him when necessary.

    7. Juicebox Hero*

      Oh the Elvis thing. I’ve gotta talk about that, otherwise I’m just spewing clickbait.

      He is, in fact, an Elvis impersonator, specifically Vegas Elvis with the sparkly jumpsuits, platform shoes, and pompadour wig. He performs at local events for free. He’s letter perfect on all the King’s songs and is a walking encyclopedia of music in general, especially the Beatles and classic rock.

      When he’s performing, he’s as relaxed and fun as he is a pissdrizzle in his civilian clothes. He’s jokey, cheerful, funny, outgoing… it’s like putting on the jumpsuit flips a switch in his soul. If you met him in Elvis mode without knowing him prior, you’d think his work self was his own evil twin. It’s the most remarkable Jekyll and Hyde I’ve ever seen in real life.

      Hell, I bumped into him at CVS the day after Valentine’s Day and he was buying up all the leftover plush animals, to throw into the crowd when he sings “Teddy Bear”.

      The rest of us wish he could wear the Elvis outfits to work in hopes it might make him less of a pill to work with.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        I’m on a train right now, trying to be polite and unobtrusive, but I just collapsed forward in laughter at the bit about wishing he’d wear the costumes to work.

      2. 20 Points for the Copier*

        I was going to suggest the dress code be amended, solely for him, to sparkly Elvis jumpsuits, but I see you’ve already thought of that.

      3. Two Dog Night*

        I’m sorry you have to deal with this guy, but thank you for making me laugh on a loooong Friday afternoon!

      4. Elastigirl*

        My attorney’s first job out of law school was working for the Elvis Presley estate.

        Did you know that every single Elvis impersonator is technically required to license the Elvis trademark and likeness? And to pay royalties to the estate?

        I wonder if your Elvis is properly licensed….

        1. Juicebox Hero*

          I’d love to spring that on the doctrinaire dickweed, but that would involve TALKING to him and nope.

  8. Not A Chatty Cathy*

    I’m mentally preparing myself because next week I’m attending an offsite workshop with three superiors, including my direct boss. They are all men and married with kids, while I’m a single woman in my mid-30s (they are around the same age). One of them is fine, another is extremely talkative (typically about himself) and usually takes over the conversation, and while my boss is nice, he’s chatty, says some cringy things and comes off immature.

    I’m trying to prepare scripts of what to say because I anticipate questions about my dating life. I also anticipate my boss being even more cringy in person (like he mentioned in front of all of us that he looks forward to having a bed all to himself…). I wouldn’t put it past him to bring up how he’s thankful he doesn’t have to change a poopy diaper (and he’ll say “poopy”) for a few days.

    I don’t want to just laugh nervously when these types of things are brought up or I’m asked about. What can I say to change the subject and demonstrate my boundaries?

    1. ChaoticNeutral*

      I get this a lot because I have been with my partner for eight years and we are “still” (my coworkers’ words, not mine) not married. I like a breezy “oh that’s not something I like to discuss at work, but hey [fill in with something about them they mentioned earlier].” Honestly 9 times out of 10 people get the hint and I feel like I have asserted that boundary.

    2. Taura*

      Do you have a topic you can talk to death instead? Like, every time they try to ask if you have a partner, are you dating, whatever, you could go “I’m not really focused on that right now, I’m too busy expanding my succulent garden! Did you know, it’s just gotten SO difficult to find the right substrates…” and just constantly bring the conversation back to that every time they try to bring up your dating life?

    3. ErinB*

      I agree with Taura – my favorite approach to these things is a quick topic switch, almost as if I didn’t hear the question. One of my go-to topics is restaurants, especially if my coworkers are from the same city.

      Sometimes I’ll even do a ridiculous non-sequitur despite not responding to their actual question – “ErinB, what are your thoughts on [divisive issue here]?” “Huh, speaking of which, have you been to the Pink Flamingo? They have the best arancini…[continue with random food talk]” People love to tell you their own stories so they’ll likely miss (or not care) that you ignored their actual question.

      It helps to have one or two of these ideas loaded and ready to go in your mind so that you can deploy without much thought.

    4. anywhere but here*

      “That’s not something I want to talk about in the workplace.” “I don’t think that’s relevant.” “Thank you for your interest in my personal life.” <- that one is from Miss Manners. The trick is that you say it and then move on without answering the question.

    5. HugeTractsofLand*

      I think redirecting with a question about them will work, and maybe they’ll get the hint after a few times. Something like Q: “How’s the single life/dating?” A: “It’s going! Has baby grown any teeth yet?”

    6. Betty*

      Alison has sometimes advised laughing it off as a funny idea, like OF COURSE we all recognize that would be a weird and inappropriate boundary violation– “haha, Bob, can you IMAGINE if I really started asking you advice about my dating life? Wow, that would be so inappropriate! So anyway, I had a really interesting sidebar with the speaker from the Office of Llama Attire after the last session about whether earmuffs are also subject to the new Llama hat restrictions, and…”

    7. I Can't Even*

      If my boss is asking me incessantly about my dating life this is a huge red flag. I would just tell them “I don’t like to talk about my personal and/or romantic life at work”.

    8. Janeric*

      Not to hijack, but is “I’m looking forward to having a bed to myself” a problematic thing to say? When I was going to be traveling away from my toddler, whenever someone asked how I felt about it I’d be like “I’m looking forward to being the only person in my bed and not having tiny elbows in my gut.” because that seemed like a better answer than “I’m sad about it! It’s an enormous thing to ask my spouse to do and I’m going to miss my child! We’re not even going to USE this training and I have to be gone for a WEEK!” but like. Live and learn. Next time I can be like “I’m looking forward to only having to get myself ready every day” or something.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Yeah, neither of the examples here would give me any pause because they both seem very clearly about getting away from parenthood duties for a few days. That’s not to say Not a Chatty Cathy has to endure listening to him about the pitfalls of parenthood, just that neither struck me as weird.

      2. anywhere but here*

        I don’t think it’s an awful thing to say, but I think that generally it’s better to err on the side of not referencing sleeping arrangements/beds when possible. “I am looking forward to having my own room/my own space” conveys the same information but without bringing up the topic of sleeping arrangements. (Not that bringing up sleeping arrangements justifies any comments on *ahem* bed activities but unfortunately some people think it does and it’s better not to give anybody a window on that.)

        1. reader*

          Yeah, this is you going overboard. Someone acknowledging that beds exist and people sleep isn’t cringy. Neither is a parent being pumped about not having to change diapers. Both of these are “sensible chuckle”, office-appropriate anecdotes.

          You are the one bringing the cringe into these interactions.

          1. anywhere but here*

            I didn’t say cringe. Sleeping arrangements are adjacent to another, less appropriate workplace topic (“sleeping with [name]” is a euphemism for sex) and I have unfortunately encountered the “sleeping arrangements to *wink* sleeping arrangements” slippert slope both firsthand and secondhand.

            This seems like a weirdly aggressive way to disagree when all I said was that it’s preferable to dodge being that specific about it because sometimes people make it weird. I even specifically said that it doesn’t justify making it weird.

          2. Seashell*

            Some people have thoughts about kids sleeping in the bed with their parents, so I wouldn’t want to open up that discussion with co-workers. Based on that, I would avoid the topic.

      3. IEanon*

        I don’t have kids and I say this about not having to share bed with my husband and pup. I don’t think it’s weird or problematic at all!

      4. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        Agreed – to me that sounds like a kind of pre prepped travel/family statement, not inappropriate at all. I used generic stuff like that because nobody wants to hear that you hate travel or that you are afraid you’ll miss their next milestone.

      5. UKDancer*

        Yeah I mean I’d consider that fairly normal. I’ve been on a residential training course this week and I was with 2 colleagues and one of them said how great it was not having a dog trying to commandeer 2/3 of the bed and we laughed and then got to see cute Alsatian pictures. My other colleague said it was nice not having a small child waking her up unreasonably early.

        I’d consider that fairly normal travel type chat.

      6. DrSalty*

        No. Tbh this sounds like a BEC situation to me. OP is annoyed by their boss generally so everything he says is annoying, even thought it wouldn’t be coming from someone else.

    9. NaoNao*

      I’d go with a breezy “there’s a few folks in rotation but no one special” or “oh, are you sure you want to be asking that? how much time do you have ?” + immediate gentle topic swerve into one of their fave topics.

      I personally don’t find “I’m looking forward to my own bed + relief from diaper duty” to be a glaringly offensive phrase/topic/statement but I can see how it’s a touch over-share-y and irritating if it’s constant. It sounds like these men are already on your bad side or you anticipate being rubbed the wrong way, but I’d say if you’re stuck socializing, honestly try to assume good intent here, things will go much better if you’re not bristling with anger and disgust over throwaway remarks.

      To me, the dating thing is like any other topic–people are just trying to show interest and caring, they’re not judging or condemning, but if someone is single, presumably “how’s the dating life” is a “fair” topic–barring any clearly stated “no-go zone” remarks. I would treat it just like anything else. Breezy one liner or a couple tossed off remarks “Oh, no one special right now, but it’s not been a priority” or “You know, I’m really just loving the single life and I’m not actively looking. But anyhoo, about those “poopy” diapers…” heh.

    10. Always Tired*

      “No need to bore you with the usual tragedy” has been a go-to line for nosey coworkers on my dating life, followed up with a redirect to better topics for small talk. That or “My transition to crazy cat lady is going well, thank you for asking, would you like to see pictures of my baby boy? He’s been especially cute this week!” People are either very excited and want to share their cat pics back, or would rather throw themselves in front of a bus and quickly change the topic. Both of those are a win in my book.

    1. Elle*

      YES! I was just coming to start one. Special shout out to those of us who worked in historical museums.

          1. Just in case*

            I had a museum friend who did an IMLS degree and said that librarians had us beat! But maybe that’s because her museum experience s was mostly with exhibit designers…

      1. Elle*

        Here’s my living history museum story: many years ago I was the person who dressed up in period clothes and gave tours in a living history village. The place also had an amphitheater for , located next to the village. I would have to give tours about 19th century village life while Metallica warmed up for the evening set.

        1. ArtK*

          Not a museum per se, but I did a tour of England with a living history group. We went to several period homes and played as the residents/visitors. That was an amazing trip. Most of the people were either SCA or RenFaire (RPFS) or both, so a lot of talent. I ended up working RenFaire for several years after that as a musician.

        2. The OG Sleepless*

          That is AWESOME. I’m picturing looking inside a child’s bedroom while “Enter Sandman” blasts from across the way.

        3. Mrs. Weaver*

          A small museum where I used to live used to have an event every year that included old-time crafts and such. I would bring in my loom and demonstrate weaving, while a friend brought her spinning wheel. We were in dresses that were somewhere between costumes and historical garb from the era of the museum. I would have at least one person each year ask me what underwear I wore underneath. It wasn’t from a hoop skirt time period, so luckily I didn’t have to deal with that. I would just give out a big fake gasp and say a lady would never discuss such things in mixed company. But really, why? Just ask me about the loom.

        4. Just in case*

          I had a young visitor who seemed especially in awe of the mummy we had on display, so I kept chatting/answering questions. Finally I found out why the kid was so fascinated when he asked the question that he really wanted answered: “when is it going to hatch?”.

  9. A. Nonymous*

    How to help a direct report with — for lack of a better word — their maturity?

    I have a 26 year old direct report who is really great at her job, but struggles with her confidence and appropriate reactions at work. Things like getting overly embarrassed over simple mistakes and confiding to me as a friend rather than as a coworker. What are some ways I can help her grow without embarrassing her?

    1. The Meat Embezzler*

      Emotional Intelligence 2.0 was really, really big for me when I was in my first office job.

    2. Lost academic*

      Patient redirection to put the train back on the tracks with respect to appropriate language and boundaries for the professional relationship. level up the amount of direct (but kind) correction as needed. find the time to put it in context. as Alison always says, focus on the outcomes so she can too.

    3. Casey*

      Modeling examples of good responses/behavior! I had a lot of success inviting my own “immature direct report” to quietly observe tricky meetings and debriefing afterwards what went well, what came across as too personal, etc. I had to reframe it as “I’m teaching my new hire how to receive feedback professionally when the emotional stakes are high” or “I’m teaching my new hire to write documentation that can be read by a range of stakeholders (and doesn’t include the word Yeet)”, instead of “ugh this kid is immature”.

    4. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Can you find a mentor for this person? Someone who could help her develop her soft skills, and with whom she could have a more friend-like relationship?

  10. ChaoticNeutral*

    Does anyone else get to Friday just completely physically and emotionally drained from the workweek? Context, I am a consultant that works four 9-hr days and then Friday is a 4-hr day, but I normally actually work 10-hr days and then a 6ish-hr day Friday. I travel on average a handful of days/month for work but some months it can be like two weeks and other months two days. We are fully in person but option to WFH if needed (for appointments, or just because). I WFH maybe two days a month but my commute is only about 15 mins round trip. I’m definitely in the “growth” period of my career and know people a few more years ahead of me who are more settled/less go-go-go than me so I can like, see the light at the end of the tunnel but it seems impossible to get there!

    I just feel like I shouldn’t be THIS drained at the end of every week. I try to eat well, get exercise (walking/yoga mostly), sleep 7-8 hours a night, spend time with family/pets/friends, but I just can’t picture feeling this drained all the time for the rest of my career! I love my job, my coworkers, the company culture, it’s just like….a LOT of work I guess. Plus my partner and I want to have kids and I feel so anxious thinking about balancing it all. Curious to hear perspectives on people with dealing with this, what you did, do I just grit my teeth and bear it until my career settles a bit, or what?

    1. kiwiii*

      If you’ve been doing this for 2 or more years with this company, it might be time to look for a similar role or a step up role in another company. It may just be your company pushing for the longer days.

    2. TPS Reporter*

      Maybe you’re more introverted so the in person time is particularly draining. You could try to take on some more behind the scenes/solo projects to see if that is less of an energy suck. I’m also curious if you can stick to the 9 hour / 4 hour schedule. Is there a particular reason why you’re working more? Is it really required or are you feeling pressure to do it? I definitely used to feel like I had to work a lot more in my early career. Now mid career I feel more confident taking time and putting off items that are not truly necessary to jump on.

      1. ChaoticNeutral*

        The additional hours are definitely a stated goal of the company. Which is good since they are upfront about the additional hours that will be needed to succeed in the role, rather than it being like a “I THINK I need to do more in order to advance but no one is saying anything…”

        That being said I think I could be better about not working more for working more’s sake so that’s definitely something to think about. And you are correct that I am more of an introvert :) in an extrovert’s world!

      1. ChaoticNeutral*

        I think that is a good suggestion. It’s frustrating to get eight solid hours of sleep and still not feel well rested.

      2. Betty Spaghetti*

        Agreeing with this idea. Please consider getting a general check-up with your doctor. Fatigue can be caused by a lot of medical problems!

    3. The Ginger Ginger*

      If you’ve checked with a doctor about it and things are okay, I think there’s no SHOULD you, there’s just the fact that you DO. So it becomes, how long would you be willing to do this if this is the role and how you’ll feel in the role.

      Those folks who look more settled to you, what are they doing differently than you are? Is it just that they appear to be less stressed or are they taking fewer meetings, spacing out projects differently, etc? And if it’s the latter, when did they start doing that? If that’s the way they’ve always done it, that means they were “settled” when they were at your stage in their career. You say it will be a few years before you’re “settled in”, but why? Do you need more capital first? Or is that something you’re putting on yourself?

      Is this a situation where you can talk to a manager about your workload and deadlines and find some room?

      Basically, if you’re feeling exhausted and anxious, regardless of if you think you should or not, that’s how you feel. You can’t logic your way out of that. All that happens is you add guilt and frustration to your stress level. It may be that you need to pursue a different role at your company or in a different company to get the balance you need. Or trade off a client, or something else. It may be you need to take a vacation and really get some rest to avoid full burn out. Either way I wouldn’t try to brute force your way through for some undefined number of years, it could make you actually ill. For me personally, it wasn’t worth it.

      1. ChaoticNeutral*

        Thank you so much for this insight, I really appreciate it. I think the questions you raised about the folks I see as more “settled” will be really helpful to guide me. And the not being able to logic my way out of how I’m feeling–something I know I will return to!

        1. The Ginger Ginger*

          And it’s important to remember it’s not a shortcoming to be stressed or unhappy. I know “you’re feelings are valid” is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot, but this is what it should mean when you hear it. Feelings are information about how you’re moving through the world. It’s not an indictment on you that something in the way your work is right now is just not working for you. That’s helpful information; you shouldn’t ignore it, and you shouldn’t feel bad for feeling that way. Use it to get yourself better situated so you’re not miserable. You feel how you feel, so let that guide you.

        1. I Have RBF*

          I did a regular 60 hour week about 20 years ago, and it was hard then. I don’t think I could do it now.

    4. Dinwar*

      Sounds familiar! I’m starting to get over that exact hump.

      One thing that’s worth looking at is who’s replacing you as you move up the ladder. The biggest issue I had was that if I moved up, there was no one to take my place. Companies, like Nature, abhor vacuums, and the work still needs done, so I ended up working my old job(s) AND my new responsibilities. Due to pressure from higher up I couldn’t drop anything significant, and lack of support meant that every request I made for help turned into a demand that I find more staff (ie, putting more on my plate). Finally we did find someone willing to step into the role I’m moving out of, and it’s helped a LOT. I’m down to ten hour days (industry standard), and have work that’s not my responsibility now! I can actually focus on my new role, and make some significant advancements in that direction.

      But finding that person has been key. Until we did that it simply wasn’t possible for me to focus enough on my new role to do it, much less advance in it.

      One risk worth watching for: When you’re used to working at 125%+ capacity, operating at even 100% capacity feels like you’re slacking (and remember, ideally you should be working at 75-80% capacity). You’ll unconsciously try to find ways to fill the time. And you need to resist that urge. Your focus should be on getting the new role right and figuring out how to excel in that, rather than picking up new stuff because you have a spare hour here and there.

      1. ChaoticNeutral*

        Awesome point. We have struggled to backfill positions so I am in the classic overworked middle manager position of both running and actually doing the projects. We just hired someone who will start in a few weeks that I am very excited about being able to load some stuff off to.

        And wow the phrase “unconsciously try to find ways to fill the time” is very much a tendency I have but had never seen it worded that way!

        1. Dinwar*

          I won’t take any credit for that phrase. A friend of mine (also a coworker) used it as a warning to me to avoid the same tendency, and it really stuck in my mind. She is MUCH better than me at enforcing boundaries at work (she has an actual job description, which helps), so I tend to take her advice on this front fairly seriously.

    5. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      This has always been the case for me. When I have a full-time job (and especially if I have a commute) I am a shell of a human by Friday, then I spend the weekend recovering. That much “on” time and interaction just isn’t something I can handle! Decades ago I accidentally became an independent consultant and found I could make the same amount of money working half time and that solved it. Temporarily i’m back in a FT role and I am drained constantly, so I’m working on getting back out.

    6. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      In addition to the other suggestions which are really good, have you noticed a difference in how you feel when you WFH? Could you throw in some extra WFH days here and there and experiment to see what works for you? I stopped getting the Sunday scaries when I started WFH Mondays. If I travel I WFH the rest of the week to balance it out. Stuff like that.

      When you have time off, do you feel more rested or about the same? That may help identify source (is it work or health or etc)

      Can you also keep a log for a few weeks of what is happening and how you feel? That may help identify patterns.

      1. ChaoticNeutral*

        Love the suggestion to track how I feel and the circumstances around it. When I have time off I very quickly bounce back to normal so I do think it is work -related. In general taking advantage of the WFH I think would be helpful for me. I love going in to work (guess I’m one of those weirdos :) ) but being home and having time to unwind between meetings or even get ahead on some chores is nice too.

        1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

          I prefer work in office as well, but I take Wednesdays from home and it has made a world of difference on how I hit Friday. I have a 7 minute home desk to office desk commute including putting on my shoes and it still makes so much difference.

          I start the day slower – generally do my first email perusal in my comfy chair with my dog and THEN get dressed and get upstairs to the office.
          I start a load of laundry before work and at lunch and that gives me more time evenings and weekends
          I eat at my desk and then have a nap on my lunch break – only about a 15 minute nap but it is everything!
          I get to listen to music without earbuds during the day.

          Also I am going to ask- is the skewed schedule required? I had the option of going to 4 10’s or the same 4×9+4 and I was so much more tired with the longer M-Th that it did not make the shorter Friday worth it. I would just come home and nap. Some people see 4×10 as a perk, I don’t.

      2. Megascops*

        I think experimenting is a good idea, but for me, the more I work from home the more exhausting my in office days are. It’s like my brain and body never get the chance to acclimate, and every week feels like the exhausting first week on a job. Logic says that sleeping in and working from home more will drain less energy, but for me it’s the opposite.

    7. Double A*

      Honestly, anything above 40 hours leaves me totally drained. You’re “just” working an extra 6 hours a week but… that is almost another whole work day!

      I’m a bit older and I do have kids so there’s a different exhausting, but yeah. 8 hours a day is a max. You need to be taking the half day Friday as an actual recovery day. Can you try to hold firm to a 4 hour Friday?

      1. ChaoticNeutral*

        I think holding firm to SOME kind of reasonable stop time during the week would be helpful. Maybe not Friday (time zones differences on some projects make that challenging for workload) but maybe if I know Tues/Weds are my “only 9 hours/rest” days would make me feel better.

    8. phototrope*

      I did that for the first 10 years of my career (the target was 42-44 billable hours per week for non-managers) and I eventually just left. Now I work at a nonprofit and while I absolutely still have very busy days/weeks, I am massively less tired overall.

      In the meantime, my recommendation is to actually take your vacation and holidays. At my old job, people would brag about banking hours and not using their leave time (including the coworker who said to me, “but didn’t you just take a vacation last year?”) but it’s 100% not worth it.

    9. Jaydee*

      I used to think of this as a one-dimensional time management problem. I had time to do the things, so why was it so hard to do them sometimes and why was I so tired by the end of the day/on the weekend? Then I realized it was a two-dimensional time & energy management problem. The less time you have to do things, the more energy they take. The less energy you have to do things, the more time they take.

      I’d recommend tracking your energy levels during the week and on the weekend and also making not of any things that stand out that happened those days. You may already have a sense of what things energize you versus what things drain you. But you might start to see some patterns that help you adjust your schedule a little more to account for both dimensions.

      On that really tough day at work, you might feel exhausted at the end of the and just want to veg on the couch, but you know if you go for a walk or do some yoga, you’ll actually have *more* energy afterward, so you push through.

      Or maybe you’ll realize that certain tasks or people or situations are either draining or energizing. You have a meeting with Jane and Wakeen this afternoon – they’re both delightful people and you really like the project you’re working on with them, so you know you’re likely to leave that meeting feeling good. But tomorrow you have to give Fergus feedback on his llama reports and he drones on and on and on about the most irrelevant things and that is just going to leave you exhausted. So you proactively plan something energizing or calming right after that to get you back into balance. A quick walk while listening to your favorite music, grabbing coffee with a friend, shutting your office door and reading a couple articles you’ve been meaning to catch up on.

      Do the same on the evenings and weekends too because your energy levels are likely different when your house is clean versus dirty or when you spent Saturday morning at the farmer’s market versus the car dealership for an oil change or when it’s sunny versus cloudy.

      1. PMaster*

        The less time you have to do things, the more energy they take. The less energy you have to do things, the more time they take.

        Thank you for spelling this out. This is the reason why I was productive at all when I was working full time and going to grad school part time – it’s because I was also consistently running four days a week. (I think it was all the extra oxygen getting to my brain.)

        I need that reminder now, when I struggle with procrastination, workload, supervisory responsibilities, etc. But I was injured in 2015 and can’t run any more, so that’s a sticky point at the moment.

        (Are there good posts about procrastination? I even used Sensa for a few months and it helped some. And no, time management is not the solution.)

    10. lemonade*

      That’s a lot of work. Eight hour days are already pretty long; 10 hour days are very long. Being tired is a normal response to this amount of work. The stuff you’re doing to maintain your mental health is really great, and is probably helping you get through this period–don’t stop it! But it’s like asking, “Hey, I should be running a 5k every day and then a mile on Friday, but I’m running a 10k every day and a 5k on Friday. Why the heck are my legs tired?”

      This being the analogy because some athletes could manage such a schedule; many capable, regular people would find their legs tired even after a daily mile run; and you’re already doing more than those capable regular people.

    11. Chaordic One*

      Yes, but this is complicated for me by the fact that I have to go to work in the office of Thursday, which is particularly draining. I have to get up an hour early on Thursday and plan for an extra half hour of commuting and an extra half hour to take down my laptop and for dressing and makeup before I leave for the day.

      Also, my family is not very considerate of my time. They seem to think that I have an easy job (it is customer service) and that all I do is socialize at work. I have elderly parents who are overly reliant on me for care. They’re bored and crave stimulation and when I get home from work, I’m beat and not really able to provide what they crave. (Maybe an issue for the weekend thread.)

      1. Dimity Hubbub*

        Oooooh you’re a family carer! OK that adds a whole lotta context, you’re actually doing the equivalent of two jobs, just only one of them is recognised and paid. Been There Done That over here. Please give yourself some grace, that is a brutal work schedule, and then when you get home you have two more people with demands. Do you get any proper time off to rest? If not then you are constantly draining the tank and it never gets filled. If nothing else, please remember that you have a very good reason for being tired after work. Everyone else has already addressed the work elements wonderfully!

    12. Annie Edison*

      Oh my goodness thank you so much for asking this question. I’m self employed and work a sort of similar schedule- my usual weeks are about 44 hours of work, and about once a month I do another 3-5 hours either at night or on the weekend, and am similarly exhausted every week no matter how well I sleep (I don’t know how you’re fitting in regular exercise on top of that! I’m really proud that I’ve gotten outside for a walk a couple times each week this month)

      I feel so validated by these comments and answers. I have absolutely no advice, but solidarity. I know I need to get my work hours down a bit, I’m just not quite sure how to make it happen yet

    13. Jonah*

      This sounds exactly like my old company (does it happen to start with a K? Unlikely I know, I’m sure many consulting companies operate on the same model). To be honest, I quit and left for a government job. I just couldn’t handle the hours!

      However, I saw a bunch of successful people while I was there. I feel like those people outsourced things some (ate out for lunch, or got meal prep services, etc: anything that saves some time) and/or had supportive spouses with less demanding jobs. So I suppose, are there any things that you could pay for, rather than spending time on yourself? But if your problem is less ‘not having time for everything I need to do, it’s exhausting’ and more ‘I’m inherently drained by the work’, then I would recommend talking candidly with some more senior people and asking for their advice.

  11. BeyondTheStars*

    Caveat: In the USA, I know tax laws differ from state to state, so I’m assuming worst case scenario for any given state with state income tax, e.g., work one minute in that state and they can collect income tax.

    Question: If you can do remote work for three weeks from a state (that has income tax) while you’re using your vacation days, can you work for three weeks from another state (that has no income tax) while you are visiting, but no one at work knows you are visiting?

    Reason for asking: I have relatives that live in a no-income-tax state and I would like to travel there and visit for two or three weeks, and I don’t have vacation days to cover that.

    Background: I live and work in the USA. My job is completely remote. My company requires us to live in the same state in which they operate; let’s say Maine. If you want to live in another state, you can apply for an exemption which may or may not be granted. One co-worker lives in California and another lives in Georgia. We know that taxes are why we can’t just MOVE to another state without the company’s express permission.

    If we TRAVEL to another state ON VACATION, we are expected to bring our work laptop and be available to work, as needed. Any possible tax issues are ignored by the company, I guess?

    But what if you want to travel to another state for ‘some length of time’ and not use vacation days to do so, because you intend to do your work as usual? The unspoken rule in my department is that you do it, you just keep it on the DL. A co-worker worked three weeks like that, when they went to another (income tax) state for a relative’s wedding. But official permission was not asked for this, and I have no idea what would happen if someone did have to take official notice of it, and that makes me nervous.

    So what would you do? Would you visit the ‘no income tax’ state for a few weeks, not tell anyone, and work as usual?

    1. CTT*

      The tax issue is related to permanent residency/residency for the foreseeable future, not temporarily spending a short amount of time another state.

      1. Magpie*

        It depends on the state. Some states require income tax payment when working for any amount of time in that state, even one day.

        1. E*

          Yes, and sometimes a city and/or county will charge as well. Several years ago my husband’s company stopped sending out of state people to meetings in New York and moved them to a New Jersey office to avoid dealing with potential tax issues.

        2. BeyondTheStars*

          So what would you do, would you visit the ‘no income tax’ state for a few weeks, not tell anyone, and work as usual?

          1. Henry Division*

            Yes, I would. I travel for work once a month or so, and my state is one of those that wants you to report when you’re out of state working for a few hours, and I just . . . don’t.

            If I were going somewhere for a month or more it might make sense to report it, but . . . three weeks to visit a relative seems fine. I’d just go.

        3. Anastaziax*

          Yep….stay away from the State of New York. I had a nightmare with taxes when I worked there for a week while with a Big 4 firm. Wasn’t even a remote employee at the time. Was just there in the office.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It’s more than just calculating income taxes. There’s also the nexus-of-business thing, which can require registering for business licenses, adhering to particular state legal requirements (California is notorious for this), etc.

      I’m pretty sure 3 weeks isn’t enough to trigger an income tax issue for you (advice not applicable to NBA players, et al). Nor is it enough to trigger a nexus-of-business issue for the company. Because otherwise, every company that did business travel would have to hire an army of extra accountants.

      1. BeyondTheStars*

        So what would you do, would you visit the ‘no income tax’ state for a few weeks, not tell anyone, and work as usual?

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Well in my case my boss would need to know, because I’ve got IP-address-restricted tools that I need to do my job, and she’d have to whitelist whatever internet connection I was using at that remote location. But my company has no problem with this and people do it all the time.

          You know your company culture and I don’t, but can you just do it and on the off-chance somebody asks, just say “Oh, didn’t think that was a problem for just 3 weeks. Do we have a process for that?”

    3. E*

      It’s not just income tax in a different state that’s the problem. Working in another state can trigger workers comp, business licenses/registration, different payroll regulations, and other state specific rules for companies and employees. There’s a surprising amount of set up stuff to have employees in a new state. I know this doesn’t really answer your question but may give some insight on why your company has rules about it.

      1. Kyrielle*

        I’m not in the state BeyondTheStars is traveling to, because we definitely have income tax, it being the season for glowering at and preparing my returns. But I will say that a trip here would get messy fast totally aside from income tax – anyone who lives or works in any of the three counties in the metro area I’m in owes tax on everything over a certain amount to a house-the-homeless thing, there’s local taxes and whatnot tied to counties and cities (I think one nearby city has something about an art tax? I dunno, I’m not in that one), there’s laws about required paid sick days here and family medical leave…. I imagine some of them don’t apply to someone who’s just visiting, but the company would want to do legal due diligence and confirm it. So presumably they would also want to check on any other state and location combo, in advance, to make sure it didn’t have any hidden gotchas for them.

        1. Cat*

          Portland metro resident spotted! I no longer live in Portland but the arts tax specifically is a nightmare that they are very aggressive about trying to enforce on anyone that they think lived in town at any point in any given tax year. Unclear how they compiled their list of “Portland residents” because it seemed to be both strangely vague (notices would be sent to “current resident” at some houses) but also occasionally specific and ridiculous (HS exchange students who had since moved back to their own country). Also their record keeping was horrible so sometimes they would also be aggressive with people who did pay. This was all in the first few years it went live so maybe it’s better now? Hopefully?

          Anyway, all that to say, some places have really specific crazy taxes that they will enforce rabidly if they feel like you are eligible.

    4. anywhere but here*

      I could be wrong, but I think 30 days is the point at which it becomes relevant, so a few days less than that should be fine. I would not say anything. Also it’s wild that your company makes people be available to work on vacation – that is very uncool and I hope you end up somewhere better when you are able to do so.

      1. Tio*

        The day limit is specific to state, and some have shockingly short day limits, like NY in particular.

    5. PB*

      Sorry, I’m still stuck on “If we TRAVEL to another state ON VACATION, we are expected to bring our work laptop and be available to work, as needed.” So you aren’t on vacation then, if you are expected to work? This sounds awful – is that legal?

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        That stood out to me, too. Expected to work on vacation? That’s not a vacation!

        1. lost academic*

          Standard in some fields. Comes with the territory and everyone knows it going in.

          1. Ally McBeal*

            Yeah, and typically you’re paid at a level that softens the blow. Not always – I worked in financial services in an admin capacity and was held to the same “almost always on” standard as the analysts making 20x my salary, although I did insist that at least one of my vacations each year was a no-emails vacation (the analysts didn’t really get that luxury).

    6. The Other Evil HR Lady*

      It’s not just income taxes. It’s also Worker’s Comp. If you get injured in your home state, you’re covered because your employer bought insurance there. If you worked from, say, NY – and your employer has no ties to NY state other than one employee – they might not allow it because NY has its own Worker’s Comp insurance that employers have to purchase from the state.

      Just wanted to point that out. Income taxes are one problem. Worker’s Comp is another beast altogether – and it’s a big one. I mean, you’re all WFH, so I’m assuming you’re classified as administration (for WC purposes), which doesn’t get many claims, but still… it’s a gamble.

    7. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Personally, as a nervous rules-follower, I’d sound out HR and check if there’s any way you’d be approved to do it officially, because I’d be worried that someone would catch on and then I’d end up in trouble anyways. There’s any number of things that might come up while you are out-of-town (wifi issues, lack of good workspace, unexpected emergencies, etc). If they’re already approving out-of-town work while on vacation, it’s not impossible that they’ll grant a short-term waiver for you.

    8. OnyxChimney*

      This is a clear cut beg forgiveness vs ask permission situation.

      Just do it and don’t draw attention to it. Don’t mention it and be sure to filter out your background.

      If you ask they will say no. But they don’t have a leg to stand on since they demand working from out of state while you are paid PTO imo.

      1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        To me that seems like a reason to ask and HOPE they say no. Good luck then, because my vacation IS out of state and HR said I can not work out of state.

    9. Tio*

      Whatever state you’re going to visit, look up the business tax laws and find out what your actual risks are. If it’s a very strict state, you need to weigh your risks.

      In reality, for a short period of time like 3 weeks probably no one is going to hunt you down. But the only time I’ve ever worked out of my home state, it was at a state that had a longer limit I specifically did not hit.

    10. Rick Tq*

      First thing is to NOT bring work equipment with you on vacation. You are on vacation. Full Stop. Your company is trying to get the best of both worlds, and I will bet your vacation time isn’t credited back the hours you may work when you are supposed to be off.

    11. anon_sighing*

      Not to be a bad influence, but just work and don’t tell anyone. 2wks is passing through – if it was in the months range, then I see the issue.

      You are not a resident of that state nor do you haven any intention. Maybe it’s against the letter of the law, but it’s not against the spirit of what tax law intended. Trying to calculate what state income tax you owe for the 10 days (no weekend work) is asinine.

  12. Cat Lady turned Dog Mom*

    Anyone have the issue that a coworker that continuously has shafted you time and time again with their work, ask you to be a reference?

    This individual is great at timing PTO requests to where I have to do their work and mine during our busy times.

    Like, they can do the work, but they skirt around to do as little as possible.

    1. Magpie*

      There aren’t specific rules about acting as a reference for someone, you can do whatever feels right for you. If you’d rather not be a reference at all, just tell the person you’re not available for that. If you do agree to be a reference, you can share info about them not being a team player if you want or you can leave that out and just focus on other areas of their work if you’d rather.

    2. kiwiii*

      I’m pretty sure there’s a couple posts in the archives around how to have the “I wouldn’t be a great reference for you” conversation.

    3. Turingtested*

      If you feel comfortable saying so, you could give the feedback that you gave here. “You’re great at X, Y and Z but you consistently take PTO during our busiest times. If asked, I’ll be honest. Do you still want me to be a reference?”

    4. Nesprin*

      I’ve had to turn down writing reference letters a few times- it’s a kindness to say “Honestly, I’m not sure I can write you a great letter and you might want to consider who else could write a letter that raves about you”

    5. Lily Rowan*

      I have a mediocre coworker who has just put me down a couple of times without asking in advance. Guess what? I gave a very honest reference!

    6. Typing All The Time*

      It’s okay to say no. I had an ex-friend put me down for one after she screwed me over on a work project I’d given her.

  13. Anonymous for now*

    I have read on this site many times that if someone is considered to be a low performer by their manager and is let go, it will be a relief for their colleagues as well, because they must have identified that this person was a low performer. However, I have a strange experience that seems to be a common theme throughout my career. My managers rate me as a low (or more like inconsistent) to solid performer (meets some expectations, meets most expectations, fully meets expectations) and my peer reviews indicate that my colleagues think I am an exceptionally high performer, consistently exceeding expectations. They always come to me for help, feedback, input and generally consider me very knowledgeable and a good colleague. I also have to note that I work in an extremely high performing team where we don’t have actual slackers and poor performance. I still am unable to make sense of why this happens. Have you seen or experienced anything like this before?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This is almost certainly just a matter of misaligned metrics and incentives. What your bosses value is not the same as what your coworkers value.

      Sometimes this is because the bosses are measuring the wrong things. Sometimes this is because you are (sports analogies) a utility player or glue-guy role – you don’t score a lot of points yourself, but by having you on the field, everybody else plays better.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        This is almost certainly just a matter of misaligned metrics and incentives. What your bosses value is not the same as what your coworkers value.

        Definitely this. The problem here is that even if your co-workers are “right” and your boss is “wrong,” your boss is ultimately the one who gives performance reviews and has more direct control over whether you have a job or not than your co-workers do.

        But sometimes your boss is actually right. There are a lot of things I don’t know about my co-workers and what their individual goals are or what my boss has asked of them to do. Some of it I’m privy to, and some of it I’m not. Just because I have positive interactions with them, may seem them do cool stuff, and even have learned stuff from them… doesn’t mean they’re doing all parts of their prescribed job to the utmost as far as our manager is concerned.

      2. Antilles*

        As your co-worker, I know if you’re easy to work with, if you’re pleasant when I have questions, if you generally seem to know what you’re talking about, and if I can rely on you showing up on time. Those are my primary metrics.
        But it doesn’t matter to me if you’re meeting your sales goals or billable hour targets; I probably don’t even know what those goals are.

    2. Angstrom*

      Some managers don’t know how to evaluate someone like you, who helps the whole team achieve more but doesn’t have a lot of highly visible individual accomplishments. The common emphasis on “leadership” often overlooks the vital roles of good followers and team players. Your good work may be invisible to the untrained eye.
      Do you colleagues make a point of giving you credit for your assistance with their problems?

    3. overeducated*

      I had a past coworker who had a set of core responsibilities with deadlines on the scales of weeks/months. They would regularly blow the deadlines because the second anyone asked them for help on any task, they would drop everything to do that, and then wouldn’t keep on track of their longer term work. They LOVED being helpful and valued interpersonal relationships above anything else in the workplace. Things would work out in the end, they’d get some stuff done late or last minute, but it would drive our manager crazy because there wouldn’t be time for the level of quality control the manager preferred, or the late timelines would result in things being even more compressed in the next stage of the process. Whereas I’d seem less nice, because sometimes I’d say “I have a deadline coming up tomorrow, I can help you with this Wednesday,” or “here is a job aid to walk you through that process” instead of doing it myself for them, because sometimes I had to prioritize my own tasks.

      I’m not saying this is what is happening in your case, I definitely don’t know anything about your situation and whether it’s comparable. But maybe it’s worth considering what your coworkers get out of you, vs what your manager does. Sounds like a frustrating disconnect!

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      Some managers just aren’t good at assessing these things. But some people are also better at blowing their own horn. (Or stealing their coworkers’ horns and blowing those.)

      Do your managers know that you’re the go-to person? That can take time away from other things, but on the flip side, it supports everyone’s performance.

      Is your role significantly different from the rest of your team? (Mine is, and my manager is pretty new both to management and our particular part of the organization. I’ve tried to clue him in, but I’m currently looking for a new role, and he’s going to have a rude awakening when I leave – even though everyone else is well aware of how much I do.)

      1. Anonymous for now*

        Thanks for your replies. My managers acknowledge that my work has good quality and high impact/visibility and they also know how my colleagues perceive me. But they always say I am too much in my comfort zone, they would expect a lot more from me, I don’t live up to my full potential, etc.

        1. Anonymous for now*

          And yes, I have a very unique role – there isn’t many of us and it kind of flexibly changes from project to project, from a strategic leadership role to a very hands-on technical role. So, expectations keep changing fast, which can be reflected by performance ratings.

        2. Mill Miker*

          To me, that sounds like a case of the ol’ “Anyone who’s not rushing around in a panic is slacking” school of thought. I mean sure, you’re meeting all your targets, but imagine how much more you could do if you pushed yourself right up to your stress breaking point at all times.

        3. Hillary*

          I agree this sounds like your managers want different things than your peers. I suspect leadership wants you to be more of an active leader. Generally that’s probably worth a conversation with your manager, but also some self-reflection. Some of what you described was reactive behavior – is there an opportunity for you to be more proactive?

          In engineering terms, a principal engineer fixes problems. A senior principal identifies those problems and fixes them. A distinguished engineer sees the problem coming three years down the road, convinces other people that he’s right, and builds the teams to fix/prevent the problem.

    5. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      Our raises are tied to the assessment numbers so I every year I get to hear how great I am and see Meets Expectations across the board.

      1. Anonymous for now*

        We only have higher ratings than meets expectations in extremely rare cases at our company, too. Barely anyone achieves an exceeds rating.

      2. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        Paraphrased but literal conversation I had with my ex boss
        “How can I get an Exceeds”
        B:You were great! totally did everything I needed
        “But what can I do differently to get an Exceeds?”
        B: So awesome, really. I wouldn’t change a thing
        “But how can I change my review from a Meets to an Exceeds next year?”


        B: I’m not allowed to give anything above a “meets expectations”

        1. JelloStapler*

          or they are only allowed to give so many (higher education FTW!) and with a lot of strong performers, has to pick and choose.

    6. Nesprin*

      Is what you do for your coworkers part of your job- i.e. fixing the printer vs. designing widgets?
      Is what you do for your coworkers valued by your company?
      Is what you do for your coworkers visible to your boss i.e. do you fix reports that then don’t have your name on them?
      Is what you do for your coworkers displacing time that could be spent on something with higher visibility?
      Are your coworkers taking on projects with more importance to the bottom line?
      Is it just that relative to your coworkers you don’t stand out?

      1. Anonymous for now*

        Let’s say that my job is an intersection between analysing tea flavours, building teapots and driving the process of building teapots. Helping/covering for each function is my job. The expectations of which function I should focus on more keeps changing. I often volunteer to help out people in each function – an effort that’s valued by the company. The difference between me and my coworkers is that their role is either a tea flavour analyst or a teapot builder and I’m the only one at the intersection – my teapot building skills are not as strong as that of the teapot builders but my tea flavour analysis skills are outstanding, but in a different way than the tea flavour analysts’ skills – I am not a tea flavour specialist but I am able to identify errors and future improvements in teapot building that will bring the maximum out of tea flavours.

        1. Nesprin*

          Oof- changing expectations sounds like a likely source of issues. Are you being pulled between foci? Do you have multiple people assigning you work and is all of that work visible to your managers?

          Does your boss have a picture of what a successful one of you would look like? Have you asked them to spell it out? Does that picture in your boss’s head sound like you? How much time do you spend on each element of your job and is that aligned with what your boss would describe your job as?

          Managers can usually count better than they can read- do you have metrics of errors caught, time saved, projects accelerated by your input? Do your coworkers advocate for you? Do they advocate for you in a way that is visible to your manager?

          1. Anonymous for now*

            I had some conversations with my manager – and it looks like they want me to focus more on improving my teapot building skills. However, I’m a bit worried that I will do that to the detriment of my tea flavour analysis skills, which is unique on the team.

    7. ecnaseener*

      I think that’s the difference between low-ish-to-solid performance and low enough to get fired for it. Coworkers will notice if you’re doing really terrible work, but not necessarily if you’re doing okay work instead of excellent.

      1. BellaStella*

        Yes but how do you get their manager to notice they are not delivering ever and asking for help?

    8. Qwerty*

      I have a more extreme case of this right now. The most experienced and senior person on the team has single handed caused the team to miss every deadline that he is a part of. The team loves him and thinks he’s the best. They have no idea that everyone’s performance tanked the moment this guy joined us. They scramble to fix his mistakes and make up for his shortfalls and thank him for the opportunity!

      And if I was a peer, he might not bother me. I’d probably just quickly fix some stuff so that we don’t miss dates and enjoy the social conversations. Also if I was a dude, we probably wouldn’t have any of the same problems.

      Peers also value different things – when I’m a dev, I am always the top performer and do the work of three people. I often value people who are easy to work with and often the “low” (relatively speaking) performers on my team are more pleasant to interact with some higher performers. Sometimes “lower” performers can also be the glue – higher performers look better by comparison, or appreciate that there is someone to take the tasks that they don’t want, etc.

      1. Anonymous for now*

        That’s an interesting example – a bit different from mine. I am quite fast and efficient and not a low performer in that sense. I don’t really see myself as a lower performer than others on my team, but my role is quite different and hard to compare to other people’s role.

        Why do you think the team loves that senior dev and is happy to cover for his mistakes? That should be a pretty obvious reason to not love your colleague.

    9. Chaordic One*

      I had a job like this (back at “Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd.”) I wasn’t the only one. There were several people who couldn’t meet their (unreasonable) metrics and who either quit or (like myself) were fired. Then, after the replacement also couldn’t meet the metrics, it would finally become obvious that the metrics were flawed and that they’d need to either revise them (reassign the work so that at least some of it was taken off of the plate of the employee) or often this meant hiring an additional person (or two, or three) to do the work of the person who quit or was fired.

  14. Anonymask*

    Hi comment section. Here comes a doozy of an update from last week when I asked for scripts to get my full raise.

    It took a week to work up the courage to approach either Boss or Grandboss about it. Thursday it just happened that the monthly one on one with Grandboss was first thing in the morning, and I couldn’t find Boss all week (long story short: Boss’s calendar is always booked and he’s never where he says he’ll be). I just asked like you all suggested, and Grandboss said he’d “look into it and talk to Boss” because what Grandboss was told by Boss was the number provided on the compensation sheet.

    Back in October when I asked Boss about a raise, I provided him with a digital copy and a print copy of my detailed report and request. We took collaborative handwritten notes on the print copy on what else to add when providing to HR. When Boss met with Grandboss, he provided a lower number and the two of them came up with the “half now, half later” plan based on that.

    Boss never consulted me about the lower number. If he had at least talked to me and said, “we can’t do $X, but we can do $X-1000” I wouldn’t have been thrilled but I also would have understood. But Boss never did that, and deliberately gave Grandboss a lower number.

    Grandboss, apparently, spoke with Boss pretty quickly after our one on one, because I was approached by Boss about two hours later where he said, “I’ve been advised your compensation wasn’t what you wanted. Do you have the file from the meeting?” I handed him the print copy from the meeting with our collaborative handwritten notes, which showed the figure at the top highlighted was not the number he’d provided Grandboss.

    And then, later that day, I got an email notification from our internal recognition team that Grandboss had nominated me for a monthly performance award, time stamped a few minutes after our one on one. It didn’t feel good to receive the nomination, it just felt like Grandboss was scrambling to keep me from being upset about Boss’ decision. Although I did just work the whole weekend prior to ensure users didn’t lose access to any systems and our databases remained functional… Anyway, that’s where I’m at over here in my totally healthy corporate job.

    (Yes, I am trying to leave. No, I’ve had no luck so far after being a finalist in a few interviews. It’s what it’s.)

    1. Anonymask*

      A coworker just came by and gave me a very sweet note and let me know she nominated me for that monthly award as well. This one feels legitimate, and if I somehow won (from the large pool) I’d proudly say it was because of her.

    2. Betty Spaghetti*

      I’m sorry, that sounds so frustrating and invalidating. I appreciate you working over the weekend to support your coworkers! And hope that you find an awesome new position, with supervisors who recognize your worth, very soon. :)

      1. Anonymask*

        Thanks internet stranger! I hope you also get whatever nice things you want to happen!

    3. MaryLoo*

      So, you got the performance award, but did they actually make corrections to your salary according to the proof (printed paper with notes) you presented?

      If not, the performance award sounds more like a this-will-shut-anonymask-up payment. In which case, I’d ask (inside my head) “does grandboss think I’m that stupid not to see through this?”

      1. Anonymask*

        I actually laughed when I saw it come through and had to take a lap around the block with a trusted coworker. But they won’t be correcting it until Q2, and this behavior is so par for the course over here that I’m surprised Boss was talked to at all by Grandboss.

    4. Anonymask*

      Update: “we can’t get you the increase for Q1, so it’ll be incrementally changed for Q2.”

      Well that’s something.

    5. Kay*

      Without knowing any of the history, another way to look at this could be that Grandboss had no idea what Boss had done, didn’t like it, and was trying to do something for you (not necessarily just trying to keep you from being upset).

      It sounds like this workplace has other issues and getting out is still best, but at least you can update your resume with “nominated by Grandboss” for performance award I guess.

  15. Accommodations*

    Yesterday’s post about asking for disability accommodations got me thinking about how I have experienced this in my own career, and I would love some thoughts. I have a physical disability that’s not immediately apparent – nerve damage from an accident that causes a lot of pain sometimes and makes it difficult for me to lift/grip certain things. It doesn’t impact EVERYTHING I do, but there are certain things I just can’t do, and it has been hard over the years to get people to take it seriously. I’m decently athletic and have a lot of active hobbies, and I think because of this not everyone takes it seriously that I really can’t lift that box or reach overhead. I also have a decent amount of pain (sometimes debilitating) if my desk isn’t set up correctly.

    I asked for formal accommodations at my current (office) job, and they hemmed and hawed over it even though I had a doctor’s note. I did eventually get an ergonomics evaluation, and while my desk and monitors were adjusted, they decided not to buy any of the equipment that was suggested (it was nothing major or expensive), and when we moved offices they would not pay for another one to ensure my equipment was set up correctly. This is not the first job where I’ve encountered this kind of issue.

    Has anyone else experienced this? Tips?

    1. Annie*

      My advice is to keep the interactive process going even after they provided the accommodation(s) they decided to stick you with: “I tried the desk setup as is and I’m still in pain/can’t do Work Task effectively. Can I get the additional accommodation(s) requested now?”

  16. ForestHag*

    Conference attire when you’re on a panel discussion —

    I’m leaving for a conference this weekend, where I will be a speaker on a panel discussion. As per usual, I’m stressing about my outfit. The conference itself is higher education tech, and it’s fairly casual compared to some other conferences I’ve been to, but I’m not sure how casual I can be as a speaker. I am not the primary speaker on this session – basically I’m going to be sharing my experiences with a product alongside the vendor, and they will be doing the bulk of the talking. So my question is – do I have to wear a blazer? I don’t own a full suit, and I have a couple of blazers that I could wear with something like black jeans, but I’d rather avoid a blazer if possible, because I hate wearing them. I was planning on wearing black straight leg jeans and a nice turtleneck sweater with black boots. Is that too casual? What have other people worn at conferences? Thanks!

    1. CTT*

      Is this an annual conference? If so, I bet they have pictures from previous years’ panels that would be helpful.

      1. ForestHag*

        Yes, and I looked up photos from previous years, and they didn’t really have any pictures of presentations other than the keynote, and the keynote speaker pretty much always wears a suit or blazer. Most of the photos were from the vendor floor and networking events, and vendors typically wore branded polos and attendees wore everything from sweats to suits. I’ll see if I can dig up any more photos!

        1. Buffy will save us*

          I know you looked up the conference but did you like look on instagram or the former twitter for the conference as a hashtag? A conference goer may have gone and posted pics if you’re really not sure. (As someone with anxiety I would really want to know.)

    2. ADHD 40s - needs PM skills*

      Will a turtleneck sweater be hot under the lights?

      I strongly suggest one piece of attire or accessory that is Statement or Look At Me – this is a time when you will want attention on you and probably your face! So something bright to draw attention like a scarf or necklace or earrings or even just bright lipstick or even great shoes

      1. ForestHag*

        The sweater I picked out is very lightweight so I don’t think it will be bad, but that is something to consider. Thanks for the suggestion!

        1. Sharpie*

          I second the scarf suggestion, if you have one – they really don’t take up much space in your luggage and can draw attention to your face without being too loud in the same way as a pair of dangly earrings can be, for instance,as well as going a long way to dressing up a plain T-shirt. Nice jeans or chinos and loafers or other nice shoes and you’re set unless it’s a much more formal thing than you’ve suggested it is. (Maybe take the blazer if you think you might need to up the formality and can’t find any more photos of speakers? A nice sweater would take up less room, though.)

    3. trust me I'm a PhD*

      At least in my academic/higher ed field, black jeans & a turtleneck sweater would be perfect.

    4. The teapots are on fire*

      What about a soft, drapey cardigan-like thing with some swing to it? It gives a jacket vibe without the construction of a blazer. Extra points if you drape a scarf loosely around your neck. I’m just assuming you are looking to look dressed up and polished without being physically constrained, but maybe that’s not the issue.

    5. phototrope*

      I don’t think you have to wear a blazer, but I tend to feel underdressed in these situations if I’m only wearing one top. So like, I wouldn’t do just a turtleneck sweater but I would wear a blouse and cardigan, or a basic top and a blazer. I have a couple of stretchy and/or knit blazers that feel dressy enough but are still very comfortable, and I feel like if I’m wearing something at least blazer-adjacent, then I kind of get a pass for the rest of my outfit.

    6. Nesprin*

      Make sure everything looks clean, well fitting and flattering – get your bluntest friend to assess+ make sure it looks good sitting down.
      Sear something with a belt or a pocket so you have space for a lapel mike.
      A blazer can be carried and put on if you feel like you need to up the formality.

      1. Hillary*

        Seconding considering the lapel mike – that would be awkward on a turtleneck. It’s always a surprise what kind of mike they’re going to have.

        I was at a tech conference a couple weeks ago where folks’ clothes were pretty varied. Both in panels and in general it ranged from jeans & t-shirts to full suits. I think of higher ed as the more casual side of business casual – the important thing is to feel put together. Nice jeans and a sweater sound fine to me.

        1. ForestHag*

          I didn’t even consider the microphone situation. That is an excellent point! I think in previous years they have a handheld mic, so they can pass it around to audience members.

    7. AnotherLibrarian*

      Business casual is fine. Your outfit sounds reasonable, I would agree with others who suggest adding something to make sure you stand out a bit- there’s a chance you’ll be against a black plain wall and you don’t want to fade into it too much.

    8. Anon. Scientist*

      I’m in a very casual field but at conferences you can totally tell which women are presenting/speaking that day because that’s the one time they have a dress or a blazer. Guys are about 50/50 in dressing up unless they’re old professors, in which case they wear whatever they want. I would recommend something at least a bit dressy, like a nice scarf or cardigan if you hate blazers.

    9. allathian*

      I haven’t presented but I’ve attended, and the only advice I’ve got is wear pants if it’s a sit down panel with no desk in front. It’s no fun to sit in the front row and see… panties.

  17. Misslucy21*

    I got notice that my company is closing my site and we’re being laid off on May 1st. This is my first layoff (I have been tremendously lucky up until now) so if anyone has any advice for how to handle this, I would surely appreciate it. I am still working at my current job up until the close date, and I am obviously looking for another job, but it’s still kind of a lot to process.

    1. Magpie*

      Make sure you review the details of your severance package carefully. If you’re getting a severance payout, make sure you understand when you’re getting it and over what time period. Make sure you understand how long you’ll have health insurance coverage after your last date and understand how to sign up for COBRA or marketplace insurance if needed once that lapses. Understand any deadlines, like if you need to sign any severance paperwork by a certain date in order to get a severance payout, or any deadlines related to rolling over retirement plans or spending flexible spending account funds. I’m sorry this is happening and I hope you find something else quickly!

    2. Texan In Exile*

      * Schedule as many of your medical things to happen ASAP – dental, vision, physical checkups.
      * Replenish as much of your RX as possible.
      * Compare ACA plans to COBRA. ACA premiums are based on income, not assets, and can be shockingly low. Our plan (in Wisconsin) is also, much to our surprise, very good.

      * Look through your emails, etc, for compliments on your work. Send them to your personal email. Ask those people if you can use them as references.
      * As long as you are not violating confidentiality, download samples of your work that you can use or refer to in cover letters and interviews.
      * Download your performance evaluations
      * Calculate your accomplishments while you have access to data.
      — “Reduced average ticket response time X% in six months by doing [a thing].”
      — “Designed process to clean old data from factory ordering systems that also improved A/R processes.”
      — “Led communications and marketing strategy for [a thing]. In six weeks, organically increased Facebook engagement 363%, post reach 476%, and followers 15%, and helped raise over $22,000 for materials.”

      * Find your state’s unemployment website. What will you need to do to file?

      New job
      * Check if there is any BS about non-compete and make sure you get some kind of waiver because it’s a layoff.
      * Use your work day to update your resume and look for a job. I mean – honestly.

    3. I'm just here for the cats!*

      If your company is anything like mine was, you could be let go early at any time, so be prepared for that. Especially if you find a job before May 1. I would also make sure that you have a corporate number or a number for HR that isnt at your site. That way if something is wrong with your last paycheck and no one is answering at the site you can get help.

      My former call center job was closing the site and let us know in March they would close the site May 31st. I got hired another place and gave notice that the 12th would be my last day. about a week before what would be my last day I got a bad review from a customer (out of my hands situation) so they “accepted my resignation early”.

      Then a few weeks later they closed the doors early. People were locked outside with no way to get back into the building because they canceled all of the security badges. And I heard that one person who worked half days was never told and showed up to a dark building and no one would answer his calls.

      I don’t want to scare you but sometimes companies will just cut their losses, and its better to prepare yourself early.

    4. Just another content creator*

      Sorry to hear that! I’ve been laid off twice and it came as a shock both times. For me, the emotional roller coaster was intense. I’d recommend:
      – Allowing yourself to feel your feelings and consistently remind yourself it’s not personal. Journaling and talking to my husband helped me a lot.
      – Reaching out to your network and see what opportunities are out there in addition to a “traditional” job search.
      – Planning a brainstorming day to think about what your next career move will be and how you’re going to get there (I’m a planner/like to feel in control, so this helped me feel like I had more agency after the choice of where I was working was taken away, and also figure out my budget).
      – Creating a plan to complete a few of the little “someday” home projects while you have more flexibility with your schedule. This helped me feel accomplished and stay busy.

      Good luck with your job search!!

    5. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Check the fine print on your severance if you leave before the May 1st deadline. It may be worth it to leave early anyway, but make sure you know so you can be clear if you find a job faster than expected. The last layoff my husbands company did you lost ALL severance if you left even one day early.

      Definitely the health insurance thing. Are you through May 1 or ending April 30th because that can make a big difference on if you have insurance through May 31st or not.

      Take all your personal stuff home now. If you don’t want to make a big scene of it start with the most important and take some home everyday.

      Take home all the things you will want to have – professional contacts, any non-confidential training or documentation.

      If you have good professional contacts at work reach out now to share alternate contact info, having Jennifer as a great reference doesn’t do much good if you no longer know how to reach Jennifer when company email is shut down.

    6. Typing All The Time*

      If you have a retirement plan through your company, get in touch with your provider ASAP to see about rolling it over into a 401K or other options you have.

    7. Raia*

      It depends heavily on your financial situation. If you’ve got 3-6 months of expenses saved up, I’d say try to take interviews before the layoff, and then treat the after-layoff like a summer vacation! If that’s not feasible, I try to commit to the job search like it is my job – so 8 hours a day 40 hrs a week of resume writing, job searching, cover letters, soul-searching about industries/potential career side-steps I’d find interesting. Good luck, you’ll do great in the interviews since you’re already here!

    8. Misslucy21*

      Thanks, everyone. I do now know that insurance will run through May 31st, and that getting severance only happens if I am still there on May 1st. So it will almost certainly be worth it to start a new job early if I find one. I’m not sure 2 months is enough time to get a new job, but maybe? I really appreciate the advice and support!

  18. ADHD 40s - needs PM skills*

    I got my ADHD diagnosis at age 41 – explains a lot.
    A year ago I got a dream job at a consulting firm. Love the work and people.

    I got to manage a small project with 2 subordinates. It did not go well.

    How do I gain those project management skills I’ve missed out on in my career development? As a mid-career person where these are assumed, and as a person with ADHD who finds some details and follow-through challenging but will do almost anything (really, can provide proof) to succeed and gain these skills?

    I don’t want to lean too much on my supervisors.

    What courses books videos coaches trainers mindsets etc do you recommend

    Thank you

    1. ferrina*

      Hello fellow ADHDer! Congrats on your diagnosis!

      There are tools designed specifically for ADHD folks. The trick is to find the thing that works for your particular flavor of ADHD. I recommend starting on the YouTube channel How to ADHD. She does a ton of research, collaborates with experts, and shares a lot of different strategies.

      Personally, I’ve been a PM for most of my career because it works with my flavor of ADHD. I am fabulous at multi-tasking and juggling tight deadlines and ever-changing work. ADHD has so many varieties!
      I love PM software like or Basecamp. If your company has a PM software, try it out. I also create a Project Plan for every single project. This includes project objectives, deliverables, major milestones, who is responsible for each, when I plan to check in on each component, etc. I write a full timeline, including buffer time for people to forget and turn things in a few days late (and if you know the people you are working with, feel free to individualize this. Some people don’t need buffer time, and some people will constantly get things late). I’ve also found it helpful to set time blocks on my calendar. I will set time months in advance so I already have time set aside for what needs to get done. This morning I realized I need to send a certain email on Monday, so I set a meeting for myself to send that email (otherwise come Monday, that email will not exist in my mind).

      No matter what, trust the thing that gets you results. Don’t worry about things that you think “should” get you results. “Should” is a bad word. Go for what actually works. I went through years where I switched PM systems every 3-6 months. And it worked for me! I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else, but it made me a fantastic PM. (I did have a consistent communication stream for others, so for example, the rest of the team was using Trello, and I was Word notes and had a note for “update Trello”). Experiment and find your personal strategy.

    2. Laid Off but Still Here*

      Any recommendations on how to get through work when you’ve been told your position is eliminated but you’re employed until a certain date? Leaving early isn’t an option. The main frustration is people, even subordinates, no longer letting me have any input or ignoring me when I give them tasks.

    3. Data Slicentist*

      My local hospital has regular group therapy for adults with ADHD. We learned about different therapy modalities, shared our experiences, and dug into specifics about how to make productivity systems work for us. The combination of connection with others and the expertise of the psych department folks leading it was so helpful to me.

      It was included in my “welcome to ADHD” packet when I was diagnosed, but open to anybody in the area. My insurance covered the cost with only a small co-pay (US, insurance through employer).

      I would recommend this to anybody looking for resources!

    4. Shrug*

      Jumping on this thread to ask my ADHD question! I’ve been looking into hiring an ADHD coach to help with my executive dysfunction, but I’m very nervous about it. Does anyone have experience working with one?

  19. Jinxs*

    Senior manager here who is in the process of choosing staff for layoffs. It’s awful. The org (a not-for-profit) is doing it in a good way (lots of severance, careers counseling, transparency) but awful all the same. Those of you who have gone through this, any tips for how to help deal with the guilt or how to help ease the adjustment for those who aren’t being laid off? This is going to be a big blow for everyone, not just those let go.

    1. LimeRoos*

      We just had layoffs (including 2 people from my team), and I think my managers handled it as well as they could so here’s a few of the things they did. My org is doing the same as yours – severance, paying cobra, transparency, and things like that. Also – it was position related, not person, so that might have been a little easier for us to handle.
      – Super transparent – any info they could share with our team, they did.
      – Short 15 minute meeting after the 2 people were informed (without them of course, because that would suck even more for them) – not dragging it out telling the team, handling however we felt in the moment and being open to any questions/conversation around it.
      – Another listening session the next day (or two days later, I forget, but it was same week), to talk more about everything and moving forward and stuff.
      – Acknowledging the suck but also letting us know they are getting severance and other benefits. And can be rehired in the future.
      – And the nicest thing honestly, at the end of the crap week, they told us to just bounce early on Friday, weather was nice, so just go relax and not think about work (we’re all salary/exempt so no missing out on hours).

      Not too many tips for the guilt, but my managers did say they were taking care of themselves and doing recharging things on the weekend, and acknowledging how much it sucks for everyone. One manager had been laid off before, so he said it sucks, but also can have silver linings because he wouldn’t have found his next steps if it didn’t happen. Though that’s a certain level of introspection that might be too soon for some people to hear.

      1. Jinxs*

        Thanks, this is very helpful! Luckily most of this jives with the plans so far, which is reassuring. There was going to be an informal “you can all leave early” if you need to at the end of the wee, but I’ll propose we make it more formal (ie., an email to all staff as opposed to managers letting their teams know sporadically).

    2. JMR*

      Been there. The best advice I have is to make sure you don’t make it about yourself. Yes, it’s a difficult time for people on both sides. But the people who aren’t laid off are in a much better position than the people who are. It’s absolutely OK to feel shitty about it, because it IS super shitty. And if you have to deliver the message personally, of course it will be awful for you too! But absolutely do not make any comments about how it’s hard for everyone or anything like that in front of the employees whose positions are being eliminated.

      When my husband’s position was eliminated, his manager spent the whole 15-minute meeting crying about how much she’ll miss him and how hard it was going to be without him, like, seriously? So don’t do that. :-)

    3. Your Social Work Friend*

      My job (public ed) just had a layoff announcement and I can share the way things went right and wrong.
      – staff who were not having contracts renewed were told in private and transitions were planned ASAP
      – as much information as possible regarding why there were layoffs was shared with the whole group
      – our leaders have made themselves continuously open to feedback, and had openly shared what they have/haven’t had power over
      – whole staff called into a last minute meeting at the end of the day, and were told there was no Q&A at the end
      – tried to label the meeting as something other than layoffs (think “budget meeting”)

      1. Jinxs*

        Ooofff on those wrong points. I think we are avoiding that but I want to check the timing of things to make sure there is lots of time for Q&A.

    4. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Meet with your team as soon as you are allowed to let them know what is going on.

      Give them a moment to process. Echo the person that said if you can, let them all leave early .

      Not right at that first meeting, but the next week have a meeting to discuss redistribution of work. Take this time to give people a chance to brainstorm the best way of restructuring the work within the department(s). We ended up with a project board where everyone listed their most core tasks and looked at how we could absorb work evenly, sometimes shifting tasks among remaining staff. Turns out Jane loves doing the exact job that Joan dreads, so Jane took more of that off Joan’s plate and Joan took a larger chunk of the laid off persons job, etc.

      1. Jinxs*

        Thanks for this. We already have the redistribution all mapped out (one of the reasons for layoffs is that there hasn’t been enough work so no one is getting anything outside their job profile, but team combinations are shifting) and there is debate about when is the best time to share this info. The consensus right now is later the same week (say layoffs on Monday, re-org discussions starting Thursday). But I take your point that perhaps waiting a week is more reasonable to give people time to grieve, etc

    5. I Have RBF*

      I have been laid off more times than I can count. It was the nature of the industry in both my old and new career.

      I felt sorry for the new manager who had to lay me, and others, off. It was his first time.

      Everyone will take a hit, so that can’t be your criteria. If you want to be purely pragmatic, pick the ones who are most likely to be able to handle the changed workload to stay. Other than that, I don’t have any better criteria for you.

    6. anotherfan*

      and on the negative side … don’t make a video with the remaining C-suite staff wearing party gear and singing “Everything is Awesome” and post it a week after laying people off. Also, don’t announce what a spectacular year the company is having in newsletters to stockholders, since some of your laid off staff may actually own company stock.

  20. Eclectic Calm*

    Does anyone work in an AmLaw firm? Curious how upgrades and training is funneled to those of us in steerage. I’ve worked in law for over a decade and where I am now is positively archaic and a plain old mess when it comes to rollouts and training. Hoping to find a better way to notify management that their hands off and “you were emailed” style isn’t working. i.e., walls of text and redoing quick reference cards from 2011 with the old logo isn’t cutting it for the fee earners. What is the training protocol where you are? I’ve had trainers who were former admins and they were absolute rock stars at diffusing the new vs the old. This place everyone points to someone else and I’m shocked the bigs don’t have their pitchforks out.

    1. CTT*

      AmLaw Associate where they recently rolled out a new timekeeping system. There were a LOT of emails to get people to sign up for training and “the quick reference guide is on the intranet” afterwards; I don’t think there’s any way to avoid that, unfortunately. But one thing that I did find helpful is that they organized a ton of small-group training sessions to train people on the new system. That way, even the senior partner who claims to have the busiest schedule could make it (or had no excuse not to). The sessions being just with a small group made it a lot easier to ask questions, both during the training and after.

  21. mango chiffon*

    Is February a bad time to be hiring for more entry level jobs? Most of the people who applied for a position we had up dropped out or were no shows to our HR screening calls and now our candidate pool is making me depressed lol. The people who dropped out seemed really fascinating on paper so I’m feeling particularly demoralized since it’s always been a struggle to hire for this administrative/finance adjacent position.

    1. kiwiii*

      I know that we’ve run into issues keeping great candidates in our entry level pools because our timeline takes too long for them. Entry level people often need a spot to land quickly since they have less time to have built up a financial buffer. How long is your hiring process?

      1. mango chiffon*

        Job listing went up the first full week of February, we got resumes to review the middle of the next week, and then HR screened candidates with feedback to us by that Monday. By that point out of the four that we asked to screen, one was a no show, and one never responded to HR’s scheduling request. Not entirely sure if that’s fast or slow, but some of the issue around timing is because our manager is on a limited working schedule at the moment.

      2. The Other Evil HR Lady*

        Unemployment is shockingly low right now. Employers are moving super fast on good hires. Pretty much, if you find someone that you like on paper, talk to them within a day or two of applying, meet with them ASAP, and offer the position immediately. Don’t wait. I’ve been having the same problem for a mid-level position.

        1. Albatross*

          Yeah. I had a government agency close applications in mid-January, bring me in for an in-person interview on Feb. 8th, do reference and license checks in a little over a week, and extend a job offer on the 16th. I start today. (I am writing this in a Zoom meeting while the HR person explains how to add dependents to your health insurance.) If government agencies are going from “application closed” to “first day of work” in six weeks, private industry has to be moving even faster. The job market is weird right now.

        2. Bast*

          As a mid level professional, when I was looking last year, I went from beginning my search to receiving an offer within 3 weeks. I know some companies have hiring processes longer, but if someone is particularly good at their job or has an in demand skill, they may be gone long beforehand.
          I had numerous interviews and the company that I am with now moved quickly once I interviewed with them, and I was not about to turn down a good offer while the other companies dithered about. I interviewed on a Friday, and was extended an offer the following Wednesday. I accepted, and canceled the other interviews I had scheduled that week. Even in an entry level role, there may be certain skills that will make a candidate more desirable — in my particular field, being bilingual is a definite plus.

    2. Anonymask*

      I have no idea, but it could be that many other companies are also hiring at the same time? Are their hiring practices faster (for lack of a better word) than your company’s? I’d think May/June would be the hot time to hire with colleges all letting out around then.

      1. mango chiffon*

        Some of my worry…my guess is the candidate we just lost today before an HR screen was applying as a backup while in the middle of the process with a different place. We even changed the position title to try and get a wider/different candidate pool, but we don’t seem to be getting a lot of resumes.

        1. Bast*

          Some companies just move quickly. Sometimes a candidate does not want to put all their eggs in one basket, which is understand. I will never hang my hat on a single place no matter how well I think my interview may have gone, so I will keep applying until I have an offer in hand. It’s very likely that candidate was applying elsewhere as well, as most job seeking people apply around.

    3. Zee*

      I don’t know about specifically entry-level jobs, but I wouldn’t be surprised if mid-January into February was a very popular time to hire, as companies put hiring on hold over the holidays and are now opening them back up again.

      That said, if you’ve consistently struggled to fill this position, that says to me that timing is not the key factor (unless you are always hiring in February).

    4. Moths*

      Entry-level may be the main issue you’re running into. Some of those folks may be applying to a large range of jobs, be less on top of how HR may be reaching out (and what realistic timelines for reaching out may be), and may be more likely to ghost you, just due to limited work experience. I don’t know that February is any worse than any other month per se, but it might suggest that you may need to see if there are any ways you can move more quickly with the process if you’re wanting to capture the really interesting candidates. Maybe see if you all can screen resumes daily and bypass your manager for that first screen, so that the initial reach out to the candidates isn’t being held up by their availability. Also, I’d see which ways your HR is reaching out to folks to screen them. I recently was hiring and HR a couple of times noted that they hadn’t gotten a response from folks and when I pushed a little more, I found out they were only reaching out via email, not by text/phone. A couple of candidates had the email go to their junk filter (or didn’t check that email as regularly) and when HR reached out via phone, they suddenly responded.

    5. Hillary*

      If you’re targeting new grads, somewhat yes just because they either graduated in December or they’re in classes until May. It might be better to do rolling applications on this versus building a pool.

    6. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Sadly I find that about 50-70% of job applicants are what I call robo-applicants. Indeed or whatever jobsite you post at pulls keywords and either the applicants just click a button to apply or something is applying on their behalf but they don’t really mean it.

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      It it’s always a struggle to hire, are your salaries competitive for those roles? Maybe you need to recalibrate pay; also consider whether you could invite really exciting candidates for interview right away instead of waiting until you have a pool of candidates.

  22. Interviewing Help*

    Does anyone have any good tips on how to set people at ease during interviews.

    For context I’ve been hiring for a few pretty junior roles and am mostly interviewing recent or soon to be college grads. More so then with other demographics I am noting that they are very anxious during the interview, some of them seem to get more comfortable as the interview goes on, but others don’t seem to warm up at all.

    I’ve tried starting out with some general chit chat, or softball questions about this college (everyone is local, so I know all the colleges they are going to). Think like “is parking at State U still terrible” or “how are you liking the new student center they put in”, hoping that it will get us chatting a bit.

    For some people this seems to work a bit, but for others it seems to make them even more anxious. Is there a better way to put people at ease?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Set expectations!
      Best if you can do it in advance, through the college career center or whatever, but even just 2 minutes at the beginning of the conversation works wonders. “I’m going to tell you a little about the company and the kind of roles we hire for, then ask you questions about your classwork and labs, and your interests, and then you’ll have an opportunity to ask me questions about the company.”

      1. HugeTractsofLand*

        I second this! Even interviewing for non-entry level roles, I really appreciate pre-interview confirmation emails that say (roughly) “This is the basic flow of what we’re going to talk about, feel free to ask me to repeat questions, you’ll get a chance to ask questions at the end, we’ll be together roughly 30 minutes, etc..” I love that you’re thinking of this and the approach you’re using is already a nice touch.

      2. ferrina*

        Thirding this!
        Giving a quick agenda at the beginning of the interview also helps them know how to budget their time- so if there’s a point they want to make, they know when to make it. And it lets them know when they should raise different topics.

    2. ChaoticNeutral*

      We have played with doing an office tour before the interview instead of after. We always do an office tour anyway, and sometimes doing it before and letting the candidate (especially our more junior ones) see folks out in the cubes chitchatting, having a good time, etc seems to set the mood. Like this is a real place where real people work so you can relax and be yourself. That being said, sometimes people are just nervous interviewers! I feel like it is a kindness to pretend to not notice some visible/auditory markers of nervousness like stuttering, fidgeting, etc.

    3. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      I’m in this boat a lot and here’s what’s worked for me:
      – My office is quite informal, so in advance of the interview, I tell them we don’t expect candidates to show up in suits – I say that as long as they aren’t literally in pajamas, they’re fine. (Only say this if it’s true though.) Candidates wearing comfortable clothes = more relaxed and engaged candidates.
      – I send candidates questions in advance. I let them know there may be ad-hoc follow-ups, but no surprise topics.
      – I send candidates information about who they will be interviewing with in advance – not just job titles but a little bit about the people and the ways they’d be working together. (Like “Joe brings an incredible strategic vision to the department, and he’s hoping the person in this role will be able to manage all the details to bring the strategy into action. He’d be a good person to ask about things like our long-term marketing plans and how we work with the Design team.”)
      – I start the interview with me talking about the job and the org, and give them an opportunity to ask questions before delving into my questions. This only takes 10 minutes but is REMARKABLY effective at making candidates feel like it’s truly a conversation. I make sure my intro includes some lighthearted jokes etc. and is honest and transparent.

    4. TPS Reporter*

      re another posting from this week, it could be helpful to give them in advance a list of general questions/topics that you will cover in the interview.

      I also like the advice of giving a job description and general overview of the company to them at the beginning of the interview. I do this too even for not so junior roles.

    5. L. Ron Jeremy*

      mirroring worked for me. this means if the person interviewing you is sitting up straight. then you sit up straight. if they’re sitting back with with legs crossed, you do the same. it fell strange when to mr do it, but your interviewer will relate to you through this mirroring.

      also raise your eyebrows when you talk; it makes you seem animated and more interesting to listen to

    6. AngryOctopus*

      It’s possible in a lot of cases that this could be the first real interview for a lot of students. It’s really hard to relax in that kind of situation! I think you just have to give them grace for being nervous. They can probably see you trying to put them at ease, but sometimes when you’re in a new high-stakes situation, even that can cause you to be tense (“She asked about the student center and I think it’s great. But maybe she actually hates it! What do I say?”). If they seem more anxious, I’d say just give a non-committal segway into the interview–they might still feel anxious, but that’s the part they’ve at least prepared for!
      Long story short, it’s really hard to interview for your First Real Job, and it’s kind that you’re trying to get them to relax, but some people will just not be able to do it. And that’s OK! Just roll with it, be kind, and don’t hold it against them.

    7. Professional Editor*

      Would you consider sharing your interview questions before the interview?

      Also, how much do candidates know in advance about where they are supposed to go, whom they will be speaking with, and how long the interview is going to take?

      Some people will be more comfortable – or more likely to get comfortable – if they know what is going on and what to expect.

    8. Sharon*

      I like to phrase a question multiple ways and ask them to comment on any part they like. Or if they are struggling I’ll try to explain why I’m asking. This tends to lead to an actual conversation vs. them thinking they need to come up with a “right” answer to the question.

      I also agree with the other post saying to spend some time talking about the job and asking the candidate if they have any questions. Sometimes the ability to ASK an intelligent, on topic question says a lot about a candidate.

    9. Anon. Scientist*

      I have a certain patter for all my interviews that seems to help. I introduce myself and co-interviewer, ask how they want to be called/pronounce their name, and launch into an introduction of myself, our group, and the organization. Then I turn it over to my coworker and ask them to introduce themselves and correct whatever I said that was wrong, and then ask for the candidate for a quick summary of themselves and what they’re looking for. Since they just heard 2 people giving an introduction, usually they’re OK with talking.

      I have a list of questions based on the resume, but it’s really asking to clarify what they know – I’m not really quizzing them. And I always have a good rapport with the other interviewer (I have some awkward folks on my team but they’re second interview people) so we’re kind of warm and jokey. I always have a couple of softball questions and find a way to engage/share my own experience.

      If they’re in a panic or massively awkward, I go hard on the warm tone and we all just get through it. I get it. I hire interns and this can be their first ever interview.

    10. Moss Gardens*

      I took part in an interview recently where the interviewer really helped put me at my ease by saying this towards the start – in a genuine way:
      “Thank you for coming to interview with us. We understand the time and effort it can take to prepare for an interview, and we appreciate that.”
      [it was a zoom interview]
      “We know that zoom interviews happen often in the candidate’s home, and that there may be complications because of children, or pets, or other issues to do with being at home.”
      I felt myself just …relax… when they said those things. I felt “seen” and it took pressure off. I don’t even have pets or children, but the second comment still helped!

    11. PMaster*

      We have 2-3 interviewers on a panel – the direct supervisor, a senior person in the unit, and sometimes someone else from the team or the supervisor’s peer. We do introductions, and the supervisor reads off detailed info about the job duties and context within the team, the office, and the organization. This gives the person time to remember what they know about the job posting, then we ask if they have any questions. We do ask the “is parking at State U still terrible?” type questions to keep it friendly and get them talking.

      Then we rotate asking our standard set of questions about background, general experience with work and conflict management, then specific experience with computer software/systems and related duties. We end with “tell us something about yourself that we wouldn’t learn from your resume” and “do you have any questions for us?” The interviewers stick to the questions, but we interact with each other and do informal follow-ups and anecdotes/tangents. I think by the end of the detailed part of the interview, people are relaxed and eager to talk about themselves and ask questions about the job.

      We’ve been using this arrangement for the last few years, and it really helps identify relevant skills and experience, but also social skills, personality, ability to learn, and “intangibles”. Interviews are always stressful and tiring, but at the end, most candidates come out of their shell and leave on a positive note.

  23. FloralWraith*

    Am I allowed to be a little bit mad and frustrated in my situation?

    I’ve been waiting for the reply back on whether I’ve gotten through to an internal job offer in a different faculty of my current university workplace for two weeks now. The main interview was two weeks ago and was pretty last-minute scheduled. It was 1.5 hours (test + interview) and I thought it went quite well. Then I had an “informal” chat last week with the head, and then this week I had yet *another* “informal” chat with another manager.

    This is the longest I’ve gone without a formal yes/no since I started looking for an internal transfer/change a year ago. I’ve interviewed with half the faculties and a few departments and at most it’s been a week. I’m an anxious ball of stress and emotional turbulence.

    It’s more than frustrating because if I look outside, senior positions in my incredibly expensive area want to pay *less* and so I can’t even afford to quit or take one of these roles, unless I want an unstable temp job.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      First, all feelings are valid, you don’t need anyone’s permission to feel frustrated or mad.

      I can see how this is frustrating. But sometimes in universities its par for the course. Especially if its a busy time for that department (We’re just coming up to midterms like next week). And there could be more that’s going on than you realize, specifically for this department.

      Furthermore 2 weeks is not that long of a time, especially in academia. I would wait until end of next week and if you don’t hear anything send a message to one of those managers that you spoke with to see about a timeline.

      1. ferrina*

        I agree with all of this. 2 weeks isn’t that long for any organization. And it sounds like they are actively moving, if people are having chats with you. That’s a good sign! Job searching is incredibly frustrating, so feel your feelings, but the timeline can be much slower than we think it would.

      2. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        Academia is so ridiculously slow. I’ve been on search committees that took months even though they knew from day 1 exactly who they wanted to hire.

  24. Retail Dalliance*

    As a fairly newly pregnant person (9 weeks along) I just discovered my employer does not have a maternity leave policy. They allow you to use your accumulated/banked sick days for 6 weeks as long as you’re declared “disabled” by the state of New York (which you are, for 6 weeks after a vaginal birth or 8 weeks after a c-section). After that, any time off is totally unpaid.

    When I raised this as a justice issue to my employer, they articulated that they felt this was a “generous” policy and they were totally happy with it. They said it would not be fair to non-pregnant people to offer paid leave!!! “Then we’d have to offer 6 weeks paid to anyone/everyone.”

    How can I frame this issue to them as a justice issue? I doubt I’ll be able to single-handedly make them offer 6 weeks fully paid, but they really think this is the best way to do it. I am fortunate in that I have enough accumulated sick days to cover my 6 weeks, but I plan to take 12 weeks total, and my husband and I will be poor during that last 6 weeks. What are some arguments to make to them? I want to give it some time and then maybe push back as a group with other women, but I want some arguments ready to go.

    1. TPS Reporter*

      you could try researching similar companies in your field to see what policies they offer to show a comparison. also a collective push back with other employees (not just women) could go a long way.

      1. Joshua*

        does NY Paid Family Leave help at all? I know that doesn’t answer your question about your company.

    2. Bonne chance*

      Since you mentioned NY State–have you looked into whether you would qualify for Paid Family Leave? Outside of that, I’d frame the pushback as your employer needing to be competitive in NY’s labor market. It is a justice issue, though, and I hope you are able to collectively push for a better policy. If your employer is willing to tip off PFL to get you to 100% of wages, or to take out short-term disability to cover wages, those might be less expensive strategies to still keep pregnant/parenting folks in their jobs.

    3. Double A*

      Why not argue for family leave, not just maternity leave? Yes, some people won’t end up needing it, but everyone potentially may need some kind of caregiving leave at some point. Maternity leave is an amazing first step, but if you’re talking about justice then look at the whole population who needs that justice. And then you might argue that maternity leave is the first step towards that long term goal.

      That being said, I don’t think a justice framing is usually the most effect way to make change unfortunately.

      I also thinking you need to find some examples of good plans (for the US) and argue why those plans are a good choice for the company.

      Unfortunately the reality of having a baby in the US is a big hit to your income in the first year. I live in CA and had pretty good leave and it meant I took home about 60% of my salary over the course of 4 months of leave.

      1. Rara Avis*

        I’m in Ca too and I had full salary for 7 months due to a combination of disability, paid family leave, and accrued sick time.

      2. GythaOgden*

        At the point where the OP is, just getting maternity leave would be progress. If this is something that you would like to see, maybe conduct your own campaign or write to your congressperson; we’re talking about someone just trying to assert their own rights here on the literal shopfloor and not a broader social perspective that’s probably too big for her right now to deal with.

        I totally agree with it being parental leave, but if this guy is reluctant to even give her time off beyond what she needs for her own physical recovery, she’s not necessarily in the physical or mental position to do more and lecturing her about it won’t really help negotiate with this boss at this time. Also, nitpicking language here is really a bit cowardly when we’re trying to help someone advocate for herself directly with someone who isn’t receptive even to the bare minimum.

    4. Caramel & Cheddar*

      From your perspective, what *are* the justice issues here? You said you raised it, but I’m curious what you actually said to them beyond “this is a justice issue.” More importantly, do they have a history of acting on other justice issues that people have raised?

    5. DrSalty*

      I would look into what kind of resources are available from advocacy groups that focus on paid family leave. Maybe groups like Moms Rising or Paid Leave for All, based on a quick Google search. This is hardly a novel argument so I wouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel yourself.


    6. Early Bird Doesn't Always Want the Worm*

      My employer provides 6 or 8 weeks short-term disability at 100% salary and then 4 weeks of Caregiver leave. The rest of FMLA is covered by sick leave. The caregiver leave can be used by someone physically having a baby, someone adopting, another parent, or for other caregiving needs for family members–for instance if a spouse or child (or parent?) had surgery. This could be help with the “pay everyone” argument because it’s not “just” for giving birth.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Yes, if a company is going to have leave around the birth or adoption of a child, it should be for both parents, not just one giving birth. I want to see it normalized for men to take off of work to bond with their kid and help with the 4 am feedings without work stress. I may be child free, but I want kids and parents to get a good start together, even if it inconveniences me a bit.

        1. GythaOgden*

          I mean, that’s very true, but lecturing OP on her language isn’t going to get her very far in the here and now. Assuming her partner doesn’t work for the same company, whether it’s called maternity, parental or caregiver leave is kind of academic.

    7. GythaOgden*

      Casting it as a justice issue is going to put backs up and just produce defensiveness. It’s overly aggressive in a situation where you need to negotiate better assertively and you need a rapier rather than a claymore to cut through this guy’s BS. The justice narrative works on a macro social level — I totally agree with the ultimate aim here — but when you’re dealing with individuals you work with, you need to tailor your discussion to their ‘language’ and appeal to their business needs (e.g. what others are saying about staff retention and wellbeing that leads to more consistent customer service, happier customers and more revenue), not those of the wider social landscape.

      It sucks, but while some advances were achieved by direct social pressure and activism, a lot more were gained by building good business cases and fighting a longer game within the structure of society as it is.

      If this is retail, the other commenters may not be speaking from direct experience with the field, and neither can I, but I know retail dances to the beat of a different drum than more white-collar workplaces. I worked in a very small shop myself and the owner expected a lot from his employees to the point where he was really pushing the legal boundaries that exist here in the UK. It was brutal, and I needed the experience more than the time off, but I could see things from his position as well. He’d built the business he had up by putting 24/7 of his own time and money into it and so we had to be able to come to him with language he’d understand about my own capacity and need for/entitlement to time off as a worker. That way, I could give him what he needed in my role — punctuality (I was always on time because I lived in the next street but boy was it really tough some mornings when I had to have the shop ready for opening at 7), keeping people coming into the shop, the extra mile in helping out with his books and so on — without the resentment that came from exploitation. But I couldn’t have done it just confronting him with abstract ideas of social and economic justice. He wasn’t an abstract thinker; he made his money by buying and selling stuff and needed to see the evidence that better understanding of his employees’ needs would bring him.

      So instead of going in feet-first here with the social justice spiel (which IS important, just in a different setting) you need to use the language of retail to get what you need and ensure their needs are also taken care of. It’s not that you’re giving in to their rather ludicrous demands, but that you show an awareness of their business needs and thus build up a more collaborative approach to it. It’s the difference between aggression and assertiveness; you will bring this employer along with you much easier in the long run if you try to speak his language and assert yourself in negotiation rather than try to bludgeon him into seeing your point of view from a wider social angle that he probably doesn’t really have time or energy himself to study.

      It worked with my boss and although he never lost his bullishness about his own business, he was better at keeping his employees on side. I had external help from my parents to get the wording right, and they had local influence that could be brought to bear on him, but it was more effective in the long run than just trying to bulldoze my way forward. I left that job after six months because of health issues, and I’d got what I needed out of it so it was easier to just quit, but it was only by bringing him onside that things improved. (I also educated myself on retail in general by reading the trade magazines that came into the shop and came to the conclusion that it’s really tough for very small retail businesses to actually fulfil a lot of employee regulations, particularly here in the UK where there are quite a lot. They basically are best run by a sole individual and their family because that side-steps the need to earn enough to support another worker on top of the owner.)

      It will get better if the employer sees this as a benefit for him in the long run. Take that tack and you’ll have more of an ally in the longer run for any kind of campaign in the name of justice.

    8. EMP*

      Is it NY State because you’re in NY? Are you eligible for NY Paid family leave? Even if not, the arguments in favor of paid leave may be good taking points for your employer – long term gains in health and productivity for example.

  25. LinkedIn, wilding out*

    Got super excited for a LinkedIn job posting that was both in my field (UXD) and for an unusual industry that I spent multiple years in (the industry isn’t unusual in that it exists, but in that it tends not to make use of my field because it’s largely still performed analog). Crazy coincidence that I am a perfect fit for.

    So instead of doing Easy Apply, I find the company page to apply directly, and lo and behold the field/title listed is actually Marcomm, not UXD. WTF? How on earth is there such a wild discrepancy between the two job boards? That doesn’t seem like an auto-fill error.

    1. ferrina*

      Maybe HR had no idea where to post the role. Or the role reports to the Marcomm team, but is in the field of UXD. Or the internal site had different listing options than LinkedIn. I dunno, seems like a lot of wonky stuff happens in the initial job listing between HR not always knowing all the information and different softwares having different limitations.

      1. Zee*

        Yeah, I work in MarComm and I don’t think it’d be crazy to have a UXD report to that department. Is the actual job description the same on both sites? I wouldn’t get too worried about categorizing on a job site.

    2. The Other Evil HR Lady*

      From the outside is hard to say, but I know some ATSs don’t post directly to LinkedIn, so a person has to take the initial posting and (literally) transcribe it into LinkedIn. Also, I had to change a bunch of language that LinkedIn bots didn’t like – I work with native plants; LinkedIn made me change the word “native.” I don’t know how else to describe these plants!! I’m sure the system would have balked at “indigenous.” Anyway, that may be the answer.

    3. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      UXD would report to MarComm where I work. One of the many crossover areas between IT/MarCom

  26. callmeheavenly*

    GOOD: I have confirmation that my obnoxious direct report is actively job-hunting, so everyone please cross your fingers. She either lied to me again or…wildly misinterpreted something this week, and I am just so beyond done with her.

    BAD: an older male co-worker who I would never in a million years have thought was a creeper is reportedly being inappropriate at a female co-worker, and I am just heartbroken over it. why can they not direct their Pants Feelings into any productive channel AT ALL EVER WHY

    1. Elle*

      Beware! My obnoxious direct report did resign and has been beyond awful in the time leading up to their last day. So bad I had to bring in HR.

  27. AcademiaIsWeird*

    What are people’s thoughts on employers requiring Multi Factor Authentication apps on personal devices to access work systems? Our employer is phasing out the “answer this phone call and press a button” option and moving to requiring an MFA app to log in. Are there issues with requiring this on personal devices? What if you forget your phone one day or it breaks or is lost? Could this be an issue for people who choose not to use smart phones/smart devices?
    Additionally, we have some shared inboxes and now will only one person be able to authenticate instead of answering a shared landline phone as we could before? Curious to know what people think or if they have encountered push back or issues about this.

    1. Joshua*

      I’ve done this at my past several jobs and it’s fine! It doesn’t feel intrusive from a privacy standpoint to me. I did add another device (my iPad) as a backup in case something happened to my phone. I can’t speak to the shared account situation, though.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m not bothered by it at all, my only grumble is that we changed from Duo (which let me approve my login on my smartwatch) to Authenticator (which I have to actually get out my phone to approve) and I too added a backup device in case something happens to my primary one. But for people who tell our IT team that they don’t have a personal device to install the authenticator app on, nobody requires them to prove it and they can get a YubiKey to use instead.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This is par for the course for me.

      As for the shared inboxes, the right way to do that is with ZenDesk or some other helpdesk/customer service product. Otherwise you have no accountability or traceability on anything done in those inboxes.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I worked somewhere that just gave you an individual token generator. No personal device needed, and it could be kept on a keychain. Now I have a YubiKey, which can also be kept on a keychain.

      Not everyone has a personal device that can be used for MFA.

      1. callmeheavenly*

        the YubiKey I was given only recognizes my finger like. ten percent of the time. I eventually quit even trying with it.

    4. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I hate it so much but am resigned to it, my only attempt at push back was emailing Ops asking why we were implementing a software by a company that had just had a very public security breach. Crickets, of course.

    5. anywhere but here*

      I personally hate this, and I’ve had an employee be unable to work for more than a week because of this. If it’s important to have a second factor authentication, then the company needs to pay for people to have those devices for authentication.
      If you do end up with the problem of only one person being able to authenticate for the shared inboxes, talk to your IT people. Anywhere that is big enough to implement mandatory 2fa/mfa should be competent enough to identify and resolve the issue that would arise for a shared inbox.

    6. NjPharma*

      I refuse to use my personal phone for work-related MFA apps. If it’s important for work, they can provide a company phone. I’ve had problems accessing GitHub bc of this.

      My mgr understands, but the IT ppl just mansplain how to download the app repeatedly.

      1. Anon for This*

        Ditto – I have a phone for each. I do not want my employer to be able to take my personal phone for whatever reason, or to put any kind of spyware/tracking apps on my personal phone.

    7. Dinwar*

      My reaction has been to only use work-provided equipment for work. I’ll make phone calls to folks if needed, but I’m not putting work apps on my personal tablet or laptop (they can pry my flip phone out of my cold, dead hands–it’s good enough for Captain James Kirk, it’s good enough for me!). And if that means that my response is delayed, so be it. Quite frankly the culture (I’m tempted to say cult) of being always available has been demonstrated often enough to be detrimental to work quality and employee focus that we should be looking for ways to build in delays, not remove them.

      I’ve never had an issue with using a flip phone for the second factor in authentication. It gets texts, and I can just type in the little code. And since my phone number is public information (it’s in my email signature), I don’t consider that a violation of the above or following tirade.

      I understand the need for cybersecurity. Honestly, I do. But there’s a balance between security and utility that’s falling very much on the “security” side of things. Further, a lot of these security measures actively make things less safe (see routine password changes). Plus, I simply don’t trust companies enough to put their programs on my devices; I’ve seen people’s phones get bricked when they left the company because of shoddy programming, or they downloaded the company email app and it included a program to remove ALL contacts (even personal ones) when they left the company. Add in the propensity for companies to spy on employees (built-in webcams and the like), and just…no. You can have all the cybersecurity you want–on YOUR device. If I’m paying for it, the company doesn’t get to touch it.

      I’ve never heard of a shared inbox. In my line of work that would be a major potential liability, and quite possibly illegal in many instances. Anyone dealing with proprietary or confidential information, to say nothing of medical or secure information (more people than you’d think), simply cannot have such a system, as security breaches are built into such a policy.

      1. allathian*

        Shared inboxes, as in role based email, is the only way we can do business in Finland. Letter security, including email, is very strict. Employers aren’t allowed to read emails sent to named addresses, and employees can’t even sign away that protection in contracts (or they can, but employers aren’t allowed to require it as a condition of employment). Even in cases of suspected wrongdoing, they’re only allowed to read the headers and open suspect emails rather than every message.

        I’m also very happy that my employer has a total ban on using personal devices for work, so this particular issue will never come up.

    8. ArtK*

      Very standard. The company needs to protect their assets and MFA is a must if they actually care. Having an app for it on your personal phone doesn’t seem like an intrusion to me. I have used several — Okta Verify currently. I’ve also configured my Okta profile to use biometric verification on my company devices, so a fingerprint on my laptop takes care of things.

      I don’t know about the shared inbox issue: Do you each have a separate ID/PW for the shared box or do you all have the same ID/PW? If it’s the former, it shouldn’t be a problem; the latter could well be a problem and you need to talk to the IT department about how to handle that.

      Forgotten phone, lost phone, new phone: Talk to IT. You may be able to use an alternate method, like having a code e-mailed to you or a call to your work phone or other # giving you the code. There are also systems where you have a little fob that generates a code every couple of minutes.

      Non-smartphone users: Again there may be alternatives, but having to use those on a regular basis can be very tiring.

    9. Double A*

      I hate it because I try to be minimal about apps on my phone and I do not think work should get to dictate what I do with my personal phone in any way, period. I hate that there is a proprietary app for different sites that I have to download.

      I understand why the phone number authentication isn’t great. But there are also tokens you can use for authentication, and I would much rather work send us something like that.

      But it seems like it’s not even coming from work, I’ve had Microsoft pushing me to download their authenticator app. I use Microsoft for work, but it hasn’t been work’s decision to push the app. It’s been confusing and irritating.

      1. KitKatBar*

        Same here. I don’t think it’s worth burning capital over but I do really resent it, and if I have the option to do call/text verification rather than the app I always do.

    10. Lurker*

      I hate it. I will always try to choose email the code to my work email, or call my work line if possible. Unfortunately, my company doesn’t have direct dials and not all systems are set up to dial extensions. So there are 1 or 2 that I have to use my personal phone for. But I refuse to download any apps to my phone.

      What I really hate is that the IRS now requires personal data for business filings. Like you have to e-file 1099s if your company has more than a certain number, and if you want to do it through the IRS website you have to sign up for or something, which requires you to submit a drivers license.

    11. IEanon*

      If you’re in HigherEd, is it Duo? If so, I’ve worked for 3 universities now who’ve used it and I really like it. I always have my phone on me (we have to scan into our offices and I keep my ID on my phone), so it hasn’t been an issue to leave it behind. I vastly prefer it to the call option, as it’s silent and immediate to just tap approve. I can even get it to go through my smart watch.

      If you don’t want to put it on your phone, or don’t have a smartphone capable of running it, I would recommend checking in with your campus IT to see if they have a freestanding/remote key you could use instead. Some schools have devices that will just generate a code for you to input and authenticate.

      1. I Have RBF*

        I have Duo on my phone for both personal and work MFA. Your job shouldn’t be able to brick your phone using Duo. I don’t have work email on there, or any of their phone management software, because I never allow their proprietary stuff on my personal devices.

    12. fhqwhgads*

      I already have authenticator apps on my personal device for MFA for my own stuff, so adding an additional account to there for work MFA is no hardship for me. It’s less invasive than asking me to put work email on a personal device (which I am not required to do, but if I were, would require they have permission to remote wipe my phone). It doesn’t cost me money or tangible wear and tear on my device and doesn’t give them access to my device. Thus I have no beef with using authenticator from my own device.

      From an accessibility standpoint, employers should offer a physical token option to employees who do not have a smartphone.

      The shared inbox thing is problematic but their problem to solve. The whole point of MFA is to ensure the one-and-only-one person attached to the thing is the one logging in to. So having MFA set up on a shared account is at cross purposes.

      1. Double A*

        But it seems like a lot of software want you to download THEIR proprietary authenticator app.

        I have 1Password and I wouldn’t mind at all if I could use that as my authenticator app because I already have and use it. But it rarely seems like an option.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Some software does that, and if your company chooses stuff that operates in that manner, then that’s a valid beef with your employer’s choices.
          My employer uses apps that let you pick one of several authenticator apps. So if I already use Microsoft Authenticator or Google Authenticator or Duo or whatever, I can use the one I like for my work stuff. Most enterprise versions of things let you choose which app you want to use for MFA. The free versions may not give a choice. Although it’s possible also that your employer’s implementation of whatever is it, they chose the allowed authenticator apps – even if they could configure it to be usable with several. Donno. These apps are pretty lightweight too. If you end up with like 6 different authenticator apps, yeah that’d be annoying, but I can’t say I’ve run into that personally. Even then though, that’s not an issue with making you use your phone for MFA. That’s an issue with how they’ve implemented MFA to begin with.

    13. Factor*

      I think if employers want it they should provide the device. There are many problems with this, including the fact that not everyone has a smartphone. Also that depending on the way the authentication works it can be a problem for people who are travelling internationally, do not have local phone numbers, etc. Also that if you don’t have use of your phone for whatever reason (it broke, you lost it, you forgot it at home, the battery died and nobody has a charger for your particular phone, whatever) you are out of luck, when it really shouldn’t be your responsibility on your own device.

      But I’m resigned to the fact that it seems to be the way things are going. Hopefully tech changes soon so we don’t have to do this.

    14. Yup*

      This is a hill I will die on; work (I’m in academia) may not have access to my personal phone. I have been using a desktop authentication app for MFA since they instituted it a year or two ago on my campus and now that app is going away. So they will be providing me with a physical authentication key (like a YubiKey) instead. Be aware that most academic institutions will try to avoid this as the key has a tangible cost compared to making someone download an app BUT (and this is big in academia), they almost certainly know about and have plans for this due to accessibility as some folks cannot reasonably manage using the phone apps. Talk to your accessibility folks to see if they have any advice.

      1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        our university makes you pay for the yubikey, but usually the department ends up covering it

    15. JelloStapler*

      My university has done it for ages and it works out fine, albeit annoying to have to log in over and over again.

    16. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      I don’t ever want to use a non-token based authenticator app (such as Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator) again.

      I had been using such apps as the 2FA process for my work email account and my Discord account. And then I bought a new phone. Even though the phone tech transferred “everything”, those authenticator accounts were not transferred. The apps were there, but any sites or accounts I had linked just disappeared. Since I wasn’t able to authenticate, I lost access to both accounts. For my work email, I had to go through a fairly laborious process to get my 2FA process changed to a phone call. But my Discord account is basically gone forever. Never again.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Just FYI there’s a specific process you need to go through before you switch your phone to be able to transfer all that between them. Ideally done when you first get a phone so if it’s ever lost/stolen you’re not SOL. But it’s expected behavior that yeah, if you get a new phone and just reinstall the configuration from the old phone is not automatically transferred. Exact process for each Authenticator app is slightly different, but it’s intentionally not possible to switch it to a new phone unless you either have both the old and new phone simultaneously when you do it, or you do a specific thing with the old phone before doing anything on the new one.

    17. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      it shouldn’t be an issue, but almost all MFA have an option for an email passcode or yubikey if you have an employee without a smart phone.

      If I forget my phone I go down to IT and they override

    18. Angstrom*

      We were asked to install MS Authenticator on our personal phones if we didn’t have a work phone. I did, under protest, and then realized there was an option to text the code to my phone if Authenticator didn’t work. So I deleted Authenticator and just use the text option.

      I am strongly opposed to having to have work apps on my personal phone.

    19. AcademiaNut*

      I don’t even have work email on my phone, but I’m okay with the 2FA app. It doesn’t transmit personal information, it just generates the appropriate key, and can do so even when not on the internet. If your phone is lost or damaged, you can contact the managers of the various logins to reset the process for you (I’ve had to do this).

      Sometimes the system (not the 2FA app) has an option to download a set of single use keys, which can be used as backup if you forget your phone, or it’s out of batteries.

      If you don’t have a smart phone, there are 2FA applications that can be installed on a computer, or the company could look into getting a fob, which was what was used before smart phones (I had one back in the early 2000s).

      Using 2FA for a shared email account, on the other hand, seems like an odd decision. I’d boot that one back to your tech people and have them solve it.

    20. WotkPhonesOnly*

      I wouldn’t use a personal phone for a job at all. It opens you up to company control of your phone, having data deleted, having the phone confiscated for legal reasons, and all sorts of other nasty things.

  28. Joshua*

    I’m applying for an internal promotion from a line manager to a department head (filling a vacancy). The rest of my team is temporarily reporting to me (some already did and would continue to, others used to report to my boss who left). They asked, so I was up front that I’m applying but now I worry that I shouldn’t have been so forthcoming? I guess I don’t want anyone to feel pressured to support me since I’m currently their boss.

    1. Glazed Donut*

      I think it’s fine you were honest with them! I’ve been in similar situations where a team member was promoted – and the ‘blindside’ by some of the teammates was really, really difficult even though they had a month or two before the person was officially the boss. Giving them time to think about it, ask questions, etc will probably be helpful, and it’s nice for them to know there’s some level of mutual trust here.

    2. ferrina*

      This varies on a personal comfort level and individual office culture.
      There’s a couple tricky things to navigate:

      1. You don’t want to pressure people to try to get you a promotion. Usually it’s not a pressure tactic to answer honestly when someone asks (as you did). As long as you didn’t take the opportunity to make a campaign speech and you’ve continued to operate normally (not bringing up the promotion thing unless you need to), you’re usually fine. Since you’re already operating as interim boss, just make sure you aren’t making long-term decisions or implying that you will. If someone asks you about a long-term thing, say something like “that’s a long-term decision that will need to be answered when we know who will have this role”

      2. Think about what will happen if you don’t get the job. How do you set yourself up for success if a different boss comes in? What will make the hand-off as smooth as possible? Set yourself up so that there won’t be any weird politics- I was the unsuccessful internal candidate, and one of the first worries my new boss had was if I would be resentful of not getting the role.

      3. Think about what will happen if you do get the job. What will make that transition as seamless as possible? Don’t act on anything yet (see Item 2), but think about what that would look like. What sets you up to be a leader?

      Items 2 and 3 are contradictory, so you are essentially in Schrodinger’s Promotion until you know one way or the other. You have to act as though two contradictory realities both exist. Good luck!

      1. Joshua*

        This is good advice. Yes, I think I’m mostly worried that they’d feel pressured to support me. And I’ve said to them that no matter what I am in support of however leadership decides that to move forward. You hit the nail on the head with #2 and #3- I need to keep us moving and set the department up for success no matter what while also making no permanent decisions.

  29. Hotdog not dog*

    Very low stakes, because a. I have accepted an offer for a new job and will be moving on soon(yay!) and b. I think the problem is that I’ve reached BEC stage with this person, but is “Hi There” (just as written, capital H and T, no punctuation) the new email greeting? I find it unprofessional and it’s irritating me. This person is a mid level manager, and her emails are also full of spelling and grammatical errors, so I might be reading more into it than I should.
    Some of her direct reports have started doing it too, so maybe it’s a thing? I just received,
    Hi There
    Need you to run reporte befor u talk to Jon thanx
    and it is all I can do not to scream obscenities!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Hi There itself is meh for me. The rest of it would be really annoying.

      But yeah, I think you’re experiencing BEC or last-week-of-high-school emotions a bit too.

    2. MsM*

      Given the rest of the email, I think I’d just be grateful the correct version of “there” got used.

    3. ferrina*

      Yeah, that’s annoying, but not a big deal. If this was a person I otherwise liked, I’d smile and shrug it off as a quirk. But someone I’m already BEC with? DENY THIS PERSON EMAIL NOW AND FOREVER!

      But yeah, ride this out and quietly smile smugly to yourself that you can now count down the days that you have to deal with this person. Congrats on the new job!!

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, that’s exactly it. Some people I like send crazy-looking emails and I just think, “Oh, there goes Jane!”

        Congrats on getting out of there!!

    4. ecnaseener*

      The capitalization is weird, but I occasionally use “Hi there,” . Usually when I’m emailing what looks like a shared inbox and don’t know who’s on the other end and don’t want to write “Hi Teapot Design Team” or etc.

      1. just here for the scripts*

        I do it like this too. I spend a lot of my day responding to a gazillion emails all asking variations of the same question. And—as I’m mildly dyslexic, I find that I’ll reply Hi Steve when it’s Stephen—or when Stephanie was 3-4 emails ago in my work flow. By standardizing my greeting, I can focus better on the subtle differences in the actual messages.

    5. Straight Laced Sue*

      If they’re already annoying in other respects, then I can definitely see how it could be annoying in a BEC way. BUT…it is not a moral failing to be a bad writer! When I read the email, I thought instantly of a person I know who is dyslexic.
      And of course it could be just a “haven’t had the privilege of a great education” thing…

  30. anon for this*

    I have a new line manager who has many ideas to grow the department. He said that people with my job title have not been set up for success working on tasks that add real value to the company, and he wants to change that, but it’ll be challenging to take on the work he has in mind on top of all we already do. So he asked me to come up with a list of everything my role is responsible for now, and share what I’d like to do more and less of. I thought I’d write this down, to use as a visual aid for our next 1:1, but now I’m wondering: is it wise to have it on record?

    For context, here are the two problems that run beneath the surface of the day to day tasks that would go in the list:

    1) I can’t focus on any one topic, so instead of being able to do at least one thing well, I’m doing lots of stuff superficially. A lot of the time, I get pulled into very technical conversations I don’t have the domain knowledge to handle, and it takes me a long time to get up to speed so I can contribute. This was never a problem when my old line manager was around, because they had been around long enough to have context that allowed them to step in if I needed support. Since they left, I’ve been expected to keep up with subject matter experts in 5 or 6 different areas, all of whom have different and complex needs and requests. I can’t spare the time to , because I’m bogged down in operational work that I’m the only one doing. I think the reasonable solution would be to reduce those 5 or 6 areas down to 2 or 3, because the context switches are giving me whiplash, but I also know it’s unlikely we’d get enough resource to hand over the rest.

    2) I feel the area I work in at the moment is not a good match for my skill set. The projects I keep getting dropped into would go faster with a technical expert, rather than someone like me (I can follow a technical conversation just fine, but definitely not lead several of them at a time). I’m much more interested in the areas my manager wants my team to move into, and think I’d do well at them with some initial support to get going, but I haven’t been able to get enough experience so far because they don’t apply to very technical projects.

    Just typing this, I can spot words I probably shouldn’t say or write down, so I don’t risk sounding like the negative person who might as well get fired! I have a lot of impostor syndrome and insecurity about where I fit in this profession that colour my views. And I’d like to at least get some exposure to the new tasks before deciding it’s better to look for another job: if I started job hunting now, those are the skills employers would expect to see.

    So, what advice do others have for discussing this without shooting myself in the foot?

    1. WellRed*

      I would make sure to focus equally on the positive stuff and for the negative stuff still try to sound positive or like you are focused on working with him for improvement. More problem solving if you will.

    2. callthebagelshop*

      My main suggestion is to reframe from a personal performance view to a work getting delivered or not view, i.e. “I am struggling with/not good at XYZ” to “XYZ work is not getting done in a timely manner due to ABC reasons”.

      For example, I would rephrase the challenge in #1 along the lines of “our department/org does XYZ work to support 5-6 SMEs. The underlying tasks to get XYZ work done includes understanding and analyzing each SME area which takes some time and knowledge, and the work to support all 5-6 SMEs requires more resources than what I can currently put into it (you can share an estimate that it would take X more people if it makes sense to do so). I am interested in areas X and Y (out of the 5-6) and would like to focus my time on supporting those areas and also new areas P and Q which you suggested I take on and I am very interested in.”

      Hope this helps and would be curious to hear how it goes!

  31. One-Off jobs*

    Anyone have any suggestions on how to find one-off or time limited positions? I don’t have the bandwidth to have an ongoing 2nd job but would have time to help out at an event or pick up some additional hours for 1-2 weeks. I have occasionally found work like this via word of mouth but wondering if there are website or job boards that I am missing.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Haven’t really tried it in awhile, but Craigslist has a Gigs section for this sort of thing.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Event companies often have a pool of staff they call on for events. If you’re looking for catering work, try the larger caterers in your area. (These are the caterers that do corporate events and weddings – their websites will say they do any size of event.) Big hotels also sometimes need casual banqueting/server staff.

      Your local convention centre may also be a potential source – sometimes they will have lists of local event vendors on their website and you can look at vendor websites to see if they have a temp staff pool. Finally, look at local temporary staffing companies in your area, as event staff will sometimes be hired this way too.

    3. lunchtime caller*

      temp agencies, off the top of my head? or whoever hires ushers for shows around you

    4. Despairingly unemployed*

      Indeed might be worth a shot, or a local gazette or similar with local jobs?

  32. pennyforum*


    I told my boss that between various bits and pieces of work I spent 7:30 to 13:30 yesterday without a break doing stuff. I then had lunch and had more work to do.

    His immediate response, well you have to manage your time and take breaks. Because it has been a quieter time with requests.

    My problem is there is so much stuff that has to be done, daily tasks, adhoc requests, short and longer term projects and general housekeeping to fix data so we aren’t seeing the issues every week in our reports that there isn’t time.

    And yes, I’m actively job hunting. Tells me to tell him when I’m overwhelmed, I try to raise the issue and argh.

    And he has longer term work for me to do and he suggests I do it in 15 minutes here and there, despite me constantly telling him that that way doesn’t work for me and I need focus time to do larger blocks of work because otherwise urgent but not important (other than to our service KPI for service to internal teams) interrupts it before I’m in flow

    Sorry, vent post

    1. Lost academic*

      Well, he’s right. You’re stuck on two issues: the amount of work and the length of time you want to focus on a task. The amount of work is what it is but you haven’t described a reason not to have a break that you’d schedule in the morning when you worked for 6 hours straight. There’s a huge difference between changing what you’re doing every 15 minutes and not stopping work in general for that many hours. Schedule an appropriate break and work on mentally committing to it. Yes, you can take a break even when you still have work to do. that’s what everyone does. If that means you can’t do everything, then he needs to find additional resources.

      1. pennyforum*

        Right, the problem is I don’t like leaving when there is something to be done. I can and have worked from 7:30 to 17:00 to get everything that needs doing done, and he has sen me do it

        Maybe my own fault, but if I know if I walk away stuff won’t get done. I’ll forget it is there.
        Normally I power through until 10 when there is a natural lull. But I had a meeting scheduled at that point. And I had actions to take after it, which again would have been missed otherwise.

        Once I was done the daily emails were coming in and had to be actioned, plus housekeeping to fix up issues resolved in the morning.
        I was done at 12:30 and then I had with a meeting (including my boss).

        The more important take away I have is that yesterday meetings fell right into my natural break times and I’m annoyed.

        Also, the 12:30 meeting was a strategy planning meeting. And every team in this strategy has said, we don’t have time for long term improvements we are too busy with day to day stuff.

        Our parent company has loads of wellness inititives, no one in my division takes them because they are too busy.

        So when the teams are screaming we need another person to have the time to make improvments,our bosses grand idea is to give us more wok by insisting every team try to save a full time employee worth of time this year.

        Like I said venting but aaaaarrrrrrgggghhhhh

        1. pennyforum*

          I should be clear, this wasn’t so much a request for advice, as a scream of my personality is not suited to this job as I don’t walk away from stuff.

          Including this job

          1. lost academic*

            I hear you!

            But yeah, I agree your personality isn’t going to be suited to a job where you have to take ownership over your time even in the face of Too Much To Do. Because if you are getting overwhelmed by not being able to take a break and yet you know you won’t do something at all if you do…. then there’s literally nothing that can be done other than to find another role.

            I won’t offer any more advice if you just want to vent, but there’s a lot here that can be done if you want to do it.

            1. pennyforum*


              Its all kind of sneaked up on me. I’ve been in the job 4 years which is a personal record.

              I started about six weeks before lockdown and for a long time its been a job I could do well without too much stress, and that let me save up to buy my first home, without a partner in a very expensive market.

              But yeah, gradually the extra demands have become too much to keep in my neurodiverse head so. Onward.

        2. Peaky*

          My sympathies. It happened to me this week (no lunch) – I asked if I could leave after the meeting finished (2pm) and WFH and put in extra hours during this peak time. To paraphrase the answer: “nope, take your breaks”.

          Just great when my team had been no-notice assigned two new KPIs to complete each day, on top of standard work.

        3. GythaOgden*

          I work that way too, but it’s your responsibility to work with it and manage your time in the way that suits you, not your boss’. I can work solidly for a whole afternoon on minutes from a tricky building user group meeting (seriously HOW MANY TIMES do you have to tell some people that that issue is OUT OF OUR CONTRACTUAL REMIT?!) and take breaks to answer very ephemeral stuff like receipting purchase orders or whatever, but yeah, I’ll need a break afterwards.

          Workload may be a boss issue, but how you work or what your ideal workflow is is up to you to manage. It’s something we all have to deal with and develop ways of managing for ourselves.

    2. Jm*

      We hear you…I think you need a reminder that you shouldn’t care more about the work than the boss does. If you need to let a few balls drop it may become the boss’ responsibility

      1. pennyforum*

        I have also been letting balls drop. I told him about being busy with all sorts of stuff. And then he asks me about stuff that has been let slide because I haven’t remembered it because I’m so busy.

        And he just asks me whats the progress with it. Straight after I say I’m swamped.
        Like every thing in life there are urgent things and important things. And the important things aren’t getting done because of the urgent things.

        1. linger*

          Clearly you need some help to (i) prioritize tasks within (ii) a sustainable workload, and it should be your boss’s job to provide some of that help with both elements. But this means you need to separate them out and be ready to suggest some remedies for both when you discuss them. So a response to your boss’s query about progress might start:
          “There’s no progress with long-term important task ABC, because I’m being swamped with urgent tasks XYZ. In particular, XYZ takes away the uninterrupted blocks of planning time necessary to make efficient progress on ABC, which greatly increases the total time needed for the latter tasks. Is there some other way I should be prioritizing these? Because I can’t ever finish them all in this combination with {urgent} trumping {important}.”
          So what might that help look like?
          * Are the “important things” and the “urgent things” all at the same skill level? If not, could some of these tasks be performed by someone else? At the very least, could somebody just have the job of helping you triage, e.g. by organising the “urgent tasks” into thematically related sets less frequently dumped on you?
          * Can the “urgent things” be collected to be dealt with in the last hour of the same workday, or are these truly right-this-minute interruptions? If the latter, they seem a poor fit for the rest of your duties requiring sustained focus. If they have to be done immediately only because you’d otherwise forget them, then that is the organizational sticking point that you need a solution for.
          * If some tasks can’t be finished in the available time, then they can’t be finished in the available time. Keep your manager up to date with how much can’t be done. Then take your breaks, and go home on time, and leave those tasks behind. Make the true cost of short-staffing visible, so your manager knows how much and what sort of hiring is needed.

  33. JP*

    I’m still struggling with the fragrance issue at work. Someone put very strong air fresheners in all the bathrooms a couple weeks ago. You can smell them across the whole floor of the office. They disappeared from a couple of the bathrooms, I assume other coworkers feel the same and tossed them in the dumpster out back. We have a couple new employees who are also very perfume / cologne heavy, and it smells like someone might now have a scented candle or one of those oil warmers or something in their office? I might just go to HR at this point and ask if there’s anything they can do about this since it’s coming from multiple sources. My throat is burning from inhaling all of this stuff.
    It sounds dumb, but I’m the only vegetarian in this office, and I feel like people already make a “thing” of it whenever there are office lunches and they have to order a meat free option. And now I’ll be the person complaining about smells too.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      If you don’t want to go to HR, get an air purifier if you can. There are compact desktop models that are relatively cheap. Obviously, that’s not going to help in every area of the office, but it should at least make things bearable at your desk.

    2. Rachel*

      I would stick to the communal scented air products first and see how that goes before asking people not to wear products.

      Also, remember nobody is attacking you. Nobody puts on perfume at you. Unless you say something, they have no way of knowing they are doing something wrong.

      1. Factor*

        True. But it’s wild how many people will just unthinkingly impose their scents on everyone. (Not thinking so much of the perfume people, that can easily be a misjudgment of how strong your personal scent is) but the scented oil person! WTF, the only point of that device is to stink up the air around you, how absolutely wild not to think maybe everyone doesn’t want to smell your unnecessary thing. It would be like bringing your whale music to the office to play for everyone. But then we still have people who are clueless about imposing their phone noises on a captive audience, so it shouldn’t be surprising I guess.

        1. JP*

          The noise comparison is apt. Both are very distracting, but the fragrance issue is probably worse because it does actually cause an adverse physical reaction. I don’t know if others just silently seethe like I’m doing, but it affects something like 1/3 of people, and it’s surprising how little awareness there is of it.
          It’s crazy, I’ve worked here for over 12 years, and it’s never been an issue, with the exception of the occasional over doused office visitor, and then suddenly within the last couple of weeks it’s coming in on multiple fronts.

          1. Rachel*

            If it hasn’t happened in 12 years and is happening now, isn’t that evidence that most people do know scents can cause problems and you are encountering an exception to the rule?

            This is a good thing! It means most people do exactly what you want them to do.

            1. Factor*

              Maybe for perfumes. But I have noticed that there is recently a lot more scent cluelessness with air fresheners and the like in office settings than in the past, though. Up until maybe five or so years ago the idea of scenting up a public place (other than a bathroom or one of those horrible stores with “signature scents”) wasn’t very common in my experience, but I feel like it’s all over now, especially with offices that are trying to be fancy. They get those reed diffusers or those expensive designer candles. I have to imagine it’s a home decor trend that has breached containment.

              My psyche’s office has those now, a whole load of scented candles in the waiting room. And they specialise in neuro-diverse people. You know, the sort of people who are often uncommonly bothered by overwhelming sensations. I have commented but not strongly enough. It’s really exhausting.

              1. Rara Avis*

                My dentist has started using scented air fresheners! You would think a medical professional would understand why that’s a bad idea before I start coughing in the face of the person hovering over my open mouth. They’ll turn it off when I tell them the scent is causing the coughing, but by then the damage is done.

                1. Factor*

                  That’s infuriating! I’m going to try to remember to request the scented junk be removed before my next appointment. Maybe you could do the same with your dentist?

    3. Bast*

      Vegetarians are remarkably easy to accommodate from many of the “standard” type of places people order from for work lunches. It’s frustrating that it has become “a thing” at your work place.

      Also want to sympathize on the overly strong air fresheners — we had some at Old Job and they were terrible! I could smell them one hall over and they made me sneeze terribly every time because they were just so strong.

      1. JP*

        I agree, vegetarianism is quite easy to accommodate! I’ve always tried to be really low key about it and not draw attention, but sometimes people have a weird reaction.

    4. Another JD*

      Disappear the communal air fresheners. Google ADA fragrance accommodation and see if you meet the criteria for a formal request.

      1. Anna*

        I disagree. Rather than throwing out someone else’s property that they paid for, give them a chance to take the communal air fresheners home. That way, you can preserve the relationship with the coworker(s) responsible and still get your desired outcome (the fresheners are gone).

        1. Factor*

          No, I think if you can throw them out anonymously it’s better to just do that. At least if it’s in a restroom. I’m a scent sensitive person and it’s exhausting to have to track down who it is and explain to them and then hope they will take you seriously. And if not, they are going in the trash anyway but now everyone will know it’s you. Just throw them away. They aren’t really someone’s personal property anyway, if they’ve “gifted” them to the office restroom.

          It’s different if it’s on their desk. Then yes, a conversation is needed.

          1. GythaOgden*

            It’s better to have the conversation because if you just take the fresheners away, they will reappear. People need to be given an opportunity to rectify their mistakes — presumably, if you were doing something that annoyed them, you’d prefer it if they came to you first rather than just acted passive-aggressively and messed you about.

            1. Factor*

              They’d stop reappearing after they were thrown out two or three times. I suppose if you know who the offender is it’s worth having a conversation, depending on circumstances, but if it’s just left in the restroom I really think just throwing it out every time is fine and requires less emotional labour from the person affected. Having these conversations is tiring. Throwing out trash is easy.

              1. GythaOgden*

                Yeah, but flip the situation. What if someone was chucking out YOUR stuff and forcing you to keep buying something? You wouldn’t know why it was going missing and you would be frustrated at paying for it over and over again.

                What goes around comes around. If you’re cavalier with other people’s stuff, they will be cavalier with yours. If you’re open and honest about your needs, people will be more likely to honour them than if you cause them to get defensive of their property.

                You can’t have it both ways. Either you put up with the fragrances or you ask them not to bring the air freshener in. It’s far, far easier to work with people than against them. We all have to live and work together, and putting people on the defensive is not going to make things better in the long run.

  34. HomebodyHouseplant*

    Does anyone have advice for navigating internal transfers in insulated work environments? I work for a firm that is structured in such a way that individual offices typically have one leader and one administrator (that is me). I’ve been a bit burnt out of being in the field, and there’s an opening for a remote internal position I’m interested in and well qualified for. I want to apply- but obviously this makes things really tricky with my leader. If I don’t get it, it’s not worth mentioning. But if I get far enough along someone will reach out to her, I’ll have to tell her. And then if at that point it doesn’t pan out, I’ll have shown my cards that I’m trying to leave. I feel like this has the potential to go very poorly and blow up my working relationship. I’d appreciate any advice.

    1. SereneScientist*

      Hey Homebody, how’s your working relationship with this office leader in general? Are they understanding and easy to communicate with? How have they reacted to other departures from your office before?

      Your anxiety is very understandable I think, but needs a bit of grounding in what you already know/have experienced with this person. First reactions are first reactions but what matters more is how they respond after the initial shock/blow wears off. If you’ve seen them act poorly in past similar scenarios, or in general respond less well to change, then you have good reason to hold off on sharing until right before you need to inform them. If they haven’t however and has shown the ability to manage reactions appropriately and be supportive of departing employees, then I think you have less to worry about and can work more collaboratively to ensure the transition is easier on everyone. Just know though, that you are not obligated to privilege the transition above your own physical and mental health. Good luck!

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      An internal transfer is much easier to talk about than external. I’d say, “gee, just a heads up, I put my hat in the ring for the remote position. It would be a good opportunity to shake things up a bit for me. Maybe it’ll work out, maybe not, but it seemed like it was a good idea to put in for it.”

      I’ve got a great relationship with my supervisor. I told her last week that I put in for a senior position in another office, she totally gets it. Showed her my interview request today. She brought over a treat from the team candy jar as a bribe to stay and said she handle our meeting that day so I could interview.

      It’s a job, it’s not marriage. And it’s not that you’re “trying to leave” it’s that you need a change of pace and you’d still be part of the firm.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This. As a manager — if you’re looking to leave for whatever reason, I’m going to lose you anyway. Assuming that I’m not actually LOOKING to get rid of you, then if you’re going to leave anyway, I’d rather keep you in-house than lose you to another company, if that’s an option. So to me it doesn’t make sense to be anything other than supportive of your efforts, even if it complicates my life for a bit.

  35. Water Lily*

    One of my direct reports met with another department, and indicated that my department would be willing to do a certain thing for this other department. The problem is that the direct report 1) doesn’t have the authority to make this call, and 2) the specific action item he said we could do is something that has already been allocated for another purpose.

    What would be the best way to help this direct report understand that things like this are not his call to make, and that even though it looks like it might be nice to do this for another department, the resources are in his home department and were meant to meet goals in his own department?

    Here’s the caveat: this is the direct report’s first job right out of college. He means well and has a lot of enthusiasm. In this case, I think he just got swept up in a moment and agreed to something that wasn’t his to agree to.

    I don’t want to be harder than I have to, but I gotta send the message that while he’s got autonomy in some areas, he doesn’t have autonomy in this particular area.

    1. MsM*

      I think just basically say what you’re saying here: you know he wants to be helpful and is probably excited about this collaboration, but he needs to recognize that’s not something he can commit to without taking it back to the rest of the team so senior staff can make the call based on considerations he may not be aware of.

    2. RagingADHD*

      The best way to help him understand is to tell him directly in words that:
      a) this isn’t going to happen because the resource has already been allocated;
      b) he doesn’t have the authority to make this call;
      c) if he had brought this idea to you before making the offer, you would have told him about point a, which is the way this process is supposed to work;
      d) his enthusiasm is great, but next time he has an idea, bring it to you first.

      It’s not a matter of being hard on him. It’s a matter of being clear with your direction. You can be clear without being harsh.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      I was probably a little bit like this guy when I was younger! Sometimes it’s hard to see the permissions/hierarchy when you’ve got rose colored glasses on.
      It may help for you to be transparent about who can sign off on what and why (“I am the only person who can approve moving resources because I have the vantage point of managing the budget” or whatever it may be). Also, letting him know that you understand he meant no harm will likely go a long way in helping this relationship grow in the future.

  36. Alice*

    To the sniffly colleague in my meeting this morning:
    Thank you for putting on a mask after I told 15 strangers, “My spouse is immunocompromised.” I appreciate it.
    Are you aware that many people are at high risk, or live with people who are at high risk, even if they haven’t told you personally?
    People on the bus
    People in the elevator
    People in the store
    People who are your colleagues

    Don’t come to work when you’re sick.
    If you have to, wear a respirator (a mask that fits).
    And if you do, don’t sit down next to the one person in the room wearing a mask.

    1. JP*

      I’m standing in line at the pharmacy reading this. The pharmacy tech is sniffling, just coughed into her hand, wiped her nose with her hand, pulled some lozenges out of her pocket, and has repeatedly touched her mouth with her hand as well.
      Like what on earth…

    2. Lost academic*

      I’m with you on “don’t come to work sick” but most people are just not going to classify “sniffly” without any other symptoms as sick enough to stay home (particularly without a remote work option) and sniffly alone isn’t likely to be enough to mask up for most. It’s definitely frustrating when you’re concerned about exposing someone immunocompromised trying to guess if someone’s got allergies or the early stages of the flu, but we’re no longer in a place where the more minor symptoms are accepted for reasons to avoid work :(. But I definitely agree that people need to be more considerate when they have any symptoms just for those reasons! People should definitely know better by now.

    3. Double A*

      It’s allergy season.

      My kids have had runny noses for 6 months.

      Many people have few if any sick days.

      It just isn’t cut and dried any more. But I do wish people would mask up if they are feeling under the weather, and I try to do that if I suspect I’m sick.

      1. anon24*

        I get sniffly whenever I’m tired. Idk, it’s how I’ve always been. If I’m not wide awake, my nose runs nonstop. It certainly doesn’t mean I’m contagious or should call out of work (I’d have to call out every day!)

      2. Bast*

        I have to agree. I know you can’t really tell allergies vs. cold vs. flu, but there are plenty of people who are straight up miserable with allergies who aren’t sick.

        And sadly, even if you ARE sick, with the butts in seats attitude some companies still take, taking one of your, on average, 3-5 sick days off a year for a sniffle leaves you with no time when you do end up with the flu/Covid/norovirus. Calling out sick like that, unfair as it is, gets you the reputation of, “He calls out all the time” and then is used against you.

        I also had just finished reading the letter above about strong perfumes/colognes and air fresheners and wondered if anyone was wearing something strong. I absolutely will start sneezing like no one’s business if there is one of those strong, plug in air fresheners anywhere in the building.

    4. Rachel*

      Allergy season just hit my region so their sniffles might be attributed to non-contagious pollen.

    5. TPS Reporter*

      I’m also one of those non-sick sniffly people that is highly affected by pollen and cold, dry weather. I do feel awful when I’m sniffly around others but if I didn’t go out, I would just never go out in the winter.

    6. AllergiesAsthmaAndMore*

      I am stiffly 100% of the time. I cough and wheeze and do other respiratory things most of the time too. And I’m medically unable to wear a mask. There’s only so much someone can do.

  37. Arya Parya*

    I started a new job within the same company today. This is the first time I’ve changed jobs within a company and I’m liking it. I already know everyone and the company, so I just have to learn the new job. Added bonus is I’m out from under my terrible manager and I get to keep seeing my wonderful colleagues.

    I am a bit nervous about my new tasks. It’s something I have only a little experience with. The guy who did the job before me has trained a bit and has now left. So now I just have to learn by doing it. I can do the basic tasks, but I hope I’ll be able to keep up when I have to do new things.

    Anyone else have experience with this? How did you cope?

    (My manager knows I’ve got to learn, so they’re not expecting me to be able to do everything straight away)

  38. Less Bread More Taxes*

    What’s the best way to get my manager to stop bringing his kids onto one-to-ones? Before anyone gets up in arms, I completely understand that childcare is hard. I don’t care if my manager needs to cancel or reschedule meetings, but I’m sick of logging into a video call and being greeted by his one- or three-year-old and then being forced to sit there and watch my manager talk to his child for half an hour.

    For example, here is how our Wednesday one-to-one went:

    I joined the call to see his one-year-old on the screen. My manager was offscreen at the start, but it quickly became clear that he was on the couch with his child and doing this call from his phone. After a few unsuccessful attempts by him to get his child to say hi, I interrupted and asked if I should reschedule for a better time. He said no and that he was fine to still talk (at this point, all I could see was the kid still; I couldn’t even see my manager’s face). I waited, hoping my manager would put the child down and go to his desk, but that didn’t happen. I said something along the lines of “I really don’t mind rescheduling, let’s do that” which I felt was very forward, but my manager did not take the hint. So I launched into work things that I would have preferred to have his full attention for, which were completely ignored because his child was understandably his focus at that time.

    This happens maybe every ten one-to-ones (this is a weekly meeting). Every single time, I ask to reschedule as soon as the meeting starts, he refuses, and the meeting is therefore a complete waste of time. What is a sensitive and effective way to get him to stop doing this and/or get him to agree to reschedule once it’s clear his attention is on his child?

    1. Alice*

      That sounds frustrating, but five times a year doesn’t seem that frequent to me. (1/10 weekly meetings)
      Anyway, the first thing to do is to say “since today’s agenda will require some intense focus, let’s reschedule.” Good luck.

      1. Less Bread More Taxes*

        You’re right, when you break it down, it’s not a lot… but it’s still annoying. Thanks for the advice.

    2. MsM*

      I’d start being more direct: “I really need your full focus on the things we have on today’s agenda, and I haven’t gotten that the last few times we’ve tried this. Please call me back or put a new meeting on my calendar once you’ve gotten things squared away with Kiddo.”

      Or if he keeps scheduling these meetings for the same time, just insist before the next one that you need to find a new standing timeslot because the kid thing is just too much of a distraction.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      Not sure if this is the right approach – but could you make it a you problem? “I’m having trouble concentrating / participating with your child present. Could we reschedule for another time?” You could always add in “because your kid is so dang cute/ reminds me of my nephew” whatever in there to soften it.
      I’ve worked with coworkers who believe that WFH means ‘free childcare’ and it can be an awful position to put others in, so I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    4. anywhere but here*

      I think you may have more success if it’s asking, not telling, and if you frame it as a you thing. He’s distracted but doesn’t want to acknowledge it, and I’m not sure you’ll gain anything by trying to convince your boss his kids are causing focus problems for him. “I think your kids are absolutely adorable, but I find it really distracting and I’m unable to fully focus on our meetings when they’re present. Can we cancel/reschedule meetings rather than have the kids join us? I want to be sensitive to the struggles of being a working parent but I really do struggle to focus when it isn’t just us.”

    5. WellRed*

      I loathe it when people try to get their kid to “say something to the nice person” and the kid of course won’t but I gotta stand there with my fake smile feeling faker by the minute as it drags on. Parents! Don’t do this!

      1. BigLawEx*

        The corollary is when people lean in to your (shy, bored, uninterested) kid and trhy to prompt them to say something nice. I’m okay if you acknowledge, then ignore the kid!

    6. Kay*

      I would suggest talking to him after one these meetings and simply saying something like “it is really hard to focus when your kids are also on the call, next time can we reschedule?”.

      1. Less Bread More Taxes*

        I hadn’t thought of bringing it up outside these meetings. That’s a great idea, thanks!

  39. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

    One of my direct reports’ direct reports had a death in the family three months ago, immediately followed by a medical crisis. They’ve been struggling – totally understandably – and I’m trying to support them to the extent my org is able to. We’ve offered the ability to set their own hours, signed off on almost 30 days of bereavement and medical leave, and radically reprioritized and reduced their workload. We have also offered longer-term leave options (FMLA and a couple months of unpaid leave) and asked them what else we can do. They have refused what we can offer and have not come up with anything else.

    this past week they worked about 20 hours, but did not use any kind of PTO to cover the time they aren’t working. They are pretty much out of standard PTO in all categories for the entire year. If they were under-working by a couple hours a week I would give them some grace, but taking half the work week off does not feel reasonable or sustainable. Additionally, my team is totally out of resources and capacity to cover the essential work, and in the 20 hours they are working, the staff member is only producing about 10 hours’ worth of work (which I’m more willing to give grace on).

    I do genuinely want to do right by this person going through an awful time. And, it’s KILLING their manager, who is my top performer, to cover just the essentials of their job. If the staff member took FMLA or unpaid leave, we’d be able to hire a temp to cover some of the work, but this is off the table as long as the staff member is theoretically working full time. (Not my choice.)

    Any tips for holding the bar high on empathy and flexibility while also saying “we need you to either be working or use one of these less-than-ideal leave categories so we can cover the essential work?”

    1. BellyButton*

      I had a candid conversation with someone who was in a similar situation. I said “we have exhausted our options for accommodations and this isn’t sustainable. If you do not want to take leave, but you aren’t able to perform at the level we need or that you want, then what do I do?” The person asked that we let them go, with severance, and with the ability to get unemployment. And that is what we did. We gave them our standard severance package for the amount of time they had been there + 1 extra week, and did not contest their unemployment claim.

      In my experience most people know they aren’t performing, most people, especially if they have a history of being a good employee do not want to disappoint or burden their team. They don’t feel like they have a way out- especially when they are in a personal space where they can’t job hunt.

      1. Ama*

        I think this is the best you can do. I didn’t get quite this far with my direct report who has a child with a serious chronic illness — but when my office started requiring three days in office a week she started really running down her PTO (when her child is ill often she just sleeps all day, but someone has to stay with her in case her symptoms worsen to the point of needing immediate medical intervention) and being openly frustrated about it. I did finally have to tell her that I’d done all I could to advocate for more flexibility but senior management wasn’t going to listen so her options were apply for intermittent FMLA, figure out how to deal with our current PTO policy, or find a job that had more flexibility.

        I actually think it helped to tell her that last thing, she felt a certain amount of loyalty to me and me telling her it was okay if she needed to leave because our PTO policy didn’t work for her prompted her to start looking and we are hopefully going to hear soon that she has a job offer from a fully remote organization.

        1. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

          Thanks, that’s a great idea to put “do you actually need to not be in this job anymore” on the table. I’ve seen that work beautifully in more results-based performance issues, but never been in a situation where the person is a good fit for the role but is in a tough personal spot.

        2. Anon for this*

          Following this intently.
          It turns out we have an employee who used to be a top performer who has been getting progressively more and more customer complaints over the past 6 months. I spoke with them and they are SUPER depressed and anxious and really aren’t comprehending how bad their performance has been. Their supervisor has been very clear on this with them, btw. And employee was not upfront with supervisor regarding their issues, so supervisor was about to put them on a PIP and recommended I talk to them before she did so.
          So I (HR-kind of) recommended they call our really super EAP and I will follow up with them next week, but man! This is such a tough situation!

    2. Anon. Scientist*

      I’m in the exact same position. I’m fried to a crisp (yelled at and then started sniffling at my manager because he wanted me to do something and I was desperately trying to get a critical report out). I like my staff member and hate that they’re in crisis, but we have done everything we can and they burned through every bit of compassionate leave available and their performance is in the toilet. HR is like, I gave you all the info and you need to just say the magic words “I need to go on FMLA” because that is the only thing that will protect your job at this point.

      They’re thinking about it. Aaaah!

  40. Eva Marie*

    I’m looking for an industry to jump into where if I work hard I can accelerate up to earning close to $100K within 5 years. Ideas?

    I have a bachelor’s in French from 15 years ago, and a master’s in library science from 10 years ago, but haven’t worked because I’ve been raising kids. My husband’s disability has accelerated dramatically from expecting to retire in 10 years to needing to stop working within a couple of months, and my piano teaching/piano tuning side gig isn’t enough to compensate for his loss of income.

    1. ZSD*

      Do you have federal government opportunities where you live? I started working for the federal government almost three years ago, and after only a year and a half, I was making over $100k.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Just curious if that’s a reasonable salary for your area. (I’ve been in the workforce over 30 years with an advanced degree and don’t make that much. Partially because I’d rather pull out my eyelashes one by one than be a manager.)

      However, I do know that records management likes library degrees. And state and local government are often looking for people to do that work.

    3. Rachel*

      I think you need something that is sales or commissions based.

      The only other industry where you can generate that kind of income that quickly will need a professional license (think: Big Law, top accounting firms, transitioning from resident to attending).

    4. M2*

      Look at entry level jobs at a university and work your way up. Start as maybe a Faculty assistant or get a temp gig at a university that may get you an actual role then maybe move into a center manager or coordinator then manager then assistant director? It will take more than 5 years though!

      Other thing is sales with commission but those roles have lots of layoffs. If you do a good job you can get good pay.

      Also development work. Again probably won’t make 6 figures right away but if you do well you can easily grow and move up. My sibling went from a coordinator in development to an Associate Director in 4 years and is now making $100k but they work crazy hours and travel a lot. They were originally makinv $62k.

      You can also do piano teaching on weekends after your full time job. I would take a role to build up your resume and skills.

      Government jobs are a good idea or local government. Many won’t pay 6 figures but you can get a pension if you work a certain # of years. Many also have good healthcare plans.

      Start budgeting now for loosing all his income and only having a certain percent of it. Can you sell stuff on eBay? Could you downsize your home?

      My in laws went through something similar ish. They had to downsize sell their home and change their expectations. It was hard at first but now they are happier.

      I would also talk about growth opportunities don’t go into interviews saying you want to make $100k in 5 years. Salary discussions are important but speaking about growth opportunities for the role is also important.

      1. Eva Marie*

        Thanks. Yeah, we’ve saved about half his income forever, knowing this would happen, so we’ve plenty of cash and plenty of time.

      2. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        I would avoid academia entirely. They tend to be underpaid unless you are a football coach or qualified to be one of the highest level administrator.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      With no work experience, it’s going to be difficult to find much of anything that will get you to $100k that quickly. (It took me nearly 20 years so maybe I’m biased.) Starting at a financial firm or hedge fund might do it. But one thing to keep in mind is that if that goal is attainable, it’s almost always only possible if you work A LOT. Nights, weekends, travel, that kind of thing. There’s a reason many people work in finance or big law for a few years, make their money, and peace out.

    6. lurker2*

      You can do it at an accounting firm (depending on area), if you are willing to put in a lot of long hours, and study and get a CPA license. But the people you will be competing against are 20 somethings, fresh out of college usually without kids or other obligations who can work 80+ hours a week for part of the year without complaint.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      Hmm. I work in prospect research at a major university. We have a lot of MLS holders in our field. I’ve had folks promoted to an assistant director role in that time, and while they weren’t making that much on first being promoted, got adjusted to about $90-95K recently. Starting salaries for that position are likely higher now than when they started. Also, universities often have excellent benefits.

    8. AnonRN*

      In some parts of the country you can do this as a registered nurse. But you’ll need a degree in nursing (plus pass the NCLEX exam) and to be making that kind of money you probably need to work in a hospital (nights, weekends, holidays) versus a 9-5 doctor’s office. Our newly-graduated (1-2 years in) night nurses are making mid 90s right now.

    9. AnotherLibrarian*

      I don’t want to be a downer, but that’s a tough ask. All the fields where I know you can do this, you need a degree or license. I know CPAs, Lawyers, Fiance folks, and Nurses who make this kind of money, but al of them work a lot of hours and have certifications in their fields. Within the world of libraries, you might be able to make it as a records manager. But even in the world of records management, I don’t think starting gigs pay that much and getting to it in five years is a big ask.

      Having worked in higher ed my whole career, I wouldn’t advise it, unless you’re willing to supervise people. There’s a substantial pay differential between supervisory work and non-supervisory. I made 60K before I was willing to supervise and now I make 90K, but I have ten years experience under my belt. Good luck!

    10. Bearbrick*

      It depends so much on your region. I’m in a major city and 100k is possible within 1-2 years in my field, but the same jobs in our industry that are in smaller cities and less affluent areas look extremely different and may never make that much. These are sales jobs on a mostly commission basis.

    11. Is100kHighOrLowByYou*

      It depends greatly on where you live. 100k would be a relatively low level job here, but a single person would also have a hard time living on 100k/year.

    12. Squirrels! Squirrels!*

      Data related jobs can pay that much or more in a few years, like data analyst. Not sure how much they’ve been hit by tech layoffs because all industries need data analysts.

  41. Layoff Hell*

    I was laid off a while ago and have been job searching. I’ve noticed that a decent number of companies have a thing on the Careers pages of their websites have a form where if you don’t see an opening that matches, you can submit your resume for general consideration. Does that ever work? On the one hand, it can’t hurt. On the other, it seems like a giant waste of time if no one ever actually hires from that general resume pool. Does anyone have experience with doing this and actually getting a call back? If you do submit your resume, I assume it would make sense to write something about who you are and what you bring to the organization, but I’m finding it really hard to know what to say since there’s not a specific job posting I can tailor it to. “Hi, I’m a llama groomer, let me know if you have any llamas that need grooming!” Because maybe they haven’t realized how unkempt their llamas are, but now that they see my resume they’ll realize they do need an in-house groomer? I don’t know.

    1. Despairingly unemployed*

      I’ve had the same thought but I believe it’s been advised against given the chances of them sifting through the pile is low (I feel like Alison’s mentioned this at one point or another on here somewhere) so you’d just be wasting your time. I also wouldn’t know what to add without a job to tailor it to… :(

    2. anecdata*

      I think they probably won’t realize they need a llama groomer because of your application – it’s more likely to work if you’re applying to a company that clearly regularly hires llama groomers (or accountants or software engineers or UX designers or what have you) and just doesn’t happen to have any open roles listed at the moment. And even then, I’d recommend resubmitting to an actual role if one comes to though. I have actually gotten called for an interview from one of those giant-resume-piles, but it was a big company that probably hires 100 of my job title every year, so it’s worth it to them to have a big pile HR can start with at any time

  42. The Prettiest Curse*

    One of the reasons that I, along with much of the internet, took great joy in reading about the failed Willy Wonka Experience this week is that it made me think my events job is probably safe from AI for a bit. (The planners – and I flatter them by using the word – of this event seemed to have used AI tools extensively.) Has a spectacular AI failure in your field made you think that ChatGPT won’t replace you just yet?

    1. BellyButton*

      I am approaching all AI tools with this “AI won’t replace me, but someone successfully using AI will.”

    2. BlueWolf*

      I work for a law firm (although I am not a lawyer) and there was a pretty spectacular failure where a lawyer used AI to write a brief or something and it just made up cases to cite and he didn’t check it before submitting to the court. Needless to say, our firm has pretty strict rules about how AI can be used (very limited applications) and I don’t think it’s coming for my job quite yet.

    3. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I wish I could be confident that prompt jockeys aren’t going to affect my graphic design-adjacent job. I know that at some point, when defensive tools like Glaze and Nightshade evolve to a point where an AI dev can no longer afford to risk wrecking their data with unethically sourced training material that turns out to be poisoned, this whole AI “art” thing will go the way of NFTs. Unfortunately I also think things are going to get worse for human artists, writers, and graphic designers before they get better, and the “I’ll just pay my nephew $5 to do that” crowd is starting to turn into “I’ll just have AI do it.”

      Which is part of the reason why I’m starting culinary school this year. Let’s see Midjourney make a friggin’ entremet.

    4. Stuart Foote*

      ChatGPT was cool last year, but now you can definitely see the seams start showing with AI, both text and images. I still doesn’t quite pass the Turing Test. Plus the obvious issue that all AI tools fabricate stuff constantly.

      Also, I have not used ChatGPT much but I have heard from multiple places that the results are getting worse. Given the massive energy requirements for running ChatGPT (apparently each query is the equivalent of running a 5w light bulb for almost two hours), that doesn’t seem like it would be surprising.

      I think the biggest issue is the lack of judgement from AI. The recent kerfuffle about Google Gemini is a good example–it was supposed to feature diverse images, so it wasn’t just white males, but it wasn’t smart enough to know when that wasn’t appropriate so it would generate images of black female Nazis. Obviously this is an extreme example but it makes me think we are a long was from Skynet.

    5. Kuleta*

      @BlueWolf: Yes. At least one federal judge has already addressed the use of AI in her civil standing order on the court website.

      IANAL either, but personally I think it’s easiest just to not use AI at all and avoid the whole mess.

    6. Magpie*

      My company implemented an internal AI chat bot this week to supposedly help with things like opening support tickets and finding info in our HR portal. A day after it went live, I and a bunch of other employees got messages from the chat bot saying it was going to remove our licenses to a tool that we literally cannot do our jobs without. We were able to keep that from happening but not a great way to give us confidence in this new chat bot.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I’m afraid I sound like an old crabby person, but I have NEVER had a positive experience with a chatbot. They’re just not set up to provide complex answers. They prevent me from getting the information I need or from having my issue resolved. They waste my time until I can actually speak to a real person who can provide that information or solve my issue.

    8. Nightengale*

      I work in a very relationship oriented branch of medicine. They just fed a bunch of cases from my field into an AI which gave the correct diagnosis about 60% of the time. So I feel safe for a bit longer. (And of course I would be the first to argue that the diagnosis is the least of it compared to creating an appropriate plan taking into account the complex interaction between the diagnosis, family preferences and cultural factors, local availability of therapy options. . . )

  43. Keymaster of Gozer (She/Her)*

    A big thank you to Alison and all you fine commentators over the years for teaching me a lot and challenging me to consider other points of view/ways of doing things.

    I’m leaving my job this year due to a new serious illness (they found out what was wrong with me the last year and it’s bad) and retiring, but going to do some volunteer work to keep my brain active. Thank you for the suggestions on the open post!

    And in a weird way you all helped me make the decision to quit the career world – how many times have we said ‘look after yourself first’? Even those I’ve disagreed with, you gave me insight.

    Thank you all. I’ll still be reading :)

    1. I'm not really here*

      Aah, I’m sorry to hear that! I’ll be thinking positive thoughts for you. You’re one of my favourite commenters on here, and you regularly make me stop and rethink things or vigorously agree with you!

      1. allathian*

        Seconding this post, I certainly hope you’ll keep posting. So sorry to hear about your diagnosis.

    2. the cat's ass*

      I’m so sorry to hear this/glad you have a dx. Your commentary has always been useful and I’m grateful for it. I wish you the best!

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’m sorry to hear about your new health issue. I’m glad you’ll still be around, as I’ve always enjoyed your comments and you have helped me to see different perspectives too. And I hope you enjoy your retirement!

    4. Past Lurker*

      I’m so sorry about your illness. I always enjoy reading your comments! Sending the best positive thoughts to you.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m so sorry about the bad news. I’ve so appreciated all your comments and stories over the years and wish you the very best!

    6. Tabby Baltimore*

      I, too, am so sorry to hear about your new diagnosis, and hope your treatment plan results in a positive outcome. I’ve always valued your insights, and hope that you will continue giving us the benefits of your hard-earned wisdom.

  44. Tabby Baltimore*

    Is there any way to ensure that old Outlook calendar events (say, for events that occurred over 6 months or a year in the past) don’t “age off” and disappear?

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      can you ellaborate? I’ve never noticed this, but then I don’t have a lot of outlook calendar events because my department uses a specific scheduling software.

    2. phototrope*

      This might depend on your organization’s retention policy – where I work, for example, things get automatically removed after three years unless there’s some kind of exemption.

    3. Llama Llama*

      Copy the invites and put into a private folder tied to your C drive or the like.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I have never heard of that happening due to time alone. Though it can happen if the original organizer’s account is deactivated.

      Are these events you created, or invitations from others?

  45. BellyButton*

    I am still dying at “His Pants Feelings” I have posted before about how I was literally on stage presenting at a conference to several hundred industry professionals when I received LinkedIn DMs from me in the audience asking me out or to hookup. GAAAAAHHH

    Flirting with people is a two way street. If they aren’t responding in any way that gives you an indication they are interested ad available, then stop! And, being nice isn’t flirting.

    1. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I’ve read a few “people are starting to use LinkedIn as a dating website” articles, and have wondered if that’s the intention when I get connection requests from men I don’t know, with very bare-bones profiles, with whom I have no connections or other professional stuff in common.

      I never accept requests from people I don’t know personally (with the exception of recruiters when I’m job hunting), so luckily, I’ll never find out!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Same! But it’s also weird, because these guys are nowhere near me! (The name of my state is in many of my employer names, so no secret there.)

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      If it’s any comfort, some women due this, too, but more subtly.

      I am in the US, and years ago had a coworker who was from England. Whenever he did a webinar, we’d get questions from women about his status. (Happily married with kids.) I will admit that he had a lovely accent and a nice speaking voice, but it was weird and awkward. Especially when our manager referred to him as “The Silver Fox.” (He seemed to kinda like that, tbh.)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*


        I was working on reports and “due” insidiously slipped into my subconscious.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      Many years ago I was working at a trade show booth and was hit on by a customer who I seemed to hit it off with. We had been talking for a bit at the booth about the work related stuff, then she came back and gave me her number. We ended up dating for two years.. Very different dynamic though as I’m M and she’s F. And it was 25+ years ago so maybe things were different.

      1. WellRed*

        It’s nit that things were different, it’s that you two mutually hit off. It’s great when the stars align like that.

  46. Sheik YurBooti*

    What path would you take?

    I’m currently in full time, salaried role. Been at same company for 10+ years. No opportunity for promotion. OK yearly bonuses but raises only every other year and only for 1-2%. Kinda boring work and I’m not feeling engaged. I’m tired of having direct reports. I work from home except 1 day/week.

    I have an opportunity for a long term (1 year or more) role in a different industry and different work. Pay is hourly, but will be grossing >$50k more (however needing to pay 2x more for health insurance). WFH except when boss travels from midwest on occasion.

    Should I stay or should I go?

    1. anywhere but here*

      It’s unclear whether paying 2x as much for health insurance means that you would be making less than your current role. I can’t speak whether you should go to that particular role, but I would recommend getting out of your current role. You don’t really like it and you want to change – plus, their raises don’t even keep up with inflation!

      1. Sheik YurBooti*

        To be clear: I would be paying 2x more for health insurance, but even then, total comp would be almost $50k more than what I make now. The fact it’s a temp role and not perm makes me pause.

        1. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

          Just saying I feel you! I value stability above pretty much all else, after growing up in a household with parents with very tumultuous job situations and having the same tumultuousness in my income from my teens through my early 20’s. A job jump can make total sense on paper and still feel like it’s beyond my risk tolerance.

          But maybe it would help to think what’s the worst that would happen if you switch jobs and don’t end up permanent after a year? Knowing how bad it would be, and what you would do, can help make the risk feel either manageable or not worth it.

        2. anywhere but here*

          Oh wow I misread that haha. Personally I would take $50k over what I am currently making, even if it’s only for a year, in a heartbeat. I think one thing to keep in mind then is if you aren’t able to line up new employment right afterward, how far the $50k would go as savings to live off of, but for me that would be a year and change’s worth of pay so I’d go for it and be comfortable with the possibility of taking a while to find a new job after that. Plus, you can probably leverage the temp job into longer employment in that industry.

          If you don’t go with this particular job, though, I still encourage you to find something that is a bit less misery-making than your current role. Good luck!

          1. WellRed*

            This. I value stability but I only make $50k now, so to have a job that pays that much more for a year would set me up nicely for a bit. Plus, maybe it will lead to new opportunities especially as you’re currently bored.

  47. Anonynon*

    How to learn to be more brief in writing? I have a habit of writing long compound sentences, especially in cover letters, and wonder if learning to write more succinctly would be better. An example of what I mean is in this comment from ages ago:

    I think I worry that if I don’t write in a longer sentence, it will read as abrupt and/or that it won’t be as precise. After years of teaching non-native English teachers, I’m a lot better than I was, but as you can tell from a couple of my sentences here, I could still do better!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “and/or that it won’t be as precise.”

      Flip this around and know your audience. When you write a cover letter, you aren’t trying to be precise, you’re trying to be persuasive. You don’t need to put every caveat and footnote into your cover letter. It’s an advertising document.

    2. Angstrom*

      At my first job we had to do a writing exercise:
      Write a business letter in your usual style. (this was before email)
      Now make it half as long.
      Make that one half as long.

      It was a good way of distilling the content down to the essentials. Yes, you do want your language to flow, but are all those words adding clarity or confusion? Are you diluting the impact of your ideas by spreading them out?

      “The opportunity to collaborate on projects of this magnitude is attractive because….”
      “I want to do important work.”

      Some of it is knowing your audience, and what you are trying to achieve. Building rapport is very different from placing an order.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Practice! I suggest getting a copy of The Elements of Style. But also, check out Plain Language resources. I run a lot through the Hemingway app.

      I took a composition class years ago where we were required to write essays of a certain length, then we had to revise them to be half as long. The class was for English majors, and the philosophy was that none of us had problems filling a page, but we needed to learn to cut out the unnecessary parts.

    4. Sudsy Malone*

      (Writing professional here) My first piece of advice would be not to worry about this at all in your first draft. If the longer sentences help you get all your ideas out of your head and onto paper, great! Once you feel like you’ve said everything there is to say, then go back and start looking for long and winding sentences. See what you might be able to break into two sentences, with the second starting with a relevant transition to keep the ideas connected. Read your draft out loud (yes, it feels weird, but I promise it helps) to spot things that sound clunky. Imagine having to explain your points to a smart, interested middle-schooler, and use that to simplify jargon and pointless flourishes. If sentences do need to be long, make them easy for someone to process by using parallel structure. Follow longer sentences with shorter ones to keep readers from getting bogged down. But the most important point is the first one — get all your ideas out, then go back and revise! You’ll make things harder than they need to be if you’re trying to draft and edit at the same time. Good luck!! This is a hard skill, but it’s well worth the effort.

    5. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Long convoluted sentences are not precise.
      Get it all down on paper, and then edit, edit, edit to get rid of the longer sentences and be more clear.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      An occasional long sentence is just fine: we often speak that way in face-to-face conversation, after all, and it doesn’t sound unnatural to have them in your writing either. Mix it up, though. Don’t make all your sentences long. Long sentences can over-provide information, and make it hard to find details. Try some bullet points when you have a lot to convey!

    7. Fake Cheese*

      What if you start by trimming words from each sentence? (Caveat: I’m not a pro editor!)

      For example, if I modify your last two sentences:
      “I worry that if I use short sentences, it will read as abrupt and/or be imprecise. After years of teaching non-native English teachers, I’ve improved, but I could still do better!”

    8. EllenD*

      I think we’ve all be taught to think length equals depth. At school and university, there are minimum lengths for essays, dissertations, etc, so we learn to write in long-winded convoluted sentences. However, business correspondence wants brief, succinct writing that gets the points across quickly. I’m sure those reading cover letters will appreciate someone who sets out clearly in as few words as possible how they meet the needs of the post. One tip if you’re using a noun ending in ‘tion’ or ‘sion’ that’s based on a verb use the verb, it will be shorter (for example use ‘we consulted’ rather than ‘we undertook a consultation on’) . Brevity on each point can give you space to cover more of your skills.

  48. Turingtested*

    I got my office mates to keep the kitchen clean!

    In a staff meeting by boss asked if anyone had any comments and I said “When you all leave dirty dishes in the sink for a few days I wash them but I don’t do a good job.”

    No issues since.

    1. Lost academic*


      If anyone wants to use this in their office they should, maybe with a tweak of “imagine that every dish you didn’t clean yourself wasn’t really cleaned…. and by someone who doesn’t wash their hands in the bathroom …”

  49. Very Zonked*

    I got my official offer letter for a new job that starts soon! I will be working with very talented colleagues and it’s enthralling (but also terrifying)! My first job out of school, my manager didn’t do one-on-one’s, no checkpoints, and I was writing a long paper. I didn’t know what was/wasn’t normal. Long story short, I got a PIP and left. I learned I’m better suited to short papers and collaboration. How do I avoid feeling the terror of the PIP, and *genuinely* enjoy the first week of work at the new job? I am excited for this opportunity, the folks are so nice, but I’m so nervous I’ll disappoint them!

    1. TheBunny*

      Honestly? Let it go. If you didn’t know what was and wasn’t normal, that wasn’t a really valid PIP (how can you put someone who doesn’t know what they should be doing on a plan to improve their performance?) or if it was valid the failure really was on the company for not telling you what you should be doing.

  50. Should I keep this job?*

    When would you decide to let go of this job:

    Part time, work from home. Was suppose to be 10 hours a week. It was just some extra income, not needed, but growing savings, etc, because I have another full time job. I helped streamline and organize things over the last three years to a point where the job is barely 10 hours a month now. It’s not a difficult job, I can mostly make my own schedule. But there are some meeting requirements which happen late evenings and team building occasionally which can be tricky to schedule. It’s only ever more hours when there’s some disorganization/lack of communication occurring. It’s a nice group of people. But…is it worth my “free time” for so little pay and hours?

    What would you feel?

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I would love such an ancillary role (so I would keep it in your shoes), but I’m also still where I could use the extra coin, no matter how paltry. I might feel different if I had our finances under control.

      Is there anything particularly unsavory about it you might want to negotiate away? Or is it just the low return on low investment?

      1. Should I keep this job?*

        That’s a good way to look at it. The good things about it are working with some people in my community I like. I’m an independent contractor in my main field and so I don’t have a team I work with in any standard capacity. That’s part of why I think I’ve been hanging on this past year. But just since the winter holidays the hours have dropped significantly.

    2. cosmicgorilla*

      Do you like the job?

      Is it filling a need that you don’t get from your other job or personal hobbies?

      What is your effective hourly rate as compared to your primary job?

      My personal take is quit it if it isn’t providing value. Quit it if it’s more hassle than it’s worth.

      I took a part-time job when my employment status was sketchy, and I kept it for a number of years even after I was more stable. Ultimately, I decided that while there were some benefits to having the PT job, the benefits did not outweigh the hassles. The job did not play to my strengths and if I’m honest, depended more on things that I’m not precisely bad at, but that drain me. And my hourly rate at the PT job was far below my full-time job.

      You’ve settled at this PT job. It’s like a relationship – not really bad enough for you to be desperate to break up, but it doesn’t fill your soul either. It’s not what you really want out of life. It’s not quite bad enough to overcome the inertia. Well, that you’re asking the question tells me you’re ready to overcome that inertia, ready to take action and quit.

      I don’t see any positive reasons to keep this job.

      1. Should I keep this job?*

        That is an excellent point. I’m a high earner in my full time position. I would make more working the same hours at the local gas station or grocery store than I do at this part time job. (Because they are always hurting for employees-but I don’t want a retail or customer service job). And that’s something I don’t spend enough time thinking about. The work is not difficult for me, I do some similar tasks in managing my full time job-I’m an independent contractor so I am responsible for everything for myself. Client contact, etc.

  51. LZ*

    TL:DR – updated title/role, don’t want to use it to job search.

    I was hired at my company as a Teapots Compliance Manager, a title/role that represents my overall experience and is consistent with most of my career to date. In this role I was managing many aspects of teapots compliance. On February 1 I was converted (not at my request) to an SME, Spouts Compliance – a drastic narrowing of my former role to focus on one complex aspect of teapots. I’m not happy about this change (or many other things) and so I’m actively job searching for Teapots Manager roles. I don’t particularly like spouts compliance work and I’m not searching for spouts compliance roles.

    So my question is, how do I reflect this on my resume? The detailed info all points to my Teapots Management experience and mentions spouts as one aspect of my skill set. Do I have to list SME, Spouts Compliance as my current title along with my former Teapots Manager title? If not, when/how do I mention to interviewers the delta between my current title and former title. Obviously if I put both titles on my resume I’ll discuss in my cover letter but I know they don’t always get read and I don’t want to get rejected for a Teapot Manager job because my current role is so different.

    1. ferrina*

      Put it in your cover letter- “When my current role was transitioned to be a spouts specialist role, I realized that I really loved being able to work with all aspects of teapot management. That’s what drew me to the Teapots Manager role at your company- I love being able to coordinate with different teapot teams and see the teapot through from base to spout!”

      Use something similar in your interview. This is a great reason to leave a job- your old job became something different than you what you wanted, and the new job brings you back to what you love and excel in. As a hiring manager, this is a green flag.

    2. Janeric*

      Can you say that you were the Teapots Manager the whole time, and then put “SME, Spouts Compliance” as a second line — like it’s an additional aspect of the job that you took on.

  52. Transitioning Manager*

    I’m in a middle management position, and currently interviewing for a new role. The problem is (if I get it) the new role is likely to start before I’ll have a chance to make good on some promises that I’ve made to members of my team. Delaying the potential start is not feasible. I’m doing everything I can now to put things in motion, but some things simply cannot start for some time.

    How do I make sure that the future things I’ve promised my team members are followed through? Some of the things, while not specifically retention, would be deal-breakers for the person if they are not completed.

    1. ferrina*

      You can’t. You can document the conversations and promises, talk to your boss (your team members grandboss), but in the end, there is no fool-proof way to make sure the promises last after you leave.

      That said, if it causes your team members to leave, is that bad? If the team members and management are that far apart, then it’s better for the team members to move on than to be miserable. If you’re really worried, make a mental note to connect with them on LinkedIn or something and try to grab coffee with them in 3-6 months to check in (and offer to be a reference if they have started job searching)

    2. Moths*

      Agree with the above. There’s no way you can guarantee it, but definitely do everything you can to get things in place to move forward and make sure that you’ve sent emails to your boss and anyone else who is needed to move on those things so that there’s written documentation of what is supposed to be happening. I would also talk with the team members and let them know what you’ve done (“I submitted the paperwork for this and have also emailed boss, grandboss, and HR asking that they expedite approval when it comes to them. If you don’t hear anything within 2 weeks, I would recommend following up with boss to check on the status.”) so that they at least know who to get answers from if things aren’t moving. Finally, if you overlap at all with your replacement or know who in the company will be taking over your team, I’d summarize the changes to them verbally and in an email. I think that’s about all you can do though. If the company doesn’t follow through, your team has every right to leave.

  53. havesomecompassion*

    Most of my team was just laid off. Those who are left have suggested we do something for those who were laid off. I’d like to do this…we were a tight team, and we have all communicated since announcements went out. I’m just very concerned that anything we would think of as a gift would just be a slap in the face.

    What could we give (if anything) that would be heartfelt, sincere, and not insulting? Thoughtful card? Giftcard? Slideshow with old team photos? We’ve offered recommendations as the very least we can do. (We were also a global team so whatever we do has to be deliverable by internet.)

    1. Employed Minion*

      I think just reaching out to give encouragement, tell them they’re missed, and to check in could go a long way. A few years ago, a coworker was furloughed but was called back before officially laid off. Some time during the furlough, I reached out to see how he was doing. He was happy to hear from me and said I was the only one from our entire team. It really bothered him that no one else reached out. I was shocked because I thought we were a very close team.

    2. Antilles*

      The most important thing you can do is to reach out to them, tell them you enjoyed working with them, and offer to be a great reference in their job search.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        I’d add to this that maybe adding some specifics of WHY you enjoyed working with them.
        My husband lost a lot of confidence when he was laid off. A coworker wrote to him and outlined three things he thought made my husband a great person to work with. It really helped, and in one interview, someone asked him what his past coworkers would say about him, and he was able to talk about the note and the three specific things.

        1. Loreli*

          Agree. My position was eliminated, I was laid off. A few months later a former colleague messaged me through LinkedIn-he had found some work I did that he had to update. He complimented me on how good it was and that because of the quality it was so much easier for him to add the new bits. It was encouraging to hear my work complimented by a peer. Especially because I was still job hunting.

        2. Astor*

          When I was laid off a couple of the people I worked with did this, and it was really helpful.

      2. Lily Potter*

        I’d suggest also checking in with the laid off employee around the 3-months post layoff point, if their LinkedIn doesn’t show a new position. A layoff is like a death in that the impacted person hears from many, many people right after it happens and then the support goes silent. A check-in at the 3-month point to offer support and encouragement is a huge kindness.

    3. I'm just here for the cats!*

      besides reaching out to them, tell them that you could be a refrence for future jobs (if thats allowed and reasonable for your role. And also ask keep them in mind for any opportunities that you might hear. Ask them to let you know what their next steps are and if there is any networking stuff that you could help with.

  54. Employed Minion*

    When you start a new job and it feels like a bad culture fit, how long would you give it to see if it improves? Things like salary being treated like hourly, and approach to work.

    Most of the people who make up this company are about to retire and are stuck in their ways -with no interest in changing. There are a lot of things that could be done differently to become efficient but they just…don’t see the need. I’m internally outraged each time I print an email to add it to a physical file. All of this could be digital.

    1. ferrina*

      Apply the Sheelzebub Principle- if nothing changes, how long would you be willing to stick around? Then subtract time for how long you think a normal job search will take (given your field and how rigorously you’ll want to take).
      That will usually be your answer.

      That said- if you have a history of job hopping or this job has an aspect that will really help build your career, adjust accordingly.
      *this is assuming that this place isn’t negatively impacting your mental health, and is just annoying not toxic. Health comes first- if you start noticing a decline in mental or physical health, start the job search right away.